With a light snow swirling about in a bone chilling wind, I'm trying to remember springtime!


What Erika planted in June I had to pull out in November
But I did cover her beautiful roses in an effort to save them during our winter.


In three months these phlox will be buried under a foot of ice and four or more feet of snow
But they will be back in their full glory next spring after a long sleep


These are lovely lupine standing between me and my mountains


And these are wild roses standing between my desk and my mountains
Sometimes its hard to concentrate on email


My desk is behind the curved window on the right side of our cottage


The lilac bush makes our deck smell sweet as all of springtime
We actually cut this bush way down last fall because it was getting as high as the widow's walk


The sun brightens the north side of the cottage at sunrise in the late spring
In February the snow was nearly five feet deep on the front deck



These are wild flowers coming to life in our field to the south

 


When I snapped this shot I almost needed earplugs to drown out the buzzing of the bees

 

Mountain Pictures Slide Show --- Click Here

Il Divo - Amazing Grace (beautiful performance) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtrnB4FZ-yc

Somewhere in Time --- http://www.greatdanepro.com/somewhere in time/index.htm

 

 

 

Tidbits on November 18, 2008
Bob Jensen

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

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


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


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

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

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


Despite these noteworthy linguistic strides, the Academy presents Orwell 2008 to a college counselor who advises his clients to deliberately make mistakes on their applications so they "don’t sound like robots." After all, "if you fall into the trap of trying to do everything perfectly," without "typos" and other "creative errors," there's just "no spark left."
Fifteenth Annual Emperor's Awards, Guest commentary by Poor Elijah (Peter Berger), The Irascible Professor, August 19, 2008 --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-08-19-08.htm
Jensen Comment
The same can be said for blogs and newsletters.

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

Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )

Global Incident Map --- http://www.globalincidentmap.com/home.php

Set up free conference calls at http://www.freeconference.com/
Also see http://www.yackpack.com/uc/   

U.S. Social Security Retirement Benefit Calculators --- http://www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator/
After 2017 what we would really like is a choice between our full social security benefits or 18 Euros each month --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm

Free Online Tutorials in Multiple Disciplines --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Tutorials

Chronicle of Higher Education's 2008-2009 Almanac --- http://chronicle.com/free/almanac/2008/?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm
Bob Jensen's threads on economic and social statistics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#EconStatistics

World Clock --- http://www.peterussell.com/Odds/WorldClock.php

Tips on computer and networking security --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) --- http://www.iasplus.com/links/links.htm

If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops  --- http://www.valour-it.blogspot.com/




Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Tutorials
Edutainment and Learning Games --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Edutainment
Open Sharing Courses --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI




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

Happy Thanksgiving (cute) --- http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=1833320829

Slide Show Tribute to Obama --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/ObamaWorld.pps
The Obama pictures do not start in the first few slide.

Il Divo - Amazing Grace (beautiful performance) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtrnB4FZ-yc

Somewhere in Time --- http://www.greatdanepro.com/somewhere in time/index.htm

Top Campaign Aids Tribute to Obama
CBS Sixty Minutes did an interview of Obama’s four top campaign aids within hours after he was declared the winner. Except for the way he was forced to shift course on Jeremiah Wright, Obama never once changed objectives, strategies, and tactics ---
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/07/60minutes/main4584507.shtml
I learned more about Barack Obama from this than any other source. McCain, on the other hand ,kept changing tactics and allowed his staff too much leeway. It's interesting that Obama had more military-style leadership of his inner circle than the old warhorse John McCain.

What Would Peter Drucker Think? B-schools face the financial crisis (video from Business Week)--- Click Here

Japanese Magician (watch the video to the ending) --- http://images2.jokaroo.net/videos/grandpajapan.wmv

Tipatshimuna-Innu stories from the land (Canada, video) --- http://www.tipatshimuna.ca/ 

Samsung Releases T-Omnia Phone --- http://www.pcworld.com/video.html
Other PC World Consumer Videos --- http://www.pcworld.com/video.html

A History of Microsoft Word (slide show from Wired News) --- http://www.wired.com/gadgets/pcs/multimedia/2007/01/wiredphotos31


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

TheRadio (My Favorite, Enter singer, song title, composer, or category such as opera) --- http://www.theradio.com/
Lately TheRadio's server has been so busy I've gone back to my old Slacker standby --- http://www.slacker.com/

Engelbert Humperdinck (good site for a good voice) --- http://www.engelbert.com/

South African (anti-apartheid and anti-mafia) Singer Miriam Makeba Dies --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96805480

Mitch Mitchell, a pioneering drummer best known for his work with 1960s rock icon Jimi Hendrix, died on Wednesday, at age 62 --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitch_Mitchell
Also see http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96978286

Joyful Music Helps the Heart Music that Inspires Joy Improves Blood Vessel Function ---
http://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20081113/joyful-music-helps-the-heart

Il Divo - Amazing Grace (beautiful performance) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtrnB4FZ-yc

Somewhere in Time --- http://www.greatdanepro.com/somewhere in time/index.htm

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


Photographs and Art

Mountain Pictures Slide Show --- Click Here

Wonderful World Slide Show --- Click Here

Somewhere in Time --- http://www.greatdanepro.com/somewhere in time/index.htm

Eagle Attacks Swan --- http://www.birdchick.com/2008/06/bald-eagle-attacks-swan.html

Joan Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting, 1927-1937 --- http://media.moma.org/subsites/2008/miro/

The Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries --- http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/exhibitions/divineart/

The USS New York was forged from scrap metal collected from the World Trade Center after 9/11. Let's hope this modern warship gets back at the vile terrorist groups --- http://www.ussnewyork.com/

Tipatshimuna-Innu stories from the land (Canada, video) --- http://www.tipatshimuna.ca/ 

Cool Blue Pad --- http://www.matheusphoto.com/images/032.jpg
To see other great Matheus photographs fiddle with the 032 number.

Ten Dreams Fine Arts Gallery --- http://www.tendreams.org/olbinski/innocence.htm

PhotoFlavor --- http://www.photoflavor.com/

Antique Maps: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library --- http://lbxml.ust.hk/mp/main.html

A History of Microsoft Windows (slide show from Wired News) --- http://www.wired.com/gadgets/pcs/multimedia/2007/01/wiredphotos31

Purportedly the Woman With the Longest Legs (ABC says she from Russia) --- http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/popup?id=2284437
Daddy Long Legs --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liTxYKy1Idw
Legs Tribute --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXxAMSIF5Wo

This page turning thing is wonderful, but I imagine most readers never figure out how to turn the pages --- http://souramagazine.com/
Hint:  Enter the magazine and then click on the upper right corner for page transitions.


Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

In April the BBC’s Big Read began the search for the nation’s best-loved novel, and we asked you to nominate your favourite books. The votes poured in from all around the UK and here are the results --- http://www.listsofbests.com/list/352

Common Errors in English --- http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/errors/

The Online Corpus of Old English Poetry --- http://www.oepoetry.ca/

GoodReads Quotations --- http://www.goodreads.com/quotes

Murphy's Laws --- http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-technology.html

French Revolutionary Pamphlets --- http://content.lib.ua.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2FFrRvlution

Galway Kinnell Poetry --- http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/g_l/kinnell/kinnell.htm

Anthology of Modern American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2000) Edited by Cary Nelson --- http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Tutorials
Edutainment and Learning Games --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Edutainment
Open Sharing Courses --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI




Transition of the U.S. Presidency (News Updates as They Happen) --- http://www.change.gov/

This may become OPEC's worst nightmare with electric cars in the horizon
Underground nuclear power plants no bigger than a hot tub may soon provide electricity for communities around the world. Measuring about 1.5 meters across, the mini reactors can each power about 20,000 homes. The small energy modules were originally designed by Otis "Pete" Peterson and other scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Now, the technology is being commercially developed by Hyperion Power Generation, which recently announced that it has taken its first orders and plans to start mass production within five years. "Our goal is to generate electricity for 10 cents a watt anywhere in the world," said John Deal, CEO of Hyperion. "[The nuclear plants] will cost approximately $25 million each. For a community with 10,000 households, that is a very affordable $2,500 per home."
PhysOrg, November 12, 2008 --- http://www.physorg.com/news145561984.html

The story is told here that immediately after news reports that Russia invaded Georgia there was a run on gun stores in North Florida. Bubbas in camouflaged overalls were buying up all available guns and ammo. Some were heard to mutter words to the effect that “By God, they can have Georgia but they better stay the hell out of Florida. We got enough troubles with them Canadians.”
Forwarded by Blan McBride

In fact, my favorite Winston Churchill story is the one about the time that Churchill was standing at the urinal in the men's room of the House of Commons. Atlee came into the room and stood at the urinal next to Winston's. Churchill looked up at him, zipped up, moved a couple of urinals farther down and resumed his business. "Why Winston, I had no idea you were so modest.", said Atlee. "It's not modesty, Prime Minister. It's only that every time you find something that is large and functions well, you try to nationalize it, and I thought it best not to take a chance!".
As Quoted in by Jerry Boyer in TCS Daily on November 5, 2008  --- http://tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=110508A

First Lady Laura Bush condemned on Thursday a recent assault on Afghani schoolgirls, describing the act as "cowardly and shameful." On Wednesday adult male attackers used a water pistol to spray acid at schoolgirls in Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar, hurting 15 of them, three seriously. "My heart goes out to the victims and their families as they recover from this cruel attack," said Bush in a statement. Kandahar and other large Afghan cities have suffered from a surge of assassinations and bombings by the radical Islamist Taliban movement.
"First Lady Bush condemns Taliban acid attack on schoolgirls," Hindustan Times, November 14, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
The pictures of the school girl's horrendously scarred faces should shock the world. All they wanted was an education! A Stanford Medical School female doctor once commented that the best way to punish Bin Laden would be to give him a sex change operation and send him back home.

The governments of Venezuela and Iran are jointly planning a new university in Caracas that will focus on “21st century socialism,” officials told the Associated Press. The new University of Civilizations will be tuition-free.
Inside Higher Ed, November 18, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/11/18/qt

GM's health plan is quite literally outstanding
Lifestyle drugs -- chiefly Viagra -- are costing General Motors $17 million dollars a year and the cost is passed along to car, truck and SUV consumers. The blue pill is covered under GM's labor agreement with United Auto Workers, as well as benefit plans for salaried employees. GM executives estimate health care adds $1,500 to the price of each vehicle but they do not break out how much of the premium is caused by erectile dysfunction expenses. GM provides health care for 1.1 million employees, retirees and dependents and is the world's largest private purchaser of Viagra.
Joe Benton
, "GM Spends $17 Million Per Year on Viagra, ConsumerAffairs.com --- http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/04/gm_viagra.html

Karen Inman and Marcel Reid are great candidates for Kieth Olbermann's "Worst Person Awards." Go get them both Keith!
Community organizing group ACORN, investigated this year for filing fraudulent voter registration forms, has fired two board members it had asked to investigate allegations that an ACORN founder's brother embezzled nearly $1 million. An internal document from the ACORN executive board, obtained by CNN, shows that members Karen Inman and Marcel Reid were "removed from any office or committee position you may have held." A separate document says that "the memberships of Karen Inman and Marcel Reid in ACORN is canceled, and they are removed from the Association Board." The documents, dated November 11, are signed by Maude Hurd, president of the ACORN Association Board.

Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston, CNN, November 13, 2008 ---
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/11/13/acorn.investigation/index.html?eref=rss_politics&iref=polticker 

The good news for Democrats is a post-election Gallup poll finding that while only 45 percent of Americans want to see Palin have a national political future (and 52 percent of Americans do not), 76 percent of Republicans say bring her on. The bad news for Democrats is that these are the exact circumstances that can make Obama cocky and Democrats sloppy. The worse news for the country is that at a time of genuine national peril we actually do need an opposition party that is not brain-dead.
Frank Rich, The New York Times, November 16, 2008 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/opinion/16rich.html?hp

Hillary is probably ready to ankle out of the Senate. The point of the Senate was to be a staging area for her presidential race, and that’s done. She’s not a player there. Her bid to get the health care issue away from Ted Kennedy was stymied recently when Kennedy refused her request to create a special subcommittee that she would head. And why should the woman who made 18 million cracks go back to being junior to Chuck Schumer, if she could be toasted from Dublin to Dubai?
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, November 16, 2008 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/opinion/16dowd.html?hp

This won't set well with the pacifists in the far left side of the world
Maybe Michael Moore will do a documentary entitled "Sticko"
This is intolerable, especially when the Pentagon’s budget, including spending on the two wars, reached $685 billion in 2008. That is an increase of 85 percent in real dollars since 2000 and nearly equal to all of the rest of the world’s defense budgets combined. It is also the highest level in real dollars since World War II. To protect the nation, the Obama administration will have to rebuild and significantly reshape the military. We do not minimize the difficulty of this task. Even if money were limitless, planning is extraordinarily difficult in a world with no single enemy and many dangers.
Editorial, The New York Times, November 15, 2008 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/opinion/16Sun1.html
Jensen Comment
What's worse is that expenses of past wars aren't even fully in the budget. Thinks like military pensions, soaring estimates of veteran's future medical costs, and education promises to veterans that are off-balance sheet and buried in the massive entitlements that will drag down future generations of taxpayers already burdened with baby boomer Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm

The butcher, baker, and automaker maker, why not me?
U.S. life insurers, weakened by losses on their immense investment portfolios, are maneuvering to get a slice of government bailout funds by buying up tiny banks. On Monday, Lincoln National Corp. said it agreed to buy a small savings-and-loan institution in Goodland, Ind. In recent days Genworth Financial Inc. said it agreed to buy a thrift in Maple Grove, Minn., and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. said it had struck a deal to purchase Federal Trust Corp., in Sanford, Fla.
Leslie Scism, Michael Crittenden, Matthew, Karnitschnig, and Matthias Rieker, "Insurers Buy Banks in Effort to Get Aid," The Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122696868966435573.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

"Seizing pensions, the final step to bankruptcy," Pravda, November 10, 2008 ---
http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/10-11-2008/106678-pensions-0

As these late autumn days of financial disaster wind down into a winter of discontent across the world, the United States Congress is discussing a step that will surely signal the final collapse of America as anything more than a bankrupt and possibly failed state.

What is this subject? The subject is none other than pensions, the last refuge of money and the last source of fast cash for spend thirsty politicos. In committees the US Congress is hearing testimony from various leftist professors on how to redistribute, read spend, the vast amount of money accumulated by the 60 million Americans at or near retirement age.

What most of you, my dear readers, do not understand, is that in America there is no longer such a thing as a pension fund. These are dinosaurs, the last of which are paying out their monies, on the way to total extinction. To replace these the government of America created tax exempt (to a certain dollar per year value) accounts called 401Ks which are than invested into the stock markets, thus a great boom for the number one owners of the United States government, banks. But the banks are now themselves bankrupt and hold much less sway in DC, even as appetites to spend have grown amongst the One Party, Two Branch politicos. Sure there is Social Security, but even by under rating inflation by 2/3rds, and thus upward payment adjustments, for over 20 years the United States government is simply broke and does not have the actual money to pay Social Security for the vast Baby Boomer generation, now retiring.

This is because all the money, from day one in 1936, was spent and not invested. Each working generation pays for the retiring generation. What changed? The Baby Boomers aborted 40 million babies and thus are now larger than the combined next two generations. In their Christless greed to spend on themselves, they have not only damned their souls through the murder of children but their old age as well, to poverty.

But even when Social Security pays, for most people, the $2,000 to $3,000 it does pay per month is hardly the money to live off of, let alone pay for ever more expensive medicines. The medical costs in America routinely grow between 15-20% per year, while salaries at best on average at 3-4%. This is all the product of short sightedness and greed. The bill has come due and a large percentage has been added for gratuity. The Devil will have his kilogram of flesh from a people who have forsaken Christ for pride, vanity and greed.

So what is being contemplated by the American Congress?

This is the Washinton DC Idea of Separation of the Regulated from the Regulator
"Our primary focus has been in facilitating capital raising and strategic transactions," John White, director of the SEC's division of corporation finance, said at a Practising Law Institute conference in New York. "We do not want to be in the way of what companies need to do," he added. He said his unit was looking at how it could be more responsive to issues companies are having with SEC restrictions that could stand in the way of or slow down deals. White said the SEC had reprioritized in this way over the summer as Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc looked for capital and suitors to rescue the firm. "We had a Lehman summer," White said. "We spent basically the whole summer jumping through hoops trying to help them." Lehman ultimately filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 15 in the largest U.S. bankruptcy filing in history.

SmartPros, November 13, 2008 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x63794.xml

Please meet George Orwell's Big Brother!
"Dodd Interview Censored," by Paul Bass, New Haven Independent, November 11, 2008 --- http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/11/exclusive_censo.php

Tom Scott conducted the interview. WELI killed it. Now you can hear it.

Scott, one of Connecticut’s leading conservative voices of the past three decades, was the last local on-air voice at WELI-AM, once a fully-staffed Greater New Haven news station turned into a right-wing talk radio syndication outlet by owner Clear Channel Communications.

Scott hosted a weekday 5 to 7 p.m. drive-time talk show until Oct. 29. That was the day he taped a combative interview with U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut (pictured with Mutual Housing chief Seila Mosquera during a recent tour of New Haven’s Fair Haven neighborhood).

The interview focused on two controversies that have dogged Dodd recently: He received personal “VIP” loans from Countrywide Financial, a predatory lender he was supposed to be regulating as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. And he helped craft a $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill designed to spur new small-business and homeowner lending — but which turns out to be designed instead to enable banks to buy other banks.

TomScott.jpgWatching the TV news monitors in the WELI newsroom, Tom Scott (pictured), a former state senator and Congressional and gubernatorial candidate, had grown frustrated that reporters seemed to be going easy on Dodd. So he savored the chance to push Dodd on why, for instance, he won’t release the documents connected to his personal Countrywide loans.

The result was riveting radio. But WELI’s listeners never got to hear it.

Click here to hear the interview that never aired.

Asked why the interview never ran, Todd Thomas, Clear Channel’s regional operations manager, said, “That’s something that happened behind closed doors.” He declined to comment further.

Tom Scott said the interview may have fallen victim to an ongoing dispute between him and his show’s producer, Ryan Gorman. Since WELI brought Scott back on the air on July 7 (he hosted WELI programs in the 1990s, including one with the writer of this article), there has been tension between the two.

Continued in article

Fannie Mae said Monday that it might need more than the $100 billion that the Treasury said it was willing to invest in the giant mortgage company to help it stay in business. “If we continue to experience substantial losses in future periods or to the extent that we experience a liquidity crisis that prevents us from accessing the unsecured debt markets, this commitment may not be sufficient to keep us in solvent condition or from being placed into receivership,” Fannie Mae said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Fannie Mae reported earlier Monday that it lost $29 billion in the third quarter. It said the number of loans in its portfolio that were in foreclosure or delinquent by more than three months had jumped to 1.72 percent in September. The mortgage company said in its S.E.C. filing that it had a limited ability to issue debt maturing past one year, citing market conditions, the lack of an explicit federal guarantee and competition from government-insured bank bonds.
"Fannie Mae May Need More Than $100 Billion From U.S.," The New York Times, November 10, 2008 --- http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/10/fannie-mae-may-need-more-than-100-billion-from-us/
Jensen Comment
Since Fannie Mae's debt is virtually guaranteed now by the U.S. Government, what Fannie is really saying is that it wants a handout it will not have to pay back. It's only fair since, Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd forced Fannie Mae to buy mortgages that hadn't the slightest hope of being repaid that the taxpayers that elected Frank and Dodd. I just hate to see us reward Big Fannie after all the accounting fraud committed by Fannie over the years, including the current FBI investigation of current Fannie executives where taxpayers are paying for both the prosecution and the defense
 http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008bailout.htm#FannieFraud

"Barney's Rubble," The Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122161010874845645.html?mod=todays_us_opinion

Barney Frank didn't like our recent editorial taking him to task for his longtime defense of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Congressional baron defends himself in his signature style here. We'd let him have his say without comment except that his "whole story" is, well, far from the whole truth.

Mr. Frank contends that he favored "very strong reform" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, even before Democrats took over Congress after the 2006 elections. To adapt a famous phrase, this depends on what the meaning of "reform" is. Mr. Frank did support a bill that he and others on Capitol Hill described as reform. But on the threshold reform issue -- limiting the size of the portfolios of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that the two companies could hold -- Mr. Frank was a stalwart opponent.

In fact, Mr. Frank was publicly arguing for an increase in the size of their combined $1.4 trillion portfolios right up to the day they were bailed out. Even now, after he's been proven wrong about a taxpayer guarantee, he opposes Treasury's planned reduction in the size of the portfolios starting in 2010, according to a quote attributed to him in this newspaper last week. "Good luck on that," he reportedly said. Mr. Frank's spokeswoman hung up the phone when we sought confirmation Tuesday.

Fannie Mayhem: A History A compendium of The Wall Street Journal's recent editorial coverage of Fannie and Freddie. The MBS portfolios have long been both the chief source of the systemic risk posed by the two mortgage giants and of the profits that so handsomely enriched shareholders and officers alike for decades. Without the extreme leverage inherent in those portfolios -- which the companies borrowed heavily, at taxpayer-subsidized rates, to accumulate -- their federal takeover might never have become necessary.

For years, Mr. Frank and other friends of Fan and Fred opposed not only bills written to limit the size of their portfolios, but any bill that in their view gave an independent regulator too much discretion to order a reduction. This was true of the reform that his House committee passed last year. Only when the White House caved to Mr. Frank and dropped its earlier insistence that a reform bill rein in the portfolios did Mr. Frank move his bill.

In his letter, Mr. Frank also repeats his familiar claim that Fannie and Freddie are vital because they support "affordable housing." This is political smoke. The awful irony of Fan and Fred is that they have done very little to assist affordable housing. Most of the taxpayer subsidy has gone to enrich shareholders and Fannie managers, as a 2003 study by the Federal Reserve shows.

Mr. Frank says he favored the disclosure of Fannie and Freddie compensation -- which is nice, but beside the point. The source of the rich pay packages was the Fannie business model that Mr. Frank fought so hard to protect. Instead of helping the poor, Mr. Frank was enriching Jim Johnson, Frank Raines, Angelo Mozilo and Wall Street.

If Mr. Frank thinks his "affordable housing" goals are so popular, he can always ask Congress to appropriate money for any housing subsidy he desires. But he knows those votes are hard to come by. It's much easier to have Fannie and Freddie take inordinate risks, even at taxpayer expense, so they can pay a political dividend called an "affordable housing trust fund" (and ACORN) that politicians will disperse. In opposing genuine reform of Fan and Fred, Mr. Frank wasn't acting like a principled liberal. He was protecting corporate giants while hiding their risks from taxpayers until the middle class got stuck with the bill.

The current financial turmoil shows that private sector can bankrupt nation states. The US government has committed more than $5 trillion and the UK has committed around £500 billion, nearly one-third of their respective GDPs, to support the financial sector. The bailouts may stabilise the financial sector and help economic recovery but they have also created new moral hazards. In the absence of effective regulation and accountability, company directors, who have already behaved badly, will continue to behave recklessly and play their selfish games, at virtually no cost to themselves. Leaders of major industrialised countries have paid little attention to moral hazards and how bailouts reward bad behaviour. There is an urgent need to address the moral hazards problem.
Prem Sikka, "Hold them to account: The traditional mechanisms for disciplining," The Guardian, November 18, 2008 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/18/marketturmoil-banks

"The Financial Crisis, From A-Z," by Tunku Varadarajan, Forbes, November 10, 2008 ---
http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/11/09/financial-crisis-tarp-oped-cx_tv_1110varadarajan.html

The Awesome Warren Buffet Interview on CNBC --- http://clusterstock.alleyinsider.com/2008/8/that-awesome-warren-buffett-cnbc-interview

There's a reason Warren Buffett is so revered: Because he deserves to be.

It's a tall order to get up at 5am and speak for three hours and never say anything that isn't wise, charming, or funny. Sure, it helps to have CNBC's lovely Becky Quick sitting right there, but that's not the source of Warren's wisdom.

Full three-hour transcript here (with minor deletions), courtesy of CNBC. If you don't have time to read it now, save it for the weekend.

Mary Jo Sanz sent me a link for listening to the entire Buffet interview if you repeatedly select the segments on video --- Click Here

Here are a few of Buffett's quotations reported by Jim Mahar on November 14, 2008 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Two short ones:
 
"...you know, you only find out who's been swimming naked when the tide goes out. Well, we found out that Wall Street has been kind of a nudist beach"

"...the country will be doing far better five years from now than it is now, but it won't be, in my judgment, it probably won't be doing better five months from now."

 
and two longer ones:

On Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
 
"...they also had an added problem in that they had a dual mission. The government expected them to promote housing and the stockholders expected them to raise the earnings substantially every year. And as the years went by, they emphasized the latter more and more. They started talking about "steady Freddie," and Fannie Mae said, `We're going to increase the earnings at 15 percent a year.' Any large financial institution that tells you that sort of thing is giving you a line of baloney. I mean, they may do itfor a while, but when they can't do it with operations, they do it with accounting and they cheat."
and one last one on regulation and management:
 
"... managing complex financial institutions where the management wants to deceive you can be very, very difficult. Or even when the management doesn't know what's going on, and--just take Bear Stearns. Bear Stearns had--I read it, anyway--750,000 derivative contracts. Now, you know, I could clone Albert Einstein, you know, and--many, many times and have him work 12-hour days for me and he would not be able to keep track of what's going on in an institution like that. It's--the ones that are too big to fail may be too big to manage"

 

The bigger they come, the harder they fall
Harvard Magazine estimates that if the Moody’s projection were true for Harvard, its endowment would decline $11-billion and its annual payout, based on about 5 percent of endowment value, would be down more than $500-million. Ms. Faust also says that donors and foundations may be financially pressed, and that federal grants and contracts for research may be vulnerable to goverment budget cuts. At the same time, the university wants to keep tuition increases moderate because families are feeling financially squeezed, too.

Kathryn Masterson, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 10, 2008 --- Click Here

At this point, however, it appears that UVA (Virginia) may win the prize for the most wholesale destruction of alumni gifts . . . Sorry, UVA alumni. You're going to have to make those gifts all over again.
Harry Blodgett, "UVA: Sorry, Alumni, We Gambled Our Endowment And Lost ," Clusterstock, November 10, 2008 ---
http://www.clusterstock.com/2008/11/uva-sorry-alumni-we-gambled-our-endowment-and-lost
See Also:
Harvard, Yale, etc, Down 25%-30%?

Leftist Democracy in Action
Thousands of People "Moving" to the State of Georgia With One Purpose on Their Mind (and a little extra money in their pocket)
With the Georgia Senate race heating up as a contest between Democrat Jim Martin and Republican Saxby Chambliss, ACORN has promised their full non-partisan support for Martin in the upcoming runoff election. An anonymous ACORN spokesperson stated that according to their registration records, hundreds of thousands of voters nationwide have selected Georgia as their new home and are registered to vote in this special election. ACORN will be arranging transportation for these individuals to go to Georgia so they can participate in the election.

"ACORN to the rescue in Georgia Senate Race (Martin vs. Chambliss)," Free Republic, November 10, 2008 ---
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2129730/posts
Jensen Comment
If these voters voted in another state and now get to vote in Georgia as well, it seems like some voters get to vote in two Senators in 2008. Actually, some of them probably voted more than two time given the enthusiasm of Acorn's paid workers to register voters.

Who should lead the Republican Party back into contention in U.S. Politics
In my view, the best candidate is Jeff Flake --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Flake
One of his marks of accomplishment was being kicked off the Judicial Committee by Nancy Pelosi for being too honest and too committed to fighting corruption in Congress.
Also see an article by Jeff Flake --- http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentary/33933734.html?elr=KArksc8P:Pc:U0ckkD:aEyKUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

Well, we Republicans have just made history. Not the type of history we wanted to make, mind you, but history nonetheless. Not only did we lose the White House but, after losing our House and Senate majorities in 2006, we followed it up Tuesday night with even steeper losses in Congress.

In January, Democrats will enjoy lopsided congressional ratios not seen since the 1970s. Let's face it: We Republicans are now, by any reasonable measurement, deep in the political wilderness.

The temptation for Republican members of Congress today will be to assume the role of the post-Watergate Republicans of 1974 and accept minority status as a permanent condition. Indeed, the terrain is more difficult for us now than it was in 1992. Then, Republicanism was still largely defined by the Reagan years. Today the party is defined in the public mind by the Bush presidency. We've got a steep hill to climb.

Much of the backroom maneuvering and media speculation in the coming weeks will focus on identifying new standard-bearers for the party. This is important, and after a second straight drubbing, the House Republican leadership should be replaced. But the far more critical task is determining what standard these new leaders will bear.

I suggest that we return to first principles. At the top of that list has to be a recommitment to limited government. After eight years of profligate spending and soaring deficits, voters can be forgiven for not knowing that limited government has long been the first article of faith for Republicans.

Of course, it's not the level of spending that gets the most attention; it's the manner in which the spending is allocated. The proliferation of earmarks is largely a product of the Gingrich-DeLay years, and it's no surprise that some of the most ardent practitioners were earmarked by the voters for retirement Tuesday. Few Americans will take seriously Republican speeches on limited government if we Republicans can't wean ourselves from this insidious practice. But if we can go clean, it will offer a stark contrast to the Democrats, who, after two years in training, already have their own earmark favor factory running at full tilt.

Second, we need to recommit to our belief in economic freedom. Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" may be on the discount rack this year, but the free market is still the most efficient means to allocate capital and human resources in an economy, and Americans know it. Now that we've inserted government deeply into the private sector by bailing out banks and businesses, the temptation will be for government to overstay its welcome and force the distribution of resources to serve political ends. Substituting political for economic incentives is not the recipe for economic recovery.

Most House Republicans opposed the recent bailout and will be in a strong position to promote economic freedom over central planning as the Obama administration stumbles from industry to industry trying to determine which is small enough to be allowed to fail and which is not. Since timetables will be in vogue, perhaps Republicans could even insist on a timetable for getting the government out of the private sector.

There are, of course, other pillars of the Republican standard -- strong national defense, support for traditional values and the Second Amendment -- but these are not areas where voters question Republican bona fides. In any event, as we have seen over the past several months, economic woes tend to subsume other concerns. We shouldn't complain. We can now play our strongest hand.

In some respects, raising a new standard was made easier by Tuesday's rout. The Republican Party is not bound by election-year promises made by its presidential nominee. More important, the party is finally untethered from the ill-fitting and unworkable big-government conservatism that defined the Bush administration.

This is not to say that it will be an easy transition. Congressional Republicans picked up some unattractive habits over the years in an effort to hold on to power. Whether it was relying on the redistricting process to help us choose our constituents, using the appropriations process as an ATM or passing legislation -- such as a generous prescription-drug benefit and a bloated farm bill -- to pacify individual constituencies, these habits and voting patterns will be hard to break.

But there is reason for Republicans to feel optimism. Politically, America remains a center-right country, and America loves a chastened and repentant sinner. As surely as the sun rises in the east, the Democrats will overreach.

As long as we Republicans are willing to admit our folly, get back to first principles and work like there's no tomorrow, we've got 'em just where we want 'em.

Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He wrote this article for the Washington Post.

At the party I met Gandalf, a member of the Board of Trustees, who produces a classical music program for the station and also teaches English at the local community college. “English isn’t the biggest problem in higher education,” Gandalf said to me. “I think the problem is the failure to teach economics. We should begin teaching it in kindergarten and then teach it straight through high school. Think about it. Economics is a field that brings together math, reading writing, philosophy and ethics.”
Laurie Fendrich, "Kids and Money," Chronicle of Higher Education, November 10, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/review/brainstorm/fendrich/kids-and-money?utm_source=cr&utm_medium=e
Jensen Comment
I don't know about kindergarten, but I do wish that high schools did a better job about teaching personal finance, credit cards, investing, money creation (most think the government simply prints money to increase the money supply), bookkeeping, government debt, government financing, and taxation. Most comments on the above article are negative because of sentiments that kindergarten is already ladened with too much socialization as if socialization is poison for young people.




From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on November 14, 2008

Small First Get Local Loans
by Anjali Cordeiro
The Wall Street Jouirnal

Nov 11, 2008
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
 

TOPICS: Accounting, Banking, Cash Flow, Entrepreneurship

SUMMARY: "Small businesses have been having increasing trouble getting loans as the credit markets have seized up. But some...are finding that smaller community banks and credit unions are more open to offering financing." These smaller banks may have more funds to lend after not having made some of the investments now plaguing larger banks; may understand certain business segments within a smaller geographic area rather than focusing on national trends affecting an industry; and may look more closely at specific business plans rather than broader measures about the applicants, such as credit ratings. The article focuses on the importance of business plans and cash flow strategies in particular.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article may be used in entrepreneurship, management accounting, and MBA courses. Questions focus on defining cash flow and understanding its difference from profitability.

QUESTIONS: 
1. (Introductory) Summarize the experience in making bank financing applications by Amy Loera for her family's Mexican restaurant business. What national economic factors currently influence any business's ability to obtain financing? What national factors are facing the restaurant industry in particular?

2. (Introductory) What factors about the Tio's Mexican restaurant and its planned location for expansion, differ from the issues facing the restaurant industry overall in our nation?

3. (Introductory) What financial information did Ms. Loera provide for the local credit union to present her application for financing? Be specific in your answer and describe the time periods covered.

4. (Advanced) Define the term cash flow. How does cash flow differ from profitability?

5. (Advanced) How does the need for financing indicate that a business expects negative cash flow for a certain period of time? How might this be the case even if a business is profitable from the very start?
 

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island
 

 




Shopping Comparison Sites

"Become.com Selected as Best Search & Comparison Site by eLab eXchange Experts!" Posted by Donna Hoffman, UCR eLab Sloan Center for Internet Retailing, June 22nd, 2008 --- Click Here

The Internet experts at the eLab eXchange, using data from Nielsen/NetRatings and their own expert judgment, selected Become.com as the clear winner out of 8 sites in the best search and comparison web site contest. eLab eXchange members selected the Jellyfish Smack Shopping site as the best search and comparison web site from a set of 8 sites.

Jellyfish is a terrific site, but pales next to Become.com when considering search and comparison shopping sites because Jellyfish doesn't bring together search, product comparison, reviews and other features to help consumers find what they are looking for. Jellyfish is more like a different kind of social shopping site than a search and comparison site.

Experts deemed Become.com to have the greatest chance for success in the category based on key Web usage statistics, including unique audience, reach, total number of sessions, sessions per person, total minutes and page views. On all those metrics, become.com blew away the competition.

However, Like.com, chosen a distant third by the members of the eLab eXchange, was judged by the experts as a site to keep a careful eye on. Its metrics are trending up and people spend more time per person than they do on Become.com.

In other words, Like.com is stickier, although Become.com visitors are more engaged and there are many more of them.

Like.com is a great looking site and the visual search feature is innovative. But it doesn't have the breadth or depth of become.com. The experts thought that consumers might find it a useful adjunct to Become.com.

Become.com offers online consumers a good set of search tools, an easy to use interface, and plentiful reviews. It is easy to navigate and good looking. Key Web 2.0 features including discussion forums and product reviews are obvious reasons that consumers are visiting in droves. Further, the advertiser links are well done (and not annoying), and there are plentiful external links to further information, and handy price comparison tools.

What do you think?

Bob Jensen;s shopping helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookbob3.htm

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


Make Your Own Interactive Multimedia Excel Files on the Web --- It's Really Easy

Richard Campbell's Interactive Invoice --- http://faculty.rio.edu/campbell/gp10_windows/engage.html

I thank Richard for showing us how to add online interactive hotspots to a picture. This is part of the way toward interaction. A file may become more fully interactive if it is an Excel file rather than just a picture or a non-interactive video.

Since your computer can be set to download Excel files into your Web browser for security purposes, it is possible to download Excel files with interactive hot spots. In addition, numbers can be changed such that there is calculation interaction as well. Such calculation interaction is not available in pictures.

I illustrate an interactive multimedia Excel file at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/ExcelMediaIllustrations/Example01.xls
This will download very slowly because of the media files linked in the Excel file are also being downloaded.

The steps I follow when making interactive multimedia Excel files are as follows:

  1. Prepare an Excel spreadsheet
  2. Add Web links and make them active
  3. Decide where to place audio clips
  4. Record each audio clip as a wav file (I use the free Audacity software) --- http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
    I save these files in the same folder as the Excel spreadsheet
  5. In Excel click on (Insert, Object) and choose Media Clip
    Then choose (Insert Media File, Sound) and find the appropriate wav file
  6. You can also insert video clips (I record these in Camtasia)

Note that you can compress wav audio files into mp3 files and avi video files into whatever format you choose such as wmv, mov, or mpg. Adding any media to an Excel spreadsheet makes downloading slower. Media file compression, however, speeds up the process greatly if you have long media clips in your spreadsheet.

There are of course other files that you can add to Excel such as pictures.

Any downloaded MS Office file loses macro functionality in a Web browser, so you might want to avoid using macros in your Excel file.

It is also possible to add DHTML dynamic interactions to Excel files. This adds an immense amount of code to your file, and the DHTML code cannot be read on all types of browsers. I have a video on how to do DHTML interaction in Excel at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/acct5342/ExcelDHTML.wmv
However, I don't view this rather complex procedure important since it became possible to read downloaded Excel files directly into a Web browser and thereby avoid many of the security risks of running Excel files in Excel itself.

Bob Jensen's threads on tricks and tools of the trade are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

 


The butcher, baker, and automaker make her, why not me?

U.S. life insurers, weakened by losses on their immense investment portfolios, are maneuvering to get a slice of government bailout funds by buying up tiny banks. On Monday, Lincoln National Corp. said it agreed to buy a small savings-and-loan institution in Goodland, Ind. In recent days Genworth Financial Inc. said it agreed to buy a thrift in Maple Grove, Minn., and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. said it had struck a deal to purchase Federal Trust Corp., in Sanford, Fla.
Leslie Scism, Michael Crittenden, Matthew, Karnitschnig, and Matthias Rieker, "Insurers Buy Banks in Effort to Get Aid," The Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122696868966435573.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

 

U.S. life insurers, weakened by losses on their immense investment portfolios, are maneuvering to get a slice of government bailout funds by buying up tiny banks. On Monday, Lincoln National Corp. said it agreed to buy a small savings-and-loan institution in Goodland, Ind. In recent days Genworth Financial Inc. said it agreed to buy a thrift in Maple Grove, Minn., and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. said it had struck a deal to purchase Federal Trust Corp., in Sanford, Fla.
Leslie Scism, Michael Crittenden, Matthew, Karnitschnig, and Matthias Rieker, "Insurers Buy Banks in Effort to Get Aid," The Wall Street Journal, November 17, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122696868966435573.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

Why not bail out everybody? --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#Everybody

The current financial turmoil shows that private sector can bankrupt nation states. The US government has committed more than $5 trillion and the UK has committed around £500 billion, nearly one-third of their respective GDPs, to support the financial sector. The bailouts may stabilise the financial sector and help economic recovery but they have also created new moral hazards. In the absence of effective regulation and accountability, company directors, who have already behaved badly, will continue to behave recklessly and play their selfish games, at virtually no cost to themselves. Leaders of major industrialised countries have paid little attention to moral hazards and how bailouts reward bad behaviour. There is an urgent need to address the moral hazards problem.
Prem Sikka, "Hold them to account: The traditional mechanisms for disciplining," The Guardian, November 18, 2008 --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/18/marketturmoil-banks

 


Questions
What will happen to all the future capital markets studies and CAPM when the assumed risk-free interest rate is no longer "risk free?"
Is “Risk Free” an oxymoron?

"Uncle Sam's Credit Line Running Out," by Randall Forsyth, Barron's, November 11, 2008 ---
http://online.barrons.com/article/SB122633310980913759.html

Be that as it may, it's all (new National Debt at now $6 billion per day)  adding up. If the late Sen. Everett Dirksen were around today, he might comment that a trillion here, a trillion there and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Trillions are no hyperbole. The Treasury is set to borrow $550 billion in the current quarter alone and $368 billion in the first quarter of 2009. "Near-term pressures on Treasury finances are much more intense than we had thought," Goldman Sachs economists commented when the government announced its borrowing projections last week.

It may finally be catching up with Uncle Sam. That's what the yield curve may be whispering. But some economists are too deaf, or dumb, to get it.

The yield curve simply is the graph of Treasury yields of increasing maturities, starting from one-month bills to 30-year bonds. The slope of the line typically is ascending -- positive in math terms -- because investors would want more to tie up their money for longer periods, all else being equal. Which it never is.

If they expect yields to rise in the future, they'll want a bigger premium to commit to longer maturities. Otherwise, they'd rather stay short and wait for more generous yields later on. Conversely, if they think rates will fall, investors will want to lock in today's yields for a longer period.

The Treasury yield curve -- from two to 10 years, which is how the bond market tracks it -- has rarely been steeper. The spread is up to 250 basis points (2.5 percentage points, a level matched only in the past quarter century in 2002 and 1992, at the trough of economic cycles.

Based on a simplistic reading of that history and the Cliff Notes version of theory, one economist whose main area of expertise is to get quoted by reporters even less knowledgeable than he, asserts such a steep yield curve typically reflects investors' anticipation of economic recovery. Never mind that the yield curve has steepened as the economy has worsened and prospects for recovery have diminished. Like the Bourbons, the French royal family up to the Revolution, he learns nothing and forgets nothing.

As with so much other things, something else is happening this year.

The steepening of the Treasury yield curve has been accompanied by an increase in the cost of insuring against default by the U.S. Treasury. It may come as a shock, but there are credit-default swaps on the U.S. government and they have become more expensive -- in tandem with an increase in the spread between two- and 10-year notes.

This link has been brought to light by Tim Backshall, the chief analyst of Credit Derivatives Research. The attraction of investors to the short end of the Treasury market is "juxtaposed with the massive oversupply and inflationary expectations of the longer end," he writes.

Backshall is not alone in this dire assessment. Scott Minerd, the chief investment officer for fixed income at Guggenheim Partners, a Los Angeles money manager, estimates that total Treasury borrowing for fiscal 2009 will total $1.5 trillion-$2 trillion. That was based on $700 billion for TARP, a $500 billion-$750 billion "cyclical deficit," an additional $500 billion stimulus program and some uncertain amount for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Minerd doubts that private savings in the U.S. and foreign purchases of Treasury debt will be sufficient to meet those government cash requirements. That leaves the Fed to take up the slack; that is, monetization of the debt.

However it comes about, Backshall's charts of the yield curve and the spread on U.S. Treasury CDS paint a dramatic picture. Both the yield spread and the cost of insuring debt moved up sharply together starting in September.

Let's recall what happened that month: the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac bailouts, the AIG bailout and the Lehman Brothers failure. The two lines continued their parallel ascent with the announcement and ultimate passage of the TARP last month. And evidence mounted of an accelerating slide in growth.

Cutting through the technical jargon, the yield curve and the credit-default swaps market both indicate the markets are exacting a greater cost to lend to Uncle Sam. And it's not because of anticipated recovery, which would reduce, not increase, the cost of insuring Treasury debt against default.

All of which suggests America's credit line has its limits.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the National Debt and off-balance sheet liabilities are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#NationalDebt

"Seizing pensions, the final step to bankruptcy," Pravda, November 10, 2008 ---
http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/10-11-2008/106678-pensions-0

As these late autumn days of financial disaster wind down into a winter of discontent across the world, the United States Congress is discussing a step that will surely signal the final collapse of America as anything more than a bankrupt and possibly failed state.

What is this subject? The subject is none other than pensions, the last refuge of money and the last source of fast cash for spend thirsty politicos. In committees the US Congress is hearing testimony from various leftist professors on how to redistribute, read spend, the vast amount of money accumulated by the 60 million Americans at or near retirement age.

What most of you, my dear readers, do not understand, is that in America there is no longer such a thing as a pension fund. These are dinosaurs, the last of which are paying out their monies, on the way to total extinction. To replace these the government of America created tax exempt (to a certain dollar per year value) accounts called 401Ks which are than invested into the stock markets, thus a great boom for the number one owners of the United States government, banks. But the banks are now themselves bankrupt and hold much less sway in DC, even as appetites to spend have grown amongst the One Party, Two Branch politicos. Sure there is Social Security, but even by under rating inflation by 2/3rds, and thus upward payment adjustments, for over 20 years the United States government is simply broke and does not have the actual money to pay Social Security for the vast Baby Boomer generation, now retiring.

This is because all the money, from day one in 1936, was spent and not invested. Each working generation pays for the retiring generation. What changed? The Baby Boomers aborted 40 million babies and thus are now larger than the combined next two generations. In their Christless greed to spend on themselves, they have not only damned their souls through the murder of children but their old age as well, to poverty.

But even when Social Security pays, for most people, the $2,000 to $3,000 it does pay per month is hardly the money to live off of, let alone pay for ever more expensive medicines. The medical costs in America routinely grow between 15-20% per year, while salaries at best on average at 3-4%. This is all the product of short sightedness and greed. The bill has come due and a large percentage has been added for gratuity. The Devil will have his kilogram of flesh from a people who have forsaken Christ for pride, vanity and greed.

So what is being contemplated by the American Congress?

We Can't Tax Our Way Out of the Entitlement Crisis," by R. Glenn Hubbard, The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2008; Page A13 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121927694295558513.html 

We can also secure a firm financial footing for Social Security (and Medicare) without choking off economic growth or curtailing our flexibility to pursue other spending priorities. Three actions are essential: (1) reduce entitlement spending growth through some form of means testing; (2) eliminate all nonessential spending in the rest of the budget; and (3) adopt policies that promote economic growth. This 180-degree difference from Mr. Obama's fiscal plan forms the basis of Sen. McCain's priorities for spending, taxes and health care.

The problem with Mr. Obama's fiscal plans is not that that they lack vision. On the contrary, the vision is plain enough: a larger welfare state paid for by higher taxes. The problem is not even that they imply change. The problem is that his plans are statist.

While the candidate is sending a fiscal "Ich bin ein Berliner" message to Americans, European critics of his call for greater spending on defense are the canary in the coal mine for what lies ahead with his vision for the United States.

Professor R. Glenn Hubbard is Dean of the College of Business at Columbia University and a member of the President's Council of Economic Advisors.

Bob Jensen's threads on the "Entitlement Crisis" are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/entitlements.htm

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

November 12, 2008 reply from Zane Swanson [ZSwanson@UCOK.EDU]

Bob

It looks like your suggesting the US Treasury will print money for the debt … That means inflation instead of the deflation that some have discussed. The accountants potential upside is more work where FASB 89 could get a revival from its previous hurrah in the last big US bout of inflation of the late 70’s.

FASB 89 http://www.fasb.org/pdf/aop_FAS89.pdf 

1. In 1979, FASB Statement No. 33, Financial Reporting and Changing Prices, was issued as an experiment in requiring supplementary information on the effects of inflation and changes in specific prices. At that time the Board committed itself to review the results of the requirements within five years. The Board has completed that review and has concluded that further supplementary disclosures should be encouraged, but not required.

Zane Swanson

November 13, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Zane,

Highly inflationary printing of money may be the only option years down the road if we can’t borrow at realistic rates to pay the National Debt interest. At 6%, the interest on the current National Debt will be over a million dollars a minute. Virtually all the interest is now being paid with new debt instead of taxes --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#NationalDebt  

What may be more immanent is that some other nation’s treasury notes may take over for measuring risk free rates, particularly another nation having a much flatter yield curve than U.S. Treasury notes that have recently headed north. Because of steeper yield curves the U.S. must pay much more to service the National Debt with more debt that, in turn, increases the National Debt at exponential rates.

What is more devastating is the off-balance-sheet debt of the U.S. that David Walker is working feverishly to warn us about. We’re now told that Barack Obama has been aptly briefed on this problem. This may be the major factor moderating his proposals for huge and devastating additions to the entitlements that will cripple future generations of U.S. citizens and force the payment of entitlements (Social Security, Health Care of the baby-boomers, and prescription drug subsidies) with printed inflationary money --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Entitlements.htm

 As far as FAS 89 goes, we will probably be under IFRS before the FASB has time to revise FAS 89. In the interim, look for reported earnings to be highly overstated in terms of capital maintenance theory --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#FairValue  

I have the 1981 U.S. Steel Annual Report back when FAS 33 was still in force. U.S. Steel had to report under both historical cost and current cost bases.

Under historical cost, U.S. Steel in 1980 reported over $1 billion in net earnings. On a current cost basis, all earnings disappeared and a net loss of over $300 million was reported. In 1981 the impact of inflation on earnings was somewhat less dramatic in part because of price-level gains on long-term fixed-rate debt.

The earnings reported by United States Steel in the 1981 Annual Report as required under FAS 33 were as follows --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#FairValue

1981 United States Steel Income Before Extraordinary items and Changes in Acctg. Principles

Historical Cost (Non-PLA Adjusted)

Historical Cost (PLA Adjusted)

Market Value (Current Cost)

$1,077,000,000 Income

$475,300,000 Income 
Plus $164,500,000 PLA gain due to decline in purchasing power of debt

$446,400,000 Income
Plus $164,500,000 PLA Gain

Less $168,000,000 Current cost increase less effect of increase in the general price level

 

I consider the $1 billion net income reported under historical cost to be a misleading figure of capital efficiency and maintenance.

Bob Jensen




From the November 10, 2008 Securities Law Blog at http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/securities/

CFTC Chair Outlines Reform Proposal

CFTC Acting Chairman Walter L. Lukken gave the keynote speech before FIA Futures and Options Expo, in Chicago today and put forth his vision of regulatory reform.  Specifically:

I believe the United States should scrap the current outdated regulatory framework in favor of an objectives-based regulatory system consisting of three primary authorities: a new Systemic Risk Regulator, a new Market Integrity Regulator and a new Investor Protection Regulator. This objectives–based framework is similar in concept to the reforms advanced by Treasury Secretary Paulson’s Blueprint and Paul Volcker’s Group of Thirty Report.

A new Systemic Risk Regulator would have the responsibility of policing the entirety of the financial system for “black swan” risks that could cause a contagion event and take preventative action against such occurrences. Such a regulator does not exist in the current framework but is absolutely necessary given the witnessed interconnections of our financial markets and the speed of the current global crisis. A new Market Integrity Regulator would oversee the safety and soundness of key financial institutions, including exchanges, investment firms and commercial banks whose failure may jeopardize the integrity of the markets. A new Investor Protection Regulator would broadly oversee investor protection and business conduct across all firms in the marketplace. This objectives-based framework focuses on risks from the macro to micro levels and would be a radical departure from the current structure. The different functions of the CFTC, as well as the SEC and the various banking regulators, would be dispersed among these three regulatory authorities.

The CFTC Chairman disagreed with SEC Chairman Cox's proposal for a merger of the CFTC and SEC:

One idea that has been put forth as both a permanent and interim reform step is a simple merger of the CFTC and the SEC. In Washington, this is code for the larger SEC—along with its rules-based model and culture—taking over the principles-based CFTC. In my view, this would be ineffective and would only reinforce our outdated regulatory structure. Simple merger is a recycled idea when bold solutions are needed.

Who is Nassim Nicholas Taleb? --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taleb
Many finance professors make students watch some of Taleb's videos, especially the Black Swan ---
http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=taleb+black+swan+&www_google_domain=www.google.com&emb=0&aq=f&aq=f#
Black Swan Financial Collapse Black Swan --- http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x720r3_black-swan-paradigm-financial-colla_tech
(People underestimate the probability of rare events)

Bob Jensen's essay on the bailout's aftermath and an alphabet soup of appendices can be found at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

Essay --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm 

Appendix A Impending Disaster in the U.S.

Appendix BThe Trillion Dollar Bet in 1993

Appendix CDon't Blame Fair Value Accounting Standards
                      This includes a bull crap case based on an article by the former head of the FDIC

Appendix DThe End of Investment Banking as We Know It

Appendix EYour Money at Work, Fixing Others’ Mistakes (includes a great NPR public radio audio module)

Appendix F:  Christopher Cox Waits Until Now to Tell Us His Horse Was Lame All Along
                      S.E.C. Concedes Oversight Flaws Fueled Collapse
                      And This is the Man Who Wants Accounting Standards to Have Fewer Rules

Appendix G:  Why the $700 Billion Bailout Proposed by Paulsen, Bush, and the Guilty-Feeling Leaders in Congress Won't Work

Appendix H:  Dr. Frankenstein's Wall Street by Victor Davis Hanson

Appendix I:   1999 Quote from The New York Times
                    ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Appendix J:  Will the large auditing firms survive the 2008 banking meltdown?

Appendix K:  Why not bail out everybody and everything?

Appendix L:  The trouble with crony capitalism isn't capitalism. It's the cronies.

Appendix M:  Reinventing the American Dream

Appendix N:  Accounting Fraud at Fannie Mae

Appendix O:  If Greenspan Caused the Subprime Real Estate Bubble, Who Caused the Second Bubble That's About to Burst?

Appendix P:  Meanwhile in the U.K., the Government Protects Reckless Bankers

Appendix Q:  Bob Jensen's Primer on Derivatives (with great videos from CBS)

Appendix R:  Accounting Standard Setters Bending to Industry and Government Pressure to Hide the Value of Dogs

Appendix S:   Fooling Some People All the Time

Appendix T:  Regulations Recommendations

Appendix U:  Subprime: Borne of Sleaze, Bribery, and Lies

Personal Note from Bob Jensen --- Click Here 

"The Financial Crisis, From A-Z," by Tunku Varadarajan, Forbes, November 10, 2008 ---
http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/11/09/financial-crisis-tarp-oped-cx_tv_1110varadarajan.html
Jensen Comment
This is a clever use of the alphabet and an understanding of what happened.

 


Where were the auditors?
The was so much bad stuff going on, it's unbelievable that the auditors knew nothing about the unethical and criminal behavior of clients
The sexual favors, whistleblower intimidation, and routine fraud behind the fiasco that has triggered the global financial crisis

Some wholesalers turned a blind eye to broker fraud, too. "I'd walk into mortgage shops and see brokers openly cutting and pasting income documents and pay stubs, getting out the Wite-Out and changing Social Security numbers," says Melissa Hernandez, a former wholesaler for Argent Mortgage, a unit of now-defunct Ameriquest Mortgage, who says she never knowingly bought bogus applications. "There was no ambiguity." Other wholesalers took matters into their own hands, doctoring documents to qualify borrowers for loans. A former Wells Fargo (WFC) wholesaler says he regularly used the copiers at a nearby Kinko's to alter borrowers' pay stubs and bank account statements.
"Subprime: Borne of Sleaze, Bribery, and Lies," by Mara Der Hovanesian, Business Week, November 13, 2008 --- http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_47/b4109070638235.htm?link_position=link3

It may seem like ancient history now, but not long ago the mortgage industry was turning ordinary people into millionaires. One of them was Sharmen Lane, a high school dropout who, like many other young women during the boom, found her way into an obscure banking job with the clunky title "mortgage wholesaler." Her experience—and the experiences of other wholesalers like her—offers a glimpse into the recklessness and indulgence that drove the industry to ruin.

The rise of mortgage wholesalers from grunts to rainmakers is one of the more curious developments of the housing bubble. Wholesalers work for banks and other lenders. The wholesaler's job is to buy other loan applications from independent mortgage brokers so that lenders can turn them into loans. Wholesalers are paid on commission: the more loans they generate, the more money they make. During the housing boom, lenders typically approved the loans and then packaged them into securities. That path—from mortgage brokers to wholesalers to lenders to securities—turned out to be a road to disaster.

But as the housing bubble inflated, wholesalers—though hidden from public view—became high-earning superstars. Lane, a manicurist before joining now-defunct subprime lender New Century Mortgage in 1997, says she brought home $1 million in 2002 and $1.2 million in 2003.

Eventually the deal-making turned frenetic. Multiple wholesalers began inundating mortgage brokers with offers for the same applications. Some brokers chose to exercise their power by asking for something extra in exchange for their business: sex.

Dozens of former brokers and wholesalers say the trading of sexual favors was so common that it came to be expected. Lane recalls one visit to a mortgage brokerage near San Jose (Calif.) in which the manager lewdly propositioned her in his office. She says she declined the advance, and he didn't sell her any applications. But other female wholesalers didn't have the same qualms about crossing the line. "Women who had sex for loans were known very quickly," says Lane, who left New Century before it failed in 2007 and now works as a $200-an-hour life coach and motivational speaker in New York. "I didn't want to be a mortgage slut."

WHOLESALE CORRUPTION
Investment bubbles always spawn excesses, and housing was no exception. The abuses went far beyond sexual dalliances. Court documents and interviews with scores of industry players suggest that wholesalers also offered bribes to fellow employees, fabricated documents, and coached brokers on how to break the rules. And they weren't alone. Brokers, who work directly with borrowers, altered and shredded documents. Underwriters, the bank employees who actually approve mortgage loans, also skirted boundaries, demanding secret payments from wholesalers to green-light loans they knew to be fraudulent. Some employees who reported misdeeds were harassed or fired. Federal and state prosecutors are picking through the industry's wreckage in search of criminal activity.

Now wholesalers, who for a brief moment rose to prominence, are an endangered species. The failures of large subprime lenders like New Century, BNC (a unit of Lehman Brothers), and GreenPoint Mortgage, owned by Capital One, threw thousands out of work. Some lenders still in business have curtailed or shuttered their wholesale operations.

In the end, the wholesalers were undone by the same people who allowed for their rise: their Wall Street overlords. During the boom investment banks bought as many loans as they could to pool together and turn into securities. In 2006 the top 10 investment banks, which included Merrill Lynch (MER), Bear Stearns (BSC), and Lehman Brothers, sold mortgage-backed securities worth $1.5 trillion, up from $245 billion in 2000. To keep the supply of loans coming, the investment banks increasingly took control of the industry's frontline players as well.

First they started buying small, independent wholesaling firms. Next they extended billions in credit to subprime lenders. Then they took stakes in some, and bought others outright. At the height of the frenzy in 2006, six top investment banks shelled out a total of $2.2 billion to buy subprime shops.

That gave Wall Street the power to demand more subprime loans, which carried the highest interest rates and were the most profitable. As a national account director for Deutsche Bank (DB), Mark D. Toomey bought loans from mortgage lenders to turn into securities. Sometimes, he says, he "twisted arms" to get more loans. "Nobody had the [guts] to say no," says Toomey, who left the bank in 2007. Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

But mostly, brokers and wholesalers were happy to comply. The more loans they made, after all, the more they got paid. One former wholesaler in Northern California who requested anonymity joined subprime lender GreenPoint Mortgage in 1997, right out of college. By 2004, she says, she was pulling in several hundred thousand dollars a year. She kept a chauffeur on call to shuttle her and her friends to "exclusive clubs, restaurants, and parties," and treated friends to shopping sprees at Neiman Marcus, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. "It was the time of our lives," says the woman, who now works as an account executive for another lender in the area.

Brokers say some female wholesalers weren't up on the finer points of finance—but exploited other assets in their quest for more loans. "You had boiler rooms of younger, predominantly male brokerage operations and in would walk a gorgeous, fit [wholesaler] who would go desk to desk," says Rick Arvielo, president of New American Funding, a mortgage brokerage in Irvine, Calif. "Most of them didn't know the product."

Of course, it's accepted practice in many industries for companies to hire attractive saleswomen. What's more, on Wall Street, lurid tales of erotic dancers livening up after-hours events are common.

"INDECENT PROPOSALS" But in the mortgage business, it went further: The women allegedly offering sexual favors were bank employees. Evan Stone, president of Walnut Creek (Calif.) mortgage brokerage Pacific Union Financial, says "minimally trained and minimally dressed" wholesalers often wooed brokers. He says he regularly got visits in his suburban office from representatives wearing unusually short skirts to entice him and his team of brokers to party at the local Ruth's Chris Steak House. Stone says one New Century wholesaler offered to fly him to Chicago to "have a good time." He says he declined all offers of sexual favors. "There were some indecent proposals made," he says. "That was part of building the relationship."

Wholesalers also offered sexual favors to co-workers. To drive up their commissions, some enticed loan underwriters at their companies to approve questionable applications. A vice-president at Washington Mutual who once wielded $500 million to make loans recalls an incident in which a female wholesaler wanted him to approve a loan that didn't fit guidelines. The manager, who requested anonymity, says the co-worker, wearing a low-cut shirt, knelt down at his desk and said: "I really need this. What do I have to do?"

Some wholesalers turned a blind eye to broker fraud, too. "I'd walk into mortgage shops and see brokers openly cutting and pasting income documents and pay stubs, getting out the Wite-Out and changing Social Security numbers," says Melissa Hernandez, a former wholesaler for Argent Mortgage, a unit of now-defunct Ameriquest Mortgage, who says she never knowingly bought bogus applications. "There was no ambiguity."

Other wholesalers took matters into their own hands, doctoring documents to qualify borrowers for loans. A former Wells Fargo (WFC) wholesaler says he regularly used the copiers at a nearby Kinko's to alter borrowers' pay stubs and bank account statements.

Continued in article

Deloitte is Included in the Shareholder Lawsuit Against Washington Mutual

"Feds Investigating WaMu Collapse," SmartPros, October 16, 2008 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x63521.xml

Oct. 16, 2008 (The Seattle Times) — U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sullivan's office [Wednesday] announced that it is conducting an investigation of Washington Mutual and the events leading up to its takeover by the FDIC and sale to JP Morgan Chase.

Said Sullivan in a statement: "Due to the intense public interest in the failure of Washington Mutual, I want to assure our community that federal law enforcement is examining activities at the bank to determine if any federal laws were violated."

Sullivan's task force includes investigators from the FBI, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s Office of Inspector General, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations division.

Sullivan's office asks that anyone with information for the task force call 1-866-915-8299; or e-mail fbise@leo.gov.

"For more than 100 years Washington Mutual was a highly regarded financial institution headquartered in Seattle," Sullivan said. "Given the significant losses to investors, employees, and our community, it is fully appropriate that we scrutinize the activities of the bank, its leaders, and others to determine if any federal laws were violated."

WaMu was seized by the FDIC on Sept. 25, and its banking operations were sold to JPMorgan Chase, prompting a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Washington Mutual Inc., the bank's holding company. The takeover was preceded by an effort to sell the entire company, but no firm bids emerged.

The Associated Press reported Sept. 23 that the FBI is investigating four other major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger the $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration.

The AP report cited two unnamed law-enforcement officials who said that the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and insurer American International Group (AIG). Additionally, a senior law-enforcement official said Lehman Brothers Holdings is under investigation. The inquiries will focus on the financial institutions and the individuals who ran them, the senior law-enforcement official said.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said in September that about two dozen large financial firms were under investigation. He did not name any of the companies but said the FBI also was looking at whether any of them have misrepresented their assets.

"Federal Official Confirms Probe Into Washington Mutual's Collapse," by Pierre Thomas and Lauren Pearle, ABC News, October 15, 2008 --- http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6043588&page=1

 
The federal government is investigating whether the leadership of shuttered bank Washington Mutual broke federal laws in the run-up to its collapse, the largest in U.S. history.

. . .

Eighty-nine former WaMu employees are confidential witnesses in a shareholder class action lawsuit against the bank, and some former insiders spoke exclusively to ABC News, describing their claims that the bank ignored key advice from its own risk management team so they could maximize profits during the housing boom.

In court documents, the insiders said the company's risk managers, the "gatekeepers" who were supposed to protect the bank from taking undue risks, were ignored, marginalized and, in some cases, fired. At the same time, some of the bank's lenders and underwriters, who sold mortgages directly to home owners, said they felt pressure to sell as many loans as possible and push risky, but lucrative, loans onto all borrowers, according to insiders who spoke to ABC News.

Continued in article

 

Allegedly "Deloitte Failed to Audit WaMu in Accordance with GAAS" (see Page 351) --- Click Here
Deloitte issued unqualified opinions and is a defendant in this lawsuit (see Page 335)
In particular note Paragraphs 893-901 with respect to the alleged negligence of Deloitte.

 

Bob Jensen's essay on the subprime mess --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm


Ten Times More Complex Than Enron

"The Creditors of Lehman Can Do Little but Wait," by Julia Werdigier, The New York Times, November 14, 2008 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/business/worldbusiness/15lehman.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Creditors of Lehman Brothers’ international business, arriving at London’s gigantic O2 concert hall on Friday, had no illusions about getting their money back any time soon.

In a three-hour meeting in a hall usually reserved for rock bands like the Who, Lehman’s administrators explained to about 1,000 creditors that dismantling the bank’s European business would take “many years.”

This is at least “ten times more complex than Enron,” the administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers said, adding that they had no idea what the company’s total liabilities may be.

“It’s frustrating that after nine weeks, we still haven’t come to any clarity,” especially on how much counterparties hold with Lehman’s European business, said Tony Lomas, the PricewaterhouseCoopers partner leading the administration. “The prospect is that the creditors will lose money.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers identified 11,500 creditors and counterparties of Lehman’s European business, ranging from the coffee machine maker Nespresso and taxi companies in Milan and Zurich to Bulgari hotels and resorts and the financial news company Bloomberg.

From Lehman’s glass and steel offices in London’s Canary Wharf, the administrators are working through the bank’s $1 trillion of assets and said they cannot pay creditors until they have a “reasonable grip” on liabilities.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the subprime scandal are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm


Question
If the rich have been avoiding taxes, why is the State of New York about to implode?

To his credit, the Democratic Governor is trying to force Albany to confront its addictions. He's said that a tax hike -- even one targeting only the "rich" -- would be damaging. Mr. Paterson is urging labor unions to renegotiate contracts on behalf of public employees. And he's proposed trimming as much as $2 billion from this year's budget, including cuts to health care and education.
"Empire State Implosion:  The financial meltdown and the welfare state," The Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122653542508722577.html?mod=djemEditorialPage

The global credit panic has swept away many illusions, and we're about to find out if that includes those of the politicians who have feasted for years on Wall Street tax revenues. Ground Zero is New York, which has lived a tax-and-spend fantasy thanks to the long bull market and "progressive" tax rates. Reality is now biting.

The financial services industry employs between 2% and 3% of nongovernment workers in New York, the same as it did in the late 1970s. What's changed is the share of total wages in the state represented by Wall Street jobs, which had skyrocketed to nearly 20% last year from a little over 2% in 1977.

"This is 212,000 people making nearly $80 billion in wages and salaries last year," explained E.J. McMahon of the Manhattan Institute at a recent panel discussion on the financial crisis. "This is all taxed at the margin, so it plays an outsized role in the state's finances." This is also the dirty little secret of highly "progressive" tax rates: They make a state dependent on relatively few taxpayers.

The financial industry doubled its percentage of the national economy in the 1980s, and did so again between 1990 and 2006. As Wall Street wages have grown, so has New York's dependence on revenue from the personal income tax. In 1977 personal income taxes represented less than 45% of all state taxes. In 2007 they represented about 60%. And for the past 30 years, inflation-adjusted state spending has tracked closely with booms and busts on Wall Street. According to John Cape, a former state budget director, about 45,000 New York taxpayers provide the state "with anywhere from 20% to 30% of total income tax receipts."

New York City has also done little to decrease its addiction to revenue from a single industry. Mayor Michael Bloomberg missed the chance to use 9/11 as an opportunity for reform, and he's declined to challenge public unions over pay and benefits. Bigger and bigger budgets have been submitted and approved as though record Wall Street profits would never end. The financial industry is 14% of gross city product. In 2006, New York City received 50% of its personal income tax revenue from the top 1% of earners, many of whom work in finance.

During previous downturns Albany has resisted structural reforms. Instead of lessening the state's dependence on this narrow slice of the tax base, lawmakers have been content to wait for Wall Street to come roaring back. To cover the rising costs of debt payments, school aid, Medicaid, pensions and other budget drivers, they've raised taxes, sometimes temporarily but often permanently.

It would be a tragic mistake to view the current downturn as merely another cyclical blip. It may take Wall Street years to come back, and once it does it certainly won't look the same. Fewer big global banks are likely to emerge from the ashes; and while they will be better capitalized, they will also be more highly regulated. More reasonable leverage ratios mean less risk-taking and less profit even in good times. Bonus pools are likely to be anemic for some time.

New York's revenue coffers are set to take a hit. The only question is how big. The state budget deficit is already projected to be $1.5 billion in the current fiscal year, and Governor David Paterson estimates it could grow to $14 billion over the next two years if nothing is done.

To his credit, the Democratic Governor is trying to force Albany to confront its addictions. He's said that a tax hike -- even one targeting only the "rich" -- would be damaging. Mr. Paterson is urging labor unions to renegotiate contracts on behalf of public employees. And he's proposed trimming as much as $2 billion from this year's budget, including cuts to health care and education.

Naturally, union officials and hospital advocacy groups are balking at the Governor's requests and pushing for tax increases, but out-of-control education and Medicaid spending is what has fed the state's structural deficit. New York spends more money per pupil ($14,000) than any other state. Its only rivals are New Jersey and Connecticut and all three are at least 40% above the national average. The state's Medicaid costs of $2,260 per resident are twice the national average and equal to what Texas and Florida spend combined.

If New York wants to make sure a rejuvenated financial industry returns to Wall Street, it should be looking to reform its steeply progressive tax code. A leaner, more risk-averse and heavily regulated finance industry will be all the more sensitive to the high cost of doing business in New York. The Big Apple already imposes the highest personal income tax rate of any jurisdiction in the country (10.5%). And it's significantly higher than neighboring New Jersey (8.97%) and Connecticut (5%).

The financial industry has been having a painful reckoning with more realistic assessments of risk. New York's politicians need a similarly rude awakening.




"5 Reasons I Hope Classmates.com Gets Sued Into Oblivion:  It's time for Classmates.com to change or close up shop. A lawsuit against the company might just prompt some movement" by JR Raphael, PC World via The Washington Post, November 13, 2008 --- Click Here

Have you heard? Someone's suing Classmates.com over those e-mails it's been blasting the world with for the past decade. My reaction? It's about damned time.

Here's the scoop: A man from San Diego says he received e-mails from Classmates.com claiming his former classmates were "trying to contact him" through the site. (Surely you've received one or 100 of those, too -- I know I have.) Our guy joined the service, paying for a premium membership ($15 for 3 months) to gain access. Then, he said, he discovered that no old friends had attempted to get in touch or even looked up his name.

"Of those www.classmates.com users who were characterized ... as members who viewed Plaintiff's profile, none were former classmates of Plaintiff or persons familiar with or known to Plaintiff for that matter," the lawsuit says.

The suit claims Classmates.com has pulled similar tricks on countless other unsuspecting users. It demands the company refund subscriptions fees and pay an additional fine for deceptive advertising.

I, for one, hope the suit is a massive success. Why, you might ask? Allow me to explain.

How happy are people who get Classmates.com e-mails? A quick glance at the Consumer Affairs complaints page for the company will give you an idea. I found dozens of complaints from the past month alone. The BBB gives Classmates a C+ rating. The reason for the rating is "number of complaints filed."

"I have called them several times to stop sending me junk e-mail, and they keep telling me to unsubscribe, which I have done 10 times," writes Jeff from Michigan.

"I have tried many times to have them remove my name from their mailing list and they do not acknowledge my request," notes Skip from Arizona.

Look through the consumer complaints on ConsumerAffairs.com and see just how many people say they're being billed without authorization. Many users say they gave a credit card number for a trial and kept getting charged long after the trial's end, despite numerous cancellations. Many users also say they can't even login to the site, and no one will answer their requests for help.

When I tried Classmates.com I couldn?t even look at my high school class list (or any other class) without first giving my personal information, including e-mail address. See a connection here?

I can see how Classmates.com might have been appealing back in 1995, when it first launched. But nowadays, you can find better and easier ways to connect with old classmates -- ones that are both cost- and spam-free. (Facebook, anyone? MySpace?) The company's audacity in continuing to lure curious people into paying money to find out what "mysterious person" is interested in them just floors me.

Continued in article

"Eight Crazy E-Mail Hoaxes Millions Have Fallen For:  E-mail fills our in-boxes with come-ons to see celebrities naked and to get rich quick. Even though we know deep down that these are fakes, why do we contine to think, 'Maybe?'," by Nick Mediati and Anne B. McDonald, PC World via The Washington Post, August 26, 2008 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/22/AR2008082200175.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Congratulations, you won the lottery in a country whose name you can't even pronounce! A wealthy oil executive in a far-off land wants to give you millions of dollars, right now! Sexy girls want to meet you!

Now let's be honest. If someone came to your door and told you any of those things, you'd tell him to get lost. So why do people still fall for this stuff when it's in their e-mail, as if a poorly written message made a weird-sounding pitch any more legitimate?

The saddest part is, the only reason annoying e-mail keeps filing your inbox is because it works. No matter the number of reports detailing e-mail hoaxes gone bad and tales of spammers taking people for all they're worth, people just keep on clicking.

Why? It's the law of percentages. The response rate for snail-mail spam is between 0.5 and 1 percent. That might not sound like a lot, but if you apply it to e-mail, it means a spammer can send 1 million messages--without the cost of paper and postage--and 5000 to 10,000 people will answer. In fact, a study out this month indicates that nearly 30 percent of Internet users confessed to purchasing something from spam e-mail.

In 100 years, the spam boxes on our brain-implant chips will be maxed out, and we'll still be asking: Who's clicking on this stuff?

Here's PC World's list, in no particular order, of the top e-mail hoaxes that have come through inboxes and fooled millions.

It's amazing how many people were willing to believe this e-mail about a breeder in New York who raised kittens in bottles. Perhaps it's the horrible detail that outraged the recipients so much: The small animals are given a muscle relaxant to pacify them and to allow the breeder to get them in the bottle. They're fed through straws. Their skeletons take on the shape of the bottle. "Latest trends In New York, China, Indonesia and New Zealand." A bizarre case of animal cruelty? A sick joke?

Actually, it started as a fake Web site, Bonsai Kitten, the product of MIT students. The idea was so outrageous, it spread like wildfire via e-mail. Plenty of people fell for it, many begging animal-welfare organizations to help the small furry creatures. Even the FBI investigated. Perhaps it could happen--after all, you can miniaturize a tree by pruning it and shaping it. But cats? Last time we checked, it's more or less impossible (not to mention probably illegal) to stop an animal from growing simply by keeping it in a small container.

E-mail alerts outlining the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide swept the Internet in the late 1990s and still pop up today. Many ask that you sign and forward a petition to ban the chemical, which contributes to global warming, is a major ingredient in acid rain, causes metals to rust more quickly, and has been found in cancerous tumors. The chemical also contributes to the greenhouse effect and to erosion of our natural landscapes. It's even in food. Sounds pretty dangerous. You're ready to sign right now, aren't you?

Well, let us tell you one more thing about dihydrogen monoxide: It's more commonly known as water. You know, the substance that every single living being relies on to survive? The origins of this item are multifold, from flyers circulated at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1989 (so 20th century!) to a junior high school student who surveyed 50 classmates in 1997 and got 43 of them to sign his petition to ban the chemical. He then won a prize at his science fair for his project, called "How Gullible Are We?" Several Web pages touting the chemical's dangers are still live. Don't feel too bad if you've ever fallen victim to this hoax; even a government official in New Zealand took the bait last year.

With all the talk of cell phone dangers, the idea of radiation from them being powerful enough to pop popcorn doesn't seem that far-fetched, at least on the surface. Why, just this summer the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute advised its employees to limit exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones. So why wouldn't you believe the swarm of e-mail telling you to look at the incredible video of friends popping kernels of corn with their mobile phones?

The group allegedly did it by placing the kernels inside a ring of cell phones that then rang at the same time. The result: The kernels popped wildly as the cell phone owners shrieked in delight. It must be true--it was on the Internet, and the video was fun to watch. The event set off a wave of imitators attempting to film themselves re-creating it or trying to disprove it. The best of these, in our opinion, was the video where the people replaced their cell phones with Barack Obama dolls and the popcorn popped anyhow. Watch out, Senator McCain!

Unfortunately, as you might expect, it was all fake. A company called Cardo Systems made the video to promote its cell phone headsets. Abraham Glezerman, Cardo's CEO, told CNN that the phones were real and the popping popcorn was real, but the video was a composite, with the footage of the popcorn heated over a kitchen stove digitally dropped into the video of the folks with their phones. Dang. Guess the e-mail about cell phones that can cook eggs isn't accurate either.

Bill Gates Wants to Give You Money

This summer an editor at PC World received a note from a relative asking if the e-mail she had received that told her Bill Gates wanted to send her $1000 was real. Uh, no...

Although Gates is being very generous with his fortune now that he has retired from day-to-day work with Microsoft, you can get some of it only by applying to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But long before the foundation was created, back in the early days of the Internet, e-mail discussing Gates's or Microsoft's willingness to fork over free cash was widely circulated--and clearly, it's still forwarded today. Snopes.com has a list of the urban legends circulating most widely and, despite the fact that Gates and Microsoft have been the subject of phony e-mail alerts and hoaxes since the 1990s, they are still in the top 25 this month.

One version says that Microsoft wants to make sure Internet Explorer remains the dominant browser (which we're sure is true). All you need to do to help out and get money from Microsoft is to forward an e-mail to your friends. Microsoft will track the e-mail for two weeks, and you get paid for every person who receives the e-mail through you. Among the attractive details is a list of differing amounts that will come to you depending on how many referrals you make--one version of the scam says the sender received a check for $24,800 from Microsoft. Not chump change!

Hold on a second. First, if tracking an e-mail like that were even possible, the Electronic Frontier Foundation would be all over that faster than you can say "invasion of privacy." Oh, and did we mention that the technology to do such a thing probably doesn't exist? Of course, since you read PC World, you know that already. But if Microsoft ever really wanted to pay us just for forwarding an e-mail, we're game.

In 2002, Symantec supposedly issued an advisory about certain e-mail messages flying around the country about an "important virus to look out for." The antivirus-software maker, which does issue warnings on real viruses, allegedly instructed Internet users not to open any e-mail with the subject line "LAUNCH NUCLEAR STRIKE NOW." If you did open that e-mail, you would inadvertently end up sending nuclear warheads winging their way toward the former Soviet Union. That's right, you could start your very own nuclear war while in your slippers and bathrobe.

The deal was that opening the e-mail would download a virus that would tell your PC to access NORAD computers in Colorado and instruct them to launch a full-scale attack on Russia and former U.S.S.R. states. Okay, maybe Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may be thinking that way right now over the current crisis in Georgia, but let's leave that to the professionals, shall we?

Needless to say, the virus isn't real, Symantec didn't issue such a caution, and it should be painfully obvious that this one is a hoax. If that isn't clear to you, step away from your PC and don't ever touch it again.

Let us guess: At one time or another, you've received an e-mail from an earnest resident of Nigeria that starts with a hello and an introduction to the sender. The e-mail then suggests that your help is needed to claim an abandoned sum of money in a foreign account, or something similar. The message typically promises that you will receive a large amount of money if you simply send a smaller amount of money now.

You didn't fall for it, did you? These convincing missives, which may or may not be from Nigeria, are known as 419 scams (named after a section of the Nigerian criminal code that deals with fraud). Wikipedia says most of them are advance-fee frauds or confidence tricks. Not only will you not get rich, but you'll also have a very hard time getting back any money you wire the sender up front. We're sorry to report that these types of scams, which are based on versions dating back to the early 1900s, are still popular--variants purporting to be from Russia, Spain, Nigeria, and many other countries still pour in to e-mail accounts around the world.

Continued in article

 

Bob Jensen's threads on Internet and credit card frauds are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#ConsumerFraud

Fraud Updates are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm


You can certainly fool some of the people some of the time, especially via the Internet and Email

Before reading the next you should probably read about DiHydrogen Monoxide --- http://www.snopes.com/science/dhmo.asp

The following is a combination of parts of two November 14, 2008 messages from David Fordham, James Madison University [fordhadr@JMU.EDU]

For many years, I've included a link to the dihydrogen monoxide warning site from my own bookmarks page, showing it as the only activist group I affiliate with. Every semester I recommend my students visit it. Everything reported on that website is entirely true and factual, probably more factual than a lot of what I read in the Post and WSJ. And guess what! My students report that they actually DO LEARN A LOT from visiting that site, and it helps them immensely in their daily life as a modern citizen.

Before they visit the site, I inform my students of the fact that the federal government (U.S. Army, actually) maintains several massive storage facilities containing millions of gallons of this chemical in the mountains above our valley, in what most people assume is a civilian area called the George Washington National Forest. If if those storage facilities were to experience failure and suddenly release all that stuff, you can rest assured there would be millions of dollars of damages, and probably some deaths, too. My students do the research, check it out, and learn that what I'm saying is entirely true.

Of course, that's NOT the main thing they learn from the coalition's website, however. No, they learn something far more important.

The site is one of the most well done educational sites of its genre I've seen. It is intended to help people stop and think, and to remind them that they are too often willing to accept nonsense from the net. And from other sources, too.

It's not a scam and shouldn't be included with them. A scam is defined as a "confidence-based scheme intended to defraud". I'm unaware of any defrauding or even any attempt to defraud. The site doesn't ask for donations, tell you to send money, pay dues, or even ask you to write your Congressman. Sure, they sell t-shirts promoting their organization, but so does Stanford, so does Harvard, and so does Trinity.

Check it out. You won't get a virus, and you might realize how much benefit today's college students can get from learning what the site wants you to learn.

http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html 

The main reason I like the DHMO site is that it brings attention to the common journalism practice today of giving sensationalized, fear-mongering, emotionally-charged, possibly factual but unquestionably one-sided, abridged, carefully selected, and positively misleading wording masquerading as "news". As I am wont to point out, there are some national daily publications which make this practice their bread and butter. The DHMO site makes it clear that unless someone already knows a lot about what is being reported, they have to rely on the presence of the dire, emotional, wording, and the presence of an "unmistakable conclusion any idiot can reach from this article" as the hints that let them recognize the stuff as pure drivel. I hate to see supposedly-intelligent people get taken in by this biased half-truth selective reporting regardless of whether it is delivered via a website, an email, an NPR feature story, or on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

David Fordham

Bob Jensen's threads on Internet and credit card frauds are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#ConsumerFraud


"Feds: Huffman Confesses to Scam:  500 investors scammed out of $25 million over 17 years, officials says," SmartPros, November 14, 2008 --- http://accounting.smartpros.com/x63808.xml

J.V. Huffman Jr. confessed to scamming hundreds of investors out of millions of dollars, according to documents released Thursday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In a civil action lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday by the SEC against the Huffman and his company, the Biltmore Financial Group Inc., the SEC said Huffman conducted a Ponzi scheme, pulling in 500 people in North Carolina and other states since 1991.

He raised about $25 million from these investors, who initially believed they were investing in a mutual fund. After Sept. 11, 2001, Huffman expanded his claims, and told investors the Biltmore Financial pooled investors' money to purchase and sell mortgages for a profit.

Huffman confessed to authorities a week ago, when the N.C. Secretary of State's office searched his home on Wishing Well Lane in Claremont, according to a release from the SEC. He told authorities he never invested the funds the investors gave his company, Biltmore Financial, and said he used new investor funds to pay the profits of earlier investors. Some funds were used for his lavish lifestyle, including an Aston Martin convertible, a $1 million RV, renovations to his home, vacations and rental properties.

"In a tragic example of the way a fraudster operates a Ponzi scheme, Huffman deceived neighbors and members of his church and religious community, as well as strangers, to finance his extravagant way of life," said Katherine Addleman, director of the SEC's Atlanta, Ga., regional office. "Huffman lied to get investors' trust and then spent their invested funds on fancy cars and vacation homes."

Huffman's wife, Gilda, was named as a relief defendant in the civil suit, so assets filed under both names could be attained, according to officials with the SEC.

An order also was filed in federal court Wednesday to appoint a receiver and freeze all of Huffman's and Biltmore Financial's assets. These include assets, money, securities and properties. A receiver's job is to take control of assets and ensure they're protected. Walt Pettit, of Kellam and Pettit in Charlotte, was appointed as the receiver.

According to the order, Pettit has the authority to manage, control and operate Huffman's estate. He can use the income, earnings and profits of the estate to take into possession any goods, money, lands, books or record of accounts, data or materials, conduct the business operations of Biltmore Financial and the properties they control and make any payments or dispose of assets as necessary. Pettit also can receive and collect money owed to Biltmore Financial and Huffman, and can renew or cancel lease agreements.

As the receiver, Pettit must file a preliminary report with the court within 45 days of the order, identifying the location and values of Huffman's and Biltmore Financial's assets, and any liabilities he had.

The receiver also is the individual who will ultimately decide how Huffman's profits will be divided up.

The order also states that funds be frozen, with the exception of $15,000 for living expenses for the Huffmans for one month. After one month, Huffman can apply to the court with a signed, sworn statement of financial condition for the amount they need for ordinary living expenses.

The scheme:

Since 1991, J.V. Huffman Jr. operated Biltmore Financial Group Inc. Investors gave him $1,000 or more, and were told the money would be invested in a mutual fund.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Huffman changed his claims to investors by saying profits were generated by buying and selling mortgages. Profits fluctuated at market rates, but were guaranteed "never to drop below 0.00 percent."

Investors received monthly or quarterly reports, and were told they could withdraw their money without penalty in no more than 30 days. Biltmore Financial said its "approach is very conservative and tries to provide a healthy return at no risk."

According to the Biltmore Financial Group Company Dossier, which was sent to investors, interest rates paid to investors ranged from 8.02 percent one year to as high as 16.54 percent in 2007. In Huffman's first year, 1991, interest was 10.15 percent.

Other information provided to investors stated that "measures are taken to insure against any loss. Included but not limited to various forms of insurance from: State Farm, Thrivent Financial, American Express, Asset Guarantee, Securities Investor Protection Corporation." It also states the company's assets are insured and secured by the FDIC, SIPC and Thrivent Financial Services.

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


Question
Will Al Gore mention this one in his rants about greenhouse gases?

"Will the Next Ice Age Be Permanent? by Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, November 12, 2008 ---
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/12/will-next-ice-age-be-permanent/

A new analysis of the dramatic cycles of ice ages and warm intervals over the past million years, published in Nature, concludes that the climatic swings are the gyrations of a system poised to settle into a permanent colder state — with expanded ice sheets at both poles.

In essence, says one of the two authors, Thomas J. Crowley of the University of Edinburgh, the ice age cycles over the past million years are a super-slow-motion variant of the dramatic jostlings recorded by a seismograph in an earthquake before the ground settles into a new quiet state. He and William T. Hyde of the University of Toronto used climate models and other techniques to assess the chances that the world is witnessing the final stages of a 50-million-year transition from a planet with a persistent warm climate and scant polar ice to one with greatly expanded ice sheets at both poles.

Their findings have stirred a lot of skepticism in the community of specialists examining ancient records of past climate changes and how they might relate to variations in Earth’s orbit and orientation toward the Sun and other factors. I’ll be adding some of their reactions overnight (I’m on the road).

The Nature paper goes on to propose that humans, as long as they have a technologically powerful society, would be likely to avert such a slide into a long big chill by adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. That doesn’t obviate the need to curb such emissions and the prospect of dangerous climate warming in the short run, Dr. Crowley said. But it is more evidence that like it or not, the future of conditions on Earth is likely to be a function of human actions, whether chosen or not.

The idea that human actions can dominate the climatic influence of things as grand as shifts in a planet’s orbit is hard to grasp, but quite a few climate specialist say it’s pretty clear this is the case. In 2003, I wrote an article exploring when scientists think we’ll slide into the next ice age (the conventional variety). James Hansen of NASA echoed Dr. Crowley, saying that as long as we’re technologically able, we’ll be able to keep the big ice at bay. Strange, wonderful stuff, climate science

Controversial FAQs (at least some of them) about global warming --- http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/FAQs.htm

The future? The disappearance of sun spots was the hot topic at a recent international solar conference held at Montana State University. For the past two years, the sun has undergone a phase of relative inactivity, meaning usual solar phenomena such as sun flares, sun spots, and solar eruptions have all but disappeared. "It's a dead face," researcher Saku Tsuneta says of the solar surface. Tsuneta is with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and was one of the participants at the MSU conference The good news is that without such intense solar activity disruptions to space technology and even our beloved gadgets here on earth have been minimal. While this provides some relief to those of us whose cell phones dropped calls at the tiniest solar flare, scientists are concerned that this means bigger things to come for Earth's climate. Dana Longcope, a solar physicist at MSU, explains that the sun generally runs on an 11-year cycle and that there is usually a minimum of activity as the cycles change. The last cycle peak was in 2001 and the next cycle is predicted to peak around 2012. The sun is now as inactive as it was two years ago, and scientists aren't sure why. Some have even suggested that the inactivity portents the beginning of a new ice age. Geophysicist Phil Chapman, the first Australian NASA astronaut, confirms that there are indeed no sun spots currently on the solar surface. He also notes that the earth has cooled by about 0.7 degrees Celsius between January 2007 and January 2008, and says, "This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record, and it puts us back to where we were in 1930." Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, is also certain that it's an indication of a coming cooling period. He warns that climate change caused by man is "a drop in the bucket" compared to the fierce cold that can inactive solar phases can bring.
dascalle, "Will Earth's Future Be a FROZEN One?...rather than a hot one?" Free Republic, June 29, 2008 ---
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2038172/posts

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change --- http://www.ipcc.ch/
Critique of the test by a geoscientist --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2007/tidbits070918.htm#GlobalWarming 


Ideas for Teaching Online --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Ideas
Also see the helpers for teaching in general at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

In a previous edition of Tidbits, I provided a summary of resources for learning how and being inspired to teach online --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Ideas 

I forgot to (and have since added) helpers for assessment (e.g. testing) online ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#OnlineOffCampus
Also see the helpers for assessment in general at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm

Also I forgot to add some special considerations for detection and prevention of online cheating ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#OnsiteVersusOnline
Also see helpers for detection and prevention of cheating in general at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm


"Foreign Students Pour Back Into the U.S.," by Beth McMurtrie, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 21, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i13/13a00101.htm?utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

The number of international students enrolled in American colleges in the fall of 2007 shattered previous records and represents the largest one-year increase in decades, according to new data from the Institute of International Education.

Educators and government officials say the bounce indicates that hostile student-visa policies, weak recruiting efforts by colleges, and insufficient government support are things of the past. A weak dollar, the growing number of internationally mobile students, the lack of higher-education capacity in key source countries like China, and a rising middle class in those same countries have also helped fuel the growth.

In all, the 623,805 international students who studied here in 2007-8, an increase of 7 percent from a year earlier, contributed an estimated $15-billion to the U.S. economy.

"It's a great piece of news for U.S. campuses and for U.S. higher education to know that students from abroad clearly continue to see the United States as a destination of choice, clearly want to come here, and indeed are succeeding," said Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president of the institute, which released the data as part of its annual "Open Doors" report.

Yet certain trends within the data show some potential weaknesses, and competition from other countries, such as Canada and Britain, will continue to keep American colleges on their toes.

Advocates of a more-coordinated national approach to international-student recruitment say the United States should not become complacent.

"The worse thing that could happen would be if people took from these encouraging numbers that they could sort of sit back and not do anything anymore because everybody's going to come here anyway," said Victor C. Johnson, senior adviser for public policy at Nafsa: Association of International Educators. "Schools need to keep working, obviously, because they have competitors out there who are also working, many with more support from their governments than our schools get."

The Big Bang

First, the good news. As part of those record-breaking enrollments, the United States saw a 23.5-percent jump in the number of students enrolled in intensive-English programs, which Ms. Blumenthal calls a "bellwether," as many of those students go on to pursue degrees here.

The number of new international students rose 10.1 percent over the previous year, another good sign that the United States has shaken off stagnant growth. (A survey this fall of nearly 800 institutions found that 57 percent saw foreign-student enrollment increases this year over last.)

Some key source countries also showed positive gains in 2007. The number of students from China grew an eye-popping 19.8 percent. Indian enrollments jumped 12.8 percent. Enrollments from South Korea grew by 10.8 percent.

Several developing countries also saw significant increases. Enrollments from Vietnam grew 45.3 percent on top of a 31.3 percent increase the previous year. Driven by an extensive government scholarship program, enrollments from Saudi Arabia increased by 25.2 percent, and Nigeria jumped into the top 20 sending countries with an increase of 4.7 percent.

Many colleges are trying harder than ever to reach out to potential students, particularly undergraduates. According to the fall survey, 57 percent of colleges said they had made special efforts to stop enrollment declines.

More college representatives are setting up partnerships with institutions abroad, attending overseas recruiting fairs, responding quickly to inquiries and applications from abroad, and working with country-based agents.

The U.S. government has also put more resources into promoting American higher education and continues to streamline the visa-approval process, which, officials acknowledge, had become overly strict in the years immediately following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Largely because of those restrictions, the United States experienced enrollment declines for three years before bouncing back in 2006 with a 3.2-percent increase.

A number of educators and students confirmed that the visa-approval process has gone much more smoothly in the past couple of years.

"These days officials are very relaxed about giving visas" in India, said Suchreet Kaur, who is earning a master's degree in computer science at San Jose State University. "Just about anyone who wants to get a visa gets a visa."

Between the Lines

But if the figures are parsed, some numbers don't look so rosy. For one, some of the growth reflects better reporting on the part of colleges. The University of California at Los Angeles reported an 18-percent foreign-student enrollment increase in 2007, but Bob Ericksen, director of the university's Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, said that the actual rise was about 5 percent.

Better reporting also accounts for some of the increase in national Optional Practical Training numbers, according to educators and the institute. OPT, as it is known, allows students to stay on and work for up to 12 months after graduation (or 29 months if they are in certain fields, such as science or technology).

Although no longer students, these workers are counted as such for government tracking purposes and accounted for 9.1 percent of international-student numbers in 2007.

According to the institute, participation in OPT in 2007 grew 36.3 percent over the previous year.

If only degree-seeking students are considered, the rate of growth is nowhere near as high as the aggregate increase suggests. The number of students seeking graduate degrees, who account for nearly half of all foreign students here, grew by 4.8 percent in 2007. The number of students seeking bachelor's degrees, who account for almost one-third of all foreign students here, grew 4.6 percent.

The number of students seeking associate degrees actually fell 3.7 percent in 2007.

In addition a report by the Council of Graduate Schools, released this month, concluded that the rate of growth in graduate enrollments was slowing down.

More Government Attention

Despite those mixed indicators, one trend is clear: Colleges and the U.S. government are both working harder to attract students.

After experiencing years of declining budgets, the State Department's EducationUSA Advising Centers, the main means through which the government promotes American higher education abroad, have more resources at their disposal.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm
Jensen Comment
I'm reminded of a friend who graduated from the physics doctoral program a few years back at Texas A&M. Neither he nor any of his classmates were citizens of the United States. Perhaps the U.S. applicants had worse credentials.


Question
Why do colleges have to identify each of their online students without the same requirement imposed on onsite students?
My daughter took chemistry in a class of 600 students. They never carded her for exams at the University of Texas?
How can you tell if an onsite or online student has not outsourced taking an entire course with a fake ID? (see Comment 1 below)
I know of an outsourcing case like this from years ago when I was an undergraduate student, because I got the initial offer to take the course for $500.
Fake IDs are easy to fabricate today on a computer. Just change the name and student number on your own ID or change the picture and put the fake ID in laminated plastic.

Online there's a simple way to authenticate honesty online. One way is to have a respected person sign an attestation form. In 19th Century England the Village Vicar signed off on submissions of correspondence course takers. There are also a lot of Sylvan Centers throughout the U.S. that will administer examinations.

Is That Online Student Who He Says He Is?" by Sara Lipka, Chronicle of Higher Education,
http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3455&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

To comply with the newly reauthorized Higher Education Act, colleges have to verify the identity of each of their online students. Several tools can help them do that, including the Securexam Remote Proctor, which scans fingerprints and captures a 360-degree view around students, and Kryterion’s Webassessor, which lets human proctors watch students on Web cameras and listen to their keystrokes.

Now colleges have a new option to show the government that they’ll catch cheating in distance education. Acxiom Corporation and Moodlerooms announced this month that they have integrated the former’s identity-verification system, called FactCheck-X, into the latter’s free, open-source course-management system, known as Moodle.

“The need to know that the student taking a test online is in fact the actual one enrolled in the class continues to be a concern for all distance-education programs,” Martin Knott, chief executive of Moodlerooms, said in a written statement.

FactCheck-X, which authenticates many online-banking transactions, requires test takers to answer detailed, personal “challenge” questions. The information comes from a variety of databases, and the company uses it to ask for old addresses, for example, or previous employers.

The new tool requires no hardware and operates within the Moodle environment. Colleges themselves control how frequently students are asked to verify their identities, Acxiom says, and because institutions don’t have to release information about students, the system fully complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Comments

  1. Where’s the concern about whether that student in the large course on campus is who he says he is? How many schools really card students before exams are given in those courses?

    — Steve Foerster    Nov 11, 05:52 PM   

  2. My sentiments exactly, Steve! I am surprised at the shift in thinking that somehow online students are more likely to cheat than those who appear for exams onsite!

    — Born to teach    Nov 11, 06:03 PM   

  3. I’ve been teaching online for five years, and I have found cheating to be much more prevalent in the online environment. Most institutions use proctors for high stakes testing, and student identification is presented. For purely online initiatives, however, it simply doesn’t make sense to ask these students to come to campus for assessments. No LMS currently addresses this legislation to my knowledge, so it is interesting to consider the options for compliance.

 

Linebacker's Wife Says She Wrote His Papers (and took two online courses for him)
The wife of a star University of South Florida linebacker says she wrote his academic papers and took two online classes for him. The accusations against Ben Moffitt, who had been promoted by the university to the news media as a family man, were made in e-mail messages to The Tampa Tribune, and followed Mr. Moffitt’s filing for divorce. Mr. Moffitt called the accusations “hearsay,” and a university spokesman said the matter was a “domestic issue.” If it is found that Mr. Moffitt committed academic fraud, the newspaper reported, the university could be subject to an NCAA investigation.
"Linebacker's Wife Says She Wrote His Papers," Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, January 5, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/news/article/3707/linebackers-wife-says-she-wrote-his-papers?at
Jensen Comment
If Florida investigates this and discovers it was true, I wonder if Moffitt's diploma will be revoked. Somehow I doubt it.

 

Ideas for online testing and other types of assessment are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#OnlineOffCampus
Also see the helpers for assessment in general at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm

Special considerations for detection and prevention of online cheating ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#OnsiteVersusOnline
Also see helpers for detection and prevention of cheating in general at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm
 


Question
What's the value of watching somebody send you an email message?

Answer
There may be some security and subtle communication advantages, but there's a huge cost-benefit consideration. Is it worth valuable bandwidth costs to transmit all that video of talking heads and hands? I certainly hope that most of us do not jump into this technology "head" (get it?) first.

One huge possible benefits might be in distance education. If a student in sending back test answers via email, it could add a lot to the integrity of the testing process to watch the student over this new video and audio channel from Google.

"Google juices up Gmail with video channel," MIT's Technology Review, November 11, 2008 ---
http://www.technologyreview.com/wire/21665/?nlid=1507&a=f

Google Inc. is introducing new tools that will convert its free e-mail service into a video and audio channel for people who want to see and hear each other while they communicate.

Activating the features, introduced Tuesday, will require a free piece of software as well as a Webcam, which are becoming more commonplace as computer manufacturers embed video equipment into laptops.

Once the additional software is installed, Gmail users will be given the option to see and hear each other without leaving the e-mail application.

The video feature will work only if all the participants have Gmail accounts. It's supposed to be compatible with computers running the Windows operating system or Apple Inc.'s Mac computers.

Google, the Internet's search leader, has been adding more bells and whistles to Gmail as part of its effort to gain ground on the longtime leaders in free e-mail, Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Video chatting has long been available through the instant messaging services offered by Yahoo and Microsoft, but the feature isn't available in their free e-mail applications.

Although Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has been making strides since it began welcoming all comers to Gmail early last year, it remains a distant third with nearly 113 million worldwide users through September -- a 34 percent increase from the previous year, according to comScore Inc.

Microsoft's e-mail services boasted 283 million worldwide users, up 13 percent from the previous year, while Yahoo was a close second at 274 million, an 8 percent gain, comScore said.

Ideas for online testing and other types of assessment are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#OnlineOffCampus
Also see the helpers for assessment in general at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm

Special considerations for detection and prevention of online cheating ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm#OnsiteVersusOnline
Also see helpers for detection and prevention of cheating in general at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/plagiarism.htm
 


"The Best (50) Inventions of the Year," Time Magazine, November 2008 --- http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/0,28757,1852747,00.html
"The Best (50) Inventions of the Year," Time Magazine, November 2004 --- http://www.time.com/time/magazine/0,9263,7601041129,00.html


New Gadgets

PC World Videos on New Products --- http://www.pcworld.com/video.html

"Project Video, Photos from a Phone PowerPoint decks in your pocket," Business Week Video, November 2008 ---
http://feedroom.businessweek.com/?fr_story=32c50be245fe235d42a0895cec076331c8bda821
This gadget comes from Microvision --- http://www.microvision.com/

MacWorld: Tricks and Tips --- http://www.macworld.com/howto.html

"The Coming Wireless Revolution:  Gadgets that operate over television frequencies promise to transform the wireless landscape," by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, November 14. 2008 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/communications/21671/?nlid=1511&a=f 

"GPS: More Features, At Lower Prices:  Whether you want just good basic navigation or lots of extra features, these portable in-car GPS units won't cost you an arm and a leg," by Liane Cassavoy, PC World via The Washington Post, November 13, 2008 --- Click Here

In most cases, though, the more you pay for a GPS, the more features you'll get. The chart-topping, $425 Magellan Maestro 4350 and the second-place, $480 TomTom GO 930 are the two most expensive systems we tested. And they do offer lots of extras, like hands-free calling with Bluetooth, FM transmission (so you can hear turns announced over your car stereo), and built-in audio and video players. But they also truly earned their leading positions due to their excellent navigation features: These two devices consistently found the quickest, most convenient routes.

The Navigon 2200T landed in our third spot, followed by the Garmin Nuvi 265T. Rounding out our Top 5 was the $220 TomTom One 130 S--a very basic, but still capable, navigator. All three of these devices will get you where you're going without a problem. They all sport 3.5-inch screens, which seems cramped compared to the 4.3-inch screens found on the Magellan and the TomTom GO 930. But they prove that you don't have to ante up the big bucks to get a reliable navigation device.

In fact, paying more doesn't mean you're necessarily going to get better navigation advice. The Sony NV-U94T, which missed the cut, lists for $400 (you can find it online for about $375)--and it provided some of the worst directions we've seen. In one case, its route was so far off that I was convinced I had entered the destination incorrectly (I hadn't). In another instance, I asked it to avoid toll roads, and it sent me on--you guessed it--a toll road.

Continued in article

"Manufacturers Give a Sneak Peek at Next Year's Gadgets," by Eliot Van Buskirk, Wired News, November 13, 2008 --- http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/11/2009-gear-previ.html

The economy might be flattening your wallet, but consumer electronics manufacturers are hoping they can still successfully tempt you with an array of nifty new gadgets.

How about a pocket projector that you can use for impromptu screenings of the favorite movies on your iPhone? A secure hard drive that requires you to enter a passcode on a keypad before anyone can access the data on it? Or a tiny GPS for tracking your teenager's whereabouts?

These gizmos are just a few of the new and upcoming products on display at the Consumer Electronics Association's Tuesday preview of its upcoming Consumer Electronics Show, or CES.

The consumer electronics industry, like every other industry, is worried about its prospects for 2009. A shrinking economy, vanishing jobs and an imploding financial system cast long shadows over the coming year. But there are few bright spots on the horizon for CE manufacturers, according the Consumer Electronics Association, mainly involving green technology, next-generation input methods such as multitouch screens and motion sensors, and embedded internet access.

Consumer electronics is "the only industry that has a growth rate of over 7 percent" despite the economic climate, says the CEA, possibly because some of its products can replace other, more expensive entertainment options.

If the economy continues to decline, CE manufacturers harbor a hope that consumers will react by "cocooning" in their homes, surrounding themselves with electronic comforts like HDTVs, Blu ray players and videogame consoles instead of blowing their discretionary income on SUVs and trips to Tahiti. While it can be expensive initially, the homebody lifestyle pays dividends by cutting down on activities outside the home (movies, restaurants, bars, travel, concerts and so on).

So, what new gear will you be willing to plunk down your hard-earned (or -saved) money for, come 2009? Here are some of our favorites from Tuesday night's CES preview in New York.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on ubiquitous computing --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ubiquit.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on gadgets are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob4.htm#Technology


Most Common Resume Lies (Forbes) --- http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml

From foolish fibs to full-on fraud, lying on your résumé is one of the most common ways that people stretch the truth. But think twice before you ship off your next half-baked job application. Even if your moral compass doesn't keep you from deceit, the fact that human resources is on to the game should.

The percentage of people who lie to potential employers is substantial, says Sunny Bates, CEO of New York-based executive recruitment firm Sunny Bates Associates. She estimates that 40% of all résumés aren't altogether aboveboard.

And this game of employment Russian roulette is getting riskier and riskier. Almost 40% of human resources professionals surveyed last year by the Society for Human Resource Management reported they've increased the amount of time they spend checking references over the past three years.

View a slide show of the most common résumé lies.

Truth of Fiction:  Top Resume Lies (Strategic HR Lawyer) --- http://www.strategichrlawyer.com/weblog/2006/07/truth_or_fictio.html 

Resume lies you can't get away with (CNN) --- http://edition.cnn.com/2007/US/Careers/01/19/cb.lies/index.html

The 10 Most Memorable and Outrageous Resume Lies (DIGG) ---
http://digg.com/business_finance/The_10_Most_Memorable_and_Outrageous_Resume_Lies

 

Executive Lies About His MBA from the University of Southern California
Officials at the University of Southern California -- responding to an inquiry from the Journal -- told the company it had no record that Mr. Lanni had earned a master's degree in business administration from the school. A corporate biography of Mr. Lanni on MGM Mirage's Web site says he holds an MBA in finance from USC. Mr. Lanni is a longtime patron of USC, joining boards and speaking at the school over the years, Mr. Murren and others said. For example, he is currently a member of the Board of Overseers of USC's Keck School of Medicine. The university contacted MGM Mirage on Wednesday following the Journal's inquiries about a recent discovery by Barry Minkow, a private fraud investigator in San Diego, of a discrepancy between Mr. Lanni's corporate biography and a database of college degrees accessible to private investigators. (Please see related article.) Mr. Minkow said he has no investment position in MGM Mirage, but one of his employees has bought "put" options betting against the company's stock.
"MGM Mirage CEO to Resign Amid Questions About MBA," by Keith J. Winstein and Tamara Audi, The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB122661583489225999-lMyQjAxMDI4MjE2NDYxMTQ1Wj.html

Jensen Comment
An anonymous tip revealed that Lanni was a major fund raiser at one time for the USC School of Accountancy. Although Lanni has claimed on his resume that he has a USC BS in Speech, it turns out that he does have a BS in Business (not from the USC School of Accountancy where he was a fund raiser).

In terms of wealth Lanni can still claim he gambled and won at the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas.

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

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


Top UBS Banker Faces Jail Time in Tax Shelter Scheme
U.S. prosecutors charged one of the world's top private bankers, a senior executive of UBS AG, with helping rich clients evade federal income taxes, the latest U.S. move aimed at pressuring Swiss banking officials to reveal the names of their American account holders. Raoul Weil, a member of the Swiss banking giant's executive board, is accused of organizing a phalanx of private bankers to help hide from U.S. tax authorities about $20 billion in assets belonging to about 20,000 clients, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The alleged offenses occurred between 2002 and 2007, when Mr. Weil was the bank's top international wealth management executive. Mr. Weil, according to federal prosecutors, referred to the offshore business as "toxic waste" because of the risks it posed to the bank, but oversaw the expansion of the accounts because they were so profitable. If convicted on the felony charge of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government, Mr. Weil could serve a maximum of five years in jail.
"Top Banker Cited In Tax-Dodge Case," by Evan Perez and Carrick Mollenk, The Wall Street Journal, November 13m 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122650872732121043.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

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


Question
Are risky investment returns higher or lower than the risk free rate on average over long periods of time?

First learn about the theory of mean reversion at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mean_reversion

"Reversion to the Mean Why treasuries have outperformed equities," The Economist via CFO.com, November 10, 2008 --- http://www.cfo.com/article.cfm/12585264/?f=rsspage

GREATER risk means greater reward, right? Wrong, at least over the last 25 years. As the graph shows, Treasury bonds have actually outperformed riskier asset classes over the last quarter century. That is despite the long equity bull-market from 1982 to 2000.

Treasury bonds have understandably beaten equities this year, when the financial sector has been in crisis and the economy headed towards recession. The government bond-market always performs well at times of crisis. But the last 25 years have been, by and large, a pretty good time for global economies, marked by the "great moderation" in inflation and growth.

But the last quarter century has been positive for all asset classes, with government debt, corporate bonds and Treasuries all returning an average of around 10% a year in nominal terms. So why have Treasuries done so well in relative terms? The explanation, as Jim Reid of Deutsche Bank explains, lies in reversion to the mean.

Asset classes can go through long periods when they underperform, leaving them cheap and ripe for revaluation. That happened to Treasury bonds, which suffered four consecutive decades of negative real returns from the 1940s through the 1970s. At that point, Paul Volcker, then the Federal Reserve chairman and now an advisor to President-elect Barack Obama, successfully brought down inflation, allowing investors to lock in double-digit Treasury yields. It was one of the great historical buying opportunities.

Such a period is extremely unusual. Since 1900, the average annual return from Treasuries has been 4.6%, or 1.5% after allowing for inflation. In contrast, American equities have delivered 9.3%, or 6% in real terms.

The current poor performance of stockmarkets reflects, of course, a reversion to the mean after the excesses seen during the dotcom bubble, when the rolling 25-year annual return of US equities reached a remarkable 16%. On a 10-year basis, the return from equities has now slumped to minus 3.5% in real terms.

. . .

There are two important caveats. First, this kind of analysis is no use at all in predicting short-term movements. Second, markets spend very little of the time at fair value (on Mr Reid's calculations), tending to veer wildly from one extreme to another. All three asset classes might still be overvalued; after all, the figures show returns over the last quarter century have been well above average.

Jensen Comment
This speaks in favor of jumping out of equity at the instant a bubble begins to burst. but it's generally difficult to identify a true bubble early on. Plus the media is always urging the public not to panic and to hang on to equity investments on the theory that what goes down goes back up. The media, however, probably does not have a clue about mean reversion.False positive bailouts can lead unnecessary transactions costs. Also if your equity investment is tied up in a pension fund like CREF, you don't have fast reacting options.

Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#Finance


Question
What are the best fuel efficient cars?

I think you should consider something else. It isn't that the Cobalt is a terrible car. Indeed, I know people who are fond of their Cobalts. But I think there are better-built, better-performing compact cars that are also worth your consideration. These include the Mazda3, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza and Volkswagen Golf and Jetta. I think you should test drive as many of these as possible to see which you find the most satisfying. If you decide to stick with Chevrolet, there is a newer version of the Cobalt called the XFE that is particularly fuel efficient and worth a look.
Jonathan Walsch, The Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122641284589817309.html


It's easy to be spoofed by a trusted source

"All the News That's Fit to Invent," by Don Troop, Chronicle of Higher Ed, November 12, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/news/article/5480/all-the-news-thats-fit-to-invent?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

The New York Times reported today that Congress was poised to eliminate tuition at all public universities.

But don’t be too hasty in cashing out of your college-savings plan.

That free newspaper being handed out to commuters in several U.S. cities was, in fact, a spoof edition of the Gray Lady, dated July 4, 2009, that imagines a progressive paradise with salary caps on executive pay, the end of the war in Iraq, and treason charges against President Bush.

Among the faux headlines were a few that probably turned heads in the world of education: “Harvard Will Shut Business School Doors,” “USA Patriot Act Repealed,” and “Education Department Plans National Tax Base for Schools.”

The real New York Times reported on its City Room blog that the clever replica was apparently the work of the Yes Men, a group of liberal pranksters well known for carrying out complex hoaxes.

Two years ago, members of the group infiltrated a conference at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where they suggested “re-branding Africa’s image” and employing “full private stewardry of labor” (essentially suggesting a return to slavery). Wharton was not amused.

Neither, initially, was the Times about today’s spoof.

City Room quoted Catherine J. Mathis, a Times spokeswoman, as saying: “This is obviously a fake issue of The Times. We are in the process of finding out more about it.”


Wave Goodbye to UseNet (RIP 1980-2008)

November 11, 2008 message from Scott Bonacker [lister@BONACKERS.COM]

There is a good article to read here: http://www.pcmag.com/print_article2/0,1217,a%253D230383,00.asp 

One of the notable quotes is: "Usenet was what the Web is missing nowadays: a genuinely public space, with unclear ownership. While different people hung out in different groups, everyone accessed the same group list and there was plenty of cross-fertilization. Control came down to a bickering cabal of scattered IT administrators who generally preferred to leave well enough alone. Compared to chat systems like IRC (and later, instant messaging and texting), Usenet encouraged thoughtful, long-form writing with lots of quotation and back-and-forth."

One thing I found interesting is that the web article is dated July 31st, and it's in the December 2008 print edition that I got in the mail this weekend. Computers really are faster.

Scott Bonacker CPA
Springfield, MO

November 11, 2008 reply from

The archives of usenets groups was at Dejanews, which was acquired by Google.

Google groups today is what usenet used to be. Google groups go as far back as 1981! Ans the usenet newsgroup names are still preserved. For example, comp.lang.prolog is still comp.lang.prolog

I was a regular user of usenet groups who is a disaffected Google groups user. We refer to Google groups derisively as Gooja or dejagoogle.

You can of course subscribe to usenet even today through services such as www.giganews.com . Those who want more info about usenet, a good source is http://www.harley.com/usenet/intro.html.

I still use Google groups for my classes, but for a different reason. I am tired of mails to students bouncing back (their mail boxes full), and google groups provides the students no excuse.

Of course I can use Blackboard, but I find using it pretty close to getting water-boarded.

Usenet was essentially killed by use of social networking on the internet. The serious users of the old usenet groups today use really old fashioned technologies like listservs. AECM isw an example.

The only difficulty is that search was extremely easy in the usenet days. Now, unless I know already that there is a listserv called aecm that may be of interest to me it is quite possible I may never find out. Usenet was extremely well organised as the sites that I gave in my previous message shows.

Nowadays I interact mostly though a few listservs on which I participate. In the usenet days, I used to spend a half hour or so in the morning getting all the news I wanted. Nowadays, I visit bbcnews.com, Reuters, and a few other sites. All the graphics at these sites are harsh on my ancient eyes used mostly to text.

Jagish


Question
Is is spurious correlation or causality that cosmetic sales increase when the stock market starts to plunge?
Should auditors begin lipstick analysis when assessing risk?

From Jim Mahar's Blog on November 10, 2008 --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/

Pulse - Frown Fighters - Caption - NYTimes.com:
"...the Lipstick Index — that frivolous financial barometer that says cosmetics sales rise in direct relation to free-falling finances — has jumped."
 
From The Business Sheet:
"The gist is that women couldn't afford luxuries in the depression but wanted to buy something to treat themselves. Something small, cheap, and with a big impact. Lipstick. During the Depression sales went up"
Thanks to ClusterStock for this.

College Credit on the Phone? This makes me suspicious!

"Community-College System Offers Distance Education by Cellphone," by Sara Lipka, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 12, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3458&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Universities in Japan and Canada unveiled courses by cellphone last year, and now, in the midst of National Distance Learning Week, the United States has too.

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System yesterday announced the creation of LCTCSOnline, a new program built in collaboration with AT&T and Pearson Custom Solutions, a branch of the publishing and education company.

Beginning in January, students can register on a single Web site for online courses offered — at $63 per credit hour — by any community college in Louisiana. And they’ll be able to complete their coursework on desktops, laptops, or mobile phones.

“The top barriers for students in obtaining their degrees are geographic access, cost of higher education, and scheduling conflicts,” said Joe D. May, the college system’s president, in a written statement. “We’re excited to be able to bring a greater level of access to potential students.”

Louisiana ranks last among the 50 states in the percentage of adults with associate’s degrees, according to the college system, which hopes to solve workforce shortages by enrolling nearly three times as many students as it does now.

“This initiative embodies the type of thinking we need,” Sally Clausen, Louisiana’s commissioner of higher education, said in a written statement.

A $500,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents financed the program, which the college system developed in nine months with AT&T and Pearson, The Town Talk, a local newspaper, reported

Bob Jensen's Threads on Tricks and Tools of the Trade are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

Bob Jensen's links to online training and education alternatives are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm


"Major Source of Internet Spam Yanked Offline:  Web Hosting Firm Shuttered After Connection to Spammers is Exposed," by Brian Krebs, The Washington Post, November 12, 2008 --- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/12/AR2008111200658.html?wpisrc=newsletter

The gleaming, state-of-the-art, 30-story office tower in downtown San Jose, Calif., hardly looks like the staging ground for a full-scale cyber crime offensive against America. But security experts say a relatively small Web hosting firm at that location is home to servers that help manage the distribution of the majority of the world's junk e-mail.

The servers are owned by McColo Corp, a Web hosting company that has emerged as a major U.S. base of operations for a host of international cyber-crime syndicates, involved in everything from the remote management of millions of compromised PCs to the sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals and designer goods, fake security products and child pornography.

Multiple security researchers have recently published data naming McColo as a mother ship for all of the top robot networks or "botnets," which are vast collections of hacked computers that are networked together to blast out spam or attack others online.

Joe Stewart, director of malware research for Atlanta based SecureWorks, said that these known criminal botnets: "Mega-D," "Srizbi," "Pushdo,""Rustock" and "Warezov," have their master servers hosted at McColo.

Collectively, these botnets are responsible for sending roughly 75 percent of all spam each day, according to the latest stats from Marshal, a security company in the United Kingdom that tracks botnet activity.

Vincent Hanna, a researcher for the anti-spam group Spamhaus.org, said Spamhaus sees roughly 1.5 million computers infected with either Srizbi or Rustock sending spam over an average one-week timeframe.

Hanna said McColo has for years been the source of botnet and other cyber-criminal activity, and that it has a reputation as one of the most dependable players in the so-called "bulletproof hosting" business, which are Web servers that will remain online regardless of complaints.

"These are serious issues, almost all relating to the very core of spammer infrastructure," he said.

Officials from McColo did not respond to multiple e-mails, phone calls and instant messages left at the contact points listed on the company's Web site. But within hours of being presented with evidence from the security community about illegal activity coming from McColo's network, the two largest Internet providers for the company decided to pull the plug on McColo late Tuesday.

Global Crossing, a Bermuda-based company with U.S. operations in New Jersey, declined to discuss the matter, except to say that Global Crossing communicates and cooperates fully with law enforcement, their peers, and security researchers to address malicious activity.

Benny Ng, director of marketing for Hurricane Electric, the Fremont, Calif., company that was the other major Internet provider for McColo, took a much stronger public stance.

"We shut them down," Ng said. "We looked into it a bit, saw the size and scope of the problem [washingtonpost.com was] reporting and said 'Holy cow!' Within the hour we had terminated all of our connections to them."

Continued in article

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

Bob Jensen's threads on computing and networking security are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#SpecialSection


For Years Dallas Schools Issued Fake Social Security Numbers

"Dallas Schools Used False Hiring Data," by Gretle C. Kovach, The New York Times, November 14, 2008 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/us/15dallas.html

Eager to hire teachers for bilingual education programs, the Dallas public school system assigned fake Social Security numbers to newly hired foreigners so it could get them on the payroll quickly, an internal investigation found.

The district continued the practice for years, the investigation found, even after it was admonished by a state agency. It was only halted this summer.

“The inappropriate procedure of assigning false SSNs has been systemic,” investigators with the school district’s Office of Professional Responsibility wrote in a report on the matter dated Sept. 25.

The Dallas Morning News ran an article on Friday after obtaining the report, marked “highly confidential,” through a records request.

A state education official said an investigation of the practice was under way and that the Social Security Administration and district attorney’s office were likely to be involved.

Jon Dahlander, a Dallas schools spokesman, said Friday that the practice “was obviously inappropriate.” He added: “I think the intention was good — they wanted to help the employees get paid. But you cannot use inappropriate procedures to do that.”

The investigation identified 26 foreign citizens in an alternative teacher-certification program who were given fake Social Security numbers, contrary to district and state procedure, which called for other identification measures.

The new employees were expected to apply for their own Social Security numbers and to provide them to the school district as soon as they received them.

The procedure was begun “as an expediency,” the report said, “without consideration or thought of the impact of generating false data.”

The false numbers prevented the state from accurately performing criminal background checks, and Dallas school employees routinely entered the false data on Department of Homeland Security and Internal Revenue Service forms held in employee personnel files, the investigators found.

The information would have been provided to federal agencies if requested, but the investigators found no evidence that the false numbers were given to the I.R.S. or the Social Security Administration.

A state education official processing fingerprint and background checks on the new teachers had discovered the practice in 2004 and advised the Dallas district that it was illegal.

“So we were shocked to learn today that Dallas I.S.D. has continued to issue fraudulent Social Security numbers after we admonished them to stop,” said Debbie Ratcliffe, communications director for the Texas Education Agency.

The agency is updating its teacher records and “examining applicable statutes to determine which, if any of them, have been broken and what appropriate action to take,” Ms. Ratcliffe said.

“We think it’s certainly wrong,” she said. “Whether it’s illegal, I’m not sure.”

The practice finally stopped in July, Mr. Dahlander said. That was when the state teacher-certification board reported it to the school district’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

It is unclear if the Dallas schools employees realized the temporary numbers, all with a “200” prefix, had been assigned to Pennsylvania residents. Mr. Dahlander said he did not believe any Pennsylvania residents were affected.

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


"$585 Million Fine in LCD Price Fixing (all confessed) ," The New York Times, November 12, 2008 ---
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/13/technology/13panel.html?ref=business

Three Asian electronics companies have agreed to plead guilty and pay $585 million in fines for conspiring to drive up prices for people buying computers, TVs and other LCD screens.

In a plea deal filed Wednesday, LG Display, , Sharp and Chunghwa Picture Tubes agreed to cooperate in an antitrust investigation being run by the Justice Department.

The plea agreement was filed in federal court in San Francisco.

LCDs, or liquid-crystal display monitors, are the glass display screens on most laptop computers, cellphones and new TVs.

The deputy assistant attorney general, Scott D. Hammond, said the scheme cost not only consumers, but also retailers including Apple, Dell and Motorola.

Mr. Hammond did not have a cost value for the losses, and said the investigation was continuing.

“These price-fixing conspiracies affected millions of American consumers who use computers, cellphones and numerous other household electronics every day,” Mr. Hammond told reporters at a Justice Department briefing announcing the deal. “By conspiring to drive up the price of LCD panels, consumers were forced to pay more for these products. And consumers were not the only ones affected by these conspiracies.”

There is a $70 billion worldwide market for LCD screens. Regulators in Asia and the European Union also have opened investigations into LCD pricing.

The Justice Department said LG Display, a South Korean company, and its LG Display America unit agreed to pay a $400 million fine for taking part in a conspiracy to fix the price of certain LCD panels from September 2001 to June 2006. That is the second-highest criminal fine ever imposed by the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

Chunghwa, a Taiwanese company, agreed to pay $65 million for joining with LG and other unnamed companies in the price-fixing conspiracy between September 2001 and December 2006.

And Sharp, a Japanese company, agreed to pay $120 million for participating in separate conspiracies to fix the price of certain LCD panels sold to Dell, Motorola and Apple between 2001 and 2006. Those panels were used in computer monitors, laptops, Motorola Razr mobile phones and Apple’s iPod portable music players.

“After carefully taking into consideration the applicable laws and regulations, the facts and other factors, Sharp has decided that the best possible course of action would be to conclude the aforementioned agreement,” the company said in a statement, adding that it will record the fine as an extraordinary expense in the quarter that ends in December.

Sharp also said its chairman and chief executive and some company directors would voluntarily return 10 to 30 percent of their compensation for three months starting in December because of “inconvenience and/or anxiety to our shareholders and other persons concerned.”

“Sharp understands the gravity of this situation and will strengthen and thoroughly implement measures to prevent the recurrence of this kind of problem, and will earnestly work to regain the public’s confidence,” the company said.

Representatives from LG Display and Chunghwa could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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


MacWorld: Tricks and Tips --- http://www.macworld.com/howto.html


From the Scout Report on November 14, 2008

Capture .NET Free 6.4.3183.23689 --- http://s630417.myweb.hinet.net/ 

You might have thought it impossible to get easy access to lunar phases on your desktop, but Capture .NET makes this very possible. Capture .NET is a small desktop utility that includes a screen capture function, a clock, a file shredder, and a dozen other handy tools. The application is available in a number of different languages, and it's quite easy to use. This version is compatible with computers running Windows NT and newer.


EndNote X2 --- http://www.endnote.com/endemo.asp 

Crafting bibliographies for academic works can be tricky work, and this application can help anyone from dissertators to undergraduates working on a short term paper. Some of the features of EndNote X2 include a full text locator for references, smart groups for instant reference sorting, and full compatibility with a number of word processors. This trial version is completely free for 30 days, and the full version may be purchased after that point. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 or Windows Vista.


Free online textbooks, cases, and tutorials in accounting, finance, economics, and statistics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks


Education Tutorials

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


Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

A History of Microsoft Word (slide show from Wired News) --- http://www.wired.com/gadgets/pcs/multimedia/2007/01/wiredphotos31

UN Institute for Training and Research Operational Satellite Applications Programme --- http://unosat.web.cern.ch/unosat/

BioEd Online: Symposium for Space Life Science (video) ---  http://www.bioedonline.org/workshops/space-life-sciences.cfm#overview 

World Architecture Community --- http://www.worldarchitecture.org/main/

America's Favorite Architecture --- http://www.favoritearchitecture.org/

Buildings in Cities --- http://www.emporis.com/en/

Bob Jensen's threads on free online science, engineering, and medicine tutorials are at --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Science


Social Science and Economics Tutorials

From Harvard University
Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation --- http://www.ashinstitute.harvard.edu/

The State of the World's Children 2008 --- http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/The_State_of_the_Worlds_Children_2008.pdf

Latino Settlement in the New Century --- http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/96.pdf 

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


Law and Legal Studies

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


Math Tutorials

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


History Tutorials

French Revolutionary Pamphlets --- http://content.lib.ua.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2FFrRvlution

Tipatshimuna-Innu stories from the land (Canada, video) --- http://www.tipatshimuna.ca/ 

First World War --- http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/firstworldwar

Center for First World War Studies: Lions Led By Donkeys --- http://www.firstworldwar.bham.ac.uk/biogs.htm

The Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries --- http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/exhibitions/divineart/

Antique Maps: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Library --- http://lbxml.ust.hk/mp/main.html

The Online Corpus of Old English Poetry --- http://www.oepoetry.ca/

Computing History

UCLA's Internet Project --- http://www.ccp.ucla.edu/pages/internet-report.asp 

Timeline of Computing History --- http://www.computer.org/computer/timeline/ 

The History of Computing --- http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/ 

American University Computer History Museum --- http://www.computinghistorymuseum.org/ 

The Apple (Computer) Museum  --- http://www.theapplemuseum.com/ 

A History of Microsoft Windows (slide show from Wired News) --- http://www.wired.com/gadgets/pcs/multimedia/2007/01/wiredphotos31

Oldcomputers.com  --- http://www.old-computers.com/news/default.asp

 

Bob Jensen's threads on history tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#History
Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm  


Language Tutorials

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


Writing Tutorials

Common Errors in English --- http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/errors/

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


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


Healthiest vs. the Least Healthy City in the U.S.

Lincoln, Neb. is the healthiest city in the U.S., and Huntington, W.V. is the least healthy, 2007 CDC data reveal. The CDC's city-by-city report is based on annual health surveys. Residents were asked to rate their health as excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. Topping the list was Lincoln, Neb., where 92.8% of residents say their health is good or better and only 7.2% report fair or poor health. At the bottom of the list is Huntington, W.V., where only 68.8% of residents say they enjoy good or better health, and a whopping 31.2% report only fair or poor health.
Daniel DeNoon, WebMD, November 17, 2008 --- http://www.webmd.com/news/20081117/healthiest-us-city-lincoln-neb


"Bone Marrow Transplant Appears to Halt HIV:  The findings signal promise for new therapies in Development," by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, November 10, 2008 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/editors/22182/?nlid=1500 


A test that reveals brain changes believed to be at the heart of Alzheimer's disease has bolstered the theory that education can delay the onset of the dementia and cognitive decline that are characteristic of the disorder.

Scientists at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that some study participants who appeared to have the brain plaques long associated with Alzheimer's disease still received high scores on tests of their cognitive ability. Participants who did well on the tests were likely to have spent more years in school. "The good news is that greater education may allow people to harbor amyloid plaques and other brain pathology linked to Alzheimer's disease without experiencing decline of their cognitive abilities," says first author Catherine Roe, Ph.D., research instructor in neurology.
"Brain scans demonstrate link between education and Alzheimer's," PhysOrg, November 10, 2008 --- http://www.physorg.com/news145557517.html


"Those were the days: counteracting loneliness with nostalgia," PhysOrg, November 12, 2008 --- http://www.physorg.com/news145715301.html

With the days getting shorter (and colder) and the Holidays quickly approaching, many of us start thinking back to days gone by. This sentimentality and desire for the past is known as nostalgia. All of us are struck with nostalgic feelings from time to time but a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, indicates that nostalgia may serve a greater purpose than just taking us back to the good old days.

Psychologists Xinyue Zhou and Ding-Guo Gao from Sun Yat-Sen University, along with Constantine Sedikides and Tim Wildschut from the University of Southampton explored the connection between loneliness and nostalgia. They ran a series of experiments that had participants answer questions related to feelings of loneliness, social support and nostalgia. The study participants included children, college students and factory workers. In addition, the factory workers were also assessed on their resilience (their ability to recover from traumatic events and adverse life situations).

The results showed that individuals who felt the loneliest reported receiving the least amount of social support. What was interesting, however, was that these participants turned out to be the most nostalgic. In addition, when nostalgia was induced in a number of the study participants, they in turn perceived to have the greatest amount of social support. These findings suggest that nostalgia amplifies perceptions of social support, and in this way, counteracts feelings of loneliness. In addition, the findings revealed that the most resilient individuals are more likely to use nostalgia to overcome feelings of loneliness.

Continued in article


"Joyful Music Helps the Heart:  Music that Inspires Joy Improves Blood Vessel Function." by Daniel J. DeNoon, WebMD, November 13, 2008 ---
http://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20081113/joyful-music-helps-the-heart

Joyful music helps your heart, researchers find.

The study comes from Michael Miller, MD, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland. Miller reported the findings at this week's annual meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.

Ten volunteers identified specific music that made them feel a sense of joy. While the music played, Miller and colleagues used an ultrasound device to measure how well each person's blood vessels responded to a sudden increase in blood flow (caused by release of a blood pressure cuff).

When they heard joyful music, the volunteers' blood vessels dilated by 26% -- a very healthy response. It's similar in magnitude to the response seen after aerobic exercise.

Laughter also improved blood flow. After listening to a comedy tape, volunteers' blood vessels dilated by 19%. That's similar to the laughter effect seen in an earlier study, in which volunteers viewed excerpts from the comic movie Kingpin.

But music has a dark side, too. Listening to music that made volunteers feel anxious narrowed blood vessels by 6%.

"These results were music to my ears because they signal another preventive strategy that we may incorporate in our daily lives to promote heart health," Miller says in a news release.

Country music made most of the volunteers feel joyful. Heavy metal music made most of them feel anxious. But Miller says what matters isn't the type of music, but an individual's emotional response to the music.

Miller says that 10 different individuals might well have found different types of music joyful -- and heart healthy.

Funding for the study came from the American Heart Association, the Veterans Administration, and the National Institutes of health.


From the Scout Report on November 14, 2008

Google makes a new foray into the world of public health Google predicts spread of flu using huge search data
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/nov/13/google-internet 

Google tool uses search terms to detect flu outbreaks
http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/11/11/google.flu.trends/?iref=mpstoryview 

Google Search Trends Reveal Flu Outbreaks http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=96914887 

Google Flu Trends http://www.google.org/flutrends/ 

CDC Influenza Flu [pdf] http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ 

Flu Center: Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/flu/FU99999

 


November 11, 2008 message from Andernutrition@aol.com

Hello there Mr. Jensen,
If you are still up in the White Mountains you are not so far from me. I live down in Boston.
I am a Registered Dietitian by profession and know very little about the high tech world! I have been online trying to learn about how to submit my website (a canned one of course ) to the search engines. I have not been having much luck.
This web site is very dear to me, and it is not about making money.
I am in my mid 50's now, and in the past couple of years lost both of my folks to cancer. My father passed this year after a tough bout with throat cancer.
I knew alot about nutrition for cancer, nutrition for seniors, nutrition calculations, tube feedings, and all that stuff. It was another story taking care of someone who had cancer every day, taking them for chemo, keeping the house, going to work, being a wife and mom, and so on.... So I wanted to make a web site that addressed not just nutrition, but nourishing the whole person. It is a site that talks about nourishing the mind and spirit as well as the body. I wanted it to be free information, supportive and interactive. For example: What do you do when it is Thanksgiving and your dad can't eat? Everyone shows up but...what do they all do? There are some ideas for people who I believe are in the same boat, who have loved ones who know what is going on, and want to be around family, and have the best days they can, while they can.
So, I made this site:

www.nourishsite.com
with the help of citymax
and I want to get it out there. However, it is a little scary trying to wade through the sea of offers to take my money etc.
So, I am hoping you might have some thought on this subject!
See what happens when you put your name on the web!!
Any help appreciated, and thanks for just reading this long email.
Sincerely,
Terry Girard, MSRD

 

November 12, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Terry,

The link to your site that you provided in your message does not work for me. A search of the term “nourishsite” generated hundreds of useless links. You would also be surprised at how many persons named “Terry Girard” are also dieticians. This illustrates why Arnold George Dorsey changed his name to Engelbert Humperdinck --- http://www.engelbert.com/

I will be glad to add your link below to my next edition of Tidbits (in the WebMD and health section near the end), but I’m afraid my audience is not so much into your healthy living specialty --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

If you don’t mind, I will send your message below to our AECM listserv where some users might give us some ideas on how to get your site picked up on the search engines. My own stuff somehow just seems to get picked up by the WebCrawlers without my having to do anything special on my part. I think there are some services that, for a fee, will publicize your site, but I would question whether the fee is worth the cost, especially on for a non-profit site such as my own that does not even get advertising revenue.

There is an explanation of WebCrawler at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebCrawler
At the above site there are also links to some commercial sites that can help you (for a fee) get your site more publicity.

What you might do is contact the great health Website called WebMD and explain how you would like to give your site more publicity in the healthy living sector.
The WebMD Website is at
http://www.webmd.com/
Near the bottom of the opening page are “Contact Us” links.
Near the top of the page also note the “Message Board Links”

The advantage of having your site linked on WebMD and similar respected health sites is that these sites generally try to filter out the quacks. Giving health advice is especially complicated by the risks and dangers of misinformation, quacks, and hidden agendas (such as hidden agendas for selling certain types of foods and supplements). For example, cranberry growers could try to promote their product by making questionable claims of certain types of health benefits or misleading claims that cranberries are unique in certain nutritional elements that are in fact in many other types of fruits and vegetables.

Another thing you can do is to join one or more listserv groups in your specialty and/or send messages to certain blog writers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm

Thank you for trying to share your concerns with the world.

Bob Jensen




Forwarded by Frank Rayburn

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee...You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

You might want to send this message to those people who mean something to you (I JUST DID); to those who have ! touched your life in one way or another; to those who make you smile when you really need it; to those who make you see the brighter side of things when you are really down; to those whose friendship you appreciate; to those who are so meaningful in your life.

If you don't send it, you will just miss out on the opportunity to brighten someone's day with this message!

May we all be COFFEE!!!!!!!

Bob Jensen's threads on retirement options (where I'm trying to be coffee)---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/NHcottage/NHcottage.htm




Forwarded by Paula

Age By Wal-Mart:

You are in the middle of some kind of project around the house mowing the lawn, putting a new fence in, painting the living room, or whatever. You are hot and sweaty, covered in dirt or paint. You have your old work clothes on. You know the outfit - shorts with the hole in crotch, old T-shirt with a stain from who knows what, and an old pair of tennis shoes. Right in the middle of this great home improvement project you realize you need to run to Wal-Mart to get something to help complete the job. Depending on your age you might do the following:

In your 20's: Stop what you are doing. Shave, take a shower, blow dry your hair, brush your teeth, floss, and put on clean clothes. Check yourself in the mirror and flex. Add a dab of your favorite cologne because you never know, you just might meet some hot chick while standing in the checkout lane. You went to school with the pretty girl running the register.

In your 30's: Stop what you are doing, put on clean shorts and shirt. Change shoes. You married the hot chick so no need for much else. Wash your hands and comb your hair. Check yourself in the mirror. Still got it. Add a shot of your favorite cologne to cover the smell. The cute girl running the register is the kid sister to someone you went to school with.

In your 40's: Stop what you are doing. Put a sweatshirt that is long enough to cover the hole in the crotch of your shorts. Put on different shoes and a hat. Wash your hands. Your bottle of Brute Cologne is almost empty so you don't want to waste any of it on a trip to Wal-Mart. Check yourself in the mirror and do more sucking in than flexing. The spicy young thing running the register is your daughter's age and you feel weird thinking she is spicy.

In your 50's: Stop what you are doing. Put a hat on, wipe the dirt off your hands onto your shirt. Change shoes because you don't want to get dirt in your new sports car. Check yourself in the mirror and you swear not to wear that shirt anymore because it makes you look fat. The cutie running the register smiles when she sees you coming and you think you still have it. Then you remember the hat you have on is from Buddy's Bait & Beer Bar and it says, 'I Got Worms.'

In your 60's: Stop what you are doing. No need for a hat anymore. Hose the dog shit off your shoes. The mirror was shattered when you were in your 50's. You hope you have underwear on so nothing hangs out the hole in your pants. The girl running the register may be cute, but you don't have your glasses on so you are not sure.

In your 70's: Stop what you are doing. Wait to go to Wal-Mart until they have your prescriptions ready, too. Don't even notice the dog shit on your shoes. The young thing at the register smiles at you because you remind her of her grandfather.

In your 80's: Stop what you are doing. Start again. Then stop again. Now you remember you needed to go to Wal-Mart. Go to Wal-Mart and wander around trying to think what it is you are looking for. Fart out loud and you think someone called out your name. You went to school with the old lady who greeted you at the front door.


Old Ones Forwarded by Paula

These quotes are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

 

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
________________________________

ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.
_____________________________________

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
 ______________________________________
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?

WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you
forgot?
 ____________________________________
ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
_____________________________________
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that
morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy ?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan.
____________________________________
ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in
voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
ATTORNEY: Voodoo?
WITNESS: We do.
ATTORNEY: You do?
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.
 ______________________________________
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his
sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
____________________________________
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty
 ________________________________________
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Would you repeat the question?
 ______________________________________
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh....
___________________________________
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
WITNESS: Yes.
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
WITNESS: None.
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
 ______________ ________________________
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.

ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
______________________________________
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
______________________________________
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to

a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
_____________________________________
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on
dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people.
______________________________________
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you
go to?

WITNESS: Oral.
 ______________________________________
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around
8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing
 an autopsy on him!
 ____________________________________________
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh?
 ____________________________________________
And the best for last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check
for a pulse?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when
you  began the autopsy?
WITNESS: No.
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: But could the patient have still been alive,
nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and
practicing law

 




Tidbits Archives --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

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

World Clock --- http://www.peterussell.com/Odds/WorldClock.php
Facts about the earth in real time --- http://www.worldometers.info/

Interesting Online Clock and Calendar --- http://home.tiscali.nl/annejan/swf/timeline.swf
Time by Time Zones --- http://timeticker.com/
Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) --- http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm
         Also see http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Populations.html
        
Facts about population growth (video) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U
Projected U.S. Population Growth --- http://www.carryingcapacity.org/projections75.html
Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq --- http://www.costofwar.com/ 
Enter you zip code to get Census Bureau comparisons --- http://zipskinny.com/
Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
FinancialRounds Blog --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) --- http://financemusings.blogspot.com/

Some Accounting Blogs

Paul Pacter's IAS Plus (International Accounting) --- http://www.iasplus.com/index.htm
International Association of Accountants News --- http://www.aia.org.uk/
AccountingEducation.com and Double Entries --- http://www.accountingeducation.com/
Gerald Trites'eBusiness and XBRL Blogs --- http://www.zorba.ca/
AccountingWeb --- http://www.accountingweb.com/   
SmartPros --- http://www.smartpros.com/

Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

Shared Open Courseware (OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and Other Sharing Universities --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Free Textbooks and Cases --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks

Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#050421Mathematics

Free Science and Medicine Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Science

Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Social

Free Education Discipline Tutorials --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm

Teaching Materials (especially video) from PBS

Teacher Source:  Arts and Literature --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/arts_lit.htm

Teacher Source:  Health & Fitness --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/health.htm

Teacher Source: Math --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/math.htm

Teacher Source:  Science --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/sci_tech.htm

Teacher Source:  PreK2 --- http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/prek2.htm

Teacher Source:  Library Media ---  http://www.pbs.org/teachersource/library.htm

Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University --- http://athome.harvard.edu/archive/archive.asp

VYOM eBooks Directory --- http://www.vyomebooks.com/

From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department --- http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/

Online Mathematics Textbooks --- http://www.math.gatech.edu/~cain/textbooks/onlinebooks.html 

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives --- http://enlvm.usu.edu/ma/nav/doc/intro.jsp

Moodle  --- http://moodle.org/ 

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

Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

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

Roles of a ListServ --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
 

CPAS-L (Practitioners) http://pacioli.loyola.edu/cpas-l/ 
CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments, ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed. Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or education. Others will be denied access.
Yahoo (Practitioners)  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/xyztalk
This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA. This can be anything  from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
AccountantsWorld  http://accountantsworld.com/forums/default.asp?scope=1 
This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and taxation.
Business Valuation Group BusValGroup-subscribe@topica.com 
This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) --- http://www.iasplus.com/links/links.htm

 

Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482 
Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu