Cannon Mountain is one of the oldest ski mountains in North America.  The mountain is in the Franconia State Park and is managed by the Park Service. The mountain is also a popular mountain for technical rock and ice climbing. The picture below shows our view (with camera zoomed last autumn) of the top of the aerial tram that, along with a number of chair lifts, takes skiers to the top of the mountain. The second picture from my desk (camera unzoomed) shows some of the ski trails and clouds hanging over Franconia notch. Mt. Lafayette and Mt. Lincoln are shown on the left side of the Notch. The bright light is the reflection of my camera's flash in the front window. The tram pictured below runs in the winter and summer.


Below is a shot of Mt. Washington that I took from my desk in December. There's also a very popular ski area, as well as a very historic hotel/resort, on Mt. Washington. The famous July 1944 United Nations Bretton Woods Monetary and Financial Conference attended by President Roosevelt and other world leaders was signed in the hotel pictured below. Unfortunately, Mt. Washington has some of the worst weather (high winds) in the continental U.S.



The story below won't be found in the traditional media. It was forwarded by my friend Col. Robert Booth.


Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing months or years in military hospitals. This week, I'm turning my space over to a good friend and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman , who recently completed a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.

Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Website.

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen ea ch other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew.

Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this p ress of bodies in this area.

The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares. "10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

"Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden ... yet.

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

"11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.

" Did you know that?

The nation's newspapers and television stations have not reported this story



Tidbits on February 28, 2008
Bob Jensen

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Off-the-record discussions between Robert Frost and Dartmouth College students 60 years ago may provide new insights into the poet, as transcripts are about to be published, the Associated Press reported. The sessions were recorded on reel-to-reel tapes and are becoming public because of the work of an editor at the Poetry Foundation who came across them while an undergraduate at Dartmouth. The first transcript will be published this month in the journal Literary Imagination, whose editor described the conversations as “Frost unplugged.”
Inside Higher Ed, February 25, 2008 ---

Through a partnership that marks a turning point in scholarly publishing at Indiana University, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries Patricia Steele announced today (Feb. 21) the publication of Museum Anthropology Review, the first faculty-generated electronic journal supported by the IU Bloomington Libraries ---


As David Bartholomae observes, “We make a huge mistake if we don’t try to articulate more publicly what it is we value in intellectual work. We do this routinely for our students — so it should not be difficult to find the language we need to speak to parents and legislators.” If we do not try to find that public language but argue instead that we are not accountable to those parents and legislators, we will only confirm what our cynical detractors say about us, that our real aim is to keep the secrets of our intellectual club to ourselves. By asking us to spell out those secrets and measuring our success in opening them to all, outcomes assessment helps make democratic education a reality.
Gerald Graff, "Assessment Changes Everything," Inside Higher Ed, February 21, 2008 ---
Gerald Graff is professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and president of the Modern Language Association. This essay is adapted from a paper he delivered in December at the MLA annual meeting, a version of which appears on the MLA’s Web site and is reproduced here with the association’s permission. Among Graff’s books are Professing Literature, Beyond the Culture Wars and Clueless in Academe: How School Obscures the Life of the Mind.

50 percent divorce rate was the catalyst for The 30-Day Sex Challenge. The church set up a Web site concerning the challenge, Local 6 reported. "And that's no different for people who attend church," Wirth said. "Sometimes life gets in the way. Our jobs get in the way." Oh, and the flip side of the challenge? No rolling in the sheets for the unwed. Church member Tim Jones and his fiancee agreed to take on the challenge, though he acknowledges it'll be a tough month. But he added: "I think it's worth trying to find out other things about each other."
"Church Challenges Members: Have Sex Every Day," Orlando Channel 6, February 19, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
What's more important is the impact this is having on the flood of new membership applications from both married and single men on the theory that this is all part of God's new plan to save relationships. We've come a long ways from the serpent in Eden.

In a National Headache Foundation survey of some 170 headache patients, 46% reported having had sex-related headaches. The survey, conducted on the National Headache Foundation's web site during December, included 182 people, mainly women aged 21 and older. Nearly all participants -- 96% -- reported getting headaches from any cause. The same percentage said they're sexually active.
Miranda Hitti, WebMD, February 19, 2008 ---

A 44 year-old man from Sittingbourne, Kent, England, who failed his accounting exams, has been sentenced to two years' imprisonment for urging Moslems to launch terror attacks on accountants. Malcolm Hodges, 44, had failed an exam set by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) ten years ago, and had been arguing about it with the Association ever since. The grudge festered over time, and Hodges widened his one-man campaign by writing a series of letters to the British royal family, the Chancellor, and the Prime Minister, outlining the "grave injustice" behind his low marking. Hodges' mission changed from farcical to dangerous in November 2006, when he began writing to UK mosques, claiming to be a follower of Osama Bin Laden.
AccountingWeb, February 26, 2008 ---

Among the latest exploits of the United Methodist Women’s Division is a children’s book intended to instill anti-Israel themes among Methodist youngsters. Innocuously called, “From Palestine to Seattle; Becoming Neighbors and Friends,” the booklet portrays Israel as an oppressor of Palestinians while omitting all mention of terrorism. It was written by Mary Davis, a former United Methodist missionary in “Palestine,” where she led “study tours,” whose political content no doubt was predictable. The United Methodist Women’s Division, with over $60 million in assets, $30 million in annual income, and nearly 700,000 members, is one of the most powerful women’s groups in America. Its mostly older members, strung across over 30,000 local churches, earn money for their New York-based headquarters with bake sales, Christmas bazaars, and church suppers. Few among them realize that their donations fund causes of the radical left, including anti-Israel activism. In the children’s story, a Seattle Methodist pastor just returned from “Palestine” shares a letter from a young Arab boy in Bethlehem with his own children. The Arab boy, Tarek, has never been to McDonald's because the closest one is in Jerusalem, and travel there requires a pass by the Israelis. Naturally, the American children are disturbed. In an ongoing pen pal exchange, Tarek asks the American children why their country thinks all Palestinians are terrorists. The Americans are embarrassed. They summon up the nerve to ask Tarek why passes are needed to travel to Jerusalem.
Mark Tooley, "The Methodist Child Indoctrination League," Frontpage Magazine, February 19, 2008 ---

Corruption and Rampant Crime:  The Sad State of Higher Education in Russia
Presidents use their positions to create fiefdoms on campus, doling out perks to themselves and their allies. Admissions officials demand bribes to enroll otherwise-qualified students, and professors expect money from students in exchange for passing grades. The black-market pipeline of money and perks thrives even as the system itself is eroding. Professors are underpaid, textbooks are of poor quality, and buildings are in dire need of repair. Last year 10 students died in a fire in a Moscow classroom building. The private institution, short of money, had rented the building's lower three floors as office space, which blocked the fire exits.
Anna Nempsova, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 22, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
What can we expect since there are doubts that Vladimir Putin even read the doctoral dissertation that he himself plagiarized ---
It's not likely that such a leader will fight to instill integrity and opportunity in Russia's higher education system. Better to have bigger bombs to blow up the world when Russia falls into more crime, despair, and ignorance.

MI6 agents have monitored secret meetings between top Serbian officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin's anointed successor, Dmitry Medvedev, to discuss the installation of Russian nuclear missiles to contribute to what he told a Moscow election rally this weekend would "help to ensure Serbian security." The president-in-waiting – no one seriously believes any other candidate will win this coming Sunday's election – also will ensure that President Vladimir Putin will become the nation's prime minister, effectively remaining the real power behind Medvedev after stepping down from the presidency.
"Putin offers nukes to Serbia Missile threat escalates as Russia goes to polls," WorldNetDaily, February 26, 2008 ---

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Monday Israel would soon be destroyed by the "hands of Hezbollah", the Lebanese group which is backed by the Islamic Republic, Fars News Agency reported. Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari made the comment in a letter to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to offer condolences after the killing of senior guerrilla commander Imad Moughniyah in a car bomb last week in Damascus. "In the near future, we will witness the destruction of the cancerous existence of Israel by the powerful and competent hands of the Hezbollah combatants," Jafari was quoted as saying. Iran does not recognize Israel and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has often predicted the imminent demise of the Jewish state, drawing criticism from the West which fears Iran wants to make nuclear bombs that could threaten the region.
"Hezbollah will soon destroy Israel, says Iran Guards," Reuters, February 18, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
 Mohammad Ali Jafari and Mary Davis should be more careful --- they might get what they ask for!

David Horowitz will not be appearing at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association, which is expected to draw thousands of professors to San Diego in November. On that fact, everyone is in agreement. But whether he isn’t participating because he was making unreasonable demands, because he was never invited in the first place (not totally the truth), because the association gave in to members who didn’t want to give him a forum, or some combination of factors is the subject of much disagreement. . . . As for Horowitz, he said that it was “splitting hairs” to say he hadn’t been invited. Via e-mail, he said that the early e-mail from Hogan appeared to be an invitation. “It offers me an honorarium, tells me who my debating partner is, etc. I took it as an invitation. Do you think Hogan would have sent me such a letter if it was normal for his board to then veto his proposals?” he said. Horowitz said of the turn of events: “It is obviously a rejection of the idea of by the NCA — the idea being that after five years David Horowitz should actually get to present his ideas to an academic association.... The fact that no academic group has had the balls to invite me says a lot about the ability of academic associations to discuss important issues if a political minority wants to censor them.”
Scott Jaschik, "Communicating About David Horowitz," Inside Higher Ed, February 19, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Although I've not been happy with some of David's comments and antics, this is one of millions examples that political correctness still reigns supreme among the liberal academic establishment. That establishment preaches diversity but only to the point of not not embracing controversial conservatives or pro-Israeli speakers ---
If he'd accept the invitation, the NCA would most likely be thrilled if  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current President of Iran, would accept an invitation to speak at this annual meeting.

Cosby's TV show about the Huxtable family, from 1984 to 1992, wasn't just a sitcom. His "post-racial" middle-class Huxtables were an explicit attempt by him to stanch the downward pitch of black street culture. He lost. In his current book, "Come On, People," written with psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint, Cosby lists the grim, by-now familiar data on the social pathologies of black males. As before, he hammers popular black culture: "The Ku Klux Klan could not have devised a media culture as destructive." The famous Million Man March of 1995, Cosby says, didn't make a dent. "What do record producers think when they churn out that gangsta rap with anti-social, women-hating messages?" He said, " Martin and Malcolm and Medgar Evers must be turning over in their graves." For many, the pull and potency of this media-led downward mobility made it seem an impossible situation. The book is a self-help road map to going in another direction.
Daniel Henninger, "Obama and Race," The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2008; Page A16 ---

Unfortunately, taxation did not come up in the (Clinton-Obama, February 26) debate, along with other strange absences on important issues like immigration and the government's out-of-control deficits. Some estimates put Obama's total proposed government spending at more than $800 billion over the current federal budget. The means to pay for that spending remains an unknown, and apparently, not a big deal to the mainstream media.
Steve Adcock, "Obama, Clinton debate the merits of big government,:, February 27, 2008 ---

Mideast terrorist leaders today thanked actress Sharon Stone for claiming to Arab media the U.S. used the Sept. 11 attacks as "pretext" for launching wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The terrorists stated Stone's remarks, published this week in Arabic, reinforce their views that current U.S. foreign policy is leading America toward destruction. "What Stone said strengthens what we have been saying all along – that the Bush administration and the American evangelical Christians who control U.S. policy are leading America to defeat," said Muhammad Abel-Al, spokesman and senior leader of the Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization.
Aaron Klein, "Terrorist leaders applaud Sharon Stone's anti-war remarks," WorldNetDaily, February 19, 2008 ---

That there's one law for everybody is an important pillar of our social identity as a Western liberal democracy, but I think it's a misunderstanding to suppose that that means people don't have other affiliations, other loyalties which shape and dictate how they behave in society, and the law needs to take some account of that, so an approach to law which simply said, 'There is one law for everybody and that is all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or your allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts' — I think that's a bit of a danger.
Rowan Williams (Archbishop of C, "Shariah in Europe," Chronicle of Higher Education Chronicle Review, February 29, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Rev. Williams defenders adamantly point out that this church leader of 80 million Christians is not advocating relative laws that, because one happens to live under Sharia law while living in Europe, would allow stoning adulterer women to death, wife beating, and raping of a woman found in the presence of a man who is not her brother, husband, or father. However, he most definitely is advocating relativism without attempting to draw the line as to where Muslim women have different legal protections than Christian women. Given that he does not, and indeed cannot, provide examples of bright line differences, we have to wonder why he stirred up both liberals (especially feminists) and conservatives on this matter in the first place. Indeed if Rowan Williams was not such a Bush bashing liberal, the attacks on his legal relativism for Muslims would've been even more dramatic in the liberal press. Perhaps this is why one of the more liberal magazines in the U.S., The Nation, repeatedly features Rev. Williams bashing of Iraq, Israel (his statements often skirt on the edge of
anti-Semitism), and Bush but The Nation is virtually silent on Rev. Williams support of legal relativism for Muslim women.

Many explanations for the archbishop's statements have already been proffered: the weakness of the Church of England, the paganism of the British, the feebleness of Williams' intellect, the decline of the West. At base, though, his beliefs are merely an elaborate, intellectualized version of a commonly held, and deeply offensive, Western prejudice: Alone among all of the world's many religious groups, Muslims living in Western countries cannot be expected to conform to Western law — or perhaps do not deserve to be treated as legal equals of their non-Muslim neighbors. Every time the police shrug their shoulders when a Muslim woman complains that she has been forced to marry against her will, every time a Western doctor tries not to notice the female circumcisions being carried out in his hospital, they are acting in the spirit of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Anne Applebaum, Chronicle of Higher Education Chronicle Review, February 29, 2008 ---

Mr. McCain gets a chance to question Mr. Obama's declaration he won't be beholden to lobbyists and special interests. After Mr. Obama's laundry list of agenda items on Tuesday night, Mr. McCain can ask why, if Mr. Obama rejects the influence of lobbyists, has he not broken with any lobbyists from the left fringe of the Democratic Party? Why is he doing their bidding on a range of issues? Perhaps because he occupies the same liberal territory as they do. The truth is that Mr. Obama is unwilling to challenge special interests if they represent the financial and political muscle of the Democratic left. He says yes to the lobbyists of the AFL-CIO when they demand card-check legislation to take away the right of workers to have a secret ballot in unionization efforts, or when they oppose trade deals. He won't break with trial lawyers, even when they demand the ability to sue telecom companies that make it possible for intelligence agencies to intercept communications between terrorists abroad. And he is now going out of his way to proclaim fidelity to the educational unions. This is a disappointment since he'd earlier indicated an openness to education reform. Mr. Obama backs their agenda down the line, even calling for an end to testing, which is the only way parents can know with confidence whether their children are learning and their schools working. These stands represent not just policy vulnerabilities, but also a real danger to Mr. Obama's credibility and authenticity. He cannot proclaim his goal is the end of influence for lobbies if the only influences he seeks to end are lobbies of the center and the right.
Karl Rove, "Obama's New Vulnerability," The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2008; Page A17 ---

Barack Obama has pledged to "renew American diplomacy." Except, apparently, when it might interfere with an endorsement from the Teamsters. President James Hoffa bestowed the powerful union's blessing on Mr. Obama yesterday, not so coincidentally only days after the Senator declared his opposition to the pending U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. In a statement inserted in the Congressional Record last week, Mr. Obama said he believes the pact doesn't pay "proper attention" to America's "key industries and agricultural sectors" like cars, rice and beef. Opposition to free-trade deals is now a union litmus test, especially for the Teamsters and Service Employees International Union, which endorsed the Senator last Friday.
"Obama's Teamster 'Diplomacy'," The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2008; Page A16 --- Click Here

And now, in the most amazing trick of all, a silver-tongued freshman senator has found a way to sell hope. To get it, you need only give him your vote. Barack Obama is getting millions. This kind of sale is hardly new. Organized religion has been offering a similar commodity -- salvation -- for millennia. Which is why the Obama campaign has the feel of a religious revival with, as writer James Wolcott observed, a "salvational fervor" and "idealistic zeal divorced from any particular policy or cause and chariot-driven by pure euphoria." . . . Obama has an astonishingly empty paper trail. He's going around issuing promissory notes on the future that he can't possibly redeem. Promises to heal the world with negotiations with the likes of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Promises to transcend the conundrums of entitlement reform that require real and painful trade-offs. Promises to fund his other promises by a rapid withdrawal from an unpopular war -- with the hope, I suppose, that the (presumed) resulting increase in American prestige would compensate for the chaos to follow. Democrats are worried that the Obama spell will break between the time of his nomination and the time of the election, and deny them the White House. My guess is that he can maintain the spell just past Inauguration Day. After  which will come the awakening. It will be rude.
Charles Krauthammer, "Obama spell mesmerizing but empty," Chicago Tribune, February 18, 2008 ---
"Inspiration vs. Substance,"by Joe Klein, Time Magazine, February 7, 2008 ---,8599,1710721,00.html
"The Barach Blowout," by Joe Klein, Time Magazine, February 14, 2008 ---,9171,1713497,00.html

It turns out that not only is the Mohammed al-Dura myth a total fabrication, but the conventional wisdom about another "martyr", the American Marxist activist Rachel Corrie, is also a total fabrication. Yes, Virginia, the mainstream media have been caught lying again. Rachel Corrie did not die while protecting a house about to be flattened by an Israel bulldozer. She died while protecting an arms-smuggling tunnel, as the video available here
(  clearly shows.
February 22, 2008 message from Naomi Ragen

"Seems like they turned all our victories into defeats," Tom Moorer growled. They did it on the battlefields of our own campuses and in our newsrooms, as Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber pointed out so astutely in "The American Challenge." To the New York Times, in particular, it was more important to engineer our defeat than to print the truth. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said he did not care if what the New York Times was reporting about the Vietnam War was true or not. He and the New York Times were against the Vietnam war, he said, and the paper would keep on reporting the way it had been. Now they set out to lose another war, and Obama is their instrument. Only this time, we don't yet have any "tigers" in place to pick up the pieces.
"New York Times' strategy for defeat," WorldNetDaily, February 25. 2008 ---

When have either of these two candidates ever spoken favorably about the free market, entrepreneurship, or American business and industry? When have they ever paid due respect to the U.S. Constitution, or praised it? To them, these institutions are evil and must be eradicated. All we ever hear from them is how poor Americans really are and how much they need government assistance from Democrats. Aren’t we all getting a little sick of hearing these isolated stories of the misery of the downtrodden, of how Americans are living hand to mouth and unable to pay for both food and medicine, and how they’re losing their homes (that they couldn‘t afford to buy in the first place)? Do you know anyone who fits these descriptions? I don’t. They attempt to create a false picture of America, then offer their socialist solutions for it. It’s the same old propaganda game of creating a false premise, then a solution to fix it. The only people who relate to this hysteria are the people who show up at Obama and Clinton rallies simply because they have no place better to be, like at a job. In the case of Obama, he seems to be advocating for only the poor black community without actually saying so, but that is where you find the conditions he describes. His solution to the problem is to keep them dependent on big government with the taxpayers’ money and somehow, that will lead them to the American dream.
JR Dieckmann, Great American Journal, February 2008 ---

On Friday, arbitration judge Sam Cianchetti ordered Health Net to repay that amount while providing $8.4 million in punitive damages and $750,000 for emotional distress. "It's hard to imagine a situation more trying than the one Bates has had to endure," Cianchetti wrote in the decision. "The rug was pulled out from underneath, and that occurred at a time when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, one of the leading causes of death for women." Bates, a mother of two, said she screamed when she heard about the damage award. "I am elated," she said . . . Health Net said it was implementing a freeze on policy cancelations that would last until the company sets up a third-party review panel to scrutinize cases. "Obviously we regret the way that this has turned out, but we are intent on fixing the processes to maintain the public trust," spokesman David Olson said. The award came a day after the Los Angeles city attorney sued Health Net, claiming it illegally canceled the coverage of about 1,600 patients. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo also said the company illegally ran an incentive program in which it paid bonuses to an administrator for meeting targets of policy cancelations . Health Net acknowledged that such a program existed in 2002 and 2003 but was subsequently scrapped. "It's hard to imagine a policy more reprehensible than tying bonuses to encourage the recision of health insurance that helps keep the public well and alive," Cianchetti wrote in the Bates decision.
Thomas Watkins
, "Cut-Off Cancer Patient to Get $9M," PhysOrg, February 24, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Need we have to ask why Democrats are favored in the November 2008 elections?

But the principle cause for concern today is the paralysis of the credit markets. Credit is always key to the expansion of the economy. The collapse of confidence in credit markets is now preventing that necessary extension of credit. The decline of credit creation includes not only the banks but also the bond markets, hedge funds, insurance companies and mutual funds. Securitization, leveraged buyouts and credit insurance have also atrophied. The dysfunctional character of the credit markets means that a Fed policy of reducing interest rates cannot be as effective in stimulating the economy as it has been in the past. Monetary policy may simply lack traction in the current credit environment. The collapse of the credit markets began last summer when the subprime mortgage crisis demonstrated that financial risk of all types had been greatly underpriced, that the market prices of complex financial assets overstated their true values, and that the credit scores provided by rating agencies are not to be trusted. Because market participants now lack confidence in asset prices, they are unwilling to buy existing assets, thus preventing current asset owners from providing credit to new borrowers. The lack of confidence in asset prices also translates into a lack of confidence in the creditworthiness of other financial institutions, impeding the extension of credit to those institutions. And because financial institutions do not even have confidence in the value of their own capital and in the potential availability of liquidity, they are reluctant to make new lending commitments.
Martin Feldstein, "Our Economic Dilemma, The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2008; Page A15 ---

“The New York Times — the newspaper that gave a sweetheart deal to run advertisements attacking General Petraeus — has shown once again that it cannot exercise good journalistic judgment when it comes to dealing with a conservative Republican,” campaign manager Rick Davis send in an e-mail to supporters. “All I can conclude is that this is the largest liberal newspaper in America trying to unfairly attack the integrity of the new conservative Republican nominee for president,” said McCain adviser Charlie Black. “There is no other good explanation for it.” McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt called the report “a smear … it reads like a tabloid gossip sheet.” “I think this is going to play badly for The New York Times and John McCain is going to be fine,” Schmidt said. The Republican National Committee even used the story as a fundraising pitch Thursday in an e-mail to donors.
"Fit to Print? New York Times in Crosshairs for Report on McCain and Female Lobbyist," Fox News, February 21, 2008 --- Click Here

News organizations inevitably have an effect on the events they cover, but good newsmen are circumspect about the line between reporting and political advocacy. The Times's treatment of this McCain story suggests that the desire to make an impact overcame that circumspection.
The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal, November 22, 2008

The article had repercussions for both McCain and The Times. He may benefit, at least in the short run, from a conservative backlash against the “liberal” New York Times. The newspaper found itself in the uncomfortable position of being the story as much as publishing the story, in large part because, although it raised one of the most toxic subjects in politics — sex — it offered readers no proof that McCain and Iseman had a romance . . . It was not for want of trying. Four highly respected reporters in the Washington bureau worked for months on the story and were pressed repeatedly to get sources on the record and to find documentary evidence like e-mail. If McCain had been having an affair with a lobbyist seeking his help on public policy issues, and The Times had proved it, it would have been a story of unquestionable importance. But in the absence of a smoking gun, I asked Keller why he decided to run what he had. “If the point of the story was to allege that McCain had an affair with a lobbyist, we’d have owed readers more compelling evidence than the conviction of senior staff members,” he replied.
Clark Hoyt (Public Editor of The New York Times), "What That McCain Article Didn’t Say," The New York Times, February 24, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Whether or not this tabloid reporting/publication has a net positive or negative impact on Senator John McCain and the Republican Party, such biased and shoddy reporting by The New York Times sends a terrible message to schools of journalism and communication that are desperately trying to to bring back ethics and professionalism to the U.S. media.

We won't waste time wondering whether The Times would've reported the peace if it had instead been about Senators Obama or Kennedy or Schumer. What's scandalous is that it shows journalism students that The Times has sunk to a new low by becoming worse than a tabloid rag since it has thrown its historic reputation behind sex accusations for which it admittedly had "no proof." It also shows that the Times will do anything to drive the Republican party into the ground in November 2008. This includes selling its soul and what little integrity remains after its sweet heart illegal deal with the MoveOn advocacy cohort!

John Stewart cleverly makes Bush/McCain/BOP bashing part of his comedy routine. The Times cleverly tries to make Bush/McCain/GOP bashing part of Page 1 factual reporting. One ceased to be funny a long time ago except among Bush/McCain/GOP haters. The other long ceased being an unbiased role model for journalism and communications schools in the world. It's quite all right to express opinions on editorial pages. But is is quite another matter for a leading newspaper to show flagrant disregard for truth and integrity on Page 1.

"Press Corps Quagmire," by William McGurn, The Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2008; Page A19 ---

When a man hangs up his byline to write for a president, he gets more than a new job. He gets to see how the press and pundit corps look from the other side of the notepad.

And over three years in the West Wing, you see a few things. You see who's a straight shooter, and who's full of snark. You see who's smart, and whose outrageous behavior would have made its way to Drudge had it involved White House staffers instead of White House correspondents. Most of all, you see how conventional wisdom can keep otherwise talented reporters and commentators on the same stale storyline long after the facts on the ground have changed.

Let me put this in context with three contentious issues -- one economic, one cultural, and one on foreign policy. In each case, President Bush took a clear stand. In each case, he was accused of stupidity or stubbornness and sometimes both. In each case, the facts on the ground increasingly bear the president out, sometimes dramatically. Yet the beat goes on -- with no sense of the great irony that it may be our writers and pundits who are stubbornly clinging to old assumptions.

Start with taxes. In the first three years of his administration, the president signed into law a series of tax cuts. They helped families by lowering rates, doubling the child credit, and reducing the marriage penalty. They helped small businesses, by increasing the incentives for investment and lowering the rate at which most small businesses pay taxes. And they put the death tax on the road to extinction.

Critics attacked on all fronts. The tax cuts were unfair because they only helped the rich. They would blow out the deficit, and do nothing for the economy. And when the economy began to improve, the focus shifted to a "jobless recovery."

We now know that "jobless recovery" in fact produced the longest period of consecutive job growth in our history. We now know that the tax cuts that were supposed to blow a hole in the federal budget deficit actually contributed to economic growth that has in turn yielded record tax revenues. As for unfairness, we also know that if the Democrats have their way and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, a family of four with $60,000 in earnings in 2007 would see their taxes go up by about $1,800. So who's being stubborn?

Or take stem cells. Shortly after taking office, the president had to make a tough decision about federal funding for embryonic stem cell research that holds out hope for life-saving treatments. The problem was that getting the stem cells requires destroying embryos. In July 2001, Mr. Bush announced a reasonable compromise. The solution was that the federal government would support embryonic stem cell research, but would not support the creation of life just to destroy it.

For more than six years, the critics have reacted by suggesting America was regressing into a new Dark Ages. "An act of self-serving political Houdinism" said one columnist. A later editorial after a presidential veto ran under the headline "The President's Stem Cell Theology." The science reporter for ABC News put it this way: "We talk to a lot of scientists who believe nothing will change until the next inauguration in 2009."

Well, we didn't have to wait until 2009 for something to change. Last November, scientists discovered a way to reprogram adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. In other words, we now have the potential to cultivate adult cells with the same pluripotent qualities that make embryonic cells so valuable -- and without having to destroy human life. That sure sounds like a welcome development. So let me ask: How many stories or editorials have you read giving the president his due?

Finally there is Iraq. By the end of 2006, sectarian violence was tearing Iraq apart, the terrorists were getting away with spectacular acts of murder, and our strategy plainly was not working. For a man said to resist unpleasant truths, the president acted boldly. He replaced his defense secretary, replaced his commanders on the ground, and completely overhauled his strategy. Granted, it would have been better had it come earlier. But it was a tough thing to do, he did it -- and he did it knowing full well that the critics would jump all over him.

The president announced the surge in a nationally televised address in January 2007. A conservative columnist accused the president of offering nothing but "salesmanship and spin." A cable TV host went on a rant declaring "the plan fails militarily, the plan fails symbolically, the plan fails politically." Columnists and commentators either hedged their bets or predicted disaster ahead, with allusions to Vietnam sprinkled in for good measure.

Yet the surge went ahead. In Anbar Province, Marines were sent in to take advantage of a popular Sunni revolt against al Qaeda -- and by April the capital city of Ramadi was being taken back from the terrorists. By September, U.S. and Iraqi forces were clearing out Baquba, a one-time al Qaeda town in Diyala Province. And though Gen. David Petraeus says that the gains can still be reversed, sectarian killings are down, civilian deaths are down, and the people of Baghdad are getting a taste of normal life. Surely the president deserves a little credit here.

Of course, if you are one of those experts who reassured us that a "well managed defeat" in Iraq was the way for America to go, you don't like hearing the president use plain words like "win" and "victory." Then again, you're not the audience George W. Bush worries about. During one of my first meetings in the Oval Office, the president told me and my fellow speechwriters that we must always be mindful of how his words would sound to the enemy -- and how they would sound to the young Marine risking his life against that enemy in some dusty town in Afghanistan or Iraq.

President Bush hasn't always been right. But he's been right on the things that matter most, and he's been willing to take the heat. I, for one, admire him for it.


Where is there a simple explanation of the transition from analog TV to HDTV in early 2009?
If I still want to use my faithful analog set in 2009 should I get a free coupon from Uncle Sam and buy a converter box?

You only need an Analog-to-Digital converter box if you want to still have your old analog set fed by an antenna after February 17, 2009. Chances are that you're already connected to cable or a satellite dish such that you can still use your old analog set without adding the Analog-to-Digital converter. HDTV users will supposedly have a better picture, but if you only rarely watch television you probably don't care a cat's patoot about better quality and fatter people on your HDTV screen.

If you do use an antenna so you can watch free television without having to pay a monthly free for cable or satellite reception, you must buy a converter box. Even then you may have a somewhat smaller set of channels have decent reception. Life can be bummer in the digital age. You can find out more about coupons from the government that will save you money if you decide you want a converter box ---

Link answer forwarded by David Fordham
"DTV transition from analog to digital TV:  No, you don't need to buy a new TV next February," by David Katzmaier, C|Net, February 20, 2008 ---

On February 17, 2009, millions of TVs across the U.S. will go blank, displaying the snowy screen that for decades has meant the lack of a TV signal. No matter which channel their owners tune to, or how long they wait, the snow will remain. When this happens, thousands of Americans will ask their local TV station, landlord, caregiver, or tech-savvy relative for an explanation. If the person they ask happens to be you, this guide will give you the answers. If you happen to be someone who watches analog TV using an antenna, read on to find out how you can save your old TV from a snowy death for about $20 or less.

Continued in article


Why isn't this the best time to buy a new Blu-ray DVD player/recorder even though it will be the new standard for movies on DVD disks?
Do I need to buy a new Blu-ray DVD drive for my computer?

Chances are the optical drive in your computer is now a CD drive or a data DVD (old-style) drive that you can use to burn files in CD or DVD blanks. The relatively cheap blanks that you use now will be sold for years to come such that you don't have to rush into anything yet. Those drives wouldn't play HD-DVD or Blu-ray movies, but if that hasn't bothered you up to now, why rush out to buy a new computer or an external Blu-ray drive for your computer. Not many of us are really into watching full-length movies on our computers.

If you're buying a new HDTV set, then by all means do not buy a now obsolete HD-DVD drive for your new television set. You will probably eventually want a Blu-ray DVD drive but shop around and perhaps wait until prices of Blu-ray drives and recorders are more reasonable. Although you can notify NetFlix or Blockbuster to send you Blu-ray rental movies, you can continue renting the disks you're renting at the moment. It's not necessary jump immediately into Blu-ray madness.

The most troublesome aspect of this Blu-ray business for colleges will be the need to install Blu-ray drives in electronic classrooms. It's not necessary to do so in the next few months, but by Fall of 2008 most classrooms will probably have shiny new Blu-ray drives so professors can show the very latest Hollywood crap or segments thereof to students.

Richard Campbell forwarded this sobering link about timing to buy a Blu-ray DVD player---

You can get answers from the following links:

Technical ---

More than you ever wanted to know about DVD ---

"Flash memory prices to plummet, analysts say:  The weak U.S. economy, plus falling demand and a flooded market, should push NAND flash prices down this year," by Agam Shah, PC World via The Washington Post, February 22, 2008 --- Click Here

What department store chains rank highest and lowest in the University of Michigan customer service update research?

"Unhappy Returns," by Jennifer Waters, Money Magazine, February 2007 ---

The University of Michigan's quarterly American Customer Satisfaction index, released this week, dipped to 74.9 on the 100-point scale, off 0.4 from the third quarter. That was the second straight quarterly drop and marked the lowest score in 2007 and is a harbinger of what's ahead. "When customer satisfaction declines, consumers have less enthusiasm for repeating experiences that no longer provide the same gratification," said Claes Fornell, director of the Donald C. Cook Professor of Business Administration and head of the ACSI.

. . .

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, also is the worst rated among department and discount stores, according to the ACSI. Its score fell 6% to 68, well below the industry average of 77 and at an all-time low.

"Competing on price is no longer enough to offset lagging quality," Fornell said.

Meanwhile, deep discounter

Nordstrom, long known for its strong customer service and high-quality merchandise, led all department and discount stores at 80, followed by Kohl's at 79.

Home Depot, the No. 1 home-improvement retailer is also among the lowest scorers on the index., coming in at 67. It's arch rival Lowe's climbed 1% to 75, widening the gap between the two.

Elsewhere, the gap was narrowed between Best Buy and Circuit City. Best Buy's score slid 3% to 73 while Circuit City rose 3% to 71.

Among specialty retailers, Barnes & Noble was in the lead at 83 with Borders Group and Costco tying at second with scores of 81.

Continued in article

"Countrywide Cancels Ski Trip Amid Criticism," by James R. Hagerty, The Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2008; Page A16 ---

Countrywide Financial Corp., reacting to negative publicity, canceled plans to host a ski trip this week for about 30 mortgage bankers at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch ski resort in Avon, Colo., a spokesman said.

The cancellation comes as the nation's No. 1 mortgage lender by loan volume responds to criticism of its lending practices, which have led to a surge of home foreclosures.

Countrywide's chief executive, Angelo Mozilo, is scheduled to appear Thursday at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, headed by California Democrat Henry Waxman, who is raising questions about compensation packages for top executives of companies involved in the mortgage crisis.

A Countrywide spokesman, referring to the planned ski trip, said the company had hosted similar meetings with business partners and clients for years, but that "in light of recent events, we have decided to cancel all such gatherings for the remainder of the year."

The list price for a regular room on a weekday night at the Ritz in Avon starts at $725. But the Countrywide spokesman said the lender would have paid "much less" than that.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on banking scandals are at

What Internet sites help you compare neighboring K-12 schools?

"Grading Neighborhood Schools: Web Sites Compare A Variety of Data, Looking Beyond Scores," by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2008; Page D6 ---

I performed various school queries using Inc., GreatSchools Inc.'s and by typing in a ZIP Code, city, district or school name. Overall, GreatSchools and offered the most content-packed environments, loading their sites with related articles and offering community feedback on education-related issues by way of blog posts or surveys. And though GreatSchools is 10 years older than, which made its debut in June, the latter has a broader variety of content and considers its SchoolFinder feature -- newly available as of today -- just a small part of the site.

Both and base a good portion of their data on information gathered by the Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics, the government entity that collects and analyzes data related to education., a service of Standard & Poor's, is more bare-bones, containing quick statistical comparisons of schools. (S&P is a unit of McGraw-Hill Cos.) This site gets its content from various sources, including state departments of education, private research firms, the Census and National Public Education Finance Survey. This is evidenced by lists, charts and pie graphs that would make Ross Perot proud. I learned about where my alma mater high school got its district revenue in 2005: 83% was local, 15% was state and 2% was federal. But I couldn't find district financial information for more recent years on the site.

All three sites base at least some school-evaluation results on test scores, a point that some of their users critique. Parents and teachers, alike, point out that testing doesn't always paint an accurate picture of a school and can be skewed by various unacknowledged factors, such as the number of students with disabilities.'s SchoolFinder feature is starting with roughly 47,000 schools in 10 states: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey and Georgia. In about two months, the site hopes to have data for all states, totaling about 60,000 public and charter schools. I was granted early access to SchoolFinder, but only Michigan was totally finished during my testing.

SchoolFinder lets you narrow your results by type (public or charter), student-to-teacher ratio, school size or Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), a measurement used to determine each school's annual progress. Search results showed specific details on teachers that I didn't see on the other sites, such as how many teachers were fully credentialed in a particular school and the average years of experience held by a school's teachers.

The rest of the site contains over 4,000 articles written by well-known education sources like the New York University Child Study Center, Reading is Fundamental and the Autism Society of America. It also contains a Web magazine and a rather involved discussion-board community where members can ask questions of like-minded parents and the site's experts, who respond with advice and suggestions of articles that might be helpful.

Private schools aren't required to release test scores, student or teacher statistics, so none of the sites had as much data on private schools. However, at least offered basic results for most private-school queries that I performed, such as a search for Salesianum School in Delaware (where a friend of mine attended) that returned the school's address, a list of the Advanced Placement exams it offered from 2006 to 2007 and six rave reviews from parents and former students. makes it easy to compare schools, even without knowing specific names. After finding a school, I was able to easily compare that school with others in the geographic area or school district -- using a chart with numerous results on one screen. After entering my email address, I saved schools to My School List for later reference.

I couldn't find each school's AYP listed on, though these data were on and doesn't provide articles, online magazines or community forums. Instead, it spits out data -- and lots of it. A search for "Philadelphia" returned 324 schools in a neat comparison chart that could, with one click, be sorted by grade level, reading test scores, math test scores or students per teacher. (The Julia R. Masterman Secondary School had the best reading and math test scores in Philadelphia, according to the site.) didn't have nearly as much user feedback as or But stats like a school's student demographics, household income distribution and the district's population age distribution were accessible thanks to colorful pie charts.

These three sites provide a good overall idea of what certain schools can offer, though seems to have the richest content in its school comparison section. excels as a general education site and will be a comfort to parents in search of reliable advice. Its newly added SchoolFinder, while it's in early stages now, will only improve this resource for parents and students.

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at

What features can you find on the new IBM ThinkPad X300 that you won't find on MacBook Air?

I've been testing the ThinkPad X300 and I have found it to be a solid, innovative laptop that will be perfect for many mobile PC users. It isn't as sexy or inexpensive as the MacBook Air, but it has numerous features the Apple lacks, especially a wide array of ports and connectivity options, a built-in DVD drive and a removable battery.I can recommend the X300 for road warriors without hesitation, provided they can live with its two biggest downsides: a relatively paltry file-storage capacity and a hefty price tag. This ThinkPad starts at $2,476 for a stripped-down model and at $2,799 for a preconfigured retail version with a half-size battery. The configuration I expect to be the most popular, with a full-size battery and DVD drive, is about $3,000.The key factor in both of these downsides is the solid-state drive, or SSD, which replaces the hard disk. The SSD is fast and rugged, but today it can hold only a cramped 64 gigabytes of files and is very costly. Apple offers a MacBook Air version with the same solid-state drive for a similar high price. But Apple also has a much more affordable $1,799 model with an 80-gigabyte standard hard disk. Lenovo doesn't.
Walter S. Mossberg, "Price May Be Steep, But Thin ThinkPad Has Abundant Features," The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2008; Page B1 ---

Where can a college turn for course management software when the college feels like Blackboard is a monopoly rip-off and Moodle is too dependent upon open source innovations and maintenance?

Before reading this module you may want to first read about Blackboard and Moodle at

Richard Campbell sent a link to the site below and mentioned that this may be Microsoft's bit to compete with Blackboard.

Microsoft Learning Gateway Community ---

Microsoft Learning Gateway (MLG) is a powerful, extensible suite of features designed to help schools meet their priorities using a scalable, cost-effective framework. By deploying a Learning Gateway solution, you can give students personalized learning portals that bring together everything they need to support their classes. Password-protected access can be extended to parents, providing up-to-the-minute information on students’ attendance, grades, assignments, timetables, and upcoming events. Administrators are provided with a secure, personalized interface from which they can improve planning and follow-through and make effective decisions. Senior IT decision makers are better equipped to analyze data and report key information to governors, regulators, ministries, and other key agencies.

Whether your institution adopts a top-down or bottom-up approach, you can deploy a Learning Gateway framework that can support how you want to progress with the flexibility to accommodate later developments. This means your investments are future-proofed, even during times of rapid change. Click on the links below to learn much more about the capabilities of MLG when combined with partner solutions. Afterwards, contact a Microsoft partner who can customize Learning Gateway components into solutions tailored to meet your needs.

Jensen Comment
Happily it's the enormously wealthy Microsoft making this move. Any company making such a move is likely to be sued by Blackboard since Blackboard is now claiming it has a patent on everything connected with course management and distance education. We can hope and pray that Microsoft will spend whatever needed to end these monopoly visions of Blackboard.

"Jury Sides With Blackboard in Patent Case," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, February 25, 2008 ---

A federal jury in Texas on Friday awarded the learning services giant Blackboard $3.1 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against a much smaller competitor, adding a new layer of complexity and uncertainty to a complex, uncertain market for higher education learning management systems.

The July 2006 lawsuit, closely watched (and much-derided by many) in the higher education technology world, accused the Canadian company Desire2Learn of infringing dozens of Blackboard patents for online course management and e-learning technologies. Blackboard sought $17 million in damages and an injunction barring Desire2Learn from continuing to infringe the patent. Blackboard came under heavy fire from campus technology officials, including a rare rebuke from Educause, higher education’s main technology association, for asserting the company’s patent rights to technologies that many argued were simple and longstanding technologies in wide use by corporate and open source learning systems.

After a two-week trial in Lufkin, Tex., and just a few hours of deliberation, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (which is seen as being friendly to patent holders) agreed with Blackboard that Desire2Learn’s learning platform uses technologies for which Blackboard received U.S. patents in January 2006. But its verdict gave the company far less than it was asking for, awarding Blackboard $2.5 million for lost profits and $630,000 in royalties.

In addition, the verdict allows the company to petition the judge in the case, Ron Clark, for an injunction against further patent infringement that would force Desire2Learn either to alter its products or to stop selling them to new customers in the United States.

In a statement via e-mail (but not posted on the company’s Web site), Blackboard’s president and CEO, Michael Chasen, said officials were “pleased that the jury recognized the importance of our contribution to e-Learning. We look forward to continuing to innovate and invest in new technologies that help education institutions around the globe improve teaching and learning.”

The statement also contained a statement in which Blackboard’s chief legal officer, Matthew Small, appeared to reiterate to fearful supporters of open source learning systems (such as Moodle and Sakai) that the company did not plan to pursue similar infringement claims against non-commercial competitors. “We also continue to stand behind our Patent Pledge which covers this patent and reflects our ongoing commitment to interoperating with and supporting the evolution of open source and home-grown systems,” Small said.

Desire2Learn officials, in a letter to customers, expressed disappointment with the jury verdict, but vowed to continue to oppose Blackboard’s patent enforcement efforts, not only to “defend ourselves vigorously” but to “stand up against Blackboard ... in the best interest of the entire educational community,” in the words of John Baker, the company’s president and CEO. Desire2Learn noted that the jury’s verdict was only one step in a multipronged process, that will include not just the likelihood of legal appeals but a continuing review of the legitimacy of Desire2Learn’s patents by the U.S. Patent Office.

The blogosphere, which tilts heavily against Blackboard on virtually any and all issues, took a generally dim view of the jury’s verdict. Some commentators sought to play down the significance of the jury’s verdict, noting that it gave Blackboard less than it had sought and that Desire2Learn’s patent is still under review by the U.S. patent office.

But others expressed fear that Blackboard would soon go after other commercial learning management software providers like Angel, and wondered whether Blackboard would abide by its pledge not to take aim at the open source systems that appear to be gaining ground against Blackboard, especially Moodle. Commentators generally agreed that the implications of the case won’t be clear for some time.

“It will take weeks, if not months, to sort out the fallout from the jury ruling yesterday in the Blackboard Inc. v. Desire2learn Inc. case,” Alfred H. Essa, associate vice chancellor and deputy chief information officer of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, wrote on his blog  The Nose. “Although all is not lost, this is a crushing blow to Desire2Learn, one of the few remaining commercial competitors to Blackboard in the higher education LMS market.

You can read more about the Blackboard and its horrid monopolist tendencies at

Despite Popularity, Researcher Finds Not Everyone Can Successfully Learn Through Online Courses
PhysOrg, February 25, 2008 ---

Since the 1990s, online courses have provided an opportunity for busy adults to continue their education by completing courses in the comfort of their own homes. However, this may not be the best solution for everyone. A researcher at the University of Missouri has found some students may find success in these types of courses more easily than others.

Shawna L. Strickland, clinical assistant professor in the MU School of Health Professions, studied the demographics and personality types of distance learners.

“Correlations between learning styles and success in distance education have shown to be inconclusive,” Strickland said. “However, one common theme reappears: the successful traits of a distance learner are similar to the successful traits of an adult learner in traditional educational settings.”

With a mere 30 percent of distance learners actually completing their courses, learning more about the characteristics of these students would help educators structure online courses to be as beneficial as possible. Considering the lack of institutional support and isolation involved in the nature of online courses, success in these courses requires a person that is determined and responsible, Strickland said.

“The success of distance learning is dependent on communication among the learner, his or her peers and the instructor,” Strickland said. “To encourage success in distance learning, it is necessary to evaluate each individual’s needs on a case-by-case basis.”

One trait that aids in distance learning is related to personality type. Strickland found those with quiet, introverted personalities are more likely to feel comfortable with online learning courses. Shy individuals have a tendency to be uninvolved in the typical classroom setting. Online courses allow them to complete work on their own with a degree of anonymity.

“Distance learning allows the learner to overcome traditional barriers to learning such as location, disabilities, time constraints and familial obligations,” Strickland said. “However, not every learner will be successful in a distance learning environment.”

The study – “Understanding Successful Characteristics of Adult Learners” – was published in the most recent edition of Respiratory Care Education Annual.

Jensen Comment
The source of this publication is rather unusual and surprising --- Respiratory Care Education Annual.

Bob Jensen's threads on asynchronous learning include the following links:

"Blackboard Wins Patent-Infringement Case Against Rival Courseware Provider," by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 22, 2008 ---

A federal jury in Texas ruled this afternoon in favor of Blackboard Inc., the nation’s leading online provider of course-management software, in its patent-infringement lawsuit against Desire2Learn Inc.

Blackboard sued the smaller Canadian-based company in 2006, asserting that it had infringed a patent that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had granted Blackboard that year. As a result, the larger company said, Desire2Learn had taken away customers that should have been Blackboard’s.

Desire2Learn, which has its headquarters in Kitchener, Ontario, argued that Blackboard’s patent was invalid and should never have been granted in the first place. Lawyers for the company said that Blackboard officials were aware of similar technology, or what’s known as “prior art,” that existed before it filed its patent application, and that the company had failed to divulge that information to the patent office.

The jury, which began deliberating just before noon on Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Lufkin, Tex., announced its verdict this afternoon. The case has been closely watched by campus-technology officials, many of whom feared that a win by Blackboard could stifle innovation and leave colleges and course-management software providers vulnerable to more legal challenges by Blackboard.

Drop Patent, Educause Urges Blackboard
The leaders of higher education’s main technology association have written a powerfully worded letter urging Blackboard to relinquish the rights it gained under a controversial patent of online learning technologies in the public domain and to drop a patent infringement lawsuit it filed in August against a Canadian competitor, Desire2Learn.
Doug Lederman, "Drop Patent, Educause Urges Blackboard," Inside Higher Ed, October 27, 2006 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course management software are at

Scribd Wants to Become the YouTube for Documents ---
It has a long way to go, although it now has over 350,000 archived documents ---
There are many tutorials such as those in basic accounting.

"A YouTube for Documents?" by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 21, 2008 ---

Borrowing a page from the popular video-sharing site YouTube, a new online service lets people upload and share their papers or entire books via a social-network interface. But will a format that works for videos translate to documents?

It’s called iPaper, and it uses a Flash-based document reader that can be embedded into a Web page. The experience of reading neatly formatted text inside a fixed box feels a bit like using an old microfilm reader, except that you can search the documents or e-mail them to friends.

The company behind the technology, Scribd, also offers a library of iPaper documents and invites users to set up an account to post their own written works. And, just like on YouTube, users can comment about each document, give it a rating, and view related works.

Also like on YouTube, some of the most popular items in the collection are on the lighter side. One document that is in the top 10 “most viewed” is called “It seems this essay was written while the guy was high, hilarious!” It is a seven-page paper that appears to have been written for a college course but is full of salty language. The document includes the written comments of the professor who graded it, and it ends with a handwritten note: “please see after class to discuss your paper.”

There’s plenty of serious material on the site, too — like the Iraq Study Group Report and an Educause report about the future of technology at colleges.

Bob Jensen's threads on free online documents are at

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Obama Does Not Think Much of Professors Who Sell Their Own Learning Materials to Students
If Barack Obama is elected president, students upset about textbook prices may have an ally. While he hasn’t proposed any legislation on the topic, he used an appearance Friday at the University of Texas-Pan American to criticize the way professors benefit from writing expensive texts. The Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying: “Books are a big scam. I taught law at the University of Chicago for 10 years, and one of the biggest scams is law professors write their own textbooks and then assign it to their students. They make a mint. It’s a huge racket. The Wall Street Journal reported that in a discussion in which Obama reiterated his criticism of private student loans, he also urged students to be careful about their own spending. “Just be careful about those credit cards, all right? Don’t eat out as much,” the Journal quoted him saying.
Inside Higher Ed, February 25, 2008 ---

Commercial Scholarly Journals and Oligopoly Publishers Are Ripping Off Libraries, and Scholars, Authors, and Students ---

Will we soon be able to lecture without opening our mouths?
Can you send a "relational" database file to a friend by simply shaking hands?
Is this the beginning of a whole new definition of human "relationships?"
Can the message of a hug be digital and unambiguous?
New magic in a kiss or two?
Does your database have halitosis or dirty fingernails or a flu virus?
I'd better stop asking questions about this before I get into big trouble!

Japanese firm harnesses the power of human touch
They say you can tell a lot from a handshake. But while it's usually guesswork, the power of human touch will soon be used in Japan to transmit data. Telecom giant Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) is planning a commercial launch of a system to enter rooms that frees users from the trouble of rummaging in their pockets or handbags for ID cards or keys. It uses technology to turn the surface of the human body itself into a means of data transmission. As data travels through the user's clothing, handbag or shoes, anyone carrying a special card can unlock the door simply by touching the knob or standing on a particular spot without taking the card out. "In everyday life, you're always touching things. Even if you are standing, you are stepping on something," research engineer Mitsuru Shinagawa told AFP. "These simple touches can result in communication," said Shinagawa, senior research engineer at the company's NTT Microsystem Integration Laboratories. He said future applications could include a walk-through ticket gate, a cabinet that opens only to authorised people and a television control that automatically chooses favourite programmes.
PhysOrg, February 21, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on ubiquitous computing are at

The Five Senses of the Future:  Threads on the Networking of the Five Senses (Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, and Taste) ---  

Barbra Streisand - He Touched Me (1967) ---

This is some of the best material ever for legal-writer John Grisham ---
But will he have the courage to venture into this ethical snakepit?

"Lawsuit, Inc.," The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2008; Page A14 ---

Should state Attorneys General be able to outsource their legal work to for-profit tort lawyers, who then funnel a share of their winnings back to the AGs? That's become a sleazy practice in many states, and it is finally coming under scrutiny -- notably in Mississippi, home of Dickie Scruggs, Attorney General Jim Hood, and other legal pillars.

The Mississippi Senate recently passed a bill requiring Mr. Hood to pursue competitive bidding before signing contracts of more than $500,000 with private lawyers. The legislation also requires a review board to examine contracts, and limits contingency fees to $1 million. Mr. Hood is trying to block the law in the state House, and no wonder considering how sweet this business has been for him and his legal pals.

We've recently examined documents from the AG's office detailing which law firms he has retained. We then cross-referenced those names with campaign finance records. The results show that some of Mr. Hood's largest campaign donors are the very firms to which he's awarded the most lucrative state contracts.

The documents show Mr. Hood has retained at least 27 firms as outside counsel to pursue at least 20 state lawsuits over five years. The law firms are thus able to employ the full power of the state on their behalf, while Mr. Hood can multiply the number of targets.

Those targets are invariably deep corporate pockets: Eli Lilly, State Farm, Coca-Cola, Merck, Boston Scientific, Vioxx and others. The vast majority of the legal contracts were awarded on a contingency fee basis, meaning the law firm is entitled to a big percentage of any money that it can wring from defendants. The amounts can be rich, such as the $14 million payout that lawyer Joey Langston shared with the Lundy, Davis firm in an MCI/WorldCom settlement.

These firms are only too happy to return the favor to Mr. Hood via campaign contributions. Campaign finance records show that these 27 law firms -- or partners in those firms -- made $543,000 in itemized campaign contributions to Mr. Hood over the past two election cycles.

The firm of Pittman, Germany, Roberts & Welsh was hired by Mr. Hood on a contingency basis to prosecute State Farm. According to finance documents, partner Crymes Pittman donated $68,570 to Mr. Hood's campaign, and other Pittman partners chipped in $33,500 more.

Partners in the Langston Law Firm gave more than $130,000 to elect Mr. Hood, having been retained to sue Eli Lilly. Lead partner Joey Langston has separately pleaded guilty to conspiracy to corruptly influence a judge.

Among others: The Wolf Popper firm from New York was retained to pursue Sonus Networks, a telecommunications firm; Wolf Popper and its partners gave $27,500 to Mr. Hood's campaign. Bernstein, Litowitz sued at least four different companies for the AG, and the firm and its partners chipped in $41,500. Partners at Schiffren, Barroway went after Coca-Cola and Viacom, and donated $37,500.

Then there are the law firms that have piggybacked their class action suits on Mr. Hood's state prosecutions. Mr. Scruggs and his Katrina litigation partners realized a nearly $80 million windfall after Mr. Hood used his powers to pressure State Farm into settling both the state and Scruggs suits. Mr. Scruggs gave $33,000 to Mr. Hood in the 2007 election cycle. (Mr. Scruggs and his son Zach have been indicted in an unrelated bribery case, and claim to be innocent.) David Nutt, a partner in Mr. Scruggs's Katrina litigation, also gave $25,500 to Mr. Hood's campaign last year.

The Mississippi AG has also benefited from the national network of trial lawyers and its ability to funnel money into the state. We've examined finance records of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, a so-called 527 group that helps elect liberal prosecutors. In 2007, law firms that have benefited from Mr. Hood gave the organization $572,000, and in turn the group wrote campaign checks in 2007 to Mr. Hood for $550,000. Guess who supplied no less than $400,000 to the group? Messrs. Scruggs and Langston.

Add all of this up, and in 2007 alone Mr. Hood received some $790,000 from partners and law firms that have benefited financially from his office. That is more than half of all of Mr. Hood's itemized contributions for 2007.

This kind of quid pro quo is legal in Mississippi and most other states. However, if this kind of sweetheart arrangement existed between a public official and business interests, you can bet Mr. Hood would be screaming about corruption. Yet Mr. Hood and his trial bar partners are fighting even Mississippi's modest attempt to require more transparency in their contracts. The AG says it's all part of a plot to undermine his attempts to "recoup the taxpayers' money from corporate wrongdoers."

The real issue is the way this AG-tort bar mutual financial interest creates perverse incentives that skew the cause of justice. A decision to prosecute is an awesome power, and it ought to be motivated by evidence and the law, not by the profit motives of private tort lawyers and the campaign needs of an ambitious Attorney General. Government is supposed to act on behalf of the public interest, not for the personal profit of trial lawyers. The tort bar-AG cabal deserves to be exposed nationwide.

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates are at

The Most Criminal Class Writes the Laws ---

"Jury Finds Former Insurance Executives Guilty," The New York Times, February 25, 2008 ---

A Connecticut jury found five former insurance company executives guilty Monday of a scheme to manipulate the financial statements of the world's largest insurance company.

The verdict came in the seventh day of jury deliberations following a month long trial in federal court.

The defendants, four former executives of General Re Corp. and a former executive of American International Group Inc., sat stone-faced as the verdict was read. They were accused of inflating AIG's (NYSE:AIG) reserves through reinsurance deals by $500 million in 2000 and 2001 to artificially boost its stock price.

The defendants were former General Re CEO Ronald Ferguson; former General Re Senior Vice President Christopher P. Garand; former General Re Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Monrad; and Robert Graham, a General Re senior vice president and assistant general counsel from about 1986 through October 2005.

Also charged was Christian Milton, AIG's vice president of reinsurance from about April 1982 until March 2005.

Ferguson, Monrad, Milton and Graham each face up to 230 years in prison and a fine of up to $46 million. Garand faces up to 160 years in prison and a fine of up to $29.5 million.

"This is a very sad day, not only for Ron Ferguson, but for our criminal justice system," Clifford Schoenberg, Ferguson's personal attorney, said in a statement distributed at U.S. District Court in Hartford. "I and the rest of Ron's legal team will not rest until we see him -- and justice -- vindicated."

Reinsurance policies are backups purchased by insurance companies to completely or partly insure the risk they have assumed for their customers.

Prosecutors said AIG Chief Executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg was an unindicted coconspirator in the case. Greenberg has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing, but allegations of accounting irregularities, including the General Re transactions, led to his resignation in 2005.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

Bob Jensen's threads on insurance frauds are at

What research methodology flaws are shared by studies in political science and accounting science?

"Methodological Confusion:  How indictments of The Israel Lobby (by John J. Mearsheimer, Stephen M. Walt, ISBN-13: 9780374177720) expose political science's flaws" by Daniel W. Drezner, Chronicle of Higher Education's Chronicle Review, February 22, 2008, Page B5 --- 

Does the public understand how political science works? Or are political scientists the ones who need re-educating? Those questions have been running through my mind in light of the drubbing that John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt received in the American news media for their 2007 book,  The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007). Pick your periodical — The Economist, Foreign Affairs, The Nation, National Review, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World — and you'll find a reviewer trashing the book.

From a political-science perspective, what's interesting about those reviews is that they are largely grounded in methodological critiques — which rarely break into the public sphere. What's disturbing is that the methodologies used in The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy are hardly unique to Mearsheimer and Walt. Are the indictments of their book overblown, or do they expose the methodological flaws of the discipline in general?

The most persistent public criticism of Mearsheimer and Walt has been their failure to empirically buttress their argument with interviews. Writing in the Times Book Review, Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, criticized their "writing on this sensitive topic without doing extensive interviews with the lobbyists and the lobbied." David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times, recently seconded that notion: "If you try to write about politics without interviewing policy makers, you'll wind up spewing all sorts of nonsense."

That kind of critique has a long pedigree. For decades public officials and commentators have decried the failure of social scientists to engage more deeply with the objects of their studies. Secretary of State Dean Acheson once objected to being treated as a "dependent variable." The New Republic ran a cover story in 1999 with the subhead, "When Did Political Science Forget About Politics?"

To the general reader, such critiques must sound damning. International-relations scholars know full well, however, that innumerable peer-reviewed articles and university-press books utilize the same kind of empirical sources that appear in The Israel Lobby. Most case studies in international relations rely on news-conference transcripts, official documents, newspaper reportage, think-tank analyses, other scholarly works, etc. It is not that political scientists never interview policy makers — they do (and Mearsheimer and Walt aver that they have as well). However, with a few splendid exceptions, interviews are not the bread and butter of most international-relations scholarship. (This kind of fieldwork is much more common in comparative politics.)

Indeed, the claim that political scientists can't write about policy without talking to policy makers borders on the absurd. The first rule about policy makers is that they always have agendas — even in interviews with social scientists. That does not mean that those with power lie. It does mean that they may not be completely candid in outlining motives and constraints. One would expect that to be particularly true about such "a sensitive topic."

Further, most empirical work in political science is concerned with actions, not words. How much aid has the United States disbursed to Israel? How did members of Congress vote on the issue? Without talking to members of Congress, thousands of Congressional scholars study how the legislative branch acts, by analyzing verifiable actions or words — votes, speeches, committee hearings, and testimony. Statistical approaches allow political scientists to test hypotheses through regression analysis. By Brooks's criteria, any political analysis of, say, 19th-century policy decisions would be pointless, since all the relevant players are dead.

Other methodological critiques are more difficult to dismiss. Walter Russell Mead's dissection of The Israel Lobby in Foreign Affairs does not pull any punches. Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that Mearsheimer and Walt "claim the clarity and authority of rigorous logic, but their methods are loose and rhetorical. This singularly unhappy marriage — between the pretensions of serious political analysis and the standards of the casual op-ed — both undercuts the case they wish to make and gives much of the book a disagreeably disingenuous tone."

Mead enumerates several methodological sins, in particular the imprecise manner in which the "Israel Lobby" is defined in the book. For their part, the book's authors acknowledge that the term is "somewhat misleading," conceding that "the boundaries of the Israel Lobby cannot be identified precisely." It is certainly true that many of the central concepts in international-relations theory — like "power" or "regime" — have disputed definitions. But most political scientists deal with nebulous concepts by explicitly offering their own definition to guide their research. Even if others disagree, at least the definition is transparent. In The Israel Lobby, however, Mearsheimer and Walt essentially rely on a Potter Stewart definition of the lobby: They know it when they see it. That makes it exceedingly difficult for other political scientists to test or falsify their hypotheses.

Many of the reviews of the book highlight two flaws that, disturbingly, are more pervasive in academic political science. The first is the failure to compare the case in question to other cases. For example, Mearsheimer and Walt go to great lengths to outline the "extraordinary material aid and diplomatic support" the United States provides to Israel. What they do not do, however, is systematically compare Israel to similarly situated countries to determine if the U.S.-Israeli relationship really is unique. An alternative, strategic explanation would posit that Israel falls into a small set of countries: longstanding allies bordering one or multiple enduring rivals. The category of states that meet that criteria throughout the time period analyzed by Mearsheimer and Walt is relatively small: Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey. Compared to that smaller set of countries, the U.S. relationship with Israel does not look anomalous. The United States has demonstrated a willingness to expend blood, treasure, or diplomatic capital to ensure the security of all of those countries — despite the wide variance in the strength of each's "lobby."

Continued in article

Daniel W. Drezner is an associate professor of international politics at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Jensen Comment
When I read the above review entitled "Metholological Confusiion" I kept thinking of the thousands of empirical and analytical studies by accounting faculty and students that have similar methodology confusions. How many mathematical/empirical database studies relating accounting events (e.g., a new standard) with capital market behavior also conduct formal interviews with investors, analysts, fund managers, etc. Do analytical researchers conduct formal interviews with real-world decision makers before building their mathematical models? The majority of behavioral accounting studies conducted by professors use students as surrogates for real-world decision makers. This methodology is notoriously flawed and could be helped if the researchers had also interviewed real-world players.

And Drezner overlooked another common flaw shared by both political science and accountics research. If the findings are as important as claimed by authors, why aren't other researchers frantically trying to replicate the results? The lack of replication in accounting science (accountics research) is scandalous ---
Formal and well-crafted interviews with important players (investors, standard setters, CEOs, etc.) constitute possible ways of replicating empirical and analytical findings.

The closest things we have to in-depth contact with real world players in accounting research is research conducted by the standard setters themselves such as the FASB, the IASB, the GASB, etc. Sometimes these are interviews, although more often then not they are comment letters. But accountics researchers wave off such research as anecdotal and seldom even quote the public archives of such interviews and comments. Surveys are frequently published but these tend to be relegated to less prestigious academic research journals and practitioner journals.

Most importantly of all in accountics is that the leading accounting research journals for tenure, promotion, and performance evaluation in academe are devoted to accountics paper. Normative methods, case studies, and interviews are rarely used in studies published in such journals. The following is a quotation from “An Analysis of the Evolution of Research Contributions by The Accounting Review (TAR): 1926-2005,” by Jean L. Heck and Robert E. Jensen, Accounting Historians Journal, Volume 34, No. 2, December 2007, Page 121.

Leading accounting professors lamented TAR’s preference for rigor over relevancy [Zeff, 1978; Lee, 1997; and Williams, 1985 and 2003]. Sundem [1987] provides revealing information about the changed perceptions of authors, almost entirely from academe, who submitted manuscripts for review between June 1982 and May 1986. Among the 1,148 submissions, only 39 used archival (history) methods; 34 of those submissions were rejected. Another 34 submissions used survey methods; 33 of those were rejected. And 100 submissions used traditional normative (deductive) methods with 85 of those being rejected. Except for a small set of 28 manuscripts classified as using “other” methods (mainly descriptive empirical according to Sundem), the remaining larger subset of submitted manuscripts used methods that Sundem [1987, p. 199] classified these as follows:

292          General Empirical

172          Behavioral

135          Analytical modeling

119          Capital Market

  97          Economic modeling

  40          Statistical modeling

  29          Simulation


It is clear that by 1982, accounting researchers realized that having mathematical or statistical analysis in TAR submissions made accountics virtually a necessary, albeit not sufficient, condition for acceptance for publication. It became increasingly difficult for a single editor to have expertise in all of the above methods. In the late 1960s, editorial decisions on publication shifted from the TAR editor alone to the TAR editor in conjunction with specialized referees and eventually associate editors [Flesher, 1991, p. 167]. Fleming et al. [2000, p. 45] wrote the following:

The big change was in research methods. Modeling and empirical methods became prominent during 1966-1985, with analytical modeling and general empirical methods leading the way. Although used to a surprising extent, deductive-type methods declined in popularity, especially in the second half of the 1966-1985 period.

I think the emphasis highlighted in red above demonstrates that "Methodological Confusion" reigns supreme in accounting science as well as political science.

February 22, 2008 reply from James M. Peters [jpeters@NMHU.EDU]

A couple of years ago, P. Kothari, one of the Editors of JAE and a full professor at MIT, visited the U. of Maryland to present a paper. In my private discussion with him, I asked him to identify what he considered to the the settled findings associated with the last 30 years of capital markets research in accounting. I pointed out that somewhere over half of all accounting research since Ball and Brown fit into this category and I was curious as to what the effort had added to Ball and Brown. That is, what conclusions have been drawn that could be considered settled ground so that researchers could move on to other topics. His response, and I quote, was "I understand your point, Jim." He could not identify one issue that researchers had been able to "put to bed" after all that effort.

Jim Peters
New Mexico Highlands University

February 22, 2008 reply from J. S. Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]


P. Kothari's response is to be expected. I have had similar responses from at least two ex-editors of TAR; how appropriate a TLA! But who wants to bell the cats (or call off the naked emperors' bluff)? Accounting academia knows which side of the bread is buttered.

That you needed to flaunt Kothari's resume to legitimise his vacuous response shows the pathetic state of accounting academia.

If accounting academia is not to be reduced to the laughing stock of accounting practice, we better start listening to the problems that practice faces. How else can we understand what we profess to "research"? We accounting academics have been circling our wagons too long as a ploy to keep our wages arbitrarily high.

In as much as we are a profession, any academic on such a committee reduces the whole exercise to a farce.


Bob Jensen's threads on research methods in accounting can be found at 

The Financial Analyst Forecasting Literature: A Taxonomy with Suggestions for Further Research

From the Unknown Professor in the Financial Rounds Blog on February 23, 2008 ---

Sundaresh Ramnath, Steve Rock and Philip Shane have a piece in the 2008 International Journal Of Forecasting entitled "The Financial Analyst Forecasting Literature: A Taxonomy with Suggestions for Further Research." In it, they catalog and organize about 250 research articles on various facets of the equity analysis process done since 1992 (it builds on earlier pieces by Schipper (991) and Brown (1993)). They arrange their review into the following topics:
  • How do analysts make decisions (i.e. what information do they use, how does their environment affect them, etc...)
  • What is the nature of analysts expertise (i.e. how do you measure it, is there herding, etc...)
  • Information content (how informative are analysts forecasts, is there information in forecasts over an above other available information)
  • Market efficiency (how much is extant information reflected in forecasts, do stock prices reflect the info in forecasts, etc...)
  • What incentives or behavioral biases affect or are present in analyst forecasts
  • How does the regulatory environment affect the forecasting process
  • How statistically valid are analyst forecast studies?
All in all, it's a very thorough piece, and I suspect it'll end up being read and cited by quite academics. In particular, I'd recommend it to grad students who are trying to get up to speed on this very broad literature.

The IJF piece is for subscribers only, but there's an ungated version on SSRN

As David Bartholomae observes, “We make a huge mistake if we don’t try to articulate more publicly what it is we value in intellectual work. We do this routinely for our students — so it should not be difficult to find the language we need to speak to parents and legislators.” If we do not try to find that public language but argue instead that we are not accountable to those parents and legislators, we will only confirm what our cynical detractors say about us, that our real aim is to keep the secrets of our intellectual club to ourselves. By asking us to spell out those secrets and measuring our success in opening them to all, outcomes assessment helps make democratic education a reality.
Gerald Graff, "Assessment Changes Everything," Inside Higher Ed, February 21, 2008 ---
Gerald Graff is professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and president of the Modern Language Association. This essay is adapted from a paper he delivered in December at the MLA annual meeting, a version of which appears on the MLA’s Web site and is reproduced here with the association’s permission. Among Graff’s books are Professing Literature, Beyond the Culture Wars and Clueless in Academe: How School Obscures the Life of the Mind.

The consensus report, which was approved by the group’s international board of directors, asserts that it is vital when accrediting institutions to assess the “impact” of faculty members’ research on actual practices in the business world.

"Measuring ‘Impact’ of B-School Research," by Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, February 21, 2008 ---

Ask anyone with an M.B.A.: Business school provides an ideal environment to network, learn management principles and gain access to jobs. Professors there use a mix of scholarly expertise and business experience to teach theory and practice, while students prepare for the life of industry: A simple formula that serves the school, the students and the corporations that recruit them.

Yet like any other academic enterprise, business schools expect their faculty to produce peer-reviewed research. The relevance, purpose and merit of that research has been debated almost since the institutions started appearing, and now a new report promises to add to the discussion — and possibly stir more debate. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business on Thursday released the final report of its Impact of Research Task Force, the result of feedback from almost 1,000 deans, directors and professors to a preliminary draft circulated in August.

The consensus report, which was approved by the group’s international board of directors, asserts that it is vital when accrediting institutions to assess the “impact” of faculty members’ research on actual practices in the business world. But it does not settle on concrete metrics for impact, leaving that discussion to a future implementation task force, and emphasizes that a “one size fits all” approach will not work in measuring the value of scholars’ work.

The report does offer suggestions for potential measures of impact. For a researcher studying how to improve manufacturing practices, impact could be measured by counting the number of firms adopting the new approach. For a professor who writes a book about finance for a popular audience, one measure could be the number of copies sold or the quality of reviews in newspapers and magazines.

“In the past, there was a tendency I think to look at the [traditional academic] model as kind of the desired situation for all business schools, and what we’re saying here in this report is that there is not a one-size-fits-all model in this business; you should have impact and expectations dependent on the mission of the business school and the university,” said Richard Cosier, the dean of the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University and vice chair and chair-elect of AACSB’s board. “It’s a pretty radical position, if you know this business we’re in.”

That position worried some respondents to the initial draft, who feared an undue emphasis on immediate, visible impact of research on business practices — essentially, clear utilitarian value — over basic research. The final report takes pains to alleviate those concerns, reassuring deans and scholars that it wasn’t minimizing the contributions of theoretical work or requiring that all professors at a particular school demonstrate “impact” for the institution to be accredited.

“Many readers, for instance, inferred that the Task Force believes that ALL intellectual contributions must be relevant to and impact practice to be valued. The position of the Task Force is that intellectual contributions in the form of basic theoretical research can and have been extremely valuable even if not intended to directly impact practice,” the report states.

“It also is important to clarify that the recommendations would not require every faculty member to demonstrate impact from research in order to be academically qualified for AACSB accreditation review. While Recommendation #1 suggests that AACSB examine a school’s portfolio of intellectual contributions based on impact measures, it does not specify minimum requirements for the maintenance of individual academic qualification. In fact, the Task Force reminds us that to demonstrate faculty currency, the current standards allow for a breadth of other scholarly activities, many of which may not result in intellectual contributions.”

Cosier, who was on the task force that produced the report, noted that business schools with different missions might require differing definitions of impact. For example, a traditional Ph.D.-granting institution would focus on peer-reviewed research in academic journals that explores theoretical questions and management concepts. An undergraduate institution more geared toward classroom teaching, on the other hand, might be better served by a definition of impact that evaluated research on pedagogical concerns and learning methods, he suggested.

A further concern, he added, is that there simply aren’t enough Ph.D.-trained junior faculty coming down the pipeline, let alone resources to support them, to justify a single research-oriented model across the board. “Theoretically, I’d say there’s probably not a limit” to the amount of academic business research that could be produced, “but practically there is a limit,” Cosier said.

But some critics have worried that the report could encourage a focus on the immediate impact of research at the expense of theoretical work that could potentially have an unexpected payoff in the future.

Historically, as the report notes, business scholarship was viewed as inferior to that in other fields, but it has gained esteem among colleagues over the past 50 or so years. In that context, the AACSB has pursued a concerted effort to define and promote the role of research in business schools. The report’s concrete recommendations also include an awards program for “high-impact” research and the promotion of links between faculty members and managers who put some of their research to use in practice.

The recommendations still have a ways to go before they become policy, however. An implementation task force is planned to look at how to turn the report into a set of workable policies, with some especially worried about how the “impact” measures would be codified. The idea, Cosier said, was to pilot some of the ideas in limited contexts before rolling them out on a wider basis.

Jensen Comment
It will almost be a joke to watch leading accountics researchers trying of show how their esoteric findings have impacted the practice world when the professors themselves cannot to point to any independent replications of their own work ---
Is the practice world so naive as to rely upon findings of scientific research that has not been replicated?

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at

February 22, 2008 reply from Ed Scribner [escribne@NMSU.EDU]


I’d surprised to see much reaction from “accountics” researchers as they are pretty secure, especially since the report takes pains not to antagonize them. Anyway, in the words of Corporal Klinger of the 4077th MASH Unit, “It takes a lot of manure to produce one perfect rose.”


February 25, 2008 reply from Paul Williams [Paul_Williams@NCSU.EDU]

On 24 Feb 2008 at 14:18, David Albrecht wrote:
> I am struck by a seeming incongruity.
> On one hand there is no respect for accounting research in B-schools. On the other
> hand, publishing accounting research in peer-reviewed pubs is a requirement for AQ
> status in B-schools.
> More and more I am attracted to Ernest Boyer's description of multiple forms of
> scholarships and multiple outlets of scholarship.
Re: this conversation.
Ian Shapiro, professor of Political Science at Yale, has recently published a book "The Flight from Reality in the Human Sciences"  (Princeton U. Press, 2005) that assures that the problem is not confined to accounting (though it is more ludicrous a place for a discipline that is actually a practice).  All of the social sciences have succumbed to rational decision theory and methodological purity to the point that academe now largely deals with understanding human behavior only within a mathematically tractible unreality made real in the academy essentially because of its mathematical tractibility.  Jagdish recent post is insightful (and inciteful to the winners of this game in our academy).  The problem the US academy has defined for itself is not solvable.  Optimal information systems?  Information useful for decision making (without any consideration of the intervening "motives" (potentially infinite in number) that convert assessments into actions)?   
As Bob has so frequently reminded us replication is the lifeblood of science, yet we never replicate.  But we couldn't replicate if we wanted to because replication is not the point.  Anyone with a passing familiarity with laboratory sciences knows that a fundamental ethic of those sciences is the laboratory journal.  The purpose of the journal is to provide the precise recipe of the experiments so that other scientists can replicate.  All research in accounting (that is published in the "top" journals, at least) is "laboratory research."  But do capital market or principal/agent researchers maintain a log that decribes in minute detail the innumerable decisions that they made along the way in assembling and manipulating their data (as chemists and biologists are bound to do by virtue of the  research ethics of their disciplines) ?  No way.  From any published article, it is nearly impossible to actually replicate one of their experiments because the article is never sufficient documentation.  But, of course, that isn't the point. Producing politically correct academic reputations is what our enterprise is about. Ideology trumps science every time.  We don't want to know the "truth."  Sadly, this suits the profession just fine.  (It's this dream world that permits such nonsensical statements like trading off relevance for reliability -- how can I know how relevant a datum is unless I know something about its reliability?  Isn't the whole idea of science to increase the relevance of data by increasing their reliability?)

Bob Jensen's threads on the sad state of academic accounting research are at

Also see

Do you have a Talkshow party line?
Where's Ernestine?
Maybe Ernestine is just to busy on Talkshow lines to appear in movies and television shows these days.

Now that most of us know what "chat rooms" are for simultaneous email messaging among small groups, we now have "Talkshoe" party lines being used for chat room telephones ---
Richard Campbell forwarded the link to this latest thing in telephone party lines.

Update 1 on Professors Who Cheat

"Columbia U. Professor Denies Plagiarism, Saying Accusers Instead Stole Her Work," by Thomas Bartlett, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 22, 2008 --

A Columbia University professor who was found to have committed numerous acts of plagiarism struck back at her accusers on Thursday, saying it was they who stole her work and accusing administrators of blackmail and intimidation.

In a lengthy interview with The Chronicle, Madonna G. Constantine, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia's Teachers College, spelled out her side of the story. She said she believes that her accusers are motivated by professional envy and possibly racism. Ms. Constantine also contended that the president of Teachers College, Susan H. Fuhrman, is biased against her.

As for the alleged plagiarism itself, Ms. Constantine insisted that her work was finished first and that she was the victim of academic fraud. In a written statement, she said she had "documentary proof that my scholarly work under question was started and completed well before the accusers' own work."

Ms. Constantine promised to provide that proof once all the materials had been gathered. She plans to submit her evidence to a faculty appeals committee, which will then make a nonbinding recommendation to the president of the Teachers College.

A law firm hired by the university concluded, after an 18-month investigation, that Ms. Constantine had plagiarized the work of two former students and a former colleague. As part of that investigation, Ms. Constantine was allowed to submit a rebuttal to the complaints against her. The law firm investigating the matter, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, found that the evidence she presented was not credible.

As a result of the investigation, the university reduced her salary and, according to Ms. Constantine, asked for her resignation, which she declined to give. A university spokeswoman could not confirm that the university asked for the professor's resignation.

Ms. Constantine, however, argues that the investigation was biased and that she was not given a full opportunity to make her case. She also questions the neutrality of the investigation because her three accusers were given indemnity—a fact, she argues, that proves that they received favorable treatment.

But, according to Christine Yeh, a former associate professor at Teachers College whose work Ms. Constantine was found to have copied, she and the two former students insisted on such protections in case Ms. Constantine filed a lawsuit—which she had previously threatened to do. The agreement with the university did not protect them from charges of plagiarism, had the law firm discovered that they were to blame. But Columbia did agree to defend them if they were to be sued.

Who Saw What When?

Untangling the opposing allegations is difficult. The two former students both say Ms. Constantine stole their unpublished work and published it as her own. Ms. Constantine says it was the other way around.

In the case of the accusation by Ms. Yeh, who now teaches at the University of San Francisco, Ms. Constantine's paper was published in 2004, several months before Ms. Yeh's. Both papers focused on indigenous healing. Ms. Yeh's research has long centered around indigenous healing, and drafts of her paper had circulated as early as 2001 in the department of counseling and clinical psychology, where both women taught.. In addition, Ms. Yeh's co-authors had presented a version of the paper at a meeting of the American Psychological Association in 2002.

It would have been easy, Ms. Yeh says, for Ms. Constantine to get a copy of an earlier draft.

Ms. Constantine says Ms. Yeh must have obtained a copy of a proposal she sent to the editor of the journal that published her paper. She did not know how Ms. Yeh might have obtained that proposal.

For Ms. Yeh, the study of indigenous healing has been a lifelong endeavor. Her father, now deceased, was a professor at Villanova University and studied indigenous healing himself. When he was ill, she used energy-healing techniques to help him. "The idea that I would make this up or steal her work when I have been doing this for so long is ridiculous," she said.

Nearly Identical Language

One of the former graduate students, Tracy Juliao, says Ms. Constantine borrowed a number of passages from her dissertation on the multiple roles of women for a paper the professor published in 2006 in the journal Professional School Counseling. The two documents share many of the same ideas, along with examples of identical or near-identical language.

For instance, here is an excerpt from Ms. Juliao's dissertation, which was completed in 2004 and published the following year:

"The theory acknowledges that different roles might come into conflict with one another, but proposes that adjusting the entire system of roles to accommodate the conflicts will produce more rewarding results."

And here is a passage from Ms. Constantine's 2006 paper:

"Role balance theory acknowledges that different roles might come into conflict with each other, but women's ability to adjust their entire system of roles to accommodate potential conflicts will likely produce more rewarding results."

Several other examples of parallels between the two documents were provided to The Chronicle. And Ms. Yeh confirmed that Ms. Juliao had been working in the area of multiple roles of women since 2000. For a time, Ms. Constantine was Ms. Juliao's academic adviser, and the two discussed her research. And, as a faculty member, Ms. Constantine would have had access to student dissertations before they were published.

Ms. Constantine says she did not see Ms. Juliao's dissertation until the fall of 2006, after her paper was published. She says they both talked about their ideas freely. Ms. Constantine could not explain how Ms. Juliao would have been able to copy her paper several years before it was published.

Ms. Juliao says she had no clue, until she saw the paper, that Ms. Constantine might be copying her work. "This is very personal to me," she said. "I have pictures of her playing with my daughter on graduation day. Just looking at that makes me sick to my stomach now."

Assertions About the Role of Race

The accusations and the resulting investigation are part of what Ms. Constantine terms a "conspiracy" and a "witch hunt."

"There are people working behind the scenes collectively, as a unit, to create distress and dissension and to bring people down," Ms. Constantine said on Thursday.

Among those people, according to Ms. Constantine, is Ms. Fuhrman, the president of Teachers College. Ms. Constantine said she did not know why Ms. Fuhrman disliked her. However, she cited a memorandum about the plagiarism investigation that was sent to faculty members earlier this week as proof of animus from the administration. The fact that the memo was hand-delivered, rather than being sent through the campus mail, shows that the president is trying to intimidate her, she said.

According to a spokeswoman for the university, Marcia Horowitz, Ms. Fuhrman barely knows Ms. Constantine.

Ms. Constantine said she believes that one reason she is being accused of plagiarism is that she African-American. Race, she said, plays a major role in the investigation.

. . .

Professors at the Teachers College also received an e-mail message from Karen Cort, the other graduate student whose work Ms. Constantine was found to have copied. In the message, Ms. Cort says that Ms. Constantine, who was her mentor, had told her that her work was not good enough to be published. She later saw portions of that same work in print, under Ms. Constantine's name.

Ms. Cort, who is African-American, says Ms. Constantine's claim that the investigation is motivated by race is "what pains me the most."

In the e-mail message, Ms. Cort calls her former mentor "the most hypocritical person I ever met in my life."

Update 2 on Professors Who Cheat

"CONTEMPTIBLE COLUMBIA," New York Post, February 25, 2008 --- Click Here

Teachers College claims to be independent of Columbia University - but when it comes to moral cowardice, it's hard to tell them apart.

To wit, Teachers College revealed last week that an 18-month investigation has determined that Professor Madonna Constantine had lifted the work of a colleague and several students.

Now, plagiarism is a firing offense at Morningside Heights, right?

Amazingly, no.

Teachers announced that it had merely imposed secret "serious sanctions" against Constantine.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
How would you like to be the colleague who is hereafter forced to go on day to day on the job with someone who stole your work in progress and published it as her own work?

Professor Constantine sounds very street smart but foolhardy when it comes to plagiarizing. I mean if you’ve going to plagiarize it does not seem smart to steal writings of your students and colleagues and later claim they stole it from you. Odds are that some of your sources can prove they wrote it first! This is indeed what happened to Professor Constantine.

Think of the convoluted reasoning. If Student S turned in a paper that really plagiarized Professor P’s writing, what grounds does Professor P have for giving S an A grade for the project and then later claiming S plagiarized Professor P’s earlier writings? Get real!

The fact of the matter is that students who plagiarize place themselves in jeopardy of being suspended or expelled. At many universities with honor codes the fate of a plagiarizing student is in the hands of a student court that is more likely to inflict severe punishment than instructors.

There are a number of precedents now that indicate faculty who plagiarize are in less jeopardy than their students because their universities are so lenient in punishing plagiarizing faculty. How likely is it that a tenured professor who gets caught plagiarizing will get fired? My contention is that the odds of firing a professor are much, much lower than the odds of expelling a student.

I’ve mentioned this story before, but it’s worth repeating. I worked at a university where my Department Chair, a tenured professor, was asked to return to the prestigious University X where he was being accused of plagiarism in his doctoral dissertation years earlier. If found guilty of plagiarism his doctoral diploma was going to be revoked. Although he was not an accounting professor (his field was management), he was being accused of plagiarizing the printed articles of a tenured accounting professor at University X. As it turned out in the investigation, it was really the accounting professor at University X who plagiarized the dissertation of this doctoral student.

The bottom line is that the doctoral student at University X was 100% certain to have his doctoral diploma withdrawn if he’d plagiarized portions of his thesis. But the accounting professor who published plagiarized passages from that student’s thesis was allowed to carry on as a tenured professor, teach courses, supervise doctoral dissertations, and apparently received no punishment other than embarrassment in front of a few sympathetic colleagues who were ready to hang the doctoral student.

To this day, I think I’m the only accounting professor in the world, other than University X accounting professors, who knows the name of the accounting professor at University X who plagiarized from a doctoral student’s thesis. And I know about it only because that student eventually became my boss and was called back to University X while I was working for him. By the way, he was only my boss for a short while before he moved on to become the youngest president in history of a university. He moved from Department Chair of one university to President of another university in one step. That’s almost unheard of in the academy.

Unfortunately Professor Constantine’s fate after having been caught plagiarizing is the rule rather than the exception. The academy is hypocritical when it comes to plagiarism by one of its own. See 

One of the dirtiest forms of plagiarism is when journal referees reject submitted works and later publish those ideas under different wording.

What happens when professors let students cheat?

"‘Distinguished’ No Longer," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, February 22, 2008 ---

Fallout continues from a plagiarism saga at Ohio University that has clouded the reputation of the university’s engineering college. Earlier this month, Roderick J. McDavis, Ohio’s president, for the first time in the institution’s history rescinded the title of “distinguished professor,” a high academic honor that had been given to engineering professor Jay S. Gunasekera years earlier for his research, teaching and service.

Gunasekera is at the center of the controversy, the subject of charges that he both plagiarized a graduate student’s work in a published book, and failed to adequately monitor graduate students who went on to copy others’ material in theses they submitted under his watch.

What began in 2005 as a former engineering graduate student’s effort to show dishonesty among his colleagues has ballooned into a university-wide investigation. A review by two university officials found “rampant and flagrant plagiarism” by graduate students in the mechanical engineering department, as well as a “failure to monitor” those students.

Gunasekera didn’t respond to messages for comment Thursday. He is suing the university for defamation and has said the report misstates his role.

Several other committees have looked into the work of students, many of whom Gunasekera advised. Already, Ohio has revoked the master’s degree of a former mechanical engineering student whose thesis it determined contained unoriginal work.

Gunasekera was chair of the department at the time the allegations surfaced. He was removed from that position, and also had a named professorship taken away. This year, he’s on assignment and not teaching or advising students.

In November, a panel of fellow “distinguished professors” who looked at Gunasekera’s work and that of some of his students, voted to recommend that the university remove “distinguished” from his title.

“It’s supposed to be an honor for people whose records have brought acclaim to the university and to themselves,” said Steven Grimes, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy, who chaired the committee and voted to rescind the title. “He clearly had done that, but obviously now it doesn’t look like he’s helping the reputation of the university.”

McDavis, himself the subject of much faculty criticism for his leadership of the university, followed the group’s recommendation.

David Drabold, a distinguished professor of physics, who voted in favor of removing the title, said he was surprised that the decision took as long as it did. “I think the case was fairly clear,” Drabold said, adding that he was swayed by the examples of unoriginal work from theses that were approved by Gunasekera.

Those who have heard Gunasekera’s defense to the plagiarism charges say the professor argues that as an international professor (he taught in Australia and Sri Lanka) he didn’t understand the prevailing American citation standards.

Drabold said he can understand how that could have been the case initially — Gunasekera joined the Ohio faculty in 1983. He even said the professor made an attempt in the preface of the book in question to credit the graduate student whose material he used.

But, as Drabold and others on the distinguished faculty committee note, his defense wouldn’t explain why he allowed his graduate students to routinely copy others for years after he started at Ohio.

Said Gar Rothwell, a distinguished professor of environmental and plant biology: “There are standards of scholarship that we all have to follow. They aren’t secret.”

Greg Kremer, chair of the mechanical engineering department and an associate professor, said while he didn’t feel comfortable commenting on what Gunasekera’s future at Ohio should be, he offered that “the level of proof and the level of seriousness it takes to remove a distinguished professor title is very, very significantly different than anything that would result in the de-tenuring process.”

Kremer said the department is waiting for the university-wide investigation of student theses to finish before it decides whether to take action.

Several of the distinguished professors interviewed referred to Gunasekera as affable and successful in parts of his professional life — saying he brought in significant external funding for engineering and technology projects.

“This is a decent man who has been through a lot of unpleasantness,” Drabold said. “This was an active, productive person. He was trying to be a good citizen and was simply doing too much.”

Grimes agrees that Gunasekera likely didn’t have bad intentions, and that “it’s not at all obvious to me that what he did rises to the level of firing.” Yet he said that he’d still “seriously consider” voting for de-tenure.

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at

Chapel Hill High Breaks Cheating Ring
Chapel Hill High School officials busted a cheating ring this month in which students used a master key to enter teachers' offices at night and, in at least one case, used a camera phone to copy exam answers. Officials learned of the stolen key Feb. 15 while investigating students for having the answers to a mid-term, Principal Jackie Ellis said in an e-mail message Monday. The key opened most of the school's doors, she said. The cheating apparently went on for several years, with the key being passed from one year's graduates to the next and with an ever larger circle of students keeping the secret, Ellis told parents in another e-mail last week. "Evidently a large number of students were aware that this was happening and remained silent," she wrote. Bill Melega, a history teacher, said he heard as many as 30 students were involved. He said the mid-term exam was for an advanced placement government and politics class. He said those implicated are good students and that some of his seniors are now suspended.
Cheryl Johnston Sadgrove and Mark Schultz, "Chapel Hill High Breaks Cheating Ring," Raleigh News Observer, February 26, 2008 --- Click Here

Jensen Comment
Such incidents are likely to be higher in college towns. A year or two ago the exact same thing happened in a Hanover high school where Dartmouth College is located. In both these instances the culprits tend to be top students with high aspirations for admission to Ivy League colleges.

Current Account Balances Compared by Nations ---
Guess who's on the bottom with an enormous negative number?

"'Where Did I Leave That Student Data?'," by Jeffry R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 26, 2008 ---

It seems like every time Beth Cate walks into a classroom to teach at Indiana University, she finds a thumb drive that has been accidentally left behind by an absent-minded colleague. She wonders whether there might be any private student data on that drive — like graded papers — which could mean an illegal leak of personal student information by the university.

Keeping student data on physical devices like those USB drives is one of the newest legal land mines for campus administrators, said Ms. Cate, who is the university’s associate general counsel, during a panel at The Chronicle’s Technology Forum here. “I really worry about mobile devices,” she said.

Tracy Mitrano, director of information-technology policy and of computer policy and law at Cornell University, agreed that physical security of storage drives and computers is a growing problem. “Human error often lies at the bottom of a lot of data breaches,” she said. “It’s not necessarily the sophisticated hacking incidents.”

Jensen Comment
This reminds me of an incident last spring reported on the AECM listserv. The colleges are supersensitive to these data breaches because the tort lawyers would like to sue the university on behalf of students who had some personal data about them stolen.  The fact that the stolen device may have had encrypted data does not always impress the lawyers filing the lawsuits. It might be better to remotely access data stored behind locked doors on computers that cannot be accidentally "left behind." I use Cisco VPN to access my drives that are secured in the Trinity University Computer center and password protected.  Other alternatives are mentioned at

February 26, 2008 reply from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]

My university now provides secure on-line storage. A problem, as I see it, is that the file must be downloaded to some machine or device for use. Of course, the updated file needs to be uploaded, replacing the original file on the server. A difficulty, as I see it, is securely deleting the file from the machine (or device) that the faculty member used to work on the file.

Surely, if lawyers are not impressed by encryption, they would be even less impressed with a "secure" delete from the faculty member's machine be it office or personal.

And, what if someone like Jagdish wants to use a Google spreadsheet file. Certainly leaving the file on Google's servers is a no-no. Does the file need to be uploaded to Google in order to use Google's spreadsheet program?

And what about the need to secure transmission lines?

And there are other issues about length of time to retain student data. In Ohio, faculty must retain records related to student work in a course for six years past the date of a student's last association with the university. These records would include data on test scores, course grade, homework grades, even attendance. This means that I must figure out when a student as been gone from the university for six years, and then delete a record from my grade file for the course the student took from me. Well, teaching 8 courses per year (including summer) over the years, with many large sections, this means that I must monitor length of time since disassociation with the university for a few thousand students. I understand that I must reinstate the student record if a student later comes back to the university after six years.

I've been going over the fine print of the my university's document retention policy, and I have discovered that I must retain a copy of all student work (including tests, homework, projects) for one year past the end of the course (even if I return the original marked up copy of the work to the student). Given that at any time I could have several hundred students within that one year window, this means that I must retain copies totalling thousands of tests, homework assignments and projects. This is a document handling nightmare. I just finished grading a test for 84 students, totalling 1,092 document pages. I now need to figure out where to find the time to photocopy each test or how to scan each test. If I photocopy each test, then I must find a secure place to store the paper copies. Over a 12 to 15 month window, I figure that I'll have tens of thousands of sheets of paper. My office isn't all that big to begin with, and tens of thousands of sheets of paper will surely contribute to clutter. Also, I have no budget for making so many paper copies, and no one will be assigned to help me make the copies anyway, so I must do all of this by myself. Now,if I scan each document, I must find a secure place to store the files. I am limited to the number of files and size of storage I am permitted on the new secure server for faculty document storage.

I understand the implicit threat that if I don't maintain such a copy of student records (either for 6 years for tests scores and 1 year for a copy of actual work), and it is asked for, then I will be subject to punishment. The fine for destroying a public document before its time is $10,000 per page I think that the penalty for early destruction of a student document or record is undefined, so it must be pretty much at the discretion of the administrator. And if I maintain the copy for too long, and this is discovered, then I am subject to punishment. And the penalty unauthorized viewing of any of these confidential student records? My university has already shown a willingness and enthusiasm for levying draconian penalties for what it calls improper handling of student records.

And the need to back-up is ever present, whether I'm talking about paper or electronic copies.

And every time I destroy a student record I must complete a form and file it with the appropriate official.

I'm finding that I can't find the time to read the new policies in this area as fast as administrators and lawyers create them. I also can't find the time nor am I smart enough to figure out how to comply with policies that contradict one another. And how do I keep so many copies and manage so much data? I don't want to be a clerk. And I don't have time for all of this. Clearly there has to be a better way. What is it?

All of a sudden my potential liability is far greater than anything I ever imagined when I decided to become a professor.

What a mess we are in!

David Albrecht
Bowling Green

February 27, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi David,

Some remote devices like VPN do not require downloading of files into a local machine. However, this is not necessarily something you want to do for a lot of files since remote computing is generally slower. I usually prefer to download, update, and then upload.

After you’ve downloaded a file like a file of CourseGrades.xls, updated that file locally, and uploaded that file and a backup file to a secure remote drive on campus, it may be better to next fill CourseGrades.xls on your local machine with jibberish. Then when you delete CourseGrades.xls on your local machine you will just be deleting jibberish. Thieves who steal your computer will then either not find any CourseGrades.xls file or they will recover a deleted file with nothing but jibberish.

One advantage of files stored in college computer centers is that these files are usually backed up by some type of RAID system so it is possible for your authorized techies to recover files that were lost on their system computers.

Your college probably provides you with only limited space on a computer center’s computer, but it generally is adequate for administrative files like grade files and perhaps student projects that do not contain a lot of multimedia. Now your email exchange server is another matter. None of us are particularly pleased with the limited exchange server space, but hopefully the computer center will provide us with additional space for “personal files” that we receive by email and want to store on a computer center storage device rather than a local computer that may break down without any RAID to tape backup.

Professors who have high volumes of student email messages have an enormous problem unless the university is rather generous with computer center storage space for “personal files” that are moved from an exchange server to some other storage computer. My university has been very generous with me in this regard. It is also very generous with me when it comes to storing massive multimedia Web server files. I am indeed a fortunate emeritus professor. Life is good!

Bob Jensen

February 27, 2008 reply from Glen L Gray [glen.gray@CSUN.EDU]

We have two ways to get to our secure server, but both require specific software on the "client" computer (the computer you are sitting at). We use Cisco VPN and a secure FTP package called SSH FTP. The SSH FTP does NOT require the VPN be running because it provides its own encrypted link.

BTW If your school offers VPN software, you should absolutely install it on your "traveling" laptop--and use it all the time no matter what you are accessing. VPN gives you a secure tunnel to WHATEVER (e.g., your school server, your bank, etc. etc,) you are accessing. So, if you are traveling and you are using a wireless network or hotel network or even a modem, your communications are encrypted.

Glen L. Gray, PhD, CPA
Accounting & Information Systems, COBAE
California State University,
Northridge Northridge, CA 91330-8372
818.677.3948 818.677.2461 (messages)


Will libraries themselves solve much of the publisher rip-off in academe?

"Open Minds, Open Books, Open Source," by Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, February 19, 2008 ---

Last month, a survey by Marshall Breeding, director for innovative technologies and research at Vanderbilt University’s library, revealed a measure of discord over the options available to librarians for automating their electronic catalogs and databases, software called integrated library systems. Most libraries use solutions from third-party commercial vendors, paying up-front fees and yearly maintenance charges. “Dissatisfaction and concern prevail,” Breeding wrote, “yet some companies maintain exceptional levels of satisfaction from the libraries that use their products.”

So librarians aren’t exactly reaching for their torches and pitchforks. Still, some libraries, fed up with software that doesn’t fully meet their needs, have decided to take matters, figuratively, into their own hands. With a bit of grant money and some eager developers, institutions have begun creating their own open-source solutions that are fully customizable, free for others to use and compatible with existing systems. The result has been a whole crop of projects that, when combined, could serve as a fully integrated, end-to-end open-source solution for academic libraries, covering the interface, search mechanism, database system, citations and even course management.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on open sourcing are at

Bob Jensen's threads on the dastardly publisher oligopoly/monopoly are at

It's hard to shut down a controversial offshore site ---
What does this have to do with Wiki tales of alligator dads and human moms?

"U.S. judge orders Wikileaks Web site shut down," by Adam Liptak and Brad Stone, International Herald News, February 20, 2008 ---

In a move that legal experts said could present a major test of First Amendment rights in the Internet era, a federal judge in San Francisco on Friday ordered the disabling of a Web site devoted to disclosing confidential information.

The site,, invites people to post leaked materials with the goal of discouraging "unethical behavior" by corporations and governments. It has posted documents concerning the rules of engagement for American troops in Iraq, a military manual concerning the operation of prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and other evidence of what it has called corporate waste and wrongdoing.

The case in San Francisco was brought by a Cayman Islands bank, Julius Baer Bank and Trust. In court papers, the bank claimed that "a disgruntled ex-employee who has engaged in a harassment and terror campaign" provided stolen documents to Wikileaks in violation of a confidentiality agreement and banking laws. According to Wikileaks, "the documents allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures used for asset hiding, money laundering and tax evasion."

On Friday, Judge Jeffrey White of the Federal District Court in San Francisco granted a permanent injunction ordering Dynadot of San Mateo, California, the site's domain name registrar, to disable the domain name. The order had the effect of locking the front door to the site — a largely ineffectual action that kept back doors to the site, and several copies of it, available to sophisticated Web users who knew where to look.

Domain registrars like Dynadot, and provide domain names — the Web addresses users type into browsers — to Web site operators for a monthly fee. Judge White ordered Dynadot to disable the Web address and "lock" it to prevent the organization from transferring the name to another registrar.

The feebleness of the action suggests that the bank, and the judge, did not understand how the domain system works or how quickly Web communities will move to counter actions they see as hostile to free speech online.

The site itself could still be accessed at its Internet Protocol (IP) address ( — the unique number that specifies a Web site's location on the Internet. Wikileaks also maintained "mirror sites," which are copies of itself, usually to insure against outages and this kind of legal action. These sites were registered in countries like Belgium (, Germany (, and the Christmas Islands ( ) through domain registrars other that Dynadot, and so were not affected by the injunction.

Fans of the site and its mission rushed to publicize those alternate addresses this week. They have also distributed copies of the sensitive bank information on their own sites and via peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

In a separate order, also issued on Friday, Judge White ordered Dynadot and Wikileaks to stop distributing the bank documents. The second order, which the judge called an amended temporary restraining order, did not refer to the permanent injunction but may have been an attempt to narrow it.

Lawyers for the bank and Dynadot did not respond to requests for comment. Judge White has scheduled a hearing in the case for Feb. 29.

In a statement on its site, Wikileaks compared Judge White's orders to ones eventually overturned by the Unites States Supreme Court in the Pentagon Papers case in 1971. In that case, the federal government sought to enjoin publication of a secret history of the Vietnam War by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

"The Wikileaks injunction is the equivalent of forcing The Times's printers to print blank pages and its power company to turn off press power," the site said, referring to the order that sought to disable the entire site.

The site said it was founded by dissidents in China and journalists, mathematicians and computer specialists in the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa. Its goal, it said, is to develop "an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis."

Judge White's order disabling the entire site "is clearly not constitutional," said David Ardia, the director of the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard Law School. "There is no justification under the First Amendment for shutting down an entire Web site."

The narrower order, forbidding the dissemination of the disputed documents, is a more classic prior restraint on publication. Such orders are disfavored under the First Amendment and almost never survive appellate scrutiny.

You can read more about Internet censorship at
However, there are various ways to discourage use of certain sites such as Internet gambling sites ---
Especially note
Actually shutting down such sites is like trying to push Jell-O up a rope. has an open sharing problem that may be worse than Wikipedia. If is spammed with over a billion phony allegations and phony documents it will soon lose its credibility. Even The New York Times recently discovered that it can lose credibility and reputation by publishing allegations that it cannot back up with facts. And, unlike The New York Times, Wikipedia has no control over openly shared documents. will possibly become the world's biggest tabloid. But like tabloids reporting births of babies half human and half alligator, credibility becomes a joke unless serious facts back up serious allegations. That's probably the best way to destroy any Internet tabloid, and being a Wiki it's pretty easy to mate alligator dads with human moms.

AtGentive:   New software platforms that incorporate artificial intelligence and social networking into their approach toward e-learning.

February 20, 2008 message from Glen L Gray [glen.gray@CSUN.EDU]

Attention Please! Next-Generation E-Learning Is Here ICT Results (02/14/08)

European researchers working for the AtGentive project have developed two new software platforms that incorporate artificial intelligence and social networking into their approach toward e-learning. AtGentive coordinator Thierry Nabeth says the first generation of e-learning platforms focused on replicating the classroom experience, but student's often had difficulty staying motivated and the learning program failed to keep their attention. To overcome this problem, one of the AtGentive platforms uses techniques similar to those found on Web sites such as Facebook that make them so popular as a means of staying in touch with others. The platforms also use artificial intelligence to keep students interested. "Artificial agents are autonomous entities that observe users' activities and assess their state of attention in order to intervene so as to make the user experience more effective," Nabeth says. "The interventions can take many forms, from providing new information to the students, guiding them in their work, or alerting them when other users connect to the platform." The artificial intelligence agents provide a smart form of proactive coaching for students by assessing, guiding, and stimulating them. The agents can alert students when others have read their articles, or when they receive feedback on their contributions to a collaborative project. The agents are also able to detect when students are not interacting with the system and try to get them to rejoin the lesson.

Click Here to View Full Article

Glen L. Gray, PhD, CPA
Accounting & Information Systems, COBAE
California State University, Northridge
Northridge, CA 91330-8372
818.677.2461 (messages)

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

"The 10 Emerging Technologies of 2008:  Technology Review presents its annual list of the 10 most exciting technologies," MIT's Technology Review, March/April 2008 ---
They're listed at

Past 10 Emerging Technologies:
2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2001

Bob Jensen's threads on emerging technologies are at

Forwarded by Roger Roger Debreceny [Roger@DEBRECENY.COM]

"2008 Top Technologies and Honorable Mentions," AICPA Information Technology Center, February 2008 --- Click Here

"New Tool for Online Collections," by Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, February 20, 2008 ---

Archival collections, impossible to house centrally at many campuses, are about to get easier to use. Starting today, librarians and archivists can upload digital content into online collections with relative ease, allowing them to effectively curate items with open-source tools instead of relying on third-party consultants to build specialized Web portals.

The solution is a software package called Omeka (whose Swahili name means, among other things, “to display,” “to lay out for discussion” or “to unpack"), developed by George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media. The center, which supports numerous projects exploring online archives for historical purposes, also developed the open-source citation management tool Zotero. Omeka evolved from several similar historical archive projects being produced independently at the center, such as the September 11 Digital Archive and the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank.

“We sort of started to generalize those technologies that we used in those projects as kind of an internal thing,” said Tom Scheinfeldt, the center’s managing director. But they started to realize the problems faced by curators who couldn’t easily create online exhibitions without going through third-party vendors. “So we wanted to create some kind of system that would allow collecting institutions to mount rich narratives,” he said. A year and a half ago, the developers decided to release the code for a more general audience to meet a “broader need within the museum and library archive community.” Armed with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded in September, and with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the center, along with the Minnesota Historical Society, released a private beta version of the software that month.

Today, the beta code is being made available to the general public. Using blogging software as a kind of model, the software’s developers envision Omeka as a relatively simple way to produce a rich, well-designed site that meets the common needs of librarians and archivists. The software is highly customizable and open-source, and the site has a database of plug-ins written by other users and contributors that can, for example, alter a collection’s look, features and layout.

While there are plenty of open-source solutions for “the back of the house,” covering the cataloging and researching components, Scheinfeldt explained, there isn’t as much of a focus on access and presentation. “What access means to the general public is something more stylized, something more constructed, something more vetted, more curated, something more designed — an experience,” he said.

The software allows curators to post items to a digital collection, in virtually any format they’d need. The interface also lets users upload their own materials and control copyright options for each item. For example, someone could decide to post something only for scholars to view privately, instead of for the public display, while others could upload material anonymously.

Continued in article

Update on Open Source Textbooks

February 20, 2008 message from Nicole Allen, PIRG []

Hello, Professor Jensen- I came across your website and thought I'd write you a note.  I'm the director of the national student Affordable Textbooks campaign - we've recently launched an effort to expand the textbooks market to include more open-access and web-based options.

Most of the textbooks out there are expensive.  Many professors have already looked to the internet for course materials.  Among the resources available online are an emerging number of complete, no-cost "open textbooks" that can be used just like expensive, commercial textbooks.  A number of
existing open textbooks have been adopted at schools including Harvard, Caltech and Rice.

We see open textbooks as our best hope for introducing competition and instigating a shift in the textbook market. The current supply is still small, but it is enough to prove that textbooks do not necessarily have to be expensive!

The first step towards more support and investment in open textbooks is to demonstrate that faculty are willing to use them.  We launched the Open Textbooks Statement for faculty to state their intent to consider open textbooks in the search for the most appropriate course materials. 

I hope you will add your name -

[view list of signatories]

In any event, I want to link to your website and I'm unsure which page to link to.  Do you have any suggestions?  Also, we are working to get the word out about this statement - do you have advice for how to reach Trinity faculty?  Would you be willing to help?  Take care.

Nicole Allen

Textbooks Program Director
The Student PIRGs

Fulfilling the Promise of Open Content
The concept of aggregating, sharing, and collaboratively enriching free educational materials over the Internet has been emerging over the past several years. The movement has been led by faculty members and content specialists who believe that making lesson plans, training modules and full courses freely available can help improve teaching and make educational resources more dynamic through a cross-pollination of ideas and expertise. The Hewlett Foundation-funded OpenCourseWare initiative and the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education’s OER Commons offer a glimpse of the potential for open content in higher education.
Lesa Petrides, Inside Higher Ed, February 26, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing are at

"Corporate governance gets more transparent worldwide," USA Today, February 18, 2008 --- Click Here

With trillions of dollars in capital sailing the globe in search of investments, the shareholders' crusade for more open, well-run companies is gaining strength across many major and emerging markets. In what some call a worldwide corporate-governance movement, shareholders are pushing for stronger corporate-governance laws, teaming with investors from different countries and negotiating behind the scenes with businesses.

In earlier years, it was hard for shareholders to dig up details from thousands of global companies on their finances, their directors, executives' pay packages and other information critical to making investment moves.

"We've seen some dramatic changes," says Stanley Dubiel, head of governance research at RiskMetrics Group, the largest U.S.-based proxy research firm, with offices in 50 countries. "There's a strong desire on the part of many companies to attract capital from international investors."

Those investors carry a lot of weight. Pension funds and other large institutional investors oversaw $142 trillion in assets in 2006, reports the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

More of those funds — led by Calpers (California Public Employees' Retirement System) and TIAA-CREF in the USA and the Hermes pension fund in the United Kingdom — are wielding their financial clout in the name of shareholders.

Dozens of countries are developing systems of watchdog corporate-governance and shareholder activism, with some modeling themselves after U.S. and United Kingdom governance practices or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the U.S. anti-fraud law passed after the Enron accounting scandal six years ago led to the demise of the company.

South Africa, Italy and Japan, for instance, have recently beefed up their corporate-governance codes to strengthen shareholders' oversight of corporate boards, pay practices, accounting and auditing policies and other watchdog issues.

While corporate-governance experts say there's still a long way to go, activist investors appear to be making progress globally on key issues, from clearer financial disclosure to winning a greater voice for shareholders in determining executives' pay packages.

Shareholders make gains

In the United Kingdom, shareholders gained clout in policymaking with passage of the landmark Companies Act of 2006, which went into force last year. Among other provisions: Severance pay for a director needs approval by shareholders if it's more than twice the director's annual salary.

In Australia, where investors gained the right to cast advisory votes on executive pay practices in 2005, shareholders of the country's top 200 companies tallied a record 22% dissenting votes against company pay proposals and other resolutions last year, RiskMetrics Group reports.

Last June, in a big leap forward for the European Union, the European Commission signed new rules that require even the most secretive of publicly traded companies to communicate more openly with shareholders. Companies must allow electronic voting, notify investors of annual meetings and answer shareholders' questions.

"For many countries, corporate governance is at the top of their business agenda," says Anne Simpson, executive director of the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), a London-based group of large investors in 30 countries with $20 trillion in assets. "The conduct of companies is everyone's concern."

Institutional investors are gradually making progress and learning to adapt their tactics to different business cultures.

Take Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, which has sparked a shareholders' movement in Japan, the world's No. 2 economy after the USA.

In the 1990s, Calpers began investing in Japanese companies on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and lobbying aggressively for corporate-governance reform to break the stranglehold of the keiretsu, the secretive clubby network of Japanese corporate giants that dominate industries and stack boards with insiders.

But the Japanese business establishment rebuffed the foreign investors, and Calpers' hard-charging style met with limited success, according to management professor Sanford Jacoby at UCLA's Anderson School of Business.

Now, rather than embarrass poorly performing companies with media publicity, Calpers meets quietly with other pension-fund managers and large investors — including the Pension Fund Association, Japan's largest pension fund, with more than $100 billion in assets — to gain allies.

Among other changes, they're seeking more directors of Japanese boards who are independent of management, greater financial disclosure and the elimination of anti-takeover defenses that protect poorly run corporations. Calpers has $1 billion invested in Japanese companies such as Matsushita and Kenwood, and that number is likely to rise, says Dennis Brown, senior portfolio manager at Calpers.

About 21% of Calpers' $255 billion in assets under management are foreign stock holdings in 52 countries. The pension fund also is researching South Korea and South Africa for potential investments.

"We're still in the very early stages of global advancement in corporate governance," Brown says. "A tremendous amount of work needs to be done."

Why is global corporate governance taking off now?

Corporate scandals in the USA and other countries have led to corporate reform laws such as the USA's Sarbanes-Oxley, aiming to strengthen corporate-governance rules.

Shareholders have suffered many billions of dollars in losses from major business scandals in recent years involving engineering firm Siemens in Germany, the Parmalat food-and-dairy company in Italy, energy giant Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands, China Aviation Oil in Singapore and other foreign firms.

"There's no question that the Enrons and WorldComs of the world have heightened the need for better governance, and that momentum has carried all over the globe," says Reena Aggarwal, a Georgetown University finance professor. "Everybody is trying to get their governance practices straight."

Global markets linked

Shareholders and companies also realize that the global financial markets are more closely linked than ever before, especially after the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s led to debt crises in many countries and hastened the collapse of U.S. hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management.

Nor is shareholder activism likely to wane. Tens of millions of retiring workers in major economies will continue to feed the growth of activist pension and investment funds. Thousands of formerly state-run companies in Asia, Russia, Latin America and other regions will need much oversight as they join the financial markets and seek investors.

Advocates of tougher corporate governance face formidable hurdles, of course.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at

Update on Frauds from That Perfect Storm for Cheaters

"9th ward activist to be sentenced in mortgage scam," by Susan Finch, The Times Picayune, February 26, 2008 ---

Robert Green, who became a symbol of suffering and resilience in the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina, will be sentenced in federal court Wednesday for his role in a house-flipping scam before the 2005 storm.

Green's personal experience when floodwaters poured into his neighborhood through a break in a levee has become emblematic of the misery many others suffered: his home was destroyed and he lost two family members: his 73 year-old mother and a 3 year-old granddaughter.

But according to federal prosecutors -- and by his own admission in a guilty plea last spring -- Green used his skills as a preparer of income tax returns to help further a scheme that left the federal government responsible for paying off hundreds of thousands of dollars in home mortgages defaulted on by borrowers who used false tax returns prepared by Green to qualify for federally insured loans.

Green, the sixth person convicted in the scam allegedly endorsed by Citywide Mortgage Co. owner Michael O'Keefe Jr., could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison and fined up to $250,000. Green pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors that requires him to testify for the government if called on to do so.

Green said today he's sorry that he broke the law and that the federal government lost money as a result. He said the sentencing is "something I have to deal with."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

Math proficiency rate of 10th-graders is still lower than those of third- graders in the same district
The pattern has been the same for five years - a nearly straight decline between third and 10th grades in the percentage of students who score at the proficient or advanced levels. The pattern is the same in most of the state's 176 school districts. Jurisdictions that serve more affluent students show more success among 10th-graders. But the proficiency rate of 10th-graders is still lower than those of third- graders in the same district. CSAP reading scores, on the other hand, do not show the same pattern of decline. Those scores remain roughly level as students advance in grade. The Colorado Department of Higher Education, in turn, reports that math is the subject in which the most students need remediation, including 44 percent of recent high school graduates entering community colleges and 16 percent entering four-year schools.
Bernie Morson, Rocky Mountain News, February 25, 2008 --- Click Here

"In Lawsuit, College Board Accuses Company of Circulating Copyright-Protected SAT Questions,"  by Elizabeth R. Farrell,  Chronicle of Higher Education, February 25, 2008 --- Click Here

A test-preparation company in Texas is being sued by the College Board for what it calls "one of the largest cases of a security breach in our company's history," according to Edna Johnson, a senior vice president of the nonprofit group, which owns the SAT.

In a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Dallas, the College Board is seeking unspecified damages against the company, Karen Dillard's College Prep LP, which it says illegally obtained copies of SAT and PSAT tests before they were available to the public. The lawsuit also accuses the company of violating copyright-protection laws by circulating and selling materials that included test questions owned by the College Board.

The lawsuit arose after a former employee of the test-preparation company reported information to the College Board. Karen Dillard, the owner of the company, said the employee was disgruntled but would not elaborate on why.

Ms. Dillard did not deny that one of her employees obtained a copy of the SAT that was administered in November 2006 before the test was given. But Ms. Dillard said her company did not use any questions from that test in preparatory materials it provided to clients.

The lawsuit states that the employee got the test from his brother, the principal of a high school in Plano, Tex. The principal has been put on paid leave while the Plano school district investigates the matter, according to the Associated Press.

Copyright Confusion

In reference to the copyright allegations in the lawsuit, Ms. Dillard said in an interview on Friday that she had believed she was lawfully allowed to use materials she had purchased from the College Board before 2005.

Part of the confusion may stem from a shift in the College Board's policies regarding circulation of previous test materials. Until 2005, the company would sell copies of previously given SAT's to companies. After the SAT was revamped that year, the College Board no longer sold those materials. At that time, the company also began to offer its own online test-preparation course to students, which now costs $69.95.

"We believe part of the motivation of the College Board in bringing this lawsuit," Ms. Dillard said, "is to drive test-preparation companies like ours out of business so they can dominate the industry with their own test-preparation materials, which are for sale."

Ms. Dillard said she also thinks that the College Board is going to great efforts to publicize the lawsuit to make an example out of her company. To support that point, she said that Justin Pope, a higher-education reporter for the Associated Press, received a copy of the lawsuit and contacted her for comment before it was filed.

When contacted by The Chronicle, Mr. Pope said he could not confirm how or when he received the lawsuit, and could not comment further about the matter.

The lawsuit is the culmination of a four-month investigation by lawyers for the College Board. Two lawyers from the firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, along with a representative for the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT, visited Ms. Dillard's office several months ago.

Ms. Dillard said that, at that time, her company fully cooperated with all requests for information and interviews with employees, and that she also provided personal financial records to the lawyers.

Ms. Dillard also said that her company offered to settle the matter for $300,000, but that lawyers for the College Board made a counteroffer of $1.25-million, a sum her company could not afford.

Ms. Johnson, of the College Board, said she could not comment on any offers made in settlement negotiations.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at

Before reading this module you may want to read about Governmental Accounting at

"Taxpayers distrustful of government financial reporting," AccountingWeb, February 22, 2008 ---

The federal government is failing to meet the financial reporting needs of taxpayers, falling short of expectations, and creating a problem with trust, according to survey findings released by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). The survey, Public Attitudes to Government Accountability and Transparency 2008, measured attitudes and opinions towards government financial management and accountability to taxpayers. The survey established an expectations gap between what taxpayers expect and what they get, finding that the public at large overwhelmingly believes that government has the obligation to report and explain how it generates and spends its money, but that that it is failing to meet expectations in any area included in the survey.

The survey further found that taxpayers consider governments at the federal, state, and local levels to be significantly under-delivering in terms of practicing open, honest spending. Across all levels of government, those surveyed held "being open and honest in spending practices" vitally important, but felt that government performance was poor in this area. Those surveyed also considered government performance to be poor in terms of being "responsible to the public for its spending." This is compounded by perceived poor performance in providing understandable and timely financial management information.

The survey shows:

  • The American public is most dissatisfied with government financial management information disseminated by the federal government. Seventy-two percent say that it is extremely or very important to receive this information from the federal government, but only 5 percent are extremely or very satisfied with what they receive.


  • Seventy-three percent of Americans believe that it is extremely or very important for the federal government to be open and honest in its spending practices, yet only 5 percent say they are meeting these expectations.


  • Seventy-one percent of those who receive financial management information from the government or believe it is important to receive it, say they would use the information to influence their vote.

    Relmond Van Daniker, Executive Director at AGA, said, "We commissioned this survey to shed some light on the way the public perceives those issues relating to government financial accountability and transparency that are important to our members. Nobody is pretending that the figures are a shock, but we are glad to have established a benchmark against which we can track progress in years to come."

    He continued, "AGA members working in government at all levels are in the very forefront of the fight to increase levels of government accountability and transparency. We believe that the traditional methods of communicating government financial information -- through reams of audited financial statements that have little relevance to the taxpayer -- must be supplemented by government financial reporting that expresses complex financial details in an understandable form. Our members are committed to taking these concepts forward."

    Justin Greeves, who led the team at Harris Interactive that fielded the survey for the AGA, said, "The survey results include some extremely stark, unambiguous findings. Public levels of dissatisfaction and distrust of government spending practices came through loud and clear, across every geography, demographic group, and political ideology. Worthy of special note, perhaps, is a 67 percentage point gap between what taxpayers expect from government and what they receive. These are significant findings that I hope government and the public find useful."

    This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Association of Government Accountants between January 4 and 8, 2008 among 1,652 adults aged 18 or over. Results were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    You can read the Survey Report, including a full methodology and associated commentary.

  • "The Government Is Wasting Your Tax Dollars! How Uncle Sam spends nearly $1 trillion of your money each year," by Ryan Grim with Joseph K. Vetter, Readers Digest, January 2008, pp. 86-99 ---

    1. Taxes:
    Cheating Shows. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that the annual net tax gap—the difference between what's owed and what's collected—is $290 billion, more than double the average yearly sum spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    About $59 billion of that figure results from the underreporting and underpayment of employment taxes. Our broken system of immigration is another concern, with nearly eight million undocumented workers having a less-than-stellar relationship with the IRS. Getting more of them on the books could certainly help narrow that tax gap.

    Going after the deadbeats would seem like an obvious move. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn't have the resources to adequately pursue big offenders and their high-powered tax attorneys. "The IRS is outgunned," says Walker, "especially when dealing with multinational corporations with offshore headquarters."

    Another group that costs taxpayers billions: hedge fund and private equity managers. Many of these moguls make vast "incomes" yet pay taxes on a portion of those earnings at the paltry 15 percent capital gains rate, instead of the higher income tax rate. By some estimates, this loophole costs taxpayers more than $2.5 billion a year.

    Oil companies are getting a nice deal too. The country hands them more than $2 billion a year in tax breaks. Says Walker, "Some of the sweetheart deals that were negotiated for drilling rights on public lands don't pass the straight-face test, especially given current crude oil prices." And Big Oil isn't alone. Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that corporations reap more than $123 billion a year in special tax breaks. Cut this in half and we could save about $60 billion.

    The Tab* Tax Shortfall: $290 billion (uncollected taxes) + $2.5 billion (undertaxed high rollers) + $60 billion (unwarranted tax breaks) Starting Tab: $352.5 billion

    2. Healthy Fixes.
    Medicare and Medicaid, which cover elderly and low-income patients respectively, eat up a growing portion of the federal budget. Investigations by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) point to as much as $60 billion a year in fraud, waste and overpayments between the two programs. And Coburn is likely underestimating the problem.

    The U.S. spends more than $400 per person on health care administration costs and insurance -- six times more than other industrialized nations.

    That's because a 2003 Dartmouth Medical School study found that up to 30 percent of the $2 trillion spent in this country on medical care each year—including what's spent on Medicare and Medicaid—is wasted. And with the combined tab for those programs rising to some $665 billion this year, cutting costs by a conservative 15 percent could save taxpayers about $100 billion. Yet, rather than moving to trim fat, the government continues such questionable practices as paying private insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans an average of 12 percent more per patient than traditional Medicare fee-for-service. Congress is trying to close this loophole, and doing so could save $15 billion per year, on average, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    Another money-wasting bright idea was to create a giant class of middlemen: Private bureaucrats who administer the Medicare drug program are monitored by federal bureaucrats—and the public pays for both. An October report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform estimated that this setup costs the government $10 billion per year in unnecessary administrative expenses and higher drug prices.

    The Tab* Wasteful Health Spending: $60 billion (fraud, waste, overpayments) + $100 billion (modest 15 percent cost reduction) + $15 billion (closing the 12 percent loophole) + $10 billion (unnecessary Medicare administrative and drug costs) Total $185 billion Running Tab: $352.5 billion +$185 billion = $537.5 billion

    3. Military Mad Money.
    You'd think it would be hard to simply lose massive amounts of money, but given the lack of transparency and accountability, it's no wonder that eight of the Department of Defense's functions, including weapons procurement, have been deemed high risk by the GAO. That means there's a high probability that money—"tens of billions," according to Walker—will go missing or be otherwise wasted.

    The DOD routinely hands out no-bid and cost-plus contracts, under which contractors get reimbursed for their costs plus a certain percentage of the contract figure. Such deals don't help hold down spending in the annual military budget of about $500 billion. That sum is roughly equal to the combined defense spending of the rest of the world's countries. It's also comparable, adjusted for inflation, with our largest Cold War-era defense budget. Maybe that's why billions of dollars are still being spent on high-cost weapons designed to counter Cold War-era threats, even though today's enemy is armed with cell phones and IEDs. (And that $500 billion doesn't include the billions to be spent this year in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those funds demand scrutiny, too, according to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, who says, "One in six federal tax dollars sent to rebuild Iraq has been wasted.")

    Meanwhile, the Pentagon admits it simply can't account for more than $1 trillion. Little wonder, since the DOD hasn't been fully audited in years. Hoping to change that, Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation is pushing Congress to add audit provisions to the next defense budget.

    If wasteful spending equaling 10 percent of all spending were rooted out, that would free up some $50 billion. And if Congress cut spending on unnecessary weapons and cracked down harder on fraud, we could save tens of billions more.

    The Tab* Wasteful military spending: $100 billion (waste, fraud, unnecessary weapons) Running Tab: $537.5 billion + $100 billion = $637.5 billion

    4. Bad Seeds.
    The controversial U.S. farm subsidy program, part of which pays farmers not to grow crops, has become a giant welfare program for the rich, one that cost taxpayers nearly $20 billion last year.

    Two of the best-known offenders: Kenneth Lay, the now-deceased Enron CEO, who got $23,326 for conservation land in Missouri from 1995 to 2005, and mogul Ted Turner, who got $590,823 for farms in four states during the same period. A Cato Institute study found that in 2005, two-thirds of the subsidies went to the richest 10 percent of recipients, many of whom live in New York City. Not only do these "farmers" get money straight from the government, they also often get local tax breaks, since their property is zoned as agricultural land. The subsidies raise prices for consumers, hurt third world farmers who can't compete, and are attacked in international courts as unfair trade.

    The Tab* Wasteful farm subsidies: $20 billion Running Tab: $637.5 billion + $20 billion = $657.5 billion

    5. Capital Waste.
    While there's plenty of ongoing annual operating waste, there's also a special kind of profligacy—call it capital waste—that pops up year after year. This is shoddy spending on big-ticket items that don't pan out. While what's being bought changes from year to year, you can be sure there will always be some costly items that aren't worth what the government pays for them.

    Take this recent example: Since September 11, 2001, Congress has spent more than $4 billion to upgrade the Coast Guard's fleet. Today the service has fewer ships than it did before that money was spent, what 60 Minutes called "a fiasco that has set new standards for incompetence." Then there's the Future Imagery Architecture spy satellite program. As The New York Times recently reported, the technology flopped and the program was killed—but not before costing $4 billion. Or consider the FBI's infamous Trilogy computer upgrade: Its final stage was scrapped after a $170 million investment. Or the almost $1 billion the Federal Emergency Management Agency has wasted on unusable housing. The list goes on.

    The Tab* Wasteful Capital Spending: $30 billion Running Tab: $657.5 billion + $30 billion = $687.5 billion

    6. Fraud and Stupidity.
    Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants the Social Security Administration to better monitor the veracity of people drawing disability payments from its $100 billion pot. By one estimate, roughly $1 billion is wasted each year in overpayments to people who work and earn more than the program's rules allow.

    The federal Food Stamp Program gets ripped off too. Studies have shown that almost 5 percent, or more than $1 billion, of the payments made to people in the $30 billion program are in excess of what they should receive.

    One person received $105,000 in excess disability payments over seven years.

    There are plenty of other examples. Senator Coburn estimates that the feds own unused properties worth $18 billion and pay out billions more annually to maintain them. Guess it's simpler for bureaucrats to keep paying for the property than to go to the trouble of selling it.

    The Tab* General Fraud and Stupidity: $2 billion (disability and food stamp overpayment) Running Tab: $687.5 billion + $2 billion = $689.5 billion

    7. Pork Sausage.
    Congress doled out $29 billion in so-called earmarks—aka funds for legislators' pet projects—in 2006, according to Citizens Against Government Waste. That's three times the amount spent in 1999. Congress loves to deride this kind of spending, but lawmakers won't hesitate to turn around and drop $500,000 on a ballpark in Billings, Montana.

    The most infamous earmark is surely the "bridge to nowhere"—a span that would have connected Ketchikan, Alaska, to nearby Gravina Island—at a cost of more than $220 million. After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Senator Coburn tried to redirect that money to repair the city's Twin Span Bridge. He failed when lawmakers on both sides of the aisle got behind the Alaska pork. (That money is now going to other projects in Alaska.) Meanwhile, this kind of spending continues at a time when our country's crumbling infrastructure—the bursting dams, exploding water pipes and collapsing bridges—could really use some investment. Cutting two-thirds of the $29 billion would be a good start.

    The Tab* Pork Barrel Spending: $20 billion Running Tab: $689.5 billion + $20 billion = $709.5 billion

    8. Welfare Kings.
    Corporate welfare is an easy thing for politicians to bark at, but it seems it's hard to bite the hand that feeds you. How else to explain why corporate welfare is on the rise? A Cato Institute report found that in 2006, corporations received $92 billion (including some in the form of those farm subsidies) to do what they do anyway—research, market and develop products. The recipients included plenty of names from the Fortune 500, among them IBM, GE, Xerox, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Company, DuPont and Johnson & Johnson.

    The Tab* Corporate Welfare: $50 billion Running Tab: $709.5 billion + $50 billion = $759.5 billion

    9. Been There,
    Done That. The Rural Electrification Administration, created during the New Deal, was an example of government at its finest—stepping in to do something the private sector couldn't. Today, renamed the Rural Utilities Service, it's an example of a government that doesn't know how to end a program. "We established an entity to electrify rural America. Mission accomplished. But the entity's still there," says Walker. "We ought to celebrate success and get out of the business."

    In a 2007 analysis, the Heritage Foundation found that hundreds of programs overlap to accomplish just a few goals. Ending programs that have met their goals and eliminating redundant programs could comfortably save taxpayers $30 billion a year.

    The Tab* Obsolete, Redundant Programs: $30 billion Running Tab: $759.5 billion + $30 billion = $789.5 billion

    10. Living on Credit.
    Here's the capper: Years of wasteful spending have put us in such a deep hole, we must squander even more to pay the interest on that debt. In 2007, the federal government carried a debt of $9 trillion and blew $252 billion in interest. Yes, we understand the federal government needs to carry a small debt for the Federal Reserve Bank to operate. But "small" isn't how we would describe three times the nation's annual budget. We need to stop paying so much in interest (and we think cutting $194 billion is a good target). Instead we're digging ourselves deeper: Congress had to raise the federal debt limit last September from $8.965 trillion to almost $10 trillion or the country would have been at legal risk of default. If that's not a wake-up call to get spending under control, we don't know what is.

    The Tab* Interest on National Debt: $194 billion Final Tab: $789.5 billion + $194 billion = $983.5 billion

    What YOU Can Do Many believe our system is inherently broken. We think it can be fixed. As citizens and voters, we have to set a new agenda before the Presidential election. There are three things we need in order to prevent wasteful spending, according to the GAO's David Walker:

    • Incentives for people to do the right thing.

    • Transparency so we can tell if they've done the right thing.

    • Accountability if they do the wrong thing.

    Two out of three won't solve our problems.

    So how do we make it happen? Demand it of our elected officials. If they fail to listen, then we turn them out of office. With its approval rating hovering around 11 percent in some polls, Congress might just start paying attention.

    Start by writing to your Representatives. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors, and share this article. It's in everybody's interest.

    The Most Criminal Class is Writing the Laws ---

    British Ex-Bankers Sentenced For Their Roles in Enron Fraud
    Three former U.K. bank executives who pleaded guilty for their roles in a fraudulent scheme with former Enron Corp. Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow have been sentenced to a little over three years in prison. A federal judge Friday sentenced David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Mulgrew to 37 months each. In November, the three men, who had worked at Greenwich NatWest, a unit of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC, each pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud as part of a plea agreement. They had initially said they were not guilty of colluding with Mr. Fastow in a secret financial scam in 2000 to enrich themselves at their employer's expense. Their sentences matched the recommendation of federal prosecutors. All three also have agreed to pay their former employer more than $13 million. The trio became a cause célèbre in the U.K. throughout extradition proceedings that lasted two years. They were dubbed the "NatWest Three." Their attorneys have said they would work with prosecutors to see if the bankers can serve part of their sentences in the U.K.
    The Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2008; Page B6 --- 

    Bob Jensen's Enron Fraud Timeline is at

    Bob Jensen's threads on the Enron fraud are at

    Education Tutorials

    Scribd Wants to Become the YouTube for Documents ---
    It has a long way to go, although it now has over 350,000 archived documents ---
    There are many tutorials such as those in basic accounting.

    "A YouTube for Documents?" by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 21, 2008 ---

    Borrowing a page from the popular video-sharing site YouTube, a new online service lets people upload and share their papers or entire books via a social-network interface. But will a format that works for videos translate to documents?

    It’s called iPaper, and it uses a Flash-based document reader that can be embedded into a Web page. The experience of reading neatly formatted text inside a fixed box feels a bit like using an old microfilm reader, except that you can search the documents or e-mail them to friends.

    The company behind the technology, Scribd, also offers a library of iPaper documents and invites users to set up an account to post their own written works. And, just like on YouTube, users can comment about each document, give it a rating, and view related works.

    Also like on YouTube, some of the most popular items in the collection are on the lighter side. One document that is in the top 10 “most viewed” is called “It seems this essay was written while the guy was high, hilarious!” It is a seven-page paper that appears to have been written for a college course but is full of salty language. The document includes the written comments of the professor who graded it, and it ends with a handwritten note: “please see after class to discuss your paper.”

    There’s plenty of serious material on the site, too — like the Iraq Study Group Report and an Educause report about the future of technology at colleges.

    Bob Jensen's threads on free online documents are at

    Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

    Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

    NC State Physics Demonstrations ---
    (Includes links to physics demonstration manuals in many universities, including North Carolina State University)
    The NC State Manual is at

    How science stuff works ---

    Distinctive Voices@ The Beckman Center ---

    Distinctive Voices@The Beckman Center highlights innovations, discoveries, and emerging issues in an exciting and engaging public forum. Do you wonder how things work? What the future holds? If you are curious about the science and technology behind today’s hot topics, Distinctive Voices is for you!

    Spend an evening gaining insights on significant advances in medicine, biotechnology, energy, the environment, space exploration, and more. Learn from some of the best minds in the world -- including members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine -- in presentations geared to the general public.

    Yahoo Science ---

    Botanicus ---

    USDA: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service ---

    Five Keys to Safer Food Manual ---


    The Green Guide ---


    A Global Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems ---

    Contagion: Historical Views of Disease and Epidemics ---

    Claremont Colleges Photo Archive ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on free online science, engineering, and medicine tutorials are at ---

    Social Science and Economics Tutorials

    Small Business Administration information services guides ---
    Bob Jensen's small business helpers ---
    Bob Jensen's links to business and economics data ---

    Other, smaller blogging communities connect to the core through one-way links (usually produced when an obscure blog at the edge links to a well-known blog at the core), represented here by hairlike strands.
    Erica Naone, "Between Friends:  Sites like Facebook are proving the value of the 'social graph,'" MIT's Technology Review, March/April 2008 ---

    Pew Internet: Online Shopping Report --- Shopping.pdf

    Bob Jensen's threads on Economics, Anthropology, Social Sciences, and Philosophy tutorials are at

    Law and Legal Studies

    Bob Jensen's threads on law and legal studies are at

    Math Tutorials

    Bob Jensen's threads on free online mathematics tutorials are at

    History Tutorials

    Explore Art (multimedia) ---

    Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson ---

    Florida's Shipwrecks: 300 Years of Maritime History ---

    Maine Folklife Center (history) --- 

    Contagion: Historical Views of Disease and Epidemics ---

    Canadian Architectural Archives ---

    The Encyclopedia of TV ---

    Pew Internet: Online Shopping Report --- Shopping.pdf

    Glaswegians Photo Archive (Scotland) ---

    Through a partnership that marks a turning point in scholarly publishing at Indiana University, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries Patricia Steele announced today (Feb. 21) the publication of Museum Anthropology Review, the first faculty-generated electronic journal supported by the IU Bloomington Libraries ---

    William F. Buckley, Jr.(1925-2008) died yesterday ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on history tutorials are at
    Also see  

    Language Tutorials

    February 25, 2008 message from Frederic Boudouin []

    Hello Professor Robert E. Jensen,

    I was browsing your website which I found extremely useful; with plenty of French resources.

    I would suggest to you a lyrics website:  to be added to your list "Scroll for Bob Jensen's Web Documents and Other Links" at  or at any page of your website, you think it might be useful.  is a wonderful website that may help learn French language, contains more than 2 million songs, Lyrics of more than 500.000 French songs both old and contemporary, 50,000 translations (English / French) and it is one of the most popular and visited websites in this area of interest.

    I hope that this site will held your attention, and be beneficial and helpful to your students and visitors.

    Best Regards,

    Frederic Boudouin 

    Jensen Comment
    I added this message to the links to online language tutorials at

    Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

    Law and Legal Studies Tutorials

    National Criminal Justice Reference Service ---

    Bob Jensen's links to law and legal studies helpers are at

    Writing Tutorials

    "Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location," by Sam Roberts, The New York Times, February 18, 2008 --- Click Here

    Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

    From the Scout Report on February 22, 2008

    Skype --- 

    Skype is an effective free way to stay in touch with relatives and friends who might be in distant lands for an extended period of time. With this application, users can make free conference calls, transfer files, and also just talk to a friend one-on-one. This latest version of Skype also features higher video resolution for people making video calls. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3.9.

    Weather Watcher 5.6.25 --- 

    Few cities' climatic conditions will be out of reach for users who choose to use Weather Watcher 5.6.25. This application can call up daily and detailed weather forecasts for over 77,000 cities worldwide, and users can even elect to have weather data retrieved at set time intervals. Additionally, visitors can also display the current temperature in a customized tray icon and also display a weather map as desktop wallpaper. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.


    Updates from WebMD ---

    What should you do if a compact fluorescent light bulb breaks inside your house or office?

    "High-efficient lightbulbs come with mercury risk," by Beth Daley, Boston Globe, February 25, 2008 ---

    Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that accumulates in the body and can harm the nervous system of a fetus or young child if ingested in enough quantity. Most people are exposed to the metal by eating fish.

    The Maine study, which shattered 65 bulbs to test air quality and clean-up methods made these recommendations: If a bulb breaks, get children and pets out of the room. Ventilate the room. Never use a vacuum -- even on a rug -- to clean up a compact fluorescent light. Instead, while wearing rubber gloves, use stiff paper such as index cards and tape to pick up pieces, then wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel. If there are young children or pregnant woman in the house, consider cutting out the piece of carpet where the bulb broke. Use a glass jar with a screw top to contain the shards and clean-up debris.

    “We found some very high levels (of mercury), even after we tried a number of clean-up techniques," said Mark Hyland, Maine director of the Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management. During several of the experiments, for example, he said mercury in the air was more than 100 times levels considered safe even after a floor was cleaned. He said such levels would quickly decline if the room were ventilated and people followed their tips.

    Sales are booming for compact fluorescent lights -- which use about 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. As consumers become more aware of global warming and the bulbs’ long-term cost savings, sales are skyrocketing in the United States, with more than 290 million of the bulbs sold last year, nearly double those sold in 2006.

    Jensen Comment
    This leaves me wondering why adults, like office co-workers or college students, can stay in the room?
    Sounds like a question for Chuck McCoy?

    Pistachios may replace daily apple Research shows big benefits for a handful of little nuts
    Eating a handful of pistachios every day may help heart health, new research has found. The study, published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, and conducted by James N. Cooper of George Mason University and Michael J. Sheridan of Inova Fairfax Hospital, looked at individuals with relatively high cholesterol who replaced high-fat snacks with pistachio nuts on a daily basis. When on a diet that involved getting 15 per cent of daily calorie intake from pistachios for four weeks -- which means snacking on one to two handfuls a day -- subjects were found to improve blood lipid levels. "These results are exciting because the research indicates that adding pistachios to the daily diet can help protect the heart without a dramatic dietary lifestyle change," Cooper said in a statement. "This research challenges the previously held belief that a low-fat diet is best for heart health."
    Martha Worboy,, February 18, 2008 ---

    Strokes Among Middle-Aged Women Triple
    Strokes have tripled in recent years among middle-aged women in the U.S., an alarming trend doctors blame on the obesity epidemic. Nearly 2 percent of women ages 35 to 54 reported suffering a stroke in the most recent federal health survey, from 1999 to 2004. Only about half a percent did in the previous survey, from 1988 to 1994. The percentage is small because most strokes occur in older people. But the sudden spike in middle age and the reasons behind it are ominous, doctors said in research presented Wednesday at a medical conference. It happened even though more women in the recent survey were on medicines to control their cholesterol and blood pressure - steps that lower the risk of stroke. Women's waistlines are nearly two inches bigger than they were a decade earlier, and that bulge corresponds with the increase in strokes, researchers said. In addition, women's average body mass index, a commonly used measure of obesity, rose from 27 in the earlier survey to 29. They also had higher blood sugar levels.
    Marilynn Marchione, PhysOrg, February 20, 2008 ---

    Listening to music improves stroke patients' recovery
    Listening to music in the early stages after a stroke can improve patients’ recovery, according to new research published online in the medical journal Brain today. Researchers from Finland found that if stroke patients listened to music for a couple of hours a day, their verbal memory and focused attention recovered better and they had a more positive mood than patients who did not listen to anything or who listened to audio books. This is the first time such an effect has been shown in humans and the researchers believe it has important implications for clinical practice. As a result of our findings, we suggest that everyday music listening during early stroke recovery offers a valuable addition to the patients’ care- especially if other active forms of rehabilitation are not yet feasible at this stage-by providing an individually targeted, easy-to-conduct and inexpensive means to facilitate cognitive and emotional recovery, says Teppo Särkämö, the first author of the study. Särkämö, a PhD student at the Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, at the University of Helsinki and at the Helsinki Brain Research Centre, focused on patients who had suffered a stroke of the left or right hemisphere middle cerebral artery (MCA). He and his colleagues recruited 60 patients to the single-blind, randomised, controlled trial between March 2004 and May 2006 and started to work with them as soon as possible after they had been admitted to hospital.
    PhysOrg, February 20, 2008 ---

    Study confirms cardiac surgery drug increases death rate
    The largest study to date of a controversial cardiac surgery drug shows it increases death rates and damages kidney function, according Duke University Medical Center researchers. Aprotinin, a drug used to limit bleeding, was temporarily suspended from marketing in the U.S. in November 2007 after a small Canadian study was stopped because similar findings were discovered. The drug, Trasylol, is manufactured by Baylor AG. "We're not surprised by the results,” says Dr. Andrew Shaw, an associate professor in Duke Medicine’s department of anesthesiology and the lead author of the paper which appears in the February 21 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. “It's what we expected to find.” The Duke study is significant because “it is more than twice the size of the next largest study of aprotinin,” says Shaw. The prospective data was collected between 1996 and 2005. “Unlike the highly selected nature of randomized trial populations, our data represent the every day cardiac bypass surgery patient population. The data were collected at a time when aprotinin was thought to be safe.” The Duke team started analyzing its database of patients after a 2006 NEJM study reported aprotinin use may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and serious kidney injury.
    PhysOrg, February 21, 2008 ---

    Jensen Comment
    The Sixty Minute television show on CBS on February 17, 2008 revealed to the public that Aprotinin manufacturer Bayer conducted its own studies and withheld the bad news from both the public and the FDA, thereby allowing over 1,000 surgical patients to die per month needlessly and many more to have kidney damage or failure. This is one of the rare times that I hope punitive damages really are massive.
    The Sixty Minute whamo is at

    Forwarded by James Don

    HOSPITAL CHART BLOOPERS (Actual writings from hospital charts)

    01. The patient refused autopsy.

    02. The patient has no previous history of suicides.

    03. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.

    04. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

    05. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

    06. On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.

    07. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

    08. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

    09. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

    10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

    11. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

    12. She is numb from her toes down.

    13. While in ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.

    14. The skin was moist and dry.

    15. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

    16. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

    17. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.

    18. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.

    19. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

    20. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

    21. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

    22. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

    23. Skin: somewhat pale but present.

    24. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

    25. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

    Also forwarded by James Don

    Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
    John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

    Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860
    John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

    Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

    Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.

    Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

    Both Presidents were shot in the head.

    Now it gets really weird.

    Lincoln 's secretary was named Kennedy.
    Kennedy's Secretary was named Lincoln .

    Both were assassinated by Southerners.
    Both were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

    Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln , was born in 1808.
    Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

    John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln , was born in 1839.
    Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939

    Both assassins were known by their three names.
    Both names are composed of fifteen letters.

    Now hang on to your seat.

    Lincoln was shot at the theater named 'Ford.'
    Kennedy was shot in a car called ' Lincoln ' made by 'Ford.'

    Lincoln was shot in a theater and his assassin ran and hid in a warehouse.
    Kennedy was shot from a warehouse and his assassin ran and hid in a theater.

    Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

    And here's the kicker...

    A week before Lincoln was shot, he was in Monroe , Maryland
    A week before Kennedy was shot, he was in Marilyn Monroe.

    Tidbits Archives ---

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

    World Clock ---
    Facts about the earth in real time ---

    Interesting Online Clock and Calendar ---
    Time by Time Zones ---
    Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) ---
             Also see
    Facts about population growth (video) ---
    Projected U.S. Population Growth ---
    Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq --- 
    Enter you zip code to get Census Bureau comparisons ---
    Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

    Three Finance Blogs

    Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog ---
    FinancialRounds Blog ---
    Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) ---

    Some Accounting Blogs

    Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) ---
    International Association of Accountants News --- and Double Entries ---
    Gerald Trite's eBusiness and XBRL Blogs ---
    AccountingWeb ---   
    SmartPros ---

    Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits ---
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates ---

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

    Shared Open Courseware (OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and Other Sharing Universities ---

    Free Textbooks and Cases ---

    Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials ---

    Free Science and Medicine Tutorials ---

    Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials ---

    Free Education Discipline Tutorials ---

    Teaching Materials (especially video) from PBS

    Teacher Source:  Arts and Literature ---

    Teacher Source:  Health & Fitness ---

    Teacher Source: Math ---

    Teacher Source:  Science ---

    Teacher Source:  PreK2 ---

    Teacher Source:  Library Media ---

    Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University ---

    VYOM eBooks Directory ---

    From Princeton Online
    The Incredible Art Department ---

    Online Mathematics Textbooks --- 

    National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---

    Moodle  --- 

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

    Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

    Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

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

    Roles of a ListServ ---

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



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