Reverend Hahn forwarded the "Fire Rainbow" picture taken in late February on the
northern border of Idaho and Washington states.
Fire Rainbow (circumhorizontal arc) ---
Also see
The phenomenon is quite rare because the ice crystals must be aligned horizontally to refract the high sun.

Reverend Hahn fills in many Sunday while our Sugar Hill Community Church searches for a new pastor. His sermons are always interesting with great examples and entertaining quotations. He's been a pastor or invited speaker in nearly 200 churches over his long and varied career. Crossing Franconia Notch is always a worry this time of year, but he and his wife Irene do  this in all seasons so we can hear his inspiring messages in our small church. We're happy whenever we get more than 20 worshipers on a given Sunday. But were a close knit bunch in our sweaters and snow boots.


It's the season cabin fever.
There's just been too much winter in New Hampshire ---

It's moving in from second to first in terms of total snowfall since 1900 in New Hampshire. Strangely most blizzards have been followed by thawing and thick ice. Hence we don't have ten feet on the ground. At the moment there's less than a foot of snow left after the heavy rains on Saturday followed by very high winds and some snow yesterday. Wind gusts here reached 40 mph and well over 100 mph on Mt. Washington on March 9.

Temp Wind Gust W. Chill


270° (W), 105.2 mph

111.6 mph


I'm still waiting for a backordered part for my new Sears Craftsman snow thrower that's been on the fritz all winter, but it doesn't matter much now. I fell on the ice a couple weeks ago and broke three ribs. I couldn't handle the snow thrower at the moment. But Sears promises to have my machine fixed for the Fourth of July. My ribs should be healed by then.

The picture below show's the dreariness of it all after we had some new snow this week end.

But my fat friend seems to be surviving nicely on our wild cranberry bush (perhaps the berries are fermented by now). I'm not even sure what type of bird this is, but he and his mates seem to be our most active cranberry eaters. Sometimes he looks at me as if he's trying to figure out what I'm doing at daylight this time of year pecking away at my computer. Pathetic isn't it! Maybe I should join him in getting high on winter cranberries.



Tidbits on March 10, 2008
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to 

Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- 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

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

CPA Examination ---

On May 14, 2006 I retired from Trinity University after a long and wonderful career as an accounting professor in four universities. I was generously granted "Emeritus" status by the Trustees of Trinity University. My wife and I now live in a cottage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire ---

Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
       (Also scroll down to the table at )

Global Incident Map ---

Set up free conference calls at
Also see   

Free Online Tutorials in Multiple Disciplines ---

Google Maps Street View ---

World Clock ---

Tips on computer and networking security ---

If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops  ---

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

Accounting professor Joyce Berg (University of Iowa) describes how to buy and sell presidential candidates in an electronics market ---

"Top 10 Amazing Chemistry Videos," by Aaron Rowe, Wired Science, March 2, 2008 ---

Science Videos ---

Evolution of Normal Fault Systems During Progressive Deformation [Quick Time Video]

The Virtual Body ---

The Future is Digital (with video) ---

Autism and Amanda Baggs ---
"The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know," by David Wolman, Wired Magazine, February 25, 2008 ---

It's not just YouTube. It's HBO. While NBC didn't fare so well bringing a web series to the boob tube, HBO is hoping to have better luck hawking their content to the web. The premium cable channel has created a signature channel on YouTube which will air highlights from shows like, Entourage, The Wire, Flight of the Conchords, and Extras, along with full length episodes of In Treatment and the documentary Habla y Habla, which takes an in-depth look at what it's like to be a Latino in the U.S.
Sonia Zjawinski, Wired News, February 27, 2008 ---

Free music downloads ---

Patriotic Melodies ---

Pianist Leif Ove Andsnes has a smiling, generous air about him—even when he's been pulled into a radio studio, after dark, to get bounced back and forth between a Steinway and an inquisitive host. Hear Leif Ove Andsnes play Grieg in the WGBH studio ---
He frequently sang with Maria Callas

Italian Tenor Giuseppe Di Stefano Dies at 86 ---

Tammy Hall on Piano Jazz ---

Piano Jazz ---

Swan Lake With Frogs (Outstanding Performance) ---

Dirt Roads (Midi) ---

Barry Manilow ---

Bob Jensen listens to music free online (and no commercials) --- 

Photographs and Art

From the University of Pittsburgh With Amazing Resolution and Interactive Controls
Birds of America (435 birds mounted online) ---

American Geographical Society Digital Photo Archive ---

Helen Keller and her famous teacher Anne Sullivan in 1888 ---

The Moon’s Craggiest Stretch Comes Into Focus ---

The Virtual Body ---

Fire Rainbow (circumhorizontal arc) ---
The phenomenon is quite rare because the ice crystals must be aligned horizontally to refract the high sun.

Textile Exchange ---

Microsoft's Shiny New Toy Photosynth is an application that's still a work in progress.
It is dazzling, but what is it for?

Jeffrey McIntyre, MIT's Technology Review, March/April 2008 ---
Watch Photosynth stitch photos together
View the images and see how it works

Jensen Comment
It struck me that if a company's financial report could be visualized in a photograph then Photosynth might be used to stitch various financial reports together.

Bob Jensen's threads on visualization of multivariate data are at


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 ---

The 2008 Statistical Abstract ---
Other statistics sources ---

University of Rochester shares its Abraham Lincoln letters online ---
Also see

Muse India ---

The Future is Digital (with video) ---

From the Scout Report on February 29, 2008

Concerned about the education of young people, the Common Core organization releases the results of a recent survey Teens losing touch with historical references 

History Surveys Stumps U.S. Teens --- 

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

Bill Moyers Journal: Interview with Susan Jacoby 

Digital History 

19th Century Textbooks

When Richard Brodhead (now the president of Duke University) was dean of Yale College in 2004, he put it this way in a commencement address: “By a conservative estimate, the things members of the class of 2004 collectively learned in Yale courses that you have already forgotten is probably equal to the sum of human knowledge gained since the early Renaissance.” He added: “Such inevitable forgetting is not a scandal in education, because the original act of learning taught something more deeply valuable and left a deeper trace: trained deep habits of mind that survived the specific content that was originally attached to them and can then be put to a different use”.
Bernard Fryshman, "Content Control — This Time From Friends," Inside Higher Ed, March 6, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
This rings especially true about my two years of learning Russian and reading a lot of Pushkin (and not Pravda) as an undergraduate. I remember my Russian teacher better than I remember the Russian language.

The request is familiar to American ears: "Bring them home." But in Iraq, where I've just met with American and Iraqi leaders, the phrase carries a different meaning. It does not refer to the departure of U.S. troops, but to the return of the millions of innocent Iraqis who have been driven out of their homes and, in many cases, out of the country.  As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible. It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do.
Angelina Jolie (Actress Angelina Jolie recently visited Iraq in her role as a "goodwill ambassador" for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. In a Washington Post op-ed, Jolie urges a continued U.S. presence in Iraq for humanitarian reasons), "Staying to Help in Iraq," The Washington Post, February 28, 2008 ---

It's quite a contrast with the attitude of Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama, who said last summer that even preventing genocide was not a sufficient reason for a continuing presence in Iraq. What does it say about the Democratic Party that it seems poised to nominate someone who, on the most pressing concern of the day, is less morally serious than a Hollywood starlet (and official U.N. Ambassador)?
Wall Street Journal Editors, "Best of the Web Today," March 1, 2008

Long-range rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli cities the past few days were manufactured in and imported from Iran, according to Israeli security officials speaking to WND. In a major escalation, Hamas the past few days has been firing long range Grad rockets at the strategic Israeli port city of Ashkelon, home to some 125,000 Israelis about 11 miles from Gaza. Ashkelon houses a major electrical plant that powers most of the Gaza Strip.
Aaron Klein, "Iranian rockets slam Israel," WorldNetDaily, March ,, 2008 ---

Iran wants Iraq all to itself (especially since Iraq is now producing more oil than when Saddam ruled Iraq)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, heading home from Iraq after a two-day visit, again touted the closer relations between Iraq and Iran and reiterated his criticism of the United States. "We believe that the forces which crossed oceans and thousands of kilometers to come to this region, should leave this region and hand over the affairs to the people's and government of this region," Ahmadinejad said. Ahmadinejad's visit follows trips to Iran last year by top officials of Iraq's Shiite-led government, who have been fostering a closer relationship with predominantly Shiite Iran since the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled. His visit was greeted warmly by Iraq's Shiite Muslim leadership, who have had longtime links with Iran that predate the overthrow of Hussein. At the same time, many Sunni Muslims in Iraq dislike the Iranian regime and have demonstrated against his visit.
"Iran's president says foreigners must leave Iraq," CNN, March 3, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
When Iran gets control of all Iraq's oil reserves, Iran will no longer be a "foreigner" in Iraq. But will the Sunni's simply roll over and play dead or will they go back to to terrorist tactics? Can Iran really protect the the Shiite-led government from vicious terror? That's a real dilemma the next U.S. President and the next leaders of the House and Senate must face up to if they race to pull the U.S.-led "surge" out of Iraq. When asked about the this problem, Obama and Clinton deflect the question by pointing the so-called Bush errors of taking out Saddam. That's history at this point. The question that no matter how we got into Iraq, should we surrender the oil and all non-Sunni factions to Iran? How much will our pull out help Ahmadinejad's declared purpose of erasing all Jews from the Middle East? Will World War III commence if the U.S. stands aside and lets the Middle East to explode into a civil war? Isn't it strange how we look back at Saddam's rule as the good old days of vicious suppression of Iran and its Shiite-allies in Iraq?

Believe it or not, it's the New York Times. Even more astonishing is this sentence, lower in the piece: "For that reason, the American liberation tasted sweetest to the Shiites, who for the first time were able to worship freely." The "American liberation"? Wow, we're pretty sure that's a New York Times stylebook no-no.
James Taranto, "The Limits of Fanaticism," The Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2008

Most books about poverty are downright depressing. The figures—1 billion people live on less than $1 a day, according to the U.N. Development Program—are depressing. The complexity of the problem—poverty is connected to poor health is connected to lack of clean drinking water is connected to lack of education—is daunting. And spend any time at, say, the Web site of the World Bank, the organization that's "Working for a World Free of Poverty," according to its tagline, and you start to sense a disconnect between the experts' fancy "comprehensive development frameworks" and poverty-mapping techniques, and the daily needs. But one new book on the subject, Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail by Paul Polak, offers optimism. Optimism not just for those fighting poverty and those fighting to get out of it, but for any company interested in a basically untapped 1 billion-person market. That optimism is based on the author's real-world experience as the founder of International Development Enterprises (IDE), a nonprofit organization that develops and/or markets products such as treadle pumps and drip irrigation systems that have already helped 17 million people lift themselves out of poverty.
Jessie Scanlon, "Giving the Poor a Means to Work," Business Week, February 22, 2008 ---

The death Wednesday (Feb. 27) of William F. Buckley Jr., founder of National Review and a key player in intellectual debate, prompted discussion in some circles of his role in higher education. Buckley’s career was launched with God and Man at Yale, a critique of his alma mater, and his magazine devoted considerable critical attention to higher education. In a symposium on Buckley published on his magazine’s Web site, William J. Bennett, the former education secretary, credited Buckley with having “made” many conservative scholars’ careers by publishing them and giving them a broader audience. The magazine’s Phi Beta Cons blog reminded readers of one of Buckley’s most famous quips: that he would “sooner be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand members of the faculty of Harvard University.” A critical look at the impact of Buckley’s writing on higher education can be found on the blog College Freedom, where God and Man at Yale is explored as a tool for attacking professors and their academic freedom.
Inside Higher Ed, February 28, 2008 ---
Also see

It is commonplace to say that Bill Buckley brought American conservatism into the mainstream. That's not quite how I see it. To me he came along in the middle of the last century and reminded demoralized American conservatism that it existed. That it was real, that it was in fact a majority political entity, and that it was inherently mainstream. This was after the serious drubbing inflicted by Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal and the rise of modern liberalism. Modern liberalism at that point was a real something, a palpable movement formed by FDR and continued by others. Opposing it was . . . what exactly? Robert Taft? The ghost of Calvin Coolidge? Buckley said in effect, Well, there's something known as American conservatism, though it does not even call itself that. It's been calling itself "voting Republican" or "not liking the New Deal." But it is a very American approach to life, and it has to do with knowing that the government is not your master, that America is good, that freedom is good and must be defended, and communism is very, very bad. He explained, remoralized, brought together those who saw it as he did, and began the process whereby American conservatism came to know itself again. And he did it primarily through a magazine, which he with no modesty decided was going to be the central and most important organ of resurgent conservatism. National Review would be highly literate, philosophical, witty, of the moment, with an élan, a teasing quality that made you feel you didn't just get a subscription, you joined something. You entered a world of thought.
Peggy Noonan, "May We Not Lose His Kind," The Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2008; Page W16 ---

Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.
William F. Buckley, Jr., Up from Liberalism (1959)

The attempted assassination of Sukarno last week had all the earmarks of a CIA operation. Everyone in the room was killed except Sukarno.
William F. Buckley, Jr., National Review, 1957

I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.
William F. Buckley, Jr., 1963 statement, as quoted in The Quote Verifier : Who Said What, Where, and When (2006) by Ralph Keyes, p. 82

Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.
William F. Buckley, Jr., The Cynic's Lexicon : A Dictionary of Amoral Advice (1984) by Jonathon Green, p. 34

The cost of the drug war is many times more painful, in all its manifestations, than would be the licensing of drugs combined with intensive education of non-users and intensive education designed to warn those who experiment with drugs.
William F. Buckley, Jr.,  Address to the New York Bar Association (Summer 1995); published in "The War On Drugs Is Lost" in National Review Vol. 48, No. 2 (12 February 1996)

Those who suffer from the abuse of drugs have themselves to blame for it. This does not mean that society is absolved from active concern for their plight. It does mean that their plight is subordinate to the plight of those citizens who do not experiment with drugs but whose life, liberty, and property are substantially affected by the illegalization of the drugs sought after by the minority.
William F. Buckley, Jr.,  Address to the New York Bar Association (Summer 1995); published in "The War On Drugs Is Lost" in National Review Vol. 48, No. 2 (12 February 1996)

One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. ... Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.
William F. Buckley, Jr.,  "It Didn't Work" in National Review Onlin e(2006-02-24)

The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans.
William F. Buckley, Jr.,  "It Didn't Work" in National Review Onlin e(2006-02-24)

I get satisfaction of three kinds. One is creating something, one is being paid for it and one is the feeling that I haven’t just been sitting on my ass all afternoon.
William F. Buckley, Jr.,  As quoted in The Book of Positive Quotations (2007) by John Cook

Selected Videos of William F. Buckley, Jr. (1925-2008)  ---

With all the talk about how Mr. McCain needs to unify his party, lost has been the question of whether some people will let him. Washington Republicans know he's their best shot at retaining the White House. Yet many remain ambivalent about him -- not because they question his conservatism, but out of resentment that he may get in the way of their earmarks. This has resulted in a behind-the-scenes brawl, as spend-happy Republicans resist efforts by wiser heads to fall in behind Mr. McCain's anti-earmark message. At best, the spenders risk an embarrassing pummeling by their own nominee that could hurt them in their own re-election campaigns. At worst, they could undercut one of Mr. McCain's more persuasive messages. They shouldn't count on Mr. McCain cutting them slack. He's always reveled in publicly humiliating pork-barrelers, including those in his party, and seems gleeful at the prospect of using his new podium to continue his crusade. He has no reason to back down now. Unorthodox as he's been on some conservative issues, on earmarks Mr. McCain has the full backing of an American public.
Kimberly Strassel, "Earmark Nation," The Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2008; Page A14 ---
Jensen Comment
It shows you how corrupt politics is in Washington when our elected representatives will cross over party lines just to get at the best hog farmer who will not put them on an earmarking diet.

Ohio, Indiana and Michigan are losing auto jobs, but many of these "runaway plants" are not fleeing to China, Mexico or India. They've moved to more business-friendly U.S. states, including Texas. GM recently announced plans for a new plant to build hybrid cars. Guess where? Near Dallas. In 2006 the Lone Star State exported $5.5 billion of cars and trucks to Mexico and $2.4 billion worth to Canada. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat who supports Mrs. Clinton, blames his state's problems on President Bush. But Ohio's economy has been struggling for years, and most of its wounds are self-inflicted. Ohio now ranks 47th out of 50 in economic competitiveness, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Ohio politicians deplore plant closings even as they impose the third highest corporate income tax in the country (10.5%) and the sixth highest personal income tax (8.87%). A common joke is that Ohio lays out the red carpet for companies -- when they leave the state. By contrast, Texas has no income tax, a huge competitive advantage.
"Texas v. Ohio," The Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2008; Page A16 ---

Over the weekend, Chicago lifted itself to the top of a tax dishonor roll: The city's cumulative sales-tax rate is now the steepest of any major metropolitan area in America, at 10.25%. That blows past the former valedictorian, Memphis (9.25%), as well as New Orleans (9%), Denver (8.6%), and even New York and Los Angeles. Congratulations . . . Not so coincidentally, the $426 million that the county optimistically expects to collect each year will also fund somewhere between 700 or 800 new patronage jobs, and maybe more, which were lobbied for by the public-employees unions. A scathing report from a federal court monitor, released Friday, depicts rampant abuse in county hiring practices. Laurence Msall, president of the nonpartisan Chicago Civic Federation, argues that the county already spends its $3 billion budget irresponsibly, pointing to more than $100 million in possible reforms. Mr. Msall notes dryly that the county is "not only refusing to tighten its belt, it's acting as if it doesn't have to wear a belt." Then again, it'd be business as unusual if patronage were somehow extracted from Chicago's machine politics. Too bad for the city's actual businesses and residents.
"Second City No More," The Wall Street Journal,  March 5, 2008; Page A16 ---

Football legend Red Grange loved to tell the story about the time he visited Calvin Coolidge at the White House.As the tale goes, when an aide made the introductions by saying, “Mr. President, this is Red Grange of the Chicago Bears,” Coolidge replied, “Great! I love circus acts.”True story? Political folklore? What we do know, and we’ll know it forever, is that President Bush really did stand at a podium on the South Lawn yesterday and speak these words: “I’m sorry (baseball star)  Manny Ramirez isn’t here. I guess his grandmother died again.”
Steve Buckley, Boston Herald, February 28, 2008 --- Click Here

Barack Obama has ratcheted up his attacks on NAFTA, but a senior member of his campaign team told a Canadian official not to take his criticisms seriously, CTV News has learned. Both Obama and Hillary Clinton have been critical of the long-standing North American Free Trade Agreement over the course of the Democratic primaries, saying that the deal has cost U.S. workers' jobs.  Within the last month, a top staff member for Obama's campaign telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources. The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value.
"Obama staffer gave warning of NAFTA rhetoric," CTV, February 27, 2008 --- Click Here
Obama facts and unfair innuendos ---

If he rides the wave all the way to the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama could do himself a huge favor by picking a prominent New Yorker to round out a dream ticket. No, not Hillary Clinton. Think about this: Vice President of the United States Michael Bloomberg. Between McCain's resurgence and Obama's rise, the stars failed to align for a Bloomberg third-party run, as he himself said last night. But 2008 could still deliver an election that breaks all molds. That's because Bloomberg is uniquely positioned to complement Obama's strengths and compensate for his weaknesses. Here's how: --- By giving Obama instant economic credibility.
Josh Greenman, "Barack Obama's dream ticket: Mike Bloomberg for vice president," New York Daily News, February 26, 2008 ---

She torched her home with her family inside to get the insurance money, avoid foreclosure and be with a new boyfriend, authorities said.Sheryl Christman waits in the jury box in Judge Dennis Kolenda's court for her sentencing Monday afternoon. But that was not enough to make Sheryl Christman see any jail time for the potential 20-year felony . . . In December, Christman pleaded no contest to the arson. Christman said she did not expect the fire to spread so quickly. She torched mattresses in the attached garage and expected it to "go up the wall" at most. Instead, the blaze consumed the garage, spread to the attic and heavy smoke could be seen 10 miles away from the home, located near 68th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue.
John S. Hausman
, "Woman gets no jail time for GR arson," Muskegan Chronicle, Februiary 27, 2008 ---

Meanwhile, from an infinity of online sources, heads are being filled with data, information, and images, from all manner of sources — responsible, sensible, loony, exploitative, and malevolent. Fencing off children from much of this stuff has become a major parental concern, as well as a hopeless task, given children’s zest for the forbidden and preternatural facility at the keyboard.
Dan Greenberg, "We've Got a Monster on the Loose: It's Called the Internet," Chronicle of Higher Education, February 27, 2008 ---

Senior members of the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization were caught today in the process of carrying out a terrorist attack, WND has learned. All five terrorists involved in the incident, members of Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, were on a new list of gunmen granted amnesty in October by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as a stated gesture to help bolster Abbas. The terrorists were given amnesty on condition they disarm, refrain from attacks and spend three months in PA detention facilities and another three months confined to Nablus, the northern West Bank city in which they reside. But today the pardoned terrorists engaged in a firefight with the Israel Defense Forces in Taal, a village outside Nablus, where they were supposed to be confined to PA facilities.
Aaron Klein, WorldNetDaily, February 27, 2008 ---  

ElBaradei (U.N. head of nuclear inspections) has taken a break from his usual scolding of the West to tell the Iranians that they need to start opening their military facilities to snap inspections. At the moment, the Iranians only allow inspections at two facilities, despite intelligence and evidence that the Iranians conduct military research on nuclear weapons at other places. Specifically, the Iranians have never given any satisfactory response about their “Green Salt” project. They also have blocked access to Parchin, where some suspect that the Iranians perform most of their military efforts on nuclear technology.In fact, it’s instructive to look at both Green Salt and Parchin in light of the NIE. The New York Times mentions neither, but both arose as issues during the period of time when the latest NIE asserts that Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear weapons. In 2005, two years after the supposed cessation, the US started making intelligence public about Green Salt, which is a mid-state between uranium ore and useful fissile material. The next year, Iran finally released information it had deliberately hidden from the IAEA on their processing, but refused to provide any further explanation.Parchin’s involvement in the nuclear program came to light in 2003. The IAEA conducted a preliminary inspection at Parchin, but Iran refused access in 2005 to any further inspections. The facility reportedly hides a large underground R&D laboratory dedicated to nuclear-weapons development. However, last November, a series of mysterious explosions there occurred, leaving many wondering exactly what happened and what might be left.
"World: Maybe that NIE was wrong after all," Hot Air, March 3, 2008 ---

The attacks by the janjaweed, the fearsome Arab militias that came three weeks ago, accompanied by government bombers and followed by the Sudanese Army, were a return to the tactics that terrorized Darfur in the early, bloodiest stages of the conflict. Such brutal, three-pronged attacks of this scale — involving close coordination of air power, army troops and Arab militias in areas where rebel troops have been — have rarely been seen in the past few years, when the violence became more episodic and fractured. But they resemble the kinds of campaigns that first captured the world’s attention and prompted the Bush administration to call the violence in Darfur genocide.
Lydia Polgreen, "Scorched-Earth Strategy Returns to Darfur," The New York Times, March 2, 2008 ---

Another sensible Roberts Court ruling, another uproar. "The Supreme Court's decision strips consumers of the rights they've had for decades," seethed the always-seething Congressman, Henry Waxman. To decipher: The Court last week restored a measure of rationality to the way government regulates medicine, while foiling a tort bar plot to rewrite federal statutes via state lawsuits. The decision resolved a high-profile 1996 suit against Medtronic, a major medical device maker. A man's balloon catheter ruptured during an angioplasty, and his lawyers argued that its design was faulty and its labeling inadequate. The Court disagreed, ruling in Riegel v. Medtronic that federal power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause is to be broadly interpreted. In this case it pre-empted state product liability laws for devices, like Medtronic's catheter, that had undergone the Food and Drug Administration's most rigorous "Class III" approval process.
"Medical Double Jeopardy," The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2008, Page A8 --- 

There was a time, and it was pre-Al Gore, when buying organic meant eggs and tomatoes, Whole Foods and farmer's markets. But in the past two years, the word has seeped out of the supermarket and into the home store, into the vacation industry, into the Wal-Mart. Almost three-quarters of the U.S. population buys organic products at least occasionally; between 2005 and 2006 the sale of organic non-food items increased 26 percent, from $744 million to $938 million, according to the Organic Trade Association. Green is the new black, carbon is the new kryptonite, blah blah blah. The privileged eco-friendly American realized long ago that SUVs were Death Stars; now we see that our gas-only Lexus is one, too. Best replace it with a 2008 LS 600 hybrid for $104,000 (it actually gets fewer miles per gallon than some traditional makes, but, see, it is a hybrid). Accessorize the interior with an organic Sherpa car seat cover for only $119.99. Consuming until you're squeaky green. It feels so good. It looks so good. It feels so good to look so good, which is why conspicuousness is key.
Monica Hesse, Greed in the Name of Green:  To Worshipers of Consumption: Spending Won't Save the Earth," The Washington Post, March 5, 2008 --- Click Here

In January, French educators were alarmed by reports of a rise in student prostitution as a means of paying for college. Now similar concerns are being raised in Australia. The Age reported Sunday that 40 percent of the female sex workers in Melbourne’s brothels are enrolled in the city’s universities. The general manager of Melbourne’s largest brothel told the newspaper that university students often were his best employees because “they’re career oriented and know exactly what they want to get out of the job.” He added that when the students aren’t with clients, “we allow them to get out their laptops and study in a spare room.”
Inside Higher Ed, March 3, 2008 ---

U.S. prostitution can be understood in the context of the cultural normalization of prostitution as a glamorous and wealth-producing “job” for girls who lack emotional support, education, and employment opportunities. The sexual exploitation of children and women in prostitution is often indistinguishable from incest, intimate partner violence, and rape.
Melissa Farley (2006) Prostitution, Trafficking, and Cultural Amnesia: What We Must Not Know in Order To Keep the Business of Sexual Exploitation Running Smoothly," Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Volume 18, 2006, pp.109-144.

On one cruel day in the summer of 1995, some 7,000 people, men and young boys, were herded out of the town of Srebrenica by General Ratko Mladic, of the Bosnian Serb army, and executed in cold blood. When it fell to the Serbs, the town was flying the flag of the United Nations, it was a "safe area," patrolled by Dutch troops. But the peacekeepers had simply handed it over to the Serbs and made their way to safety. Srebrenica shamed Bill Clinton who had tried his best, over 30 long, bloody months, to stay out of the war for Yugoslavia. (Here he was true to the policy of his predecessor, George H.W. Bush, who along with his advisors, believed that America had no dog in that Balkan fight, as the inimitable James Baker so famously put it.) After Srebrenica, appeasement of the Serbs came to a swift end, and America would give the Muslims of Bosnia a chance at some normalcy. America was now in the Balkans, the Muslim children of the Ottoman Empire had become wards of the Pax Americana. And so a Balkan mantra would come to pass: "The Yugoslav crisis began in Kosovo, and it will end in Kosovo." It was on the outskirts of Pristina, Kosovo's principal city, on June 28, 1989, that Slobodan Milosevic, the arsonist who lit the fuse of Yugoslavia's wars, recast himself from a communist party hack into a great nationalist avenger. It was a day fraught with symbolism: the anniversary of what the Serbs take to be the central drama and epic of their history, their defeat in 1389 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, on the Field of Blackbirds. In their self-pitying epic, fate had been cruel to the Serbs -- their capital, Belgrade was destroyed 40 times, their holy lands in Kosovo lost to the infidels, overwhelmed by the Albanians. Kosovo may indeed have been the cradle of the Serbian Church: But in the 1980s and 1990s, the Serbs were deserting Kosovo by the day, and by the time it descended into mayhem, they accounted for less than 10% percent of the province's population.
 Fouad Ajami, "On Kosovo's Fields," The Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2008; Page A17

In the case of “Chicago 10 (2007 movie),” the perspective is shallow as well as narrow. Events are not simply yanked out of the past and detached from their contemporary global significance. They are shown without concern for long-term causes or effects. Incidents and images are presented without any reference at all to a larger narrative in which they might have some meaning. No effort is made to discuss the effects of the Chicago protests and the conspiracy trial in American politics. And that really takes some doing.When we talk about the “culture war” now, the expression is usually just a very tired metaphor. But what happened outside the Democratic convention was an early battle in it, and a very literal one.The turmoil gave many people a sense that the whole country was hurtling towards a much greater showdown. That prospect has dimmed for the protesters who marched in the streets, then, but it never really did for the “silent majority,” as the winner of the presidential campaign later that year put it.
Scott McLemee, "The Whole World Was Watching," Inside Higher Ed, March 5, 2008 ---

In a solar thermal plant, mirrors concentrate sunlight onto some type of fluid that is used, in turn, to boil water for a steam turbine. Over the past year, developers of solar thermal technology such as Abengoa, Ausra, and Solel Solar Systems have picked up tens of millions of dollars in financing and power contracts from major utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric and Florida Power and Light. By 2013, projects in development in just the United States and Spain promise to add just under 6,000 megawatts of solar thermal power generation to the barely 100 megawatts installed worldwide last year, says Cambridge, MA, consultancy Emerging Energy Research.
Peter Fairley, MIT's Technology Review, February 29, 2008 ---

"The MSA: Segregation Not Integration," by Robert Spencer,, Friday, February 29, 2008 ---

Muslim students at Australian universities have demanded that class schedules be changed to work around their prayer times, and that male and female students be provided with separate cafeterias and recreational areas.

This is in line with similar initiatives in the United States, where the Muslim Students Association carries, on the “Muslim Accommodations Task Force” page of its website, pdfs of pamphlets entitled “How to Achieve Islamic Holidays on Campus,” “How to Establish a Prayer Room on Campus,” and “How to Achieve Halal Food on Campus.”

The MSA directs Muslim students to present these demands in the context of multiculturalism and civil rights. “Most campuses,” explains the publication on getting recognition of Islamic holy “include respecting diversity as a part of their mission statement. They consider enrollment of diverse students an asset to the community, as they enhance the classroom learning experience and enrich student life. Try to find these statements specific to your campus, and explain that recognition of Islamic holidays would serve as a practical example of upholding these ideals.”

Such recognition would also serve to right wrongs done to Muslims on campus: “If any cases of bias against Muslims took place on campus in the recent past, present the proposal as an opportunity to foster cooperation and increase understanding.” It would be a simple matter of civil rights: “Additionally, if special holiday recognition is being offered to other faith communities (Jewish, Catholic, Protestant), Muslims have strong grounds to make a petition for equal consideration of their holiday requirements.”

It’s ironic that such calls for equal consideration would be made in service of an agenda that is so interested in being separate: the calls for separate eating and exercise facilities are a strange discordant note in a movement that claims for itself the mantle of the American civil rights movements. By the MSA’s lights, the Muslim Rosa Parks would insist on sitting in a separate place on the bus, and Muslim students would demand the right not to have to eat at infidel lunch counters.

This is one of the primary reasons, but by no means the only reason, why the increasingly shrill demands in Western countries for accommodation of Muslim practices are not the latest manifestation of the push for equal rights for minorities, notwithstanding the posturings and protestations of Muslim leaders. Demanding a place at the table is not the same thing as demanding a separate table of one’s own. In the civil rights movement, black Americans were working for full inclusion in the larger secular democratic culture, not trying to carve out their own enclave within it. If anything, they had that already, and that was the problem: if the Supreme Court could conclude in Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place,” because “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” then they are still unequal.

And just as they were deemed unequal in 1954 because they abetted cultural attitudes that exalted one group as superior to the other, so also today: the demands of Muslim groups for separate facilities are in the service of a supremacist ideology that emanates from the Qur’anic assertions that Muslims are the “best of people” (3:110) while unbelievers are the “vilest of created beings” (98:6). Unbelievers are unclean (9:28) – which leads to the conclusion, reasonable to the pious, that Muslims should be chary of contact with them. Every Western capitulation made to demands for Muslim accommodation only feeds these supremacist notions, and works directly against the actual goals of the civil rights movement, which were equal justice and equal rights for all.

What’s more, the MSA, the chief proponent of the growing Muslim accommodations movement in the United States, was listed as a “friend” of the Muslim Brotherhood in the infamous 1992 memorandum which spoke of the “grand Jihad” aimed at “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” The victory of Allah’s religion over other religions is a Qur’anic imperative: “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah” (8:39), and it is an inherently supremacist imperative, in which non-Muslims pay a special tax from which Muslims are exempt, the jizya, “with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” (9:29).

Instead of capitulating to Muslim demands for separate facilities, university administrators and public officials ought to question those making the demands about their overall goals, and about the incongruity of claiming that creation of their own enclave is a matter of equality of rights for all.

But when will we have university administrators and public officials with that kind of courage and foresight?

Jensen Comment
If Christian's demanded footbaths, special daily time for praying, and segregated cafeterias for religious/cultural purposes the ACLU will sue any school that gives special considerations to Christians. But it's doubtful that that ACLU and the liberal press will come down as hard on schools that cave in to Muslim demands.

The problem with giving special consideration to different religions and cultures in our schools is that it is unconstitutional and even repulsive to give special consideration to only one or two religions and cultures apart from all religions and cultures. This is perhaps why the ACLU has fought so hard against Christianity since the Christianity has had some special privileges built into schools since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. And the ACLU has won in almost every instance for the last 60 years. Now what will the ACLU do when faced nose to nose with Muslim demands for schools and other public facilities like prisons, small town jails, airports and government buildings? Should boys and girls have separate dining facilities or should only Muslim boys and Muslim girls have separate dining facilities in K-12 schools?. Should there be segregated classrooms? If the ACLU concedes to one religion and culture, why not others? Should Federal laws be passed granting homeschooling funds and privileges nationwide for only Muslims?

In fairness, the majority of Muslims in the United States are not making unrealistic demands or pushing too hard for the ACLU to become their advocates for religious privileges in public facilities and services. But it will be interesting to see how the ACLU reacts when and if the time comes like is happening today in Australia, Canada, and Europe.

Economic Stimulus Payments Information Center
Starting in May, the Treasury will begin sending economic stimulus payments to more than 130 million households. To receive a payment, taxpayers must have a valid Social Security number, $3,000 of income and file a 2007 federal tax return. IRS will take care of the rest. Eligible taxpayers will receive between $300 to $600 if single or $600 to $1,200 if married filing jointly. Millions of retires, disabled veterans and low-wage earners who usually are exempt from filing a tax return must do so this year in order to receive a stimulus payment. But there are more details to know about. Find out more here and visit this page regularly for the latest updates.
From the IRS:  Economic Stimulus Payments Information Center ---,,id=177937,00.html
Jensen Comment
Although I think this is a horrible Keynesian tinkering with the economy by a deficit-bound government that cannot afford this election-year give away, there are some important things to know about the latest economic stimulus program. For example, not everyone or every family is eligible for a check. For those who don't normally file, a tax return (Form 1040A) must be filed on or before April 15, 2008 to get a check

Taxpayers in my viewpoint should opt for the electronic payments option to avoid mix ups or theft in mail delivery. Also beware of scam artists who phone or write claiming to be from the IRS. The IRS anticipates an explosion of scams trying to get at your stimulus payment. The good news from a business standpoint is that the scam artists will spend the money. The bad news is that it’s your money that might get scammed.

Index ---,,id=177937,00.html
|The Basics | Scenarios | Frequently Asked Questions Social Security | Veterans Benefits | Low Income |
| Scam Alert News Releases, Audio, Fact Sheets and Legal Guidance |

March 6, 2008 reply from Linda A Kidwell [lkidwell@UWYO.EDU]

Because many senior citizens living on social security do not normally file tax returns at this point, our students are doing a special VITA session at the local senior center. The event is being widely publicized. The point is to get them to file those returns so they will get those payments. You might consider recommending it to your VITA volunteers too!


Jensen Comment
If Congress wants to help low income elderly and other poor souls why should I get a bigger stimulus-check than they get? Why should virtually all taxpayers get a rebate that the government plain and simple cannot afford?

There are better ways to help elderly such as broader coverage of Medicaid, although it bothers me that fraud is so rampant in the Medicaid system. The heirs have carefully scammed years ahead to siphon off the savings and properties of their parents so that Medicaid gets stuck with the bill and the heirs go on cruises.

Actually the amounts of money received by recipients are so small that they do virtually nothing ease each person’s burdens. And if the truth is known the amount of stimulus to the economy is a joke (except may for Wal-Mart that doesn’t really need it all that bad).

Ed Scribner (Accounting Professor from New Mexico State University) sent be the souvenir below showing my picture (Ha Ha).


But along these "Fortune" lines I would have to call the following March 3 message from Denny Beresford an understatement. In spite of giving away billions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Charitable Foundation, Warren Buffet's portfolio, according to Forbes Magazine, jumped from $52 billion (Rank 2 in the World in March 2007) to$62 billion (Rank 1 in the World in March 2008).

Warren Buffett's always interesting annual letter to shareholders for2007 is now available at ---

Humanities departments may take hope in the fact that Warren Buffet has a Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree (Nebraska) and rose to become the most respected and wealthy (self-made) businessman in the world. He also has a M.S. degree in Economics (Columbia). I have serious reservations about the new thrust for corporations and large professional firms in accounting and law to "script" (read that alter the curriculum) in schools as described below in spite of their best intentions. Think of Warren Buffet majoring in liberal arts at Nebraska.

"High Schools Add Classes Scripted by Corporations Lockheed, Intel Fund Engineering Courses; Creating a Work Force," by Anne Marie Chaker, The Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2008; Page A1 ---

In a recent class at Abraham Clark High School in Roselle, N.J., business teacher Barbara Govahn distributed glossy classroom materials that invited students to think about what they want to be when they grow up. Eighteen career paths were profiled, including a writer, a magician, a town mayor -- and five employees from accounting giant Deloitte LLP.

"Consider a career you may never have imagined," the book suggests. "Working as a professional auditor."

The curriculum, provided free to the public school by a nonprofit arm of Deloitte, aims to persuade students to join the company's ranks. One 18-year-old senior in Ms. Govahn's class, Hipolito Rivera, says the company-sponsored lesson drove home how professionals in all fields need accountants. "They make it sound pretty good," he says.

Deloitte and other corporations are reaching out to classrooms -- drafting curricula while also conveying the benefits of working for the sponsor companies. Hoping to create a pipeline of workers far into the future, these corporations furnish free lesson plans and may also underwrite classroom materials, computers or training seminars for teachers.

The programs represent a new dimension of the business world's influence in public schools. Companies such as McDonald's Corp. and Yum Brands Inc.'s Pizza Hut have long attempted to use school promotions to turn students into customers. The latest initiatives would turn them into employees.

Companies that employ engineers, fearful of a coming labor shortage, are at the movement's forefront. Lockheed Martin Corp. began funding engineering courses two years ago at schools near its aircraft testing and development site in Palmdale, Calif., saying it hopes to replenish its local work force. Starting in 2004, British engine-maker Rolls-Royce PLC has helped fund high-school courses in topics such as engine propulsion. Intel Corp. supports curricula in school districts where engineering concepts are taught as early as the elementary level.

Schools, for their part, have embraced corporate support as state education funding has remained flat for a decade and declining housing values now threaten to eat into property-tax revenues. Teachers, meanwhile, often welcome the lesson plans, classroom equipment and the corporate-sponsored professional development sessions.

But however well-intentioned, such corporate input may blur the line between pure academics and a commercial agenda, critics say. "When you have a corporation or any special interest offering an incentive, you are distorting the educational purpose of the schools," says Alex Molnar, an education-policy professor at Arizona State University who directs the school's Commercialism in Education Research Unit.

Schools Should Decide

The hiring priorities of a company or industry, Mr. Molnar says, can change quickly. On the other hand, he says, schools should provide a broad and consistent foundation of knowledge and skills. Deciding what to teach is "first and foremost, a series of choices," he says. Historically, those choices have been made by school officials and professional educators, based on the interests of their community's children, not on the shifting needs of industry.

Nonetheless, many school officials are receptive. Tamika Bauknight, the Roselle district's director of curriculum and instruction, concedes that corporate self-interest is at work in the curriculum provided by Deloitte, whose career-choice materials include profiles of the company's chairman of the board and an audit manager. But she believes students benefit. "If through the curriculum they consider becoming an accountant and thinking about Deloitte," she says, "that isn't a bad thing."

Businesses have sought to shape public-school lessons before, but past initiatives focused more on teaching trades. In the early 20th century, companies fostered industrial education in high schools to feed their factory needs. More recently, Cisco Systems Inc. has offered information-technology certification to students who learn computer-networking skills. Now, by contrast, companies are seeking to start training students for professions that often require university degrees.

Robotics for Middle Schoolers

One of corporate-sponsored curricula's largest conduits into U.S. classrooms is Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit organization based in Clifton Park, N.Y., that develops engineering coursework used in more than 2,000 schools nationwide. For high schools, it offers eight full-year engineering courses, including digital electronics and civil engineering. It also provides five 10-week units for middle schools on topics such as robotics.

Project Lead the Way was formed 10 years ago with an initial $1.5 million grant from a foundation run by Richard Liebich, chief executive of a tool-manufacturing company based in Orchard Park, N.Y. Mr. Liebich said he could never find enough engineers to hire, and envisioned an entity that could help by creating engineering courses for pre-college students. The group's curriculum is technical, with no textbooks. Open-ended questions and problems encourage students to be creative, the organization says.

Project Lead the Way says its courses are offered as electives, and aren't meant to supplant core subjects typically taught in school.

"What these companies bring is contemporary expertise that can sometimes be insulated in a purely academic environment," says Niel Tebbano, Lead the Way's vice president of operations. With a traditional, theoretical approach to math or sciences, he says, "you get the young people asking, 'Why do I need to learn this?'" The lack of real-world application for this knowledge, he says, "has been the albatross around public education's neck."

The group concedes that companies may contribute to the nonprofit to ensure their own interests are reflected in lessons. The National Fluid Power Association, an industry trade group based in Milwaukee, Wis., paid the group $100,000 to hire fluid-power experts to ensure that concepts on hydraulics and pneumatics would be incorporated into the courses.

In another case, a senior engineer in the Indianapolis-based unit of engine maker Rolls-Royce, which had been funding Project Lead the Way courses in a handful of local schools, noticed what he considered a lack of material on propulsion. So he helped write a new lesson for the project's aerospace course. Now, the class has an optional six-day "Introduction to Propulsion" unit that includes a PowerPoint presentation on a gas turbine engine "by kind permission of Rolls Royce."

That same aerospace course is scheduled for revision again, and this time Lockheed Martin is contributing $146,000 to have a say in the new version. A presentation shown to company executives outlining Lockheed's educational efforts specifies that "increasing general interest in math and science for all students" is "not our goal." Nudging students toward Lockheed, the presentation says, is.

Lockheed is bracing for a worker shortage. The company estimates that about half of its science- and engineering-based work force will be retiring in the next decade or so. Meanwhile, interest in engineering as a career is declining among U.S. students. In a 2007 survey of more than 270,000 college freshmen conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 7.5% said they intended to major in engineering -- the lowest level since the 1970s. National-security restrictions preclude the Bethesda, Md., company and other major defense contractors from outsourcing many jobs overseas.

"We're already within the window of criticality to get tomorrow's engineers in the classroom today," says Jim Knotts, director of corporate citizenship for Lockheed. "We want to address a national need to develop the next generation of engineers -- but with some affinity toward Lockheed Martin."

Lockheed is particularly eager to refresh the engineer pool at its giant facility in Palmdale, Calif. Here, at the southern edge of the Mojave Desert, the company works alongside aerospace giants Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp., designing aircraft and testing them near an Air Force facility known as Plant 42. Luring workers to this flat, parched area is a challenge, Lockheed and local officials concede. So the company, working with local schools, is hoping to develop its own talent.

Since the 2005-06 school year, Lockheed has provided $45,000 to fund Project Lead the Way's engineering courses at three high schools in the local Antelope Valley Union High School District. The company's contribution pays for materials and supplies for at least three yearlong courses at each school.

David Vierra, superintendent of the Antelope Valley Union district near Palmdale, welcomes the corporate presence to an area that relies on engineers to feed its economy. Young workers with family ties there may be more likely to put down roots. "We're trying to develop a home-grown engineer," he says.

Continued in article

Jensen Comments
I know there are pros and cons in all of this, and I definitely have some close humanities colleagues who will literally hit the ceiling when they read about corporate scripting of curricula. Actually the term "corporate” is that C-word in their vocabulary. I hope that backers of corporate scripting of curricula will find a more diplomatic way of bringing the entrenched “liberal arts” faculty in on this initiative.

What are the longer-term advantages of a career-oriented major (e.g., a professional program) versus an academic-oriented major (e.g., a liberal arts major)?

"Employment and the Undergraduate Degree," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, March 5, 2008 ---

During a period of economic uncertainty, it’s not much fun seeing data from generally more prosperous times. A new report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics takes a look at employment trends over a 10-year span starting in 1993, and the outlook was positive for college graduates. It took time for some to find a job with “career potential,” the report notes, but most had done so by 2003.
The path differed somewhat, particularly in the early career years, for students depending on their focus. Those with “career oriented” majors appeared to become more established in the workforce earlier than did their counterparts with “academic” majors, according to the report.

. . .

“The image is if you major in an academic subject you’ll be flipping burgers all your life,” Humphreys said. “This report doesn’t show that. It does show that [students with career-oriented majors] get into their career track more quickly, but suggests that in a few years, there’s not a big difference in job satisfaction.”

Humphreys added that while the NCES data is important and relevant, it’s also somewhat dated. The business environment is “changing faster than ever,” Humphreys said, and business leaders are telling the group that it’s most important that students have a broad set of transferable skills.

AAC&U’s survey of 300 employers, conducted last year, showed that new hires had the skills needed for entry-level work but often lacked the background needed to take on advanced assignments. (That report didn’t differentiate among majors.)

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at

Update on Second Life Virtual Worlds in Accounting, Finance, and Business

March 8, 2008 message from Steven Hornik [shornik@BUS.UCF.EDU]

I just wanted to pass these along for those interested in using Virtual Worlds.  The first three articles are related to business school uses of Second Life that appeared in the Financial Times earlier this week.  Followed by a link to a story about Deloitte's involvement with a virtual world to help teens learn business.  Finally, I've provided links to my blog in which I briefly discuss the announcement and release yesterday by Second Life of a new viewer in which Web pages can be brought in-world and thus shared - its static right now but gives a glimpse of what is coming down the road. And one describing students using Second Life for completing financial accounting HW assignments.

Financial Times Articles:
--From first steps to flight - an avatar's journey
-- A Second Life for classrooms with vision
--Students take a leap into the virtual world

Deloitte uses Virtual World to Teach Teens About Business  [publications_mediapost_com]

Web on a Prim (almost there):
SL HW assignments:

Dr. Steven Hornik
University of Central Florida
Dixon School of Accounting
Second Life: Robins Hermano
yahoo ID: shornik

Bob Jensen's threads on Second Life are at

When will the presidential candidates tackle the real economic crisis facing the United States?

It's the Dollar, Stupid

If the reality of a collapsing dollar and foreign exchange turmoil starts to bite consumers where they keep their pocketbooks -- for example, if the U.S. finds it necessary to raise interest rates to entice foreigners to buy the government bonds that finance our deficit -- the affects of currency misalignment could quickly move from the realm of dry treatises to the hyperactive world of live, televised political debate. Media consultants may grow apoplectic at the thought of having to reduce seemingly complex options into clever sound bites: Does the candidate advocate a new global monetary order linked to a universally-recognized reserve asset as a mechanism to guard against tinkering by self-serving governments? ("Gold: Money We Can Believe In.") Or is it possible to defend the existing, do-your-own-thing approach to currency relations, which undermines stable trade and capital flows at the expense of global prosperity? Meanwhile, foreign-exchange market specialists earn big profits by gambling -- some $3 trillion daily -- on where currencies might go next. It's time the candidates devote less time on the minutiae of configuring the next economic stimulus package, or renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. They should be thinking about how they will confront the imminent global currency crisis.
Judy Shelton, "It's the Dollar, Stupid," The Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2008; Page A17 ---

"The Mess of Mandated Markets:  New federal biofuel standards passed last year will distort the development of innovative technologies," by David Rotman, MIT's Technology Review, March/April 2008 ---

Few things prompt Washington policymakers to forget their professed belief in the efficiency of free markets faster than $100-a-barrel oil prices--or even the threat of them. In one of the most notable recent examples, as the price of crude oil edged toward the $100 mark late last year, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Bush quickly signed, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Among its various provisions, the energy bill prescribes a minimum amount of biofuel that gasoline suppliers must use in their products each year through 2022. The new mandates, which significantly expand the Renewable Fuels Standard of 2005, would more than double the 2007 market for corn-derived ethanol, to 15 billion gallons, by 2015. At the same time, the bill ensures the creation of a new market for cellulosic biofuels made from such sources as prairie grass, wood chips, and agricultural waste. The standards call for the production of 500 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel by 2012, one billion gallons by 2013, and 16 billion gallons by 2022.

Not surprisingly, the ethanol industry is very happy. The Biotechnology Industry Organization, a Washington-based trade association whose members include both large manufacturers and startup companies developing new cellulosic technologies, suggests that "this moment in the history of transportation fuels development can be compared to the transition from whale oil to kerosene to light American homes in the 1850s." The new push for biofuels, the trade association continues, is "larger than the Apollo project or the Manhattan project" and will require the construction of 300 biofuel plants, each with a capacity of 100 million gallons, at a cost of up to $100 billion.

In short, the federal government has legislated the growth of a sizable industry. The often stated aim of the biofuel standards is to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil. And biofuels, particularly cellulosic ones, could arguably play a significant role in achieving both those goals (see "The Price of Biofuels," January/­February 2008). But quite apart from the value of ethanol and other biofuels, the creation of markets by federal law raises fundamental questions about the best way to implement a national energy policy. Can legislated markets survive economic conditions and policy priori­ties that change over the long term? And what role should the government play in promoting specific technologies?

Mandated consumption levels break the "one-to-one link" between market demand and the adoption of a technology, says Harry de Gorter, an associate professor of applied economics and management at Cornell University: "As an economist, I don't like it. Economists like to let the markets determine what [technology] has the best chances." The new biofuel mandates are "betting on a particular technology," he says. "It is almost impossible to predict the best technology. It is almost inevitable that [mandates] will generate inefficiencies." While de Gorter acknowledges that some economists might justify mandated markets as a way to promote a desired social policy, he questions the strategy's effectiveness. "Historically, there are no good examples of it working in alternative energy," he says.

One reason economists tend to be wary of mandated consumption levels is that they can have unintended consequences for related markets. Producing 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol will require farmers to grow far more corn than they now do. And even with the increased harvest, biofuel production will consume around 45 percent of the U.S. corn crop, compared with 22 percent in 2007. The effects on the agricultural sector will be various and complex.


Livescribe, the pen that records audio while you take notes ---

Notes on the Smart Pen
The smart pen that Wired Campus flagged back in May was unveiled last week at a technology conference in Palm Springs, Calif. The company behind it, LiveScribe, has been aggressively marketing the device to college students with the slogan "Never miss a word." It's basically a combination recording machine and camera. Users take notes while a minirecorder, embedded in the pen, records whatever is being said. Later, to clarify the written notes, the user can touch the pen to a specific passage and listen to a recording of the instructor speaking those words. A tiny camera links what is being written to what is being recorded. In a takeoff on television commercials for pharmaceuticals, the smart-pen advertisement below features a student who suffers from "restless mind syndrome." The pen is offered as a panacea. Livescribe has set up a Facebook page to push the pen, and offers to pay college students to promote the device on their campuses. It's also advertised on the Web site ThePalestra, where Andy Van Schaack, a senior lecturer at Vanderbilt University, who is an adviser to LiveScribe, is seen praising the pen. Will the pen, which sells for about $200, take off with college students? Will it be used as a crutch for students who are too tired or distracted to listen to their professors?
Andrea L. Foster, "Notes on the Smart Pen," Chronicle of Higher Education, February 5, 2008 ---

See a video at

But during exams and case discussions in class be careful what scratch “paper” students are using with the Smart Pen---

Bob Jensen's threads on gadgets are at

March 8, 2008 reply from David Albrecht [albrecht@PROFALBRECHT.COM]

I’m repeating myself here, but if you allow students to have smart pens during examinations and case discussion, be careful what they’re using for scratch “paper” with those pens - Bob Jensen

Bob, if you can repeat yourself, then I'll take the liberty to repeat myself.

Professors in the classroom who hold themselves out as a repository of knowledge and who dedicate themselves to transferring this knowledge to their students have been beta-maxed by the Internet and various high-tech devices.

Decades of research into how humans learn has led to a revolution in the collegiate classroom, a revolution that has largely failed to reach accounting classrooms, I might add. Instead of fearing the use of smart pens on exams and communication devices during exams, I think we should embrace their use.

In my opinion, I think that modern college students have adapted to the knowledge-is-everywhere environment and have become quite skilled in locating knowledge and regurgitating it (more adept than we ever were). Where we as professors go wrong is that we force students to take tests in unrealistic environments. Not only is a pen and paper test unrealistic and irrelevant in the first place, but we further hamstring our students by limiting them to only pen and paper and their unexercised memories, denying them access to knowledge banks and friends during the test period. If we place unrealistic and unreasonable testing restrictions on our students, then I see the pandemic of "cheating" as a rational response on the their part.

Back in 2005 I examined syllabi from 1000+ professors in accounting, economics, marketing, management, and finance, and concluded that well over 98% of undergraduate business courses were still built around the glorification of knowledge and its transfer. I think this shows the potential magnitude of the market for smart pens.

David Albrecht


Have you been waiting on pins and needles waiting for Business Week's 2008 rankings of Business Schools?


The Best Undergrad B-Schools

- Slide Show: The Top Programs
- Slide Show: Niche Undergrad Programs
- Poets, Painters and Portfolio Managers
- Business as Unusual
- Extracurriculars that Count

Jensen Comment
There are some important things to keep in mind. Firstly, the rankings of different news services (particularly Business Week versus US News versus The Wall Street Journal) are largely in the eyes of the beholders these news services choose for the rankings. US News uses business school deans who are heavily influenced by research criteria such as whether a business school is offering compensation to attract the so-called top research faculty. The Wall Street Journal uses job recruiters who are influenced by what they think schools offering the "best buys" for top graduates. Business Week uses 80,000 business school graduates and more than 600 corporate recruiters.

It's never clear to me how any evaluator, in particular a graduate of one particular business school, is capable of ranking more than 100 schools of business that she or he knows virtually nothing about. Once a school is in the top 25 it pretty much stays in the top 25 because evaluators rely so heavily on previous-year rankings. What else do they have to go on?

Actually there are many dysfunctional aspects of college rankings in general. The media is not really doing education a service here ---

March 5, 2005 reply from hnouri [hnouri@TCNJ.EDU]


I could be wrong but I do not think graduates of a school rank other schools. According to Business Week

There are five sources for the undergraduate ranking: a student survey, a recruiter survey, median starting salaries for graduates, the number of graduates admitted to 35 top MBA programs, and an academic quality measure that consists of SAT/ACT test scores for business majors, full-time faculty-student ratios in the business program, average class size in core business classes, the percentage of business majors with internships, and the number of hours students spend preparing for class each week. The test score, faculty-student ratio, and class size information come from a survey to be completed by participating schools; the internship and hours of preparation data come from the student survey.

With regard to students' survey, Business Week notes:

The survey consists of about 50 questions that ask students to rate their programs on teaching quality, career services, alumni network, and recruiting efforts, among other things. Using the average answer for each of the questions and each question's standard deviation, we calculate a student survey score for each school.

More information can be found at 

"Does class size matter?" PhysOrg, February 28, 2008 --- 

No more vexing problem in education exists today than the achievement gap in this country. The difference between the extremes has rightfully attracted national attention, and one of the most popular policy proposals is to reduce class size—not surprising, since benchmarks are easily measured.

In his provocative article for the March 2008 issue of Elementary School Journal, “Do Small Classes Reduce the Achievement Gap between Low and High Achievers? Evidence from Project STAR”, Spyros Konstantopoulos (Northwestern University) explores the hard data and finds that some of our basic assumptions about class size may be incorrect.

Konstantopoulos worked with data on mathematics and reading achievement provided by Tennessee’s Project STAR (Student/Teacher Achievement Ratio), an unprecedented four-year longitudinal class-size study encompassing over 11,000 K-3 students in 79 schools.

The project found, not surprisingly, that smaller class size is a better situation for the children at all achievement levels, and previous analyses saw rising achievement on average. For most advocates, parents, and policy makers, this was enough. But when Konstantopoulos dug deeper, he found that the children who are already high achievers benefited the most from the extra attention afforded by smaller classes.

Low achievers also benefited from being in small classes (compared to low achievers in regular size classes), but they did not benefit not as much as high achievers. Unfortunately, he also found that the smaller classes produced higher variability in achievement which indicates that the achievement gap between low and high achievers is larger in small classes than in regular size classes, especially in kindergarten and first grade.

Do smaller classes help students? Yes...and no. Konstantopoulos finds that “although all types of students benefited from being in small classes, reductions in class size did not reduce the achievement gap between low and high achievers” He concludes by calling for more observational studies of classrooms themselves, as we still do not know how to address one of the most vexing problems—the achievement gap between students—facing educators and policy-makers, today.

Source: University of Chicago 

Bob Jensen's threads on class size issues are at

"Satire as Racial Backlash Against Asian Americans," by Sharon S. Lee, Inside Higher Ed, February 28, 2008 --- 

Imagine for a minute if student leaders at elite college campuses devoted themselves to mocking black people or Jewish people or gay people. I’m not talking about drunk students posting pictures of their offensive parties on Facebook, but student newspaper editors – thought of as being both smart and progressive – giving space over for the sole purpose of making fun of people because of their background. It’s hard to imagine. And yet recently this phenomenon of racial caricatures as “satire” has emerged with Asian Americans as the object of the jokes.

Why Asian Americans? After all, Asian American college students tend to make headlines as super students, attending prestigious private and public colleges at rates way above their state demographics (hence they are “over-represented") and as excelling academically above and beyond any other racial group, whites included. This “model minority” image is not new and has been around since at least the late 1960s, with Asian Americans often embraced as symbols of the merits of hard work and individual effort, all undertaken without complaint or political agitation. So ... shouldn’t that mean that Asian Americans would be seen as well integrated — academic and otherwise — with white students?

Indeed, this image and the stereotype that all Asian American college students are high achieving have led to a belief that they are well integrated into higher education. I would go so far as to say this model minority image has also conveyed that racism and racial hostility are no longer issues for Asian American students. It is not uncommon for colleges to exclude Asian Americans from affirmative action recruitment efforts and services for “minority” students. Yes, it is true that unlike African Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans, many Asian ethnic groups — though not all — do not struggle with severe under-representation in college matriculation or retention rates. However, does this mean that they are not racial minorities and do not continue to confront racial issues on campuses? In my years as a student and administrator on various university campuses, I have been troubled by what I have observed to be the increasing exclusion of Asian Americans from “minority” student or diversity discussions. Asian Americans are not seen as contributing to diversity though, in and of themselves, they are extremely diverse. They are frequently not identified as being minority students; when I see conference papers, journal articles, or Web discussion on “minority” students, I look for any mention of Asian Americans, only to find, more often than not, their omission. The focus now seems to be on “underrepresented minorities” — or code for “minority, but not Asian American.” Asian Americans have been what I call “de-minoritized,” erased from these discussions.

By no means do I want to detract from the critical issues of representation that persist for African American, Latino, and Native American students; under-parity is a serious signal of inaccessibility and hostility for students of color grounded in long and problematic history. However, I do not subscribe to the presumption that the opposite of under-representation (over-representation) means that a racial non-white group has achieved integration and full acceptance. In fact, in the case of Asian Americans, their over-presence in competitive institutions such as Ivy League colleges has heightened a sense of backlash that takes highly racialized overtones and contributes to a negative campus climate for this “high achieving” group. Enter the campus paper satire, the latest manifestation.

As many Asian American studies scholars have pointed out, Asian Americans are depicted as model minorities but they are also portrayed as foreigners, disloyal to America, and suspicious. Despite generations of citizenship in the United States (after years of denial of naturalization rights for Asian immigrants), Asian Americans are still seen as foreign and un-American, often as the “enemy” during economic and military crises, as during the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans, during the 1980s economic recession and competition with Japan’s automotive industry that lay the backdrop to the beating and death of Vincent Chin, and currently with post-September 11 depictions of South Asians and Muslims as terrorists. Dual images of Asian Americans as model minorities, people to be praised and emulated and embraced, and foreign threats, people to be watched, monitored, and distrusted, have long been a part of U.S. history.

Recently, Asian American college students have emerged in the media in this foreigner/ invading guise — as the butt of “satirical” jokes published by college student papers. Whether or not these articles are “satires” or offensive representations is not my point. My focus is on the powerful and racialized imagery evoked — the jokes that continue to depict Asian Americans as foreign, un-American, inscrutable, non-English speakers— basically as anything but a regular college student on a university campus. And my focus is on the fact that often times not many people are laughing at these satires.

For instance, in October of 2006, Jed Levine published a “modest proposal for an immodest proposition” for the UCLA Daily Bruin. Speaking as a white male, he identified as an “underrepresented minority” and pointed to Asian Americans as the real problem who took away admissions slots from Black and Latino students and proposed a solution to the “Asian invasion” as funneling “young Maos and Kim Jongs” into a new UC campus “UC Merced Pandas.” In January 2007, the Daily Princetonian published its annual “joke issue” that included a satire of “Lian Ji", a twist on Jian Li, the Chinese American student at Yale, who filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department for Civil Rights claiming his rejection from Princeton was due to his ethnicity. The joke article, from “Lian’s” point of view was written in broken English, complaining that Princeton did not accept “I the super smart Asian,” and touting the stereotypical nerdy Asian American credentials of winning record science fair awards, memorizing endless digits of pi, and playing multiple orchestral instruments simultaneously for the New Jersey youth orchestra. Ultimately, “Lian” accepts his fate at Yale saying, “I mean, I love Yale. Lots of bulldogs here for me to eat.”

Most recently, Inside Higher Ed reported on yet another satire in the University of Colorado at Boulder paper, The Campus Press, which resulted in controversy and a statement by the chancellor. In the satire, Max Karson, noticed the tensions that Asian American students exhibited towards whites. While pointing out the racial tensions on both sides, Karson deduces that Asians just hate whites, and it was “time for war.” Such efforts included steps to find all Asian Americans on campus (easily identifiable by areas of campus they frequent and by their ability to do a calculus problem in their heads), forcing them to eat bad sushi with forks; and a test for them to display emotions beyond a normal deadpan (read: inscrutable) face. At the end, Asian homes will be redecorated “American” style, replacing rice cookers with George Forman Grills and the like.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads about controversies in higher education are at

Can lowly American "Dr." degrees be illegal in Germany even if the doctoral degrees are from Stanford, Harvard, Cal Tech, Princeton, Yale, and UC Berkeley?
You must have a superior Ph.D from Germany to be a "Dr." or is that "Herr Dr.?"

"American Ph.D.s Face German Prosecution for Impersonating "Drs." by Alexis Madrigal, Wired News, March 5, 2008 ---

Several American scientists face up to a year in German prison for using the honorific "Dr." on their websites and business cards, Chemical and Engineering News reports. According to German law, only individuals receiving doctorates from European Union universities may use the title without receiving permission from the authorities.

Both state and national law prevent the use of "Dr." by lowly American Ph.Ds, but the federal penalty carries the stiffer fine:

Breaking the state law is punishable with a fine akin to that associated with a traffic ticket. However, breaking the federal law is punishable by a larger fine or up to one year in jail...

Up to seven American researchers associated with the highly-respected Max Planck Society institutes have faced or are facing charges, although one scientist described the problem as no more than "a big annoyance." After all, if the doctors, merely tack a Ph.D. on the end of their names, rather than a Dr. in front, they guarantee staying out of the Justizvollzugsanstalt. 

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
With this silly law in place, when I accompany my wife to Germany I'm strictly Mr. Erika better yet just plain Bob.
Of course in England I cannot be a Bobby. I’ve always thought the use of the “Dr.” in front of a name should be reserved for practicing MDs.

Does the bursting of the subprime bubble shatter the theory of Black-Scholes hedging of market risk?

"Inside Wall Street's Black Hole,"  by Michael Lewis, National Business News, March 2008 Issue --- 

The striking thing about the seemingly endless collapse of the subprime-mortgage market is how egalitarian it has been. It's nearly impossible to draw a demographic line between the victims and the perps. Millions of ordinary people ignorant of high finance have lost billions of dollars, but so have the biggest names on Wall Street, and both groups made exactly the same bet: that real estate values would never fall. Stan O'Neal, the former C.E.O. of Merrill Lynch, was fired for the same reason the lower-middle-class family in the suburban wasteland between Los Angeles and San Diego may have lost its surprisingly nice home. Both underestimated the likelihood of an unlikely event: a financial panic. In retrospect, the small army of Wall Street traders who lost tens of billions of dollars in subprime-mortgage investments looks as naive and foolish as the man on the street. But there's another way of viewing this crisis. The man on the street, for the first time, acted on the same foolish principles that have guided the behavior of sophisticated Wall Street traders for the past few decades.

If you had to pick a moment when those principles first appeared a bit shaky, you could do worse than the 1987 stock market crash. Black Monday was the first of a breed: a panic that suggested disastrous economic and social consequences but in the end had no serious effects at all. The bursting of the internet bubble, the Asian currency crisis, the Russian government bond default that triggered the failure of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management—all of these extreme events seemed, in the heat of the moment, to have the power to change the world as we know it. None of them, it turned out, was that big of a deal for the U.S. economy or for ordinary citizens. But the 1987 crash marked the beginning of something else too—a collapse brought about not by real or even perceived economic problems but by the new complexity of financial markets.

A new strategy known as portfolio insurance, invented by a pair of finance professors at the University of California at Berkeley, had been taken up in a big way by supposedly savvy investors. Portfolio insurance evolved from the most influential idea on Wall Street, an options-pricing model called Black-Scholes. The model is based on the assumption that a trader can suck all the risk out of the market by taking a short position and increasing that position as the market falls, thus protecting against losses, no matter how steep. Nearly every employee stock-ownership plan uses Black-Scholes as its guiding principle. A pension-fund manager sitting on billions of U.S. equities and fearful of a crash needn't call a Wall Street broker and buy a put option—an option to sell at a set price, limiting potential losses—on the S&P 500. Managers can create put options for themselves, cheaply, by shorting the S&P as it falls, and thus, in theory, be free of all market risk.

Good theory. The glitch was discovered only after the fact: When a market is crashing and no one is willing to buy, it's impossible to sell short. If too many investors are trying to unload stocks as a market falls, they create the very disaster they are seeking to avoid. Their desire to sell drives the market lower, triggering an even greater desire to sell and, ultimately, sending the market into a bottomless free fall. That's what happened on October 19, 1987, when the sweet logic of Black-Scholes was shown to be irrelevant in the real world of crashes and panics. Even the biggest portfolio insurance firm, Leland O'Brien Rubinstein Associates (co-founded and run by the same finance professors who invented portfolio insurance), tried to sell as the market crashed and couldn't.

Oddly, this failure of financial theory didn't lead Wall Street to question Black-Scholes in general. "If you try to attack it," says one longtime trader of abstruse financial options, "you're making a case for your own unintelligence." The math was too advanced, the theorists too smart; the debate, for anyone without a degree in mathematics, was bound to end badly. But after the crash of 1987, individual traders at big Wall Street firms who sold financial-disaster insurance must have smelled a rat. Across markets—in stocks, currencies, and bonds—the price of insuring yourself against financial disaster rose. This rise in prices and the break with Black-Scholes reflected two new beliefs: one, that huge price jumps were more probable and likely to be more extreme than the Black-Scholes model assumed; and two, that you can't manufacture an option on the stock market by selling and buying the market itself, because that market will never allow it. When you most need to sell—or to buy—is exactly when everyone else is selling or buying, in effect canceling out any advantage you once might have had.

"No one believes the original assumptions anymore," says John Seo, who co-manages Fermat Capital, a $2 billion-plus hedge fund that invests in catastrophe bonds—essentially bonds with put options that are triggered by such natural catastrophes as hurricanes and earthquakes. "It's hard to believe that anyone—yes, including me—ever believed it. It's like trying to replicate a fire-insurance policy by dynamically increasing or decreasing your coverage as fire conditions wax and wane. One day, bam, your house is on fire, and you call for more coverage?"


 This is interesting: The very theory underlying all insurance against financial panic falls apart in the face of an actual panic. A few smart traders may have abandoned the theory, but the market itself hasn't; in fact, its influence has mushroomed in the most fantastic ways. At the end of 2006, according to the Bank for International Settlements, there were $415 trillion in derivatives—that is, $415 trillion in securities for which there is no completely satisfactory pricing model. Added to this are trillions more in exchange-traded options, employee stock options, mortgage bonds, and God knows what else—most of which, presumably, are still priced using some version of Black-Scholes. Investors need to believe that there's a rational price for what they buy, even if it requires a leap of faith. "The model created markets," Seo says. "Markets follow models. So these markets spring up, and the people in them figure out that, at least for some of it, Black-Scholes doesn't work. For certain kinds of risk—the risk of rare, extreme events—the model is not just wrong. It's very wrong. But the only reason these markets sprang up in the first place was the supposition that Black-Scholes could price these things fairly."

Continued in artricle

Jensen Comment
Although the Black-Scholes Model may be popular when companies are valuing stock options, the fact of the matter is employees tend not to like this model for employee stock options because they place a higher premium on the possibility that the options will take at worthless value ---

Things to Consider When Valuing Options

"How to “Excel” at Options Valuation," by Charles P. Baril, Luis Betancourt, and John W. Briggs, Journal of Accountancy, December 2005 ---
This is one of the best articles for accounting educators on issues of option valuation!

Research shows that employees value options at a small fraction of their Black-Scholes value, because of the possibility that they will vest underwater. ---

"Toting Up Stock Options," by Frederick Rose, Stanford Business, November 2004, pp. 21 --- 

How to value stock options in divorce proceedings ---

How the courts value stock options ---

Search for the term options at

"Guidance on fair value measurements under FAS 123(R)," IAS Plus, May 8, 2006 ---

Deloitte & Touche (USA) has updated its book of guidance on FASB Statement No. 123(R) Share-Based Payment: A Roadmap to Applying the Fair Value Guidance to Share-Based Payment Awards (PDF 2220k). This second edition reflects all authoritative guidance on FAS 123(R) issued as of 28 April 2006. It includes over 60 new questions and answers, particularly in the areas of earnings per share, income tax accounting, and liability classification. Our interpretations incorporate the views in SEC Staff Accounting Bulletin Topic 14 "Share-Based Payment" (SAB 107), as well as subsequent clarifications of EITF Topic No. D-98 "Classification and Measurement of Redeemable Securities" (dealing with mezzanine equity treatment). The publication contains other resource materials, including a GAAP accounting and disclosure checklist. Note that while FAS 123 is similar to IFRS 2 Share-based Payment, there are some measurement differences that are Described Here.

Bob Jensen's threads on employee stock options are at

Bob Jensen's threads on fair value accounting are at

Bob Jensen's threads on valuation are at

Cuomo's Latest Targets Include Universities' Deals With Credit-Card Providers
Agreements with credit-card providers, however, appear to be only a portion of what Mr. Cuomo is now exploring. A deputy counsel to the attorney general, Benjamin M. Lawsky, this week outlined wide-reaching plans to broaden the office's investigations into conflicts of interest in the arrangements between colleges and companies that do business with the institutions or their students and alumni. The new investigative work will involve banking, health-insurance, textbook, food-service, and credit-card companies that have business relationships with hundreds of American colleges, Mr. Lawsky told a gathering of educators and guidance counselors from school districts on New York's Long Island on Wednesday, Newsday reported.
Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 29, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card companies, banks, and credit rating agencies are at

Bob Jensen's threads on the accountability of colleges and conflicts of interest are at

March 6, 2008 message from Carolyn Kotlas []


"The process of composing texts in a world full of new media technologies requires us to reconfigure teaching and learning in remarkably innovative and, perhaps, ungrammatical ways."

In "Re-Inventing the Possibilities: Academic Literacy & New Media"

(FIBRECULTURE JOURNAL, issue 10, 2007), Cheryl Ball and Ryan Moeller present a webtext that both discusses and "demonstrates the possibilities of using new media to teach students critical literacy skills applicable to the 21st century." The authors express their perspectives as "converging narratives," sometimes speaking individually, sometimes together, and providing the reader visual cues in the text. The paper is available at

Fibreculture Journal [ISSN 1449-1443] is a peer-reviewed international journal that "explores the issues and ideas of concern and interest to both the Fibreculture network and wider social formations." For more information, contact: Dr. Andrew Murphie, School of Media and Communications, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052 Australia;

email: ; Web:



"In the past, it was useful to equate scholarly communication with the publication of monographs and journals, a process that could be clearly distinguished from other communication practices employed by scholars.

The substantial expense, organized effort, and prolonged production and distribution process all readily distinguished communication involving tangible publications. These historic distinctions are now substantially blurred. As most forms of communication become untethered from the production of physical artifacts, some of the terminology of scholarly communication has been stretched to adapt. At the same time, publishing itself has become a term of much fuzziness." In "Talk About Talking About New Models of Scholarly Communication" (JOURNAL OF ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING, vol. 11, no. 1, Winter 2008), Karla L. Hahn considers some "dangers" that could impede creation of new scholarly communication systems, including:

"Too many believe that change can wait."

"Focusing on the publishing market can become myopic."

"Scholarly communication cannot be considered somehow distinct

from the research process."

Hahn, Director of the Office of Scholarly Communications at the Association of Research Libraries, argues that greater dialogue is needed between scholars and researchers and the library community that supports them. She proposes questions to get the conversation started.

Some include:

"Who has access to the scholarly communication system and

scholarly publications?"

"What do quality and value mean in the Internet age?"

"What is the right balance between the market and the gift

economy that underpins all research and scholarly publishing?"

"What are appropriate roles of research institutions in

supporting change in scholarly communication and providing

publishing infrastructure and dissemination capabilities?"

The paper is available at

The Journal of Electronic Publishing [ISSN 1080-2711] is "a forum for research and discussion about contemporary publishing practices, and the impact of those practices upon users. . . . [C]ontributors and readers are publishers, scholars, librarians, journalists,students, technologists, attorneys, retailers, and others with an interest in the methods and means of contemporary publishing." For more information,

contact: University of Michigan Library, Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1104 USA; email: ; Web:



To celebrate its 500th issue, the editor of LEARNING TRENDS newsletter invited readers to share their thoughts about how the delivery of training and education has changed over the past ten years and what trends they see as a result of new technologies and pedagogies. The issue is available at

Elliot Masie's Learning Trends is published by The Masie Center.

Current issues are available at Subscription information is available at

For more information, contact: 95 Washington St., PO Box 397, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 USA; tel: 518-350-2200; email:



Each year since 2001, MIT's TECHNOLOGY REVIEW has published a list of ten emerging technologies -- those "most likely to alter industries, fields of research, and even the way we live." Some in the area of information technology include:

-- Modeling Surprise

"Definition: Surprise modeling combines data mining and machine learning to help people do a better job of anticipating and coping with unusual events."

"Impact: Although research in the field is preliminary, surprise modeling could aid decision makers in a wide range of domains, such as traffic management, preventive medicine, military planning, politics, business, and finance."

-- Offline Web Applications

"Definition: Offline Web applications, developed using Web technologies such as HTML and Flash, can take advantage of the resources of a user's computer as well as those of the Internet."

"Impact: Developers can quickly and cheaply build full-fledged desktop applications that are usable in a broad range of devices and operating systems."

-- Reality Mining

"Definition: Personal reality mining infers human relationships and behavior by applying data-mining algorithms to information collected by cell-phone sensors that can measure location, physical activity, and more."

"Impact: Models generated by analyzing data from both individuals and groups could enable automated security settings, smart personal assistants, and monitoring of personal and community health."

The complete article is available at

Technology Review [ISSN 1099-274X] is published six times a year by Technology Review, Inc., a Massachusetts Institute of Technology enterprise. For more information, contact Technology Review, One Main Street, 7th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02142 USA; tel: 617-475-8000; fax: 617-475-8042; Web:



"Accessible Technology: A Guide for Educators," Published by Microsoft, "provides information about accessibility and accessible technology resources to help educators worldwide ensure that all students have equal access to learning with technology." The document includes accessibility fact sheets, tutorials, demo, videos, and other training materials that may be used for non-profit educational and training purposes. The 48-page guide is in MS Word format and can be downloaded at

For more on the accessibility of Microsoft products, the company maintains a website at with demos and tutorials.

Bob Jensen's threads on education technologies are at

Do currency fund managers earn their astronomical fees?

"NYU Stern Finance Professor’s New Research Shows Most Actively Managed Currency Funds Fail to Outperform a New Benchmark," Business Wire, February 26, 2008 --- Click Here 

Do most currency fund managers deserve their high fees? According to a new study by NYU Stern Finance Professor Richard Levich and co-author Momtchil Pojarliev, Head of Currencies at Hermes Investment Management, the answer is no. Their study is the first to challenge conventional wisdom that professional currency hedge fund managers earn very large returns and that the appropriate benchmark is zero. Arguing that the appropriate benchmark is not zero, but rather the realized return on several easily replicated currency strategies (Carry, Trend, Value and Volatility), Professor Levich and Mr. Pojarliev find that just as equity fund indexes tend to outperform mutual fund managers, a collection of currency return indices outperforms most currency fund managers.

Performing an analysis for an index of many currency funds, and also for 34 individual funds over the 2001-06 period, Professor Levich and Mr. Pojarliev find that:

Their findings could put pressure on fees charged by currency fund managers since it is possible for investors to easily replicate most returns of currency managers at low cost by using newly created exchange traded funds related to the authors new benchmark for performance.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at

"IRS Survey:  Most U.S. Taxpayers are Honest," SmartPros, February 27, 2008

Fear of an audit is only one factor behind most people's belief that they should pay their fair share of taxes, according to a survey by the IRS Oversight Board.

Ninety-five percent of those polled last August either completely or mostly agreed that it is every American's civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes. That figure was up one percentage point from a similar survey taken last year.

The board, comprised of private sector advisers to the Internal Revenue Service, also found that 84 percent said that it was not at all acceptable to cheat on your income taxes, down slightly from 86 percent in 2006.

Eight percent said it was permissible to cheat "a little here and there" and five percent backed cheating "as much as possible."

The survey, the result of more than 1,000 interviews, also showed that 89 percent completely or mostly agreed that those who cheat on their taxes should be held accountable. Sixty percent said it was everyone's personal responsibility to report anyone who cheats on his or her taxes.

Asked about factors that influence honesty in taxpaying, 54 percent said fear of an audit was a major factor or somewhat of a factor. That was down from 61 percent in 2006. Overall, the IRS audits about 1 percent of individual returns.

Another 61 percent said third-party reporting of their income influenced their decision to be honest, while 87 percent listed personal integrity as having a great deal or some influence.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Jensen Comment
If I had to pick one thing that has done to most in recent years to improve honesty I would have to say it is 1099 reporting of outside income coupled with the IRS ability to scan these reports into a database. This has not had as much impact where employers of outside contractors do not file 1099 forms (such as when you hire a man or woman to paint and paper your living room), but it has helped for reporting interest, dividends, lecture fees at universities and conferences, reviewer fees, etc.

Bob Jensen's tax helpers are at

"Two Ways to Keep Track of Your Travel Plans A Virtual Assistant, A Site to Chat Up Fellow Travelers," by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2008; Page D5 ---

This week, I tested two free Web sites that don't try to steal users away from their trusted travel Web sites. Instead, these sites attempt to make your already booked reservations more useful and accessible.

I tested two such sites: TripIt Inc.'s, which acts as a virtual assistant to generate schedules using your reservations; and Groopvine (, a feature offered by Groople, Englewood, Colo., that brings social networking to group travel plans. Both travel aids became available in September, though Groopvine has been released only in its beta, or testing, stage.

As someone who makes travel arrangements for about 10 work-related or personal trips every month, I paid close attention to the simplicity and usefulness of these sites. TripIt's straightforward approach makes it addictive: When I forwarded travel confirmation emails to, the information in each reservation was automatically assessed, compiled and organized into a schedule, which was emailed to me in seconds.

Groople (a mashing of the words "Groups" and "People") started four years ago as a site that helped big groups book hotels, flights and other travel arrangements. Groople's new Groopvine tool offers group booking, but it focuses on working as an online forum where trips can be discussed among those in the traveling group. Photos, polls, videos and Web feeds can be added to each group's trip page, prompting everyone to participate in the trip planning -- or at least get excited about it.

I found a few hiccups on both sites. TripIt duplicates plans on a schedule if you accidentally forward a confirmation email more than once, and it works with most but not all reservations. Groopvine's trip pages are rough around the edges in some places, obscuring key features and making certain flight and hotel ideas impossible to share with the group. But each site is helpful in its own way.

TripIt is a refreshing switch from the Web sites that force people to create usernames and passwords before doing anything. I started using TripIt by forwarding an Expedia email reservation to . Less than a minute later, I received an email from TripIt that included a link to my itinerary of flights, local weather forecasts for the duration of my vacation and maps related to where I was going. This email also included an assigned account ID (the email address from which I forwarded the reservation) and a password that I easily changed from within the account's Web settings.

Along with this first test from Expedia, I forwarded a variety of other reservations to TripIt including bookings for a hotel in Atlanta, a rental car in Washington, D.C., and a round-trip Amtrak train from D.C. to Wilmington. I forwarded the reservations from various email addresses (as long as they were listed in my account), and each reservation was added to the right itinerary according to date.

TripIt can also accept forwarded restaurant reservations made on OpenTable or TopTable and will sort these into the itinerary.

This Web site's idea of asking users to do very little to get a fully organized schedule works well, though everything can be edited. I unknowingly forwarded the same car rental to twice and two car reservations appeared on my itinerary, making me think I booked two cars until I saw the confirmation number repeated and deleted one. Attractive pre-loaded icons or your own photos can be added to the top of each schedule, as well as other plans for while you're traveling, including images and Web links.

A feature called TripIt To Me lets you retrieve anything loaded into TripIt by simply emailing a command to the site, such as "Get Flight Tomorrow." This worked well on my BlackBerry.

I started using Groopvine by signing up and creating a trip page for an annual vacation. I walked through steps to create my page, which I titled and set to a certain color scheme. I chose pink hues and added various sections to my page for displaying polls (to get votes from invited travelers), photos, videos, RSS feeds (for news related to the trip destination, for instance), weather, group discussions and useful Web sites.

I invited a group of friends to join my trip, and everyone accessed the trip page without needing to first become a member of Groopvine. Instead, usernames and passwords are automatically created for return sign-ins. In a few short steps, I made one poll asking friends where they thought we should go and another to ask them how many days they preferred to spend on vacation.

My fellow travelers and I added photos to the page that showed up in handsome Web 2.0 fashion, popping out from the screen in a box overlaid on the page at the click of a button. But I was disappointed that more of the site didn't take advantage of this technology, which saves users from jumping to new Web pages. While browsing hotels and flights -- two important parts of travel arrangements -- I was directed to sites away from my personalized trip page.

Users can share hotel suggestions with the group by selecting up to five at once and asking others which they prefer, including details like room rates and amenities. When starting a trip, you must choose from a list to tell Groopvine what the trip is for (i.e. class reunion, sports team travel, family vacations, etc.). From that information, Groopvine suggests certain hotels depending on your group. A school trip, for example, would automatically return results with hotels rather than motels because motels don't keep kids as contained and safe.

But in a search for Arizona hotels, I couldn't share any of my choices with the group without first booking rooms. Groople says 70% of its hotels are shareable before booking, so I guess I picked the wrong city. I looked at flights and fares from various airlines, but (again) couldn't share my findings with the group unless I booked a trip first or knew specific details about flight options. Groople says sharing flight information before booking -- as is done with hotels -- isn't possible yet, though the company is working on finding a way to do it.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's travel helpers are at

T-Mobile Service Ties Cellphones to Home, With Some Sacrifices
The service, being introduced this month in two test cities, Seattle and Dallas, allows you to use a cellphone account with any corded or cordless home phone, with multiple extensions, for just $10 a month. That very low price gets you unlimited domestic calls. This new T-Mobile service, tentatively called Talk Forever Home Phone, is likely to be available nationally in a few months. It works via a special Wi-Fi wireless router that you must buy, with a two-year contract, for a one-time charge of $50. The router, which can either replace or supplement your existing wireless router, is essentially a stationary cellphone that marries an in-home Wi-Fi network to the T-Mobile cellphone network.
Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2008; Page B1 ---

"Fair dues:  Corporate tax dodging places a greater burden on those least able to pay. It's time we made the multinationals play by new rules," by Prem Sikka, The Guardian, March 4, 2008 ---

Corporations are engaged in a relentless race-to-the-bottom. Companies boost their profits and executive remuneration by diluting or abandoning employee pension schemes and tax contributions.

The UK state pension is already one of the lowest in the western world and amount to just 17% of average earnings, compared to an average of 57% for the European Union. Nearly 30,000 pensioners die each winter because they cannot afford to heat their homes. In a United Nations study of child welfare in 21 major countries, the UK was ranked last. Yet companies and their advisers rarely reflect on their latest tax dodge and the social squalor that they create.

HSBC infrastructure, 3iInfrastructure and Babcock and Brown Partnerships are the latest examples of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) companies creating elaborate corporate offshore structures to avoid tax. No additional wealth or economic activity is created, but the financial engineering results in low taxes to enrich a few. In the age of reverse socialism, companies are happy for the taxpayers to finance the cost of policing, security, courts, trade consuls, subsidies, embassies and the environmental clean-up, as long as they can avoid the costs. Normal people continue to bear of cost of this corporate welfare programme.

Successive governments have done little to check the race-to-the-bottom. The UK is the world's biggest sponsor of tax havens, often known as Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. Their secrecy, low regulation and low tax have made them a magnet for the tax avoidance and the rules avoidance industries. The UK is legally and morally responsible for their good governance, but has done little to improve regulation or public accountability. The Treasury select committee should examine the governance of these boltholes. Given the increasing role of UK-sponsored tax havens in global tax avoidance, a special select committee could be formed to examine their role.

The PFI companies are paid by the tax payer, but by locating their operations in tax havens, they have eroded the UK tax base. As a result, normal people have to bear a higher burden of taxes. Corporate affairs remain shrouded in secrecy. Local and central governments are the biggest spenders and should not award any public contract to companies located in tax havens. As full details of these entities are not publicly known, it is inappropriate to give them any public monies. The successful bidders for public contracts should guarantee that they would remain in the UK for the entire duration of the contract.

In a globalised world, companies are easily able to establish residence and control in tax havens. As companies are taxed on the basis of their residence and control, they are easily able to avoid taxes in the places where they generate profits. Thus the PFI companies make money in the UK, but avoid taxes by claiming to be resident elsewhere. The easiest way of tackling this is to change the basis of taxation and tax them according to their economic activity: that is, they should pay tax in the UK on the basis of the profits made in the UK. Such an approach often known as "apportionment formula (pdf)" is already applied by states within the US and can be applied by EU member states to counter this erosion of tax authorities.

Public information and disclosure is another way of checking this relentless descent to the bottom. All companies bidding for significant public contracts should be required to explain the taxes that they have paid in the five preceding years. Indeed, company tax returns should be publicly available so that concerned citizens can see the tax avoidance schemes and alert the authorities.

All multinational companies should be required to adopt what is known as the country-by-country approach (pdf). Under this, they would be required to publish a table showing the jurisdictions from which they operate, together with income, profits, assets, liabilities, tax and employees in each. This would help to mobilise questions about corporate structures and tax avoidance. Thus we might see, for example, that News Corporation has lots of economic activity in the UK but pays little or no tax.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's fraud updates ---

"PayPal: Steer clear of Apple's Safari According to PayPal, unlike its competitors, Safari has no built-in phishing filter to warn users when they are visiting suspicious Web sites," by Robert McMillan, PC World via The Washington Post, February 29, 2008 --- Click Here

If you're using Apple's Safari browser, PayPal has some advice for you: Drop it, at least if you want to avoid online fraud.

Safari doesn't make PayPal's list of recommended browsers because it doesn't have two important anti-phishing security features, according to Michael Barrett, PayPal's chief information security officer.

"Apple, unfortunately, is lagging behind what they need to do, to protect their customers," Barrett said in an interview. "Our recommendation at this point, to our customers, is use Internet Explorer 7 or 8 when it comes out, or Firefox 2 or Firefox 3, or indeed Opera."

Safari is the default browser on Apple's Macintosh computers and the iPhone, but it is also available for the PC. Both Firefox and Opera run on the Mac.

Unlike its competitors, Safari has no built-in phishing filter to warn users when they are visiting suspicious Web sites, Barrett said. Another problem is Safari's lack of support for another anti-phishing technology, called Extended Validation (EV) certificates. This is a secure Web browsing technology that turns the address bar green when the browser is visiting a legitimate Web site.

When it comes to fighting phishing, "Safari has got nothing in terms of security support, only SSL (Secure Sockets Layer encryption), that's it," he said. Apple representatives weren't immediately available to comment on this story.

An emerging technology, EV certificates are already supported in Internet Explorer 7, and they've been used on PayPal's Web site for more than a year now. When IE 7 visits PayPal, the browser's address bar turns green -- a sign to users that the site is legitimate. Upcoming versions of Firefox and Opera are expected to support the technology.

But EV certificates have their critics. Last year, researchers at Microsoft and Stanford University published astudyshowing that, without training, people were unlikely to notice the green address-bar notification provided by EV certificates.

Still, Barrett says data compiled on PayPal's Web site show that the EV certificates are having an effect. He says IE 7 users are more likely to sign on to PayPal's Web site than users who don't have EV certificate technology, presumably because they're confident that they're visiting a legitimate site.

Over the past few months, IE 7 users have been less likely to drop out and abandon the process of signing on to PayPal, he said. "It's a several percentage-point drop in abandonment rates," he said. "That number is... measurably lower for IE 7 users."

Opera, IE, and Firefox are "safer, precisely because we think they are safer for the average consumer," he added. "I'd love to say that Safari was a safer browser, but at this point it isn't."

Bob Jensen's threads on phishing and other schemes are at

What amazes me is the amount of money this teenager and his junior partners stole without anybody close to him realizing how rich he'd become. He engineered about a $20 million theft in U.S. dollars.

"New Zealand teenager charged in cyber crime network," MIT's Technology Review, February 29, 2008 ---

A New Zealand teenager allegedly at the center of an international cyber crime network appeared Friday in court where he was charged with computer hacking crimes.

Computer programmer Owen Thor Walker, 18, was charged with two counts of accessing a computer for dishonest purpose, damaging or interfering with a computer system, possessing software for committing crime, and two counts of accessing a computer system without authorization.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Walker did not enter a plea when he appeared briefly in Thames Magistrate's Court in northern New Zealand. He was released on bail. Bail conditions were not immediately available.

Walker was arrested in November last year in the northern city of Hamilton as part of an international investigation into a cyber crime network accused of infiltrating 1.3 million computers and skimming millions of dollars from victims' bank accounts.

''We worked closely with U.S. and Dutch authorities on this investigation. This arrest is significant not just to New Zealand but the international community as well,'' police spokesman Detective Inspector Peter Devoy said.

''Very few people who carry out this sort of offending are ever prosecuted so the resolution of this case has huge international implications,'' he said. He did not elaborate.

The case is part of an international crackdown on hackers who allegedly assume control of thousands of computers and amass them into centrally controlled clusters known as botnets.

The hackers can then use the computers to steal credit card information, manipulate stock trades and even crash industry computers, authorities said when the case first surfaced in late November.

When he was first detained, police said the teenager, known by his cyber identification ''AKILL,'' was head of an international spybot ring that has infiltrated computers round the world with their malicious software.

Police said he was also responsible for placing advertising spam on about 1.3 million computers worldwide through computers based in the Netherlands.

Police questioned the New Zealand teenager last year and eventually released him without charge, saying he was still part of the investigation. Friday's hearing was the first time charges against him were detailed.

Eight people have been indicted, pleaded guilty or have been convicted since the investigation began last June. Thirteen additional warrants have been served in the U.S. and overseas in the investigation.

The FBI estimates that more than one million computers have been infected and puts the combined economic losses at more than US$20 million (euro13.2 million).

"U.of Pennsylvania Student Pleads Guilty to Helping to Attack University's Network," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 2, 2008 --- Click Here

An undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday to assisting in a coordinated attack on the university’s computer network that led to a server crash in 2006.

The student, Ryan Goldstein, had been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, but under an agreement with prosecutors pleaded guilty to the less-serious charge of aiding and abetting another computer hacker to break into a computer remotely, Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Mr. Goldstein could get six months in prison for the offense.

A university spokeswoman told The Daily Pennsylvanian that she could not comment on whether the guilty plea would affect Mr. Goldstein’s status as a student.

A federal Joint Terrorism Task Force would later conclude that Gasper had been the victim of a new type of nasty hoax, called "swatting," that was spreading across the United States. Pranksters were phoning police with fake murders and hostage crises, spoofing their caller IDs so the calls appear to be coming from inside the target's home. The result: police SWAT teams rolling to the scene, sometimes bursting into homes, guns drawn. Now the FBI thinks it has identified the culprit in the Colorado swatting as a 17-year-old East Boston phone phreak known as "Li'l Hacker." Because he's underage, is not reporting Li'l Hacker's last name. His first name is Matthew, and he poses a unique challenge to the federal justice system, because he is blind from birth. If he's guilty, the attack is at once the least sophisticated and most malicious of a string of capers linked to Matt, who stumbled into the lingering remains of the decades-old subculture of phone phreaking when he was 14, and quickly rose to become one of the most skilled active phreakers alive. "Who's the best out there?" says Jeff Daniels, a veteran phone hacker and an admitted mentor to Matt. "The little blind kid is one of the best. And that's a fact."
Kevin Poulson, Wired News, February 29, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on computing and networking security are at

If you're tired of the stale old accountics research, start thinking history, XBRL, and codification! Also find out what history professors are doing with some stale old history.

Below you will find a history education/research application of Second Life. It occurred to me that something similar might be done in accounting history. Several possibilities come to mind:

  1. Accounting History of the World ---
  2. History of the FASB/IASB and the evolution of standards since 1960 ---
  3. History of Financial Reporting of Microsoft Corporation ---
    Also see the Microsoft Pivot Table video files at
    You can find some Excel files that Microsoft no longer serves up at the above link.

It also occurred to me that the time is ripe for some multimedia tutorials (read that Camtasia videos) and Second Life applications of the new SEC Interactive Financial Reports using XBRL ---

It also occurred to me that the time is ripe for some multimedia tutorials (read that Camtasia videos) and Second Life applications of the new FASB Codification Project ---

If you're tired of the stale old accountics research, start thinking history, XBRL, and codification! Also find out what history professors are doing with some stale old history.

"Historical Maps in Second Life David Rumsey's antique maps feature in an innovative build in the virtual world," by Erica Naone, MIT's Technology Review, February 29, 2008 --- 

A new installation inside Second Life is bringing alive one of the world's largest collections of antique maps. Called the David Rumsey Maps Island (registration required), the Second Life site is San Francisco map collector David Rumsey's latest high-technology plan to share his collection with as large an audience as possible. (See "From Lewis and Clark to Landsat.")

Rumsey started collecting maps about 20 years ago. In 1997, he began digitizing his maps, many of which now appear on his website. Launched in 1999 with 2,000 maps, the website now features more than 17,500 maps.

The island features a gallery in the center where visitors can view maps and receive free maps and other digital souvenirs. Surrounding the gallery is a topographical rendering of an 1883 map of Yosemite Valley; users can toggle between two-dimensional and 3-D displays. Along the skyline, two great globes, one terrestrial and the other celestial, turn, animated by an enormous clockwork that can provide front-row seats for avatars who fly inside. Visitors can also travel through an 1836 map of Old New York by J. H. Coton.

It's this map that Rumsey says is his favorite place on the island. "There's something about walking on it that is just fantastic," he says. "I love walking from Battery up to Harlem and feeling the history."

Nathan Tia, associate creative director for Centric, the agency that created the site for Rumsey, says that the build presented technical challenges. For one thing, Second Life didn't naturally support scanning at the high resolution needed to fully showcase the maps, causing the team to have to scan maps in pieces and stitch them together by hand. Tia says that he wants to find a way to make the Yosemite terrain, currently in phantom form, a solid surface that visitors can walk on.

Cory Ondrejka, formerly the CTO of Linden Lab, the company that maintains Second Life, and now a visiting professor at the University of Southern California, in Annenberg, is impressed by the island's construction, which he says plays to the strengths of Second Life. "It's a really wonderful example of taking a traditional media, such as maps, and making it cutting edge," he says. In particular, he adds, the island takes advantage of how big a space Second Life is, making striking use of horizons and encouraging visitors to enable the maximum draw distance allowed by viewers so that they can see as far as possible. "It isn't just a virtual copy of an art museum, nor is it a virtual copy of a website," Ondrejka says. "I suspect that anyone doing a large-scale art installation [in Second Life] in the future will have visited this place."

Indiana U. Receives Grant for Development of Virtual World for Children

The Indiana University School of Education has received a three-year, $1.8-million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to expand the virtual world Quest Atlantis, which is designed to help foster creativity, social responsibility, and compassion in children ages 9 through 12. Watch Sasha Barab, the university director of the Center for Research on Learning and Technology, discuss Quest Atlantis.
Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 28, 2008 ----


Bob Jensen's threads on Second Life, including accounting education applications, are at

Bob Jensen's threads on Camtasia are at

In one century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering remedial English in college.
Joseph Sobran as quoted by Mark Shapiro at

"A Third of Public-School Students in Mass. Need Remediation at College, Report Says," by Beckie Supiano, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 28, 2008 --- Click Here 

More than one out of three students at public high schools in Massachusetts who go on to a public college or university in the state require remedial preparation, according to a report released today.

The “School-to-College Report,” the first of its kind in the state, is a joint effort of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and Department of Education. The report, to be officially presented to the board on Friday, shows that 37 percent of the public-school students took at least one remedial course during their first semester of college.

The report, which is not yet posted online, was made possible by a new database linking elementary, secondary, and higher education in the state. It used data for students who completed high school and entered college in 2005.

From the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement in Teaching in December 2007
Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC) ---

Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC) is a partnership of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation. A multi-site action-research project, SPECC focuses on teaching and learning in pre-collegiate mathematics and English language arts courses at 11 California community colleges. These courses, which cover material often termed "developmental" or "basic," serve as prerequisites to transfer-level academic courses. On each campus, faculty members are exploring different approaches to classroom instruction, academic support, and faculty development. Their inquiry into the effects of these approaches engages a wide range of data, including examples of student work, classroom observations, and quantitative campus data. The ultimate goal of their investigations, and of SPECC as a whole, is to support student learning and success through a culture of inquiry and evidence.

From the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching ---
"Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC)," Carnegie Perspectives Newsletter, February 7, 2008
The theory behind Carnegie's Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC) work is central to many of our programs: teaching is traditionally solitary work, undertaken behind closed doors. Unlike professions that have many avenues, both written and interactive—for documenting practice and learning from it—teachers are typically unable to benefit from the work of their peers. Yet, the acts of teaching and learning need to be made more visible.Windows on Learning, the aspect of SPECC that Molly Breen writes about in this month's Perspectives, is one of our responses to this challenge. Breen, who is part of the SPECC team, empathetically describes the situation faced by a new hire at a community college, and beautifully allows us to understand the frustration of faculty who are struggling to ensure student success. Carnegie has created a forum—Carnegie Conversations—where you can engage publicly with the author and read and respond to what others have to say about this article at .

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at

What is the winner in the debate between "rote learning" and 'inquiry-based" methods of learning mathematics?

"Washington Legislature Gets an Earful About Freshmen's Woeful Math," by Paula Wasley, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 2008 ---

Sixty professors at the University of Washington have signed an open letter to the Legislature complaining that college freshmen struggle to solve middle-school-level mathematics problems and are “confounded by simple algebra,” the Associated Press reports.

The faculty members hope that the letter, which was distributed to legislators late last week, will influence efforts to revise statewide math standards for public schools.

Some petitioners worry that the state’s new guidelines for math curricula will be shaped primarily by education experts who tend to favor “inquiry-based” methods of instruction that focus on underlying mathematical concepts rather than rote learning of formulas.

Such methods don’t work, contends Clifford F. Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Washington, and have led to an increase in the number of students taking remedial math classes in college.

Not everyone sees the situation as so dire. No professors in the university’s College of Education signed the letter, and, according to an official in the office of the state superintendent of public instruction, the latest data indicate that only 2 percent of Washington public high-school students end up in remedial classes in college.

“Washington math isn’t a disaster,” Ginger Warfield, a lecturer in the university’s math department told the AP. “By many measures, we’re fine, and relative to the rest of the country, we’re much better.”

Jensen Comment
The phrase "relative to the rest of the country" doesn't give Washington much hope in its K-12 math education. That sigh of relief does not take any state very far.



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

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

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

Continued in article

Too Much Need for Remedial Education in College ---

"Colleges Expect Heroics from Professors, Without Fixing Themselves, a President Says," by Elyse Ashburn, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 3, 2008 ---

Educational reforms have failed time and again because colleges look to professors to rise above organizational dysfunction, the president of Valencia Community College in Orlando, Fla., told a crowd of college officials here on Sunday.

Colleges send faculty members off for training in the most up-to-date teaching methods, technological tools, and models for student success, and "they come back to the same screwed-up organization," said Sanford C. Shugart, speaking at the annual conference of the League for Innovation in the Community College.

If colleges are going to change teaching—and the impact it has on student-learning outcomes—they must change their entire culture, he said. One of the key steps in accomplishing that, he said, is throwing out the notion that, at open-access institutions like community colleges, some students are simply going to be sifted out.

Rather, Mr. Shugart said, colleges must realize that anyone can learn anything, under the right conditions. And colleges should not expect faculty members alone to create those conditions.

That means colleges should send people out to make sure that classrooms aren't too cold or too hot for students to concentrate. It means colleges should think about how the layout of a campus affects learning. It means they should ask students about their impressions of their campuses and classrooms, and make necessary adjustments.

Administrators have to remember that students are people, and that they experience college campuses as people, not as data points, he said.

Still, Mr. Shugart said that he was long a secret skeptic about the ability of all students to learn: "I wondered even as recently as a year ago whether the sociological factors our students were wrestling with were so powerful that we couldn't move the needle."

But Valencia has started seeing results. Over the past three years, the college has focused in particular on improving student outcomes in six basic math and English courses. In five of those courses, achievement gaps between low-income and minority students, and their wealthier and white counterparts are now gone, he said. "I have hope like never before that the vision for equity can be achieved."

Former Harvard President Derek Bok paints an even gloomier picture.
The Former President of Harvard Takes a Dark View of the State of Learning and the Future State of Learning
Both Harry Lewis and Derek Bok have entered a devastating judgment on contemporary university leadership

What are the favorite books of students and how do they correlate with SAT scores?

"A Page-Turning Mash-Up," by Hurley Goodall, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4, 2008 ---

It’s hardly scientific but certainly interesting: A Web site that correlates colleges’ average SAT scores with college students’ “favorite book” preferences on Facebook.

To come up with Booksthatmakeyoudumb, Virgil Griffith, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology, visited Facebook and determined the 100 most-mentioned “favorite books” at colleges. Then he put the data together with the average combined SAT scores of students at those colleges.

The Five Highest-Scoring Books (and Average SAT)

1. Lolita (1317)
2. 100 Years of Solitude (1308)
3. Crime and Punishment (1307)
4. Freakonomics (1275)
5. Catch-22 (1233)

Ranking 87th: “I Don’t Read” (968). That’s not a book title, folks.

Mr. Griffith has released Musicthatmakesyoudumb as well.

He also developed WikiScanner, where users can track edits to Wikipedia entries back to the IP address of the editor.

"More on Books and Music and Their Connection to SAT Scores," by Hurley Goodall, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 5, 2008 ---

Though the statistics on Virgil Griffith's Booksthatmake
which, as Wired Campus reported yesterday, correlates colleges’ average SAT scores with college students’ “favorite book” preferences on Facebook, can be humorous and provocative, it's interesting to look at how arbitrary the rankings seem. For example: Ray Bradbury's dystopian book-burning tome Fahrenheit 451 ranks 96 (average SAT: 893) on the list, falling below another high-school reading-list classic, Of Mice and Men (1007), or just not reading at all (968). Mr. Griffith, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology, has released yet another iteration of Facebook number crunching with Musicthatmakesyoudumb.

Here's a look at where some of college students' favorite bands fall on the SAT spectrum.

I've reported on this before, but the Chronicle published the following March 5 tidbit.

"Microsoft Opens Free Online Workspace for Student Collaborations," by Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 5, 2008 ---

Microsoft wants to help students get their lives together (their learning lives, at least), and Tuesday it rolled out a product to help. As part of Live@edu, the company’s free Web-based email and calendar suite, Microsoft unveiled Office Live Workspace, which lets students access their work online and share it with others. Live@edu is in use at more than 600 colleges.

“The most visible new feature is the activity panel,” said Guy Gilbert, a Microsoft group product manager, in an interview with The Chronicle Monday. “Suppose you are in a work group with other students. You can look at the panel and see everything that anyone has done since you last logged on. And links in the panel take you right to that object,” whether it is a document, a spreadsheet, contact list, or database.

Users can also set up e-mail alerts that notify them any time an item is changed.

The service has been running in beta for several months, and of its estimated 100,000 users, 20 to 30 percent are in higher education, Mr. Gilbert says. Microsoft has worked with 13 colleges to fine-tune the service, including Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Wisconsin at Parkside.

And if the new service doesn’t seem familiar to users of Google Docs, don’t worry. Microsoft’s arch rival also promises real-time collaboration, and the two companies seem to be running neck and neck in the education marketplace.

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

How a single teacher can influence many lives!

"My Meeting With Mephistopheles," by Heidi Storl, Chronicle of Higher Education's Chronicle Review, February 29, 2008 ---

I think now that I might have met Mephistopheles in college, though at the time I thought only that I was encountering my first philosopher. I was a biochemistry major, looking forward to a career in genetics. I still needed to fulfill a number of those basic-education requirements that students seem either to get out of the way early or put off until the bitter end. As I stood in the registration line, memorizing the molecular structures of proteins, fate intervened. The easy history course that I had planned to take was full. Determined not to lose my spot in line, I scrambled to come up with another course and chose philosophy.

The professor was a little late for the first philosophy class. He was a short, bearded man with a limp, and my first thought was that if he wore the right kind of hat, he'd make a perfect elf. But then he looked at each of the 10 students in turn, and spoke: "Does God command an action because it is good, or is an action good because God commands it?"

Whoa! I sat up, put my chemistry notes away, and started thinking. Fifty minutes later, I was exhausted. As I walked to my next class, two thoughts jumped about in my head. First, I liked — really liked — the way I had felt in philosophy: out of breath, struggling to keep up with the argument, my mind on fire. Second, what was this course going to do to my GPA?

Several weeks later, I put my chemistry notes away for good. A year later, I entered graduate school in philosophy, having taken only three courses in the discipline — "Introduction to Philosophy," "Introduction to Ethics," and "Introduction to Logic." My passion for the field made my change of direction possible.

In the years since then, three things have continued to fascinate me: manifestations of Mephistopheles, superstitions, and passion. For me, the three shed light on the problem that Martha Nussbaum wrote about in "Liberal Education and Global Responsibility," "jolting the imagination out of its complacency, and getting it to take seriously the reality of lives at a distance."

That quote is embedded in a larger discussion of the essential features of the liberal arts: critical thinking, world citizenry, and an empathy born out of the narrative imagination. At first glance, my fascinations may seem at odds with those basic skills. After all, how can superstitions survive a critical analysis? Similarly, people who experience manifestations of Mephistopheles have long been recognized as psychotic. Yet I believe all three have helped me "take seriously the reality of lives at a distance." That is not easy going, but it is a hallmark of a liberally educated person.

Nussbaum seems to suggest that our imaginations need to be "jolted" out of the smug slumber of our daily lives. Whether we sit passively in front of the television or the computer, get in the zone as we play sports, or shop till we drop, we learn quickly how to lose ourselves. So "jolting the imagination out of its complacency" is no small task. Moreover, we can't predict if and when it will actually happen. There is no 12-step process or project manual to follow. The awakening of one's mind just happens. The trick is to recognize when it occurs, and to harness the associated energy, or spiritedness, and use it to help us live wisely.

That is why I'm so interested in Mephistopheles. I can still see the mural of Mephisto on the wall of Auerbach's Keller; the smells and tastes of the place remain fresh; and when I return as an adult, I can almost feel the spirits of the tavern. Goethe was right: Mephisto lives there. As a child, I didn't know it, but I have realized it since my awakening in that philosophy class.

There too, as I've already suggested, I encountered Mephistopheles in person. Though I didn't see him coming, I recognized him when I saw and heard him, and I made a Faustian bargain with him. My imagination — actually, my life — had been jolted. Nothing would be the same again, because my perspective and attitude toward life had fundamentally shifted. I wasn't comfortable anymore. I didn't know where I was going or what I might do when I got there. But I did all at once possess a passion, a heartfelt yearning, for the travels of the mind — and I survived.

Heidi Storl is a professor of philosophy at Augustana College, in Rock Island, Ill.

February 29, 2008 reply from Patricia Doherty [pdoherty@BU.EDU]

Thank you for this article, Bob. It reminds me of why I majored as an undergraduate in psychology and philosophy. The two most influential professors in my college years were a history professor whose area of research and writing was church history, and a philosophy professor who specialized in comparative religions. I am certain that during my college years I had few original thoughts, but if I did have the odd one, it was stimulated by these two men. The philosophy professor taught us that we didn't have to believe in "God," but we had to have a better reason for not believing than "I don't believe in that stuff." I also remember that the history professor would often begin a class by reading to us a passage from Will Cuppy's "The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody."

My undergraduate liberal arts education was one of the few things I did right!


Ethics for Managing Study Abroad
The Forum on Education Abroad today released its code of ethics for the field, a set of “aspirational” but not prescriptive guidelines covering six main areas: truthfulness and transparency; responsibility to students; relationships with host societies; observance of law and good practice; conflicts of interest; and gifts, gratuities, discounts, rebates and compensation. The guidelines are meant to apply to program providers and college study abroad offices alike, and they come at a time that the field is facing more scrutiny than ever before.
Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, March 3, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on study abroad scandals are at

Why Free Internet Magazine and Newspaper Articles are Making a Comeback
After the Wall Street Journal decides to stop charging for content, Wired magazine editor Chris Andersen argues that "free" works best in a consumer-driven society.
NPR, March 15, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing are at

"Teaching Social Justice in Higher Ed," by Thomas R. Tritton, Inside Higher Ed, March 3, 2008 --- 

Like many places, Harvard has a “shopping period” where students can explore lots of course options before committing themselves to sign up and do real work. I had two scheduled shopping sessions, fretted over whether anyone would come, and was relieved when about 20 students arrived. We dove into issues of justice straight away when I told the potentials that if more signed up than I wanted in the course, I would run a lottery to see who was selected. One student vigorously argued such a system wasn’t just because this course was exactly why she came to graduate school, and it simply wouldn’t be fair to deny her a place based on chance. She ended up not enrolling at all. Another wanted any over-enrollment to be sorted out by the students themselves, not the authoritarian professor. This took me back to my own college days in the 1960s when we didn’t trust anyone over 30.

In the end 12 students signed up. Ten were seeking masters degrees, the other two doctorates. With the consumerist shopping period behind us, and with no need for a lottery, we set to work.

The first reading assignment was Why Social Justice Matters, by Brian Barry, a professor of political philosophy at Columbia University. This is a scholarly book that examines the theory and scope of the term “social justice”. Of course, most people have their own view of what this subject encompasses, so I asked the class to try their hand at defining the field even before reading what the good professor had to say. They quickly came up with “elimination of bias” and “meeting basic human needs for all”. Warming to the topic, the students also included in their definition “awareness of society’s needs, not just our own” as well as the more confrontational “ability to question power”. Who says the spirit of rebellion is lacking in contemporary students?

Barry’s approach is one of distributive justice where fairness and equality are achieved in all aspects of society, not just in administration of the law. He covers the expected conglomeration of social challenges — income, healthcare, housing, discrimination, jobs, education, environment, globalization. Students react well to such material, even when presented in an academic format, but they quickly realize there is no objective standard of what is just. Those of a more conservative persuasion believe social justice can be achieved through the logic of free markets. More liberal types think in the language of economic egalitarianism or of human rights. The former are more inclined to promote equality of opportunity while the latter seek income redistribution. As one might predict, scholarly writing is tilted towards the liberal and it is difficult to find serious work from rightward perspectives. This is a challenge, at least if you are trying to teach a university course that examines all points of view. Asking students to argue points of view opposite their own is one approach to the dilemma, although not always a successful one on subjects that ignite deep loyalties.

We turned next to bell hooks and her book Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope. My students are in a School of Education, after all, so it seemed right to have a book about the subject. Professor hooks is hard to categorize, being one part educator, another part social gadfly, and yet another part reformer for justice. The students adored her, and relished the unconventional way she thinks about higher education as a combination of autobiography, history, and literary analysis. Discussing the book also revealed the stress marks that accompany any analysis of race and class. This came through, for example, in a mini-debate about whether a scholar — purportedly developing an objective social analysis — should reveal intimate personal details about close friends and family. Luckily, the multicultural makeup of the group allowed them to work with the stresses, which of course is exactly why we want our classrooms to be diverse.

The final reading assignment was one of the world’s leading intellectuals, Martha Nussbaum, and her work Frontiers of Justice. Not an easy book, as it deals with John Rawl’s seminal A Theory of Justice, as well as a historical account of social justice theories from Rousseau to Kant to Hume. But Nussbaum was willing to tread where none of these previous thinkers were able to make progress, namely to three heretofore unsolved aspects of justice: disability; non-human animals; and global justice. Although the reading was challenging at times, the students found Nussbaum opening their minds in ways they might have been resistant to beforehand. One of Nussbaum’s ideas that nudged the students thinking was her conferral of basic human rights upon animals. While some found this difficult, or even absurd, at first, the argument from a theoretical social justice perspective can be convincing even to the formerly skeptical. I think that’s what is supposed to happen in the classroom.

Once we finished the reading assignments, I did what any clever faculty member does with advanced students — put them in charge of running the class. Well, not entirely, because it would have been a dereliction of duty to abandon my professorial role, but I did assemble them in groups of three and let each group select pertinent readings and lead a class session on a selected topic in social justice. I suggested they consider questions like: can colleges and universities make an impact in this area? If so, is it most effective with a research or a teaching focus? If the answer to the preceding question is teaching, is curricular or extra-curricular the most effective format? Who are likely partners outside the academy? Can such social justice concepts (as, for example, with ethics or writing) be taught across the curriculum, or are specific courses needed? What would a university curriculum look like on a particular aspect of social justice? How can you encourage more than one viewpoint be presented on inherently controversial issues? To what extent can or should academic critique influence the public/political agenda?

After suitable negotiation, the groups settled on four topics: healthcare and social justice; justice for non-human species; diversity and social justice; housing and social justice. They did a spectacular job of researching the topics, engaging the class in high intensity discussion, and then writing a research paper. So good, in fact, that I ended up succumbing to mass grade inflation, a malady I routinely bad-mouthed when in an administrative position.

So what did I learn? I reaffirmed my sense that students are idealistic (and keep their professors so). I appreciated that students will read hard and challenging material, especially if they can connect it to real situations. I learned that one can engage social justice concepts from nearly any disciplinary perspective, and thereby make almost any course better.

And I learned how much fun it is to teach, a lesson easy to forget when toiling as a college president.

Continued in article

"Academic Freedom in the Wired World," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, March 6, 2008 ---

Robert M. O’Neil has been a player on academic freedom issues from many perspectives. He has been a university president (University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin System), a legal scholar (law professor at U.Va.), and First Amendment advocate (director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression). He has also been chair of the American Association of University Professors’ committee on academic freedom. That background informs his new book, Academic Freedom in the Wired World: Political Extremism, Corporate Power, and the University, just published by Harvard University Press.

O’Neil recently responded to e-mail questions about the themes of the book.

Q: How do the severity of threats to academic freedom today compare to other periods in U.S. history?

A: While there has surely been no shortage of grave threats to academic freedom in the early 21st century, current conditions are not comparable to the dark days of the McCarthy era, which were clearly the worst of times within memory. Especially with regard to threats from sources that were rampant in the early to mid 1950s — disclaimer-type loyalty oaths, legislative investigations, campus speaker bans, security screens and the like — even the gravest of current governmental pressures tend to pale in comparison. What suggests to some observers an ominous shadow of McCarthyism is, however, a new set of threats to free inquiry on the university campus — from private “vigilante” groups that target professors and even students on Web sites and blogs, legislative demands for “balance” and removal of “bias” from the classroom, mounting restrictions on corporate-sponsored research, and constraints on electronic communications that would not be tolerated in print media.

Q: How has the 9/11 aftermath most changed academic freedom?

A: Despite much early apprehension, reprisals against outspoken faculty critics in the months after the terrorist attacks proved to be far milder than might have been feared. Remarkably few adverse personnel actions resulted for established scholars and teachers — in sharp contrast to McCarthyism — and the few that did occur reflected highly unusual conditions. Yet there have been grave consequences in several other areas. Notably harsh has been the exclusion or denial of visas to visiting scholars — not only from the Middle East and Islamic countries, but from other nations where 9/11 and terrorism have no visible role. Several of these actions have been successfully challenged through the courts, though a disturbing number of other barred visitors (notably Islamicist Tariq Ramadan) remain beyond U.S. borders without either adequate explanation or avenues of recourse. The other most notably affected area is that of research; the vague concept of “sensitive but unclassified” has been far more widely used to constrain university investigators without formal classification, and thus chill freedom in the laboratory, despite the absence of a legally reviewable justification for such limitations. In other (though probably more predictable) ways, the use of biohazardous materials has been further restricted in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on academic freedom are at

“How many professors does it take to change a light bulb?”
Answer: “Whadaya mean, “change”?”
Bob Zemsky, Chronicle of Higher Education's Chronicle Review,  December 2007 --- Click Here

"'Tired' Professors Can Be Rejuvenated," by Peter Seldin, Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume 54, Issue 26, Page A36. March 7, 2008 ---

At a recent national conference, four colleagues and I got together for dinner and spent a good bit of the evening talking about teaching. We are in different academic disciplines but have all worked in college or university teaching-improvement programs. We found that the subject we discussed the most was how to improve the teaching of "tired" faculty members.

Who are tired faculty members? Most often, but certainly not always, they are senior professors. The majority are between the ages of 50 and 65 and have worked at their institutions for many years. They have risen through the ranks to top positions and have earned tenure. Year after year, they teach the same courses, often with the same notes. In truth, they are just not teaching as effectively as they did in the past or could do in the future — as reflected in their sliding student ratings.

Those faculty members are, of course, never publicly identified as "tired," but from the literature and practical experience we know that there are many ways to improve their teaching. Programs vary from campus to campus, based on differences of history, mission, and views about what can and should be done. No specific strategy is likely to be effective in every case; institutions should adapt the approaches used by others to their specific circumstances. But, based on my research over the years, I have found that the most successful institutions do one or more of the following:

Provide opportunities for reflection. Colleges should organize structured conversations among senior faculty members so they can discuss their beliefs about teaching and learning. It is important to raise open-ended questions, such as: What has been your most significant teaching accomplishment? Which teaching method do you use most effectively? Least effectively? How would you describe your attitude toward teaching? Has it changed in recent years? In what ways? What one thing would you most like to improve about your teaching? How do you motivate superstar students? How do you motivate those who are struggling?

Such exchanges can foster dialogues in which values are revealed and confronted. They require the kind of intellectual labor that many academics love and at which they excel. Faculty members often discover that it is all right to share their views and concerns about teaching with colleagues, that others have similar doubts or concerns, and that one can learn from the experiences of others.

Teach faculty members new skills. Older professors may especially benefit from training and information that can help them modify their long-term instructional styles. Institutions can offer programs on lecturing clearly, conducting discussions wisely, and assessing student learning accurately. Or they might advise professors on how to handle cheating, assign grades, deal with problem students, or reduce students' feelings of anonymity. Also valuable are workshops on the effective use of educational technology, course design, service learning and field experience, and small-group instruction.

Offer financial support. Special grants can help faculty members experiment with new teaching methodologies, attend conferences on teaching, and purchase readings, reports, CD's, and periodicals that can enrich their teaching. The investment need not be large; in many cases, a grant of just $450 can re-energize a tired faculty member. And it carries with it an important message: We haven't forgotten you. You are still valued here. You are important to this institution.

Establish mentor programs. Professors with decades of experience in the higher-education trenches can be effective career counselors for junior faculty members and graduate students. They can help them get started, develop professional networks, excel at teaching and scholarship, write for publication, navigate the tenure track, manage their time, and create a balance between their work and life outside the campus. Such efforts can, in turn, re-energize the faculty members who are serving as mentors.

Combine student ratings with constructive suggestions. Improvements in instruction are more likely to be made if the department chair or teaching-improvement consultant interprets student ratings in specific behavioral terms and recommends concrete strategies for change. Thus, a student-rating form that probes specific teaching behaviors should be coupled with written descriptions of successful teaching practices matched to the instructor's lowest-rated items. In that way, faculty members will receive simple, practical suggestions they can immediately use to improve their teaching.

Facilitate classroom innovation. Each faculty member should be encouraged to brainstorm with others about new and different ways to teach course material. How might a class be taught with a greater emphasis on technology? On group work? On projects? On service learning and field experience?

Assign short-term, nonteaching projects. A professor can get a welcome break from the routine of teaching by serving, for example, as an assistant dean or director of institutional assessment for a year or two. Similarly, chairing a major institutional task force at the college can provide healthy variety in an academic career. Meanwhile, such activities enable the institution to take advantage of the faculty member's different talents.

Videotape classroom instruction. Campus administrators should help professors see firsthand any areas for improvement. It is best to schedule a meeting with the faculty member to decide what the camera will focus on — what he or she would like to learn from the videotape. Colleagues and teaching consultants can help analyze the tape, but they should always keep the focus on how the faculty member teaches rather than whether he or she is good or bad at it.

Help professors give something back. Colleges should look for convenient ways for faculty members to contribute within the institution or outside it. Professors might volunteer time and expertise to assist their institutions with a major project, like serving on a fund-raising or athletics-department committee or directing an orientation session for new faculty members. Or they might join a committee working to improve the quality of education in the local high school.

Continued in article

Peter Seldin is distinguished professor emeritus of management at Pace University, in Pleasantville, N.Y. His most recent book is Evaluating Faculty Performance: A Practical Guide to Assessing Teaching, Research, and Service (Anker Publishing Company, 2006).

Jensen Comment
I'm more inclined to encourage "tired" professors to join an active listserv in their disciplines and in education. Also they should be encouraged to follow some blogs such as the Chronicle of Higher Education blogs ---

Free online textbooks, cases, and tutorials in accounting, finance, economics, and statistics ---

Education Tutorials

Critical Thinking Web (over 100 free tutorials) ---

The Future is Digital (with video) ---

Textile Exchange ---

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

Some Top Science Blogs ---

"Top 10 Amazing Chemistry Videos," by Aaron Rowe, Wired Science, March 2, 2008 ---

Science Videos ---

From the University of Pittsburgh
Birds of America (435 birds mounted online) ---

Evolution of Normal Fault Systems During Progressive Deformation (Quick Time Video)

The Virtual Body ---

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

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Electoral Geography 2.0 ---

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (some multimedia) ---

American Public Transportation Association

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

Law and Legal Studies

FindLaw ---

Westlaw ---

The Future is Digital (with video) ---

American Public Transportation Association

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

Math and Statistics Tutorials

February 29, 2008 message from XXXXX

Dear Dr. Jensen,

I have accessed your web site and found it to be very helpful. I am working on a dissertation and need to find an instrument (survey) that has validity and reliability and that will measure student satisfaction with the use of iPODs in a course. With all of your knowledge and expertise, I thought I would take a chance and ask if you possibly could point me in a direction to find such a survey. I appreciate your time assistance.

February 29, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen


First you might read about what some other schools and people are saying about student hope and satisfaction in this area ---
Second you might want to contact professors at places like Duke University that have quite a lot of experience with students use of Ipods. I think there was more hype than subsequent happiness with the results.

The next thing that I recommend is that you carefully read the module at
Also see

I do not know of a similar survey where you can borrow the survey questions. I suspect that you will have to design your own, and this is a most difficult undertaking. Consider first the goals of using iPods in a course. Then design your questions with those goals in mind. Then test your questions first with survey experts (such as you might find in the Sociology or Marketing Departments) and then conduct a pilot study with students before administering the survey.

The Survey Monkey can be helpful in designing surveys ---

Mike Kearl has some great helpers for survey research ---

You can find some useful resources at

After reading the above basics, you might next consider online surveys. For this I strongly recommend the following publication:

A 2001 RAND Corporation report, CONDUCTING RESEARCH SURVEYS VIA EMAIL AND THE WEB [ISBN: 0-8330-3110-4], discusses the pros and cons of using email and the Web to conduct research surveys. The authors (Matthias Schonlau, Ronald D. Fricker, Jr., and Marc N. Elliott) provide an overview of the various aspects of the research survey process, guidelines for choosing the type of Internet survey to use, and suggestions for designing and implementing Internet surveys. The report is available for purchase in paperback or online in PDF format, at no charge, at
(the above document description loads very slowly)

Internet-based surveys, although still in their infancy, are becoming increasingly popular because they are believed to be faster, better, cheaper, and easier to conduct than surveys using more-traditional telephone or mail methods. Based on evidence in the literature and real-life case studies, this book examines the validity of those claims. The authors discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using e-mail and the Web to conduct research surveys, and also offer practical suggestions for designing and implementing Internet surveys most effectively. Among other findings, the authors determined that Internet surveys may be preferable to mail or telephone surveys when a list of e-mail addresses for the target population is available, thus eliminating the need for mail or phone invitations to potential respondents. Internet surveys also are well-suited for larger survey efforts and for some target populations that are difficult to reach by traditional survey methods. Web surveys are conducted more quickly than mail or phone surveys when respondents are contacted initially by e-mail, as is often the case when a representative panel of respondents has been assembled in advance. And, although surveys incur virtually no coding or data-entry costs because the data are captured electronically, the labor costs for design and programming can be high.

Note Chapter 4 in particular ---

Frimette Kass-Shraibman suggested Mental Measurements Yearbook Source: Buros Institute of Mental Measurements ---

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

History Tutorials

University of Rochester shares its Abraham Lincoln letters online ---
Also see

Long-time Indonesian leader Suharto
Suharto: A Declassified Documentary Obit ---

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (some multimedia) ---

March 4, 1890: Bridge Tech Takes a Great Leap Forth ---

From the Scout Report on February 29, 2008

Concerned about the education of young people, the Common Core organization releases the results of a recent survey Teens losing touch with historical references 

History Surveys Stumps U.S. Teens --- 

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

Bill Moyers Journal: Interview with Susan Jacoby 

Digital History 

19th Century Textbooks

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

Law and Legal Study Tutorials

The Future is Digital (with video) ---

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

Language Tutorials

Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

Writing Tutorials

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

From the Scout Report on February 29, 2008

Opera 9.26  ---

The Opera browser has been around for sometime, but this latest version contains a few new features that are worth a look. Visitors will note that they can now use the "Speed Dial" feature for improved navigation to frequently-used sites and that there is also an embedded fraud protection feature as well. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer.

Acoo Browser 1.80 ---

Based on Internet Explorer, this latest iteration of Acoo Browser offers tabbed document windows, customizable toolbars, and dockable panel groups. As with many other browsers, Acoo also offers an online bookmark manager that is quite handy, and a built-in webpage analyzer. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.

Concerned about the education of young people, the Common Core organization releases the results of a recent survey Teens losing touch with historical references 

History Surveys Stumps U.S. Teens --- 

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

Bill Moyers Journal: Interview with Susan Jacoby 

Digital History 

19th Century Textbooks

Updates from WebMD ---


Does gingko biloba affect memory?
Taking the supplement ginkgo biloba had no clear-cut benefit on the risk of developing memory problems, according to a study published in the February 27, 2008, online issue of Neurology, the medical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
PhysOrg, February 27, 2008 ---

The three-year study involved 118 people age 85 and older with no memory problems. Half of the participants took ginkgo biloba extract three times a day and half took a placebo. During the study, 21 people developed mild memory problems, or questionable dementia: 14 of those took the placebo and seven took the ginkgo extract. Although there was a trend favoring ginkgo, the difference between those who took gingko versus the placebo was not statistically significant.

The researchers made an interesting observation when they examined the data at the end of the trial. Taking into account whether people followed directions in taking the study pills, they found that people who reliably took the supplement had a 68 percent lower risk of developing mild memory problems than those who took the placebo. Without further study, it is unclear if this difference is real or just a chance occurrence.

On a cautionary note, the study also found that people taking ginkgo biloba were more likely to have a stroke or transient ischemic attack, or mini stroke. Seven people taking ginkgo had strokes, while none of those taking placebo did. “Ginkgo has been reported to cause bleeding-related complications, but the strokes in this case were due to blood clots, not excessive bleeding, and were generally not severe,” said study author Hiroko Dodge, PhD, of the Department of Public Health and Center for Healthy Aging Research at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Continued in article

Researchers: Chia seeds are good for you
Several U.S. researchers maintain the seeds used in products such as Chia Pet are actually good for the human body, it was reported Sunday. The research that determined the seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids comes as the omega-3 supplement market in the United States is reaching new heights, the Chicago Tribune reported. To date, the health trend is responsible for a $500 million-a-year industry as more U.S. citizens attempt to gain added health benefits from the products. Chia seeds are derived from Salvia hispanica, a mint-related plant, and chia is regulated as a food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While research into the plant seeds has been minimal, the Tribune said one ounce of them has been found to contain 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber and 137 calories.
PhysOrg, March 3, 2008 ---

Some Experts Doubt Obesity Epidemic
Go on, have another doughnut. According to some experts whose views are public health heresy, the jury is still out on how dangerous it is to be fat. "The obesity epidemic has absolutely been exaggerated," said Dr. Vincent Marks, emeritus professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Surrey. Marks is among a minority of skeptics who doubt the severity of the obesity problem. They claim that the data about the dangers of obesity are mixed and there is little proof that being fat causes problems including high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Such views contradict nearly everything doctors have been saying for years. Being fat has long been blamed for conditions like diabetes, which can lead to heart, kidney and nerve diseases. There is also increasing evidence that certain cancers may be linked to weight gain. "The evidence linking obesity to diabetes and cardiovascular disease is very strong," said Dr. James Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado. "Type two diabetes rarely happens in people who aren't obese." But obesity contrarians say that there's no data proving why being fat - in itself - would be dangerous. "There's no good causal connection," said Eric Oliver, author of Fat Politics and a political science professor at the University of Chicago. Blaming obesity for diabetes and heart attacks, Oliver says, is like blaming lung cancer on bad breath rather than on smoking. Excess weight may actually be a red herring, Oliver says, since other factors like exercise, diet or genetic predispositions towards diseases are harder to measure than weight. In addition to questioning the dangers of being fat, researchers like Marks also criticize oft-repeated alarmist projections about the rise in obesity - like the British government's warning that nearly half of Britain will be obese by 2050. Those simply aren't based on good evidence, they say.
Maria Cheng, PhysOrg, March 5, 2005 ---
Jensen Comment
There is better evidence that obesity is very dangerous for people with other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Autism and Amanda Baggs ---
"The Truth About Autism: Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know," by David Wolman, Wired Magazine, February 25, 2008 ---

Blind Irishman sees with the aid of son's tooth in his eye
An Irishman blinded by an explosion two years ago has had his sight restored after doctors inserted his son's tooth in his eye, he said on Wednesday. "I thought that I was going to be blind for the rest of my life," McNichol told RTE state radio. After doctors in Ireland said there was nothing more they could do, McNichol heard about a miracle operation called Osteo-Odonto-Keratoprosthesis (OOKP) being performed by Dr Christopher Liu at the Sussex Eye Hospital in Brighton in England. The technique, pioneered in Italy in the 1960s, involves creating a support for an artificial cornea from the patient's own tooth and the surrounding bone.
PhysOrg, February 27, 2008 ---

Bedbug Epidemic in Dorms and Hotels
Increased travel in general, both domestic and foreign, is thought to be one factor in the resurgence of bed bugs. Still, no one can say for certain why, or why now, more than thirty years after the pest was last on the radar screens of exterminators. Some experts blame the ban on pesticides like DDT. However, less thorough application of chemical treatments may be the real issue, as bed bugs are experts at escaping contact insecticides. Lastly, the popularity of secondhand furniture from thrift stores and garage sales means bed bugs can find new homes with warm bodies.
Eric Eaton., "Don't Bug Me!" The Irascible Professor, February 28, 2008 ---

Antipsychotic Abilify Cleared for Use in Youths
Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said the Food and Drug Administration approved the supplemental new-drug application for Abilify to treat manic and mixed episodes associated with Bipolar I Disorder in patients 10 to 17 years old. The antipsychotic drug already has been approved to treat bipolar disease in adults. Japan-based Otsuka discovered Abilify; the companies have an agreement to co-promote the drug in the U.S. until 2012. Bristol records 65% of U.S. sales.
The Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2008; Page B5 ---
You can read more about Aripiprazole/Abilify at

Study examines how men and women view marital and parental time pressures
Only about one-fifth of employed women and men are completely satisfied with the time they spend with their spouse and their children according to a recent study published in the Journal of Family Issues. “Typically in past studies, full-time workers and parents tend to be more time pressured than those who work part time or who don’t have children,” says Dr. Susan Roxburgh, associate professor of sociology at Kent State University. In a study funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, Roxburgh examined how employment and parenthood influence time pressures pertaining to marital partners and the parental role. She found that men are significantly more likely to want more time with their spouses, while women were more likely than men to say they wanted to improve the quality of time they spend with their spouse. Both women and men equally were likely to say that they wanted to slow down the pace of time spent with their spouse. However when it comes to time spent with children, only women felt that a hectic pace affected the time they spent with their children.
PhysOrg, February 28, 2008 ---

Dementia diagnosis brings relief, not depression
When it comes to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, what you don't know may not kill you, but knowing the truth as soon as possible appears to be the better approach — one that may improve the emotional well-being of both patients and their caregivers, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.Medical advances have made it possible to diagnose Alzheimer's at very early stages, but a 2004 review of research found about half of all physicians were still reluctant to inform patients of an Alzheimer's diagnosis. While many physicians fear a dementia diagnosis would only further upset an already troubled patient, this follow-up study found quite the opposite. "We undertook this study because we wanted there to be some data out there that addressed this question and that we could show to physicians and say, 'Most of the people don't get depressed, upset and suicidal. So, this fear that you have about telling them and disturbing them is probably not legitimate for most people,'" says Brian Carpenter, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University. The study, published in the current Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, is co-authored by Carpenter and colleagues in the Division of Biostatistics, the Department of Neurology and the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at the University's School of Medicine.
PhysOrg, March 3, 2008 ---

Low testosterone levels associated with depression in older men
Older men with lower free testosterone levels in their blood appear to have higher prevalence of depression, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. Depression affects between 2 percent and 5 percent of the population at any given time, according to background information in the article. Women are more likely to be depressed than men until age 65, when sex differences almost disappear. Several studies have suggested that sex hormones might be responsible for this phenomenon. Osvaldo P. Almeida, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., of the University of Western Australia, Perth, and colleagues studied 3,987 men age 71 to 89 years. Between 2001 and 2004, the men completed a questionnaire reporting information about demographics and health history. They underwent testing for depression and cognitive (thinking, learning and memory) difficulties, and information about physical health conditions was obtained from a short survey and an Australian health database. The researchers collected blood samples from the participants and recorded levels of total testosterone and free testosterone, which is not bound to proteins. A total of 203 of the participants (5.1 percent) met criteria for depression; these men had significantly lower total and free testosterone levels then men who were not depressed. After controlling for other factors—such as education level, body mass index and cognitive scores—men in the lowest quintile (20 percent) of free testosterone concentration had three times the odds of having depression compared to men in the highest quintile.
PhysOrg, March 03, 2008 ---

Only 44 percent satisfied with sex life
A British condom maker says fewer than half of all the people it surveyed are satisfied with their sex lives. The Durex Sexual Wellbeing Survey asked 26,000 people worldwide in-depth questions about aspects of their health, well-being, social circumstances, education, beliefs, sex lives and attitudes to sex, the company said Monday in a news release. While 60 percent of those surveyed said sex is an enjoyable, vital part of life, only 44 percent said they were fully satisfied with that aspect of their lives. The survey found that frequency of sex and sexual satisfaction peaks between the ages of 20 and 34 but people over the age of 65 are still having sex more than once a week. Eighty-two percent of people who are sexually satisfied said they feel respected by their partner during sex, 36 percent would like more quality time alone with their partner, 31 percent would like more fun and better communication and intimacy with their partner, and 29 percent would like a higher sex drive.
PhysOrg, March 4, 2008 ---

Comparison of antipsychotic treatments in adolescents with schizophrenia
There is a wealth of scientific literature available on the treatment of adults diagnosed with schizophrenia. However, there is a paucity of data to guide the treatment of children and adolescents with schizophrenia. “Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved the use of aripiprazole and risperidone for adolescents with schizophrenia, few controlled data are available to help guide clinicians regarding the management of children and adolescents with schizophrenia who fail to respond to these standard 'first-line' antipsychotic treatments,” according to Dr. Sanjiv Kumra. Dr. Kumra is one of the authors of a new study to be published in the March 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry, which was undertaken to help fill this gap in knowledge. The authors recruited 39 children, 10-18 years of age, who had already failed to respond to at least two antipsychotic treatments, to participate in a 12-week, double-blind, randomized study – the most rigorous of clinical trial designs. After initial assessments, the patients received treatment with either clozapine or “high-dose” olanzapine (doses that exceed the package insert recommendations) and were monitored for improvement in their symptoms. The researchers discovered that clozapine was approximately twice as likely to produce a treatment response as olanzapine. Both positive symptoms (psychosis) and negative symptoms (blunted emotional response, reduced motivation) responded better to clozapine. John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, comments on the findings: “Olanzapine is among the most effective antipsychotic medications, so the distinctive effectiveness of clozapine in this study could be very important.”
PhysOrg, February 28, 2008 ---

“Is There Hardening of the Heart During Medical School?” asks a new study appearing in March’s Academic Medicine.

"Tomorrow’s Doctors: Less Empathetic Tomorrow Than Today," by Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, February 29, 2008 ---

“Empathy is one of the most highly desirable professional traits that medical education should promote, because empathic communication skills promote patient satisfaction and adherence to treatment plans while decreasing the likelihood of malpractice suits. Patients view physicians who possess the quality of emotional empathy as being better caregivers.”

The article analyzes changes in the scores of 419 students at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences on the Balanced Emotional Empathy Scale over the course of medical school. Students from four classes completed the survey measuring emotional empathy at the beginning of each of four years (the authors do not track them into residency and beyond). Other studies on empathy in medical school — which have yielded conflicting results, the study states — have focused on so-called “imaginative empathy.” That’s described as a cognitive ability to “role play” or imagine another person’s thoughts and feelings, as opposed to the emotional, or innate, reaction studied here.


"Multitasking not all it's cracked up to be," AccountingWeb, March 1, 2008 ---

Recent scientific studies reveal the hidden costs of multitasking, key findings as technology increasingly tempts people to do more than one thing (and increasingly, more than one complicated thing) at a time. Joshua Rubinstein, Ph.D., of the Federal Aviation Administration, and David Meyer, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Evans, Ph.D., both at the University of Michigan, described their research a fwe years ago in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Whether people toggle between browsing the Web and using other computer programs, talk on cell phones while driving, pilot jumbo jets or monitor air traffic, they're using their "executive control" processes -- the mental CEO -- found to be associated with the brain's prefrontal cortex and other key neural regions such as the parietal cortex. These interrelated cognitive processes establish priorities among tasks and allocate the mind's resources to them. "For each aspect of human performance -- perceiving, thinking, and acting -- people have specific mental resources whose effective use requires supervision through executive mental control," says Meyer.

To better understand executive control, as well as the human capacity for multitasking and its limitations, Rubinstein, Meyer and Evans studied patterns in the amounts of time lost when people switched repeatedly between two tasks of varying complexity and familiarity. In four experiments, young adult subjects (in turn, 12, 36, 36 and 24 in number) switched between different tasks, such as solving math problems or classifying geometric objects. The researchers measured subjects' speed of performance as a function of whether the successive tasks were familiar or unfamiliar, and whether the rules for performing them were simple or complex.

The measurements revealed that for all types of tasks, subjects lost time when they had to switch from one task to another, and time costs increased with the complexity of the tasks, so it took significantly longer to switch between more complex tasks. Time costs also were greater when subjects switched to tasks that were relatively unfamiliar. They got "up to speed" faster when they switched to tasks they knew better, an observation that may lead to interfaces designed to help overcome people's innate cognitive limitations.

The researchers say their results suggest that executive control involves two distinct, complementary stages: goal shifting ("I want to do this now instead of that") and rule activation ("I'm turning off the rules for that and turning on the rules for this"). Both stages help people unconsciously switch between tasks.

Continued in article

What will it take for Europe to "love America again?"

"Liebe Europäer," by George Weigel, The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2008 --- 

In a recent article in Die Zeit, former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt confessed that he wants to "love America again." He listed 10 conditions for a lovers' reconciliation, each reflective of the political, environmental, economic, secularist and multicultural shibboleths of the contemporary European left. Herr Schmidt's romantic yearnings may be requited in the event that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is the next president of the United States. Other Americans, however, think that the real issue is this: How can we respect Europe again?

Let me suggest the ways.

- Recover a sense of moral realism. Europeans could stop imagining the EU as a Kantian utopia of perpetual peace, absolved from the grubbiness of worldly strife. Europeans could also refrain from sneering at what they imagine to be American moral self-righteousness about a conflicted world, which is in fact moral realism. Such a change in European attitudes would likely have a salutary effect on policy: Every NATO member would, for example, actually fight in Afghanistan, rather than withdrawing from the action behind rules of engagement meant to appease ill-informed popular opinion and the European peace movement.

- Sacrifice for defense. Three percent of GDP is the stated goal for defense spending among NATO members. European states rarely reach it. Make the 3% goal real, and spend it in ways that develop real military capability. A Europe worth respecting wouldn't depend on American airlift capability to do anything seriously militarily.

- Enlarge the community of European democracies. As the U.S. bound its own security to Europe's during the Cold War, so Europe should extend a democratic welcome to Ukraine and Georgia by offering a NATO Membership Action Plan at the alliance's April meeting in Bucharest. The newer European democracies and NATO members are the most enthusiastic about such a plan. Europe's NATO elders should follow their lead, irrespective of the squawking that will ensue from Moscow.

- Restore cultural self-confidence. Europeans should admit that multiculturalism, ghettoization and tolerating enclaves of rule by Shariah provide no real answers to the challenges of large-scale immigration from the Arab Islamic world. A Europe worth respecting would stop appeasing Islamists and jihadists and affirm the moral, not merely pragmatic, superiority of Western notions of human rights and the legal and political equality of men and women. European intellectuals like Marcello Pera, Alain Finkielkraut, André Glucksmann and, yes, Pope Benedict XVI have all deplored the self-loathing embedded in contemporary European high culture; Schmidt and those for whom he speaks should listen to them. A Europe worth respecting would relearn its own historic worth. And having done that, it would stop kowtowing to Islamist blackmail, which is bad for moderate Muslims and lethal for Europe's future.

- Jettison secularist mythology. Gratefully acknowledge the role that Christian ideas of human dignity, social pluralism and moral responsibility have played in setting the cultural foundations of 21st-century Europe's commitments to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Recognize that the civilization of the West was produced by the fruitful interaction of Jerusalem, Athens and Rome -- biblical religion, Greek rationality and the Roman idea of a law-governed polity. Confront the intellectual and moral incapacities that Europe experiences in defending the truth of its commitments to freedom, justice and equality, many of which are the unhappy result of Europe's decades-long frolic in the postmodern sandbox of skepticism and relativism.

- Declare energy independence from Putin's Russia. A Europe worth respecting would acknowledge that its dependence on Russian energy creates a grave strategic vulnerability and would overcome national corporate interests in reversing that.

- Have the political courage to make necessary structural reforms. America is no model here, given our sorry failure to deal with either Social Security reform or immigration reform. Perhaps EU members like Germany, by implementing the economic changes that every person capable of reading a balance sheet knows are necessary, could set an example.

- Fix the EU democracy deficit. The new Lisbon Treaty, intended to guide the affairs of the enlarged EU, is not only written in obscure, even Orwellian language. It seems unlikely to be put to a popular referendum in most EU member states. This top-down imposition of what amounts to constitutional law is another example of the consolidation of political authority in Brussels-based EU institutions that lack democratic accountability. One can't respect the EU as a democratic community when bureaucratic authoritarianism is its default decision-making mode.

- Tell the greens to stop hurting poor people. Anticorporate, Green-fed European superstitions about genetically modified foods, and the European Union's self-indulgent agricultural policy, are two significant factors in perpetuating hunger throughout the world. Enough is enough: Look at the data, not the propaganda of European environmentalists.

- Put America to shame culturally. Stop whining about the vulgarities of American popular culture and then buying it as fast as it's produced. Make something better. Lead a Western renaissance in literature, film, theater and music. In doing so, Europeans will rediscover that they have something to offer the world besides guilt and guilt's first-cousin, moral posturing. They can offer the riches of the world's greatest cultural heritage, which is something worth both defending and advancing.

Mr. Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington and author, most recently, of "Faith, Reason, and the War on Jihadism" (Doubleday, 2007).

Obsolete Skills (some things young whipper snappers can't do)--- 

Forwarded by Gene and Joan,

Senior Center
It was entertainment night at the Senior Center . Claude the hypnotist  exclaimed: 'I'm here to put you into a trance; I intend to hypnotize each and every  member of the audience.'

The excitement was almost electric as Claude withdrew a beautiful antique pocket watch from his coat. 'I want you each to keep  your eye on this antique watch. It's a very special watch.  It's been in my family for six generations.' He began to swing the watch gently back and forth while quietly chanting, 'Watch the watch, watch the watch, watch the watch...'

The crowd became mesmerized as the watch swayed back and forth, light gleaming off its polished surface. Hundreds of pairs of eyes  followed the swaying watch, clearly under the spell of the hypnotist, when suddenly, the family heirloom slipped from the hypnotist's fingers and fell to the floor, shattering into a hundred pieces.   "Shit!!!' said the hypnotist.

It took three days to clean up the Senior Center.

Jensen Comment
This reminds me of the true story when a nurse at a senior care center decided to play a joke on the incoming night staff by loading the patients up with Ex-Lax. The laxative worked beyond expectations and the night shift had to work furiously to repeatedly change diapers. This was indeed and unethical and horrid thing to do to patients in her charge. The nurse was fired the next day for good cause!

Forwarded by Lynn


A blonde woman was speeding down the road in her little red sports car and was pulled over by a woman police officer who was also a blonde.

The blonde cop asked to see the blonde driver's license.

She dug through her purse and was getting progressively more agitated. "What does it look like?" she finally asked.

The policewoman replied, "It's square and it has your picture on it."

The driver finally found a square mirror in her purse, looked at it and handed it to the policewoman.

"Here it is," she said. The blonde officer looked at the mirror, then handed it back saying, "Okay, you can go. I didn't realize you were a cop."

Forwarded by Gene and Joan

Whether Democrat or Republican, I think you'll get a kick out of this!
A little boy goes to his dad and asks, 'What is Politics?'
Dad says, 'Well son, let me try to explain it this way:
I am the head of the family, so call me The President.
Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we call her the Government.
We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the People.
The nanny, we will consider her the Working Class.
And your baby brother, we will call him the Future.
Now think about that and see if it makes sense..'
So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said.
Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him . He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. So the little boy goes to his parent's room and finds his mother asleep. Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny.
He gives up and goes back to bed .
The next morning, the little boy says to his father, 'Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now. '
The father says, 'Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.'
The little boy replies, 'The President is screwing the Working Class while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep sh*t'


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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
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