The Awakening of Another Day Over Franconia Notch
Comparisons of Summer vs. Winter Mornings
Different lighting can sometimes change how far these Kinsman Range mountains look from our living room.
The closest mountain (Cannon) is about 10 miles away but it is not as high as its neighbor Mount Lafayette.

Poems About Mountains ---

Why is it among the most,
glacial mountain peaks
I find
the greatest warmth?

(One answer of course is the fact that I'm not up there.)

Ski Champion Bode Miller's Foundation bought his family's Turtle Ridge Organic Farm down the road --- 
Also see ttps://
Bode Miller and his family established the Turtle Ridge Foundation as a way to help people in need and give back to the community. Through a variety of corporate sponsors, private donors and charity events the Millers have been able to fund and/or support the Boys & Girls Club of America, Adaptive Ski Programs (organizations that provide skis and equipment to kids & adults with disabilities), Inner City Youth Sports programs, Cancer Treatment Centers, provide ski racing scholarships to deserving children, and have dispensed thousands of dollars worth of warm jackets to kids in need. TRF also supports organic farming, sustainable living, and organizations that protect nature’s precious resources ---
Also see

You can read more about our local hero Bode Miller at

Last Lecturer Randy Pausch died last week, You can read a bit about him and find links to his book and videos at

The picture below shows Erika,  Dick Wolff,, MD (also Colonel, Ret.), and Dick's wife Sybil when Dick and Sybil visited us from San Antonio

Notice below that I'm standing on the step whereas the very tall Dick Wolff is on the ground.

Frontline: Return of the Taliban (video) ---

The poem below was forwarded by Dick Wolff (who was head of the U.S. Air Force Medical Command in Iran many years ago)

This is a poem being sent from a Marine  to his Dad. It makes you truly  thankful for not only the Marines, but ALL of our troops.


We all came together,
Both young and old
To fight for our freedom,
To stand and be bold.

In the midst of all evil,
We stand our ground,
And we protect our country
From all terror around.

Peace and not war,
Is what some people say.
But I'll give my life,
So you can live the American way.

I give you the right
To talk of your peace.
To stand in your groups,
and protest in our streets.

But still I fight on,
I don't bitch, I don't whine.
I'm just one of the people
Who is doing your time.

I'm harder than nails,
Stronger than any machine.
I'm the immortal soldier,
I'm a U.S. MARINE!

So stand in my shoes,
And leave from your home.
Fight for the people who hate you,
With the protests they've shown.
Fight for the stranger,
Fight for the young.
So they all may have,
The greatest freedom you've won

Fight for the sick,
Fight for the poor
Fight for the cripple,
Who lives next door.

But when your time comes,
Do what I've done.
For if you stand up for freedom,
You'll stand when the fight's done

Tribute to the Flag (Elvis) ---

However the November 2008 Presidential Election turns out, our armed forces will have a new Commander and Chief ---
It's almost impossible to predict top leadership of the military before Presidents actually sit in the Oval Office and command the most mighty military force on earth.
It's infinitely harder when our cowardly enemies fight behind innocent civilians used as shields and use terror tactics targeting innocent victims.
But we can never win with our fighting forces unless we wage war and diplomacy  with higher moral standards than our cowardly enemies.
Without higher moral standards and powerful deterrents, like our Marines, our freedom and prosperity are both doomed. 

Hizbullah fires Rockets from an apartment building while its Commander and Chief cowers in the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon (video) ---

It was sad that Hizbullah tortured and killed its kidnapped victims and then traded their caskets for live and healthy terrorist prisoners. The world was watching, and this is why terrorists can never win. If terrorists win they will soon lose, because their terrorist tactics will be used on them when they stand up to collect their prizes. Terrorism is a losing strategy in the long run.

It's better for our enemies to let our own media defeat our Marines.

Why we lost the battle in Viet Nam but won the war:

When President Ford was Commander and Chief
On August 3, 1995, The Wall Street Journal published an Interview with Bui Tin, a former Colonel who served on the general staff of of the North Vietnamese Army, that included the following exchange ---
Also see

Question: How did Hanoi intend to defeat the Americans?

Answer: By fighting a long war which would break their will to help South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh said,
"We don't need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out."

Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi's victory?

A:  It was essential to our strategy.  Support of the war from our rear was completely secure  while the American rear was vulnerable.  Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m.  to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement.  Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence  that we should hold on  in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

Q: Did the Politburo pay attention to these visits?

A: Keenly.

Q: Why?

A: Those people represented the conscience of America. The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor. America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win.

Q: How could the Americans have won the war?

A: Cut the Ho Chi Minh trail inside Laos. If Johnson had granted [Gen. William] Westmoreland's requests to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Minh trail, Hanoi could not have won the war.

Q: Anything else?

A: Train South Vietnam's generals. The junior South Vietnamese officers were good, competent and courageous, but the commanding general officers were inept.

Q: Did Hanoi expect that the National Liberation Front would win power in South Vietnam?

A: No. Gen. [Vo Nguyen] Giap [commander of the North Vietnamese army] believed that guerrilla warfare was important but not sufficient for victory. Regular military divisions with artillery and armor would be needed. The Chinese believed in fighting only with guerrillas, but we had a different approach. The Chinese were reluctant to help us.  Soviet aid made the war possible. Le Duan [secretary general of the Vietnamese Communist Party] once told Mao Tse-tung that if you help us, we are sure to win; if you don't, we will still win, but we will have to sacrifice one or two million more soldiers to do so.

Q: Was the National Liberation Front an independent political movement of South Vietnamese?

A: No. It was set up by our Communist Party to implement a decision of the Third Party Congress of September 1960. We always said there was only one party, only one army in the war to liberate the South and unify the nation. At all times there was only one party commissar in command of the South.

Q: Why was the Ho Chi Minh trail so important?

A: It was the only way to bring sufficient military power to bear on the fighting in the South. Building and maintaining the trail was a huge effort, involving tens of thousands of soldiers, drivers, repair teams, medical stations, communication units.

Q: What of American bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail?

A: Not very effective. Our operations were never compromised by attacks on the trail. At times, accurate B-52 strikes would cause real damage, but we put so much in at the top of the trail that enough men and weapons to prolong the war always came out the bottom. Bombing by smaller planes rarely hit significant targets.

Q: What of American bombing of North Vietnam?
A: If all the bombing had been concentrated at one time, it would have hurt our efforts. But the bombing was expanded in slow stages under Johnson and it didn't worry us. We had plenty of times to prepare alternative routes and facilities. We always had stockpiles of rice ready to feed the people for months if a harvest were damaged. The Soviets bought rice from Thailand for us.

Q: What was the purpose of the 1968 Tet Offensive?

A: To relieve the pressure Gen. Westmoreland was putting on us in late 1966 and 1967 and to weaken American resolve during a presidential election year.

Q: What about Gen. Westmoreland's strategy and tactics caused you concern?

A: Our senior commander in the South, Gen. Nguyen Chi Thanh, knew that we were losing base areas, control of the rural population and that his main forces were being pushed out to the borders of South Vietnam. He also worried that Westmoreland might receive permission to enter Laos and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

In January 1967, after discussions with Le Duan, Thanh proposed the Tet Offensive. Thanh was the senior member of the Politburo in South Vietnam. He supervised the entire war effort. Thanh's struggle philosophy was that "America is wealthy but not resolute," and "squeeze tight to the American chest and attack." He was invited up to Hanoi for further discussions. He went on commercial flights with a false passport from Cambodia to Hong Kong and then to Hanoi. Only in July was his plan adopted by the leadership. Then Johnson had rejected Westmoreland's request for 200,000 more troops. We realized that America had made its maximum military commitment to the war. Vietnam was not sufficiently important for the United States to call up its reserves. We had stretched American power to a breaking point. When more frustration set in, all the Americans could do would be to withdraw; they had no more troops to send over.

Tet was designed to influence American public opinion. We would attack poorly defended parts of South Vietnam cities during a holiday and a truce when few South Vietnamese troops would be on duty. Before the main attack, we would entice American units to advance close to the borders, away from the cities. By attacking all South Vietnam's major cities, we would spread out our forces and neutralize the impact of American firepower. Attacking on a broad front, we would lose some battles but win others. We used local forces nearby each target to frustrate discovery of our plans. Small teams, like the one which attacked the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, would be sufficient. It was a guerrilla strategy of hit-and-run raids. [lloks like a re-writing of history with the benefit of hindsight]

Q: What about the results?

A: Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise;. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for re-election. The second and third waves in May and September were, in retrospect, mistakes. Our forces in the South were nearly wiped out by all the fighting in 1968. It took us until 1971 to re-establish our presence, but we had to use North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. If the American forces had not begun to withdraw under Nixon in 1969, they could have punished us severely. We suffered badly in 1969 and 1970 as it was.

Q: What of Nixon?
A: Well, when Nixon stepped down because of Watergate we knew we would win. Pham Van Dong [prime minister of North Vietnam] said of Gerald Ford, the new president, "he's the weakest president in U.S. history; the people didn't elect him; even if you gave him candy, he doesn't dare to intervene in Vietnam again." We tested Ford's resolve by attacking Phuoc Long in January 1975. When Ford kept American B-52's in their hangers, our leadership decided on a big offensive against South Vietnam.

Jensen Comment
By the time the U.S. pulled out of Viet Nam all was not lost, because the intensity of the fight beforehand destroyed the Chinese and Russian plans to spread communism with war.  The implosion of the communist economies, of course, also contributed greatly to our winning of the Cold War. That may backfire on us these days with our own economy sitting on more debt that we can possibly handle while our spendthrift Congress is poised to plunge us over the brink.
Vietnam: The Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict. by Michael Lind, 1999 ---

In a very opinionated and sharply reasoned attempt to debunk three decades of conventional wisdom about Vietnam, Lind (The Next American Nation), the Washington, D.C., editor of Harper's, attacks both the right-wing contention that the U.S. could have won the war if only the politicians hadn't interfered with the military and the leftist orthodoxy that maintains the U.S. should never have become involved in the first place. Lind treats Vietnam as simply another battle in the Cold War, no different in principle from Korea or Afghanistan or any other Cold War confrontation. As such, it was both necessary and proper to intervene in Vietnam; a failure to do so, he asserts, would have permitted the Soviet Union and China to tighten their grip on the Third World. But once the U.S. committed itself, Lind argues, presidents Johnson and Nixon were obliged to fight a limited war in order to avoid the very real possibility of China entering the fray (just as it had done in Korea). If anything, Lind says, "the Vietnam War was not limited enough." Johnson allowed the U.S. military commanders to wage an expensive war of attrition that killed too many U.S. soldiers too fast and eroded public support for both the conflict in Vietnam and for the Cold War in general. The principal culprits in Lind's analysis are Johnson, General Westmoreland and other U.S. military commanders for their misguided tactics; Nixon, for his quixotic attempt to salvage "peace with honor," during which an additional 24,000 soldiers died needlessly; and the antiwar left, which swallowed much of Ho Chi Minh's propaganda. Lind's arguments, if not always persuasive, are always provocative. His book, with its intelligent analysis of U.S. intervention in Kosovo and other current foreign policy quandaries, is likely to shift the debate on Vietnam and to color future debates about U.S. military intervention abroad.

So what will happen in Iraq as soon as our troops are pulled out due primarily to our media's destruction of our will to win in Iraq?
I'm a lowly retired accounting professor, but even to me it seems obvious the a significant number of U.S. combat troops should remain in Iraq. The U.N. troops in Lebanon are a bad joke. Iraq's politically-biased Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Shia successors will run a facade democracy almost identical to the sham democracy in Lebanon while the Shia flex their missiles and point chemically-laced rockets toward Israel.

Allawi, a former Baathist and an Iraqi nationalist, heads the Iraqi National List party in Iraq, and he served as the first prime minister of a sovereign Iraq until elections gave power to the Shiite religious parties. Allawi is a Shiite, but a secular one, who appeals to both Sunnis and Shiites. After quitting the Baath party, Allawi lived in exile and he was supported by MI-6 and the CIA, and he returned to Iraq in 2003. He makes no secret of wanting to replace Maliki, who is a confirmed sectarian with close links to Iran.
"The Dreyfus Report:  Iraq Set to Explode," The Nation, July 27, 2008 ---

Hizbullah is bolstering its presence in south Lebanon villages with non-Shi'ite majorities by buying land and using it to build military positions and store missiles and launchers, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The decision to build infrastructure in non-Shi'ite villages - where Hizbullah has less support - is part of the group's post-war strategy under which it has mostly abandoned the "nature reserves," forested areas in southern Lebanon where it kept most of its Katyusha rocket launchers before the Second Lebanon War. Behind the change is the mandate given to UNIFIL by the United Nations after the war in 2006....
Uaakov Katz, "Hizbullah moves into 'every town, The Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2008 ---

Arab reports indicate that Hizbullah is preparing to arm its rockets with chemical warheads and to build extensive fortifications. Defense Minister Ehud Barak blames the Syrians, while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asks the United Nations to do something. "[UN Security Council] Resolution 1701 is being violated. Hizbullah continues to get stronger with the ongoing and intimate The company told Arab media that it had been shipping Hizbullah orders southwards towards Israel's border. assistance of the Syrians," according to Defense Minister Barak. Speaking at a meeting of the Labor party's Knesset representatives on Monday, Barak said, "The delicate balance that exists on the northern border should not be violated on the two-year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. We should make an explicit statement: Resolution 1701 did not work, it is not working, and all indications are that it will not work in the future."
Nissan Ratzlav-Katz and Pinchas Sanderson, "Hizbullah Gears Up For War, Olmert Asks for UN Help," Israel National News, July 14, 2008 ---

A think tank is today publishing allegations that a prominent, controversial book released by the University of Pennsylvania Press about terror networks has two key passages that are plagiarized. While saying that the allegations are overblown, the press director said via e-mail that future editions would have attribution for the passages. The allegations come from Public Eye, a publication of Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank. Chip Berlet, a senior analyst for the group, makes the allegations as part of a broader critique of a much discussed book called Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-First Century. Marc Sageman, the author and a counter-terrorism consultant, argues in the book that too much of a focus on al Qaeda misses the reality that terrorism has become decentralized, with various groups being inspired more than directly led by those who plotted the mass killings of 9/11. The book has received extensive press coverage and has been seen by many as significant.
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, July 28, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
The plagiarism is minor and is far less important than the Leaderless Jihad book itself. From a WMD danger standpoint, biological WMDs are clearly the most dangerous WMDs in the hands of decentralized terror cells. Setting off a thermonuclear explosion is terribly complicated. But dumping bacteria and viruses into water and food supplies can be done by ignorant extremists who either steal the agents or are supplied by nefarious nations with biological weapons labs. I've felt for sometime that keeping Bin Laden is charge of so many terrorist cells has helped prevent or at least delay many huge terrorist acts since 9/11. My worry is that we may kill or capture Bin Laden or that he may just die of natural causes. I think his vision of conquest is less global than the leaders in many of his terror cells. Perhaps he has greater fear of a wounded eagle.

Our next U.S. Commander and Chief may have to deal with enemies who have weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Some analysts do not think these will be nukes. It's too complicated to go nuclear even if you have nukes. No, the WMD weapon of choice among terrorists is most likely biological --- 

That's all the more reason to spend gazillions of dollars on a new national health plan. Save the few that are left even if they don't have insurance coverage.



Tidbits on August 1, 2008
Bob Jensen

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

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

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

CPA Examination ---

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

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

Global Incident Map ---

Set up free conference calls at
Also see   

Free Online Tutorials in Multiple Disciplines ---

U.S. Social Security Retirement Benefit Calculators ---
After 2017 what we would really like is a choice between our full social security benefits or 18 Euros each month ---

Google Maps Street View ---

World Clock ---

Tips on computer and networking security ---

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---

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 ---

Font Conference (thanks Bob Blystone) ---

A Virtual Tour of the Cheapside (Chronicle of Higher Education video) ---
Click on the tiny Play Button.

Momma "cat" has floppy ears  and other mothers (CBS) ---

Financial Executives International (FEI) free television ---

Popping Corn With Cell Phones --- Click Here 
Oops it's all faked ---
Back to the microwave!

Jon Stewart makes fun of the Obama lapel pins (jointly showing U.S. and Israeli flag) ---
But he will most likely wear the Palestinian and Hizbullah flags jointly on his forthcoming visit with  Palestinian leaders in the West Bank ---
Then he will switch back on his return home. It always pays to carry the flags of many nations in your airline luggage.

Viddler ---
(see the tidbits below for comparisons of Viddler with YouTube)
YouTube ---

Bob Jensen's video helpers ---

Bob Jensen's guide to free video lectures ---

BigThink:  YouTube for Scholars (where intellectuals may post their lectures on societal issues) ---

TED:  Technology, Entertainment, and Design Lectures ---
TED Video Example
Mathemajician Arthur Benjamin ---

Viddler versus YouTube
YouTube ---
Viddler    ---  

File size is limited on Viddler to 500 Mb in contrast to YouTube’s one Gb limit (usually uploaded in mpg compression) which gives about 10 minutes of viewing at 640 x 480 resolution on YouTube. This compression and resolution degrades quality somewhat, but you do get up to ten minute clips.  

In contrast the video tutorials I viewed on Viddler are one-minute clips, which is hardly enough to get into a subject. For producers sending uncompressed files to Viddler is painfully, I mean really painfully slow, compared to the uploading speeds of compressed video. My experience is that compression can reduce file sizes by over 90% without too much degradation in quality.

Viddler clips can be higher quality, but the viewing time that I’ve observed is so short that I can’t imagine using Viddler for serious tutorials or courses since it would take ten modules to equal one of YouTube’s modules.

UC Berkeley now has nearly 200 courses on YouTube. Can you imagine viewing these courses one-minute-at-a-time. Viddler is great for some short home movie clips but it is not really competition for YouTube in the academic market. With visions of advertising revenue, Viddler hopes to compete with YouTube. But it will never do so until it increases module capacity to at least one Gb of compressed video.

You can view YouTube videos in full screen mode using one button on the bottom left. Viddler videos can also be viewed in full screen by first clicking on the menu button on the bottom left and then choosing the full screen option 

I doubt that Viddler will ever have the historical collection of video clips that we already find on YouTube ---  
 Viddler is more of a home movie site without the history archives of famous stars and current events and academic history.
 For example, search YouTube for "Glen Beck"  or "Keith Olbermann" or "Loretta Lynn"  and then try Vidler.
 Then try "accounting" on Viddler versus YouTube
 I did find some homemade math tutorials on Viddler. For example, see
But those one-minute clips are soooooo small.

Free music downloads ---

While working on the computer, Bob Jensen often listens to (free and without commercials) ---
Even better  for this old guy from the jukebox era (just let it play through) ---

But I listen most to Soldiers Radio Live ---

Stravinsky Gets His 'Rite: Remixed' ---
This is outstanding!

Conan O'Brien - ''Pilobolus'' ---

The Ballad of Shoeless Joe ---

The Bobs: Irreverent A Cappella ---

How did Iran fake its missile picture ---
Jon Stewart breaths a sigh of relief.

Portraits of Modern Japanese Historical Figures (Video) ---

The Sweet Adelines are once again on the Trinity University campus this summer ---

Some Other Barbershop Quartets

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

Photographs and Art

Bejing Olympic Gardens --- Click Here

Idaho Landscapes & Gardens ---

America's Favorite Architecture ---

Great Historic Photographs ---

Wonderful World --- Click Here

Great Pacific Garbage Patch ---

Portraits of Modern Japanese Historical Figures (Video) ---

John H. W. Stuckenberg Map Collection ---

Max Ernst: Illustrated Books ---

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 ---

Kay Ryan, a prize-winning poet who teaches remedial English at the College of Marin, will today be named poet laureate of the United States, The New York Times reported. The article includes links to some of her writing.
Inside Higher Ed, July 17, 2008 ---

 The Digital South Asia Library ---

Internet Library of Early Journals --- 

All Free Magazines (links to free magazines) --- These are classified by subject matter. Many are offer free trial subscriptions for one year.  A search engine for online audio and video. - search through an archive of articles from over 300 magazines and journals -- 

The Atlantic Online --- 

The Library of Economics and Liberty --- 

Donating Used Textbooks ---
Swap Books Online

USA Today, February 14, 2006 ---
BookMooch ---
Also see the message blog at
Paperback Swap ---
Campus Book Swap ---
Bookins Book Exchaznge ---
There are many, many other "Book Swap" alternatives on a Google search

March 27, 2007 message from Tina Bungert []

. . . I would like to introduce you to our service and web site Hitflip that might be an interesting addition to your links for books and education. Hitflip is a community to swap used books and other original media. It is therefore an easy and cheap alternative to the existing online book stores. You can find hitflip at  .
The just recently launched English version can be found at

Other alternatives for trading and donating books ---

You can also sell used books and other products on ---

And there's eBay ---

And there's CraigsList ---

All over the world, nuclear power is making a comeback. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just commissioned eight new reactors, and says there's "no upper limit" to the number Britain will build in the future. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has challenged her country's program to phase out 17 nuclear reactors by 2020, saying it will be impossible to deal with climate change without them. China and India are building nuclear power plants; France and Russia, both of whom have embraced the technology, are fiercely competing to sell them the hardware. And just last month John McCain called for the construction of 45 new reactors by 2030. Barack Obama is less enthusiastic about nuclear energy, but he seems to be moving toward tacit approval . . . We have a nuclear waste problem in this country because we gave up reprocessing in the 1970s. The fear was that terrorists or foreign nationals would steal plutonium from American reactors to build bombs. This is a bit like worrying that terrorists will steal all the gold from Fort Knox. Other countries have built bombs in the intervening years. They didn't need American plutonium to do it. Meanwhile, France has proved that reprocessing works. With a fully developed nuclear cycle, the French now store all the waste from 30 years of producing 75% of its electricity beneath the floor of one room at La Hague in Normandy.
William Tucker
, "Let's Have Some Love for Nuclear Power," The Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2008; Page A13 ---

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has had a change of view when it comes to power nuclear power, that is. “The technology has changed, and I bring a more open mind to that subject now,” she said at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing. Legislation to mitigate global warming is a priority for the California Democrat, and nuclear power - touted as an emissions-free way to generate electricity — is gaining traction as a way to improve the environment while meeting the nation’s growing demands for power.
"Pelosi Reconsiders Nuclear Power," The Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2007 ---

The package already on offer is rich. The Bush administration has promised to support Iranian construction of a light-water reactor and provide it with nuclear fuel. In addition, the U.S. will help overhaul of Iran's energy infrastructure and cooperate in high-technology industries. At any point, Tehran can simply walk away, keeping its rewards. European diplomats welcome the U.S. reversal. "The presence of an American is good news," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said. "France has always said that not only sanctions need to be imposed, dialogue is necessary." Iran is less kind. "America has no choice but to leave the Middle East beaten and humiliated," says Mohammad Jafar Assadi, chief of the IRGC ground forces.
Michael Rubin, "Now Bush Is Appeasing Iran," The Wall Street Journal,  July 21, 2008; Page A11  ---

The New York Times' refusal to publish John McCain's rebuttal to Barack Obama's Iraq Op-Ed may be the most glaring example of liberal media bias this journalist has ever seen, but true proof of widespread media bias requires one to follow an old journalism maxim: Follow the money . . . 235 journalists donated to Democrats, just 20 gave to Republicans -- a margin greater than 10:1. An even greater disparity, 20:1, exists between the number of journalists who donated to Barack Obama and John McCain.
"Big Media Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is," American Thinker, July 22, 2008 ---

Two undergraduates on Pennsylvania State University's main campus have filed four complaints against instructors under new procedures designed to help students who believe that their professors have presented biased lessons in the classroom. Two more complaints have been filed at Temple University. Penn State and Temple put their student-complaint procedures in place in 2006, after Pennsylvania's legislature held much-publicized hearings to investigate allegations that professors had indoctrinated students in left-wing ideology and discriminated against conservatives . . . Penn State administrators investigated the four complaints. In two cases, the officials acknowledged that the instructors either may have acted inappropriately or could have done a better job of ensuring that a variety of views were presented. Officials dismissed the two other complaints, saying they found no problem with the instructors' teaching methods . . . Temple would not release the complaints to The Chronicle, although a spokesman said the grievances "were resolved to the satisfaction of the students."
Robin Wilson, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2008 --- Click Here

What precisely did Iran do to deserve the warm shoulder? Now as ever, Tehran underwrites and arms terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Gaza, and calls for Israel's destruction. Earlier this month, it tested long-range missiles capable of reaching southern Europe. As for getting that bomb, Iran has made steady progress this decade, enriching uranium in increasingly sophisticated centrifuges in violation of three U.N. Security Council resolutions. . . . But diplomacy also means getting something for giving something. That's not how it has worked here. Mr. Bush has conceded Iran's supposed "right" to build nuclear reactors, despite the fact that Tehran forfeited that right when the U.N. found it to be in material breach of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Mr. Bush has also offered to negotiate directly with Tehran on the sole condition -- the only "precondition," as Barack Obama refers to it -- that Iran stop enriching uranium. Yet Iran continues to enrich.
"Iran Has Earned Nothing," The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2008; Page A18 ---

Then Simmons analyzes disciplines, and finds sharp differences — largely consistent with previous studies about disciplines and political leanings. Humanities and social science fields tend to have higher politically correct rankings, while professional and science disciplines do not. The table that follows is in order of political correctness. Psychology is the only field where a majority of professors are politically correct. Four fields — finance, management information, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering — had no one who was politically correct.
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, July 25, 2008 ---
The Harvard study itself is reported at

The liberal blogosphere was aflame today with new accusations that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) is trying to win the 2008 presidential election.
Hendrik Hertzberg, "Flip-Flop Flap," The New Yorker, July 21, 2008 ---
Also see
Also see "Anger on left: Obama shifts to the center," Mercury News, July 20, 2008 ---

To borrow a popular phrase of the season, ending one war Iraq to start two more in Afghanistan and Pakistan seems to be a dumb idea.
Tom Hayden, "Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan," The Nation, July 15, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
I agree but for different reasons and an alternate proposal on how to spend a trillion dollars without writing a blank check.
Leftists (they prefer to be called "progressives") like Tom Hayden offer no serious alternative to Pakistan and Afghanistan other than blank-check spending trillions dollars (read that more U.S. national debt) to ease poverty in those nations. And if we do so, there's no assurance that religious fanatics will not get control of Pakistan's WMD arsenal in an effort convert the world to their own religious extremism. A wealthy extremist is even more dangerous than an impoverished extremist. If we're going to spend trillions to save the world from nuclear winter perhaps it would be better to buy the WMDs from their present frightened owners and prevent the arsenal itself from falling into the hands of fanatics who become great WMD martyrs in the afterlife if they destroy Israel and obliterate the U.S. (read that Babylon). Buying and destroying Pakistan's WMD's may be far cheaper at this point in time than escalating a never-ending shooting war over the spoils of the poppy harvests. President Obama hopes to negotiate eliminations of WMDs of the world. But if we can't even find Bin Laden, what assurance have we that Iran or Israel or Chavez another devious power might not hide a few until Obama thinks he's bought up and destroyed them all? ---

Frontline: Return of the Taliban (video) ---

The Taliban Wants Pakistan's WMDs Now
Taliban Prepares Hit List of Top Pakistan Leaders --- Click Here 
Also see

What is the WMD of terrorist choice?
Jensen Comment
It's probably not nuclear because it's too complicated to go nuclear even if you have nukes. No the WMD weapon of choice is most likely biological ---
Biological weapons are easier to hide among hundreds of small terrorist cells.

Hizbullah is bolstering its presence in south Lebanon villages with non-Shi'ite majorities by buying land and using it to build military positions and store missiles and launchers, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The decision to build infrastructure in non-Shi'ite villages - where Hizbullah has less support - is part of the group's post-war strategy under which it has mostly abandoned the "nature reserves," forested areas in southern Lebanon where it kept most of its Katyusha rocket launchers before the Second Lebanon War. Behind the change is the mandate given to UNIFIL by the United Nations after the war in 2006....
Uaakov Katz, "Hizbullah moves into 'every town, The Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2008 ---

Arab reports indicate that Hizbullah is preparing to arm its rockets with chemical warheads and to build extensive fortifications. Defense Minister Ehud Barak blames the Syrians, while Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asks the United Nations to do something. "[UN Security Council] Resolution 1701 is being violated. Hizbullah continues to get stronger with the ongoing and intimate The company told Arab media that it had been shipping Hizbullah orders southwards towards Israel's border. assistance of the Syrians," according to Defense Minister Barak. Speaking at a meeting of the Labor party's Knesset representatives on Monday, Barak said, "The delicate balance that exists on the northern border should not be violated on the two-year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War. We should make an explicit statement: Resolution 1701 did not work, it is not working, and all indications are that it will not work in the future."
Nissan Ratzlav-Katz and Pinchas Sanderson, "Hizbullah Gears Up For War, Olmert Asks for UN Help," Israel National News, July 14, 2008 ---

Newly-installed Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Sunday threatened to militarily conquer the Israeli-controlled Shebaa Farms region of the Golan Heights if Israel did not agree to surrender the territory. Suleiman was speaking to reporters at a Mediterranean summit in Paris just hours after Israeli officials confirmed that the Lebanese army had paved a road to and set up a military base just a few hundred yards from the Shebaa Farms. A long-time ally of Hizballah, Suleiman was head of the Lebanese army until his ascendancy to the presidency earlier this summer as part of concessions that Hizballah extracted from the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. Hizballah used Israel's continued control of the Shebaa Farms region to justify its 2006 cross-border assault that sparked the Second Lebanon War.
"Lebanon makes belligerent moves toward Israel," Israel Today, June 13, 2008 ---

As you know Obama visited troops this weekend in Kuwait, and Afghanistan. Prior to this weekend I, along with a few friends had been sending information to a few soldiers on an email list referencing Obama and his anti-military entourage and exhorting them not to be “deceived” by his “jive”. From what I’m getting back they were not in the least. From Camp Eggers I’m told that the mess hall photo op was hugely staged, and if you look at the video you can see it was sparsely attended. The soldier at the end of the video was “selected” and not random. “Dude showed up in a suit”, one email reads describing clothes Obama wore. Generally visits - as with McCain are in some type of Kaki or other uniform. Obama and all his entourage looked like they were going to a dinner party, or perhaps just trying to project that “authority” thing he’s always talking about. In any case the response is generally negative, although troops will generally show some type of appreciation I can tell that they can sense that Obama’s only doing this for his own ends, not for their benefit. Soldiers know when they are being part of photo op ed. Not that we mind it, but it depends on who it is. I can remember former president Jimmy Carter coming to visit us at Fort Stewart Georgia back around 1979, the reception was icy to say the least. We had absolutely no respect for the man - none at all. Obama’s getting the same reviews. That’s what talking about defeat for the last two years will do for you. He’s not fooling anyone, especially where the rubber meets the road.
"Obama Road Show not selling to the Troops," Macsmind, July 20, 2008 ---

According to a recent article in The New York Times, the political makeup of academe may be changing. In 2005 more than 54 percent of full-time faculty members in the United States were older than 50, compared with just 22.5 percent in 1969. Patricia Cohen, a reporter for the Times, couples that with another intriguing fact: Recent studies suggest that younger faculty members tend to hold more moderate political views than their liberal elder colleagues. So will the impending retirement of aging baby boomers bring about less-left-leaning campuses?
Evan R. Goldstein, Chronicle of Higher Education's The Chronicle Review, July 25, 2008 ---

Why the GOP is failing on the Main Street of America and in Academia
Sarah Steelman, the state treasurer, is running in an Aug. 5 primary for the Missouri governorship
And, oh, the howls of misery. Ms. Steelman's Republican colleagues were livid with her attempt to strip them of comfy pensions, annoyed with her "sunshine law" requiring them to be more open in their dealings, furious at her attacks on their ethanol boondoggles, appalled that she criticized GOP state Speaker Rod Jetton for moonlighting as a paid political consultant. The final straw was her temerity to make her primary race about her opponent's Washington earmarking record.
"GOP Reformers Face a Tough Fight," The Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2008; Page A11 ---

In the middle of praising Jesse Jackson, Dan Rather referred to Barack Obama as "Osama bin Laden
D.S. Hube, Newsbusters, July 18, 2008 ---
Watch the video of what appears to be an honest mistake.

A soldier from 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team was awarded a Silver Star Medal in a ceremony here July 12. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, Combined Joint Task Force 101 commander, presented Army Capt. William G. Cromie with the decoration and praised him for his valor. Cromie’s platoon was called out to perform route clearance on a portion of the Korengal Road on Nov. 16, 2007, after receiving a tip that an improvised explosive device may have been placed there. Two of Cromie’s soldiers managed to maneuver into a better position that allowed them to cover the platoon, but they were soon pinned down and running dangerously low on ammunition. Grabbing more ammunition, Cromie took off through the small-arms crossfire to resupply his two soldiers. The platoon called for close-air support and mounted a counterattack that pushed the militants back to a fortified compound. The platoon then cleared the compound and killed the militants.
Armed Forces Press Service ---

But then we'd never have today's precious opportunity to solve the Fannie and Freddie problem once and for all. As this column noted five years ago, Yale's Jonathan Koppell aptly concluded a study with the observation that while in theory Freddie and Fannie aren't beyond political control, in practice they are. When all else fails, they threaten havoc in the home-financing market if anyone challenges their privileges. Now, for once, it may be possible to move against them. We'd be fools not to do it. With Fannie and Freddie on the ropes politically, let's put them on a path to privatization and liquidation. Treasury's Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke are still talking as if restoring the status quo is desirable, with tweaks. But putting the Fed in the job of helping to regulate them, one of Treasury's ideas, would just be to put monetary policy at the service of propping up yet more financial services companies. This is not a policy for financial stability—but for finally prostituting the dollar to the massive liabilities of the federal government.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr
., "Finish the Companies Off," The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2008 12:25 a.m.; Page A15 ---

“Now the Fed wants to be the systemic risk regulator. But the Fed is the systemic risk. Giving the Fed more power is like giving the neighborhood kid who broke your window playing baseball in the street a bigger bat and thinking that will fix the problem. I am not going to go along with that and will use all my powers as a Senator to stop any new powers going to the Fed. “Instead, we should give them less to do so they can do it right, either by taking away their monetary policy responsibility or by requiring them to focus only on inflation…
The Wall Street Journal quoting Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, July 15, 2008 ---

House Speaker Pelosi is hinting at reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, and many of her liberal colleagues in Congress are doing the same in both chambers. Alleging the press isnt balanced, they say government should be making sure all viewpoints meaning the lefts are fairly represented. I agree the press isn't balanced, but Mrs. Pelosi has it backward; liberalism dominates the press, including the three major networks and most major newspapers. Though originally the Fairness Doctrine did not require opposing time be equal, it came to be the standard . . . The doctrines reinstatement would kill conservative talk radio. Radio stations that carry Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck would have to create liberal shows of equal length. And when those shows fail to make money and the stations take a loss, their only option in cancelling those shows would be to cancel the conservative shows as well.
Ken Blackwell, "The Gathering Threat to Freedom,", July 17, 2008 --- 
Jensen Comment
But will this also kill NBC and CBS and even, horrors, NPR?

Ketchup versus Beer
CNN this week took a look at Cindy McCain's wealth this week, reporting that she "is not only a wife to Senator John McCain, she is also his meal ticket. Her reported 2006 income of more than $6 million exceeded her husband's earnings 16 times over. That money pays for a wealthy lifestyle of high end condos, an Arizona ranch, flying in a corporate jet, and more." The story quoted a writer from the Politico saying that her beer distributorship funded his first congressional campaign and has subsidized his presidential campaign.

Jake Tapper, ABC News, July 18, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
When the Democratic National Committee needs to be reminded that John Kerry was married to a woman (named Heinz) that could buy Cindy McCain ten times over and have enough left to buy Pennsylvania. How come the DNC didn't object to Kerry's wife funding his campaigns?

PBS Nova (November 18, 2008) will theorize that much of the Old Testament is fiction
The program challenges long-held beliefs. Abraham, Sarah and their offspring probably didn't exist, says Carol Meyers, a religion professor at Duke University. "These stories are unlikely to represent real historical events, but rather there's some kernel of ancient experience in there which has survived and which helps give identity to the people at the time the Bible finally took shape centuries and centuries later," Meyers says. There's no archaeological evidence of the Exodus, either, she says, but "it doesn't mean that there's no kernel of truth to it." Nova series producer Paula Apsell says she found it "extremely shocking" to learn that monotheism was a process that took hundreds of years. "I was always brought up to believe that the minute Abraham and the patriarchs came on the scene, the Israelites accepted one God and there was just always one God and that was it," Apsell says. "I think people are going to really be stunned by that." Another shocker: The program contradicts the biblical view that the Israelites came from somewhere else into the land of Canaan. "The film shows that they were Canaanites," Apsell says.
Hal Boedeker, "Holy Moses! PBS documentary suggests Exodus not real," by Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel, July 21, 2008 ---,0,7755323.story
Jensen Comment
It will be interesting to see what pressures are brought to bear on PBS to either change the content of this Nova show or drop it all together.
. I wonder if Nova would’ve had the courage to also claim that much of the Qur’an is fiction? That would be so dangerous Nova would not dare!

San Francisco Officially Denounces the Catholic Church, and the Bible is Accused as a Hate Speech Book
Catholics and the U.S. Military are Unwelcome in San Francisco (JROTC Banned)
A San Francisco city and county board resolution that officially labeled the Catholic church's moral teachings on homosexuality as "insulting to all San Franciscans," "hateful," "defamatory," "insensitive" and "ignorant" will be challenged tomorrow in court for violating the Constitution's prohibition of government hostility toward religion. Resolution 168-08, passed unanimously by the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors two years ago, also accused the Vatican of being a "foreign country" meddling with and attempting to "negatively influence (San Francisco's) existing and established customs." . . . A San Francisco city and county board resolution that officially labeled the Catholic church's moral teachings on homosexuality as "insulting to all San Franciscans," "hateful," "defamatory," "insensitive" and "ignorant" will be challenged tomorrow in court for violating the Constitution's prohibition of government hostility toward religion. Resolution 168-08, passed unanimously by the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors two years ago, also accused the Vatican of being a "foreign country" meddling with and attempting to "negatively influence (San Francisco's) existing and established customs." Currently, as WND has reported,
Colorado and Michigan are tackling the question of whether the Bible itself can be vilified as "hate speech" for it's condemnation of homosexuality, and Canada has developed human rights commissions, which have decided people cannot express opposition to homosexuality without fear of government reprisal.

Canada deported on Tuesday the first of some 200 Americans who deserted the U.S. military and sought refugee status to protest against the Iraq War. Robin Long, 25, was removed a day after a Federal Court judge in Vancouver rejected his claim that he would suffer irreparable harm if returned to the United States. He fled across the border in 2005 as his army tank unit was preparing to deploy to Iraq. The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed Long's removal, but declined to give other details, citing privacy laws.
Alan Dawd, Reuters, July 15, 2008 ---

Put the Blame on Mame Nancy:  If the Shoe Fits Wear It (even Bush is polling better than Pelosi)
That poll showed that its approval rating had reached an anemic 14 percent, while more than 70 percent of those polled said they disapproved of the job Congress is doing. The House speaker said she doesn't consider those numbers a negative referendum on the Democrats in charge, saying she thinks they stem largely from Congress' failure to end
(surrender?) the war in Iraq.
CNN, July 18, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Why can't we harness all the hot wind in Washington DC? Could the low ratings possible be due to the fact that the public is tired of fraudulent earmarked legislation?

Maybe not. While some kind of crackdown on the U.S. oil futures market is inevitable after so much political agitation, Congress has begun to believe its own demagoguery. The Senate may vote on a bill this week that will drive commodities trading overseas and decrease oversight and market transparency. Call it a Sarbanes-Oxley for energy. Because commodity futures trading is a complex financial instrument, "speculation" makes an expedient scapegoat for edgy lawmakers and even aggrieved industries -- such as the airlines. But it performs a vital price-discovery function. Major energy producers and consumers, such as refiners, buy and sell these contracts to lock in oil at a future price, as a shock absorber against volatility. Essentially, they're bets that reveal market expectations about the supply and demand of oil, as well as the rate of inflation. Even the title of the Senate's bill -- the "Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act" -- is idiotic. True, the volume of trading has increased by about sixfold since 2000, but it can't be "excessive." The inviolable law of futures markets is that someone has to take the other side of any option. That is, the value of contracts agreed to by sellers anticipating that prices will fall must equal the value of contracts agreed to by buyers anticipating prices will rise. The overall size of the market is irrelevant.
"An Energy Sarbox," The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2008; Page A18 ---

A total of 24 states allow voters to change laws on their own (laws) by collecting signatures and putting initiatives on the ballot. It's healthy that the entrenched political class should face some real legislative competition from initiative-toting citizens. Unfortunately, some special interests have declared war on the initiative process, using tactics ranging from restrictive laws to outright thuggery. The initiative is a reform born out of the Progressive Era, when there was general agreement that powerful interests had too much influence over legislators. It was adopted by most states in the Midwest and West, including Ohio and California. It was largely rejected by Eastern states, which were dominated by political machines, and in the South, where Jim Crow legislators feared giving more power to ordinary people.
John Fund, "The Far Left's War on Direct Democracy," The Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2008; Page A9 ---

The Mouse That Roared
Hundreds of super-rich American tax cheats have, in effect, turned themselves in to the IRS after a bank computer technician in the tiny European country of Liechtenstein came forward with the names of US citizens who had set up secret accounts there, according to Washington lawyers investigating the scheme. The bank clerk, Heinrich Kieber, has been branded a thief by the government of Liechtenstein for violating the country's bank secrecy laws.
Brian Ross and Rhoda Schwartz, "Day of Reckoning? Super Rich Tax Cheats Outed by Bank Clerk," ABC News, July 15, 2008 ---

"Obama Web site removes 'surge' from Iraq problem," MIT's Technology Review, July 15, 2008 ---

Barack Obama's aides have removed criticism of President Bush's increase of troops to Iraq from the campaign Web site, part of an effort to update the Democrat's written war plan to reflect changing conditions.

Debate over the impact of President Bush's troop "surge" has been at the center of exchanges this week between Obama and Republican presidential rival John McCain. Obama opposed the war and the surge from the start, while McCain supported both the invasion and the troop increase.

A year and a half after Bush announced he was sending reinforcements to Iraq, it is widely credited with reducing violence there. With most Americans ready to end the war, McCain is using the surge debate to argue he has better judgment and the troops should stay to win the fight. Obama argues the troop increase has not achieved its other goal of fostering a political reconciliation among Iraqi factions.

After Bush delivered a nationally televised address on Jan. 10, 2007, announcing his plan, Obama argued it could make the situation worse by taking pressure off Iraqis to find a political solution to the fighting.

"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there," the Illinois senator said that night, a month before announcing his presidential bid. "In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
The liberals want U.S. military and U.S. contractors (read that U.S. unconditional surrender) out of all the Middle East ---
They don't mention whether the U.S. should draw a line around Israel or sacrifice it to Iran's chemically-armed Hizbullah forces.
Hizbullah's winning strategy in Lebanon will work for Iran in Iraq after the U.S. pulls out. On this there is no doubt!
The winning strategy is to have a puppet democracy propped up over missals aimed at Israel!
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid flatly states that we lost the Iraq war long ago ---
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann stands by his version of the real truth --- General Petreaus and President Bush are liars about everything

On net, members of Congress seem to be the only beneficiaries of the stimulus. They got to posture and pose, and send out to voters untold millions of press releases and mailings extolling themselves and the stimulus checks. None mentioned the government's low interest rates which touched off the housing bubble that's led to the economic turndown, or the inflation that's undermined the very expensive remedy that hasn't worked as planned. But that didn't stop Ms. Pelosi from proposing another $50 billion "stimulus" package on Thursday.
Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins, "Stupidity and the State," The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2008; Page A7 ---

The Global Poverty Act (S.2433) is expected to come up for a vote in the US Senate any time before the November presidential elections, according to conservatives who fear it is a giant step towards handing over US sovereignty to the United Nations and foreign governments. This is the newest liberal-inspired plan to allow a United Nations style tax on American citizens, according to officials at the American Conservative Union. ACU officials say that this "sickening bill could potentially force the United States to spend as much as $845,000,000,000.00 on welfare to third-world countries." The American people will be watching and will not tolerate massive United Nations-style giveaways that are passed in the dark of night -- or in broad daylight for that matter. (Obama's) 2433 is a stealth bill and a dagger aimed at the heart of America's sovereignty.
Jensen Comment
This bill gets even worse. It's an annual entitlement to help fight poverty around the world. This money will not go to directly to those who need it, but rather to the UN for distribution. It's a big plum and cherry ripe for fraud just like the U.N.'s disastrous Oil for Food fiasco that diverted the funds to Saddam.
Just Pull the Trigger--Aiming Is Overrated
Chicago Sun-Times
, July 26
Just Give the Farm to the U.N., Aiming at the Poor is Overrated
Why More Entitlements Will Destroy the U.S. Economy ---

Europe Has an Economics Lesson for Obama
But the Europe Mr. Obama will visit is quite different from the one Americans often hear about. Over the last decade, much of Europe has very quietly embraced market-based reforms that either draw inspiration from American successes or -- on issues like retirement security -- are even more market-oriented than many U.S. Republicans support. What's more, these changes have been adopted and implemented by parties left and right. This Europe is a shining example of exactly the sort of postpartisan government action that the Obama campaign says it is about. The cutting of corporate income- tax rates is an excellent example of European market-friendly bipartisanship. Germany's right-left coalition of Christian and Social Democrats implemented a large rate cut earlier this year, reducing the top marginal corporate rate to about 30% from 39%. Spain's Socialist and Britain's Labor governments have followed suit, reducing their countries' top corporate rates. These traditionally left-of-center parties understand that in a globalized economy, wealth and investment are mobile, flowing to those countries that provide hospitable investment climates. As part of a European Union where center-right governments in Greece, Denmark, Ireland and Eastern Europe have dramatically reduced corporate tax rates, they understand that they cannot help workers if they drive away the capital that employs and pays them.
Henry Olsen, The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2008 ---

Mixing tax hikes and trade protectionism could send the economy into a tailspin
History teaches us that high taxes and protectionism are not conducive to a thriving economy,
the extreme case being the higher taxes and tariffs that deepened the Great Depression.

Despite the rhetoric, that's not just on "rich" individuals. It's also on a lot of small businesses and two-earner middle-aged middle-class couples in their peak earnings years in high cost-of-living areas. (Obama's large increase in energy taxes, not documented here, would disproportionately harm low-income Americans. And, while he says he will not raise taxes on the middle class, he'll need many more tax hikes to pay for his big increase in spending.) . . . Now trade. In the primaries, Sen. Obama was famously protectionist, claiming he would rip up and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). Since its passage (for which former President Bill Clinton ran a brave anchor leg, given opposition to trade liberalization in his party), Nafta has risen to almost mythological proportions as a metaphor for the alleged harm done by trade, globalization and the pace of technological change. Yet since Nafta was passed (relative to the comparable period before passage), U.S. manufacturing output grew more rapidly and reached an all-time high last year; the average unemployment rate declined as employment grew 24%; real hourly compensation in the business sector grew twice as fast as before; agricultural exports destined for Canada and Mexico have grown substantially and trade among the three nations has tripled; Mexican wages have risen each year since the peso crisis of 1994; and the two binational Nafta environmental institutions have provided nearly $1 billion for 135 environmental infrastructure projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. History teaches us that high taxes and protectionism are not conducive to a thriving economy, the extreme case being the higher taxes and tariffs that deepened the Great Depression. While such a policy mix would be a real change, as philosophers remind us, change is not always progress.

Michael J. Boskin (Stanford University Economics Professor)," Obamanomics Is a Recipe for Recession," The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2008 ---

 Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements are at


Amazing New Facts About the Internet

I watched the history of computing in the 1990s on the History Channel on July 21, 2008 ---

Some facts mentioned concerning today in 2008 amazed me. I did not dig out independent verification of these facts.

Bob Jensen's threads on how to find Internet statistics are at
(Just scroll down a short bit)

We hear a lot about carbon footprints polluting the earth. We also have Internet servers polluting the earth.
Egads! I'm a big time polluter at

"China says its population of Internet users rises to world No. 1 at 253 million," MIT's Technology Review, July 25, 2008 ---

China's booming Internet population has surpassed the United States to become the world's biggest, with 253 million people online despite government controls on Web use, according to government data reported Friday.

The latest figure on Web use at the end of June is a 56 percent increase from a year ago, the China Internet Network Information Center said. It said the share of the Chinese public using the Internet is still just 19.1 percent, leaving more room for rapid growth.

The United States had an estimated 223.1 million Internet users in June, according to Nielsen Online, a research firm. The Pew Internet and American Life Project puts U.S. online penetration at 71 percent.

"This is the first time the number has drastically surpassed the United States, becoming the world's No. 1," a CNNIC statement said.

The communist government encourages Internet use for business and education but tries to block access to Web sites deemed pornographic or subversive. Web surfers have been jailed for posting or e-mailing material that criticizes communist rule or is deemed a violation of vague national security laws.

Beijing blocks access to Web sites run by dissidents, human rights groups and some foreign news media. Web surfers were blocked from seeing Google Inc.'s YouTube and other foreign sites with video footage of anti-government protests in Tibet in March.

That same month, the government said it would shut down 25 Chinese video sites and punish 32 others for violating new rules against carrying content that is deemed pornographic, violent or a threat to national security.

In financial terms, China's market lags those of the United States, South Korea and other economies. But online commerce, video sharing and other businesses are growing rapidly and have raised millions of dollars from investors.

The commercial boom has produced success stories such as games site and search engine, which are competing with foreign rivals for local market share. Baidu said Thursday its profits in the latest quarter soared 87 percent over the year-earlier period to 265 million yuan ($38.6 million).

Total revenues for China's Internet companies soared to 40.5 billion yuan ($5.9 billion) in 2007, up 48.6 percent from the previous year, the research firm Analysys International reported this week. It said revenues should keep growing at an annual rate of at least 30 percent in coming years, reaching 137.5 billion yuan by 2010.

By contrast, U.S. online advertising revenues alone in 2007 were $21.2 billion (145.2 billion yuan), according to a report by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

The research firm BDA China Ltd. says China's online population should keep growing by 18 percent annually, reaching 490 million by 2012 -- a number larger than the entire U.S. population.

Internet companies are looking forward to a new growth spurt once Chinese mobile phone carriers roll out third-generation, or 3G, technology that can support Web-surfing and other services. No date has been announced, but with more than 500 million mobile accounts, China has a vast pool of potential wireless Internet users.

China's Internet boom has gotten a boost from a sharp slowdown in demand for fixed-line phones as more customers opt for mobile service. Fixed-line carriers have responded by expanding into broadband Internet, Web-based cable television and other services. The CNNIC report Friday said that as a result, 214 million Chinese now have high-speed access.

Free Feature Length Documentary Films ---

"SnagFilms Finds Virtual Theaters For Documentaries," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, July 17, 2008; Page D1 ---

Thousands of feature-length documentary films are produced every year, but almost nobody gets a chance to see them. A few dozen are shown to small audiences at major film festivals, and a handful make it into theaters. For every blockbuster like "An Inconvenient Truth," there are hundreds of documentaries that never find an audience.

Starting Thursday, however, there will be a new online service that aims to change all that. The service, called SnagFilms, allows anyone with a blog, a Web site, or even a page on a social-networking site, to open a virtual movie theater and show these documentaries, free. The virtual theater is a small widget that contains the film, and that can be embedded easily and quickly in a wide variety of popular social-networking services and blog platforms. No technical knowledge is needed.

Once a site or page owner "snags" a film in this way, visitors to the site can view it in a larger window that pops out from the widget. This window plays the film, displays some ads and provides links to charities or organizations related to the topic of the movie. The films can even be played in full-screen mode. Many also include links for buying a DVD of the film. All that's missing is the popcorn.

These aren't homemade, three-minute YouTube clips. Nearly all are feature-length, professionally produced documentaries, from both small independent filmmakers and well-known sources such as PBS and National Geographic.

The owner of the site or blog gets no direct revenue from posting the films. He or she is, in effect, donating space to support the film or the cause it highlights, a decision SnagFilms calls "filmanthropy." But the filmmaker and SnagFilms do make money -- splitting advertising revenue equally. And the charity or organization can make money, too, if viewers opt to donate. The filmmaker also can make money from DVD sales, paying SnagFilms an 8.5% commission.

I have been testing a prerelease version of the SnagFilms service and have posted SnagFilms widgets with no problems to Facebook, MySpace, iGoogle, Netvibes, Blogger, Windows Live Spaces and Vox. Many more Web sites can house these widgets, including the vast number of blogs built on the popular WordPress and TypePad platforms.

Here's how it works. You just go to the SnagFilms Web site at, select one or more of the 250 or so films available at launch and click the snag button. A menu pops up that lists numerous popular networking services and platforms. Clicking one will automatically post the SnagFilms widget of your choice on your page or site at one of these services. You can also simply view the films at the SnagFilms site.

Each widget includes an "info" button that takes you to a page on the SnagFilms site giving the details and background on the film. You can also leave comments here, rate the film, order the DVD and see recommendations for related films.

The system is viral, so you don't have to start at the SnagFilms site. A Web surfer who sees a SnagFilms movie anywhere on the Web can spread it around just by clicking the snag button on every widget. The snag button allows the viewer to either host the film or to email a link to the film that will bring friends to the SnagFilms site to view or snag it.

SnagFilms is the brainchild of Ted Leonsis, a former top executive at America Online, who in recent years has become a documentary-film producer. He became frustrated with the distribution bottleneck for such films and arranged to take over AOL's documentary site, TrueStories, and turn it into SnagFilms. He also is chairman of the board of a company, Clearspring, which created the film widgets.

At launch, the SnagFilms catalog includes well-known documentaries like "Super Size Me," but also lesser-known films on a wide variety of topics, including college football, AIDS in Africa, politics, profiles of average people and tales of the New York Fire Department. One of my favorites was "Paper Clips," the story of how a school in Tennessee learned about the Holocaust.

Filmmakers can submit movies to the site by sending an email to: SnagFilms says it doesn't censor or edit the films, but won't accept pornography or films deemed to encourage hate. It does have a selection process, so not all films submitted will make it onto the site. The company hopes to add more films soon.

I had only two gripes about SnagFilms. First, the films should be able to play inside the widget itself, with an option inside to play at larger sizes. Having to open a separate browser window is a pain. The company says it's working on this.

Second, the initial catalog is light on documentaries from a conservative or probusiness perspective. But the company says it is "actively seeking to offer differing viewpoints" and will soon add "a number of films that are quite conservative in philosophy."

SnagFilms is a great idea for getting documentary films in front of more people. It's another example of how the Web is changing media distribution for the better.

What's the main reason colleges have such a difficult time recruiting black males?
Are McCain and Obama close or miles apart on proposed solutions to this problem?

A new analysis shows just how poorly many states are doing at graduating black males from high school. The Schott Foundation for Public Education last week released an “education inequity index,” comparing black male and white male graduation rates for high school — and the figures may be chilling for colleges hoping to boost black male enrollments. Nationally only 47 percent of black male students are graduating from high school with their cohorts, and in 10 states, the gap in black male and white male graduation rates is at least 30 points, led by Wisconsin, where the black male rate is 36 percent and the white male rate is 87 percent. Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska also have gaps of more than 40 percentage points. The states with the narrowest gaps (or none) tend to be states where there are relatively few black students, Vermont and Maine for example.
Inside Higher Ed, July 28, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
I don't think race per se the major factor driving dropout rates. This outcomes are confounded by poverty and street crime environments. States with relatively high black graduation rates like Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Kentucky do not have the huge urban centers where larger concentrations of inner-city black students who, due to poverty, live in crime/drug infested neighborhoods that increase temptations for black males to drop out of high school. States with the highest drop out rates have large crime-ridden cities where drug street dealing is much more serious. I suspect that blacks anywhere in Maine and Vermont attend better schools than inner-city blacks in NYC, Boston, Cleveland, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Miami, and LA. Confusing exceptions to this reasoning are the relatively poor graduation rates in states like Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Rhode Island, and Iowa where schools are quite good statewide and there are no huge cities.. Go figure!

The profound failure of inner-city public schools to teach children may be the nation's greatest scandal. The differences between the two Presidential candidates on this could hardly be more stark. John McCain is calling for alternatives to the system; Barack Obama wants the kids to stay within that system. We think the facts support Senator McCain. "Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent and diplomas that open doors of opportunity," said Mr. McCain in remarks recently to the NAACP. "When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children." Some parents may opt for a better public school or a charter school; others for a private school. The point, said the Senator, is that "no entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity."
"The Greatest Scandal," The Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2008; Page A14 ---

Thus Far Cuil (billed as the “World’s Largest Search Engine”) is Not So Cool
Why did it put a loin cloth on my pictures?

"Ex-Googlers launch rival search engine," CNN Money, July 28, 2008 ---

Anna Patterson's last Internet search engine was so impressive that industry leader Google Inc. bought the technology in 2004 to upgrade its own system.

She believes her latest invention is even more valuable - only this time it's not for sale.

Patterson instead intends to upstage Google, which she quit in 2006 to develop a more comprehensive and efficient way to scour the Internet.

The end result is Cuil, pronounced "cool." Backed by $33 million in venture capital, the search engine plans to begin processing requests for the first time Monday.

Cuil had kept a low profile while Patterson, her husband, Tom Costello, and two other former Google engineers - Russell Power and Louis Monier - searched for better ways to search.

Now, it's boasting time.

Web index: For starters, Cuil's search index spans 120 billion Web pages.

Patterson believes that's at least three times the size of Google's index, although there is no way to know for certain. Google stopped publicly quantifying its index's breadth nearly three years ago when the catalog spanned 8.2 billion Web pages.

Ex-Googlers: Where are they now? Cuil won't divulge the formula it has developed to cover a wider swath of the Web with far fewer computers than Google. And Google isn't ceding the point: Spokeswoman Katie Watson said her company still believes its index is the largest.

After getting inquiries about Cuil, Google asserted on its blog Friday that it regularly scans through 1 trillion unique Web links. But Google said it doesn't index them all because they either point to similar content or would diminish the quality of its search results in some other way. The posting didn't quantify the size of Google's index.

A search index's scope is important because information, pictures and content can't be found unless they're stored in a database. But Cuil believes it will outshine Google in several other ways, including its method for identifying and displaying pertinent results.

Content analysis: Rather than trying to mimic Google's method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to Web sites, Patterson says Cuil's technology drills into the actual content of a page. And Cuil's results will be presented in a more magazine-like format instead of just a vertical stack of Web links. Cuil's results are displayed with more photos spread horizontally across the page and include sidebars that can be clicked on to learn more about topics related to the original search request.

Finally, Cuil is hoping to attract traffic by promising not to retain information about its users' search histories or surfing patterns - something that Google does, much to the consternation of privacy watchdogs.

Cuil is just the latest in a long line of Google challengers.

Other contenders: The list includes swaggering startups like Teoma (whose technology became the backbone of, Vivisimo, Snap, Mahalo and, most recently, Powerset, which was acquired by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT, Fortune 500) this month.

Even after investing hundreds of millions of dollars on search, both Microsoft and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO, Fortune 500) have been losing ground to Google (GOOG, Fortune 500). Through May, Google held a 62% share of the U.S. search market followed by Yahoo at 21% and Microsoft at 8.5%, according to comScore Inc.

Google has become so synonymous with Internet search that it may no longer matter how good Cuil or any other challenger is, said Gartner Inc. analyst Allen Weiner.

"Search has become as much about branding as anything else," Weiner said. "I doubt [Cuil] will be keeping anyone at Google awake at night."

Google welcomed Cuil to the fray with its usual mantra about its rivals. "Having great competitors is a huge benefit to us and everyone in the search space," Watson said. "It makes us all work harder, and at the end of the day our users benefit from that."

But this will be the first time that Google has battled a general-purpose search engine created by its own alumni. It probably won't be the last time, given that Google now has nearly 20,000 employees.

Patterson joined Google in 2004 after she built and sold Recall, a search index that probed old Web sites for the Internet Archive. She and Power worked on the same team at Google.

Although he also worked for Google for a short time, Monier is best known as the former chief technology officer of AltaVista, which was considered the best search engine before Google came along in 1998. Monier also helped build the search engine on eBay's (EBAY, Fortune 500) online auction site.

The trio of former Googlers are teaming up with Patterson's husband, Costello, who built a once-promising search engine called Xift in the late 1990s. He later joined IBM Corp. (IBM, Fortune 500), where he worked on an "analytic engine" called WebFountain.

Costello's Irish heritage inspired Cuil's odd name. It was derived from a character named Finn McCuill in Celtic folklore.

Patterson enjoyed her time at Google, but became disenchanted with the company's approach to search. "Google has looked pretty much the same for 10 years now," she said, "and I can guarantee it will look the same a year from now."

"Two former Google employees have introduced a new search engine that they hope will overtake Google in popularity," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 29, 2008 --- 

The search engine is called Cuil, (pronounced "cool") and it has been generating so much interest that its home page could not be opened at various points today. Tom Costello, a former Stanford University researcher and one of the founders of the search engine, said Cuil culls through 120 billion Web pages, more pages than Google searches, according to an article today in The New York Times. But Google tells the paper it has the largest collection of documents searchable on the Web, and that it welcomes competition. Cuil displays search results a bit differently from Google. Entries are longer and there are more pictures with the entries. Bill Drew, a librarian at Tompkins Courtland Community College in New York, writes on his blog today that he was impressed with Cuil results after doing a search on his name. "The search retrieved over 160 hits spread over 19 pages of search results," he writes "All appear to be very relevant. I was amazed at the depth of the results as well. It included many book reviews I wrote back in the early 1990s."

The Cuil Search Engine is at

Jensen Comment on July 28, 2008
Thus far the hype seems to be more hyped than the performance on this first day of trials. For example I typed in the following in both Cuil and Google:
"Basis Adjustment" AND "FAS 133"

Google gave me thousands of hits and many of them were quite relevant to my research.
Cuil gave me four hits and most of them were irrelevant to my research. Cuil said it had 1,116,835,248 hits, but I could only find a way to list four of these hits.

Go figure! Thus far the "World's Largest Search Engine" has a ways to go.

Another limitation is that Google has many cached documents where the original link is no longer active. Cuil does not mention a caching service.

First turn your speakers on and read in "Excel Magic Trick #73" in Cuil.
Results:  Nothing!

Next read in ""Excel Magic Trick #73" in Google.
Google's cached version takes you to an interesting video on the significant-digits bound in Excel.

Please let me know when and where Cuil is better than Google.

Also is Cuil like Yahoo in that early listing priority of hits goes to advertisers' sites?

If that's the case, Cuil will be a bummer. It does have Preferences button, but thus far that seems to be inactive.

July 28, 2008 reply from Schatzel, John [JSchatzel@STONEHILL.EDU]

I do a great deal of google searching almost everyday and so this is of great interest. To run a quick test, I went to (which is supposed to stand for "cool") and entered "audit simulation." I received nine rather large blocks of information relating to web sites that I found to be mostly irrelevant. I then tried "auditing simulation" and got pretty much the same thing. I also noticed that it was looking for "audit" and "simulation" separately and that there was no option for an advanced search, which on google allows you to combine words into phrases and sentences. I then tried "audit simulation" again, but this time with the quotes. This improved the results slightly, but most of the hits were still not very relevant. The links did have more information attached to them, but the information seemed to take up too much space. When I type "audit simulation" or "auditng simulation" into the basic google search page or toolbar, I get as most relevant. This makes more sense to me and when this link does not come up in at all, it leaves me thinking that cuil still has a long way to go. Thanks again, for the tip,

John Schatzel

"Google Beats Cuil Hands Down In Size And Relevance, But That Isn't The Whole Story." Michael Arrington, The Washington Post, July 28, 2008 ---

We've been testing the engine for the last hour. Based on our test queries Cuil is an excellent search engine, particularly since it is all of an hour old. But it doesn't appear to have the depth of results that Google has, despite their claims. And the results are not nearly as relevant.

. . .

It seems pretty clear that Google's index of web pages is significantly larger than Cuil's unless we're randomly choosing the wrong queries. Based on the queries above, Google is averaging nearly 10x the number of results of Cuil.

And Cuil's ranking isn't as good as Google's based on the pure results returned from both queries. Where Cuil excels is with the related categories, which return results that are extremely relevant. With Google, we've all gotten used to trying a slightly different search to get the refined results we need. Cuil does a good job of guessing what we'll want next and presents that in the top right widget. That means Cuil saves time for more research based queries.

And I want to reemphasize that Cuil is only an hour old at this point, Google has had a decade to perfect their search engine.

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at

What nation has the highest proportion of female lawmakers?

This nation had the bloodiest civil war in recent history.

Read what Cindy McCain writes about this issue?

"Rwanda's Women Are Leading the Way," by Cindy McCain, The Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2008; Page A13 ---

I have recently returned from Rwanda. I was last there in 1994, at the height of the genocide that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandans. The memories of what I saw haunt me still.

I wasn't sure what to expect all these years later, but I found a country that has found in its deep scars the will to move on and rebuild a civil society. And the renaissance is being led by women.

Women are at the forefront of the physical, emotional and spiritual healing that is moving Rwandan society forward. One of them, from eastern Rwanda, told me her story -- a violent, tragic and heartbreaking testimony of courage. She spoke of surviving multiple gang rapes, running at night in fear of losing her life, going days without food or water and witnessing the death of her entire family -- one person at a time, before her eyes.

The injuries she sustained left her unable to bear children. Illness, isolation and an utter lack of hope left her in abject despair.

And yet the day I met her, she wasn't consumed by hatred or resentment. She sat, talking with me and a few others, beside a man who had killed people guilty of nothing more than seeking shelter in a church. She forgave him. She forgave the perpetrators of her tragedy, and she explained her story with hope that such cruelty would never be repeated.

It is a humbling experience to be in the presence of those who have such a capacity for forgiveness and care. It is also instructive. If wealthy nations want their assistance programs to be effective, they should look to the women who form the backbone of every society. With some education, training, basic rights and empowerment, women will transform a society -- and the world.

Women today make up a disproportionate percentage of the Rwandan population. In the aftermath of the genocide, they had to head households bereft of fathers. They had to take over farms, and take jobs previously done by men. But there were opportunities, too: Today, 41% of Rwandan businesses are owned by women.

I saw their impact first hand at a coffee project in the city of Nyandungu. All the washing and coffee-bean selection is done by hand, by women there. Women to Women International, a remarkably active and innovative nongovernmental organization, has already helped over 15,000 Rwandan women through a year-long program of direct aid, job-skills training and education.

The organization is launching a project to train 3,000 women in organic agriculture, and is reaching out to females across the country. The women who instruct their fellow war survivors in economic development are an inspiration to those who cherish the essential benevolence of humanity.

But that is just the beginning. A new constitution ratified in 2003 required that women occupy at least 30% of the seats in parliament. (In our House and Senate only about 17% of the seats are filled by women.) Some wondered at the time whether it was feasible to meet this target. Now, nearly half of parliament and a third of the president's cabinet posts are held by women. Rwanda today has the world's highest percentage of female legislators.

Rwanda has a dark past but a bright future. It has a long way to go -- the country remains one of the world's poorest, and the social reverberations of the genocide are evident everywhere. Yet in the midst of tragedy, the women are building something genuinely new. Perhaps it is fitting that a nation so wracked by death could give birth to a vibrant new age. I know that one thing is clear: Through their bold and courageous actions, these women should inspire not only their fellow Africans, but all individuals -- men and women -- across the globe.

Jensen Comment
Cindy McCain is a wealthy and benevolent woman helping various social causes around the world. The above article is very sincere and probably helps her husband's Presidential campaign. Sadly, if Michele Obama had written the above article it might've hurt her husband's campaign. Such is the cost of the media's injection of race and gender (ala Hillary) into this campaign, especially in the case of Michelle Obama who, until recently, has been highly critical of racism and gender bias in the United States. Now she doesn't dare speak about or write about controversial race/gender issues, especially any issues that are rooted in Rev. Jeremiah Wright's rants. It doesn't help at all that Michelle Obama kept Wright as her pastor when Oprah Winfrey saw the dangers in doing so and dropped out of Trinity Church in 1986.

According to two sources, Winfrey was never comfortable with the tone of Wright's more incendiary sermons, which she knew had the power to damage her standing as America's favorite daytime talk-show host. "Oprah is a businesswoman, first and foremost," said one longtime friend, who requested anonymity when discussing Winfrey's personal sentiments. "She's always been aware that her audience is very mainstream, and doing anything to offend them just wouldn't be smart. She's been around black churches all her life, so Reverend Wright's anger-filled message didn't surprise her. But it just wasn't what she was looking for in a church." Oprah's decision to distance herself came as a surprise to Wright, who told Christianity Today in 2002 that when he would "run into her socially … she would say, 'Here's my pastor!' " (Winfrey declined to comment. A Harpo Productions spokesperson would not confirm her reasons for leaving the church.) But Winfrey also had spiritual reasons for the parting. In conversations at the time with a former business associate, who also asked for anonymity, Winfrey cited her fatigue with organized religion and a desire to be involved with a more inclusive ministry. In time, she found one: her own. "There is the Church of Oprah now," said her longtime friend, with a laugh. "She has her own following."
Allison Samuels, "Something Wasn’t Wright Why Oprah Winfrey left Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church," Newsweek, May 12, 2008 ---


Skype vs. Vonage ---

A One-Hour Video on What it Means to Be Predictably Irrational (July 25, 2008) ---
The video is also at
This is quite interesting!

From the Financial Rounds Blog on January 25, 2008 ---

"Dan Ariely (Duke University) - Predictably Irrational

Here's a video of Dan Ariely (author of "Predictably Irrational") in his recent talk for the Google Authors program. Ariely has written a fascinating book about some of the cognitive and behavioral biases that most of us exhibit. If you listen carefully, you'll find that he even gives a hint about how to increase your student evaluations ---


Summary of what it means to be "predictably irrational" ---

New York Times Book Review
"Emonomics," by David Berreby, The New York Times, March 16, 2008 ---

For years, the ideology of free markets bestrode the world, bending politics as well as economics to its core assumption: market forces produce the best solution to any problem. But these days, even Bill Gates says capitalism’s work is “unsatisfactory” for one-third of humanity, and not even Hillary Clinton supports Bill Clinton’s 1990s trade pacts.

Another sign that times are changing is “Predictably Irrational,” a book that both exemplifies and explains this shift in the cultural winds. Here, Dan Ariely, an economist at M.I.T., tells us that “life with fewer market norms and more social norms would be more satisfying, creative, fulfilling and fun.” By the way, the conference where he had this insight wasn’t sponsored by the Federal Reserve, where he is a researcher. It came to him at Burning Man, the annual anarchist conclave where clothes are optional and money is banned. Ariely calls it “the most accepting, social and caring place I had ever been.”

Obviously, this sly and lucid book is not about your grandfather’s dismal science. Ariely’s trade is behavioral economics, which is the study, by experiments, of what people actually do when they buy, sell, change jobs, marry and make other real-life decisions.

To see how arousal alters sexual attitudes, for example, Ariely and his colleagues asked young men to answer a questionnaire — then asked them to answer it again, only this time while indulging in Internet pornography on a laptop wrapped in Saran Wrap. (In that state, their answers to questions about sexual tastes,, violence and condom use were far less respectable.) To study the power of suggestion, Ariely’s team zapped volunteers with a little painful electricity, then offered fake pain pills costing either 10 cents or $2.50 (all reduced the pain, but the more expensive ones had a far greater effect). To see how social situations affect honesty, they created tests that made it easy to cheat, then looked at what happened if they reminded people right before the test of a moral rule. (It turned out that being reminded of any moral code — the Ten Commandments, the non-existent “M.I.T. honor system” — caused cheating to plummet.)

These sorts of rigorous but goofy-sounding experiments lend themselves to a genial, gee-whiz style, with which Ariely moves comfortably from the lab to broad social questions to his own life (why did he buy that Audi instead of a sensible minivan?). He is good-tempered company — if he mentions you in this book, you are going to be called “brilliant,” “fantastic” or “delightful” — and crystal clear about all he describes. But “Predictably Irrational” is a far more revolutionary book than its unthreatening manner lets on. It’s a concise summary of why today’s social science increasingly treats the markets-know-best model as a fairy tale.

At the heart of the market approach to understanding people is a set of assumptions. First, you are a coherent and unitary self. Second, you can be sure of what this self of yours wants and needs, and can predict what it will do. Third, you get some information about yourself from your body — objective facts about hunger, thirst, pain and pleasure that help guide your decisions. Standard economics, as Ariely writes, assumes that all of us, equipped with this sort of self, “know all the pertinent information about our decisions” and “we can calculate the value of the different options we face.” We are, for important decisions, rational, and that’s what makes markets so effective at finding value and allocating work. To borrow from H. L. Mencken, the market approach presumes that “the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

What the past few decades of work in psychology, sociology and economics has shown, as Ariely describes, is that all three of these assumptions are false. Yes, you have a rational self, but it’s not your only one, nor is it often in charge. A more accurate picture is that there are a bunch of different versions of you, who come to the fore under different conditions. We aren’t cool calculators of self-interest who sometimes go crazy; we’re crazies who are, under special circumstances, sometimes rational.

Ariely is not out to overthrow rationality. Instead, he and his fellow social scientists want to replace the “rational economic man” model with one that more accurately describes the real laws that drive human choices. In a chapter on “relativity,” for example, Ariely writes that evaluating two houses side by side yields different results than evaluating three — A, B and a somewhat less appealing version of A. The subpar A makes it easier to decide that A is better — not only better than the similar one, but better than B. The lesser version of A should have no effect on your rating of the other two buildings, but it does. Similarly, he describes the “zero price effect,” which marketers exploit to convince us to buy something we don’t really want or need in order to collect a “free” gift. “FREE! gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is,” Ariely writes. None of this is rational, but it is predictable.

What the reasoning self should do, he says, is set up guardrails to manage things during those many, many moments when reason is not in charge. (Though one might ask why the reasoning self should always be in charge, an assumption Ariely doesn’t examine too closely.)

For example, Ariely writes, we know our irrational self falls easily into wanting stuff we can’t afford and don’t need. So he proposes a credit card that encourages planning and self-control. After $50 is spent on chocolate this month — pfft, declined! He has in fact suggested this to a major bank. Of course, he knew that his idea would cut into the $17 billion a year that American banks make on consumer credit-card interest, but what the heck: money isn’t everything.


An Experiment With Toilet Paper and Other Messages ---

Other videos on being Predictably Irrational


Bob Jensen's threads on the economic theory of accounting are at 

Great Minds in Management:  The Process of Theory Development ---


How does Google's new Wikipedia-like online Encyclopedia differ from the real Wikipedia?

Colleges may one day give scholarly performance credit for authoring a module in Knol. In a sense it's like exposing your scholarship and research in such a way that the entire world may become "referees" of you contribution. Of course most of the modules fall into the realm of scholarship (mastery of existing knowledge) rather than research (contribution to new knowledge). The catch of course, is that the author must approve the reviewer's call. Darn! The rejected reviews may be, in most instances, be published in Wikipedia. In that sense Wikipedia is more academic.

"Google Presents Wikipedia Competitor," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2008 --- Click Here

Google today launched Knol, an online encyclopedia that, in many ways, mimics Wikipedia, the popular encyclopedia that anyone can edit. As in Wikipedia, anyone can create a page in Knol. But changes to the page become active only after they are approved by the page’s author or authors. And unlike Wikipedia, the author’s name is featured prominently on Knol articles.

Among the featured articles on the Knol site today are “How to Backpack,” “Lung Cancer,” and “Toilet Clogs.”

Daniel Colman, director and associate dean of Stanford University’s continuing-studies program and author of the blog OpenCulture, predicted in December that Knol would have a hard time attracting experts to write articles.

Bob Jensen's threads on "Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Google Open Encyclopedia, and YouTube as Knowledge Bases" are at

Harvard Study of Political Correctness in Academe
As older faculty retire, academe is becoming less politically correct.


Accounting professors as a group in this study purportedly are a little more liberal than their finance colleagues, but the difference is not likely to be highly significant in this study among 1,471 responses (in all disciplines) deemed to be valid replies. I suspect younger accounting faculty will follow the trend in other disciplines for younger doctoral graduates to be a bit more conservative than their older counterparts (I hesitate to say hippies) from the 1960s ---

Then Simmons analyzes disciplines, and finds sharp differences — largely consistent with previous studies about disciplines and political leanings. Humanities and social science fields tend to have higher politically correct rankings, while professional and science disciplines do not. The table that follows is in order of political correctness. Psychology is the only field where a majority of professors are politically correct. Four fields — finance, management information, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering — had no one who was politically correct.
"Defining Political Correctness and Its Non-Impact," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, July 25, 2008 ---

A major new study of the political correctness of faculty members may challenge assumptions all around. For those who deny that there is an identifiable group of PC professors, the study says that there is in fact a group with consistently common perspectives, largely based on their views of discrimination (that it exists and matters).

But for those who say that these tenured radicals have all the power in academe, the study finds that politically correct professors’ views on the role of politics in hiring decisions aren’t very different from the views of other professors. Further, the study finds that a critical mass of politically incorrect professors is doing quite well in securing jobs at the most prestigious universities in the United States, despite claims that such scholars are an endangered species there.

The study is based on data collected for a report released last year, “The Social and Political Views of American Professors,” which found that faculty members are more liberal than the public at large, but appear to be moderating compared to previous generations. That study — which was praised by many experts from varying perspectives for the breadth of its scope and depth of its data — asked professors many questions on social issues, but did not attempt to identify a politically correct cohort within academe.

The new study, which does so, was produced by Solon Simmons, co-author of last year’s report and an assistant professor of conflict analysis and resolution at George Mason. The study appears in The Forum, an online journal that has published numerous key studies on the issue of professors’ politics, including some that have been used to suggest that significant bias is present in the academy — a point of view the new study does not share.

The first thing that Simmons does in the study with the database — which covers a range of disciplines and institution types — is to identify a politically correct cohort, reflecting largely common views on a set of issues that are seen as defining political correctness. He finds a set of issues that produce this cohort.

The views are the belief that gender gaps in math and science fields are largely due to discrimination; support for affirmative action; and belief that discrimination is a key cause of racial inequities in American society. Generally, members of this cohort see race and gender as fundamental — and share that belief much more than beliefs about the curriculum or scholarship, such that the study says that “multiculturalism trumps postmodernism.”

In an interview, Simmons acknowledged that many people use “politically correct” to imply more than just shared political beliefs, but also an intolerance of other views. He said that his definition did not attempt to group people together beyond their shared political beliefs.

Then Simmons analyzes disciplines, and finds sharp differences — largely consistent with previous studies about disciplines and political leanings. Humanities and social science fields tend to have higher politically correct rankings, while professional and science disciplines do not. The table that follows is in order of political correctness. Psychology is the only field where a majority of professors are politically correct. Four fields — finance, management information, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering — had no one who was politically correct.

Political Correctness by Discipline

Discipline Moderately Correct Politically Incorrect Politically Correct Non-Committal
Psychology 15.2% 21.7% 58.7% 4.3%
Sociology 48.2% 1.8% 44.6% 5.4%
English 30.2% 18.9% 41.5% 9.4%
History 50.0% 16.7% 31.5% 1.9%
Elementary education 40.0% 28.9% 24.4% 6.7%
Communication 35.6% 31.1% 22.2% 11.1%
Nursing 41.8% 25.5% 18.2% 14.5%
Art 46.3% 17.1% 14.6% 22.0%
Business (general) 27.0% 37.8% 13.5% 21.6%
Political science 58.3% 14.6% 10.4% 16.7%
Criminal justice 63.6% 25.5% 9.1% 1.8%
Economics 32.6% 51.2% 4.7% 11.6%
Marketing 31.8% 43.2% 4.5% 20.5%
Accounting 40.0% 40.0% 4.0% 16.0%
Computer science 42.4% 48.5% 3.0% 6.1%
Biology 62.7% 19.6% 2.0% 15.7%
Finance 34.3% 34.3% 0.0% 31.4%
Management information 19.4% 72.2% 0.0% 8.3%
Mechanical engineering 17.6% 50.0% 0.0% 32.4%
Electrical engineering 34.1% 19.5% 0.0% 46.3%

The study then examines the breakdowns by college type. Again, consistent with findings that community college faculty members are less liberal than others, they are also less likely to be politically correct. The finding is important because one reason this database of faculty attitudes has been praised is that it includes community colleges — which have been left out of many other such studies despite their role in educating millions of students.

Notably, in community colleges and four-year colleges generally, the politically incorrect significantly outnumber the politically correct. (The “top 50 category” refers to the rankings of U.S. News & World Report.)

Political Correctness by Sector

Sector Moderately Correct Politically Incorrect Politically Correct Non-Committal
Community colleges 28.2% 26.5% 15.5% 29.8%
4-year colleges 38.8% 33.1% 17.5% 10.7%
Ph.D.-granting institutions 40.4% 22.4% 20.0% 17.2%
Liberal arts colleges 48.8% 18.8% 28.8% 3.8%
Top 50 32.9% 18.0% 38.9% 10.2%

After having shown that, while there are politically correct professors, there are many who are not, Simmons turns to data to examine what happens to those who are politically incorrect. Here he looks for “stars,” those who publish much more than others or who in other ways demonstrate levels of excellence beyond the norm. Here he finds considerable success by the politically incorrect. Of those at top 50 institutions, 73.3 percent are stars.

He reports that of politically incorrect stars, across institution types, 27.8 percent end up at top 50 institutions, while the other 72.2 percent do not. Of politically correct stars, 91.2 percent end up outside the top 50, suggesting that politically incorrect stars are more likely than their PC counterparts to end up at top institutions. While Simmons said that there are multiple ways to interpret these findings, they suggest at a minimum that some significant number of politically incorrect professors rise to the institutions of greatest prestige.

One of the big questions for the paper is whether political correctness — as defined in this study — matters. The charge made by conservative critics is that politically correct professors use classrooms to indoctrinate and try to prevent the hiring of conservatives. While not finding those trends, this study does find that the politically correct are less likely than other professors to keep their political views to themselves and more likely to be guided by their beliefs in suggesting research topics.

But on these questions, the politically correct are not monolithic, nor are those who are politically incorrect. For example, asked whether professors dealing with controversial topics should keep their views to themselves, 14.6 percent of the politically correct and 26.0 percent of the politically incorrect strongly agree, while 48.8 percent of the politically correct and 27.7 percent of the politically incorrect disagree.

When it comes to hiring and definitions of diversity, there is a strong belief — across levels of political correctness — that political tests should not be used. And while support isn’t quite as strong, there is also broad support across political correctness levels for the idea that the goal of campus diversity should include “fostering the diversity of political views among faculty members.”

Continued in article

The Harvard study itself is reported at
Also see

Bob Jensen's threads on political correctness


"A Moral Obligation to Retire?" Inside Higher Ed, July 21, 2008 ---

What's behind the trend for professors to stay full time on the job well beyond age 65?
"The Graying of College Faculties," The Becker-Posner Blog, July 6, 2008 ---


"Keeping an Eye on Online Students," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 21, 2008 --- 

Technology vendors are eager to sell college officials hardware and software designed to verify the identify of online students—and thereby prevent cheating. A free article in The Chronicle describes some of the technologies that colleges are trying out to make certain that the person taking an online exam is, in fact, the student enrolled in the course. The technologies include Web cameras that watch students taking tests and scanners that capture students’ fingerprints.

A provision in a bill reauthorizing the Higher Education Act is fueling much of the interest in this issue. A paper released in February by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education says the provision—while not onerous to most distance-learning providers—could “drive up the cost of these important education programs.”

And some online institutions fear that the provision would require them to have their students travel to distant locations to take proctored exams on paper. The result? Some states would conclude that the institutions have a “physical presence” in their states, and would subject the institutions to “a whole new set of state regulations,” says John F. Ebersole, president of Excelsior College.

Bob Jensen's threads on

In particular note Online Effectiveness and Testing ---
The above link discusses a number of ways to prevent online cheating.

Academic Calendar Issues (It's more than just quarters versus semesters)

"Why the Calendar Matters," by Samantha Stainburn, The New York Times, July 25, 2008 ---

Just as the world has become more homogeneous, so has the American academic calendar. The early-start, two-semester year, with finals in December, is now the standard. Only 2 percent of colleges and universities use the late-start semester, and a stubborn 15 percent have stuck with the quarter system. Does it make a difference? In fact, the way the academic year is divided has a lot to do with the way students can go about their education.


EXAMPLE University of Pennsylvania

WHAT The year runs just after Labor Day to Christmas and mid-January to mid-May. One reason the semester has won out over quarters is that it’s just cheaper to administrate admit students, collect and record grades, open and shut dorms two times a year instead of three or four.

PROS Studying one subject with the same teacher for 15 to 17 weeks allows in-depth exploration. With finals in December, material isn’t forgotten over break.

CONS Students are less willing than their peers on a quarter system to try a subject they know nothing about because, explains Dennis DeTurck, dean of the college of arts and sciences, “half a year seems like a long time.”



WHAT Fall semester runs from mid-September to late January, with exams after Christmas break. This schedule is out of favor. In fall 2009, after much hand wringing, Harvard will push its entire year forward. Princeton stands pat.

PROS Leisurely study time over break.

CONS Stressful study time over break. “The undergraduates made a strong case” for change, says Steven E. Hyman,the provost. “They felt they could use Christmas without exams hanging over them.”

EXAMPLE University of California, Davis

WHAT In 1968, to cope with overcrowding, the state established a year-round system with terms corresponding to the seasons. The hope was that attendance would spread across all four quarters. But given a choice, students opted to take summers off. The new Merced campus uses semesters, and Berkeley went back to them in the 1980s.

PROS Students take more courses, usually four a quarter, or 12 a year. (Semester students typically take 10.) Quarters force students to develop time-management skills, says Patricia A. Turner, vice provost of undergraduate studies. “You’re going to have midterms before you know it. You need to start papers as soon as you get the assignment because the quarter flies by quickly.”

CONS Spring quarter runs to mid-June. Students with internships timed to semesters have to broker deals allowing them to turn up late. Graduate students may not get the depth and writing time needed in a 10-week course.


EXAMPLE Dartmouth (N.H.)

WHAT Newly coed in 1972, the college needed to squeeze more students onto campus. Ground rules: Freshmen and seniors have to take summer quarter off; sophomores choose among fall, winter or spring; juniors can take any term off they want.

PROS Schedules can be tweaked to avoid the New Hampshire winter or to deal with personal issues. And fewer competitors are looking for internships and jobs in fall, winter and spring.

CONS “It can disrupt friendships and relationships, and presidents of student organizations come and go,” says Dan Nelson, senior associate dean. “The flip side is students end up interacting with different circles of friends and other people have a chance to take on leadership because the population is always churning.”


EXAMPLE Colorado College

WHAT Students take one course at a time, three hours a day for three and half weeks. Other adherents: Cornell College in Iowa and the University of Montana-Western.

PROS Other courses don’t compete for students’ attention. It’s easier to go on field trips, from a day in the Rockies studying geology to an entire course in Greece and Turkey studying Greek drama.

CONS If you miss a Friday class, you miss the equivalent of a week’s worth of work. If you hate a course, you don’t get a break until it’s over.

BLOCK I Sept. 1-24

II Sept 29-Oct. 22

III Oct. 27-Nov. 19

IV Nov. 24-Dec. 19

HALF BLOCK Jan. 5-15

V Jan. 19-Feb. 11

VI Feb. 16-March 11

VII March 23-April 15

VIII April 20-May 13


EXAMPLE St. Olaf College (Minn.)

WHAT At least 75 institutions use downtime in January for J-terms — two to three weeks of full-course intensives, quick trips abroad for credit or quirky electives (say, Zimbabwean marimba music at Williams). Some are optional. St. Olaf requires its J-term. Students can study abroad for credit or take an accelerated semester-long class, two to four hours a day with four hours of homework.

PROS Immersion in math and language especially helps grades in the school year. This isn’t basketweaving. It’s “Topics in Euclidian and Non-Euclidian Geometry.” And an abbreviated experience abroad is a national trend: it’s more affordable than an entire semester, and doesn’t interrupt sports or other extracurriculars.

CONS To fit in the term, semesters run a few weeks short, so instruction time is cut in those courses. January weather isn’t travel-friendly in northern Europe and China.


EXAMPLE Earlham College (Ind.)

WHAT When the college switched to two semesters in 1997 to align with other campuses, it tacked on May for natural science classes that needed outdoor time. Now, about 300 students choose to stick around for three weeks to take an experimental course or travel for credit.

PROS Classes that are full during the regular year might have room in May.

CONS It cuts into summer employment.

Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in higher education ---

ID Theft and Credit Card Advice

Hi Chris,

My rather unorganized advice on ID theft is at

The first thing I would do is check with your home owner’s insurance agent and find out what it costs to add ID theft protection to your policy. Mine only costs a few pennies a day and gives me some piece of mind if my ID is stolen.

 The second thing I would do is pay for the FICO credit reports recommended by Consumer Reports (don’t fall for free credit report gimmicks and frauds):
Your FICO credit score is crucial to your credit to your good name.  It can be altered without your knowing it due to fraud and errors.  Getting a free credit report may not give you a FICO scores as well.  The main advantage of the from is that it will give you your FICO score from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.  Consumer Reports (August, Page 18) notes that credit scores nearly always differ between the three major credit reporting agencies.  You may miss something if you only get one agency’s score.

The third thing I recommend is that you have a separate credit card (with a low credit line) that you use only for Internet purchases. Up here in the mountains we order things weekly on the Internet, especially from . It’s easy and we can buy almost anything from groceries to filters for our furnace humidifier to computer gadgets. For Internet purchases I have an Visa Card. Then if my number should happen to be stolen from an Internet vendor, my other credit cards are not contaminated.

We often order gifts for the grandchildren from Amazon and have them shipped directly to the little buggers. We're so cheap that we sometimes send them used things like used books and CDs. Amazon makes it easy to send used things in perfect quality.

Actually I don’t buy many things on the Internet except via Amazon. It’s so simple and safe at Amazon. All I have to do is put things in my shopping cart and place an order. Amazon remembers my credit card information and my mailing address so that I can click shop without having to touch the keyboard.To monitor your FICO score, Consumer Reports (August 2005, Page 17) recommends that you get the $44.85 package from

Mike Kearl has an interesting document online called "Credit Card Crazy" ---

 My credit card advice is at

 My ID theft advice on ID theft is at


YouTube versus Viddler versus Other Online Video Sources

July 19, 2008 message from Richard J. Campbell

Although youtube has a huge "market share", the quality of videos are degraded by the compression techniques that they use. Below is a link to a demo of another, better-quality site. 

Richard J. Campbell

July 20, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Richard,

Thank you for the Viddler link. I looked into this a bit and discovered that Viddler is more for the short home movies. As you know as well or better than me, video file compression is essential to making online video work well, especially since online video is beginning to clog the Internet. If I were an Internet czar I would ban uncompressed video.

Internet Gridlock Video is clogging the Internet
Video downloads are sucking up bandwidth at an unprecedented rate. A short magazine article might take six minutes to read online. Watching "The Evolution of Dance" also takes six minutes--but it requires you to download 100 times as much data. "The Evolution of Dance" alone has sent the equivalent of 250,000 DVDs' worth of data across the Internet.
"Internet Gridlock Video is clogging the Internet.: How we choose to unclog it will have far-reaching implications," by Larry Hardesty, MIT's Technology Review, July/August 2008 ---

Uncompressed Viddler videos only run for a max of about a minute. This makes Viddler unsuitable for training and education tutorials and full lectures relative to YouTube where videos in mpg compression can run up to ten minutes each video we upload. YouTube also lets colleges put up entire lectures from universities. For example, one of UC Berkeley's YouTube lectures in physics that runs 1.25 hours is at  [www_youtube_com] 

It would be absurd to put entire courses or even longer tutorials up in uncompressed video. Compression of a video can save upwards of 90% of the file space required for storage and uploading and downloading ---

File size is limited on Viddler to 500 Mb in contrast to YouTube’s one Gb limit (usually uploaded in mpg compression) which gives about 10 minutes of viewing at 640 x 480 resolution on YouTube for the general public. UC. Universities like UC Berkeley that put lots of free courses on YouTube must be making special arrangements to have file sizes of 10 GB or more per lesson.

The allowed video time on Viddler is just not good for tutorials. By way of illustration, compare the following tutorials in math and especially compare the image quality versus the running time versus the loading time:

You can view YouTube videos in full screen mode using one button on the bottom left. Viddler videos can also be viewed in full screen by first clicking on the menu button on the bottom left and then choosing the full screen option

Viddler ---
YouTube ---

Bob Jensen's video helpers ---

Bob Jensen's guide to free video lectures ---

BigThink:  YouTube for Scholars (where intellectuals may post their lectures on societal issues) ---

TED:  Technology, Entertainment, and Design Lectures ---

Open Science Directory ---

Free Feature Length Documentary Films --- 

The Visual Dictionary ---


Engine, ChunkIt, Marketed to College Students

A new search engine from TigerLogic Corporation, of Irvine Calif., is being pushed to scholars and researchers, among others. Called, ChunkIt, the search engine refines results from other search engines and databases, and displays chunks of text surrounding the key words. In one of the company's promotional videos, shown below, a stressed-out college student uses ChunkIt to narrow a search on the Russian Revolution via the Lexis/Nexis database. The student sports an Oberlin College sweatshirt and gripes about meeting a deadline for a research paper in two hours. Steven J. Bell, a research librarian at Temple University, picks apart the video on a blog from the Association of College and Research Libraries, noting that it gives short shrift to the skills of librarians. He questions why the student would need ChunkIt to refine his search when Lexis/Nexis already has tools available to narrow search results. His conclusion? ChunkIt is appropriate for use with other search engines like Google, but not with library databases.
Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 15, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at

Bob Jensen's threads on how experts/scholars search the Web are at

"Bad Advice for New Graduates," by P.J. O'Rourke, Change Magazine from the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement in Teaching, May-June 2008 --- 2008/full-bad-advice.html
P.J. O'Rourke is on of my favorite satire writers ---

Well, here you are at your college graduation. And I know what you’re thinking: “Gimme the sheepskin and get me outta here!” Not so fast. First you have to listen to a commencement speech.

Don’t moan.  I’m not going to “pass the wisdom of one generation down to the next.”  I’m a member of the 1960s generation. We didn’t have any wisdom.

We were the moron generation. We were the generation who believed we could stop the war in Vietnam by growing our hair long and dressing like circus clowns. We believed drugs would change everything—which they did, for John Belushi. We believed in free love. And the love was free, but we ended up paying a very high price for the sex.

My generation spoiled everything for you.  It has always been the special prerogative of youth to look and act weird and shock the grown-ups. But my generation exhausted the earth’s resources of weird. Weird clothes—we wore them. Weird beards—we grew them. Weird words and phrases—we said them. So, when it came your turn to look and act weird, you had to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues.

Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize.

True, my generation did have some good musicians. But those musicians are still out there touring. Therefore the only piece of good advice that I can give you is, don’t start a rock band. You won’t stand a chance against the Rolling Stones.

It’s my job to give you advice. But all the rest of the advice I’m going to give you is bad advice. I figure it this way: You’re finishing 16 years of education, and you’ve had all the good advice you can stand. Let me offer some relief.

1. Go out and make a bunch of money!
Here we are in the most prosperous country in the world, surrounded by all the comforts, conveniences, and security that money can provide, yet no American political, intellectual or cultural leader ever says to American young people, “Go out and make a bunch of money.” They say money can’t buy happiness. But it can rent it.

There’s nothing the matter with honest money-making. Wealth is not a pizza where if I have too many slices you have to eat the Domino’s box. In a free society, with the rule of law and property rights, no one loses when someone else gets rich.

2. Don’t be an idealist!
Don’t chain yourself to a redwood tree. Go be a corporate lawyer and make $500,000 a year. If you make $500,000 a year, no matter how much you try to cheat the IRS, you’ll end up paying $100,000 in taxes—property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes. That’s $100,000 worth of schools and sewers, fire fighters and police.  You’ll be doing good for society. Does chaining yourself to a redwood tree do society $100,000 worth of good?

Idealists are also bullies. The idealist is saying, “I care more about the redwood trees than you do. Oh, I know you care. But you only care as much as you have to. I care and care and care. I care so much I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, it broke up my marriage. And because I care more than you do, I’m a better person than you are. And because I’m a better person than you are, I have the right to boss you around.”

Get a pair of bolt-cutters and unleash that tree from the idealist.

Who does more to save the redwoods anyway—the person who’s chained to a tree or the person who founds the “Green Travel Redwood Tree-Hug Tour Company” and makes a million by turning redwoods into a resource more valuable than backyard deck railings, a resource that people will pay hundreds of dollar just to go look at?

So get rich. Don’t be an idealist. And ...

3. Get politically uninvolved!
Politics stink—and not just bad politics. All politics stink. Even democracy stinks. Imagine if our clothes were selected by the majority of shoppers, which would be teenage girls. I’d be standing here with my midriff exposed. Imagine deciding what’s for dinner by family secret ballot. I’ve got three kids and three dogs in my family. We’d be having Fruit Loops and rotten meat.

Think how we use the word politics. Are “office politics” ever a good thing? When somebody “plays politics” to get a promotion, does he or she deserve it? When we call a co-worker “a real politician,” is that a compliment?

But let me make a distinction between politics and politicians. Some people are under the misapprehension that the problem is politicians—certain politicians who stink. Impeach George Bush, and everything will be fine. Nab Ted Kennedy on a DUI, and the nation’s problems will be solved.

But the problem isn’t politicians—it’s politics. Politicians are chefs, some good, some bad. The problem isn’t the cook. The problem is the food. Or let me restate that: The problem isn’t the cook. The problem is the cookbook. The key ingredient of politics is the belief that all of society’s ills can be cured politically. This is like a cookbook where the recipe for everything is to fry it. The fruit cocktail is fried. The soup is fried. The salad is fried. So is the ice cream and cake. The pinot noir is rolled in bread crumbs and dunked in the deep-fat fryer. This is no way to cook up public policy.

Politics is greasy. Politics is slippery. Politics can’t tell the truth. But we can’t blame the politicians for that. Because just think what the truth would sound like on the campaign stump, even a little bitty bit of truth:

“No, I can’t fix public education. The problem isn’t funding or teachers’ unions or a lack of vouchers or an absence of computer equipment in the classrooms. The problem is your kids!”

4. Forget about fairness!
We all get confused about what role politics should play in life. This is because politics and life send contradictory messages.

Life sends us the message, “I’d better not be poor. I’d better get rich. I’d better make more money than other people.” Meanwhile politics sends us the message, “Some people make more money than other people. Some people are rich and others are poor. We’d better close that ‘income disparity gap.’ It’s so unfair!”

Well, I’m here to speak in favor of unfairness. I’ve got a ten-year-old at home. And she’s always saying, “That’s not fair.” When she says that, I say, “Honey, you’re cute. That’s not fair. Your family is pretty well off. That’s not fair. You were born in America. That’s not fair. Darling, you had better pray to God that things don’t start getting fair for you.”

To heck with the income disparity gap. What we need is more income, even if it means a bigger gap.

5. Be a religious extremist!
So don’t get involved with politics if you can help it, but if you can’t help it, read the Bible for political advice—even if you’re a Buddhist or an atheist or whatever. Using politics to create fairness is a sin. The Bible is very clear about this.

“Oh, gosh,” you’re thinking, “this is the worst advice yet. We get federal funding here. And the commencement speaker has just violated Constitutional law about separation of church and state.”

But hear me out. I am not, in fact, one of those people who believes that God is involved in politics. My attitude is: Observe politics in this country. Observe politics around the world. Observe politics down through history. Does it look like God’s involved? No, that would be Other Fellow who’s the political activist.

However, in one sense I do get my politics from the Bible, specifically from the 10th Commandment. The first nine Commandments concern theological principles and social law: Thou shalt not make graven images, steal, kill, et cetera. Fair enough. But then there’s the 10th: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.”

Here are God’s basic rules about how we should live, a brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts. And right at the end of it is “Don’t envy your buddy’s cow.” How did that make the top ten? Why would God, with just ten things to tell Moses, choose as one of them jealousy about livestock?

And yet think about how important this Commandment is to a community, to a nation, to a democracy. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don’t whine about what the people across the street have. Go get your own.

So do get rich. Don’t be an idealist. Stay out of politics. Forget about fairness. And I have another piece of advice:

6. Whenever you’re unsure about what course to take in life, ask yourself, “What would France do?”
You see, France is a treasure to mankind. French ideas, French beliefs, and French actions form a sort of loadstone for humanity. Because a moral compass needle needs a butt end. Whatever direction France is pointing in—toward Nazi collaboration, Communism, existentialism, Jerry Lewis movies, or President Sarkozy’s personal life—you can go the other way with a clear conscience.

One last thing.

7. Don’t listen to your elders!
After all, if the old person standing up here actually knew anything worth telling, he’d be charging you for it.

P. J. O’Rourke is the author of twelve books, most recently On The Wealth of Nations. He is a correspondent for The Weekly Standard and The Atlantic. He attended Miami University and Johns Hopkins and received his diplomas from both schools in the mail.

Jensen Comment
Firstly, nabbing Ted Kennedy on a DUI isn't all that easy, because he'll swim for it before you can get the cuffs on his wrists. Secondly, the French only won one war in history --- the French Revolution. Thirdly, the last line quoted above explains why my Website is free.

Have you checked to see if some student or fraternity has posted your tests online?
Here's one place to look, but it's certainly not the only place to find your tests online.

"Test-Answer Site Removes Professors' Ability to Block Their Tests," by Josh Fischman, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 16, 2008 ---

A Web site that invites students to post exam answers online for others to view,, has eliminated the ability of professors to request that tests from their courses be banned from the site.

Posting answers made some professors worry that students would use them to cheat on exams. Demir A. Oral, the operator of the site, told The Chronicle last week that he allowed professors to place their courses on a “Ban List” that would exclude their materials from the site. He said that 200 professors had made such requests and he had complied.

But a notice on the site now says “the Ban List is suspended.” It says that already-made ban requests will be honored. Professors must now wait for content to be posted before requesting removal, and submit a form stipulating that they own the copyright to the material and that their request meets requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Jensen Comment
One place to start when you want to see if one of your examinations is online is to see if it was "plagiarized?" ---

What questions might classroom teachers ask of their students,
the answers to which would allow a strong inference that the students "understood"?

"The Assessment of “Understanding,” by Lloyd Bond, Carnegie Foundation for Advancement in Teaching --- Click Here

Study to remember and you will forget.
Study to understand and you will remember.

I once sat on the dissertation committee of a graduate student in mathematics education who had examined whether advanced graduate students in math and science education could explain the logic underlying a popular procedure for extracting square roots by hand. Few could explain why the procedure worked. Intrigued by the results, she decided to investigate whether they could explain the logic underlying long division. To her surprise, most in her sample could not. All of the students were adept at division, but few understood why the procedure worked.

In a series of studies at Johns Hopkins University, researchers found that first year physics students could unerringly solve fairly sophisticated problems in classical physics involving moving bodies, but many did not understand the implications of their answers for the behavior of objects in the real world. For example, many could not draw the proper trajectories of objects cut from a swinging pendulum that their equations implied.

What then does it mean to “understand” something—a concept, a scientific principle, an extended rhetorical argument, a procedure or algorithm? What questions might classroom teachers ask of their students, the answers to which would allow a strong inference that the students “understood”? Every educator from kindergarten through graduate and professional school must grapple almost daily with this fundamental question. Do my students really “get it”? Do they genuinely understand the principle I was trying to get across at a level deeper than mere regurgitation? Rather than confront the problem head on, some teachers, perhaps in frustration, sidestep it. Rather then assign projects or construct examinations that probe students’ deep understanding, they require only that students apply the learned procedures to problems highly similar to those discussed in class. Other teachers with the inclination, time and wherewithal often resort to essay tests that invite their students to probe more deeply, but as often as not their students decline the invitation and stay on the surface.

I have thought about issues surrounding the measurement of understanding on and off for years, but have not systematically followed the literature on the topic. On a lark, I conducted three separate Google searches and obtained the following results:

  • “nature of understanding” 41,600 hits
  • “measurement of understanding” 66,000 hits
  • “assessment of understanding” 34,000 hits

Even with the addition of “classroom” to the search, the number of hits exceeded 9,000 for each search. The listings covered the spectrum—from suggestions to elementary school teachers on how to detect “bugs” in children’s understanding of addition and subtraction, to discussions of laboratory studies of brain activity during problem solving, to abstruse philosophical discussions in hermeneutics and epistemology. Clearly, this approach was taking me everywhere, which is to say, nowhere.

Fully aware that I am ignoring much that has been learned, I decided instead to draw upon personal experience—some 30 years in the classroom—to come up with a list of criteria that classroom teachers might use to assess understanding. The list is undoubtedly incomplete, but it is my hope that it will encourage teachers to not only think more carefully about how understanding might be assessed, but also—and perhaps more importantly—encourage them to think more creatively about the kinds of activities they assign their classes. These activities should stimulate students to study for understanding, rather than for mere regurgitation at test time.

The student who understands a principle, rule, procedure or concept should be able to do the following tasks (these are presented in no particular order and their actual difficulties are an empirical question):

Construct problems that illustrate the concept, principle, rule or procedure in question.
As the two anecdotes above illustrate, students may know how to use a procedure or solve specific textbook problems in a domain, but may still not fully understand the principle involved. A more stringent test of understanding would be that they can construct problems themselves that illustrate the principle. In addition to revealing much to instructors about the nature of students’ understanding, problem construction by students can be a powerful learning experience in its own right, for it requires the student to think carefully about such things as problem constraints and data sufficiency.

Identify and, if possible, correct a flawed application of a principle or procedure.
This is basically a check on conceptual and procedural knowledge. If a student truly understands a concept, principle or procedure, she should be able to recognize when it is faithfully and properly applied and when it is not. In the latter case, she should be able to explain and correct the misapplication.

Distinguish between instances and non-instances of a principle; or stated somewhat differently, recognize and explain “problem isomorphs,” that is, problems that differ in their context or surface features, but are illustrations of the same underlying principle.
In a famous and highly cited study by Michelene Chi and her colleagues at the Learning Research and Development Center, novice physics students and professors of physics were each presented with problems typically found in college physics texts and asked to sort or categorized them into groups that “go together” in some sense. They were then asked to explain the basis for their categorization. The basic finding (since replicated in many different disciplines) was that the novice physics students tended to sort problems on the basis of their surface features (e.g., pulley problems, work problems), whereas the experts tended to sort problems on the basis of their “deep structure,” the underlying physical laws that they illustrated (e.g., Newton’s third law of motion, the second law of thermodynamics). This profoundly revealing finding is usually discussed in the context of expert-novice comparisons and in studies of how proficiency develops, but it is also a powerful illustration of deep understanding.

Explain a principle or concept to a naïve audience.
One of the most difficult questions on an examination I took in graduate school was the following: “How would you explain factor analysis to your mother?” That I remember this question over 30 years later is strong testimony to the effect it had on me. I struggled mightily with it. But the question forced me to think about the underlying meaning of factor analysis in ways that had not occurred to me before.

Mathematics educator and researcher, Liping Ma, in her classic exposition Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999), describes the difficulty some fifth and sixth grade teachers in the United States encounter in explaining fundamental mathematical concepts to their charges. Many of the teachers in her sample, for example, confused division by 1/2 with division by two. The teachers could see on a verbal level that the two were different but they could neither explain the difference nor the numerical implications of that difference. It follows that they could not devise simple story problems and other exercises for fifth and sixth graders that would demonstrate the difference.

To be sure, students may well understand a principle, procedure or concept without being able to do all of the above. But a student who can do none of the above almost certainly does not understand, and students who can perform all of the above tasks flawlessly almost certainly do understand.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
This is a huge problem in accounting education, because so many of us teach "how to" procedures, often very complex procedures, without really knowing whether our students truly understand the implications of what they are doing for decision makers who use accounting information, for fraud detection, for fraud prevention, etc. For example, when teaching rules for asset capitalization versus expensing, it might help students better understand if they simultaneously learned about how and why Worldcom understated earnings by over a billion dollars by capitalizing expenditures that should have been expensed ---

July 18, 2008 reply from Barbara W. Scofield, University of Dallas [scofield@GSM.UDALLAS.EDU]

I have used the following essay question for several years in my online first course in accounting for MBAs.

ABC Company is paying the following for a new delivery vehicle: $24,000 to the car dealer $1,000 in sales taxes to the state $100 in a one-time fee for the title and the license plate $600 for one year of coverage in car insurance $30 per week in gasoline $60 per year in oil changes The total first year cash outflow for this vehicle is $27,320. How are these amounts reflected on the Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Statement of Cash Flows?

Every semester plenty of students tell me that there is a "car expense" on the income statement of 2x,xxx AND a "car" on the balance sheet of 2x,xxx. They miss the point entirely that they need to decide whether each expenditure is an expense or an asset.

My assessement of their learning: None.

Barbara W. Scofield
Associate Professor of Accounting
University of Dallas 

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at

Academic Researchers Displaying Their Lack of Scholarship
The prevalence of faulty citations impedes the growth of scientific knowledge. Faulty citations include omissions of relevant papers, incorrect references, and quotation errors that misreport findings. We discuss key studies in these areas. We then examine citations to "Estimating nonresponse bias in mail surveys," one of the most frequently cited papers from the Journal of Marketing Research, to illustrate these issues. This paper is especially useful in testing for quotation errors because it provides specific operational recommendations on adjusting for nonresponse bias; therefore, it allows us to determine whether the citing papers properly used the findings. By any number of measures, those doing survey research fail to cite this paper and, presumably, make inadequate adjustments for nonresponse bias. Furthermore, even when the paper was cited, 49 of the 50 studies that we examined reported its findings improperly. The inappropriate use of statistical-significance testing led researchers to conclude that nonresponse bias was not present in 76 percent of the studies in our sample. Only one of the studies in the sample made any adjustment for it. Judging from the original paper, we estimate that the study researchers should have predicted nonresponse bias and adjusted for 148 variables. In this case, the faulty citations seem to have arisen either because the authors did not read the original paper or because they did not fully understand its implications. To address the problem of omissions, we recommend that journals include a section on their websites to list all relevant papers that have been overlooked and show how the omitted paper relates to the published paper. In general, authors should routinely verify the accuracy of their sources by reading the cited papers. For substantive findings, they should attempt to contact the authors for confirmation or clarification of the results and methods. This would also provide them with the opportunity to enquire about other relevant references. Journal editors should require that authors sign statements that they have read the cited papers and, when appropriate, have attempted to verify the citations.
Malcolm Wright and J. Scott Armstrong, "The Ombudsman: Verification of Citations: Fawlty Towers of Knowledge?" Interfaces, Vol. 38, No. 2, March-April 2008, pp. 125-139 ---  [interfaces_journal_informs_org] 

Professors and Colleges Skating on the Edge of Questionable Ethics  ---

Putting Meat On The Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America --- 

Bob Jensen's threads on economic statistics are at

A former vice president of imaging and printing services at the Hewlett Packard Company (HP) pleaded guilty today to stealing trade secrets, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello for the Northern District of California. Atul Malhotra, 42, of Santa Barbara, Calif., was charged on June 27, 2007, in a one count information with theft of trade secrets. According to court documents, from Nov. 17, 1997, to April 28, 2006, Malhotra was employed by International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) as director of sales and business development in output...
FBI, July 11, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

"Should US Taxes on Gasoline be Higher?" by Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, The Becker-Posner Blog, July 21, 2008 ---

Gasoline prices have increased rapidly during the past several years, pushed up mainly by the sharply rising price of oil. A gallon of gasoline in the US rose from $1.50 in 2002 to $2 in 2004 to $2.50 in 2006 to over $4 at present. Gasoline prices almost trebled during these 6 years compared to very little change in nominal gas prices during the prior fifteen years. The US federal tax on gasoline has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon during this period of rapid growth in gasoline prices, while state excise taxes add another 21.5 cents per gallon. In addition, many local governments levy additional sales and other taxes on gasoline. Gasoline taxes have not risen much as the price of gasoline exploded upward.

The price of gasoline is much lower than in other rich countries mainly because American taxes are far smaller. For example, gasoline taxes in Germany and the United Kingdom amount to about $3 per gallon. Some economists and environmentalists have called for large increases in federal, state, and local taxes to make them more comparable to gasoline taxes in other countries. Others want these taxes to rise by enough so that at least they would have kept pace with the sharply rising pre-tax fuel prices. At the same time two presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and John McCain, proposed a temporary repeal during this summer of the federal tax in order to give consumers a little relief from the higher gas prices. We discuss the optimal tax on gasoline, and how the sharp increase in gas prices affected its magnitude.

Taxes on gasoline are a way to induce consumers to incorporate the "external" damages to others into their decision of how much to drive and where to drive. These externalities include the effects of driving on local and global pollution, such as the contribution to global warming from the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by burnt gasoline. One other important externality is the contribution of additional driving to road congestion that slows the driving speeds of everyone and increases the time it takes to go a given distance. Others include automobile accidents that injure drivers and pedestrians, and the effect of using additional gasoline on the degree of dependence on imported oil from the Middle East and other not very stable parts of the world.

A careful 2007 study by authors from Resources for the Future evaluates the magnitudes of all these externalities from driving in the US (see Harrington, Parry, and Walls, "Automobile Externalities and Policies", Journal of Economic Literature, 2007, pp 374-400). They estimate the total external costs of driving at 228 cents per gallon of gas used, or at 10.9 cents per mile driven, with the typical car owned by American drivers. Their breakdown of this total among different sources is interesting and a little surprising. They attribute only 6 cents of the total external cost to the effects of gasoline consumption on global warming through the emission of carbon into the atmosphere from the burning of gasoline, and 12 cents from the increased dependency on imported oil. Perhaps their estimate of only 6 cents per gallon is a large underestimate of the harmful effects of gasoline use on global warming. Yet even if we treble their estimate, that only raises total costs of gasoline use due to the effects on global warming by 12 cents per gallon. That still leaves the vast majority of the external costs of driving to other factors.

They figure that local pollution effects amount to 42 cents per gallon, which makes these costs much more important than even the trebled cost of global warming. According to their estimates, still more important costs are those due to congestion and accidents, since these are 105 cents and 63 cents per gallon, respectively. Their figure for the cost of traffic accidents is likely too high –as the authors' recognize- because it includes the cost in damages to property and person of single vehicle accidents, as when a car hits a tree. Presumably, single vehicle accidents are not true externalities because drivers and their passengers would consider their possibility and internalize them into their driving decisions. Moreover, the large effect of drunk driving on the likelihood of accidents should be treated separately from a gasoline tax by directly punishing drunk drivers rather than punishing also sober drivers who are far less likely to get into accidents.

On the surface, these calculations suggest that American taxes on gasoline, totaling across all levels of government to about 45 cents per gallon, are much too low. However, the federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon is almost exactly equal to their figure of 18 cents per gallon as the external costs of global warming and oil dependency. To be sure, a trebled estimate for global warming would bring theirs up to 30 cents per gallon. However, the federal government also taxes driving through its mandated fuel efficiency standards for cars, although this is an inefficient way to tax driving since it taxes the type of car rather than driving. Still, the overall level of federal taxes does not fall much short, if at all, from the adjusted estimate of 30 cents per gallon of damages due to the effects of gasoline use on global warming and oil dependency.

Any shortfall in taxes would be at the state and local levels in combating externalities due to local pollution effects, and to auto accidents and congestion on mainly local roads. Here too, however, the discrepancy between actual and optimal gasoline taxes is far smaller than it may seem, and not only because single vehicle accidents are included in their estimate of the cost of car accidents, and accidents due to drunk driving should be discouraged through punishments to drunk drivers. One important reason is that congestion should be reduced not by general gasoline taxes, but by special congestion taxes- as used in London and a few other cities- that vary in amount with degree of congestion (see our discussion of congestion taxes on February 12, 2006). Congestion taxes are a far more efficient way to reduce congestion than are general taxes on gasoline that apply also when congestion is slight.

In addition and often overlooked, the sharp rise in pre-tax gasoline prices has partly accomplished the local pollution and auto accident goals that would be achieved by higher gas taxes. For higher prices have cut driving, just as taxes would, and will cut driving further in the future as consumers continue to adjust the amount and time of their driving to gasoline that costs more than $4 a gallon. Reduced driving will lower pollution and auto accidents by reducing the number of cars on the road during any time period, especially during heavily traveled times when pollution and accidents are more common.

The effects of high gas prices in reducing congestion, local pollution, and accident externalities could be substantial. These authors estimate the size of local driving externalities, aside from congestion costs, at 105 cents per gallon. Even after the sharp run up in gas prices, this may still exceed the 28 cents per gallon of actual state and local taxes, but the gap probably is small. It surely is a lot smaller than it was before gas prices exploded on the back of the climb in the cost of oil. In effect, by reducing driving, higher gasoline prices have already done much of the work in reducing externalities that bigger gas taxes would have done when prices were lower.


"Should US Taxes on Gasoline be Higher?" Richard Posner, The Becker-Posner Blog, July 21, 2008 ---

The economic study that Becker discusses treats gasoline taxes as a form of regulatory taxation, that is, taxation aimed at altering behavior rather than at collecting revenue. A gasoline tax is an excise tax, and excise taxes are a common method of raising revenue to pay for government. The best excise tax from a revenue-raising standpoint is one that causes minimum substitution against the taxed good or service, since (in the absence of externalities) such substitution distorts the efficient allocation of resources and reduces the revenues that the tax was supposed to generate. A regulatory tax aims at substitution because of the externalities caused by the taxed good or service, but complete substitution is rarely achieved (and indeed would usually be inefficient), and so a regulatory tax raises revenue as well as altering behavior. My guess is that the very high gasoline taxes in Europe, which are primarily responsible for the fact that the price of gasoline in Europe is on average almost twice the U.S. price, are intended and effective as revenue-raising devices, since those taxes antedate the current concerns with global warming, dependence on oil supplies from hostile or unstable nations, pollution, and acute traffic congestion. Whether from a revenue standpoint a stiff gasoline tax is an efficient tax, I do not know. But my guess is that it is. Since distances are shorter in Europe and public transportation far more extensive, Europeans can substitute against gasoline more easily than Americans can; nevertheless the very high price of gasoline in Europe, though for years it has been higher than U.S. prices are now, has not prevented demand for gasoline from growing, though in part this is due to extensive European construction of new non-toll highways and roads. An excise tax on a single commodity will not generate a great deal of revenue, because of its narrow base, but can be justified as part of a comprehensive system of excise taxes.

It is likely, judging from U.S. consumers' reaction to the recent increase in the price of gasoline, that a steep hike in the gasoline tax (I am treating the state and federal gasoline taxes as a single tax) would cause a further reduction in demand. Consumers would drive less (some of them by moving closer to work--and telecommuting would increase) and would switch at a higher rate to vehicles with better gas mileage. At some point, however, the fall in demand might cause the price of oil to decline. The reason is that the supply curve for oil is upward-sloping, meaning that a reduction in demand and hence in supply will reduce price. I say "might" cause the price of oil to decline because world demand for oil might continue to rise even if U.S. demand fell, in which event the world price would not decline.

I wonder, too, whether the recent decline in U.S. gasoline consumption doesn't represent to some degree an irrational panic reaction. To take a huge loss on the sale of your SUV in a market that is depressed because so many other people are doing the same thing at the same time is unlikely to be justified by the gains from the improved gas mileage of the car you buy with the modest proceeds of the sale. Likewise, driving a substantial distance to save a few cents a gallon on the gas you buy is unlikely to be worthwhile. A recent article suggests that people fixate on the price of gasoline because unlike most regularly purchased items, such as food, gasoline is purchased separately from other items so that its price is not buried in a bill for multiple items.

The economic study that Becker cites finds only modest externalities from gasoline consumption, and this argues for keeping our gasoline taxes low if we think of such taxes as primarily regulatory rather than revenue-raising. But except for its effect in reducing highway accidents by reducing the amount of driving, a gasoline tax is not an efficient regulatory tax. Congestion should be taxed directly, since people who travel on uncongested roads do not contribute to congestion. And the carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels (including gasoline) should be taxed, not gasoline, because a tax on gasoline does not create an incentive to produce lower emissions per gallon. Furthermore, taxing gasoline but not aviation fuel will increase the demand for air transportation, a potent source of both congestion and carbon emissions. Even the conventional pollutants produced by the internal-combustion engine do not argue strongly for a regulatory gasoline tax, because these pollutants, in the form of smog for example, reduce global warming by blocking sunlight. And from the standpoint of reducing our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, the proper tax is one on oil, rather than one on just one oil product.

Hence the case for higher gasoline taxes should rest primarily on the efficiency of such taxes as revenue-raising devices. Even if as I suspect they are efficient revenue-raising taxes, the time to impose this is when gasoline prices fall, not now when consumers are screaming. Once people adjust to a price of $4.50 per gallon of gasoline, any fall in that price can be offset by an increase in gasoline taxes. A complication is that a tax on carbon emissions will, depending on how stiff it is, retard any natural, market-drive reduction in the price of gasoline. A further complication is that the calculation of an optimal carbon-emissions tax is impossible because the costs of global warming and the benefits (in reducing those costs) from a tax on carbon emissions cannot at present be estimated with even minimal confidence.


"Insolvency: a licence to print money:  Chapter 11 is not all it's cracked up," by Prim Sikka, "The Guardian," July 17, 2008 ---

David Cameron wants to reform insolvency procedures. Rather than scrutinising the UK's existing practices, he wants to import the US practices, particularly "Chapter 11" of the US Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 11 has some merits. It gives distressed companies breathing space to reorganise their financial affairs, protect some jobs and forestall bankruptcy, but it also has unexpected outcomes.

WorldCom was one of the biggest US corporate frauds of recent years. The company's reporting of fictitious profits exerted pressure on its competitors and destroyed several of them. The fraud resulted in loss of jobs, savings, investments and pensions. WorldCom also avoided billions of dollars in taxes. In 2002, WorldCom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, secured new finance and in 2004 re-emerged as MCI. The revamping generated millions of dollars in fees for accountants and lawyers. As part of the bankruptcy processes, creditors agreed to forego some of the amounts due to them. With lower interest charges and depreciation on its assets, WorldCom has been able to portray itself as a sound company. The same advantages are not available to those companies who did not indulge in fraudulent activities.

WorldCom's survival is of little consolation to those who tried to compete honestly with the original entity. Those who originally supported the company now find that their financial interests are less well protected than the new backers.

Chapter 11 proceedings have increasingly been used by companies for "strategic bankruptcies" – in other words, they have used the law to avoid leasing agreements, employee rights, tax payments, damages awarded against them by courts and even to defeat unwelcome takeover bids. Airlines have frequently resorted to Chapter 11 processes to reconstruct their affairs and avoid making debt repayments. One book highlights how Continental Airlines used the process to cut labour costs. A company facing asbestos related claims declared itself insolvent to avoid paying compensation to victims.

Cameron's interest in Chapter 11 may well be a publicity stunt. At the height of the last recession, the then Conservative government could have introduced Chapter 11 reforms, but it did not - as shown by parliamentary replies from ministers. The Conservatives also opposed making the fees charged by insolvency practitioners more transparent, and even the idea of a bankruptcy court that might have adjudicated on disputes between insolvency practitioners and stakeholders.

The UK's woeful current insolvency laws allow viable businesses to be placed into liquidation. The process typically begins with the bank, usually a secured creditor, sending accountants to review the financial health of a debtor company. If the accountants conclude that all is well, they stand to receive a one-off fee from the bank. However, if they raise doubts and then persuade the bank to appoint the same accounting firm as receivers or liquidators, they could be collecting fees for years to come. There is an inevitable conflict of interests and many good businesses have been placed into liquidation. Some years ago, Royal Bank of Scotland declared that it would not award receiverships to any accounting firm which had previously acted as reporting accountants for the client in question. It subsequently reported a 60% reduction in the number of business recommended for receivership and liquidations.

Insolvency is a licence to print money. Practitioners are paid before any creditor and can charge more than £600 for an hour's work. They do not owe a "duty of care" to all stakeholders affected by their practices, and that provides plenty of incentives to prolong insolvencies. Both Maxwell Communication Corporation plc (looted by Robert Maxwell) and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) began liquidation proceedings in 1991. Neither has been finalised, but MCC plc has generated £88m in fees for the insolvency practitioners and BCCI's liquidators have collected over £400m. Nor are these cases unusual. Almost 5,000 companies where the administration or liquidation process began between 10 and fifteen years ago , and 12,571 companies where the administration or liquidation process began more than 15 years ago are not finalised.

David Cameron could advance his new-found interest in business insolvencies by commissioning an independent investigation into the insolvency industry. Currently, seven buck-passing and ineffective regulators regulate around 1,600 licensed practitioners. Theses should be replaced by one independent regulator who owes a duty of care to all stakeholders. Reporting accountants should not be allowed to become receivers and liquidators. There should be an independent complaints investigations procedure, and an ombudsman should adjudicate on disputes. These modest reforms could save many businesses from vultures. Is the Tory leader willing to take on big accounting firms and open a new chapter in saving jobs?

Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at

The Cultural Significance of Free Software
"It’s All Geek to Me," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, July 16, 2008 ---

As a nerd, my bias is towards paper-and-ink books, and while I do indeed use information technology, asking a coherent question about how any of it works is evidently beyond me. A geek, by contrast, knows source code....has strong opinions about source code....can talk to other geeks about source code, and at some length. (One imagines them doing so via high-pitched clicking noises.) My wife understands network protocols. I think that Network Protocols would be a pretty good name for a retro-‘90s dance band.

This is more than a matter of temperament. It is a cultural difference that makes a difference. The nerd/geek divide manifested itself at the recent meeting of the Association of American University Presses, for example. Most people in scholarly publishing are nerds. But they feel like people now want them to become geeks, and this is not an expectation likely to yield happiness.

Christopher M. Kelty’s Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software, just published in dead-tree format by Duke University Press, might help foster understanding between the tribes. The book itself is available for free online. (The author also contributes to the popular academic group-blog Savage Minds.)

Kelty, an assistant professor of anthropology at Rice University, has done years of fieldwork among geeks, but Two Bits is not really a work of ethnography. Instead of describing geek life at the level of everyday experience or identity-shaping rituals, Kelty digs into the history and broader implications of one core element of geek identity and activity: the question of “open source” or “free” software. Those terms are loaded, and not quite equivalent, even if the nuance tends to be lost on outsiders. At issue, in either case, is not just the availability to users of particular programs, but full access to their inner workings – so that geeks can tinker, experiment, and invent new uses.

The expression “Free Software,” as Kelty capitalizes it, has overtones of a social movement, for which openness and transparency are values that can be embedded in technology itself, and then spread throughout institutions that use it. By contrast, the slightly older usage “open source” tends to be used when the element of openness is seen as a “development methodology” that is pragmatically useful without necessarily having major consequences. Both terms have been around since 1998. The fact that they are identical in reference yet point to a substantial difference of perspective is important. “It was in 1998-99,” writes Kelty, “that geeks came to recognize that they were all doing the same thing and, almost immediately, to argue about it.”

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing are at

July 16, 2008 reply from George Wright [geo@LOYOLA.EDU]

[... quoted text is from Scott McLemee, not Bob]
 The expression "Free Software," as Kelty capitalizes it, has overtones of a social movement, for which openness and transparency are values that can be embedded in technology itself, and then spread throughout institutions that use it.

Some would say the expression has much more than overtones :-)!

The Free Software Foundation ( ) claims lineage from 1985. It was founded by Richard M. Stallman
( ) , who left employment at the MIT AI lab to start it.

To get a flavor for the social overtones, see rms' wikipedia page. Then look at the Gnu philosophy ). You'll find the terms "nasty," "draconian," "stool pigeons," "raids," and "prosecution" said to resemble the former Soviet Union. Ironically, rms later complains about name calling and exaggeration :-).

By contrast, the slightly older usage "open source" tends to be used > when the element of openness is seen as a "development methodology" > that is pragmatically useful without necessarily having major > consequences.

I'd say the term "open source" is slightly newer than "free software." In 1998, the Open Source Initiative was founded ( I'd say the OSI founders appreciated the virtues of free software (free in the sense of unrestricted, not in the sense of gratis, as rms will tell you), but didn't want the burden of rms' zealotry and activism to get in the way.

>Both terms have been around since 1998. The fact that they are identical in reference yet point to a substantial difference of perspective is important.

The FSF definition of free software is at .

The OSI definition is at

Seems to me the key difference is that OSI says open-source software can be distributed with proprietary software and that any open-source license does NOT pertain to proprietary parts.

My take is that OSI is a reaction to the FSF’s manifest dismay about “acceptability to big business.” Wouldn't a business decision maker hesitate to use software from a source determined not to be swayed by considerations of acceptability to business? That's what "social overtones" will do for you :-).

OSI claims to give you what FSF does without the anti-business tub-thumping. As the site says, “The winning substance has not changed, the losing attitude and symbolism have.”

I don't mean this as anti-rms. I just recognize that the man is simultaneously both a reason for and an impediment to free software.


Global Price Trends ---

"Global Finance Leaders Release Comprehensive Proposals to Strengthen the Financial Industry and Financial Markets," Institute for International Finance, July 17, 2008 ---

The world’s leading financial services firms today released a far-reaching report 1 detailing best practice reforms for the industry. The report represents the global industry’s response to the turmoil in financial markets that was triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage market crisis in mid-2007. Today’s 200-page report is published by the Institute of International Finance, the association of leading financial services firms with more than 380 members across the world. The report proposes Principles of Conduct together with Best Practice Recommendations on critical issues such as risk management, compensation policies, valuation of assets, liquidity management, underwriting and the rating of structured products as well as boosting transparency and disclosure

"Ways to Unlock The Potential of a BlackBerry," Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2008; Page D1---

If you're a BlackBerry user, you're probably getting tired of hearing about all the things Apple's iPhone can do. Rumor even has it that a more iPhone-like BlackBerry is in the works. But don't despond: Your current trusty emailing device has a few tricks up its sleeve that you may not know about.

This week, I gathered up some useful shortcuts that come built into most of the BlackBerrys, even older models, made by Research In Motion Ltd. but not many owners actually use or know about them. Ironically, most of these shortcuts are conducted using a BlackBerry feature that the iPhone lacks: its physical keyboard. (The iPhone uses a virtual keyboard that appears on-screen only when needed.)

Some of these shortcuts are seemingly obvious, like number or capitalization locks, but others are more obscure, like codes that can be entered to display the BlackBerry's precise signal strength. Some shortcuts are performed with a single keystroke; others work in conjunction with a trackwheel or trackball, depending on your BlackBerry model, and still others work when two keys are pressed simultaneously. BlackBerrys with condensed keyboards that use auto-correcting SureType may require extra or different keystrokes.

Some useful shortcuts are built into most BlackBerrys, even older models, though not many owners actually use or know about them. Most of these shortcuts are conducted using a BlackBerry feature that the iPhone lacks: its physical keyboard.

Navigation Simplified

A series of keystrokes work in various BlackBerry applications to make navigation much faster. Pressing the Space bar works like Page Down on a computer keyboard, moving down one screen per press. Holding Shift while pressing the Space bar moves in the opposite direction, like the Page Up key. To quickly move to the very top or bottom of a page, press "T" or "B," respectively. Another way to page down or up through lists is to hold the ALT key while scrolling with the trackwheel.

Users can toggle between the BlackBerry's running applications without the extra step of navigating back to the Home screen. To do this, press ALT and the Escape key, then release Escape and use the trackwheel to scroll through a display of icons that represent running programs until you reach the desired program, then release the ALT key to select that program.

Messaging Magic

Shortcuts in BlackBerry messaging can be a real boon when you're trying to get work done quickly. While looking at a list of emails, hit "C" to immediately start composing a new email. When a specific email is highlighted, pressing "R" will reply to that message; "L" will reply to all and "F" will forward it. Hitting "J" while an email is highlighted will jump directly to the oldest message in that email chain.

A list of emails can be more neatly organized from the message screen by holding the ALT key and pressing a letter. "I" will alter the list to show only incoming emails, "O" will show just those emails that were sent. "P" shows a phone log, including dates and times, and "s" displays all SMS messages made or received on the BlackBerry.

In the body of a message, pressing the Space bar twice inserts a period and capitalizes the next word. When the left Shift key and ALT are pressed together, the keyboard's number lock is on; the right Shift key and ALT work as the caps lock. Holding any letter down will capitalize it, saving users from pressing another key to do so. To type a letter with an accent, hold the letter key down while scrolling up or down with the trackwheel until you find the correctly accented letter.

Type Less, Say More

While composing emails, a series of AutoText codes can be typed in the email body to automatically display certain phrases or information. Typing "mynumber" and a space in the text of an email will automatically display your BlackBerry's phone number. Similarly, when "LD" is entered the local date is displayed, and when "LT" is typed the local time appears.

If your email inbox is full and you can't send emails, find out the PIN of your recipient's BlackBerry and use it to message the person directly. (To find your own PIN, type "mypin" and a space into the body of an email. This code can be used to send PIN messages from one device to another without using the device's usual email system.)

Geeky Codes

If you're just dying to know some techie details about your BlackBerry, the "Help Me!" screen will be right up your alley. To view the "Help Me!" screen, press ALT, Shift and "H" simultaneously. This displays data that won't matter much to the average person, such as the device's vendor ID, platform and free file space. But it also shows the exact percentage of remaining battery power on the BlackBerry, which could be helpful if you aren't sure how to interpret the imprecise battery indicator bars at the top of the home screen.

Another way to geek up your BlackBerry is to change its signal strength indicator from bars to numbers that tell how many decibels per milliwatt the device is transmitting. To do this, go to the Home screen and hold down the ALT button while typing "NMLL." My BlackBerry displayed a minus 75 when I made this change. Strengths of minus 50 to minus 90 are said to be good, while anything higher, like minus 100, isn't. Though this numerical indicator won't likely be of any practical use, you could use it to turn to a friend and compare reception during an excruciatingly boring meeting.

One way to impress a technophile on a date is by pulling up a BlackBerry's Event Log. To do this, go to the Home screen and hold down ALT while typing "LGLG." This retrieves a long list of numerous confusing codes representing the functions that were performed on your device. The Menu screen in the Event Log gives users the option to clear this log, freeing up some BlackBerry memory, while an Options screen lets people set the log up to record only certain kinds of activities.

Finally, to reboot your BlackBerry without removing its plastic back and taking out the battery, press ALT, Right Shift and Delete simultaneously. More codes can be found in the blogosphere or in a special section of RIM's Web site: Adopting just one of these shortcuts can significantly change the way you use your BlackBerry.

Continued in article


Free 150-Year Old College for the Poor from Appalachia ---

"With No Frills or Tuition, a College Draws Notice," by Tamar Lewin, The New York Times, July 21, 2008 ---

Berea College, founded 150 years ago to educate freed slaves and “poor white mountaineers,” accepts only applicants from low-income families, and it charges no tuition.

“You can literally come to Berea with nothing but what you can carry, and graduate debt free,” said Joseph P. Bagnoli Jr., the associate provost for enrollment management. “We call it the best education money can’t buy.”

Actually, what buys that education is Berea’s $1.1 billion endowment, which puts the college among the nation’s wealthiest. But unlike most well-endowed colleges, Berea has no football team, coed dorms, hot tubs or climbing walls. Instead, it has a no-frills budget, with food from the college farm, handmade furniture from the college crafts workshops, and 10-hour-a-week campus jobs for every student.

Berea’s approach provides an unusual perspective on the growing debate over whether the wealthiest universities are doing enough for the public good to warrant their tax exemption, or simply hoarding money to serve an elite few. As many elite universities scramble to recruit more low-income students, Berea’s no-tuition model has attracted increasing attention.

“Asking whether that’s where our values lead us is a powerful way to consider what our values are,” said Anthony Marx, the president of Amherst College, who considered the possibility of using Amherst’s $1 million-per-student endowment to offer free tuition but concluded that it would make no sense, given Amherst’s more affluent student body and the fact that the college already subsidizes about half the cost of each student’s education.

“We’re not Berea, much as we respect them,” Mr. Marx said, adding there would be no social justification for giving free tuition to students from wealthy families.

Although this year’s market drop is taking its toll, the growth in university endowments in recent years has been spectacular. Harvard’s $35 billion endowment, Yale’s $23 billion, Stanford’s $17 billion and Princeton’s $16 billion put them among the world’s richest institutions.

Such endowments have helped make higher education one of the nation’s crown jewels. As Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, said in her spring commencement speech this year, endowments at Harvard and other research universities help fuel scientific advances as government support is eroding, and help drive economic growth and expansion in a difficult economy.

Although most universities have only modest endowments, the wealth of the richest has made them increasingly vulnerable to criticism from parents upset about rising tuition costs, lawmakers pushing them to spend more of their money and policy experts arguing that they should be helping more needy students.

“How much do you need to save for future generations, and at what point are you gouging today’s generation?” said Lynne Munson, of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington.

In January, the Senate Finance Committee requested detailed endowment and spending data from 136 colleges and universities with endowments of at least $500 million, with a possible eye to forcing them to spend at least 5 percent of their assets each year, as foundations are required to do. Large, tax-free endowments “should mean affordable education for more students, not just a security blanket for colleges,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who is reviewing the data.

The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt section said this spring that he wanted his agency to be more aggressive in ensuring that universities made “appropriate use” of their endowments. And officials in Massachusetts are studying a proposal for a 2.5 percent tax on the part of university endowments greater than $1 billion — a threshold exceeded by nine of the state’s universities.

“The endowments have grown to such an astonishing extent that people are asking, if the wealth and the value of the tax exemption are increasing, is the public benefit increasing, as well?” said Evelyn Brody, a tax professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

This year, Ms. Brody said, the debate has entered new territory. Traditionally, discussion about endowments has focused on the balance between using the money for the current generation versus saving it for the benefit of future generations.

“Endowment spending has usually been a ‘when’ question, about when the money would be used for a charitable purpose,” she said. “But now, it’s also being viewed as a ‘what’ question. What is the money for? And I think that’s new.”

In part, it is simply a question of itchy fingers. When one sector amasses great wealth, other sectors find it irresistible.

Continued in article


Jensen Comment
Although Berea has no football team, it does have 16 sports teams that compete in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Berea has quite a few academic programs for 1,500 on-campus students, including nursing and business administration majors and including accounting courses up to and including auditing and theory.

It's accreditations are discussed at

Berea's Christian commitment is discussed at

Admission preferences go to poor black and white students from Appalachia

Residential life is discussed at

A Fact Book is available at

July 22, 2008 reply from Barbara W. Scofield, University of Dallas [scofield@GSM.UDALLAS.EDU]

Berea College has a great hotel that serves authentic fare. I had my first taste of spoon bread there. It is a Kentucky treasure.

Barbara W. Scofield
University of Dallas


Free online textbooks, cases, and tutorials in accounting, finance, economics, and statistics ---
Scroll down to Accounting

Free CPA Review Course ---

July 22, 2008 message from Dan Stone, Univ. of Kentucky [dstone@UKY.EDU]

Regarding the free CPA Review Course --- 

1. Should I recommend this site as a CPA prep resource for students? What are the time &/or financial costs to students?

2. What's their business model?


Dan S.

July 22, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Dan,

Answer to Question 2
This appears to be pretty much a public service site run by three old guys interested in helping people study for the CPA exam --- 
My hat is off to them if there is no hidden agenda. If there is a hidden agenda, I can't find it.

It's possible that one or more of them might be engaged privately or by a firm to conduct workshops on CPA Exam Review, but the site does not advertise this nor does it even mention that any of the three old guys are interested in conducting this added custom service for a fee.

Answer to Question 1
The Becker Course is expensive, live (with lots of video onsite), and great for kicking butts of students prone to procrastinating --- who tend to find excuses for delaying studying on their own.

The above free CPA Exam review site seems to be great for students who are organized with their study time and self-motivated (read that driven).

To be honest, the free CPA review site is all that I would've needed because all I did was devote five hours religiously each week for about five months of my senior year in college to studying old CPA exam questions and answers. Back in 1960 in Colorado we could take the exam before we graduated in the undergraduate program.

I passed the exam the first time that way, but I worked with a good friend (call him Don) in the Ernst and Ernst office who had to take the CPA exam four times to pass all the parts. I worked part-time for E&E whereas he worked full time. He also had a wife and two young babies. I was a ski bum on weekends but studied by tail off five days a week for my courses, my CPA Exam review, and my E&E job in the afternoons.

I think Don did not pass the CPA exam because he always found reasons or excuses to procrastinate studying for the exam. No Becker kick-butt course was available in those days!

I went on to Stanford and became a low-paid accounting professor. Don stayed with E&E and eventually became the high paid managing partner of the Denver Office. Go figure. The CPA exam is just one stepping stone to success.

Of course, I've never regretted taking the road less traveled in those days. It was a great life being on the faculty of four universities over 40 years. Spending five years full time getting a PhD was enlightening and agonizing since it was an accounting PhD with no accounting courses. It might've had some accounting courses if I wasn't already a CPA and an MBA when I moved to Palo Alto. I became one of the early accountics research professors at the beginning of the perfect storm ---
In retrospect it was much easier to publish accountics research than accounting research without equations.

Bob Jensen

July 22, 2008 reply from Paul Clikeman [pclikema@RICHMOND.EDU]

Here's a reply from one of the three "old guys."

Hi, my name is Joe Hoyle and I'm one of the founders of . A good friend forwarded to me the discussion between Bob Jensen and Dan Stone about our new website. In fact, my wife is still laughing about my being referred to as an old guy. (Hey, I'm only 60.)

Okay, since you asked, here is the story. I've had a very fortunate career. I am a best selling textbook author. I have owned and operated two very successful CPA Exam Review programs. I was selected the 2007 Virginia Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. I feel blessed.

I have two things that I really hope to accomplish before I retire. The first is that I want to write a textbook for Financial Accounting that will change the way textbooks are written. C. J. Skender and I are currently writing chapter 11 of an introductory book for FlatWorldKnowledge that is entirely Socratic-the entire book is written as a logical series of questions and answers. (In fact, we are looking for folks willing to do reviews if any readers are interested in a revolutionary new approach to introducing students to the wonderful world of financial accounting.) If you will be at the AAA meeting in a few weeks, stop by the booth and pick up a free copy of my book: "Tips and Thoughts on Improving the Teaching Process in College."

My second goal is to make the CPA Exam accessible to everyone. Currently, virtually all candidates need a review program to do well and many of them are priced at over $2,000. I do not think that is appropriate for our profession. Between the cost of such programs and the cost of taking the exam, many of our poorer students are giving up on their dreams of becoming CPAs. I personally think that is a barrier to the profession that should concern us all. Many people simply do not have the $3,000 that can be needed to take the CPA Exam, let alone pass it.

Based on my 27 years of experience in CPA Review, I decided to create a site that would offer 2,000 to 3,000 free questions and answers. We currently have about 1,700 on  and I wrote about half of them myself. We will gradually add more over the rest of 2008. Students can use these to review for their courses in college. Candidates can use them to ready themselves to take the CPA Exam. We shoot for the highest quality questions and clear answers. And, yes, they are all free. Luckily, technology allows us to build a website without too much of a cash investment (ah, technology is wonderful).

Okay, I am not Mother Teresa; I am a business professor. At some point, we will try to figure out some way to make revenues out of this idea. However, at the current time, we are having a lot of fun. I cannot remember doing anything that I have enjoyed more. It is wonderful to have young people write in and say "you mean I can actually prepare for the CPA exam without having to sell my car?"

Our marketing budget is zero (or less). I hope professors will review the site and, if there is value there, will tell their students. It is all free. So, you will not be doing anyone any harm. Free information is one of the things that makes the Internet so wonderful and gives it so much potential.

Joe Hoyle



Financial Executives International (FEI) free television ---

U.S. Social Security Retirement Benefit Calculators

Personal Finance Helpers (more than ever, the public is worried about personal investment and savings)
From Smart Stops on the Web, Journal of Accountancy, July 2008

This Smart Stop’s author puts together a “Blueprint for Financial Prosperity,” working and blogging through the complexities of personal finance. Articles include “Speed Up or Shift Up: Thinking About Your Income Path” and “Do You Have an Opportunity Fund?” Also find tax and investing coverage, plus reviews of financial planning and wealth management books. Every month, the author plays “Devil’s Advocate,” where he examines the other side of “mainstream” or “common sense” personal finance ideas. Recent “Advocate” posts include “Don’t Budget to the Penny” and “Don’t Just Buy Index Funds.”

The Carnival of Personal Finance touts itself as “a traveling weekly showcase of the best blog articles on the topic.” The carnival is hosted by a different guest blogger each week. In every edition, you’ll find links to the guest editor’s picks of the week, typically highlighting five to 10 posts from various sources, which feature expert advice on professional sites or regular-Joe experiences on personal sites. You can submit your own post for consideration, view the schedule of upcoming hosts or just browse the wealth of archived articles.

The AICPA maintains a financial literacy site at

Bob Jensen's personal finance helpers are at



The AICPA maintains a helper site for guidance on the replacement of FASB/SEC standards with IASB international standards ---
Also see
And see

Education Tutorials

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

The Getty Conservation Institute ---

BBC: Health (Multimedia) --- 

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

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Frontline: Return of the Taliban (video) ---

Citizen Media Law Project ---

The Digital South Asia Library ---

From the Scout Report on July 25, 2008

As 'white flight' comes to an end, policymakers and community leaders talk about what this means for American cities The End of White Flight

Racial Balance Shifts as 'White Flight' Subsides [Real Player] 

How Willie Kathryn Suggs Changed the Harlem Real-Estate Market 

In Thousands of Images, a Photographer Builds a History in Harlem [Free registration may be required] 

Older Cities Hold On to More People, Census Shows [pdf]


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

Law and Legal Studies

American Library Association's Slide Rule Helper for Copyright Law---

Citizen Media Law Project ---

Courting History: The Landmark International Criminal Court's First Years ---

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

Math Tutorials

Video of Mathemajician Arthur Benjamin

I went to middle school in North Mankato, Minnesota. During a one-time visit by a very distant relative, we discovered that he was a mathmagician. I was dumbfounded by the fact that he could look at any six-digit license plate and, in his head, take the square root of the number. With pencil and paper I checked him out a couple of times for accuracy. I don't even remember his name, although my distant cousin Chris Faye in Mankato probably remembers his name. Chris is a magician but not a mathemajician. Update:  Both Chris Faye and Bob Overn inform me that his name was Lloyd Grobel and he was considered a math genius by General Electric where he worked as an engineer. Bob Overn wrote the following reply:

Hi, Bob,

I think that you are referring to my uncle Lloyd Grobel who at the time was visiting my grandfather Martin Jenson in Mankato. Lloyd was a math genius who went through engineering school at the university of Minnesota without the need for a slide rule because he could do all that stuff in his head. (One professor thought he was cheating because he turned in a perfect paper early without using a slide rule.) Chris and I would check him out with the log tables as he would give us the logarithm of a number to the sixth and seventh place. He is the only one I have ever heard of who could figure fifth roots in his head. (I wouldn't even know how to do it on paper.)

Lloyd worked as an engineer for GE when he graduated and as you probably remember, worked his way up through the organization to head up the Turbine Division at General Electric in Schenectady N.Y.

Lloyd married my mother, Maybelle's sister Isabelle, who had a daughter Jean, my cousin, Chris's cousin, and your second cousin. Jean and her daughter Karen live in Schenectady.

Incidentally, Chris is a pretty good whiz on the calculator as well as a magician.



Equally phenomenal is Arthur Benjamin!

TED:  Technology, Entertainment, and Design Lectures ---
TED Video Example
Mathemajician Arthur Benjamin ---

Calculators, computers, and Arthur Benjamin are limited by the number of significant digits that can be stored.

Significant Digits ---
Scientific notation makes it possible to eliminate some zeros from having to be counted as significant digits.

In school we learned about using logarithms to simplify exponentiation. But when using logarithms, calculators and computers are still limited by the number of significant digits that can be stored.

Excel is limited to 15 significant digits which means that Excel cannot deal with most large and small numbers (turn your speakers on) --- Click Here
If the above link doesn't work read in ""Excel Magic Trick #73" in Google.
Google's cached version takes you to an interesting video on the significant-digits bound in Excel.

Super computers can store a vast number of significant digits and mathematicians develop distributed computing algorithms to extend the number of significant digits that can be computed on super computers.

Prime Number ---

The following was a January 5, 2006 tidbit ---

The primal urges of mathematicians
Researchers at a Missouri university have identified the largest known prime number, officials said Tuesday.  The team at Central Missouri State University, led by associate dean Steven Boone and mathematics professor Curtis Cooper, found it in mid-December after programming 700 computers years ago. A prime number is a positive number divisible by only itself and 1 — 2, 3, 5, 7 and so on. The number that the team found is 9.1 million digits long. It is a Mersenne prime known as M30402457 — that's 2 to the 30,402,457th power minus 1. Mersenne primes are a special category expressed as 2 to the "p" power minus 1, in which "p" also is a prime number. "We're super excited," said Boone, a chemistry professor. "We've been looking for such a number for a long time."
Garance Birke, "Mo. Researchers Find Largest Prime Number," Yahoo News, January 4, 2006 ---

Neither Arthur Benjamin nor Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbit can store that number in his head.

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

History Tutorials

Frontline: Return of the Taliban (video) ---

Courting History: The Landmark International Criminal Court's First Years ---

All Sewn Up: Millinery, Dressmaking, Clothing, and Costume

The Digital South Asia Library ---

Portraits of Modern Japanese Historical Figures (Video) ---

London Music Trades, 1750-1800 ---

John H. W. Stuckenberg Map Collection ---

Max Ernst: Illustrated Books ---

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

Language Tutorials

Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

Writing Tutorials

American Library Association's Slide Rule Helper for Copyright Law---

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

From the Scout Report on July 25, 2008

Glary Utilities 2.6 --- 

Glary Utilities continues to improve with this latest release. For those who haven't tried the program yet, the package offers a number of system tools and utilities that help users maintain and protect their computers. Visitors can take advantage of their well-organized interface to remove unwanted junk files, clean up invalid and broken shortcuts, and also scan, remove, and back up faulty registry entries. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.

Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1 --- 

The Firefox browser has been around for sometime now, so those who haven't given it a whirl may wish to do so now. In this latest release, users will find that the location bar drop-down menu now includes URLs from both the browsing history and the bookmarks area. Also, a new add-ons manager includes a built-in plug-in search engine. This version is compatible with computers running either Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5 or Windows 2000 and newer.


Updates from WebMD ---

BBC: Health (Multimedia) --- 

"Promising results in deep brain stimulation for patients with treatment-resistant depression," PhysOrg, July 21, 2008 ---

"Groundbreaking" Alzheimer's trial removes toxic brain plaques," University of Southhampton News Release, July 18, 2008 ---

British researchers have shown that drug vaccination can remove amyloid plaques from the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, but unexpectedly found this did not slow down the disease.

The five-year study, funded by the Alzheimer's Research Trust and published in the Lancet, examined 80 patients with mild to moderate dementia who had been immunised with AN1792, a drug which acts to clear amyloid plaques from the brain.

The brains of all people with Alzheimer's disease accumulate amyloid, a protein which clumps together to form toxic plaques. This assumed role of amyloid in the development of Alzheimer's and attempts at its removal have become focal points for dementia research strategies.

The ART study showed immunisation caused a long-term reduction in amyloid in the brain and a variable degree of plaque removal compared with non-immunised control patients.

Contrary to predictions, removal of amyloid plaques did not result in an improvement in cognitive function or survival. Several patients with complete plaque removal deteriorated severely.

The previous consensus among dementia scientists - that removing amyloid plaques is key to defeating Alzheimer's - may now need to be rethought.

Continued in article

"Video released of rapid Alzheimer's improvement after new immune-based treatment Medicine & Health / Research," PhysOrg, July 21, 2008 ---

New research into the treatment of Alzheimer's disease reports improvement in language abilities using a novel immune-based approach. A video accompanying the research, published today in the open access journal BMC Neurology, documents rapid language improvement within minutes of using this new treatment.

Building on previous work by the same authors, published in BioMed Central's Journal of Neuroinflammation, this study focuses on the effect of the anti-tumor necrosis factor–alpha (TNF-alpha) drug, etanercept, on measures of verbal ability.

TNF-alpha, a critical component of the brain's immune system, normally finely regulates the transmission of neural impulses in the brain. The authors hypothesize that elevated levels of TNF-alpha in Alzheimer's disease interfere with this regulation. To reduce elevated TNF-alpha, the authors utilized a unique perispinal delivery method to administer etanercept.

The new BMC Neurology article provides preliminary evidence that the disrupted neural communication seen in Alzheimer's disease may be reversible.

According to the lead author of the study, Edward Tobinick, "There are limitations to the data presented; the clinical trial was open label, and not controlled. These caveats notwithstanding, the scientific rationale for the further investigation of anti-TNF-alpha treatment of Alzheimer's disease is compelling. In addition, family members, independent neurologists, and other independent observers have confirmed the clinical, cognitive, and behavioral improvement noted".

Disruption of language function, such as the ability to find words, is a common symptom in advancing Alzheimer's disease, and this BMC Neurology article is one of the first to suggest the possibility of a new therapeutic approach that may address these symptoms.

The video is available at:

Article available at journal website:

Forwarded by Auntie Bev

New International Version of The Bible ---
One click will take you to any part of The Bible.

Helper Phone Directory

When -
You are sad, phone John 14
You have sinned, phone Psalm 51
You are facing danger, phone Psalm 91
People have failed you, phone Psalm 27< /A>
It feels as though God is far from you, phone Psalm 139
Your faith needs stimulation, phone < /B>Hebrews 11
You are alone and scared, phone Psalm 23
You are worried, phone Matthew 8:19-34
You are hurt and critical, phone 1 Corinthians 13
You wonder about Christianity, phone 2 Corinthians 5:15-18
You feel like an outcast, phone Romans 8:31-39
You are seeking peace, phone Matthew 11:25-30
It feels as if the world is bigger than God, phone Psalm 90
You need Christ like insurance, phone Romans 8:1-30
You are leaving home for a trip , phone < /I>Psalm 121
You are praying for yourself, phone Psalm 87
You require courage for a task, phone Joshua 1
Inflation's and investments are hogging your thoughts, phone M ark 10:17-31
You are depressive, phone Psalm 27
Your bank account is empty, phone Psalm 37
You lose faith in mankind, phone 1 Corinthians 13
It looks like people are unfriendly, phone John 15
You are losing hope, phone Psalm 126
You feel the world is small comp ared to you, phone Psalm 19
You want to carry fruit, phone John 15
Paul's secret for happiness, phone Colossians 3:12-17
With big opportunity/ discovery, phone Isaiah 55
To get along with other people, phone Romans 12
For dealing with fear, call Psalm 47
For security, call Psalm 121:3
For assurance, call Mark 8:35
For reassurance, call Psalm 145:18


It's a darn good thing this funeral was not scheduled on a Saturday
Jeff Hornagold, a UPS driver for 20 years, was delivered to his final rest in style -- in a UPS delivery truck ---

Forwarded by Paula

Please consider a contribution to our President's new library with locations in Crawford, Texas and a satellite facility in Bagdad.

The George W Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages.

The Library will include:

The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.

The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.

The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.

The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.

The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.

The National Debt Room which is huge and has no ceiling.

The "Tax Cut" Room with entry only to the wealthy.

The "Economy Room" which is in the toilet.

The Iraq War Room. After you complete your first tour, they make you

go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth tour.

The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.

The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.

The Supremes Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.

The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.

The 'Decider Room' complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.

The museum will have an electron microscope to help you locate the President's accomplishments.

Admission: Republicans – free; Democrats -- $1000 or 3 Euros

Forwarded by Paula

A man boarded a plane with 6 kids. After they got settled in their seats a woman sitting across the aisle from him leaned over to him and asked, "Are all of those kids yours?"

He replied, "No. I work for a condom company. These are customer complaints.

Forwarded by Auntie Bev

Classified  Personal Advertisements in Florida

Sexy, fashion-conscious blue-haired beauty, 80's, slim, 5'4' (used to be 5'6'), searching for sharp-looking, sharp-dressing companion. Matching white shoes and belt a plus.

Recent widow who has just buried fourth husband, and am looking for someone to round out a six-unit plot. Dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath not a problem.

I am into solitude, long walks, sunrises, the ocean, yoga and meditation. If you are the silent type, let's get together, take our hearing aids out and enjoy quiet times.

WINNING SMILE: Active grandmother with original teeth seeking a dedicated flosser to share rare steaks, corn on the cob and caramel candy .

I still like to rock, still like to cruise in my Camaro on Saturday nights and still like to play the guitar. If you were a groovy chick, or are now a groovy hen, let's get together and listen to my eight-track tapes.

I can usually remember Monday through Thursday. If you can remember Friday, Saturday and Sunday, let's put our two heads together.

Male, 1932, high mileage, good condition, some hair, many new parts including hip, knee, cornea, valves. Isn't in running condition, but walks well.

Tidbits Archives ---

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

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

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

Three Finance Blogs

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

Some Accounting Blogs

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

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

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

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

Free Textbooks and Cases ---

Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials ---

Free Science and Medicine Tutorials ---

Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials ---

Free Education Discipline Tutorials ---

Teaching Materials (especially video) from PBS

Teacher Source:  Arts and Literature ---

Teacher Source:  Health & Fitness ---

Teacher Source: Math ---

Teacher Source:  Science ---

Teacher Source:  PreK2 ---

Teacher Source:  Library Media ---

Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University ---

VYOM eBooks Directory ---

From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department ---

Online Mathematics Textbooks --- 

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---

Moodle  --- 

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

Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

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

Roles of a ListServ ---

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

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---


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