Reader's Digest:
You sound like the dying Lou Gehrig, when he said farewell to his fans and fellow players in Yankee Stadium and called himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I am the luckiest. It rips my heart that my kids won't have a dad. But it's not the years. It's the mileage. I wouldn't choose to die at 47, but I've had a hell of a life.

 From Carnegie-Mellon University ---

Last Lecture Becomes Book

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and alum who has become world-famous for his last lecture "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," has expanded his popular talk into a book.

"The Last Lecture" is published by Hyperion and was co-written with Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal, who also happens to be a Carnegie Mellon alum.

Pausch, a 47-year-old married father of three who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, discusses the book in an ABC News Special with Diane Sawyer to air April 9 at 10 p.m.

In the book, Pausch delves deeper into the stories of his life with the hope that his children can apply the lessons he's learned to their own lives when they get older.

Pausch is co-founder of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center and regarded as a pioneer in computer science education for leading researchers in the creation of Alice. The video of his last lecture has been viewed on the Internet by millions worldwide, and appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC's Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News have since followed.

Co-author Zaslow will visit Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus next week, presenting a talk about the book. The discussion is scheduled for April 14 at 4:30 p.m. in the Chosky Theater. Beginning at 3 p.m., books will be sold outside the theater.

The University Bookstore is offering a 30 percent discount on pre-orders of the book and a 35 percent discount on the audio version.

April 9, 2008 reply from Linda Marquis [marquis@NKU.EDU]

You can order a DVD of The Last Lecture (not the book) here:

I believe they are on backorder, but at $7 it’s a bargain.


The DVD includes Randy's lecture, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," delivered on September 18, 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University, as well as information about several of his projects and achievements at Carnegie Mellon University. The price of the DVD covers the cost of production, shipping and handling. The DVD, however, is not an audio version of his book.

Where did Professor Pausch dictate his last and final book?
How did he and his wife have an earlier near-death experience about ten years ago?

He dictated the book on the seat of a bicycle into a cell phone in his helmet on 53 bike rides.
His earlier near death experience, about ten years ago, was in a rather foolish hot air balloon ride on his honeymoon.

"Many Happy Returns," by Randy Pausch, Reader's Digest, May 2008, pp.197-199 ---

It was our wedding day. Bliss was ours. And then we climbed into a balloon.

Jai and I were married under a 100-year old oak tree on the lawn of a famous Victorian mansion in Pittsburgh. It was a small wedding, but I was a 37-year old bachelor when I first met this beautiful woman in the fall of 1998. She was 31 then and a grad student in comparative literature.

. . .

We did not leave the reception in a car with cans rattling from the rear bumper. We did not climb into a horse-drawn carriage. No, we got into a huge, multicolored hot air balloon that whisked us off into the clouds as our friends and loved ones waved up to us, wishing us bon voyage.

. . .

We had also taken off a little later than scheduled, and the ballooner said that could make things harder. And the winds had shifted. "I can't really control where we go. We're at the mercy of the winds," he said.

. . .

As he started descending fast, I looked down at the field. It appeared to be fairly large, but there was a train track at the edge of it. My eyes followed the track. A train was coming.

. . .

"When this thing hits the ground, run as fast as you can," the ballooner said. These are not the words most brides dream about hearing on their wedding day. In short, Jai was not longer feeling like a Disney princess. And I was already seeing myself as a character in a disaster movie,

. . .

"Boom! We crash landed in the field. The basket took a hard hit, hopped a few times, bouncing us all around, and then tilted almost horizontally. Within seconds, the deflating envelope draped onto the ground, But luckily, it missed the moving train.

Continued in article


"A Father's Farewell," by Jesse Kornbluth,  Reader's Digest, May 2008, pp. 188-196 ---

With his life drawing to a close, Randy Pausch reveals in an interview and a book excerpt what matters most. By Jesse Kornbluth.

Dealing with Bad News Many colleges ask beloved professors to give their version of a "last lecture"-what they'd say if they were summing up a lifetime of learning and teaching. But at Carnegie Mellon University on September 18, 2007, Randy Pausch gave a last lecture unlike any other. A year earlier, he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a deadly, fast-moving disease. And just weeks before the lecture, he'd learned that cancer had attacked his liver and spleen. The prognosis: Randy Pausch had less than six months to live.

For most people with three children under six, that death sentence would have killed all optimism. But in his talk, the distinguished professor of computer science, human-computer interaction, and design touched only briefly on his achievements, most notably as founder of the Alice Project, which lets young students tell their stories in three dimensions (it's named for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland). Pausch acknowledged his disease but refused to dwell on it. Instead, he delivered a stunningly upbeat, joke-filled lecture about the importance of achieving your childhood dreams, managing time, and, above all, loving every minute of life.

Millions have watched his lecture on the Web or television. Now Pausch has written a new book, The Last Lecture, which expands on those thoughts (see our excerpt, page 197). In a revealing interview with Reader's Digest in mid-February, while he was still feeling well, Pausch talked about that book, his three kids-Dylan, Logan, and Chloe-and his unflagging spirit.

RD: On August 15, 2007, your doctors told you that you had three to six months to live. Six months later, you're still here. How are you feeling? Pausch: Quite good, thanks. I've lived a year and a half after my original diagnosis. In the world of pancreatic cancer, that makes me a rock star.

RD: What about the ten tumors you have? Pausch: My doctors and I have managed to keep them the same size for six months. That's not unheard-of, but it's lucky.

RD: "Managed" tells me that "lucky" isn't the only explanation. You are, after all, a scientist-a believer in experimentation. Pausch: Right. I started with surgery, then I went to Houston for a brutal protocol of chemotherapy and daily radiation. I was part of a clinical trial at M. D. Anderson that was based on work done at Virginia Mason in Seattle. By the end, I could barely walk.

RD: So what's the revised prognosis? Pausch: About a month ago, the new treatment started to fail. I am, not metaphorically, living on borrowed time. Success is measured in months for me. When my health fails, it will fail quickly. Tumors grow on an exponential curve.

RD: Do you have a "typical day"? Pausch: Not anymore. I have three small children. I play with them as much as I can. Chemo days make me tired, though it's hard to say that's because of the chemo when you have kids who have inherited their dad's usual energy level. Right now, me walking at sea level is like you walking at 5,000 feet. But that's a small price to pay.

RD: What have you told the kids? Pausch: Nothing. The experts have been vehement about this point: Until I'm very ill, not a word. We've been told, "Adults can't handle that you look great and will die soon-how can kids?" But this cancer isn't a pretty way to go. Eventually I'll get jaundiced, and then it will be apparent to my oldest child [Dylan]. My two youngest children [Logan and Chloe] won't understand. But there's no dancing around the fact that Daddy's going. I haven't figured out how I'm going to minimize that.

RD: You've had an amazing career, yet you don't seem to be thinking at all about your work. Pausch: Yes and no. One thing [my wife] Jai and I learned is that the right amount for me to work wasn't zero. An hour a day at work makes the other hours better.

RD: Why would you use that hour to write a book? Pausch: My wife really wanted me to do it. She saw it as something from me to the kids. And it took no time away from them.

RD: How so? Pausch: I had to ride my bike for an hour every day. As I rode, I would talk on my helmet-mounted cell phone to [co-author] Jeffrey Zaslow and tell him stories of my life. Fifty-three bike rides and I was done.

. . .

RD: Any other lessons along the way? Pausch: Make clear that people understand what your circumstances are. And looking for pity-that's a mistake.

RD: How important is humor? Pausch: Everybody makes their own choices. When we got the news that the cancer had metastasized, Jai and I cried and held each other. Then we made a pact: We're going to laugh. And we do laugh. A lot. We joke about the cancer. And everything else.

RD: In your book, it's striking how your friends treat you. "Saint Randy" gets no respect. Pausch: When I went scuba diving with old friends, one of them said, "Don't bother putting sunscreen on Randy." Humor is one of the greatest gifts our species has been given. To lose it would be terrible.

. . .

Reader's Digest:
You sound like the dying Lou Gehrig, when he said farewell to his fans and fellow players in Yankee Stadium and called himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I am the luckiest. It rips my heart that my kids won't have a dad. But it's not the years. It's the mileage. I wouldn't choose to die at 47, but I've had a hell of a life.


Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW -- What A Ride!
Author unknown




Tidbits on April 15, 2008
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
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Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter --- Search Site.
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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 ---

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Set up free conference calls at
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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 ---

Access many library videos as well as books ---

Vietnam Veterans Memorial (interactive) ---

Government Secrets Closely Guarded in Iron Mountain, Pennsylvania ---

Watch Boeing build a 777 ---

Air Drop Bloopers Video ---
One looks like a Texas Aggie parachute that opens on impact.

Dumb Blonde Video ---

Winning Tax Laugh Video ---

Biology Browser: Teaching Resources ---

The Missing Link (history and science) --- 

Global Canopy Programme (geology and climate) ---

The International Monetary Fund and Civil Society ---

Accountancy standard setting video links forwarded by Jeff Jacobs []

Bob Herz on the complexity of accounting standards
Colleen Cunningham on the momentum toward IFRS

Link forwarded by Naomi Ragen in Israel in a message to Jews
Comedian Jackie Mason's not-so-funny video on snippets of sermons across 20 years ---
Naomi also sent this LiveLeak "Kill Them to the Last One" video link ---

On April 4, 2008, at a Los Angeles event commemorating the assassination of Martin Luther King, the African-American fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi gave Israeli-American Daphna Ziman its Tom Bradley Award for community service. Then the event's keynote speaker, Reverend Eric Lee, turned to Ms. Ziman and launched an anti-Semitic diatribe. Roger L. Simon interviewed Ms. Ziman.
Watch the Video ---

With so many online videos to choose, from here are some cool finance videos that will liven the classroom. I would definitely recommend buying the actual video whenever possible. They are all very good! In the 20th year of the movie Wall Street, it only seems fitting to give a short clip from the movie. Here is "The Greed Speech." Most know of the speech, not everyone knows it is based on an actual commencement address by Ivan Boesky.
You can view these video clips in the April 8. 2008 module in Jim Mahar's blog --- 


Charlton Heston ---

Free music downloads ---

Frank Newsome leads the congregation at the Little David Church in Hayside, Va. Old Regular Baptists, they sing the way people sang when they first came to the American colonies: without instruments or notation, and following their leader line by line. It's called lined-out hymnody, and people outside the southern Appalachian Mountains rarely hear it. One of the songs Newsome sings at services is a hymn about longing for heaven, called "Beulah Land." ---

This is Unbelievable:  I now believe in reincarnation!
Discovered singing on a Seattle street, Vince Mira, 15, is a somewhat shy kid who looks uncomfortable during a TV interview. But when he steps up to the microphone to sing Johnny Cash's classic "Ring of Fire," the result is downright spooky. He performs the song in this Good Morning America segment ---
Ring of Fire ---

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

Photographs and Art

Vietnam Veterans Memorial (interactive) ---

Winslow Homer: Behind the Scenes art history) ---

How to Paint the Mona Lisa with MS Paint ---

Book Autopsies ---

iPhoto Forum ---

Top 10 Wired Magazine reader photos ---

"A History of Photography from its beginnings till the 1920s," by Robert Leggat ---

Cool Package Design ---

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 ---

John Steinbeck

Critical Postmodern Theory ---

HAIKU for PEOPLE (by topical categories) ---

From Rice University
The Wondering Minstrels (Poems) ---

From the University of Toronto
Representative Poetry Online ---

Pride and Prejudice (hypertexted to a fault) by Jane Austen ---

Serendipity Books --- Click Here

The Boox Review ---

From the University of Oregon
An Online Repository of Works Printed in English Between the Years 1477 and 1799 ---

"A History of Photography from its beginnings till the 1920s," by Robert Leggat ---

What do Walt Whitman and Barack Obama have in common? They hold out "the possibility of transformative change," says Michael Robertson, a professor of English at the College of New Jersey and author of Worshipping Walt: The Whitman Disciples.
Jennifer Howard, "A Poet's Spiritual Magnetismm," Chronicle of Higher Education The Chronicle Review, April 11, 2008 ---

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Author unknown

Here's one banker's idea of a journey
From the EDGAR Online Newsletter on April 8, 2007
Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase is in the process of acquiring Bear Stearns along with the Fed's help. In 2007, his total compensation included a salary of $1,000,000, a bonus of $14,500,000 and stock and option awards. His other compensation included:

Iranian forces were involved in the recent battle for Basra, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, is expected to tell Congress this week. Military and intelligence sources believe Iranians were operating at a tactical command level with the Shi’ite militias fighting Iraqi security forces; some were directing operations on the ground, they think. Petraeus intends to use the evidence of Iranian involvement to argue against any reductions in US forces.
Sarah Baxter and Marie Colvin , "Iran joined militias in battle for Basra," London Times, April 6, 2008 ---

The top two U.S. officials in Iraq accused Iran, Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah Tuesday of fueling recent fighting in Baghdad, saying Tehran and Damascus were pursuing a "Lebanization strategy" in Iraq. "The hand of Iran was very clear in recent weeks," U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus, said at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Iran denies U.S. charges that it is stoking violence in Iraq and instead blames the bloodshed on the presence of 160,000 U.S. troops. But Petraeus told lawmakers that Iran's Qods Force and Hezbollah were funding, training, arming and directing renegade Shi'ite groups he blamed for recent deadly rocket and mortar attacks in the Iraqi capital. "Unchecked, the special groups pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq," said the four-star general.
David Morgan, "US sees Iran, Syria "Lebanon" gambit in Iraq," Reuters, April 8, 2008 ---

The success we are now achieving also has consequences far beyond Iraq's borders in the larger, global struggle against Islamist extremism. Thanks to the surge, Iraq today is looking increasingly like Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare: an Arab country, in the heart of the Middle East, in which hundreds of thousands of Muslims – both Sunni and Shiite – are rising up and fighting, shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers, against al Qaeda and its hateful ideology. It is unfortunate that so many opponents of the surge still refuse to acknowledge the gains we have achieved in Iraq. When Gen. Petraeus testifies this week, however, the American people will have a clear choice as we weigh the future of our fight there: between the general who is leading us to victory, and the critics who spent the past year predicting defeat.
Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator Lindsey Graham, "Iraq and Its Costs," The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2008; Page A13 ---

Thanks to Our Military (slide show) --- Click Here
No Thanks to Our Military (video) ---  
Also see

On April 4, 2008, at a Los Angeles event commemorating the assassination of Martin Luther King, the African-American fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi gave Israeli-American Daphna Ziman its Tom Bradley Award for community service. Then the event's keynote speaker, Reverend Eric Lee, turned to Ms. Ziman and launched an anti-Semitic diatribe. Roger L. Simon interviewed Ms. Ziman.
Watch the Video ---

The United States and Israel seek to pressure North Korea to cease its nuclear cooperation with Iran, which is one of the motives behind their agreement to disclose details on the air-force strike in Syria last September. According to foreign press reports, the strike targeted a nuclear installation built with North Korean assistance. According to information obtained by Washington and Jerusalem, North Korea transferred technology and nuclear materials to Iran to aid Tehran's secret nuclear arms program.
Barak Avid, "U.S., Israel concerned N. Korean nuclear know-how reached Iran," Haaretz, April 7, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
How will President Obama reconcile his pledge for nuclear disarmament with his pledge to protect Israel from highest-technology weapons of mass destruction now that Iran is able to develop space weapons and has massive amounts of money to finance the research both in Iran and in North Korea? ---

Although talk of war with Iran has subsided somewhat, a French author has taken the prospect seriously enough to devote a whole book to a chilling, highly detailed look at how it might play out.In French, naturellement. But Forbes provides a good rundown, in English
Dan Dupont, Wired News, April 7, 2008 ---

In one of three densely conceived, though, the author is careful to warn, utterly fictitious scenarios, President Bush launches Operation Boundless Fortitude after Iran's religious leader Ali Khameini announces baldly that his nation has manufactured weapons-grade fissionable material enriched to nearly 100% (in lieu of 5% enrichment for peaceful nuclear reactors).

In an effort to show the world that the U.S. has not been paralyzed by its disastrous adventure in neighboring Iraq, on Aug. 16, 2008, Bush orders a massive aerial bombardment, flights of Tomahawk cruise missiles streaking from submarines and naval warships to strike Iranian command and control centers, ministries, telecommunications facilities and Iranian air defenses, especially Russian-made TOR M-1 missile emplacements, while B-2 stealth bombers destroy all access to the subterranean enrichment facilities at Natanz.

American warplanes and missiles carefully avoid striking research reactors in Teheran and Ispahan as well as the nuclear reactor at Bousher--less than 100 kilometers from Kuwait--as well as the centrifuges themselves at Natanz in an effort to prevent the spread of radioactive material to nearby population centers. However, other missiles producing electromagnetic pulses do knock out virtually all of Iran's electric grid and computer systems.

By Sept. 4, less than three months after the first flight of Tomahawks, Iran is reduced to a state of near paralysis, unable in any sense to retaliate militarily, its entire economic infrastructure in shambles. The president's near-term goal is satisfied to the letter. But if you think that's the end, well then, read on.

Israel will "destroy" Iran if Tehran decided to launch a war against the Jewish state, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said today. The unusually harsh warning from Ben-Eliezer, a former defense minister, was delivered as the official visited his ministry's war room, which took part today in a massive, nationwide, weeklong drill that is set to include simulated chemical missile attacks on central Israel. "The Iranians won't rush to attack Israel, because they understand the significance such action would have and are well aware of our strength," Ben-Eliezer told reporters. "However, Iran continues to aggravate the situation by supplying arms to Syria and Hezbollah, and we must deal with this." The minister said this week's war drill "is not a meaningless spectacle or a fictional scenario. The future reality is likely to be a number of times harsher than that which we recognize now. We are confronted with a situation where the home front becomes the front line."
"Israel: We'll 'destroy' Iran Harsh warning as region under general war alert," WorldNetDaily, April 7, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
With Hezbollah and Hamas and even Syria at the end of its puppet strings, why would Iran ever attack Israel? Whereas America has no fanatical and suicidal puppets to fight its wars, Iran is ever so smart.

Michael Moore and the Students for a Democratic Society Issue a Call to Shut Down the Republican National Convention
To that end, we are calling on SDS chapters to both endorse and participate in a three-tiered system for disrupting the RNC on its opening day. At a gathering of over 100 anti-authoritarians from around the country in August of 2007 (facilitated by the Twin Cities based RNC Welcoming Committee), the following direct action strategy was adopted to shut down the RNC: "Tier 1: Blockade the Xcel Center - Establish 15-20 blockades utilizing a diversity of tactics, creating inner and outer rings around St. Paul's Xcel Center. Tier 2: Immobilize Delegates' Transportation - Immobilize the delegates' transportation infrastructure, including buses, bus depots, etc. Tier 3: Block Connecting Bridges - Block the five western bridges connecting the cities.

InforShop News, April 7, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Yes, this is truly Michael Moore's definition of a democratic society. I found this link at his homepage.

In an open letter circulating the Internet, Mary Beth Brown, the author of "Condi: Life of a Steel Magnolia," writes that the ascension of Rice to her post answers the question of whether America is ready for a black president or a woman president."Interestingly, the Republican Party has already transcended the politics of gender and race by appointing one of the most talented African American women, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, as secretary of state," writes Brown. "As I write this letter to you, Condi Rice, not Hillary Clinton is America’s most powerful and respected woman. Condi has served America with honor and grace. And Condi Rice, not Barack Obama, is America's highest ranking African American official."
WorldNetDaily, April 7, 2008 ---
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the meantime says thanks but no thanks and will not be a candidate in 2008 ---
Liberal writer John Nichols isn't buying her denial ---

That's the meaning of Sunday's sacking of strategist Mark Penn from Hillary Clinton's campaign. In his noncampaign job with a PR firm, Mr. Penn had met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. to discuss the free trade agreement that President Bush sent to Congress yesterday. When word of that meeting leaked to a Wall Street Journal reporter last week, big labor went bonkers and Mrs. Clinton gave him the heave-ho despite more than a decade of loyal service. Maybe if Mr. Penn had called General David Petraeus a con man, he'd still have a job. Mr. Penn's dismissal follows the previous humiliation of Barack Obama's economics adviser, Austan Goolsbee, for telling Canadian diplomats that Mr. Obama's anti-Nafta talk was merely campaign jive. Mr. Goolsbee has since all but entered the witness protection program. The grownups in both campaigns realize that free trade is good for the country, yet they must take a vow of public silence.
"The New Liberal Taboo," The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2008; Page A20 ---

On Friday, Smith had quit his job as an air-and-heating system repairman in preparation for his day in Laurens County court, where he today pleaded guilty to charges that he crashed his car after a night of drinking nearly two years ago at a Lake Greenwood bar and left his passenger, 27-year-old Jennifer Young Norris, pinned beneath the wreckage without calling anyone to help. Today, wearing an open-collared Oxford white dress shirt, the 34-year-old Greenwood man walked into the courtroom through the front doors where free people come and go, and left through a side door, escorted by men with badges, to begin the seven-year sentence Circuit Judge Wyatt Saunders imposed after Smith accepted a plea deal with the Eighth Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Eric Cohhor, "Man who left friend pinned in wreckage gets 7 years in prison," Greenville Online, April 7, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
As the WSJ editors note, Ted Kennedy's sentence was much harsher. Instead of seven years he was punished with 40 years in the U.S. Senate for leaving his pregnant friend underwater at the scene.

Blondes are said to have more fun but it seems brunettes steal the hearts of billionaires.
"Brunettes more likely to bag billionaires," Metro, April 6, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Aren't most of the billionaires from nations that have few if any blondes.?

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, Oprah announced on CNN’s “Larry King Live” on May 1, 2007, that she would officially endorse her longtime friend Barack Obama for the presidency (both attended Rev. Wright's Trinity Church in Chicago for years) — the first time she had ever thrown her support behind a political candidate. “I think that my value to him, my support of him, is probably worth more than any check,” Oprah told Larry King. At the time, Oprah did not indicate whether she would campaign for Obama.  Almost instantly, Oprah’s popularity in America plummeted. An August 2007 CBS News poll showed only 61 percent of Americans were favorably disposed to her — a considerable drop of 13 percentage points from a similar survey conducted just seven months prior. An October 2007 Gallup/USA Today poll that showed Oprah with a slightly higher 66 percent favorability still reflected a drop. . . .  But by the time Fox News/Opinion Dynamics asked Americans about their attitudes toward Oprah in a survey conducted about 10 days later, Dec. 18-19, Oprah’s favorability ratings had dropped even further — to 55 percent — the lowest level of favorability ever registered for Oprah in opinion surveys. Oprah’s negatives also spiked, with one in three respondents (33 percent) reporting unfavorable impressions of her. The results of a March 26, 2008, AOL Television popularity poll of television hosts reveal Americans may now embrace Ellen DeGeneres over Oprah by a wide margin. Forty-six percent of the 1.35 million people who participated in the poll said the daytime talk show host that “made their day” was Ellen, compared with only 19 percent who chose Oprah. Nearly half (47 percent) said they would rather dine with Ellen, compared with 14 percent who preferred Oprah.
Costas Panagopoulos, "Obama supporter Oprah takes a big dive," Politico, April 7, 2008 ---

If the U.S. helps facilitate billions of dollars in business for Syria and builds up Damascus as the primary American ally in the Arab world in place of Saudi Arabia, the Syrians would be willing to discuss scaling back alliances with Iran and making peace with Israel, according to a senior Syrian official speaking to WND. The official said Syria recently conveyed this message to numerous visiting foreign dignitaries, including U.S. congressmen and Turkish mediators. He said Syria also demanded as a key condition for considering altering its alliances that the U.S. cease opposing Syrian influence in Lebanon.
Aaron Klein, WorldNetDaily, April 6, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
America should consult Elliot Spitzer who can vouch for the fact that money alone cannot buy lasting love. Oil-starved Syria's offering an expensive one night stand. I hope President Obama doesn't buy into this expensive sham of diplomatic fun and games when he makes good on his plans to "negotiate" for peace in the Middle East.

It is this insistence on innocence that could turn out to be the most damaging aspect of the affair. While nobody has yet proved corruption, Mr. Ahern has clearly misrepresented the sources of some of the controversial payments, seems to have broken official regulations for receiving such funds and admitted shortcomings in paying taxes on them. It is Mr. Ahern's contradictory statements about his financial affairs that might have harmed him more than any underlying financial misconduct ever will. Had he come clean in September 2006, he might still be in power, with a fine record of achievement. While Mr. Ahern has helped to bring his country's economy into the 21st century, he failed to do the same for Ireland's political culture. The prospects for progress are dim. His chosen successor, Finance Minister Brian Cowen, and the rest of his party, still stand behind Mr. Ahern. They'd need to change more than they have if they want to restore the "benchmarks of honor" to public life.
Bruce Arnold, "Bertie's Fall from Grace." The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2008 ---

She is trailing in a highly competitive contest against her male rivals, is occasionally covered in a condescending way and faces predictions that she'll be forced out of the race. Katie Couric understands what Hillary Clinton is going through. "I identify with her to a certain extent because we share a gender," the CBS anchor says. "I'm sensitive to coverage that can be very subtly stacked against her, maybe a headline that has a little more snarkiness about her. . . . I understand that kind of coverage because I've experienced it myself." After a rough 19 months since making the leap from "Today" superstardom to Walter Cronkite's old chair, Couric has been keeping a relatively low profile lately. But she has continued to work for the cause of improved treatment of cancer, the disease that claimed her husband, Jay Monahan, a decade ago and her sister Emily, a Virginia state senator who died in 2001.
Howard Kurtz
, "For Couric, an Uphill March Third-Place Anchor Adjusts Her Role," The Washington Post, April 7, 2008; Page C01 ---
Jensen Comment
I actually like watching Katie report the news, in part because I like to watch how she restrains her personal political biases and hatred for President Bush. Could it be something other than gender bias that hurts her Neilsen ratings. Could it be that liberals avoid CBS News due to anger over how and why Dan Rather was fired? Could it be that liberals prefer NBC's Brian Williams and Keith Olbermann because they do not hide their liberal biases? Could it be that most conservatives remember her outspoken liberal rants before she became the highest paid news anchor in history? Could it be that conservatives and independents who are not watching Fox News prefer ABC's more balanced political newscasting relative to both NBC and CBS? I think Katie is grasping for straws when she blames gender bias for her troubles.

Should wannabe teachers who fail the certification test three times be automatically certified anyway? Wo what if they can't read or write?
Every year, hundreds of would-be classroom teachers fail the MTEL, the Massachusetts Test for Education Licensure. According to Charles Glenn at the Boston University School of Education, independent evaluations of teacher tests like the MTEL put the skills required at the eighth- to 10th-grade level. Unfortunately, this is still too high for about 40 percent of the test takers each year. So last week, the Democrats of the Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously for a waiver program covering wannabe teachers who fail the test at least three times. Many of them would be allowed to teach ninth-grade English, for example, even after demonstrating that they couldn’t actually pass it. By the way, if you’re going to just give them waivers, why make the teachers take the test at all? Why humiliate these “education professionals” by forcing them to take - and fail - the test three times?
Michael Graham, "Three strikes and you’re in! Bad teachers waived around bases," Boston Herald, April 7, 2008 ---

"We've already reached the dangerous level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," James Hansen, 67, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, told AFP here. "But there are ways to solve the problem" of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which Hansen said has reached the "tipping point" of 385 parts per million. In a paper he was submitting to Science magazine on Monday, Hansen calls for phasing out all coal-fired plants by 2030, taxing their emissions until then, and banning the building of new plants unless they are designed to trap and segregate the carbon dioxide they emit. The major obstacle to saving the planet from its inhabitants is not technology, insisted Hansen, named one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2006 by Time magazine.
"Earth in crisis, warns NASA's top climate scientist," PhysOrg, April 7, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
I can't for the life of me figure out why the United States is spending billions on non-solutions (e.g., ethanol) while the rest of the world is building clean and efficient nuclear power plants.

Lewis High was put on probation by Maryland school authorities last year for the high number of violent incidents reported there. Marietta English, the president of the Baltimore teachers’ union, said that the school has taken to not reporting incidents and not disciplining students for fear of being labeled “persistently dangerous,” a designation that would allow students to choose to go to other schools in the city.“They (high school students) know that there are no consequences for their behavior, so they are pretty much running the school,” English told NBC News. Berry agreed with English. “There are no consequences,” she said. “The students do whatever they want because they know nothing’s going to happen to them.”
Mike Celizic, "Teacher ‘petrified’ after being attacked by student," Today Show on MSNBC, April 10, 2008 ---
Text and video available for a short time at the above site.

A mile-high tower will rise in a desert port town, and Americans will be helping to finance its £5 billion construction cost. It will rise in the town Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, halfway up the length of the Red Sea. At 5,250 feet, it will be twice the height of another tower being erected in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the Persian Gulf. A few miles north up the Sea from Jeddah is Rabigh, where about 40,000 workers are constructing the world's largest petrochemical plant as part of King Abdullah Economic City, itself part of a $500 billion plan to turn Saudi Arabia into a "powerhouse" industrial giant. Other massive construction projects are underway in Kuwait and other Persian Gulf countries.
Edward Cline, "The New Pyramid Builders," Family Security Matters, April 8, 2008 ---

Literary hoaxes are almost as old as literature. Some have been inspired by poverty, others are simply pranks. Clifford Irving, who tried to publish a largely fabricated "autobiography" of Howard Hughes in 1971, received a six-figure advance for his book. He was one of the few hoaxers who went to jail for fraud. Last month, a young woman, Margaret Seltzer, who claimed in a new memoir to have been a foster child in the underworld of Los Angeles gangs, was exposed as an affluent, suburban graduate of an Episcopal private high school. To many of their perpetrators, a literary hoax is just a high-class practical joke, a way of bringing the literary world down a peg. "I wrote the book in a few weeks as a joke," said Magdalen King-Hall, author of "The Diary of a Young Lady of Fashion in the Year 1764-1765," published in 1926. "If I had realized that so many distinguished persons would take it seriously, I would have spent more time and pains on it."
Cynthia Crossen, "This Column Is Real, But Not All Authors Stick to the Truth," The Wall Street Journal,  April 7, 2008; Page B1 ---

A middle school in Portland, Maine is considering a proposal to provide birth control pills and patches to students as young as 11 years old. King Middle School launched a reproductive health program after five of the 135 students who visited the school's health center in 2006 reported being sexually active. The program already provides condoms to students, but the new proposal would expand this to include prescriptions for birth control pills and patches (which would then have to be purchased at a pharmacy). The contraceptives could be dispensed without the knowledge of parents, although written permission would be required for children to receive (unspecified) services from the health center.
David Gutirrez, "Maine Middle School May Drug 11 Year Old Girls with Birth Control Patches," Natural News, April 3, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
I personally think it is a good idea but only if parents give permission beforehand for each daughter (not blanket approval). There is potential risk, however, of legal liability of the contraceptives don't work when parents relied upon the school or if students become ill from unknown causes and have activist lawyers.
Teen Births Rose in 2006 ---

Anglia Ruskin University, in Britain, has suspended a graduate student in business because of a critical video she posted on YouTube about her program, The Telegraph reported. University officials said her video was inaccurate and unfair, but she said that the university was violating her rights to free speech and trying to silence criticism
Inside Higher Ed, April 7, 2008 ---

An informal poll of 109 historians by the History News Network has found that 61 percent consider President Bush to be the worst president in American history. In addition, 98 percent of those surveyed rank the Bush presidency as a failure.
Inside Higher Ed, April 7, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
I too would rank President Bush to be among the worst presidents in history, but my reasons are most likely completely the opposite of the mostly left-of-left history professors. President Bush has been a disaster for not having the courage to stand up against outrageous budgets passed by Republicans and Democrats in Congress over the past eight years on such items as Medicare drug entitlements and outrageous farm subsidies (e.g., ethanol). Watch the CBS Sixty Minutes television program interview with David Walker on the non-sustainability of the U.S. economy linked below.

Why this large tax increase? The tax code changes enacted in 2001 and 2003 are scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. If they do, statutory marginal tax rates will rise across the board; ranging from a 13% increase for the highest income households to a 50% increase in tax rates faced by lower-income households. The marriage penalty will be reimposed and the child credit cut by $500 per child. The long-term capital gains tax rate will rise by one-third (to 20% from 15%) and the top tax rate on dividends will nearly triple (to 39.6% from 15%). The estate tax will roar back from extinction at the same time, with a top rate of 55% and an exempt amount of only $600,000. Finally, the Alternative Minimum Tax will reach far deeper into the middle class, ensnaring 25 million tax filers in its web.
John R. Cogan and R. Glenn Hubbard, "The Coming Tax Bomb," The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2008; Page A21 ---

"The Siren Song of Populism," by Lee Cary, American Thinker, April 8, 2008 ---

The day after William Jennings Bryan delivered his famous “Cross of Gold” speech on July 8, 1896 (listen to Bryan recreate a portion of it years later here), the Democrats voted him their presidential nominee. He promised change.

“A man can be born again; the springs of life can be cleansed instantly…If this is true of one, it can be true of any number. Thus, a nation can be born in a day if the ideals of the people can be changed.”

He was a 36-years old former congressman from Nebraska, called “the boy Orator of the Platte,” born in Illinois in 1860. Democrat President Grover Cleveland didn’t favor his candidacy. Bryan favored Free Silver the controversial monetary issue of the day.

Richard Hofstadter, author of The American Political Tradition, wrote that Bryan,

“…emerg[ed] suddenly from obscurity at an hour when the people were in an angry mood, farming his message for a simple constituency nursed in evangelical Protestantism and knowing little literature but the Bible.” p. 183

Bryan was a Populist. Hofstadter wrote,

"Populism was the first modern political movement of practical importance in the United States to insist that the federal government has some responsibility for the common weal; indeed, it was the first movement to attack seriously the problems created by industrialism. The complaints and demands and prophetic denunciations of the Populists stirred the latent liberalism in many Americans and startled many conservatives into a new flexibility...The utopia of the Populists was in the past, not the future.” The Age of Reform, pp. 61-62

The politics of grievance and resentment live on. Instead of debtors agitating for monetary inflation to ease their burdens, identity politics has brought us a toxic blend of anger, resentment, and guilt. This time we’re offered a strong dose of collective, not individual, responsibility. The appeal may be eternal, but Americans have historically been less susceptible than other nations to the blandishments of Populists.

Bryan was also called “The Great Commoner.”

“The Commoner’s heart was filled with simple emotions, but his mind was stocked with equally simple ideas. Presumably he would have lost his political effectiveness if he had learned to look at his supporters with a critical eye, but his capacity for identifying himself with them was costly, for it gave them not so much leadership as expression. He spoke for them so perfectly that he never spoke to them. In his lifelong stream of impassioned rhetoric he communicated only what they already believed.” The American Political Tradition, p.187

In one of his current Pennsylvania campaign ads, Senator Barack Obama, casually dressed, walks through an abandoned, dilapidated factory, summoning the ghosts of a utopia perceived as lost by his followers - some felling victimized, others feeling guilty. And the Siren sings.

Bryan would be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 1896, 1900, and 1908, in three failed attempts to become president. Wilson appointed him Secretary of State, but Bryan resigned when he felt Wilson was leading America into World War I.

Continued in article

What former Andersen partner, who watched the Andersen accounting firm implode alongside its client Enron, has been traveling for years around the United States warning that the United States economy will implode unless we totally come to our senses?
David Walker is was the top accountant, Controller General, of the United States Government.
He was a featured plenary speaker a few years back at an annual meeting of the American Accounting Association.
See his "State of the Profession of Accountancy" piece in the October 2005 edition of the Journal of Accountancy.
Also see

Watch the Video of the non-sustainability of the U.S. economy (CBS Sixty Minutes TV Show Video) ---

Ernie Hanson (University of Wisconsin)  informed me that David Walker resigned as Controller General effective March 12, 2008 and now is president and CEO of The Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
Here's the rest of the story

"You Can't Take It With You," by Peter Peterson, Newsweek, April 7, 2008, Page 56 ---

The turning point in my life came before I was born. It was the day in 1912 when my Greek immigrant father came to America. He came as a teenager, without a penny or a word of English, and with only a third-grade education.

He took a job as a railroad dishwasher. He worked, ate and slept in a steaming caboose and saved everything he made. With his savings he opened a restaurant, and kept it open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 25 years in my hometown of Kearney, Neb. His hard work and thrift gave me extraordinary opportunities. Had I been born in a different country, at a different time, I would never have had the chances that gave me such good fortune.

I have lived the American Dream—I went to college, worked in the corporate world, served in government and became an investment banker. And that led to a second turning point, on June 21, 2007, at 9:30 a.m. That was the day the Blackstone Group—a private-equity, asset-management and financial-advisory firm that I cofounded—went public. In an hour I became an instant billionaire.

What to do with so much money? I have much more than enough, and there seems little prospect that I can take it with me. So again I turn to my father's example. When he had built a modest net worth, he gave generously to his old home in Greece and to the less fortunate in his beloved new home. Tears would come to his eyes when he sang "God Bless America." He so loved America for its possibilities.

I believe today that those possibilities are shrinking, endangering the American Dream. Personal myopia, political cowardice, fiscal fantasy and journalistic neglect are all at work. So I have chosen to put much of my wealth ($1 billion over the next several years and much of my remaining estate) into a new foundation, one that I hope will explain the undeniable, unsustainable and yet politically untouchable long-term challenges we face. Headed by The Honorable David M. Walker, who served as the comptroller general of the United States from 1998 to 2008, the foundation will propose workable solutions and build up the public will to put them into effect. I cannot think of anything more important than trying in this way to preserve the possibilities of the American Dream for my children's and grandchildren's generations, and generations yet to come.

Let me summarize three such challenges. First, as 78 million baby boomers reach retirement age, the costs of Social Security and Medicare will skyrocket, leaving us with unfunded promises of more than $44 trillion in today's dollars—equal to about three times our entire gross domestic product. Income taxes would have to double to pay for it—an unthinkable burden.

Second, our current-account deficits are unprecedented, fed by record trade deficits. Such dependence on foreign capital is dangerous. America as a country, and Americans as a people, must be persuaded to save more.

Third, our health-care costs are metastasizing. We already spend more than twice as much per capita as other developed nations, with no appreciable differences in health outcomes or longevity. These ballooning costs threaten the very competitiveness of American industry.

These challenges all require sacrifice. That means everyone. We fat cats will have to pay more taxes. The government will have to spend less. Everyone will have to save more. I'm not sure if we remember how to give up something for the long-term general good. Nor do we hear calls for sacrifice from our leaders. Our lawmakers are enablers, either joining us in the state of denial or trying to anesthetize us. But if we can learn to face the future realistically, everyone will benefit from a more robust, sustainable economy.

The "Greatest Generation" that lived through the Depression of the 1930s and World War II confronted, overcame and paid for challenges more sobering than those we face today. We can do it again. I refuse to believe that we have become so selfish and self-absorbed that we don't care about our children's future and America's leadership in the world.

How do we as a country, and Americans as a people, learn to save more and spend less? How do we educate the young about the crisis they will face if things aren't changed, and then move them to do something about it? Or will it take a real and very costly crisis to force us into action?

We need to go where the young people are: new media, bloggers, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, MTV, and networks and Web sites that have not even been invented, and that is what my foundation will try to do. We will sponsor the production of films that educate people about the perils America faces (I have been impressed with what Al Gore accomplished with "An Inconvenient Truth"). We will have youth summits to get young leaders engaged in the process. Maybe someone should develop an AAYP, an American Association of Young People, to counteract the lobbying power of the American Association of Retired Persons. There are, of course, many other groups we must reach. How best do we energize the business community? Tom Friedman of The New York Times called us MIAs, "missing in action" on these daunting challenges. We have a huge stake in tomorrow's economy. How do we convince the media that the future is worth covering?

These challenges have hung over our economy for years. Others have tried to sound the alarm. I know that the odds of success are daunting. Yet given what is at stake and what I owe this remarkable country, I, and we, have no alternative but to try. As we move forward, we need to remind ourselves of the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was instrumental in the resistance movement against Nazism. "The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world it leaves to its children," he said.

It is time we become moral and worthy ancestors.

Bob Jensen's threads on Entitlements are at

Distance or DistanceEducation.Org is a Great Helper Site
Ben Pheiffer in San Antonio forwarded this link to a terrific listing (with pricing estimates) of online training and education degree programs and courses from respectable universities ---

Both graduate and undergraduate degree programs are listed as well as training courses (some free).

I added to my listings of worldwide online training and education programs at

My mom always told me I was in America and could marry any girl I please. As I grew older, I discovered I couldn't please any of them!
Unknown bachelor
As quoted below by David Fordham. I think Mickey Rooney said the same thing after after seven marriages. To his credit, he's still married to his eighth bride Jan Chamberlain ---

"Just roommates:  Colleges' final frontier: mixed-gender housing," by Peter Schworm, Boston Globe, April 2, 2008 --- Click Here

Now, some colleges are crossing the final threshold, allowing men and women to share rooms. At the urging of student activists, more than 30 campuses across the country have adopted what colleges call gender-neutral rooming assignments, almost half of them within the past two years.

Once limited to such socially liberal bastions as Hampshire College, Wesleyan University, and Oberlin College, mixed-gender housing has edged into the mainstream, although only a small fraction of students have taken advantage of the new policies so far. Clark and Dartmouth universities introduced mixed-gender rooms last fall, and Brown and Brandeis announced plans last month to follow suit.

The University of Pennsylvania, Skidmore and Ithaca colleges, and Oregon State University also allow roommates of different genders. Students at New York, Harvard, and Stanford universities, among many others, are calling for gender-blind dormitory rooms.

. . .

Supporters hail the trend as a key advance for homosexual and transgender students that eliminates a gender divide they see as outdated, particularly for a generation that has grown up with many friends of the opposite sex. Traditional rooming policies, they say, infringe upon students' rights and perpetuate gender segregation.

Continued in article

Dating Students May Be Roommates in Dorms

"Date Your Roommate? Oregon Colleges Allow Couples in Dorm Rooms," by Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Education,

At some Oregon universities, roommates are dating one another.

Actually, they started out dating and then became roommates, thanks to new policies that permit opposite-sex roommates in college dorms, The Oregonian reported.

Lewis and Clark University, Oregon State University, and Portland State University now allow opposite-sex roommates, and Willamette University and Reed College will try out the arrangement this fall, the Portland, Ore., newspaper said.

Colleges across the country, such as Wesleyan University and Haverford College, began experimenting with “gender neutral” dorm rooms several years ago.

Continued in article

April 3, 2008 reply from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

Bob Jensen wrote: "I find it interesting that old men and old women cannot be roommates in nursing homes (unless married) but their great grandchildren have mixed-gender roommates in college. Do you ever think you grew up in the wrong generation?"
(supported with citations about universities adopting the trend) ----

Bob, the Campus Housing Offices which adopt this approach are displaying their naïveté and inexperience, and don't realize the trouble they are courting.

The concept of mixed-gender roommating (emphasis on MATING) overlooks the problems which college students have regarding relationship depth and duration. Living closely with someone, regardless of gender, is generally a new experience for many in today's generation who grew up with their own rooms, in some cases even their own playrooms, own bathrooms, and other personal domains.

Sharing a bedroom, or even a bathroom, with someone, anyone, can be stressful. Add onto this the extra pressure of hormonal influences -- plus the extra dimension of the societal expectations regarding different-gender cohabitation, and I believe you pass the threshold of acceptability in terms of distractions from the educational process. (My wife has in recent months discovered repeated studies which indicate that single-gender educational environments result in superior learning, understanding, comprehension, absorption, and application of knowledge.)

Adding one more distraction within the domain of "personal space" is something my students don't need.

That said, I'm not naive enough to think that hankypanky isn't already there and that major distractions and inter-gender stress aren't occurring. But the issue is one of the "loss of refuge" when the relationship goes sour. The domain of one's dorm room is at least somewhat sacrosanct. Here is a description of the problem which the residence administrator's are overlooking:

Johnnie and Sallie are "a couple" who register for my class together. They hold hands, rub legs together, sit close, and otherwise distract each other (and others, including me) in the classroom. Their relationship goes far beyond what normal roommates of the same gender experience. Okay, fine, such deep relationships are part of college. Fine. The real problem, however, commences when I form the class into groups. Johnnie and Sallie want to be in the same group. I allow self-selection into groups, because I use the actual act of group formation as an educational experience. Johnnie and Sallie end up in a group together. Everything works out great, until Johnnie and Sallie split up. Then all heck breaks loose.

They are in my office screaming (figuratively if not literally) their demand to be put in different groups because they can't work, let alone learn, in an environment containing their now-archnemesis. Because of the closeness of the relationship, the "breakup" is more traumatic than a typical roommmate spat.

Of course, my response is, simply, "no, sorry". The group is formed for the duration of the semester. (Just like in real life if you date someone in your office and break up, one of you is going to have to find other employment if you can't work with each other anymore. Quit. Leave. Or better yet, get over it, and learn to get along with your former partner.)

I spend countless hours every semester counseling former couples of what they can expect in real life.

I believe the residence administrative offices will be handling a significantly-increased load of "requests for roommate changes" compared to the present level. My point is, I don't believe they are eager to spend the time that I do handling the problem, because they don't see their job as whole-person educators the way I see mine. Most of them see their job as "managing housing". I can't imagine they see the increased workload as desirable. I believe they are overlooking something.

(My daughter right now is having trouble with her roommates -- all five of them are girls; just imagine what it would be like of two were girls and three were ex-boyfriends!

Again, I am not against pressure or distractions on my students. The need some of it to prepare them for life. But I am in favor of keeping the level of distraction and pressure to a manageable level. Inter-gender relationships are, in my experience, a HUGE burden which already has many students at the breaking point, and introducing inter-gender roommating (!) will probably be a straw that breaks the camel's back. I think the residence offices will quickly find themselves doing things they don't want to do. I see more broken students unable to cope with the added stress when the relationship goes south and they can't quickly and easily run away to their private space for recuperation.

David Fordham

My mom always told me I was in America and could marry any girl I please. As I grew older, I discovered I couldn't please any of them!
Unknown bachelor

April 4, 2008 reply from Patricia Doherty [pdoherty@BU.EDU]

I think this is another unfortunate consequence of the race for ratings. The schools want to please the students. Immature freshmen come in and "think" they "want" the freedom to have opposite-gender room mates. Some upperclassmen/women would like to room with their chosen partner. Few are really mature enough (I do say few - I'm sure some would handle it well) to deal with the long-range consequences. Haven't they watched any of the results of a messy divorce? Are they really so naive to think "This won't happen to me?" Apparently so. And the school makes another move to keep the ratings high, and buys into a barrel of trouble that I wouldn't want to take on in a million years. The students cannot begin to imagine how nice it is to have a place of your own to escape to, even if it is another room in the house with a door that closes! (And that from someone about to celebrate a 30th anniversary in a couple of weeks :) )


April 4, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Pat,

To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.
Bertrand Russell

Somewhere along the way we lost sight of the common fact that what teenagers and adults with teenage brains want the most is what they can't have and, if perchance they get it, they don't much want it anymore.

When I lived in Florida what my children wanted most were horses. So I bought them each a horse, paid for riding lessons, and kept the horses on the pasture beside our house.

It only took a few weeks until these were dad's horses. Actually I liked having the horses around and did not mind the daily chores that my kids pushed back on me.

Remember how dating was a highlight of our lives in high school and college. Now that they sleep, take showers, and whatever in their dorm rooms what's the incentive to date?

More importantly, does jealousy set in if suite mates decide to play the field a little bit?

Actually David is very perceptive. These young, probably pimply and horny, kids not yet 21 years of age really do not know how confining commitments of living together can become and how colleges just do not want to change room assignments every other week.

One thing for certain: In adult life my kids no longer have any desire for horses.

Bob Jensen

April 4, 2008 reply from Amy Dunbar [Amy.Dunbar@BUSINESS.UCONN.EDU]

Bertrand Russell's views on sex would inform this debate. I was surprised to see he held such views back in the 30s. That man saw human nature very clearly (ah, I'm sure I say that because I agree with the way he saw things).

I really admire Russell.

April 4, 2005 reply from J. S. Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]

Amy, Bob, Patricia,

My first job after a masters degree was at a pulp & paper mill in a remote part of central India, and I had to work mostly in the forests inhabited by a tribe called Gonds/Murias.

They have a unique system for upbringing of children where they are educated through a system called ghotuls (

Ghotuls are like hostels where adults are not allowed, the older kids are also teachers. Both sexes share the same living quarters (with no adult supervision), and there are no sexual inhibitions in the same way we have them. However, emotional attachments are forbidden.

However, it is a strictly monogamous society, and once they get married, adultery/promiscuity/... are strictly forbidden. Divorces are unknown, adultery extremely rare.

This tribe was studied by the well known Oxford educated anthropologist Verrier Elwin ( He was sent to India to convert the tribals into Christianity. The Muria society had such a dramatic impact on him that he immersed himself in the muria society, married a muria woman (later they were divorced, he moved to another part of India (Assam) and married an Assamese woman.

There in the Assam, he worked with the well known German/British anthropologist Christoph von Fuerer-Haimendorf in the study of a tribe named Nagas.

I have watched the ghotuls from outside. It is absolutely fascinating, and we have a lot to learn from them. At least, that is what Verrier Elwin thought; in fact he thought it was a society superior to ours.



Jagdish S. Gangolly,
Associate Professor
Department of Accounting & Law, School of Business
PhD Program in Information Science,
Department of Informatics College of Computing & Information
State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY 12222.

Phone: (518) 442-4949


How close are some of the big time prostitutes to when they can get Medicare and Social Security?
How many degrees do some of them have?
Most importantly is this more lucrative than academe for those with doctoral degrees?
Even more importantly, is a doctoral degree value added in this oldest of professions?

April 10, 2008 message from Professor XXXXX

In light of the recent string on this general subject, you may want to look at the story in today's Washington Post: More Former Call Girls Take Stand."

Jensen Comment
I'm sure we can think of some new acronyms for PhD, DBA, DCS, EED, and what have you, but I'm not going to touch those with a ten foot pole.

"More Former Call Girls Take Stand In Prostitution Trial, Witness With PhD Describes Illicit Activities for Upscale Firm," by Paul Dugan, The Washington Post, April 10, 2008, Page B04 ---

In attempting to prove that former escort-service entrepreneur Deborah Jeane Palfrey was, in reality, an upscale pimp, prosecutors yesterday summoned seven more admitted ex-prostitutes to the witness stand in federal court in Washington -- not one of them as unlikely a call girl as Rhona Reiss, PhD.

"I got to the hotel," Reiss testified, describing one of "more than 100" sexual encounters she had with clients of Palfrey's firm. "He introduced himself and he sat down and took his pants off" and asked her to perform a sex act. "I did."

"How old are you?" Palfrey's attorney inquired.


And how old was she when she took a job with Palfrey as a $250-an-hour escort, indulging the sexual fantasies of male clients in homes and hotel rooms in the Washington area?

"Fifty-six," Reiss said.

She studied occupational therapy as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1960s, received a master's degree in the field from the University of Florida and a doctorate in higher education from the University of North Texas. She used to be director of education for the American Occupational Therapy Association.

"Her numerous career adventures include clinical and academic positions in Tokyo, Chicago, Sydney, Dallas and Washington, D.C.," the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions said in a 2006 news release, announcing Reiss's appointment to the faculty as head of a graduate program.

Not listed among her career adventures was the position she accepted in February 2001 after answering a Washington City Paper ad for Palfrey's now-defunct escort business, Pamela Martin & Associates. In her application letter, Reiss, who now lives in Gaithersburg, touched briefly on her academic bona fides and highlighted her more relevant credentials: "fantastic smile, lovely breasts, very shapely legs."

"She said it was adult entertainment," Reiss told the jury, recalling her job interview with Palfrey. "She asked if I had done that sort of work before. I hadn't."

And so went another day of testimony in Palfrey's racketeering and money-laundering trial in U.S. District Court, another parade of erstwhile call girls, reluctant characters in a legal drama at once sad and comically absurd. Most spoke in monotones, some squirmed, a few dabbed at tears.

They are women conservatively attired for court and hardly resembling the glamour photos they mailed to Palfrey when they were looking for work in 1998, or 2003, or 1995.

Continued in article

In some fields, certainly not accounting, there's a doctoral degree glut.
What is higher education's "academic underworld" amidst the Ph.D. glut?

In the worldwide suckers' market, gamblers are the only people who are slower to learn than young adults with master's degrees. Bright graduate students possess a pair of nonmarketable skills: the ability to write term papers and the ability to take academic exams. They are also economic illiterates and incurably naïve.... Those few Ph.D.'s who receive a full-time position at a university find that they are paid much less than tenured members of the department. They are assigned the lower-division classes, which are large. ... Those untenured faculty members who perform well in megaclasses are kept on until the day of reckoning: the decision to grant them tenure, usually eight years after they go on the payroll. They are usually not rehired unless they have published narrowly focused articles in professional journals. But megaclass professors do not have much time to do the required research. The assistant professor is now 35 years old or older. He has not made the cut. He is now relegated to the academic underworld: the community colleges....
Gary North, "In Academia, Big Brains, Empty Pockets," The New York Times, February 5, 2006 ---

Also see "The Ph.D. Glut Revisited" ---

Malicious Hackers Send Users College's Home Page to Porn Site:  Some users who tried to view Blue Mountain
The incident happened while administrators were switching to a new Web address, Malicious hackers hijacked the old address and set it so that users who had bookmarked the old address, or who found the site through a Google search, got a surprise, according to a report in the East Oregonian.
Chronicle of Higher Education, April 9. 2009 ---

Jensen Comment
The big question we're panting to have answered is whether applications went up or down in this era of mixed-gender housing!

It frequently happens that you want to send or receive email attachments that are just too large to sent via email.
For example, my Christmas letter was a DOC file that contained so many pictures that I just could not send it via email to Kinkos for printing.
What are some of the free alternatives for doing transferring such files between friends or organizations?
What is this neat new thing called SideDrop?

You can read about alternatives for sending large files at

I love the YouSendIt alternative and cannot explain why this valuable service is free ---
It's a bit slower than attaching email, but that's because the files are so large.
For example, I told Jerry Searfoss he could send me the blueprints of his grand new house in Pullman via YouSendIt, and it worked.

YouSendIt just added a service called SideDrop ---
You can watch a video at the above site that explains SideDrop. Even if you don't want to bother with SideDrop, YouSendIt is still a great service.

College Instructor Lecture Notes (unauthorized) and "Study Kits" and old exams are For Sale
The Einstein’s Notes (currently limited to Florida universities) homepage is at

"Does Selling Lecture Notes Violate Professors' Copyrights? A University of Florida professor is suing a company that sells students’ lecture notes because he says the service infringes on his intellectual property rights," by Catherine Rampell, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 5, 2008 ---
 Click Here

Jensen Comment
What strikes me as ironic if the instructor intentionally submits lecture notes and examinations simply as a device to get students to study. The unfortunate part about this is that this act contributes to the owners of the Eistein Notes fraud, but then again textbook prices in recent years are often viewed as frauds committed by oligopoly publishers.

"Does Selling Lecture Notes Violate Professors' Copyrights?" by Catherine Rampell , Chronicle of Higher Education, April 5, 2008 --- Click Here

A University of Florida professor is suing a company that sells students’ lecture notes because he says the service infringes on his intellectual property rights, Wired reports.

The company, Einstein’s Notes, pays students to take notes and create “Study Kits.” The company then sells the kits through its Web site.

A 1996 Florida lawsuit against another note-selling company was rejected by the courts. In the new case, however, the professor has copyrighted his lectures. Click here to see the full complaint



Most lecture notes are supplied buy book vendors anyway. These study guides are always within the students reach for free if they would only read the syllabus.

— Dr. Bill Apr 5, 11:35 PM #

Many students will pay for anything that promises them the “opportunity” to stop attending classes, in addition to the tuition they paid for the opportunity to attend classes in the first place. And because most of the note-takers do nothing more than copy the contents of the slides or overheads, such companies perpetrate one of the biggest rip-offs these students ever buy into during their time in college.

— Tom C. Apr 6, 12:34 AM #

If anyone should profit off of the lectures I put together it should be me. If the company wants notes they should ask me to do it and pay me for my intellectual property.

This is very different from notes produced by the textbook company. Besides I can assure you that those textbook companies hold the copyrights to those notes and would sue is someone began selling them (that was not them).

— GG Apr 6, 09:40 AM #

Copyrighting may be a good first step, but profs may also want to consider selling the notes themselves as part of a class package. Setting the price point is critical, so no secondary market competition can cut into one’s market share. Each semester or year there must be sufficient chage to require the most recent edition, as do the textbooks. Use the kitchen sink theory to your advantage! Put it all on a CD with a glitzy label. Give lots of quizzes on the stuff, thus requiring lots of attendance. You are sitting on a gold mine! Eureka already!

OTOH, how could class notes be sufficient to pass a course without attending, engaging and producing evidence of critical thinkng, either in writing or in discussion? To me, this is the far more burning question.

Greetings from the community college trenches…

— Peggy DeStefano Apr 6, 08:35 PM #

Copyright subsists in the form of words used. If the company paraphrases the notes, then would not copyright be averted, but not other IP rights?

— Dave Postles Apr 7, 05:22 AM #

Who is to say the good students do not annotate and supplement the lectures during their note taking, fill in the gaps of logic and reasoning which the professor glossed over in class. The same has occurred with many databases, where annotation was provided later, in many cases funded by either NSF or even NIH. Many professors, not all of course, just read the book and extract large portions from books and research articles. What is worse, any academics do not acknowledge their sources, which in an ethical sense is plagiarism. When I lecture and prepare lecture notes (which I provide free from the course website, they need to pay for the price of printing them out if they feel they are useful), I give reference, just like I do when I write a research prepare. I am sorry to have to admit it, but many academics lift a lot from sources and do not adequately attribute the work and effort (and copyright) to the REAL authors. To copy from a book onto a overhead or type in to a word document, does not make the work yours!!

Again, if the students annotate, add references, and add and fill in details, which I am sure the good students do, then the work is not the professors simple lecture, but a value added product. It is the same as the GUI of linux distributions. Most professors and lecturers are paid to present the information and now they want to be paid a second time, for doing a bad job. I think we all should provide FREE to all of the students registered in our courses, our ANNOTATED lecture notes, with complete references, sources and a complete bibliography of other sources. With the cost of education skyrocketing, so should the quality and performance. The quality and performance of our computers have gotten almost exponentially better, while the quality of a lot of university lectures appears to have gotten exponentially worse. So do our jobs and educate and train our students so that they can complete with the ever increasing number of Chinese, Indian and Europeans in our graduate schools. And by the way, India and China do not recognize our copyright laws. The Indian and Chinese so-called International editions of our texts make the work of our top academics more available to their students than our own!! With record increases in tuition and less and less financial aide, we need to help our student by providing free top quality annotated lecture notes and not add yet another barrier fro them!!

— Karl Apr 7, 05:41 AM #

If I am THAT good (that the company would sell and the students would buy my lecture notes), then maybe the company would be interested in a book. That’s where the money is.

In other words, simply regard the lecture notes as just so much foreplay…

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at

What is closet indexing in mutual fund investing? Does this sound like a rip off?

We've used this space to draw attention to an under-appreciated problem in financial services: big, diversified mutual funds that behave more like their underlying benchmarks than true instruments of "active management." Click here for an August post that links to a couple other items we've written on this topic.) In the March issue of the Exchange-Traded Funds Report (subscription required), we ran across an intriguing passage in the edited transcript of a roundtable discussion of the ETF marketplaceTo summarize . . . Using ETFs to equitize assets can be a perfectly sensible periodic/short-term tactic. But as ever in this business, we prefer more transparency to less, and thus less subterfuge to more. If managers are using ETFs in their active portfolios, they should freely acknowledge as much, explain their decision-making, and be accountable for their results. Anything less is a breach of managers' fiduciary duty to fund shareholders
"Closet Indexing By Mutual Funds: Worse Than We Thought?" Seeking Alpha, April 9, 2008 --- Click Here

But Keenan's remarks reveal a couple serious -- and potentially related -- problems:

(1) reporting-period manipulation designed to conceal the fact that managers are equitizing assets using ETFs and

(2) the cynical laziness of earning market returns and layering on active-management fees.

Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at

From faculty salary compression to inversion:  Does it pay to quit and start over?

"The Seniority Pay Cut," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 9, 2008 ---

To get a good raise, do you need to quit?

Looking for a job? See all 202 new postings Browse all job listings: Faculty: 3,114 Administrative: 2,307 Executive: 197 FEATURED EMPLOYERS

Related stories When and Why Professors Retire, Nov. 13 New Measures for Gender Inequities, Oct. 26, 2006 Where the Jobs Are, Aug. 3, 2006 Explaining the Gender Gap in Pay, April 13, 2006 Is Your Husband a Worse Problem Than Larry Summers?, Dec. 9, 2005 E-mail Print

That may well be the case at many colleges that are suffering from salary compression and salary inversion — situations where those hired most recently are paid disproportionately more or flat out more than those with more experience. The issue is attracting the attention not only of faculty leaders, but of college administrators, who fear that these salary gaps discourage talented faculty members from staying at an institution.

On Tuesday, at the annual meeting of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions, some college officials and experts shared their takes on the issue, and strategies for eliminating these “anomalies” in what people are paid.

The most striking example was offered by Mark Preble, assistant vice chancellor for human resources at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He did an analysis last year of the salaries of all assistant professors. He found that those hired in 2007 – who hadn’t been there long enough to have received raises — earned more on average than those hired in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 or 2006. The starting salary has gone up by so much, he said, that those not on the market are effectively punished for not moving. Indeed those hired that year were earning about $10,000 more a year than those hired five years before.

“It pays to quit,” he said.

Preble said that when he was preparing his talk, he expected everyone to be shocked by his figures, but that when he chatted with others at the conference, he found that many had noticed the same trend — and that was the impression of many at the session. He said that there are degrees of salary compression across the board, but that it is most prevalent in departments where market demands force higher than normal salaries for professors — fields in the sciences and business, at his institution.

The faculty contract at UMass Boston gives the most leeway on salaries at the point of initial hire — or when someone has an offer from another institution. While there are regular and merit raises for continuing faculty members, they quickly fall behind new hires in departments where the starting salaries are going up at a sharp rate.

Preble discussed several tests that colleges may consider using to determine whether they have a salary compression problem, as well as policies that could prevent one. For example, a college may look at the average salary for a department’s assistant professors, and consider whether it wants to set some sort of maximum for new hires of 105 percent of that average, or to consider salary minimums based on years of experience, such as that someone with four years of experience as an assistant professor shouldn’t be earning less than 95 percent of the average. In doing such calculations, Preble said a college might want to remove the portion of salary based on merit raises, so that only base salary — which theoretically should be more equal — is compared.

In the last two faculty contracts, UMass Boston has set up two processes for dealing with salary compression. The first allowed people who believed their salaries were unfairly low compared to recent hires to apply to a faculty committee, which reviewed their requests and made recommendations to the provost, who eventually awarded 58 faculty members adjustments, ranging from $685 to $7,500. In the new contract, the committee is a joint faculty-administrative committee and it has final say over awards — no appeals are possible. However, unlike the first process, where there was a finite sum of $150,000 to be used, the new committee is authorized to award raises as appropriate. In addition, the new process will involve an across-the-board review of salaries, so people will not be expected to apply for adjustments.

While it will cost money to provide these raises, Preble said that it makes sense financially. “Turnover is very expensive,” he said. “We use to put every bit of new money into hiring new faculty, but now we are looking at retaining faculty, even if it means fewer [new] slots.”

Saranna Thornton, a professor of economics at Hampden-Sydney College and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee on the Economic Status of the Profession, said that she believes colleges underestimate the costs associated with faculty turnover. Many colleges think of the costs of a search in terms of advertising, sending a few professors to an academic conference to interview semifinalists, and bringing a few finalists to campus for interviews. If colleges factored in the time of those involved (based on their salaries), the time and costs associated with setting someone up in a department, and the lost momentum of someone who was doing well leaving, they would add up to much more.

Margaret Merryfield, senior director of academic human resources for the California State University System, said that salary compression was a problem in her system as well. The current faculty contract has created a process to review possible inequities and to award base raises to those found behind disciplinary norms for their faculty rank. She said that just over half of assistant professors will end up receiving such an adjustment, with most of these raises going to those hired prior to the fall of 2005.

The process Cal State now has in place wasn’t easy to set up, Merryfield said. But she argued that it was much better than the system before these issues were discussed, when the way of dealing with salary compression was for deans to periodically give extra money to the “squeaky wheel” — while not necessarily having a way to evaluate complaints about possible inequities.

In her presentation, Thornton of the AAUP noted that there are many other inequities in faculty salaries. For instance, the AAUP has found growing gaps between faculty pay in the humanities and in the sciences and some other fields. She noted that these gaps are bad for morale and raise fundamental questions about fairness as they don’t reflect hours worked or difficulty of work.

But when Merryfield and Preble were asked, they made clear that their plans were focused on inequities within departments, not among them.

Jensen Comment
It should be noted that accounting professors in general are among the highest paid faculty in the university. It may well be that your salary is very fair in the world of academia and that pay scales for newly-minted doctoral students in accounting are outliers simply because there are so few of them (less than a hundred per year) to meet the growth and replacement demands of over 1,000 colleges.

April 9, 2008 reply from Paul Williams [Paul_Williams@NCSU.EDU]


Thank you for this. That I make less than starting salary (now by the cost of a reasonably good car every year), that isn't as relevant as how the place treats you after you get there. There is nothing that can be done quickly at your present locale (assuming it is a state institution like mine) to deal with compression. All it can do is reward you appropriately with the resources it has; if it does that then if you are dissatisfied with the pay, quietly move on. Ed Arrington, a few years ago, gave one of NC State's newly hired accounting profs (who has, alas, quietly moved on) some sound advice. Go to the place where you want to live, because every place that you work will have things about it that will eventually get to you. The soundness of this advice was confirmed by a distinguished finance professor that was at UNC when I was in school there. He moved on and a few years later he visited here and opined that where he had moved on to was the worst place he ever worked, but the best place he ever lived. He's still there.


April 9, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Paul,

It’s long been true that the salary market is somewhat efficient in that geographic regions, where many faculty desperately want to live for certain life styles, do not pay as well as other geographic regions. For example, has any Pacific Northwest university (aside from the Seattle metroplex) ever paid what top universities in the Midwest pay?

Has any university within 30 miles of an ocean ever paid what land-locked universities pay?

There have of course been some changes in recent years. I think universities in Arizona are more competitive than in years past when our offers from them had winter warmth discounting.

Probably the most difficult salary situation can be found in very large metroplex cities like Boston, New York, San Francisco, and LA where what looks like a high salary gets eaten alive with housing costs, commuting costs, private tuition for children, and some of the highest taxes in the nation. Of course there are some very weathy professors in these metroplexes. We usually call them consultants, and one of the advantages of their locale is the significantly higher opportunity to consult. But consulting takes its toll in time and tension. Also these metroplexes typically offer more job opportunities for spouses and significant others.

What's interesting is the way universities will sometimes offer a spouse a job in order to land the other spouse. Lenore Miller helped her husband, Herb, with the extremely successful textbook series years ago called the Finney and Miller series. But Lenore was not an accounting instructor. One time a university made a serious offer for Lenore to join the faculty just to land Herb as well. Of course by then Herb was a multi-millionaire who no longer was influenced by salary offers for himself or his wife.

Incidentally, Herb was visiting at Stanford during my last year in the doctoral program and was the main reason my first full-time accounting faculty job at his home university, Michigan State University. At the time I was looking at low-paying lifestyle universities close to skiing and ranching. Herb and Lenore convinced me that early on an accounting professor should instead choose a university that offers more opportunity for research and professional reputation. At the time, under the tremendous leadership of James Don Edwards, MSU was the vibrant place to be with some of the best doctoral students in the world --- Bill Kenny, Bob May, Jim McKeown, Barry Cushing, and a raft of others whose names are very well known today.

Now that I'm retired I can watch, from my desk, younger folks swoosh down Cannon Mountain. I'm now too old and sensible to swoosh down a mountain, and horses are just too much trouble to care for in our harsh winter climate. So did I make the right choice early on by placing career over lifestyle? I think so, because ultimately I got more reward from my work than my leisure. In fact I discovered that leisure is overrated and boring!

Bob Jensen

April 9, 2006 reply from J. S. Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]


In one way, turnover of faculty is good since it allows new blood to flow into the departments, but in case of accounting, the new blood is often contaminated blood: one dimensional thinking, lack of understanding of the profession, lack of realworld ( working world) experience, lack of loyalty to the department/school, often unwillingness to be good citizens.

However, perpetual motion used to be a Chicago concept, but may be it will spread. With the development of the internet and all the good things that come with it, it is no longer necessary to have a physical presence on campus. My own experience here is that we are slowly becoming a commuter school. If the trend continues, our departments will cease to be a community but just pegs to hang our hats on.

My experience also is that service to the department, the university, and the profession is inversely proportional to the salaries.

To be frank, I think the new PhDs, unless they have substantial public accounting or corporate experience are grossly overpaid because of the BARRIERS TO ENTRY!, thanks to AACSB.

Thye argument that these newly minted PhDs have "alternative opportunities" in the real world outside of business schools is bogus, since most of them have no professional experience. I can conceive many of them having the same "opportunities" as the PhDs from UC Santa Barbara who can occasionally be found flipping hamburgers around Goleta, California (this is probably an overstatement), eventhough they stay back because of the closeness of Goleta to heaven.

The barrier to entry has had disastrous impact on the acccounting academia, the budgets of the departments, and the morale among the "senior" faculty. As Paul had mentioned, back till the accountics folks took over, accounting PhD programs used to be highly diverse with people from all branches of sciences, arts, and engineering. And they became accountants through osmosis, the best way to learn a new field.

I became an accountant because of the work of Ijiri (Management Goals and Accounting for Control"), Baruch Lev's work on "Information Theory and Accounting", and the possibility of application of Marschak and Radner's "Economics Theory of Teams" and Robert Wilson's " Theory of Syndicates", all works that expanded the horizons for accounting eventhough their scope was rather narrow.

Nowadays, on the other hand, PhD programs have become conduits for reverse osmosis, the pressure in excess of osmotic pressure exerted by all the economics and econometrics that they are subjected to at the exclusion of everything else.

The only solution I can think of is to open the gates of accounting academia to non-accounting PhDs and provide them opportunities to expand the horizons of accounting academic research the same way the works suggested above did. Of course we should seek the assistance of the profession to ensure that they are also provided opportunity to gain some real world insights on practice so that their research does not go the way of the accountics the past thirty years.

Jagdish S. Gangolly,
Associate Professor (
Department of Accounting & Law, School of Business
PhD Program in Information Science, Department of Informatics
College of Computing & Information
State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY 12222.
Phone: (518) 442-4949


Bob Jensen's threads on salary issues in academe are at

A Very Critical Article About College Rankings by the Media

"It’s the Student Work, Stupid," by Sherman Dorn, Inside Higher Ed, April 7, 2008 ---

Last week, my dean touted our college’s rise in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of graduate colleges of education. As the anonymous author of Confessions of a Community College Dean explains, even administrators who dislike rankings have to play the game, and in many ways it’s an administrator’s job to play cheerleader whenever possible. But as two associations of colleges and universities gear up support for a Voluntary System of Accountability, it’s time to look more seriously at what goes into ratings systems.

We all know the limits of the U.S. News rankings. My colleagues work hard and deserve praise, but I suspect faculty in Gainesville do, too, where the University of Florida explained its college of education’s drop in the rankings. U.S. News editors rely heavily on grant funding and reputational surveys to list the top 10 or 50 programs in areas they have no substantive knowledge of. That selection is why the University of Florida ranking dropped; the dean recently decided it was a matter of honesty to exclude some grants that came to the college’s lab school instead of the main part of the college. (My university does not have a lab school.) But the U.S. News rankings do not honor such decisions. The editors’ job is to sell magazines, and if that requires one-dimensional reporting, so be it.

In addition to the standard criticisms of U.S. News, I rarely hear my own impression voiced: the editors are lazy in a fundamental way. They rely on existing data provided by the institutions, circulate a few hundred surveys to gauge reputation, and voila! Rankings and sales.

The most important information on doctoral programs is available to academics and reporters alike, if only we would look: dissertations. My institution now requires all doctoral students to submit dissertations electronically, and within a year, they are available to the world. Even before electronic thesis dissemination, dissertations were microfilmed, and the titles, advisors, and other information about each were available from Dissertations Abstracts International. Every few months, my friend Penny Richards compiles a list of dissertations in our field (history of education) and distributes it to an e-mail list for historians of education.

Anyone can take a further step and read the dissertations that doctoral programs produce. With Google Scholar available now, anyone see if the recent graduates from a program published the research after graduating. With the Web, anyone can see where the graduates go afterwards. All it takes is a little time and gumshoe work ... what we used to call reporting.

But reading dissertations is hard work, and probably far more boring than looking at the statistics that go into the U.S. News rankings. But even while some disciplines debate the value and format of dissertations, it is still the best evidence of what doctoral programs claim to produce: graduates who can conduct rigorous scholarship. (I’m not suggesting people interested in evaluating a program spend weeks reading dissertations cover to cover, but the reality is that it doesn’t take too long with a batch of recent dissertations to get a sense of whether a program is producing original thinkers.)

Suppose the evaluation of doctoral programs required reading a sample of dissertations from the program over the past few years, together with follow-up data on where graduates end up and what happens to the research they conducted. That evaluation would be far more valuable than the U.S. News rankings, both to prospective students and also to the public whose taxes are invested in graduate research programs.

I do not expect U.S. News editors to approve any such project, because their job is to sell magazines and not produce any rigorous external evaluation of higher education. But the annual gap between the U.S. News graduate rankings and the reality on the ground should remind us of what such facile rankings ignore.

That omission glares at me from the Voluntary System of Accountability, created by two of the largest higher-ed associations, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In many ways, the VSA project and its compilation of data in a College Portrait comprise a reasonable response to demands for higher-education accountability, until we get to the VSA’s pretense at measuring learning outcomes through one of three standardized measures.

What worries me about the VSA is not just the fact that the VSA oversight board includes no professors who currently teach, nor the fact that NASULGC and AASCU chose three measures that have little research support, nor the fact that their choices funnel millions of dollars into the coffers of three test companies in a year when funding for public colleges and universities is dropping.

My greatest concern is the fact that a standardized test fails to meet the legitimate needs of prospective students and their families to know what a college actually does. When making a choice between two performing-arts programs, a young friend of mine would have found the scores of these tests useless. Instead, she made the decision from observing rehearsals at each college, peeking inside the black box of a college classroom.

Nor do employers want fill-in-the-bubble or essay test scores. The Association of American Colleges and Universities sponsored a survey of employers that documented that employers want to see the real work of students in situations that require the evaluation of messy situations and problem-solving. And I doubt that legislators and other policymakers see test statistics as a legitimate measure of learning in programs as disparate as classics, anthropology, physics, and economics. Except for Charles Miller and a few others — and it is notable that despite the calls for accountability, the Spellings Commission entirely ignored the curriculum — I suspect legislators will be more concerned about graduation rates and addressing student and parent concerns about college debt.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on controversial media rankings of colleges are at

What cities in the U.S. domain have the highest and lowest cost of doing business?
Some of the answers may surprise you like they surprised me.

"KPMG Study: Cities With Lowest Business Costs," SmartPros, April 7, 2008 ---

Low labor, tax and office leasing costs help make San Juan, Puerto Rico the least-costly place to do business among 27 U.S. and affiliated cities/locations with populations exceeding 1.5 million, according to a study by KPMG LLP.

The accounting firm's study measured 27 significant cost components as they apply to 17 industries over a 10-year planning horizon.

Atlanta was the second most cost-competitive location in the large-cities category, followed by Tampa and Dallas Fort-Worth, ranking third and fourth, respectively. Other large locations with business costs below the U.S. average were Baltimore and Houston. The most expensive places to do business in the large cities category were San Jose, Calif., and New York.

The link to the KPMG study report (not free) is

West Virginia University’s nationally accredited 13 ½ month MBA program is ideal for someone interested in pursuing the MBA immediately after completing the bachelor’s degree or for someone looking to change careers and/or enhance job opportunities.
From the WVA MBA Program Website ---
No mention is made of academic credit being available for any work experience. Since the Executive MBA program at WVA is designed for working professionals it would seem that all students in the program would be elgible for work experience credit if any other student got such credit for four courses.

"W. Va. Governor's Daughter Speaks Out on Degree Controversy," by Paul Fain, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 9, 2008 --- Click Here

West Virginia University gave a panel of outside experts the task in January of investigating an explosive academic-transcript controversy, involving discrepancies in an executive M.B.A. claimed by Heather M. Bresch, the governor’s daughter. Ms. Bresch is a former classmate of the university’s president, Michael S. Garrison, and is a top executive with a drug company, Mylan Inc., whose chairman, Milan (Mike) Puskar, is a major donor to the university.

Ms. Bresch spoke publicly about her transcript for the first time this week, in a meeting with the investigative panel and in an interview with the Associated Press. She said she had earned the degree fairly, substituting work-experience credits for four classes. She also denied allegations that she had received favorable treatment because of her political connections.

“I secured my degree in ’98 when my father wasn’t governor, when Mike Puskar hadn’t given millions, and Mike Garrison wasn’t president,” Ms. Bresch said.

The former head of the university’s executive M.B.A. program, Paul Speaker, with whom Ms. Bresch said she reached an agreement on her work credits, also testified before the panel. Mr. Speaker declined to discuss Ms. Bresch’s case in an interview with the AP, citing privacy laws, but said he could not remember any instance where work experience had taken the place of course work.

“If you look through the annals of anything at the university,” Mr. Speaker said, “you will not find a single course for which experience would replace the course.”

Bob Jensen's threads on academic cheating are at

"At Last, Buffett’s Key to Success," by Dan Mitchell, The New York Times, April 5, 2008 --- Click Here

A recent post by LouAnn DiCosmo, an editor at The Motley Fool, meets both criteria (

She writes that Mr. Buffett, the super-investor and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is patient and does his research — like most female investors. Citing statistics (some including their source; some, unfortunately, not), Ms. DiCosmo claims that women trade much less often than men, do a lot more research and tend to base their investment decisions on considerations other than just numbers.

Men tend to be “frazzled, frenetic day traders, with their ties askew, hair on end and eyes bleary,” she writes. “Patience and good decision-making help set women apart here.”

As a result, women’s portfolios on average gain 1.4 percent more than men’s, according to a study cited by Ms. DiCosmo. Single women’s portfolios do 2.3 percent better than single men’s. The study, “Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence and Common Stock Investment,” was published in 2001 by Brad M. Barber, a finance professor at the University of California, Davis, and Terrance Odean, now a professor of banking and finance at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley (

Just like Mr. Buffett, women “typically look beyond the shiniest, newest bio-techno-gadget and focus instead on retailers meeting their needs, on products that they can’t live without, and on consumer goods they buy in their day-to-day lives,” she writes.

NOWHERE NAMES Trying to think of a name for your new business? Avoid descriptors that evoke places, like “World,” “Land,” “Village” and “House,” advises Seth Godin, an author and marketing consultant.

Names like “Jewelry Central” or “Party Land” are “meaningless” and “add absolutely no value to your story,” he writes on his blog (

Worse, such “generic” names can lead to lots of costly headaches because “if you start to succeed a little bit, you suddenly want to protect your lame name.”

“So you hire a lawyer and start to harass people for using the English language,” he writes. “So Computer Land sued Business Land (or maybe it was the other way around) and lost.”

After Mr. Godin posted his item, though, readers offered several successful counterexamples, including Pizza Hut, the International House of Pancakes and Central Market. But he stuck to his advice. “I’m going to argue that in each case, the name slowed down something else that was truly powerful,” he writes.

ARISTOCRATS MOVE IN What happens to a neighborhood after it has been gentrified? Increasingly, such districts are becoming “aristocratized,” according to The Onion, a parody newspaper (

Citing a (fake) report by the Brookings Institution, The Onion reported this week that a “recent influx of exceedingly affluent, powder-wigged aristocrats into the nation’s gentrified urban areas is pushing out young white professionals, some of whom have lived in these neighborhoods for as many as seven years.”

One example was the Wicker Park neighborhood in Chicago, which was (in real life) transformed in the ’90s from a working-class Latino neighborhood filled with bodegas and ethnic bakeries into a gentrified, mostly white community with a Starbucks.

Continued in article

Securitization entails lending with collateral that, in the Subprime Crisis, was highly (and often fraudulently) overstated in value to outside investors in that collateralized debt. What can be done to save securitization in capital markets?

"Coming Soon ... Securitization with a New, Improved (and Perhaps Safer) Face,   Knowledge@Wharton, April 2, 2008 ---;jsessionid=a83051431af9532a7261?articleid=1933

For generations, the strength of the U.S. housing market was due, in part, to securitization of mortgages with guarantees from the government-sponsored companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Following the savings and loan debacle of the late 1980s, securitization -- which has been defined as "pooling and repackaging of cash-flow producing financial assets into securities that are then sold to investors" -- helped bring capital back to battered real estate markets.

Today, securitization of subprime real estate loans is blamed for the global liquidity crisis, but Wharton faculty say securitization itself is not at fault. Poor underwriting and other weaknesses in the market for mortgage-backed securities led to the current problems. Securitization, they say, will remain an important part of the way real estate is funded, although it is likely to undergo significant change.

"Securitization, in the long run, is a good thing," says Wharton finance professor Franklin Allen. "We didn't have much experience with falling real estate prices in recent years. The mechanisms weren't designed for that." He explains that economists were concerned about the incentives and accounting that shaped the private mortgage securitization market in recent years, but as long as real estate prices kept rising, the weaknesses in the system did not become clear. Now, after credit markets seized up and prices have declined sharply, those problems have been exposed.

Allen believes financial markets will get back into the business of securitizing mortgage debt, but only after making some major changes. One new feature of future securitization deals, he says, could be a requirement that loan originators hold at least part of the loans they write on their books. Before the current crisis, loans were bundled into complex tranches that were passed through the financial system and onto buyers with little ability to assess the real value of the individual assets.

"The way the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and other vehicles are structured will change. They are too complicated," says Allen. "I'm sure the industry will figure out how to do it. There will be a lot of industry-generated reform and the industry will prosper. This is not, in my view, something that should be regulated."

Privatizing Securitization

According to Wharton finance professor Richard J. Herring, for decades, mortgage securitization was backed by government guarantees through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it worked well. Of course, these agencies were regulated and bound by less-risky underwriting standards than those that ultimately prevailed in the subprime market which was also, potentially, more profitable. Indeed, default rates were so low in the mortgage-based securities market that banks and other private financial institutions were eager to take a piece of the residential business.

At first, the transition to private securitization worked, because investors were willing to rely on three substitutes for the government guarantees. These included ratings agencies, new business models and monoline insurance designed to guarantee specialized mortgage-backed bonds. "Positive experience with private securitization led to an alphabet soup of innovations that sliced and diced the cash flows from pools of mortgages in increasingly complex ways," says Herring.

Now, the subprime crisis has undermined confidence in all three pillars of private securitization. Ratings proved unreliable as even highly rated tranches experienced sudden, multiple-notch downgrades that were unknown in corporate bonds. Models developed by the most sophisticated firms selling mortgage-backed securities, including Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and UBS, failed. Monoline insurers, it turned out, were not adequately capitalized.

"There has been a highly rational flight to simplicity," says Herring. Over time, he believes, the real estate securitization market will reemerge as investors regain confidence in the ratings agencies, new models evolve, and monoline insurers are able to increase their capital. "But I think that it will be a long time before the market will be willing to accept the complex, opaque structures that failed," continues Herring. He adds that recovery will be delayed until investors are confident that the fall in house prices has reached the bottom.

Wharton real estate professor Susan M. Wachter points out that many recent -- and historic -- international financial problems originated in real estate. The nature of real estate finance and incentive structures is more to blame than securitization this time around. "The most recent crisis is coming through the securitization market, but this isn't the only real estate crisis," Wachter notes, adding that the fundamental problem in real estate finance is that there is no way to bet against the industry. Real estate is essentially priced by optimists, and rising prices themselves justify even higher values as assets are marked to market, creating new incentives for investors to overpay.

Wachter points to real estate investment trusts (REITS), publicly traded bundles of real estate assets, as an example of how securitization can help provide liquidity, but also a chance for short-sellers to correct against overly optimistic pricing. Research indicates that REIT prices may not have increased as much as other sectors of real estate finance because the industry has at least 200 analysts looking at the underlying assets in each REIT with the ability to point out faulty pricing to investors. "REITS have performed fluidly relative to the overall market, and that is a good thing," says Wachter.

Fee-driven Lending

Another problem was that much of the subprime lending was fee-driven, giving banks incentives to write loans to earn the fees because they could then pass the risky assets along to securitized bondholders. And even bank shareholders had no way to limit their real estate exposure because banks invest in various kinds of economic activity and not just in real estate. Biased pricing and bubbles also arise because the supply of real estate is not elastic. By the time the market recognizes supply has outstripped demand, construction has already begun on many more projects that will continue to be built out; this tends to exacerbate oversupply and create downward pressure on prices for years.

In a research paper titled, "Incentives for Mortgage Lending in Asia," Wachter and her co-authors write: "With [the] forbearance of regulatory authorities and the intervention of governments, banks may be bailed out, mitigating the consequences for shareholders. Nonetheless, the fundamental factor which explains why episodes of bank under-pricing of risk are likely to occur is the inability of banking shareholders to identify these episodes promptly and incentivize correct pricing."

Wharton real estate professor Joseph Gyourko notes that significant differences exist in the performance of commercial and residential real estate securities. "Securitized commercial property debt will come back once the market calms down," he says, adding that there has been very little default in commercial real estate finance. "You'll be able to pool mortgages and securitize them, but almost certainly won't be able to leverage them as much as you did in the past."

The residential side, where there is significant default, is more problematic. Gyourko believes the residential market will go back to what it was in the mid-1990s and most borrowers will have to put down at least 10% of the sales price. "We will get rid of the exotic, highly leveraged loans," he says. "That will lead to lower homeownership, but it should. We put a lot of people into homeownership that we shouldn't have."

Wharton emeritus finance professor Jack Guttentag, who runs a web site called, says the short-term future for residential real estate is "bleak."

"Secured bondholders have been badly burned. They discovered to their dismay that all kinds of problems are connected to mortgage-backed securities, which they hadn't anticipated." Guttentag also points to the failure of ratings agencies, which are already being revamped. The methodologies used to determine ratings were flawed, he says. "They used historic performance over a period that simply wasn't representative."

"CDOs are Doomed"

In the future, ratings agencies will need to operate on the assumption that a security rated AAA should be able to withstand a shock as great as the current crisis.

"That will mean that under the best of circumstances, it will be harder to get a triple-A rating, which will reduce the profitability of securities," Guttentag says. Some forms of securities will die. CDOs are doomed, he adds, because the market has seen they are extremely difficult to value. "In the short term, the prospects are dismal. The market will recover, but I don't think we'll ever see CDOs again and the standards will be tougher, so the comeback will be gradual."

Gyourko notes that the crisis is playing out in a presidential election year, complicating the response. "I think this is the worst time to have this happen. It's never a good time, but in an election year, you're more likely to get a bad policy response," he says. According to Guttentag, while Republican presidential candidate John McCain is taking a laissez-faire stance, the Democratic presidential candidates have focused on using the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to refinance loans that are in default. The idea is similar to what happened during the Great Depression of the 1930s with another agency called the Home Owners' Loan Corp. which was created specifically for that purpose.

The problem, says Guttentag, is that FHA is not designed as a bailout agency. "The FHA's core mission is predicated on it being a solvent operation, actuarially sound, charging an insurance premium large enough only to cover losses. How they would reconcile that is not clear."

Guttentag says attempts may be made to create a separate bailout agency within the FHA with different accountability. "But the devil is in the details," he warns, "and the details have to do with exactly who is going to be helped, what the requirements are, what the nature of the assistance is going to be, and myriad other factors that have to be worked out." The Bush administration has taken some steps to ease the crisis, including encouraging lenders to modify contracts to avoid foreclosure. A strong case can be made for these measures, Guttentag adds. "The cost of foreclosure is often greater than the cost of modifying the contract and keeping the borrower in the house." One downside is that once some loans are modified for those truly on the brink of foreclosure, other borrowers who could somehow manage to avoid foreclosure may demand the same modifications, shortchanging investors.

In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Wachter laid out a proposal developed with the Center for American Progress to resolve the current crisis. Under the so-called SAFE loan plan, the U.S. treasury and the Federal Reserve would run auctions, in which FHA originators, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their servicers, would purchase mortgages from current investors at a discount determined at the auction.

Investors would take a reduction in asset value and yield in exchange for liquidity and certainty and the auction process would price pools and bring transparency back to the market. The FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac could then arrange for restructuring of loans.

Meanwhile, Allen notes the Federal Reserve has taken some dramatic steps with interest rate policy to resolve the current economic crisis, but that could lead to tension with Europe and Japan over currency valuations. As the dollar continues to fall, U.S. companies are increasingly more competitive overseas. "The Fed cut the rate at the beginning, and that was fine, but now things are getting way out of line," he says.

Furthermore, it is not clear that cutting rates is going to solve the basic problem. As rates continues to drop, foreigners may begin withdrawing their money from dollar-denominated investments, driving rates up. "What the Fed is doing is unprecedented," says Allen. "It is laudable that it is trying to stop a recession, but how many risks should you take to do that? We're now moving into an area where the Fed is probably taking too many risks. If inflation picks up and long-term rates go up, we'll be in a situation where we have to raise short-term rates as we go into recession, which is not a happy thing to."

Vulture Capital

The private sector has begun to show signs of willingness to get back into the fray. A number of vulture funds have begun to form to take advantage of distressed real estate prices. BlackRock and Highfields Capital Management have announced they will raise $2 billion to buy delinquent residential mortgages. The companies have hired Sanford Kurland, the former president of Countrywide Financial, to run the new venture called Private National Mortgage Acceptance, or PennyMac. "Many distressed funds will come in to discover prices," says Gyourko.

Wharton real estate professor Peter Linneman offers an intriguing prescription to bring prices down to the point where the industry can start to rebuild. He suggests that the government tell banks that if they want to maintain their federal insurance, they should fire their CEO by the end of the day, and the government will pay the CEO $10 million in severance. Ousting the former CEOs gives the new bank CEOs an incentive to write down all the bad assets immediately, so that any improvement will make them look good going forward. That would speed the painful process of gradual price declines.

"There's plenty of money out there waiting for these assets to be written down to bargain prices," says Linneman. In another quarter or two, the lenders would have new cash and be ready to lend again. Meanwhile, he says, the government should tell bankers it will keep interest rates down but raise them after the end of the year. "That says, 'Get your house in order in the next nine months because the subsidy ends at the end of the year.'" Linneman figures that 1,000 CEOs are accountable for about 80% of the current lending mess. If the government were to spend $10 billion to restore liquidity to the market in nine months with only 1,000 people losing their jobs, it would be the best investment it could make to restore the economy. "I'm only half-kidding," he quips.

Linneman also argues that concerns about moral hazard -- or the tendency to take greater risks because of the presence of a safety net -- because of a bailout are not valid. Those concerns, he says, already exist and have been in place since the U.S. government agreed to insure bank deposits. "The minute you say to somebody, 'No matter what you do I'll give your people their money back,' you've created moral hazard," he says. "Now it's only a matter of how often and how much they will have to spend to settle up. If you go through our history, every eight years to 15 years we have had an episode."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting for collateralized debt obligations are at

Good News:  You and your students can now access The Wall Street Journal (electronic version) for free
Bad News:  It's a bit complicated relative to other newspapers like The New York Times

From the Financial Rounds Blog on April 5, 2008 ---

Get The Wall Street Journal Online For Free

Either on the blog or in class, I refer to articles in the Wall Street Journal a lot. Unfortunately, the person I'm talking to often doesn't have a subscription. Fear no more - it turns out there's a way to get all the content on the WSJ Online for free. Here's how it works: If you click on a link to the WSJ's "protected" content through a non"portal" site, you get sent to a limited version of the full article. To get the whole thing, you have to log in.

But if you click on a link to that same article in Google News or Digg, you can access the full story for free. Here's how to use this approach:

  • Many (not all, but many) of the articles are available through Google News. If you know the title of the article, go there and search for it. If it's available, you'll get the full article. Unfortunately, not all articles are available through this avenue.
  • If you're a FireFox user, there's another way. First, install the add-on refspoof. Then, when going to the WSJ online, use  as the spoofed address. This makes it look to the WSJ site like you're coming from Digg. I've downloaded it, and it's easy to use.
  • If you're an Internet Explorer user, QuickSpoof and Spooph provide the same spoofing functionality.

Update on the 10% Rule in Texas for University Admissions

"Affirmative Action Challenged Anew," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 8, 2008 ---

The lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday on behalf of a white high school senior, Abigail Noel Fisher, who was rejected from UT Austin. Like other challenges to affirmative action, the suit charges that Fisher would have otherwise been admitted — but for affirmative action as practiced by the university. Where the argument differs is that it is based on a portion of the 2003 Supreme Court decision, Grutter v. Bollinger, that upheld the right of the University of Michigan’s law school to consider race in admissions decisions. The decision noted the obligation of public universities to consider race-neutral alternatives to the explicit consideration of race and ethnicity. That obligation is typical of court decisions upholding affirmative action, and most colleges have argued that race neutral measures alone — such as affirmative action based on class, for example — would not produce a diverse class of students.

This is where things could get tricky for the University of Texas, the plaintiffs hope, because they are pointing to numerous statements from university officials praising the 10 percent plan for helping to admit classes of students with as much or more diversity than the university had before a ban on affirmative action. For example, this statement from the university — cited in the court filings — says that “the law is helping us to create a more representative student body and enroll students who perform well academically.”

The Project on Fair Representation, which is handling the suit against the university, is not attacking the legality of affirmative action or of the 10 percent law, said Edward Blum, who is involved in the case and has worked for several efforts against affirmative action. “The court in Grutter very distinctly said that you’ve got to try race-neutral means before you use affirmative action, and the University of Texas is not,” he said. “One of the results of this lawsuit may be that other colleges and universities may be put on notice that they must use race-neutral means.”

One irony of the suit is that the University of Texas has been pushing hard since 2003 to have the state repeal the 10 percent law. At the time the law was adopted, a federal appeals court decision banning affirmative action was in place in Texas. But when the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action’s legality, the university resumed consideration of race. University officials have said that they now have enough tools available to assure a diverse class that they don’t need the top 10 percent law and fear it deprives them of flexibility. Last year, it looked like the Texas Legislature was poised to repeal the law, but at the last minute, the repeal effort failed — with many advocates for minority students saying that the 10 percent plan was still needed.

Continued in article

Also see "Lawsuit Accuses U. of Texas of Illegally Reintroducing Race-Based Admissions," by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 8, 2008

You can read more about the Texas 10% Law at

"Next Chapter for E-Books," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, April 9, 2008 ---

That great new book is timed for release this summer, and you’d love to have it on your syllabus for the fall semester. But like many a high-demand scholarly book, the one you have your eye on is being released only in hardcover. If you’re willing to spring for (and have your students pay) the full hardcover price, you can choose to buy now or, in some cases, make an electronic version of the book through a service like NetLibrary.

More likely, though, you’re going to decide to wait the year or more until the paperback edition comes out, bringing the price down into a reasonable range for students.

The State University of New York Press hopes its new “Direct Text” program provides another alternative for the college faculty member and her students. Under the program, which was announced Tuesday, the press will simultaneously make available, for $20, electronic copies of front-list books that are released only in hardcover. Professors, students or others have several options: They can download or print copies of the book, or they can gain online access to it for 180 days. About 20 such titles are available now, and the press expects 100-plus books to be available in this format each year, many in its core fields of philosophy, political science and Asian studies.

“In the past, a professor may not or probably would not have been able to assign that book until it came out in paperback,” said Dan Flynn, marketing director for SUNY Press, adding that oftentimes, by then, the content of some scholarly books has lost currency. “This approach takes those books, which are important as a teaching tool for their students, and makes it an affordable purchase for them.”

Flynn said SUNY believed it to be the first press making hardcover-only, front-list titles available simultaneously in a lower-cost electronic form. Alex Gendler, founder and president of Publishers Row, the company whose software undergirds the Direct Text program, said that while Hebrew University’s Magnus Press was using a similar technology, he too believed SUNY was the first American press to take such an approach.

Flynn and Gendler noted that many presses want to keep publishing hardcover books so that they can be sold to libraries — an important source of income — but need to find ways of making the titles affordable to students for use in courses.

SUNY Press’s latest effort, Flynn said, shows that the press is “continuing to adjust to the new paradigm of publishing. Really what this is about, first and foremost, is giving the purchaser of the book what they want in an affordable way. We’re trying to make it available, make it affordable, and make it accessible.”

By mid-day Tuesday, within hours of launching the new program, the press had its first sale: David Janssens’s Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophesy and Politics in Leo Strauss’s Early Thought.

Jensen Comment
I viewed an Excel spreadsheet of the current listings in SUNY's DirectText program. They're pretty much low volume books where the publisher is probably more thankful for any added revenues from the book vis-a-vis mainline textbooks like we see in accounting, finance, and business courses. There might be some reading supplements in a few courses such as business ethics. Fortunately our major textbook publishers are increasingly offering electronic versions themselves. However, the price is much higher than $20 per password. 

Students that can afford it may well want to order a package deal of both the hard copy and the electronic versions. The reason is that hardcopy is preferred for reading and scanning (even by me) and that electronic versions are better for word searches, bookmarks, and hot links that take you to amazing Websites (like mine, ha ha). Thus far, however, I find that basic textbook authors in accounting don't provide much evidence that they are knowledgeable Web surfers.

At a minimum financial accounting and AIS textbooks should provide links such as the following links:

Bob Jensen's threads on the advantages and limitations of eBooks are at

Now for College Males Seeking an Unknown Roommate
How to assess the beauty of a woman's face

"Grad Student Creates a Hot-or-Not Bot:  An Israeli computer-science grad student has designed a program that judges how attractive women are," by Catherine Rampell, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 2008 ---

According to Haaretz, the program identifies basic facial features that are considered beautiful. For his master’s thesis at Tel Aviv University, Amit Kagian had human participants rate the beauty of photographed faces. He then processed the photos and mathematically mapped the faces by computer, coming up with 98 numbers that represent the geometric shape of the face, hair color, smoothness of skin, facial symmetry, and other characteristics. The computer then uses these dimensions to predict how human subjects would rate other female faces.

The study only covered female faces because “there is a greater variety of positions regarding male beauty,” Haaretz said.

Also see

Bob Jensen's threads on Visualization of Multivariate Data (including faces) --- 

Bob Jensen's threads on mixed gender roommates in college are at

What new technology reads emotions in faces?

A demonstration version of the face detection and analysis software package is available for download at: 

"Happy, sad, angry or astonished?" PhysOrg, July 3, 2007 ---

An advertisement for a new perfume is hanging in the departure lounge of an airport. Thousands of people walk past it every day. Some stop and stare in astonishment, others walk by, clearly amused. And then there are those who seem puzzled when they look at the poster.

With the help of a small video camera, the system automatically localizes the faces of everyone who walks past the advertisement. And nothing escapes its watchful eye: Does the passerby look happy, surprised, sad or even angry?

The system for rapid facial analysis is being developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen. Highly complex algorithms immediately localize human faces in the image, differentiate between men and women and analyze their expressions.

“The special feature of our facial analysis software is that it operates in real time,” says Dr. Christian Küblbeck, project manager at the IIS. “What’s more, it is able to localize and analyze a large number of faces simultaneously.” The most important facial characteristics used by the system are the contours of the face, the eyes, the eyebrows and the nose. First of all, the system has to go through a training phase in which it is presented with huge quantities of data containing images of faces. In normal operation, the computer compares 30,000 facial characteristics with the information that it has previously learned.

“On a standard PC, the calculations are carried out so quickly that mood changes can be tracked live,” explains Küblbeck. However, we do not need to worry about an invasion of our privacy, as the software analyzes the data on a purely statistical basis.

The software package is not only of interest to advertising psychologists; there are numerous potential applications for the system. It can be used, for example, to test the user-friendliness of computer software programs. The system monitors the facial expressions of the user in order to determine which aspects of the program arouse a particularly strong reaction. Alternatively, it can assess the reactions of the users of learning software, in order to establish the extent to which they are put under stress or challenged by the task they are performing. The system could also be used to check the levels of concentration of car drivers.

A demonstration version of the face detection and analysis software package is available for download at: 

"The Idea Factory That Spawned the Internet Turns 50," by Stephen Barr, The Washington Post, April 7, 2008, Page D01 --- Click Here

The best program managers are "freewheeling zealots" with big ideas. The staff has been called "100 geniuses connected by a travel agent." And the boss describes his agency as a home for "radical innovation."

It's DARPA -- the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a dinner for 1,700 alumni, friends and partners Thursday night in Washington.

From its beginning, the Defense Department agency has looked worldwide for fundamental scientific and technology discoveries ready for conversion into a blockbuster asset for the military.

"DARPA will take a chance on an idea with no data. We'll put up the money to go get the data and see if the idea holds," said Anthony J. Tether, the agency director.

The Internet is often falsely thought of as the equivalent of the World Wide Web. Actually the Internet commenced over 20 years before the World Wide Web was conceived in 1989---

Europe's 21st Century Tower of Babel
"EU Allows Mobile Phones on Airplanes," by Constant Brand, The Washington Post, April 7, 2008 --- Click Here
Also see

"Favorite Education Blogs of 2008," by Jay Mathews, The Washington Post, April 7, 2008 --- Click Here

Early last year, as an experiment, I published a list of what I and commentator Walt Gardner considered our favorite education blogs. Neither Gardner nor I had much experience with this most modern form of expression. We are WAY older than the Web surfing generation. But the list proved popular with readers, and I promised in that column to make this an annual event.

Bernstein: The name is obviously a takeoff on the foregoing. The author of this one occasionally posts elsewhere as well. This site often provides some incisive and clear explanations of the key aspects of educational policy.

Mathews: I agree, but have a bias here, too. This is an Education Week blog, and I am on the board of trustees of the nonprofit that publishes Ed Week.

My promise was actually more specific: "Next year, through bribery or trickery, I hope to persuade Ken Bernstein, teacher and blogger par excellence, to select his favorite blogs and then let me dump on his choices, or something like that." As I learned long ago, begging works even better than bribery or trickery, and Bernstein succumbed. Below are his choices, with some comments from me, and a few of my favorites.

They are in no particular order of quality or interest. Choosing blogs is a personal matter. Tastes differ widely and often are not in sync with personal views on how schools should be improved. I agree with all of Bernstein's choices, even though we disagree on many of the big issues.

Bernstein is a splendid classroom teacher and a fine writer, with a gift for making astute connections between ill-considered policies and what actually happens to kids in school. He is a social studies teacher at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George's County and has been certified by the prestigious National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He is also a book reviewer and peer reviewer for professional publications and ran panels on education at YearlyKos conventions. He blogs on education, among other topics, at too many sites to list. He describes his choices here as a few blogs he thinks "are worthwhile to visit."


· Bridging Differences.

Bernstein: Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch in the past have had their differences on educational issues. They both serve at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University, and this shared blog is as valuable as anything on the Web for the insights the two offer, and for the quality of their dialog.

Mathews: I have a personal bias about this blog. I know Meier and Ravitch well, consider them the best writers among education pundits today and frequently bounce ideas off them.


· Eduwonk.

Bernstein: I often disagree with Andrew J. Rotherham, but his has been an influential voice on education policy for some years, and even now, along with all else he does, he serves on the Virginia Board of Education.

Mathews: I often agree with Rotherham, and my editors sometimes complain that I quote him too much. But the guy is only 37 and is going to be an important influence on public school policy for the rest of my life and long after.


· Edwize.

Bernstein: The site is maintained by the United Federation of Teachers, the New York affiliate of American Federation of Teachers. They have a number of authors, many active in New York schools, but they occasionally have posts from others. Full disclosure: I have been invited to cross-post things I have written elsewhere.

Mathews: A nice mix of both comment on policy and inside-the-classroom stuff from teachers.


· Education Policy Blog.

Bernstein: The site describes itself as "a multiblog about the ways that educational foundations can inform educational policy and practice! The blog will be written by a group of people who are interested in the state of education today, and who bring to this interest a set of perspectives and tools developed in the disciplines known as the 'foundations' of education: philosophy, history, curriculum theory, sociology, economics and psychology." Most of the participants are university professors. I am a participant from time to time in this blog.



Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on blogs are at

"Distance Ed Continues Rapid Growth at Community Colleges," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, April 7, 2008 ---

Community colleges reported an 18 percent increase in distance education enrollments in a 2007 survey released this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges, in Philadelphia.

The survey on community colleges and distance education is an annual project of the Instructional Technology Council, an affiliate of the AACC. The survey is based on the responses of 154 community colleges, selected to provide a representational sample of all community colleges. Last year’s survey found community colleges reporting an increase in distance education enrollments of 15 percent.

This year’s survey suggests that distance education has probably not peaked at community colleges. First there is evidence that the colleges aren’t just offering a few courses online, but entire programs. Sixty-four percent of institutions reported offering at least one online degree — defined as one where at least 70 percent of the courses may be completed online. Second, colleges reported that they aren’t yet meeting demand. Seventy percent indicated that student demand exceeds their online offerings.

The top challenge reported by colleges in terms of dealing with students in distance education was that they do not fill out course evaluations. In previous surveys, this has not been higher than the fifth greatest challenge. This year’s survey saw a five percentage point increase — to 45 percent — in the share of colleges reporting that they charge an extra fee for distance education courses.

Training professors has been a top issue for institutions offering distance education. Of those in the survey of community colleges, 71 percent required participation (up from 67 percent a year ago and 57 percent the year before). Of those requiring training, 60 percent require more than eight hours.

Several of the written responses some colleges submitted suggested frustration with professors. One such comment (included anonymously in the report) said: “Vocal conservative faculty members with little computer experience can stymie efforts to change when expressing a conviction that student learning outcomes can only be achieved in a face-to-face classroom — even though they have no idea what can be accomplished in a well-designed distance education course.” Another response said that: “Our biggest challenge is getting faculty to participate in our training sessions. We understand their time is limited, but we need to be able to show them the new tools available....”

In last year’s survey, 84 percent of institutions said that they were customers of either Blackboard or WebCT (now a part of Blackboard), but 31 percent reported that they were considering a shift in course management platforms. This year’s survey suggests that some of them did so. The percentage of colleges reporting that they use Blackboard or WebCT fell to 77 percent. Moodle showed the largest gains in the market — increasing from 4 to 10 percent of the market — while Angel and Desire2Learn also showed gains.

The survey also provides an update on the status of many technology services for students, showing steady increases in the percentage of community colleges with various technologies and programs.

Status of Services for Online Students at Community Colleges

Service Currently Offer Offered a Year Ago
Campus testing center for distance students 73% 69%
Distance ed specific faculty training 96% 92%
Online admissions 84% 77%
Online counseling / advising 51% 43%
Online library services 96% 96%
Online plagiarism evaluation 54% 48%
Online registration 89% 87%
Online student orientation for distance classes 75% 66%
Online textbook sales 72% 66%

Rate of Growth in Online Enrollments ---

Bob Jensen's links to online training and education programs are at

What action is being taken to end the "One and Done" phenomenon in college basketball?

The National Basketball Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association are planning an announcement today. While there is no official word on what will be said, both The Raleigh News and Observer and are reporting speculation of a new deal with would require more basketball players to stay in college for at least two years before leaving for the NBA. Such a rule would end the phenomenon of the “one and done” stars who comply with current regulations by going to college only for a single year before leaving to play professional basketball.
Inside Higher Ed, April 7, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
This was in large measure prompted by data showing that less than half the varsity basketball players in Division 1 universities graduate from college. For very young players with superstar talent, however, it will still be possible to enter the NBA without any college.

How can you back up files to other computers and storage devices, including remotely located equipment?

"SugarSync Offers The Best Method Yet For Replicating Files," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2008; Page B1 ---

It's a real problem keeping all the files you need available and up-to-date on multiple computers in multiple locations, whether they are key business documents or just favorite photos or songs. Adding to the problem is the increasingly common use of smart phones as little laptops, and the growing mixed use of Windows machines and Apple Macintoshes, which use different programs.

Now, there's a new service called SugarSync that keeps your files replicated and synchronized across all your computers, whether they are Windows PCs or Macs. It even offers limited file synchronization on certain smart phones. The service is from a Silicon Valley company called Sharpcast and is available at

Not only does SugarSync place the latest version of every file you designate for syncing on all your chosen computers, but it also creates an archive of these files on a special, password-protected Web page. That way, you can access the latest version of any file even when you are at a public or borrowed computer that lacks the SugarSync software.

I have been testing SugarSync on five different computers -- three Windows PCs and two Macs -- as well as on a Treo smart phone. I tried syncing everything from Excel spreadsheets to Word documents, from photos to songs to PDF documents.

My verdict: While SugarSync isn't free and has a few rough edges, it is by far the best solution I have tested to replicating and synchronizing your files across multiple computers. It really works.

Every time you change a file -- say, by editing a Microsoft Word document or rotating a photo -- the changes are replicated within seconds on every computer to which it has been synced and in the Web archive as well, as long as the computers are connected to the Internet.

For example, I set up SugarSync to synchronize a folder containing some Word documents. Then, I opened one of the documents on a Dell and added a sentence to it. A minute later, I opened the same file on a Mac, which was also connected to my SugarSync network. The file already had been updated on the Mac to include the change I had made on the Dell.

While SugarSync is primarily about file replication across computers, it also helps solve another nagging problem: backups. Because the files you care about most are now replicated on multiple machines in multiple places, and are stored as well in a Web archive, they are also backed up. So if one of your machines dies, you don't lose your files. And, if you find yourself in need of a file that doesn't exist on the computer in front of you, it can be downloaded.

SugarSync works by uploading your synchronized files to its servers, in encrypted form, and then sending them down to your computers when they change. There is a 45-day free trial that gives you 10 gigabytes of file storage. After that, you can keep the 10 gigabytes for $25 a year. There are five other storage plans, ranging from $50 a year for 30 gigabytes to $250 a year for 250 gigabytes.

The software that makes it all possible, called SugarSync Manager, is free and comes in Windows and Mac versions, as well as versions for Windows Mobile phones and certain BlackBerry models. An iPhone version is in the works, but for now, you can scan your online archive using a special SugarSync page available through the iPhone's Web browser.

You install the manager software on any computer you wish to be part of the synchronized network. You can select different folders on different computers for syncing. All get uploaded to the Web archive, where they can be accessed at will.

You can choose which folders you wish to replicate fully on each machine. For instance, you might want your main documents folder to be replicated on every hard disk, available even when you're offline. But, with a folder of lesser importance, you might be content to just fetch a file when you need it from the Web archive.

SugarSync creates two special folders. One, called Magic Briefcase, is always replicated on every machine's hard disk, so you can quickly add a file to it even if you didn't select the file's original folder for synchronization. The other, called Web Archive, retains files in their original versions, never updating or changing them.

So, what are the rough edges I spoke about?

Well, the Mac version of SugarSync manager is still in beta, crashes occasionally and has various bugs. A final Mac version is promised later this spring. The cellphone versions can only view photos and whatever documents the phones allow, but changes you make on the phones in documents other than photos aren't synced back to the computers or to the Web site.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
I use for Memeo similar backup services an am quite happy with it ---
When I change some of my files they are automatically updated on another laptop and on an external hard drive. For $59 Memeo is a terrific buy.

You can read more about total back up and archiving at


Students rated the intensive courses significantly higher

April 4, 2008 message from Carolyn Kotlas []


Becta has released volume 3 (2008) in its "Emerging Technologies for Learning" research reports series. Building upon the two earlier reports, this collection of papers by educational technology leaders provides overviews and analyses to help educators understand and respond to the challenges of several emerging trends. Papers in this volume include:

"Growing up with Google: What It Means to Education" by Diana Oblinger

"Mobile, Wireless, Connected: Information Clouds and Learning" by Markvan't Hooft

"Location-Based and Context-Aware Education: Prospects And Perils" byAdam Greenfield

"Emerging Trends in Serious Games and Virtual Worlds" by Sara de Freitas

"'If It Quacks Like A Duck...' Developments in Search Technologies" by Emma Tonkin

"Interactive Displays and Next-Generation Interfaces" by Michael Haller

The report can be downloaded at no cost in PDF format at

Volume 1 (2006) and Volume 2 (2007) are also available for downloading at

Becta, established in 1998, is the governmental lead agency in the United Kingdom for information and communications technology (ICT) in education. For more information, contact: Becta, Millburn Hill Rd., Science Park, Coventry CV4 7JJ UK;
: ;



"From the perspective of instructional designers and instructors, the decision to adopt a new technology can be exceedingly difficult. On the one hand, we all want to create the best possible learning environment for our students. On the other, there is the persistent fear that integrating a new technology will be onerous in terms of integration and only marginal in terms of impact, or worse, it may have a negative impact."

In "How Do We Assess the Effectiveness of New Technologies and Learning Environments?" (SLOAN-C VIEW, vol. 7, issue 2, February 2008), Philip Ice suggests using the Community of Inquiry Framework (CoI): "a theoretical model that seeks to explain the online learning experience in terms of three overlapping presences: teaching, social and cognitive." He cites two studies that support the application of CoI for exploring the impact of new technologies in education. The article, including links to the cited studies, is available at

(Please note: registration is required to view some articles; registration is free.)

Sloan-C View: Perspectives in Quality Online Education [ISSN:

1541-2806] is published by the Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C). Current and back issues are available at For more information, contact: The Sloan Center at Olin and Babson Colleges, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Olin Way, Needham MA 02492-1200 USA; tel: 781-292-2523; fax: 781-292-2505;
email: ;

Sloan-C is a consortium of institutions and organizations committed "to help learning organizations continually improve quality, scale, and breadth of their online programs according to their own distinctive missions, so that education will become a part of everyday life, accessible and affordable for anyone, anywhere, at any time, in a wide variety of disciplines." Sloan-C is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at



Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin conducted a study to determine which was preferred by students: "regular" courses (typical for traditional, residential institutions) or "intensive" courses -- "those taught on a tighter than normal schedule, with more class time each week, but fewer weeks" (typical of online courses taught at for-profit institutions). Students rated the intensive courses significantly higher, causing the researchers to suggest that residential colleges may want to consider offering more courses of this type.

Results of the study were presented at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. An article about the research (along with reader comments) is available:

"Students Prefer Intensive Courses"

INSIDE HIGHER ED, March 28, 2008,



"Recommended Reading" lists items that have been recommended to me or that Infobits readers have found particularly interesting and/or useful, including books, articles, and websites published by Infobits subscribers. Send your recommendations to for possible inclusion in this column.

"Why Visual Aids Need to Be Less Visual" By Philip Yaffe UBIQUITY, vol. 9, issue 12, March 25, 2008 - March 31, 2008 

"I was recently invited to a presentation by an accomplished speaker. Needless to say, his speech was well structured, his manner relaxed and confident, his eye contact and body language excellent, etc. He normally spoke without slides, but this time he felt they would reinforce and illuminate his message. They didn't. In fact, they were more of a hindrance than a help."

Marketing communication consultant Jaffe provides useful advice to anyone adding visual materials to their lectures, conference presentations, and other public speaking activities.

PowerPoint and Other Teaching Helpers (Socratic Dialogue Gives Way to PowerPoint) ---

Fodder for Accounting and Finance Agency Theorists to Digest

Principle-Agent Theory ---

In political science and economics, the principal-agent problem or agency dilemma treats the difficulties that arise under conditions of incomplete and asymmetric information when a principal hires an agent. Various mechanisms may be used to try to align the interests of the agent with those of the principal, such as piece rates/commissions, profit sharing, efficiency wages, performance measurement (including financial statements), the agent posting a bond, or fear of firing. The principal-agent problem is found in most employer/employee relationships, for example, when stockholders hire top executives of corporations. Numerous studies in political science have noted the problems inherent in the delegation of legislative authority to bureaucratic agencies. Especially since bureaucrats often have expertise that legislators and executives lack, laws and executive directives are open to bureaucratic interpretation, creating opportunities and incentives for the bureaucrat-as-agent to deviate from the preferences of the constitutional branches of government. Variance in the intensity of legislative oversight also serves to increase principal-agent problems in implementing legislative preferences.

Four principles of contract design

"Compensation Under Competition," by Richard Posner, The Becker-Posner Blog, April 7, 2008 ---

There is a long-standing concern that corporate executives are more risk averse than a corporation's shareholders, because the latter can eliminate firm-specific risk by holding a diversified portfolio, while the former cannot, because they have firm-specific human capital that they will lose if the firm tanks. The solution to this problem was thought to consist in making stock options a large part of the executive's compensation, so that his incentives would be closely aligned with those of the shareholders. True, because he would bear more risk, he would have to be paid more in total compensation than if he did not receive a large part of his compensation in the form of stock options. But the cost to the corporation of the additional pay would presumably be offset by the gain to the shareholders from the executives' enhanced incentives to maximize shareholder wealth.

But we are beginning to realize that the grant of stock options may make corporate executives take more risks than the shareholders desire [Jensen insert:  To say nothing of cheating on earnings reports]. Suppose that instead of being compensated for bearing risk just by being paid a higher salary or given even more stock options, the executive is guaranteed generous retirement and severance benefits that are unaffected by the price of the corporation’s stock. Now he has a hedge against risk, and can take more risks in operating the corporation because his personal downside risk has been truncated. Perhaps this was a factor in the recent stock market bubbles--the one that burst in 2000 with the crash of the high-tech stocks and the one that burst this year as a result of the collapse of the subprime mortgage market and the resulting credit crunch. A bubble is both a repellent and a lure. It is a lure because during the bubble values are rising steeply, so an investor who exits before the bubble has peaked may be leaving a good deal of money on the table. He will be especially loath to do that if he is hedged against the consequences of the bubble's eventual bursting.

Boards of directors could devise compensation schemes that limited the attractiveness of risky undertakings, but they have little incentive to do so. The boards tend to be dominated by CEOs and other high corporate executives of other firms, who have an interest in keeping executive compensation high and who are abetted by compensation consultants who naturally recommend generous compensation packages to directors who are recipients of generous compensation and therefore believe that the CEOs of the companies on whose boards they sit should be paid top dollar.

It is not clear what the free-market antidote to this tendency to ratchet up executive compensation is. The compensation of the CEO and other high officials of a large corporation is usually only a small part of the corporation's costs, so shaving such compensation is unlikely to be a powerful competitive weapon. But more important, what rival corporation would have the governance structure that would enable such shaving to be accomplished by overcoming the obstacles that I have discussed? The private-equity firm is a partial answer, because it has only a few shareholders and so need not delegate compensation to a board of directors that has other interests besides the welfare of the shareholders at heart. The reason it is only a partial answer is that there are too few owners of capital who want or have the ability or experience to participate as actively in management as the private-equity entrepreneurs and there are too many efficiently large corporations for all of them to have the good fortune of being owned by a handful of entrepreneurial investors. There is a vast pool of passive equity capital that can be put to work only in companies that are organized in the traditional board-governed corporate form.

Here is another though related example of a stubborn efficiency-in-compensation problem, also in a highly competitive sector of the economy: law-firm billing practices. Major law firms, with few exceptions, base their bills to their clients on the number of hours that the firm's lawyers work on the client's case or other project. In other words, they bill on the basis of inputs rather than outputs. This is rational when output is difficult to evaluate, as is often the case with a law firm's output because of the uncertainty of litigation (in nonlitigation practice, because of legal and factual uncertainties). The fact that a firm loses a case doesn't mean that it did a bad job; both the winner's firm and the loser's firm may have done equally good jobs--the lawyers don't control the outcome. A law firm can give the client a pretty good idea of the quality of the lawyers it assigns to the client's case, because there are observable proxies for a lawyer's unobservable quality, proxies such as his educational and employment history. What the client cannot readily judge is whether the law firm put in excessive hours on the case, and the result, according to persistent and cumulatively persuasive anecdotage, is a tendency for law firms to invest hours in a case beyond the point at which the marginal value of the additional hour is just equal to the marginal cost to the client. Young lawyers often feel that they are being assigned work to do that has little value to the client but that will increase the firm's income because the firm bills its lawyers' time at a considerably higher rate than the cost of that time to the firm. The very high turnover at many law firms is attributed in part to dissatisfaction of young lawyers with the amount of busywork that they are assigned, work that bores them and does not contribute to the development of their professional skills, yet may be very time-consuming.

The problem is compounded by the distorted incentives of corporate general counsels. A general counsel wants to show his boss, the corporate CEO, that he monitors expenses carefully, and, since he knows that he is likely to lose at least some of his cases, he also wants to be able to avoid if possible being blamed by his boss for the loss. Hourly billing serves both of these ends. The law firm and the general counsel play a little game, in which the law firm prices its hours on the assumption that it will not be able to collect its billing rates on all of them, and the general counsel reduces the number of hours that he is willing to pay for. He can then show his CEO that he squeezed the water out of the law firm's bills. At the same time, by paying a prominent law firm by the hour, he can assure his CEO, in the event a case is lost, that he had told the firm to do as much work as was needed to maximize the likelihood of a favorable outcome, rather than paying a fixed rate agreed to at the outset that might have induced the law firm to skimp on the amount of work it put into the case.

One can imagine a law firm's adopting a different method of pricing, in which it would charge at the outset a fixed fee, subject to adjustments up or down at the end of the case based on outcome, amount of work, or some other performance measure or combination of such measures. The conventional law firm billing system is a form of cost-plus pricing, which is considered wasteful. But litigation is risky, and cost-plus pricing diminishes risk by eliminating a contractor's incentive to cut corners. If the disutility of risk to a general counsel is great, he will prefer to "overpay" law firms rather than trying to explain to the CEO that the novel compensation deal that he worked out with the law firm that lost the case was not a factor in the loss; that he had not been penny wise and pound foolish.

Although the compensation practices that I have described seem inefficient, it does not follow that corrective measures would be appropriate. They would be costly and the net benefits might well be negative. It is efficient to live with a good deal of inefficiency. Stated otherwise, the fact that competitive markets contain large pockets of inefficiency is not in itself inefficient. For example, while cartel pricing is inefficient, if the cost of preventing cartelization exceeded the benefits one wouldn't want to prevent it. Yet cartel pricing would still be inefficient in the sense of misallocating resources, relative to the allocation under competition. We must live with a good deal of inefficiency, but it is still inefficiency.

Continued in article

"Compensation Under Competition," by Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, The Becker-Posner Blog, April 7, 2008 ---

Executive compensation has been criticized both for being too generous, and for encouraging excessive risk-taking relative to the desires of stockholders. Yet while there are links between the level of pay and the amount of risk chosen, these are mainly distinct issues. Executives may be paid little, but the pay can be structured to have a much better payoff when profits are high than when profits are low. In this case, the average level of pay over both good and bad times would not be particularly generous, but its structure would tend to encourage risk-taking behavior. On the other hand, a CEO's pay might be excessively high on average, but not appreciable better when his company does well than when it does badly. He would be overpaid, but he would not have a financial incentive to take much risks.

Does the pay structure in American corporations, with the growing emphasis during the past several decades on stock options, bonuses, and severance and retirement pay, encourage excessive risk-taking, where "excessive" is defined relative to the desires of stockholders? It may look that way now with the sizable number of major financial companies that have taken huge write downs in their mortgage-backed and other assets, while top executives of some of these companies have only had modest declines in their pay (although others, such as the head of Bears Sterns, have taken huge hits). However, these financial difficulties do not necessarily imply that heads of most financial companies knowingly engaged in more speculative activities than desired by stockholders because of the incentives CEOs had. A more compelling explanation is that heads of companies have undervalued the risks involved in holding derivatives and other exotic securities, particularly securities that were rather new and not well understood. Let me stress, however, that I am not trying to excuse the many CEOs in the financial sector and in other sectors who got off much too easily for terrible investment decisions.

Bubbles are prolonged periods of excessive optimism where the true longer-term risk to holding particular assets is generally underestimated. The housing boom of the past few years now appears to have been a serious bubble where pervasive optimism about housing price movements raised the rate of increase in housing prices far beyond sustainable levels. Sophisticated lenders as well as low-income borrowers underestimated the risks involved in the residential housing market, as they appeared to have assumed that housing prices would continue to rise for a number of years in excess of ten percent per year.

Evidence suggesting that the risk taken by companies during the recent boom was not mainly due to a principal-agent problem between executives and stockholders is that the major private equity firms also experienced serious loses on their investments, especially on their housing investments. Private equity companies have much less of a principal-agent problem than do Citicorp, Bears Sterns and other publicly traded companies because private equity companies have a concentrated ownership. Also borrowers in the residential housing market have basically no principal-agent problems since they buy for themselves; yet many of them too took on excessive risk because of undo optimism about the housing market.

The private equity example provides a more general way to test whether CEOs take greater risks than their stockholders desire. One can analyze the relation between the degree of concentration of stock ownership in different companies and various measures of risk, such as their year-to-year variance earnings, adjusted for industry and other relevant determinants of this variance. The excessive risk argument would suggest that the more concentrated the ownership, the smaller would be the actual exposure to earnings and asset risk.

Another test of the excessive risk argument is whether the trend toward greater compensation in the form of stock options and other performance contingent compensation increased the risk taking of companies. Some have attributed much of the dot-com bubble to increased performance based compensation. However, most dot-com companies that went under were quite small and rather closely held by venture capitalists and similar investors. Hence these companies did not have a sharp conflict between stockholders and managers. Moreover, during the dot-com bubble, assets of minor Internet companies were raised in market value to more than 100 times earnings, even when they had no sales, let alone earnings. Such huge earnings-profits ratios suggest excessive risk taking by stockholders more than by managers.

Economic theory does imply that the increasing trend toward performance-based compensation would increase the degree of risk-taking by top executives. It is much less clear whether this effect is large- doubts are expressed by Canice Prendergast in his study "The Tenuous Trade-Off Between Risk And Incentives", Journal of Political Economy, 2002, (Oct), 1071-1102. It is also unclear if CEOs have been induced to take more risks than the level of risk desired by stockholders. Furthermore, and most important, there is no persuasive evidence that the structure of CEO compensation played an important roll in either the dot-com or housing bubbles.

Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous executive compensation and schemes that reward failure are at

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting for employee stock options are at

April 9, 2008 message from Ed Scribner []


Yet another interesting tidbit that came out this morning on Computerworld (11 interesting functional web sites): 



You know those little tabs you see when you search in Google Maps for something like "pizza near 90210"? CommunityWalk lets you make your own map with tabs you set by entering addresses or by just clicking on the map.

You can also enter a label and notes for each location. I've used it to make a map of where the members of a local Internet forum live and to plot the locations of a bunch of open houses I wanted to hit one weekend. You can categorize the locations and choose a different icon — basic or silly — for each category. And you can make the map Private; Shared, so that anyone you send the URL to can see it; or Public, which lists it on the site and makes it available to search engines

Gmaps Pedometer

Want to know how far that walk you took today was? Curious about the distance of your regular morning run? Just go to this site, bring up the Google map of where you do your perambulating and start clicking to place points along your route.

And there are other interesting sites such as housing map sites --- Click Here

From the Scout Report on April 4, 2008

Glary Utilities 2.5 ---

Improving system performance can be difficult at times, so it's nice to learn about this latest version of Glary Utilities. The application allows users to clean up unwanted junk files, remove invalid and broken shortcuts, and also scan and remove faulty registry entries. This particular version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.

Miro 1.2 --- 

Miro is an open-source video platform designed to enhance the viewing of videos, film, and television programs online. After downloading the program, visitors can sign up for a variety of video RSS feeds and video podcasts. Visitors are also welcome to send along feedback and they can also take advantage of a short primer film on Miro that explains all of the bells and whistles of this program. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X or Windows 98 and newer.


"A Quick Tour of Basic Accounting Concepts: No Extra Caffeine Required!" by Michael Sack Elmaleh ---

MIT's Sloan School of Management Open Sharing Course Materials (including some accounting courses) ---

Free online textbooks and tutorials (including video tutorials) in accounting, economics, statistics, and other disciplines ---

Education Tutorials

Distance or DistanceEducation.Org is a Great Helper Site
Ben Pheiffer in San Antonio forwarded this link to a terrific listing (with pricing estimates) of online training and education degree programs and courses from respectable universities ---

Both graduate and undergraduate degree programs are listed as well as training courses (some free).

I added to my listings of worldwide online training and education programs at


Wiki Educator ---

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

The Missing Link (history and science) --- 

Biology Lab Experiment Tutorial Videos ---

Neurons: Animated Cellular and Molecular Concepts ---

Global Canopy Programme (geology and climate) ---

The North American Breeding Bird Survey ---

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

Audubon: Ivory-billed woodpecker ---

Food Policy Institute at Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station ---

Wiki Educator ---

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

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Conflict and Health ---

Economics Network of the Higher Education Academy ---

Understanding Economics ---

The International Monetary Fund and Civil Society (video) ---

UC Berkeley Library's Congressional Research Tutorials ---

Wiki Educator ---

Critical Postmodern Theory ---

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

Law and Legal Studies

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

Math Tutorials

Wiki Educator ---

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

History and Literature Tutorials

History & Policy ---

John Steinbeck

The International Monetary Fund and Civil Society (video) ---

Winslow Homer: Behind the Scenes art history) ---

UC Berkeley Library's Congressional Research Tutorials ---

"A History of Photography from its beginnings till the 1920s," by Robert Leggat ---

Wiki Educator ---

Critical Postmodern Theory ---

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

Language Tutorials

Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

Writing Tutorials

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

Updates from WebMD ---


Salmonella Risk Spurs Cereal Recall:  Malt-O-Meal Recalls Unsweetened Puffed Rice, Puffed Wheat Sold Under Various Names," WebMD, April 8, 2008 ---

Will this be the miracle that makes some paralyzed people walk again?

"Self-assembling Nanofibers Heal Spinal Cords," by Prachi Patel-Predd, MIT's Technology Review, April 9, 2008 ---

Injected directly into the spinal cords of paralyzed mice, a new material restores use of the animals' hind legs.

An engineered material that can be injected into damaged spinal cords could help prevent scars and encourage damaged nerve fibers to grow. The liquid material, developed by Northwestern University materials science professor Samuel Stupp, contains molecules that self-assemble into nanofibers, which act as a scaffold on which nerve fibers grow.

Stupp and his colleagues described in a recent paper in the Journal of Neuroscience that treatment with the material restores function to the hind legs of paralyzed mice. Previously, researchers have restored function in the paralyzed hind legs of mice, but those experiments involved surgically implanting various types of material, while the new substance can simply be injected into the animals. The nanofibers break down into nutrients in three to eight weeks, says Stupp.

Right now, there is no cure for the thousands of people who have injuries to the spinal cord, the bundle of long nerve fibers that connect the brain to the limbs and organs of the body. When it is damaged, nerve stem cells form a scar at the point of the injury, which blocks nerve fibers and keeps them from growing, says John Kessler, professor of stem cell biology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, who collaborated on the work with Stupp. Nerves can no longer carry signals to and from the brain, causing patients to lose sensation, digestion, and movement. "It is like cutting a telephone cable," Kessler says. "We're thinking of regrowing the nerve fibers and rewiring the cut."

Other researchers have tried to regenerate nerve fibers using various approaches. They have used natural materials such as collagen as well as synthetic biodegradable polymers to make scaffolds that support nerves, helping them to grow. Implanting these materials at the injury requires surgery.

The new material is different because the researchers can inject it as a liquid directly into the spinal cord. Negatively charged molecules in the liquid start clumping together when they come in contact with positively charged particles such as calcium and sodium ions in the body. The molecules self-assemble into hollow, cylindrical nanofibers, which form a scaffold that can trap cells. On the surface of the nanofibers are biological molecules that inhibit scars and encourage nerve fibers to grow. "The idea of using self-assembling nanofibers that can be directly injected into the spinal cord is appealing," says Harvard Medical School professor Yang Teng, who does neural stem cell research for spinal cord injuries.

Study: Food additives may lower IQ
A British study suggests artificial color added to food and beverages could lower a child's intelligence. Researchers at Southampton University said developmental damage from seven food additives could lower a child's IQ by up to five points, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday. Britain's Food Standards Agency will meet Thursday to consider recommendations that manufacturers voluntarily remove six of the food additives from their products -- tartrazine, quinoline yellow, sunset yellow, carmoisine, ponceau, and allura red. Further research has been suggested for the seventh additive, the preservative sodium benzoate, the newspaper said.
PhysOrg, April 8, 2008 ---

Depression increases risk of Alzheimer's disease
People who have had depression are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who have never had depression, according to a study published in the April 8, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.The study involved 486 people age 60 to 90 who had no dementia. Of those, 134 people had experienced at least one episode of depression that prompted them to seek medical advice. The participants were followed for an average of six years. During that time 33 people developed Alzheimer’s disease. People who had experienced depression were 2.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who had never had depression. The risk was even higher for those whose depression occurred before the age of 60; they were nearly four times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those with no depression. “We don’t know yet whether depression contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease or whether another unknown factor causes both depression and dementia,” said study author Monique M.B. Breteler, MD, PhD, with the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. “We’ll need to do more studies to understand the relationship between depression and dementia.”
PhysOrg, April 7, 2008 ---

Misery, not miserly: Even momentary sadness increases spending
Off to buy a new handbag and fabulous red shoes, or how about overalls and a riding lawnmower" Before going, a mood check for signs of despair and gloom might be in order because how a person feels can impact routine economic transactions, whether he or she is aware of it or not. So says a team of behavioral scientists from four major U.S. universities, whose research study finds that sadness impacts spending. Specifically, people who feel sad and self-focused pay more money for goods than those in neutral states, even when purchasing the same item. "The tendency is to focus on oneself when sad drives this effect," says the study's lead author Cynthia E. Cryder, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa. "Our studies revealed the more self-focused people were in the sad condition, the more money they spent." "More research is needed to determine whether participants are deliberately trying to improve their sense of self by acquiring goods," adds study co-author Jennifer Lerner, an experimental social psychologist at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass. The study, "Misery is not Miserly: Sad and Self-Focused Individuals Spend More," was funded by the National Science Foundation and was presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting in Albuquerque, N.M. in February of this year. It will be published in the June 2008 issue of Psychological Science -- a premier journal for scientific experiments in psychology.
PhysOrg, April 8, 2008 ---

Evidence now suggests eating soy foods in puberty protects against breast cancer
Evidence is growing from animal and human studies that genistein, a potent chemical found in soy, protects against development of breast cancer - but only if consumed during puberty, says a Georgetown University Medical Center researcher in the British Journal of Cancer published online today. The challenge now, she says, is for scientists to understand precisely why soy appears to provide a shield against the most common cancer in women. “Timing seems to be vitally important in use of this bioactive food, and if we can figure out why that is so, then we may be able to help prevent breast cancer in the widest sense possible,” says the researcher, Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, Ph.D., a professor of oncology at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown. Although there are a number of tantalizing theories to explain the connection, “at the present time no convincing explanation can be offered as to why the breast cancer-risk reducing effect of genistein might be strongest during childhood and early adolescence,” she says.
PhysOrg, April 9, 2008 ---

Study links magnesium deficiency to faster aging
A lack of magnesium accelerates aging in human cells, which may explain the link between any long-term deficiency and a higher risk of aging-related diseases, a study released Monday said. Magnesium is essential for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, and keeps bones strong. Yet research has shown that, at least in the United States, more than half the population is lacking in magnesium due to deficiencies in their diet, potentially increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. To try to understand why magnesium deficiency predisposes people to disease, Bruce Ames and researchers at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California studied the long-term effects of moderate magnesium deficiency on human fibroblasts, cells that provide a structural framework for many tissues in the body. They cultured the cells for their entire lifespan, a period of three to four months, to mimick the effects of a lack of magnesium in the study which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They found that while the cells survived and divided normally under moderate magnesium-depleted conditions, they appeared to become older quicker than cells grown in normal magnesium concentrations.
PhysOrg, April 8, 2008 ---

Omega-3's no help for Crohn's sufferers
An international study led by Dr. Brian Feagan of Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada has found that omega-3 fatty acids are ineffective for managing Crohn’s disease. The research is published in the April 9 Journal of the American Medical Association. “A significant amount of time and money is spent annually on alternative therapies such as Omega-3 fatty acids, without strong evidence that they are beneficial to patients with inflammatory bowel disease,” says gastroenterologist Dr. Feagan, who is Director of Robarts Clinical Trials and lead author on the study. “I encourage Crohn’s patients to focus on prescription medications that we know are effective for preventing relapse of disease, such as azathioprine, methotrexate, and TNF blockers.” Found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and are therefore used in the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and IgA nephropathy (a kidney disease). The widespread belief among patients and health care providers that omega-3 fatty acids are effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease may have stemmed from a relatively small Italian research study, published in 1996 in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found a benefit for preventing relapse of Crohn’s disease. “Small, single centre clinical trials often overestimate the true effects of treatment” says Dr. Feagan. “That’s why it is important to conduct large-scale, randomized, multi-centre studies in order to confirm preliminary results.”
PhysOrg, April 8, 2008 ---

Study: Girls more bilingual than boys
A study by a Montreal researcher suggests more Canadian girls understand both English and French than boys beginning as early as age 5. Jack Jedwab, executive director of McGill University's Association for Canadian Studies, used recently released 2006 census data to analyze French-English bilingual traits across the country, The Gazette newspaper in Montreal reported Monday. The study found between ages 5-9, 10 percent of girls reported knowledge of both languages, compared with 8.1 percent for boys. Advancing through various age clusters, the gap widened, and among those 20-24 years-old, 17.3 percent of females were bilingual compared with 11.7 percent for males. The census data showed it wasn't until after the age of 55 do more Canadian men use both languages more than women, the newspaper said.
PhysOrg, April 7, 2008 ---

Reprogrammed Stem Cells Work on Parkinson's
A study in rodents suggests that skin cells can be transformed into neurons to treat neurodegeneration. When researchers announced two years ago that they had found a way to turn ordinary skin cells into stem cells, it opened up the possibility that stem cell therapies might sidestep the logistical and ethical hurdles of obtaining stem cells from embryos. These "reprogrammed" stem cells seem to have the ability to transform into any kind of cell, a property known as pluripotency. But the concept has also met with skepticism about the abilities and potential dangers of the cells. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by scientists at MIT and Harvard shows that reprogrammed cells, also called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, can become functioning neurons when transplanted into the brains of mice and rats; the researchers also showed that the cells can improve symptoms in a rat model of Parkinson's disease.Courtney Humphries, MIT's Technology Review, April 8, 2008 ---

Now I know why I feel less stress every time I see that I have unopened messages from Auntie Bev, Paula, Dick Haar, and the Swensons
New study finds anticipating a laugh reduces our stress hormones

In 2006 researchers investigating the interaction between the brain, behavior, and the immune system found that simply anticipating a mirthful laughter experience boosted health-protecting hormones. Now, two years later, the same researchers have found that the anticipation of a positive humorous laughter experience also reduces potentially detrimental stress hormones. According to Dr. Lee Berk, the study team’s lead researcher of Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA, “Our findings lead us to believe that by seeking out positive experiences that make us laugh we can do a lot with our physiology to stay well.”

PhysOrg, April 7, 2008 ---

Tart cherries may reduce factors associated with heart disease and diabetes
Tart cherries – frequently sold dried, frozen or in juice – may have more than just good taste and bright red color going for them, according to new animal research from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center. Rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight or build up as much body fat as rats that didn’t receive cherries. And their blood showed much lower levels of molecules that indicate the kind of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than the other rats. The results, which were seen in both lean and obese rats that were bred to have a predisposition to obesity and insulin resistance, were presented Sunday at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting in San Diego, CA by a team from the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory.
PhysOrg, April 7, 2008 ---

Study: Continuous oral contraceptives best
A U.S. study suggests continuous oral contraceptives might be more effective than standard 28-day birth control pills. Penn State University scientists found the continuous oral contraceptives might be better at suppressing the ovary and producing a significant improvement in pain and behavioral changes. "We have provided a biological proof of concept that both the ovary and the lining of the uterus are suppressed better and quicker with the continuous pill than with the cyclic pill," Dr. Richard Legro said. "And there is no harmful effect on the lining of the uterus either." The researchers monitored 62 women, randomly assigned to receive either cyclical or continuous birth control pills, for six months. They found a significant decrease in moderate to heavy bleeding days among women who received the continuous birth control regimen. Women in the continuous group also had a significant decline in circulating and urinary estrogen levels, total ovarian volume and lead follicle size -- all biomarkers indicating the ovary is less active -- and they also reported less pain and behavioral changes compared with women in the cyclic group, the scientists said. The research appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
PhysOrg, April 7, 2008 ---

"Researchers Find Huge Variations in End-of-Life Treatment," by Robert Pear, The New York Times, April 7, 2008 ---

New research shows huge, unexplained variations in the amount, intensity and cost of care provided to Medicare patients with chronic illnesses at the nation’s top academic medical centers, raising the possibility that the government could save large amounts of money.

In a report being issued on Monday, Dartmouth researchers say that total Medicare spending in the last two years of life ranges from an average of $93,842 for patients who receive most of their care at U.C.L.A. Medical Center to $53,432 at the Mayo Clinic’s main teaching hospital in Rochester, Minn.

Other top-ranked hospitals fell in between. Medicare spending averaged $85,729 for those who used Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, $78,666 at Massachusetts General and $55,333 at the Cleveland Clinic.

Differences in the last six months of life were even more striking. Medicare spent an average of $52,911 for U.C.L.A. patients and $28,763 for those who used the Mayo hospital, St. Marys.

The numbers, from the 2008 edition of The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, have caught the eye of federal officials, who say Medicare could save billions of dollars a year if doctors and hospitals in high-spending regions were as efficient as those in low-spending regions.

“How can the best medical care in the world cost twice as much as the best medical care in the world?” asked Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, referring to the top-ranked hospitals.

More than 90 million Americans have chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, and 7 out of 10 die from chronic diseases. Most of Medicare’s spending on such patients in the last two years of life is for care in hospitals.

Dr. John E. Wennberg of Dartmouth Medical School, the chief author of the study, said doctors and hospitals that provided more care, or more intensive care, did not necessarily achieve better results for patients.

“Some chronically ill and dying Americans are receiving too much care — more than they and their families actually want or benefit from,” Dr. Wennberg said. “Contrary to popular assumptions, it’s the volume of services, not the price per service, that accounts for most of the variation in Medicare spending.”

The researchers analyzed data for more than 90 academic medical centers and focused on five ranked as the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.

Continued in article

1/3 of risk for dementia attributable to small vessel disease, autopsy study shows
Alzheimer's disease may be what most people fear as they grow older, but autopsy data from a long-range study of 3,400 men and women in the Seattle region found that the brains of a third of those who had become demented before death showed evidence of small vessel damage: the type of small, cumulative injury that can come from hypertension or diabetes. Dr. Thomas Montine, University of Washington, presented the study results at Experimental Biology 2008 in San Diego on April 6. His presentation was part of the scientific program of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). In the autopsied brains of people who had experienced cognitive decline and dementia, 45 percent of the risk for dementia was associated with pathologic changes of Alzheimer's disease. Another 10 percent of dementia risk was associated with Lewy bodies, neocortical structural changes that indicate a degenerative brain disease known as Lewy Body Dementia, believed by some clinicians to be a variant of Alzheimer's and/or Parkinson's disease. But a third of the risk for dementia (33 percent) was associated with damage to the brain from small vessel disease. Dr. Montine and his colleagues believe that, and are now studying in more detail, this small vessel damage is the cumulative effect of multiple small strokes caused by hypertension and diabetes, strokes so small that the person experiences no sensation or problems until the cumulative effect reaches a tipping point. This may be good news, says Dr. Montine. At a time when prevention and treatment for Alzheimer's remain investigational, methods for preventing complications of hypertension and diabetes are currently available.
PhysOrg, April 7, 2008 ---

Early neglect predicts aggressive behavior in children
Children who are neglected before their second birthday display higher levels of aggressive behavior between ages 4 and 8, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study, published today in the journal Pediatrics. Early child neglect may be as important as child abuse for predicting aggressive behavior, researchers say. Neglect accounts for nearly two-thirds of all child maltreatment cases reported in the United States each year, according to the Administration for Children and Families. “The lack of attention devoted to the problem of neglect – the so-called ‘neglect of neglect’ – is a long-standing concern in the child welfare field,” said study co-author Jon Hussey, research assistant professor of maternal and child health in the UNC School of Public Health and a fellow at the Carolina Population Center. “Despite being more common than abuse, we know relatively little about the impact of neglect on children.” More than 1,300 children from four cities and one Southern state are participating in the longitudinal study, which is coordinated by the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC). All were known to have been maltreated or were at risk of maltreatment. They were monitored from birth through age 8. A child was considered neglected if his parents or caregivers did not provide adequate supervision or failed to meet the child’s minimum physical needs for food, clothing and shelter. Abuse was defined as either sexual or physical.
PhysOrg, April 7, 2008 ---

Air Drop Bloopers Video ---

Forwarded by Paula

There was a man who had worked all his life, had saved all of his money,
And was a real 'miser' when it came to his money.

Just before he died, he said to his wife...'When I die, I want you to
Take all my money and put it in the casket with me. I want to take my
Money to the afterlife with me.'

And so he got his wife to promise him, with all of her heart, that when
He died, she would put all of the money into the casket with him.

Well, he died. He was stretched out in the casket, his wife was sitting
There - dressed in black, and her friend was sitting next to her. When
They finished the ceremony, and just before the undertakers got ready to

Close the casket, the wife said,

'Wait just a moment!'

She had a small metal box with her; she came over with the box and put
It in the casket. Then the undertakers locked the casket down and they rolled it away.

So her friend said, “Girl, I know you were not fool enough to put all that money in there
With your husband.”

The loyal wife replied, “Listen, I'm a Christian. I cannot go back on my
Word. I promised him that I was going to put that money into the casket with him.”

“You mean to tell me you put that money in the casket with him!?!?!?”

“I sure did,” said the wife. “I got it all together, put it into my
Account, and wrote him a check.... If he can cash it, then he can spend It.”

About a Reporter for The New York Times

A biker is riding by the zoo, when he sees a little girl leaning into the lion's cage. Suddenly, the lion grabs her by the cuff of her jacket and tries to pull her inside to slaughter her, under the eyes of her screaming parents.

The biker jumps off his bike, runs to the cage and hits the lion square on the nose with a powerful punch. Whimpering from the pain the lion jumps back letting go of the girl, and the biker brings her to her terrified parents, who thank him endlessly.

A reporter has seen the whole scene, and addressing the biker, says: "Sir, this was the most gallant and brave thing I saw a man do in my whole life."

"Why, it was nothing, really, the lion was behind bars. I just saw this little kid in danger and did what was right."

"Well, I'll make sure this won't go unnoticed. I'm a journalist, you know, and tomorrow's papers will have this on the first page. What motorcycle do you ride?"

"A Harley Davidson."

The journalist leaves.

The following morning, the biker buys the paper to see if it indeed has news of his actions, and on the front page reads,:


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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
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