The following two Blue Ridge Mountain pictures were forwarded by Paula
These were taken near where Paula was raised

Why did Hank Paulson save AIG and CitiBank shareholders with upwards of $500 billion and let shareholders in other financial institutions get wiped out, including 22 banks (as of today with more bank failures pending), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mack?

I think there's a noble hidden agenda to save the USA from total collapse and to make Democratic spending goals for health care, the environment, and human services more attainable when purchased on credit. Why might the failure of AIG and CitiBank be more disastrous than the shareholder wipeout of 22+ banks, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mack\?

My theory is that the U.S. Treasury Department and leaders in our Legislature that funded the $1 trillion Bailout have a "Hidden Agenda" ---

Now for the pictures. I'm told that some parts of the world other than New Hampshire have mountains and winter.
In this edition of Tidbits I will feature Finland, China, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Forwarded by Dr. Wolff
Winter in Finland --- Click Here

China Ice Festival --- 

 November 19, 2008 message from Paula Ward

Did you know there is a monastery on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Syon Abbey – the name for the monastery and the order – is not open to the public. The monastery rises on the ridge of Five Mile Mountain in Franklin County, Virginia. Believe me, this is a strange sight to see in the mountains.

And the Kelley School House on the Parkway is named for my family…

In 1877, James L. and Sarah A. Kelley deeded land to the Locust Grove School District in Floyd County, Virginia, for the Kelley School. The National Park Service and Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway want to restore the building to its original design.

Part of my Kelley grandparents’ farm was taken by the National Park Service for the Parkway. It is absolutely beautiful.

I have a copy of “Cold Mountain” but I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t read it yet. I’ve been writing my family history and I have books all over the place with bookmarks sticking out of them.

Paula Kelley Ward
San Antonio, Texas




Tidbits on December 2, 2008
Bob Jensen

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

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

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

CPA Examination ---

Bob Jensen's essay on the financial crisis bailout's aftermath and an alphabet soup of appendices can be found at


Appendix A: Impending Disaster in the U.S.

Appendix B: The Trillion Dollar Bet in 1993

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

Appendix D: The End of Investment Banking as We Know It

Appendix E: Your 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 Paulson, Bush, and the Guilty-Feeling Leaders in Congress Won't Work

Appendix H: Where were the auditors? The aftermath will leave the large auditing firms in a precarious state?

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

Appendix V: Implications for Educators, Colleges, and Students

Appendix W: The End

Appendix: X: How Scientists Help Cause Our Financial Crisis

Appendix Y:  The Bailout's Hidden Agenda Details

Appendix Z:  What's the rush to re-inflate the stock market?

Personal Note from Bob Jensen


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

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

Global Incident Map ---

Set up free conference calls at
Also see   

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

Free Online Tutorials in Multiple Disciplines ---

Chronicle of Higher Education's 2008-2009 Almanac ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
Bob Jensen's threads on economic and social statistics ---

World Clock ---

Tips on computer and networking security ---

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---

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

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---

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 ---

The Black Hole of Greed ---

Robots Take Over Conference ---

From the U.S. Department of Education
Doing What Works (methods of teaching)

Can You Sleep Through a Storm? ---

National Museum of American History (Slide Show) ---

When Physicians Tried to Get Children Addicted to Cigarettes --- Click Here

Cartoons of the Presidential Candidates ---

Dance Your PhD (This is too far out for me) ---

Stormy Seas Ahead for Blackberry (after the introductory commercial) ---

NASA: For Policymakers --- 

50th Anniversary of NASA ---

C-SPAN: American Political Archive ---

Hitler's Credit Crisis ---

MTVU's Woodie Awards ---

Free music downloads ---

Il Divo in Various Languages ---

I Did it My Way

Country Music Finds New Star In Darius Rucker ---

The Cajun Swamp Fire Of Feufollet ---

Burmese Refugees Preserve Culture Through Music ---

Bomb Iran (Beach Boys in 1980) ---

TheRadio (My Favorite, Enter singer, song title, composer, or category such as opera) ---
Lately The Radio has been so busy that I've resorted to my standby favorite Slacker --- 

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

Photographs and Art

This is Monumental service from Google ---
Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google ---

The Famous WW II LIFE Photograph ---
Then try

What's neat among the Google's database is that you can search by person or subject or date or all three. For example, try searching for {snow AND 1940 AND Railroad}
Then search for {"LIFE Magazine" AND snow AND Railroad}
Then try {"LIFE Magazine" AND 2008 AND Bailout} This let's you know there are other types of bailouts other than economic bailouts.
Then try {2008 AND "Hank Paulson"}

History of Photography ---

Armand Hammer Museum of Art (UCLA) ---
Also read the Chronicle of Higher Education review

A History of the Crusades (art and architecture) --- 

Furness Image Collection (Shakespearian theatrical productions) ---

MASS MoCA (contemporary art) ---

Animal Science Image Gallery ---

The Assos Excavations (Turkey) ---  

John H. W. Stuckenberg Map Collection ---

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection ---


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 ---

"New European Digital Library Proves Too Popular," by Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 26, 2008 ---

Too many people are excited about Europeana, a pan-European digital library, archive, and museum. Last week, when the project’s prototype Web site debuted, it got 10 million hits per hour — and crashed.

Reporting the news, Library Journal quoted Martin Selmayr, a spokesman for Viviane Reding, the commissioner in charge of the project. Mr. Selmayr managed to find a silver lining in the situation, telling reporters that Europeana was a “victim of its success.”

With 27 countries participating, the online venture already has some two million digitized objects in its virtual collection, including not just books, newspapers, maps, and manuscripts, but also sound recordings, paintings, and even movies. The journal described it as “Europe’s answer to the potential cultural dominance portended by Google.”

Ah, but what about France, which has contributed more than half the items in Europeana’s collections, according to a recent article in The New York Times? “So comprehensive is France’s cultural dominance over this cyberspace outpost that other countries are having their own history written for them — in French, of course,” the Times noted.

“I find the figures extraordinary,” Commissioner Reding told the newspaper. “France has half the content — the collapse of the Berlin Wall is illustrated with a French TV documentary.”


Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---

That's when you look at your investments and wet your pants.
Jensen Comment
This is also what Art Laffer calls "Trickle Down Economics"

Mortgage Backed Securities are like boxes of chocolates. Criminals on Wall Street and one particular U.S. Congressional Committee stole a few chocolates from the boxes and replaced them with turds. Their criminal buddies at Standard & Poors rated these boxes AAA Investment Grade chocolates. These boxes were then sold all over the world to investors. Eventually somebody bites into a turd and discovers the crime. Suddenly nobody trusts American chocolates anymore worldwide. Hank Paulson now wants the American taxpayers to buy up and hold all these boxes of turd-infested chocolates for $700 billion dollars until the market for turds returns to normal. Meanwhile, Hank's buddies, the Wall Street criminals who stole all the good chocolates are not being investigated, arrested, or indicted. Momma always said: "Sniff the chocolates first Forrest." Things generally don't pass the smell test if they came from Wall Street or from Washington DC.
Forrest Gump as quoted at

                         Forrest Gump's Momma

"Proposed new Bailout Plan," by Andreas Hippin, Bloomberg, November 20, 2008 ---

The Somali pirates, renegade Somalis known for hijacking ships for ransom in the Gulf of Aden, are negotiating a purchase of Citigroup.

The pirates would buy Citigroup with new debt and their existing cash stockpiles, earned most recently from hijacking numerous ships, including most recently a $200 million Saudi Arabian oil tanker. The Somali pirates are offering up to $0.10 per share for Citigroup, pirate spokesman Sugule Ali said earlier today. The negotiations have entered the final stage, Ali said. ``You may not like our price, but we are not in the business of paying for things. Be happy we are in the mood to offer the shareholders anything," said Ali.

The pirates will finance part of the purchase by selling new Pirate Ransom Backed Securities. The PRBS's are backed by the cash flows from future ransom payments from hijackings in the Gulf of Aden. Moody's and S&P have already issued their top investment grade ratings for the PRBS's.

Head pirate, Ubu Kalid Shandu, said "we need a bank so that we have a place to keep all of our ransom money. Thankfully, the dislocations in the capital markets has allowed us to purchase Citigroup at an attractive valuation and to take advantage of TARP capital to grow the business even faster." Shandu added, "We don't call ourselves pirates. We are coastguards and this will just allow us to guard our coasts better."

I'm suspicious that Andreas Hippin, in the above tidbit, was inspired by "The End" by Michael Lewis
"The End," by Michael Lewis December 2008 Issue The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong.
Also see 

Thanks Bob for the Michael Lewis article, “The End” – great explanation of the mess we a re in and how we got here. Just found this one that does a great job of summarizing the mess – visually
Tom Hood, CPA.CITP, CEO & Executive Director, Maryland Association of CPAs
Check out our blogs for CPAs 

The Sleazy Subprime Mortgage Lending Companies Have a New (actually renewed old) Scheme to Make Billions at Taxpayer Expense
As if they haven't done enough damage. Thousands of subprime mortgage lenders and brokers—many of them the very sorts of firms that helped create the current financial crisis—are going strong. Their new strategy: taking advantage of a long-standing federal program designed to encourage homeownership by insuring mortgages for buyers of modest means. You read that correctly. Some of the same people who propelled us toward the housing market calamity are now seeking to profit by exploiting billions in federally insured mortgages. Washington, meanwhile, has vastly expanded the availability of such taxpayer-backed loans as part of the emergency campaign to rescue the country's swooning economy.
Chad Terhune and Robert Berner, "FHA-Backed Loans: The New Subprime The same people whose reckless practices triggered the global financial crisis are onto a similar scheme that could cost taxpayers tons more," Business Week, November 19, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
That's right. The greedy slime balls "Borne of Sleaze, Bribery, and Lies" are resurfacing with Barney Frank's blessing ---
Furthermore they hope to make millions of dollars refinancing mortgages as mortgage rates decline. They caused this mess, and now they get rewarded for the cleanup.

"Financial Reversals:  Everything bad is good again," by  Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine, November 19, 2008 ---

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
Alexander Tyler. 1787 - Tyler was a Scottish history professor that had this to say about 2000 years after "The Fall of the Athenian Republic" and about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution.
As quoted at (where the debt clock in real time is a few months behind)
The National Debt Amount This Instant (Refresh your browser for updates by the second) ---

The broad mass of a nation will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.
Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf.


Bankers (Men in Black) bet with their bank's capital, not their own. If the bet goes right, they get a huge bonus; if it misfires, that's the shareholders' problem.
Sebastian Mallaby. Council on Foreign Relations, as quoted by Avital Louria Hahn, "Missing:  How Poor Risk-Management Techniques Contributed to the Subprime Mess," CFO Magazine, March 2008, Page 53 ---
Jensen Comment
Now that the Government is going to bail out these speculators with taxpayer funds makes it all the worse. I received an email message claiming that i
f you had purchased $1,000 of AIG stock one year ago, you would have $42 left;  with Lehman, you would have $6.60 left; with Fannie or Freddie, you would have less than $5 left. But if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all of the beer, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling REFUND, you would have had $214. Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle. It's called the 401-Keg. Why let others gamble your money away when you can piss it away on your own?

The three firms that dominate the $5 billion-a-year credit rating industry - Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings - have been faulted for failing to identify risks in subprime mortgage investments, whose collapse helped set off the global financial crisis. The rating agencies had to downgrade thousands of securities backed by mortgages as home-loan delinquencies have soared and the value of those investments plummeted. The downgrades have contributed to hundreds of billions in losses and writedowns at major banks and investment firms. The agencies are crucial financial gatekeepers, issuing ratings on the creditworthiness of public companies and securities. Their grades can be key factors in determining a company's ability to raise or borrow money, and at what cost which securities will be purchased by banks, mutual funds, state pension funds or local governments. A yearlong review by the SEC, which issued the results last summer, found that the three big (credit rating) agencies failed to rein in conflicts of interest in giving high ratings to risky securities backed by subprime mortgages.
"SEC Puts Off Vote on Rules for Rating Agencies," AccountingWeb, November 19, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
It’s beginning to look like Wall Street is rearing up once again to prevent the SEC from imposing reforms on credit rating agencies. In spite of the crisis, it will once again be business as usual with the credit rating agencies having conflicts of interest not in the interest of investors.
Bob Jensen's threads on historic abuses by credit rating agencies are at


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 ---

This is America today―a country that is losing its ability to manufacture things but has to continue to pander to rich Arabs and the Chinese Communists for money just to survive. In addition to our jobs, savings and investments, it looks like our sovereignty and national pride are being sacrificed as part of this process. Whether the financial meltdown has been engineered or not―and there are major questions about its timing, just six weeks before the national elections―it will be up to President Obama to manage America’s transition into this New Global Order. With his background in Marxism and extensive Wall Street contacts and associations, he seems perfectly suited for the task. But the powers that be, including those in the media, have simply assumed that the American people will meekly go along with the demise of their nation. That may be a miscalculation, if they manage to find a voice or voices in the media.
Cliff Kincai, "Fed Bails Out Rich Arabs in Citigroup Deal,"Canadian Free Press, November 25, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
This article inspired me to write an appendix entitled "The Bailout's Hidden Agenda" ---

Hank Paulson committed upwards of $500 billion in bailout funds to save CitiBank and AIG while giving zero bailout funds to Washington Mutual Bank (the largest bank failure in the history of the world), Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch. I think the answer is that both Hank Paulson and the U.S. Congress that so willingly voted for the bailout funding have a Hidden Agenda that I've never seen them explain to the public. If I am correct, it's a noble Hidden Agenda to save the United States of America! If Hank Paulson or Nancy Pelosi really explained this Hidden Agenda it would reveal how fragile the economic future of America has become and would be counterproductive to virtually all of Baruck Obama's spending promises during his campaign. I do wish, however, that Paulson, Pelosi, and Obama would explain it to Senator Waxman so he would shut his yap.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $3.93 (now $6) billion per day since September 28, 2007!
The National Debt Amount This Instant (Refresh your browser for updates by the second) ---
History of the National Debt --- 
Entitlements ---

History of the National Debt ---

The mortgage crisis has highlighted the tight bonds between a large central government and large centers of financial power. We have also witnessed the way in which a “flat” world permits no quarantine: a financial virus encounters no barriers. Within a few weeks the entire world economy was brought to its knees by America’s bad mortgages. The myth that structures could be built so large that they could not fail should have been laid to rest with the sinking of the Titanic. At least now we have seen the end of the idea that there is some fundamental antipathy between big government and big business.
Patrick J. Deneen, "Full Faith and Bad Credit PDF," The American Conservative, November 17, 2008 ---

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 ---
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 ---

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. nuclear weapons program has suffered from neglect. Warheads are old. There's been no new warhead design since the 1980s, and the last time one was tested was 1992, when the U.S. unilaterally stopped testing. Gen. Chilton, who heads U.S. Strategic Command, has been sounding the alarm, as has Defense Secretary Robert Gates. So far few seem to be listening.
Melanie Kirkpatrick, "Sounding the Nuclear Alarm:  The U.S. will not have a credible arsenal unless Washington acts soon to replace," The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2008 ---
Obama's Military (video) ---
This broken link was more frightening ---

Yup! I was right. This did not set well with the far left side of the world
Congressman Barney Frank called for a 25 percent cut in the defense budget--approximately $150 billion in annual spending--saying, "We don't need all these fancy new weapons. I think there needs to be additional review." . . . But Congressman Frank isn't backing down. In an e-mail to me yesterday he wrote, "Much of the reduction will come from ending the war in Iraq and from cutting unneeded weapons systems. I believe that it's appropriate to reduce defense spending, and this is a goal I wanted to set. I don't have specific details at this point, but I will be working with my colleagues to identify weapons systems that we can reduce, and I also want to look at drawing down the number of our overseas bases."
Katrina vanden Heuvel, "Smart Defense," The Nation, November 18, 2008 ---

In a grim world economy, the news that Canada and Colombia signed a free trade agreement at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima last week is something to celebrate. Unless you are an American farmer or manufacturer. The Canada-Colombia FTA will expand bilateral trade by lowering tariffs on a wide variety of products. Some Canadian agricultural products -- including wheat, barley and lentils -- and many manufactured goods will enter Colombia tariff-free immediately. Running in the reverse direction, Colombian producers will find a more open Canadian market and Canada's consumers will have more choice at better prices. The agreement will also give new legal protections to investment and improved market access in services. It's what you call a win-win. But not for American exporters who compete with Canadians in Colombia. Because Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blocked a vote in Congress on the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, American goods will automatically be more expensive than those from Canada by the amount of the existing tariff. If the United Auto Workers thought their Caterpillar exports were losing global ground before, wait until they compete on this not-so-level playing field.
"Why Canada Loves Nancy Pelosi:  Her protectionist stance has helped open markets – for others," The Wall Street Journal, November 25, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Fear not for U.S. farmers. What business is lost due to protectionism will be made up for in mind-boggling farm subsidies from a Democratic Congress.

When is $25 billion in taxpayer cash insufficient to bail out Detroit's auto makers? Answer: When the money is a tool of Congressional industrial policy to turn GM, Ford and Chrysler into agents of the Sierra Club and other green lobbies. That's the little-understood subplot of the Washington melodrama over a taxpayer rescue for Detroit. In their public statements, proponents describe the bailout as an attempt to save jobs, American manufacturing and the middle-class way of life. But look closely and you can see that what's really going on is an attempt to use taxpayer money to remake Detroit in the image of the modern environmental movement. Given a choice between greens and blue-collar workers, Congress puts the greens first.
"The Environmental Motor Company," The Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Detroit is seeking tens of billions of dollars to save a business model that already has an F. As a subsidiary of the Sierra Club the business model grade will go to F- and then F- and on out to Z-. Save your old jalopy. It will soon be worth more than what Detroit will offer for sale.

Bankruptcy may also force out the current management of GM and Ford. I do not know for certain whether they have competent management- GM surely did not have top management for much of its recent history. I do believe, however, that when a coach of a team loses a few games, he might legitimately explain that by injuries, bad luck, or even bad officiating. These excuses become lame when he consistently loses many games, and the correct and common practice is then to fire the coach. The same considerations apply to top management. When a company consistently does badly while some of its competitors (like Toyota) are doing well, its time to fire the management team, and see if another team can do better. Is GM "too big" to fail? I do not believe the company is too big to go into a reorganization-which is what bankruptcy would involve. Such reorganization would abrogate its untenable labor contracts, and give it a chance to survive in long run. A bailout, by contrast, would simply postpone the needed reforms in these labor contracts, the business model of GM, and its management.
Nobel Lauriat Gary Becker, "Bail Out the Big Three Auto Producers? Not a Good Idea," The Becker-Posner Blog, November 16, 2008 ---

The U.S.-owned auto industry may be doomed; it may simply be unable to compete with foreign manufacturers (including foreign manufacturers that have factories in the U.S.); or a reorganization in bankruptcy may be the industry's eventual salvation. But the automakers should be kept out of the bankruptcy court until the depression bottoms out and the economy begins to grow again. (Recall that the government bailed out the airlines after 9/11, allowing United Air Lines to have an orderly bankruptcy reorganization beginning the following year and ending in 2006.) Any bailout, however, should come with strict conditions, to minimize the inevitable moral hazard effects of government bailouts of sick companies. The government should insist on being compensated by receipt of preferred stock in the companies, on the companies' ceasing to pay dividends, and on caps on executive compensation, including severance pay.
Richard Posner, "Bail Out the Big Three Auto Producers? Not a Good Idea," The Becker-Posner Blog, November 16, 2008 ---

Why does a Yugo have a defroster on the rear window? To keep your hands warm while you push it. That's just one of the "Yugo jokes" about the cheap and much-maligned subcompact that won notoriety for being one of the worst cars ever exported to the United States. Today, the last Yugo, once the pride of communist Yugoslavia's automobile industry, will roll off its Serbian production line in Kragujevac. It will be missed here -- but probably not in America.
Dusan Stojanovic, The Columbus Dispatch, November 20, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
The Yugo never caught on here because we had our own U.S. made piles of junk.

The European Union’s thinking about corruption goes roughly like this. It is a problem for governments, chiefly in the new member states. The best way to fight it is by making entry into the EU conditional on progress. That will create the political will which must, sooner or later, bring results. That approach is not working. Anti-corruption efforts have stalled or reversed. Countries such as the Slovenia, Romania, Latvia and the Czech Republic have closed down or weakened their anti-corruption offices. Efforts by the two newest members, Romania and Bulgaria, are ineffective. Croatia, though gripped by a ghastly outbreak of gangland violence, is moving swiftly towards the EU. The real story is that the prospect of EU membership encourages elites to pay lip service to the anti-corruption cause, but no more than that. Once the conditionality is gone, the pressure stops. Efforts to train officials and create the right sort of structures in ex-communist countries seem to have little or no effect. In a phrase familiar from western development efforts in non-European countries, “the solution is the problem”: in other words, the agencies and officials being entrusted with the means to fight corruption are just as bad (weak, corrupt or incompetent) as the people that they are supposed to be policing.
"Cleaning Up the Act," The Economist, November 20, 2008 ---

But the downside is equally obvious: To invite in the Clintons—and it's always the Clintons, never a Clinton—is to invite in, to summon, drama that will never end. Ever. This would seem to be at odds with the atmospherics of Obamaland. "Loose cannon," "vetting process," "financial entanglements," questions about which high-flying oligarch gave how much to Bill's presidential library, and what the implications of the gift are, including potential conflict of interest. More colorfully, and nostalgically: people screaming through the halls, being hired and fired, attacking the press, leaking, then too tightly controlling information, then leaking, and speaking in the special patois of the Clinton staff, with the famous dialogue evocative of David Mamet as rewritten by Joe Pesci.
Peggy Noonan, "Keep Gates:  But Mrs. Clinton at Foggy Bottom? Can they be serious?" The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2008 ---

This more than anything else that could possibly happen will probably destroy the United States as a competitor in the world economy
John Dingell's fall from power yesterday is an important inflection point in the history of the modern Democratic Party. The House purge marks the final triumph of the Congressional generation that came of political age during the 1970s over the last lion of New Deal liberalism, and it is symbolic of the party's change in culture and policy priorities in the Barack Obama era . . . Mr. Waxman, speaking for the upscale precincts of Beverly Hills, wants to phase out coal and cars that use gasoline. The coastal elites who now dominate Democratic politics will happily trade the blue collar for the green collar . . . It's obvious who now pulls the Democratic levers of power, and anyone in the energy or health-care business had better erect the barricades. In the small favors department, Mr. Waxman will allow Mr. Dingell to hold the title "chairman emeritus."

"The Waxman Democrats What the coup against Dingell means for business," The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
This is good news and bad news. The good news is that the unusable price of gasolene and heating oil will fall to less than ten cents per gallon under Waxman's legislation and enforcement. The bad news is that nobody will be allowed to drive cars or heat home on oil products even if they are a thousand times cheaper than other alternatives. Al Gore is dancing in the streets. My advice is to invest in  and breed draft horses and mules. Waxman's plan will ban gasolene and diesel fuel for farm tractors. You might also get a few goats to keep your lawn mowed.

The Federal Reserve has slashed its benchmark rate to 1%, yet many people are getting hit with higher rates and fees on their credit cards. Normally, when the Fed cuts rates, credit-card issuers follow suit, resulting in lower monthly payments for cardholders. Though average credit-card rates have fallen slightly as the Fed has cut interest rates, banks and retailers are trying to offset rising losses in their credit-card operations by raising rates and fees across a broader swath of their existing customers.
Jane J. Kim and Mary Pilon, "Credit-Card Users Face Higher Fees, Rates ," The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2008 ---

I did not find where Big Brother Major Media reported these incidents
Pro- Israel students attacked in Berkeley- hotbed of liberalism and anti-Semitism (oh, you didn't know they go hand in hand these days?) by pro-Palestinians. This below from Emory University. As usual, the major news media is silent. Is there a pattern of "change" here? Or more of the same, and worse? On Saturday night while our entire chapter was out of town at their Fall Formal the house (university owned) was attacked by a Molotov cocktail and set on fire. Luckily passerby's saw it and quickly called the fire department. The damage was confined to a relatively small area of the front door and front porch. There is smoke damage in the house but it's livable. Last week was very tension filled at Emory with "Palestinian Week" and it culminated on Friday with a mock fence set up degrading Israel's security fence. Tensions were high all week but the week ended and we thought that it was over. Unfortunately, the chapter was called back from their out of town formal to find the fire and it's remnants. We have all been in touch with the university president, Greek Life people and security personnel. The undergrads are very shaken by this incident. Luckily we have excellent leadership and we have arranged for security for the next few nights as well until things calm down. Our Epsilon Chapter is the largest on campus and very identified as Jewish. The group numbers more than 100 men and they are not a squeamish bunch by any means. These "Palestinian Weeks" go from campus to campus across North America - about a half dozen or so a year and cause a varied amount of havoc in their wake. We've seen much worse than this in California and Canada but it's scary certainly anywhere it happens. These groups are sponsored and funded by the MSA "Muslim Student Association" and you can probably guess where their funding comes from.
Naomi Ragen from Israel ---

Still, the best argument for more aid is the obvious one. The federal government has already agreed to bail out many homeowners who knowingly made irresponsible bets on the housing market, as well as major financial institutions that loaded up on opaque, obscure and ultimately toxic investments. Thus, when practically every day the federal government is defining downward the very notion of what constitutes fiscal responsibility, the states know they are hardly the most reckless supplicants in Washington. Unfortunately, more federal aid all but guarantees they won't use the current crisis as an opportunity to put their fiscal houses in order -- setting the stage for worse problems to come.
Steve Malanga, "Our Spendthrift States Don't Need a Bailout: Governors need to learn to use fat years to prepare for lean ones," The Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2008 ---

Hindsight:   This 2006 video makes fools out of Ben Stein and Art Laffer and makes a hero out of Peter Schiff.
Watch Ben Stein making a huge pitch to buy Merrill Lynch shares just before they tanked!

Arthur Laffer's 2006 predictions become a sick joke. Also you Ben Stein lovers may have second thoughts watching him proclaim, in 2006, that the subprime problem is going to be a "tiny" problem. Watch Peter Schiff make fools out of Art Laffer, Ben Stein, and other finance “experts” in this video.  Watch Ben Stein recommend that you invest heavily in Merrill Lynch before its shares tanked. Some of these popular media "experts" need to spend more time studying and reading and less time broadcasting poorly-researched advice to investors. Peter Schiff, on the other hand, does his homework. This video is really revealing about the advice we get on television.
The video is available at the Financial Rounds Blog, November 18 at
Update on the bet Art Laffer made with Peter Schiff ---
Listen to Laffer try to weasel out of paying up ---

Stein continues by wheeling out one of the most misleading statistics there is: "the percentage of those who have defaulted is still fairly small, possibly 10 percent to 15 percent of subprime loans, and maybe less," he writes. I would call this disingenuous if I didn't believe that Stein simply doesn't get the truth: that most subprime loans are refinances, and therefore the percentage of subprime loans in default is much lower than the percentage of subprime borrowers in default. (A refinanced loan, of course, is paid off in full, while the borrower remains in debt.) What's more, the big problem, everybody agrees, is not now but rather in a few months' time, when most of those adjustable-rate loans (and there were precious few fixed-rate subprime loans) start to adjust upwards from their teaser rates. Stein thinks, against all the evidence, that "the experiment with granting loans to less-qualified buyers worked" – clearly, it's far to early to say that. And he then disappears off into cloud-cuckoo land, saying that the cost to everybody else of the subprime debacle "will be whatever government programs are enacted to bail out borrowers in trouble". Er, no: the cost will be huge, even if there are no government bailout at all. That's the problem with credit crunches: good credits get crunched along with the bad.
Felix Salmon, "What is Ben Stein Smoking? (Part 3),", September 10, 2007 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
The point about “refinancing” is that most of the subprime borrowers were not necessarily poor people buying their first home. They were in many cases rock solid homeowners, some with very valuable homes, who thought they were getting better mortgage deals, often due to sales pitches of unscrupulous mortgage companies on Main Street ---

Bob Jensen’s essay on the subprime mess is at

Videos Keith Olbermann would like you to forget (now that Barack Obama has a new Secretary of State)

McCain roasting Olbermann, Obama, Matthews, Clinton ---

I hope Al Gore is reading these science papers even though he's not likely to mention them in public

"Global warming predictions are overestimated, suggests study on black carbon," PhysOrg, November 18, 2008 ---

A new Cornell study, published online in Nature Geosciences, quantified the amount of black carbon in Australian soils and found that there was far more than expected, said Johannes Lehmann, the paper's lead author and a Cornell professor of biogeochemistry. The survey was the largest of black carbon ever published.

As a result of global warming, soils are expected to release more carbon dioxide, the major greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, which, in turn, creates more warming. Climate models try to incorporate these increases of carbon dioxide from soils as the planet warms, but results vary greatly when realistic estimates of black carbon in soils are included in the predictions, the study found.

Soils include many forms of carbon, including organic carbon from leaf litter and vegetation and black carbon from the burning of organic matter. It takes a few years for organic carbon to decompose, as microbes eat it and convert it to carbon dioxide. But black carbon can take 1,000-2,000 years, on average, to convert to carbon dioxide.

By entering realistic estimates of stocks of black carbon in soil from two Australian savannas into a computer model that calculates carbon dioxide release from soil, the researchers found that carbon dioxide emissions from soils were reduced by about 20 percent over 100 years, as compared with simulations that did not take black carbon's long shelf life into account.

The findings are significant because soils are by far the world's largest source of carbon dioxide, producing 10 times more carbon dioxide each year than all the carbon dioxide emissions from human activities combined. Small changes in how carbon emissions from soils are estimated, therefore, can have a large impact.

"We know from measurements that climate change today is worse than people have predicted," said Lehmann. "But this particular aspect, black carbon's stability in soil, if incorporated in climate models, would actually decrease climate predictions."

The study quantified the amount of black carbon in 452 Australian soils across two savannas. Black carbon content varied widely, between zero and more than 80 percent, in soils across Australia.

"It's a mistake to look at soil as one blob of carbon," said Lehmann. "Rather, it has different chemical components with different characteristics. In this way, soil will interact differently to warming based on what's in it."

Provided by Cornell University

"Will the Next Ice Age Be Permanent? by Andrew C. Revkin, The New York Times, November 12, 2008 ---

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 ---

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 ---

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ---
Critique of the test by a geoscientist --- 

Have you looked for your examinations and tests at the latest test sharing sites?

"Students Share Exams Online: Web sites that allow the sharing of course notes and old exams are increasing. But some professors aren't happy," by Dan Macsai, Business Week, November 23, 2008 ---

Photos. Music. Irrelevant video clips. For years, college students have shared them all on the Internet. Now, they're using the same medium to swap notes, tests, and quizzes—a trend that has caught the wary eye of profs whose materials are being uploaded and school officials who worry about cheating.

In recent years, several Web sites have emerged that encourage students to submit their schoolwork for mass consumption. They collect old exams (,, class notes (, study guides ( and all of the above ( Some of the largest sites claim thousands of users around the world and say they're making money.

High-Tech "Test Files" Students from an earlier generation will recognize the note-sharing sites as a high-tech twist on an old college practice. Fraternities and sororities have long maintained "test files," where younger members study from older members' course work. Non-Greeks, of course, have criticized the practice, saying it gives the frat and sorority members an unfair advantage.

Indeed, Demir Oral, a Web designer living in San Diego, says he launched the Post Your Test site to level the playing field. "This kind of service should be available to anyone, at any time," he says.

Oral supports his site using Google ads, which generate "a decent amount" of revenue, he says. But he's forecasting growth: Since July, the site's member count has more than doubled, to 1,000, and it currently hosts between 600 and 700 exams. A few weeks ago, Oral received his first international submission, from Sultan Qaboos University in Oman. "People are starting to realize the uniqueness of our database," he says. "It's a very exciting time."

Backlash from Teachers and Students Not everyone is buying into the hype, though. Because professors don't know when their exams are being posted, they could unwittingly re-use a question students have seen online, says Jim Posakony, a biology professor and former chairman of the academic senate at the University of California at San Diego, where teachers have organized to keep their exams off Post Your Test.

Having easy access to quizzes and notes could also reward laziness, says Nichole Mikko-Causby, a senior at the University of Georgia. "The whole trend seems to be more about getting the grade than improving critical thinking skills," she says, noting that she's visited Course Hero but never used it. "It kind of cheapens my degree."

Kasuni Kotelawala, a sophomore at University of California, San Diego, is far more satisfied. Because her biology professor hadn't spent much time discussing the most recent class midterm exam—let alone distributing a practice test—Kotelawala wasn't sure how to study. But after reviewing one of her professor's past exams on Post Your Test, she says she knew what to expect. "It definitely helped," she says.

Copyright Issues But was it legal? Like novels and artwork, exams are intellectual property, meaning they're owned by the universities or the professors who wrote them, and they're protected under copyright laws. Publishing them without permission is treading on "legal thin ice," says Bob Clarida, a copyright lawyer at Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, in New York.

Faculty members at UCSD raised this concern last August, after representatives from Post Your Test visited campus. To promote the site, the reps had offered Starbucks gift cards in exchange for student exams, a gimmick that left some professors "very unhappy," says Posakony.

With Posakony's help, roughly 150 professors organized. They told Oral to take their old exams off Post Your Test and to reject future submissions bearing their names. He wasn't thrilled, but he obliged. "We always follow the Digital Millennium Copyright Act," Oral says, referencing the law that protects online service providers, like Post Your Test and YouTube, as long as they honor requests to take down unlawful uploads.

Continued in article

What's the latest innovation in cheating?

Students are using YouTube in a very clever way.

"Students Show How to Cheat via YouTube," Chronicle of Higher Education, July 11, 2008 --- 

Academic cheating and dishonesty have long been a problem. But with YouTube students have discovered a new avenue for actually promoting such fraud. Liz Losh, a rhetorician at the University of California at Irvine, notes that there’s now a genre of videos that combine cheating advice with a “do-it-yourself aesthetic.” She flagged one of them Wednesday on her blog. It shows a student using a scanner and photo-editing software to make a cheat sheet on a Coke bottle.


Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at

Accounting educators may want to jazz up intermediate accounting by comparing accounting for plain vanilla bonds versus TIPS.
Keep in mind that Brazilian accountants account for inflation-indexed debt all the time. U.S, accountants are green as grass.
Investors may be seeking somewhere to invest risk free at relatively high yields that are inflation protected
There is, of course, rising concern about the "risk free" credit worthiness of the U.S. Government coupled with the possibility making a huge killing in a down stock market (which of course is extremely risky at the moment.)

I usually refrain from any investment advice, but this article seemed exceptionally well-timed at this juncture where many people are trying to figure out what to invest in at no risk and higher yields than those yucky CD returns. Your investment advisor may be pushing something where he can earn a higher commission on your money --- am I getting too cynical? The problem for investment advisors is that TIPS investors may not provide advisors turnover commission opportunities for upwards of ten or twenty years. The problem for investors is when they really need to liquidate TIPS before maturity dates. TIPS are for money you really want to lock away with no risk combined with inflation protection.

.First you should read about Treasury Securities ---


Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (or TIPS) are the inflation-indexed bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury. These securities were first issued in 1997. The principal is adjusted to the Consumer Price Index, the commonly used measure of inflation. The coupon rate is constant, but generates a different amount of interest when multiplied by the inflation-adjusted principal, thus protecting the holder against inflation. TIPS are currently offered in 5-year, 10-year and 20-year maturities. 30-year TIPS are no longer offered.

In addition to their value for a borrower who desires protection against inflation, TIPS can also be a useful information source for policy makers: the interest-rate differential to pay additional taxes on the inflation adjusted principal. The details of this tax treatment can have unexpected repercussions. (See tax on the inflation tax.)

By comparing a TIPS bond with a standard nominal Treasury bond across the same maturity dates, investors may calculate the bond market's expected inflation rate by applying the Fisher equation.

If you are going to read the article below, don't get bogged down learning about TIPS strips. Read the juicy part in the last half of the article.

"TIPS Strips, Redux," by Felix Salmon, Seeking Alpha, November 20, 2008 ---
Jim Mahar clued me into this link.

It took a bit of hunting, but I finally found someone who knows all there is to know about TIPS strips. Mike Pond is an Inflation-Linked Strategist at Barclays Capital (yes, that's really a job, and yes, it still exists) -- the bank which, as far as anybody can tell, is the only institution ever to have stripped TIPS. They even branded their stripped TIPS, as iStrips, not that it did any good: There was no demand for the iStrips product, and they haven't been stripping TIPS for a while.

My conversation with Pond was fascinating, in a nerdy way, and I think I now have some very good answers to the question of why TIPS strips don't exist, and also which TIPS to buy if you're thinking of investing in them. (Answer: Buy the TIPS with the highest real yield, which tend to be off-the-run bonds issued a long time ago.)

TIPS strips are created by "stripping" the coupons from an inflation-linked Treasury bond, and trading each coupon -- and the final principal payment -- separately. A bank like Barclays won't even strip the bond in the first place unless there's demand for the final principal piece -- but then it winds up with a bunch of tiny coupons along the way, which are almost impossible to trade or to hedge with equally-illiquid CPI swaps.

"We stripped some tips," says Pond, "and those were really one-off events, where a specific client wanted a specific cashflow. But there was never a true market. There was a time where on daily basis we would put out indicative pricing, but there was never an active market for iStrips."

The reason why I thought that there would be such a market is that in times of uncertainty, people want to protect their future buying power -- which TIPS do very well. They might well also want to minimize their reinvestment risk along the way: reinvesting TIPS coupons, which are small, is non-trivial, and in any case real yields in the future might well be significantly lower than real yields now, and buying a strip essentially locks in that reinvestment yield at today's levels.

But it turns out that TIPS are what Pond calls "very backended": Their coupon is low, relative to the principal amount, and it's the big final principal payment which provides a large chunk of their total yield. So the reinvestment risk on TIPS is already lower than it is on most bonds.

Still, real yields on TIPS are ridiculously high: You'd be better off buying TIPS all the way out to 8 or 9 years than you would be buying Treasury bonds, just so long as inflation is greater than zero. And the higher that inflation gets, of course, the better off you'll be in TIPS.

Do investors really believe that the US will see deflation over most of the coming decade? Probably not: What we're seeing in the TIPS market, says Pond, is due to factors other than inflation expectations. Specifically, it's liquidity concerns: TIPS are much less liquid than Treasuries, and therefore trade at a significantly higher yield, despite the fact that their credit risk is identical. Recently, the Treasury Department has been issuing more plain-vanilla Treasuries and fewer TIPS, even as the liquidity premium has gone up. The result has been a surge in real yields.

Even so, investors do seem to be inordinately worried about the possibility that they might see nominal losses on their TIPS investment in the event that there is deflation. For instance: The real yield on the July 2012 TIPS, which were issued back in 2002, is 3.45%. The real yield on the newer, on-the-run April 2013 TIPS is a full percentage point lower, at 2.45%. Then go out a bit further, to the April 2014 TIPS, and the yield spikes back up again, to 3.55%.

Why is that? Only partly because the 2013s are more liquid. It's mainly because there's a floor to the final principal repayment: It can never be lower than the initial par value. The floor on the older 2012s and 2014s is some ways away: their principal amount is well over 100, thanks to inflation between the time of issue and now, so if there is deflation, that principal amount could, in theory, fall quite a lot before hitting the floor. In contrast, the 2013s are much newer, which means the floor is closer, and investors therefore have more protection against losing money in nominal terms.

"In our view the premium investors are putting on the floor is too high," says Pond, "because of the actual probability of deflation." He's almost certainly right: there's no way the Fed will allow actual deflation for any substantial period of time, and it will, if necessary, simply print money to avoid such an eventuality. But for some reason investors seem petrified of deflation, and willing to sacrifice substantial real yield pick-ups for the sake of nominal downside protection. Which is a bit weird, but is hardly the weirdest part of today's fixed-income markets.

Bob Jensen's investment helpers are at

Not so bad gift ideas for the holidays

"Invasion of the Netbooks:  Some consumers are opting for the inexpensive, small, Web-connected computers in place of laptops that can cost three times as much," by Olga Kharif, Business Week, November 18, 2008 --- Click Here

As Brian Pelowski shopped for a new computer for his wife, who's working on her doctorate in developmental psychology, he wanted a machine that was lightweight and low-priced. So he opted for a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 netbook instead of a higher-end laptop. "She walks to school and can stick this in her big sidebag without it taking up a lot of room or killing her shoulder," Pelowski explains. "We also didn't want to spend a ton of money."

Neither do the millions of other people who this year are expected to buy netbooks, a relatively new family of inexpensive, pint-sized, Web-connected computers. Rising demand for any tech gear is welcome at a time when recession is forcing consumers to refrain from all but the most essential purchases, but the enthusiasm is tempered at the computer manufacturers whose sales will be pinched as buyers opt for a netbook in place of a full-featured laptop that can cost more than three times as much.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. PC makers surmised that netbooks would complement bigger PCs. They would appeal to weary business travelers, for example, who wanted to get online and send e-mail from a hotel room. But in many cases, consumers are opting for netbooks in place of laptops, PC manufacturers say. Jackie Hsu, president of the Americas division of laptop and netbook maker Asus, estimates that 10% to 20% of netbook buyers would have bought a more expensive laptop or desktop if netbooks weren't available.

Support from Cellular Providers

Sumit Agnihotry, director of notebook product marketing for Acer America, places cannibalization at 8% to 10%. And since netbooks are generally less profitable than their bigger cousins, manufacturers will have to make up much of the sales difference through higher volume sales of netbooks. Users are expected to purchase 11 million netbooks this year, from 182,000 in 2007, according to market researcher IDC.

Analysts expect the popularity of netbooks to continue to rise. Mobile-phone service providers, which have an interest in promoting wireless Web-enabled machines, are likely to step up in-store netbook marketing in the coming months. Vendors including Acer and Dell (DELL) are expected to unveil models richer in features such as longer battery life, larger screens, and better wireless-network compatibility. Researchers at iSuppli expect that netbooks will account for 18% of portable computer sales in 2012, up from about 8% this year. "Netbooks are cheaper, and the concern is they could account for a greater proportion of the business," says Matthew Wilkins, a principal analyst at iSuppli.

Amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, computer makers and retailers reckon it's better to sell a cheaper product than none at all. And many netbooks are sold to consumers who've never bought a PC. Still, the industry may have to cope with lower sales in cases where a netbook substitutes for a laptop. What's more, as more consumers buy netbooks, they may replace more expensive laptops less frequently, say, every 36 months instead of every two years, Agnihotry says.

"Purchasing an E-Reader," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2008 ---

Q: I want to purchase an e-reader. Currently I use my Palm Tungsten, but the screen is rather small for reading books. I purchased the Amazon Kindle for my niece but I do not like the design of it. Are there any other e-readers on the market that have a full keyboard and can connect to the Internet?

A: There may be some obscure models that do, but the main competitor to the Kindle, Sony's Reader, lacks a direct connection to the Internet. You have to purchase titles on a computer and then move them to the device. The Reader does have a keyboard, but it's virtual, not physical.

Bob Jensen's threads on Kindle and other electronic books are at

Bad gift ideas for the holidays

"Giving Up on Gadgets:  A Pew survey shows that most of us are fed up, and some of us give up when our tech tools -- and tech support -- fail us," Brennon Slatterly, The New York Post, November 18, 2008 --- Click Here

A national survey conducted by the Pew Institute solidified what we already know: technology fails and it burns us up.

The survey sought to unearth how often our tech fails, how we try to fix it, and our feelings about the process. The numbers are pretty astounding:

The first stat is huge but also predictable. Think about Comcast and its notoriously shoddy customer service. How many times have you signed up for wireless Internet access only to find it doesn't work properly? Then you have to call customer service, wait a billion years for a human being, and either navigate the problem over the phone or elect to have an agent visit your home, again, and get charged for the inconvenience.

The San Francisco Chronicle asked Comcast spokesperson Andrew Johnson for the company's thoughts on the research. Johnson responded evasively and then tried to shift blame. "A lot of the issues fall in the user error category," he said. Blurbs like that don't exactly inspire my confidence.

How does this process of failure and solution-hunting make us feel? You probably guessed it right: 59 percent were impatient; 48 percent were discouraged; and 40 percent were confused.

The scariest stat from the Pew's research was that while 38 percent of respondents called customer service, 28 percent fixed the problem themselves, and 15 percent got help from friends or relatives, another 15 percent of gadget-owners gave up. Once their machine died, their will to fix it died, too.

I wonder what this says about us as gadget owners. Is it that the gadgets themselves are too complicated? Too prone to malfunction? Or is it our overwhelming impatience towards the lengthy and complicated process?

I can't imagine dropping serious dough on a piece of equipment and then just throwing in the towel, no matter how obnoxious the repairs may be. I'd sooner sit on the phone for two hours than let it go, but apparently 15 percent of those polled don't feel the same.

Continued in article

Stormy Seas Ahead for Blackberry (after the introductory video commercial) ---

"Review: New BlackBerrys cool but can't beat iPhone," MIT's Technology Review, November 20, 2008 ---

Wired News Updates on Gadgets ---

Bob Jensen's gadget bookmarks are at

"A Search Engine With a Real Eye for Videos," by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2008 ---

Web video has transformed the way the Internet is used, but finding the exact clip you want can be incredibly hard. And it's no wonder, considering that sites like YouTube conduct their hunts by looking at a clip's "contextual metadata" -- tags, video title and description -- and thus can often be misled by false information. For example, a homemade video about cooking might be inaccurately tagged with a popular search word like "Obama" so as to get more traction.

This week I tested, a site that claims to be the first to search videos by "seeing" images that appear in these videos. The company says its technology can analyze a clip's visual content, as well as its metadata -- especially when searching for people. VideoSurf has analyzed and categorized more than 12 billion visual moments on the Web to understand who the most important characters and scenes are in a video, and it uses this knowledge to sort clips according to relevancy.

Search results on VideoSurf spread out videos in a filmstrip-like format, distinguishing one scene from the next. Users can choose an option to show only faces, which helps if you're looking for a specific person in a long video or movie. And when looking at videos from certain sources, you can select a scene from the filmstrip and jump ahead to that scene rather than sit through the entire clip.

When it works, VideoSurf is one of those technologies that make you wonder why someone didn't think of it sooner. The site aggregates content from about 60 sources, including YouTube, CNN Video, Hulu, ESPN and Comedy Central, and a sorting tool weeds out unwanted results like the irksome slideshows that are labeled as videos. VideoSurf can find videos on all kinds of subjects, but it really shines when it finds well-known people.

But VideoSurf has some rough edges and doesn't always work as it should. In its defense, the site is still in its public beta, or trial, stage, and plans to be full-blown by early next year. Right now, one of its best features, the ability to jump ahead to specific scenes, works with video from only a handful of sources including YouTube, MetaCafe, DailyMotion and Google Video. Videos from confusingly allow jumping ahead only from certain screens.

Additionally, I came across a couple of videos that were no longer available, though they were listed in search results. And a customizable VideoSurf home page for users with accounts on the site saves searches but not specific clips; VideoSurf plans to fix this next week by adding a favorites page where users can store and share favorite videos with others.

Still, I really grew to like VideoSurf's clear way of displaying content that would be otherwise buried within videos. Rather than trying to guess a video's contents by looking at a single representative image, VideoSurf's filmstrip views showed me exactly what I'd be watching. In many cases, I viewed a video I might not have otherwise watched because its filmstrip showed shots of scenes that looked interesting.

On the left-hand side of the search-results page, VideoSurf users can narrow results according to Content Type, Categories and Video Sources to see just what they're looking for -- or, often more important, what they're not looking for. Content Type, for example, includes slideshows, Web series, full television episodes and full movies; a search can include only videos in a particular category (say, slideshows) or exclude that category altogether by unmarking the box beside it.

Most search-results pages include tiled still images at the top representing the characters in the videos. By selecting one of these characters, users can refine search results to show only videos with that character. For example, I typed the title of a favorite television show, "Brothers and Sisters," into the search box and saw the names and images of seven actors on the show at the top of the screen. I selected Sally Field and was redirected to results of videos featuring only the mother she plays on the show.

I used VideoSurf to search for Beyonce's "Single Ladies" music video, and then changed the date parameters to find only videos posted this week. This retrieved a Saturday Night Live skit in which the pop singer spoofs her own video with help from three men in tights -- including Justin Timberlake. While the SNL skit ran, a list of related videos appeared in a column on the right, including clips of J.T.'s past SNL skits.

Occasionally, annotations appear on videos, but these come from the source -- not VideoSurf. If overlaid text appears on YouTube videos, it can be turned off using an icon in the bottom right of the YouTube screen. Video-sharing sites that use introductory pages such as pre-rolls before each video will still show those pages.

VideoSurf makes it easy to send specific clips of videos to friends. I did so by selecting a Share option and adjusting slide bars to trim the clip to start and end at scenes I preferred. Clips shared with friends via email are sent with the VideoSurf filmstrip, giving others the ability to also know what the video will include so that they, too, can discern whether or not they want to watch it.

Clips can be shared on social-networking sites like, MySpace and Facebook, though VideoSurf's helpful filmstrip didn't show up on these sites like it did in emails.

I also tested an add-on for the Mozilla Firefox browser called Greasemonkey that works with VideoSurf. When installed, this displays VideoSurf's helpful filmstrip beneath search results from Google Video, YouTube, Yahoo or Once installed, filmstrips illustrating important scenes appear along with the normal text results for videos, and some of the filmstrips enable jumping ahead to specific scenes. This somewhat techie Greasemonkey extension can save people the extra step of making a separate visit to to watch a specific clip.

VideoSurf uses smart technology that can save people the aggravation of watching videos that aren't what they appear to be. Since so much Web content now includes videos, a visual search tool that can better assess videos like VideoSurf is a good idea. When this site improves its now-flaky ability to jump ahead to specific scenes in videos, it will be even more valuable.

What is the YouTube for Intellectuals?

"'YouTube for Intellectuals' Goes Live," by Andrea L. Foster, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 8, 2008 ---
The selection is very limited at this site.

Bob Jensen's threads on video surfing are at

"Boston College Will Stop Offering New Students E-Mail Accounts," Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 19, 2008 ---
Click Here

A Distance Learning Course on Introductory Accounting from the Harvard Business School --- Click Here
This course dates back to 2005 and I'm not certain how often it is updated.
It appears that students cannot get credit from Harvard for taking this course, although other colleges could give credit for taking the course.
It features narrated animations.

A Preview is available at
The course features narrated animations and assessment materials

Financial Accounting: An Introductory Online Course
Publication Date: Nov 4, 2005
Availability: Available
Author(s):  David F. Hawkins, Paul M. Healy, Michael Sartor
    Type: Online Courses
Product Number: 105708
Language: English
Source: HBS
Length: Information Not Available

To preview (Authorized Faculty) or purchase this online course, call (800) 545-7685 (outside the U.S. and Canada, 617-783-7600).
A Teaching Note is available for Authorized Faculty. Online course product #105708

Minnesota State Colleges Plan to Offer One-Fourth of Credits Online by 2015 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on online training and education alternatives available worldwide are at

Even the Top Ranked Business Schools are in a Crisis in 2008 (including a slide show) ---
Applications for MBA programs are up, but job opportunities for second-year students in finance or consulting have turned wretched.
The scary part is that it will be a long, long time before finance and economics students will have rising opportunities.

But accounting students fair well in rain or shine ---

Bob Jensen's threads on careers ---

Bob Jensen’s threads on the financial markets meltdown ---


"E-Portfolios as a Hiring Tool: Do Employers Really Care?" by Chris Ward and Chris Moser, Educause Quarterly, October-December 2008 ---

Two States Partner to Offer New Student ePortfolios ---

Four 2008 Top Ranked Educators Chosen by the Chronicle of Higher Education
Note the innovative use of technology by these winning professors

"4 Faculty Members Are Honored as U.S. Professors of the Year," by Peter Schmidt, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 20, 2008 ---

Community Colleges

Eugenia T. Paulus, professor of chemistry, North Hennepin Community College, Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Any chemistry instructor can combine elements in a test tube. What sets Ms. Paulus apart is her knack for bringing things together on a much larger scale, to offer new educational opportunities to her students.

She teaches at a community college, she says, because she wants to "make a difference at a place where everyone is welcomed." But working in a community-college environment often means dealing with limits in terms of the amount of equipment available in laboratories or the apparent capabilities of her students.

One of the biggest problems she confronted at North Hennepin, which is near Minneapolis, was figuring out how to get her students comfortable working in the chemical laboratory. Failing to train them in proper laboratory procedures was not an option, she says. "How can you learn to drive a car without the car?" But many of her returning adult students had not set foot in a laboratory in several years or had never been trained in how to use the equipment they would need to use.

Her solution? With a $5,000 grant from the college, she developed a Web-based tutorial to teach her students hands-on laboratory skills. The tutorial not only offers students step-by-step guidance in how to use various pieces of equipment, it also simulates the outcome of their attempts at each procedure.

Other challenges emerged. In talking to her students, for example, Ms. Paulus found that many worked jobs that offered them little opportunity to apply the science they were learning.

Wondering what demand the local job market held for people with some science background, Ms. Paulus and a colleague surveyed dozens of area businesses about their employment needs. Upon learning that many employers were looking for people proficient in certain laboratory techniques, she came up with the idea of establishing a new industry-skills course. She turned to the 45 companies that had responded to her survey for donations of used scientific equipment and cash to help equip her class.


Baccalaureate Colleges

Jerusha B. Detweiler-Bedell, associate professor of psychology, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Ore.

Ms. Detweiler-Bedell tells students who have signed up for her clinical-psychology class to read one of several autobiographies by people with psychological disorders—such as Kay Redfield Jamison's tale of bipolar disorder, An Unquiet Mind, or Amy S. Wilensky's memoir of compulsion, Passing for Normal.

Read carefully, she tells them, because once the course begins, they will have to feign many of their chosen author's symptoms in weekly simulated therapy sessions, to give their fellow students a chance to see how ideas explained in the books might play out in real life.

A strong belief in the value of having students tackle real-world puzzles and learn from one another influences much of Ms. Detweiler-Bedell's work.

She asks students in her community-psychology class to study the entire campus, breaking into teams to investigate some aspect of the college through student surveys, interviews with professionals, and reviews of relevant research. The students then design ways to tackle whatever problems they identify, and present their ideas to others at the college. Their proposals have led to significant changes, including the college's refurbishing its student center to have better signage and a new performance space.

One of her most significant teaching innovations transcends any one classroom. Together with her husband, Brian Detweiler-Bedell, also an associate professor of psychology, she developed a cocurricular program that enables students to study problems outside class and over time. Known as the behavioral-health and social-psychology lab, the program brings students together in three-person teams consisting of an advanced psychology major, a younger major, and a student new to psychology, enabling the more-advanced students to help train others.

Ms. Detweiler-Bedell says the team members "acquire the skills necessary to become outstanding graduate students." They design studies, write research proposals, recruit participants, collect and analyze data, and present their findings on the campus and at national meetings.

"I believe psychology, like a foreign language, is best learned by immersion," she says.


Master's Universities and Colleges

Wei R. Chen, professor of biomedical engineering, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Okla.

When teaching biomedical engineering, Mr. Chen, a native of China, looks to the wisdom that Confucius imparted upon teachers and seeks to bring together the best of both Eastern and Western thinking.

He says he has been especially influenced by Confucius' advice to teach according to the ability of students. Following this, he emphasizes individualized learning based on a given student's knowledge and skills. If undergraduates are willing to design projects and work independently, he gives them the green light to do so. If they need help just to master basic laboratory skills, he is willing to help out.

Confucius said: "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." Based on that insight, Mr. Chen seeks whenever possible to give his students hands-on experience, by requiring them to conduct experiments or simulations to learn specific lessons.

To help his students be competitive in a world where advancements in science and technology have broken down the boundaries between various scientific fields, Mr. Chen champions an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research. He played a key role in establishing the University of Central Oklahoma's biomedical-engineering program for undergraduates, which integrates engineering, mathematics, and the biological and physical sciences. He has also advocated for the development of medical-physics classes at the university, and takes an interdisciplinary approach to his own research on cancer treatments, which his students assist.

Just as he has sought to break down barriers between fields, he also has sought to bring together higher-education institutions. His biomedical-engineering students work in the laboratories of Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma.

Through his own cancer research, he has also opened doors for his students to work within the laboratories of a research foundations and several medical companies.


Doctoral and Research Universities

Michael L. Wesch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.

Mr. Wesch walks into his "Introduction to Cultural Anthropology" class and looks out over 400 students. Many professors would deliver a dry lecture, but he has other ideas.

He projects a map of the world onto the screen and breaks up his class into groups of 12 to 20 students, each representing a different geographic region. Over the ensuing semester, the student teams are expected to become experts on the locale to which they are assigned. Then, working together, the entire class designs a two-hour simulation of the last 500 years of world history, to be acted out before several video cameras and edited down into a 20-minute film.

In the last week of class, they watch what they have produced.

"There is no telling what is going to happen when you unleash 400 students," Mr. Wesch says. "It becomes very exciting."

Along with producing the simulation, the entire class jointly tackles big questions such as: How does the world work? Underlying the whole exercise is his belief that the collective intelligence of 400 students is far more powerful than the mind of any one.

The creativity Mr. Wesch shows in teaching his anthropology class infuses other aspects of his work. Students in one of his undergraduate classes do ethnographic studies of video bloggers and create their own video blogs to discuss their work (The Chronicle, May 11, 2007).

He is best known as the creator of the short online video "Web 2.0. The Machine Is Us/ing Us, which has been viewed more than seven million times since being posted on YouTube in early 2007.

These winning professors are not among the hot professors rated by students ---

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology ---

Top Faculty (by school) according to students on RateMyProfessor ---

"An Authoritative Word on Academic Freedom," by Stanley Fish, The New York Times, November 23, 2008 ---

More than a few times in these columns I have tried to deflate the balloon of academic freedom by arguing that it was not an absolute right or a hallowed principle, but a practical and limited response to the particular nature of intellectual work.

Now, in a new book — “For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom,” to be published in 2009 — two distinguished scholars of constitutional law, Matthew W. Finkin and Robert C. Post, study the history and present shape of the concept and come to conclusions that support and deepen what I have been saying in these columns and elsewhere.

The authors’ most important conclusion is presented early on in their introduction: “We argue that the concept of Academic freedom . . . differs fundamentally from the individual First Amendment rights that present themselves so vividly to the contemporary mind.” The difference is that while free speech rights are grounded in the constitution, academic freedom rights are “grounded . . . in a substantive account of the purposes of higher education and in the special conditions necessary for faculty to fulfill those purposes.”

In short, academic freedom, rather than being a philosophical or moral imperative, is a piece of policy that makes practical sense in the context of the specific task academics are charged to perform. It follows that the scope of academic freedom is determined first by specifying what that task is and then by figuring out what degree of latitude those who are engaged in it require in order to do their jobs.

If the mission of the enterprise is, as Finkin and Post say, “to promote new knowledge and model independent thought,” the “special conditions” necessary to the realization of that mission must include protection from the forces and influences that would subvert newness and independence by either anointing or demonizing avenues of inquiry in advance. Those forces and influences would include trustees, parents, donors, legislatures and the general run of “public opinion,” and the device that provides the necessary protection is called academic freedom. (It would be better if it had a name less resonant with large significances, but I can’t think of one.)

It does not, however, protect faculty members from the censure or discipline that might follow upon the judgment of their peers that professional standards have either been ignored or violated. There is, Finkin and Post insist, “a fundamental distinction between holding faculty accountable to professional norms and holding them accountable to public opinion. The former exemplifies academic freedom: the latter undermines it.”

Holding faculty accountable to public opinion undermines academic freedom because it restricts teaching and research to what is already known or generally accepted.

Holding faculty accountable to professional norms exemplifies academic freedom because it highlights the narrow scope of that freedom, which does not include the right of faculty “to research and publish in any manner they personally see fit.”

Indeed, to emphasize the “personal” is to mistake the nature of academic freedom, which belongs, Finkin and Post declare, to the enterprise, not to the individual. If academic freedom were “reconceptualized as an individual right,” it would make no sense — why should workers in this enterprise have enlarged rights denied to others? — and support for it “would vanish” because that support, insofar as it exists, is for the project and its promise (the production of new knowledge) and not for those who labor within it. Academics do not have a general liberty, only “the liberty to practice the scholarly profession” and that liberty is hedged about by professional norms and responsibilities.

I find this all very congenial. Were Finkin and Post’s analysis internalized by all faculty members, the academic world would be a better place, if only because there would be fewer instances of irresponsible or overreaching teachers invoking academic freedom as a cover for their excesses.

I do, however, have a quarrel with the authors when they turn to the question of what teachers are free or not free to do in the classroom.

Finkin and Post are correct when they reject the neo-conservative criticism of professors who bring into a class materials from disciplines other than the ones they were trained in. The standard, they say, should be “whether material from a seemingly foreign field of study illuminates the subject matter under scrutiny.”

Just so. If I’m teaching poetry and feel that economic or mathematical models might provide a helpful perspective on a poem or body of poems, there is no good pedagogical reason for limiting me to models that belong properly to literary criticism. (I could of course be criticized for not understanding the models I imported, but that would be another issue; a challenge to my competence, not to my morality.)

But of course what the neo-conservative critics of the academy are worried about is not professors who stray from their narrowly defined areas of expertise; they are worried about professors who do so in order to sneak in their partisan preferences under the cover of providing students with supplementary materials. That, I think, is a genuine concern, and one Finkin and Post do not take seriously enough.

Responding to an expressed concern that liberal faculty too often go on about the Iraq War in a course on an entirely unrelated subject, Finkin and Post maintain that there is nothing wrong, for example, with an instructor in English history “who seeks to interest students by suggesting parallels between King George III’s conduct of the Revolutionary War and Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq.”

But we only have to imagine the class discussion generated by this parallel to see what is in fact wrong with introducing it. Bush, rather than King George, would immediately become the primary reference point of the parallel, and the effort to understand the monarch’s conduct of his war would become subsidiary to the effort to find fault with Bush’s conduct of his war. Indeed, that would be immediately seen by the students as the whole point of the exercise. Why else introduce a contemporary political figure known to be anathema to most academics if you were not inviting students to pile it on, especially in the context of the knowledge that this particular king was out of his mind?

Sure, getting students to be interested in the past is a good thing, but there are plenty of ways to do that without taking the risk (no doubt being courted) that intellectual inquiry will give way to partisan venting. Finkin and Post are right to say that “educational relevance is to be determined . . . by the heuristic purposes and consequences of a pedagogical intervention”; but this intervention has almost no chance of remaining pedagogical; its consequences are predictable, and its purposes are suspect

Still, this is the only part of the book’s argument I am unable to buy. The rest of it is right on target. And you just have to love a book — O.K., I just have to love a book — that declares that while faculty must “respect students as persons,” they are under no obligation to respect the “ideas held by students.” Way to go!


The term "political correctness" and related phrases have a long history ---
However, probably no U.S. scholar is more associated with "political correctness" since than Stanley Fish when he was at Duke University and the phrase "political correctness" with feminist language constraints and liberalism in campus politics ---

Bob Jensen's threads on freedom of speech and political correctness in higher education are at

Definition of Millenials (Generation Y or Net Generation) ---

"The Millennials Invade the B-Schools:  They're pursuing MBAs to change the world, but first they're forcing business schools to make changes in order to accommodate them," Business Week, November 13, 2008 ---

Best International Business Schools According to Business Week ---

Controversies in College Rankings ---

"Asynchronous and Synchronous E-Learning:  A study of asynchronous and synchronous e-learning methods discovered that each supports different purposes," by Stefan Hrastinski, Educause Quarterly, October-December 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on asynchronous learning are at

She mortgaged the house and took a lien out on the family car, and ran through her husband's retirement account.

Nigerian 419 Scams ---

Federal Trade Commission Warning ---

Nigerian Email and Mail Fraud ---

"An Oregon woman who is out $400,000 after falling for a well-known Internet scam says she wasn't a sucker or an easy mark." Fox News, November 17, 2008 ---,2933,453125,00.html

Janella Spears of Sweet Home says she simply became curious when she received an e-mail promising her $20.5 million if she would only help out a long-lost relative identified as J.B. Spears with a little money up front.

Spears told KATU-TV about the scammers' ability to identify her relative by name was persuasive.

"That's what got me to believe it," She said. "So, why wouldn't you send over $100?"

• Click here to visit's Cybersecurity Center.

Spears, who is a nursing administrator and CPR teacher, said she mortgaged the house and took a lien out on the family car, and ran through her husband's retirement account.

"The retirement he was dreaming of — cruising and going around and seeing America — is pretty much gone for him right now," she said.

Her family and bank officials told her it was all a scam, she said, and begged her to stop, but she persisted because she became obsessed with getting paid.

The scheme is often called the "Nigerian scam" and it's familiar to many people with e-mail accounts. It still exists and it still works.

Spears first sent $100 through an untraceable wire service as directed by the scammers. Then, more multimillion dollar promises followed so long as she sent more money.

The scammers sent Spears official-looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria and the United Nations. President Bush and FBI Director Robert Mueller were also involved, the e-mails said, and needed her help.

They sent official-looking documents and certificates from the Bank of Nigeria and even from the United Nations, saying her payment was "guaranteed."

But it wasn't and now Spears is paying the price for her costly lesson.

"The hope is [other people] are not going to fall as hard as I fell," Spears said.

Click here to read more on this story on the Web site of Portland, Ore., TV station KATU.

Jensen Comment
Even the familiar Nigerian-type scams are still enormously successful. These scams are the second most lucrative export (oil is number one) from Nigeria, and Nigeria is only one of many places in the world where such scams originate. Many also come from Eastern Europe where technology geniuses are always miles ahead of law enforcement and vendor security protection upgrades ---

November 19, 2008 reply from Trey Dunn

Great that you are getting the word out. There is a great site that is very humorous that deals with people who scam the scammers to get back at them. 


November 19, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Trey,

Good to hear from you. Here's an older tidbit along those same lines.


Scamming the Nigerian Scam Artists

"Baiters Teach Scammers a Lesson," by Robert Andrews, Wired News, August 4, 2006 ---,71387-0.html?tw=wn_index_1

They pilfer nearly $200 million from Americans annually and drive some of their victims to suicide, but Nigeria's notorious e-mail scam artists may finally have met their match -- and the results can be hilarious.

British online vigilante "Shiver Metimbers" is leading tens of thousands of "scambaiters" in a crusade to shut down advance-fee fraudsters, grifters who spam unwitting victims with elaborate, e-mailed sob stories promising a share of nonexistent fortunes in return for upfront payments.

So-called 419 scams, named after the section of Nigeria's criminal code that covers the conduct, are the most common type of con; victims are sometimes left penniless.

But Metimbers and crew turn the tables on scammers one by one, boomeranging the tricksters' own tactics to entice them into performing outlandish tasks in desperate pursuit of cash -- then trumpeting evidence of the con artists' naïveté for the online world's amusement.

A 43-year-old, self-employed computer engineer from Manchester, England, Metimbers has most recently spun counter-yarns that have compelled 419ers to make elaborate wood carvings, pose for comical photos and fly from London to Scotland. In one episode, which concluded in March after a five-month exchange, he succeeded in having a Nigerian fraudster tattoo "Baited by Shiver" on his body in order to claim a fictional $46,000 prize.

"Another time, the scammer thought he was going to get $18,000 out of me, but I actually got the guy to send me $80," said Metimbers, who started the 419 Eater community site almost three years ago after receiving a wave of spam in his inbox.

"I've got between five and 10 on the go at any one time," Metimbers said. "The worst thing that could possibly happen to these guys is they get their photo slapped on a website. I feel like a cybervigilante, doing my bit for the public."

Metimbers, whose real forename is Mike and who spends up to seven hours a day scambaiting, is team captain in a growing internet blood sport, in which photographic evidence of competing baiters' successes constitute trophies.

419 Eater alone numbers more than 20,000 participants around the world. Other initiatives have also surfaced in the anti-scam resistance movement, including Artists Against 419, which kills criminals' online accounts with a deluge of traffic. Baiters delight in convincing correspondents to be photographed with embarrassing and lewd Western banners -- like Metimbers, they operate using aliases to protect themselves against the death threats issued by disgruntled scammers upon realizing they have been had.

Other humor-heavy vigilantes include Bait A Mugu,, ScamBaits, Scamorama and The Billy Goat Curse.

"Shiver is exceedingly creative in getting scammers to allow their greed to override their judgment," said one disciple nicknamed mrsbean, a 29-year-old female IT worker from Kentucky who claims to have wasted months of organized scammers' time.

"It is equal parts theater, chess game, psychological study, crime prevention, education and vigilante justice; it's a battle of the wits," said mrsbean. "Internet scams are unique in that they offer you an opportunity to personally combat them without compromising your own safety; the same is just not true of most crime -- one wouldn't take on the drug dealers in a local neighborhood, for instance.

"The threat of jail certainly doesn't deter these people, but being humiliated in front of their peers just might cost them some reputation. It's likely the only punishment most scammers get."

Advance-fee fraud boomed in Nigeria as government corruption and an economic downturn during the 1990s fueled poverty and disillusionment in the country, said Insa Nolte of the University of Birmingham's Centre of West African Studies.

To some, internet scams looked like an easy way to bag some quick cash.

"The availability of e-mail helped to transform a local form of fraud into one of Nigeria's most important export industries," Nolte said.

Some law enforcers trying to shut down 419 scammers now look on scambaiters' brand of Schadenfreude with envy. The message board was started by a South African antifraud officer to gather intelligence from worldwide combatants, while London's Metropolitan Police said it began a "coordinated approach" this month to get tips directed from baiter sites to proper channels. But investigators warn the counter-criminals are walking a fine line.

"People do it as a hobby or a part-time occupation," said detective Sgt. Stephen Truick of the Met's Economic and Specialist Crime Operational Command Unit. "But what they often don't realize is that, while they are baiting, these criminals' accounts are left open and other people are still getting scammed.

"We are taking down around 200 sites and up to 2,000 e-mail accounts per month -- we are turning the tide," said Truick. "We've seen our traffic from sites like these increase -- that's been brilliant, but I could never condone some of their actions."

Continued in article

Humor link forwarded by Richard Campbell ---

Nigerian 419 Scams ---

Federal Trade Commission Warning ---

Nigerian Email and Mail Fraud ---

Bob Jensen’s threads on consumer frauds ---

How do some varsity athletes beat the system and then regret it later in life?

None of these "beating the system" athletes mentioned choosing accounting careers for easy outs
It's interesting that not all the "beating the system" majors were majoring in Athletic Departments
There are of course other athletes who are also great students that were not out to "beat the system," including an recent All-American quarterback for Notre Dame named Brady Quinn ---
Brady majored in accounting at Notre Dame, which has one of the best accounting programs in the United States

Here's a Rhodes Scholar Candidate this year who's a Florida State University football standout
I'm rooting for Myron Rolle as if he's a blood relative. I'm rooting for his flight from Birmingham, Ala., to Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport to be on time. I'm rooting for him to make it to Byrd Stadium by halftime at the very latest, for him to get into uniform and play as many snaps as possible for Florida State. Most of all, I'm rooting for him to wow the panelists in his Rhodes Scholarship interview earlier in the day . . . At a time when USA Today is scrutinizing the majors some big-time athletes choose and why, Rolle has taken a biochemistry class and did so well he was awarded a research grant. It was startling but also refreshing to hear Rolle, during a recent interview, say there was no question that his research, interviewing for the Rhodes Scholar program and one day becoming a doctor are greater priorities than football, which of course rubbed some FSU fans the wrong way. Fortunately, he's had plenty of academic boosterism from professors and academicians.
Michael Wilbon, "Putting the Student Before the Athlete," The Washington PostT, November 21, 2008 ---
You can read about Myron Rolle at
Jensen Comment
Once a FSU coach told Rolle he giving too much attention to academics vis-a-vis football. Fortunately, Rolle didn't listen and became a star in both sectors. Rolle got his BS degree in 2.5 years and is currently working on a masters degree. He's counterbalancing FSU's academic cheating scandal for which FSU penalized itself before the NCAA came crashing down.

"College athletes studies guided toward 'major in eligibility'," by Jill Steeg et al., USA Today, November 2008, Page 1A ---

Steven Cline left Kansas State University last spring with memories of two years as a starting defensive lineman for a major-college football team. He left with a diploma, credits toward a master's degree and a place on the 2007 Big 12 Conference all-academic team. He also left with regrets about accomplishing all of this by majoring in social sciences — a program that drew 34% of the football team's juniors and seniors last season, compared with about 4% of all juniors and seniors at Kansas State. Cline says he found not-so-demanding courses that helped him have success in the classroom and on the field but did little for his dream of becoming a veterinarian.

"I realize I just wasted all my efforts in high school and college to get a social science degree," says Cline, who adds he did poorly in biology as a freshman, then chose what an athletics academic adviser told him would be an easier path.

His experience reflects how the NCAA's toughening of academic requirements for athletes has helped create an environment in which they are more likely to graduate than other students — but also more likely to be clustered in programs without the academic demands most students face.

Some athletes say they have pursued — or have been steered to — degree programs that helped keep them eligible for sports but didn't prepare them for post-sports careers.

"A major in eligibility, with a minor in beating the system," says C. Keith Harrison, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida, where he is associate director of the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

Also see

November 21, 2008  reply from Jagdish Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]


He will not be the first at all.

The late Supreme Court Justice Byron White, a pro-football player for the Pittsburgh Pirates (renamed Steelers later) played for U Colorado (half-back), played baseball AND basketball for the university, was a student body president, was also a Rhodes scholar at Oxford.

Reminds me of Tom Lehrer's song; Mozart had been dead for something like 30 years when he was my age.

Jagdish Gangolly ( )
Department of Informatics, College of Computing & Information S
tate University of New York at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222


November 21, 2008 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Jagdish,

I’ve not researched this, but I do know that Kris Kristofferson was both a quarterback (actually an athlete in several sports at Pamona) and a Rhodes Scholar before he became a commercial helicopter pilot and started writing songs --- 

There are of course athletes from Ivy League schools who be came Rhodes Scholars. I’ve not researched whether any NCAA Division 1 football or basketball stars became Rhodes Scholars. My priors is that this is probably not the case, but you proved me somewhat wrong with very old history of Whizzer White in the 1930s. However there was no such a thing as NCAA Divisions 1, 2, and 4 until 1973.

Bob Jensen

November 22, 2008 reply from James Bedingfield []


Re: Rhodes Scholars, a couple of others come to mind.

We had a Rhodes Scholar at Maryland - Tom McMillen (basketball); he played pro basketball and was elected to Congress.

Another is Pete Dawkins (West Point). His Wikipedia info, in part, is at

James P. Bedingfield Professor
Emeritus Accounting and Information Assurance
Robert H. Smith School of Business
3352 Van Munching Hall
University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742-1815

November 22, 2008 reply from Richard Campbell [campbell@RIO.EDU]

Bill Bradley - was a Rhodes Scholar - and I remember that he beat my Providence Friars - in 1965? in the NCAA basketball regional final. I say "my" friars because that was the year I was a friar - a Dominican monk! I am not sure what Bill Bradley did after that but I converted to accounting.

Now I remember - he became a Senator and presidential candidate and pro basketball candidate - not in that order. Richard

Richard J. Campbell

November 23, 2008 reply from Dennis Beresford [dberesfo@TERRY.UGA.EDU]

Pat Haden of the University of Southern California was still another Rhodes Scholar. Pat quarterbacked the Trojans to the national football championship in 1974 then went on to quarterback the Rams to division championships a couple of times. In addition to his Rhodes award, Pat went to law school while playing for the Rams and is now a private equity investor in Los Angeles. He also is the color commentator for Notre Dame football games on TV as well as a Trustee for USC.

Denny Beresford

Special Admission Students in Varsity Athletics
Many universities fill the spots on their football squads through the use of “special admits,” a phrase that means that these students didn’t meet regular admissions requirements, according to an article and survey in The Indianapolis Star. While most colleges have provisions for special admits, which in theory are for truly special applicants, very few non-athletes benefit. For example, the Star noted that 76 percent of the freshman football class at Indiana University at Bloomington is made up of special admits. Among all freshmen last year, only 2 percent are special admits. Some universities rely even more on special admits for football, the survey found: the University of California at Berkeley (95 percent of freshmen football players, compared to 2 percent for the student body), Texas A&M University (94 percent vs. 8 percent), the University of Oklahoma (81 percent vs. 2 percent). While some universities didn’t report any special admits, the Star article quoted athletics officials who are dubious of these claims. Myles Brand, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, told the newspaper he was surprised by the extent of special admits, but said the issue was whether universities provide appropriate help for these students to succeed academically.
Inside Higher Ed, September 8, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in college athletics are at

How do you account for and bail out a company with over $1 trillion in assets that has ownership contracting that the best experts cannot untangle?
Did you ever think Osama Bin Laden may be in for some of these bailout billions from our taxpayers?
Corporate contracting is becoming incomprehensible!

Denny Beresford forwarded this link to me.
"The Professor’s Pop Quiz: Who Controls A.I.G.?" by Steven M. Davidoff,, November 18, 2018 ---

The terms of the government’s investment in the American International Group were released last week. After reading these terms, I have a multiple-choice question.

Who controls A.I.G.? Is it:

1) The Federal Reserve
2) The Department of the Treasury
3) The current shareholders of A.I.G. (but not the government)
4) All of the above collectively
5) No one knows

The best answer I can discern right now is number 5. The deal has become much more complicated than it was before, but the control rights over A.I.G. appear to be as follows:

1. In exchange for its $40 billion preferred share injection under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the government is getting a 10 percent dividend on these shares (plus A.I.G.’s agreement to restrictions on lobbying), the same limitations on executive compensation as in other preferred equity injections, a further limitation on annual bonus pools for senior partners not to exceed 2007 and 2006 levels, and compliance with an expense policy. As for control rights — the $40 billion preferred is nonvoting except on certain major issues affecting the preferred. If A.I.G. misses dividend payments for four consecutive quarters, the Treasury has the right under the terms of this preferred stock to elect two directors and a number of directors (rounded upward) equal to 20 percent of the total number of directors after giving effect to such election.

2. In exchange for the new $60 billion Federal Credit Facility (down from $85 billion), the Federal Reserve obtains the general rights of a creditor including senior security over A.I.G.’s unregulated subsidiaries, but no real governance rights except for some negative covenants limiting A.I.G.’s operations and expenditures.

3. Finally, the government is receiving 100,000 Series C preferred shares convertible into 77.9 percent of A.I.G.’s outstanding common stock. This second preferred stock has a vote equal to 77.9 percent of A.I.G.’s share capital and is entitled to 77.9 percent of any dividends paid by A.I.G. on its common stock.

Thus, whoever controls these Series C preferred shares controls A.I.G. These Series C shares, the stock that will vote and control A.I.G., will be owned by is a trust for the benefit of the Treasury Department. The trust is called the A.I.G. Credit Facility Trust. And who are the trustees of this trust and the controllers of A.I.G.? I have no idea nor have I seen any public disclosure on the issue except for news reports in October that these trustees would be appointed by the Fed and that there would be three of them. Moreover, under Section 5.11 of the original credit agreement, a provision that appears to be unamended in the new deal, A.I.G. “shall use all reasonable efforts to cause the composition of the board of directors of [A.I.G.] to be … satisfactory to the Trust in its sole discretion.”

So, why this oddity? I must admit, I am puzzled. Perhaps it is related to accounting or some other legal requirement? But I also suspect it may be political — the government does not want to control A.I.G. directly. Rather, it is preserving some separation of ownership and control to bar future administrations from political meddling (read the Obama administration). This is probably a worthy goal — allowing A.I.G. to operate on an economic basis protected from political meddling.

However, there should be adequate oversight of the trust and some mechanisms to prevent the trustees from obtaining their own private benefits from controlling A.I.G. and its $1 trillion in assets. In addition, the trustees themselves should be chosen for their acumen and ability to right the sinking A.I.G. ship. Here, the government could begin by disclosing the terms of this trust once they are drafted.

Jensen Comment
What's even more comical is that accounting standards for various purposes, such as when implementing securitization accounting under FAS 140, are heavily dependent upon the "degree of control" irrespective of actual number of equity shares owned. How do such standards get implemented when top experts have no idea who controls what? Real life just is not as simple as what we teach in Accounting 101.

What do you want to bet that lucrative consulting contracts are being given to Andy Fastow to draft these ownership and control contracts? Here's an example of one that Andy cut his teeth on ---

Bob Jensen's essay on the bailout mess is at

"The Semantic Web in Education," by Jason Ohler, Educause Quarterly, October-December 2008 ---

The mantra of the information age has been “The more information the better!” But what happens when we search the web and get so much information that we can’t sort through it, let alone evaluate it? Enter the semantic web, or Web 3.0. Among other things, the semantic web makes information more meaningful to people by making it more understandable to machines.

Consider a simple example. If you want to know my mailing address, currently you need to go to my web page and root around until you find it. That’s because the current coding system used to build web pages, largely HTML, displays information without identifying it in any meaningful way. That is, my address is not coded as “an address,” it is simply presented as a series of characters on the screen. Contrast this with a database about your friends that contains a specific column called “mailing address.” Even if your database included millions of entries, locating my address is easy.

Web 3.0 makes the leap from “display only” to meaningful information by tagging information with descriptors like “mailing address.” Further, it allows users to find relationships between tagged information using inference rules and data organizational tools called “ontologies” that provide logic and structure to the information embedded in web pages. As a result, machines can do a lot of the information grunt work currently required of humans. When it comes to a web search, for example, the semantic web makes a reasonable pass at collating, synthesizing, and cross-referencing the results for you. It does this by employing software agents that can locate and combine information from many sources to build meaningful information collages. Simply tell your agent the focus of your interest—whether a person, subject, activity, question, or whatever—and set it to roam the web, finding and distilling information and exchanging information with other agents.

Ultimately, the goal of Web 3.0 is, in a phrase, data integration.1 Because the semantic web understands the concept of a mailing address, it can relate my address to other web-defined concepts like walking distance, postal rates, climate, or driving directions to the nearest airport. Thus, if I ask my agent to help me prepare for a trip to the Bahamas, it can make assumptions about the clothes and flights I need, and so on. Because I live in Alaska, it might tell me to order clothing online soon because it takes longer to get here. It may even tell me the names of friends (who have made themselves semantically available) who have visited the Bahamas.

While some websites currently understand my address as an address, this understanding is not shared with other websites. That is, there is no universal definition for “address” that any website could use to talk to my web page about addresses. It is the use of common definitions, inference rules, and ontologies that will turn the web from a series of information containers into an ecosystem in which the parts of the web are interrelated.

Web 3.0 in Education The implications for education are profound. Let’s consider three areas of impact: knowledge construction, personal learning network maintenance, and personal educational administration.

Knowledge Construction Imagine you are a student researching a topic, like global warming. You might begin by searching Wikipedia, but inevitably you turn to searching the vast information storehouses of the entire web using a tool like Google.2

Currently, Googling the term “global warming” returns a gazillion hits, many of which link to complex data resources that link to other resources and so on. Unless the topic is supremely important to you, you won’t explore much beyond the first 10 to 20 hits returned in a Google search. The presumption of knowledge in this approach to information gathering and evaluation is faulty, if not potentially dangerous in its limitations.

One vision of a well-developed semantic web includes a search feature that would return a multimedia report rather than a list of hits. The report would draw from many sources, including websites, articles from scientific repositories, chapters in textbooks, blog dialogue, speeches posted on YouTube, information stored on cell phones, gaming scenarios played out in virtual realities—anything appropriate that is accessible by the rules of Web 3.0. The report would consist of short sections that coalesce around knowledge areas that emerged naturally from your research, with keywords identified and listed conveniently off to one side as links.

The information in the report would be compared, contrasted, and collated in a basic way, presenting points of agreement and disagreement, and perhaps associating these with political positions or contrasting research. Because the web knows something about you, it also alerts you to local lectures on related topics, books you might want to read, TV programs available through your cable service, blog discussions you might find relevant, and even local groups you can contact that are also focused on this issue. Unlike a standard report, what you receive changes as the available information changes, and you might have wiki-like access to add to or edit it. And because you told your agent that this topic is a high priority, your cell phone will beep when a significant development occurs. After all, the semantic web will be highly inclusive, providing a common language for many kinds of media and technologies, including cell phones. The net result, ideally, is that you spend less time searching and sifting and more time absorbing, thinking, and participating.

Personal Learning Network Maintenance Each one of us sits at the hub of a personal learning network (PLN) that connects us to our interests. Unfortunately, much of our time is spent finding useful information rather than interacting with it and thinking about it. We troll blogs, search the web, wade through long podcasts, and converse with friends in the hopes of finding something we can use. Some services, like iGoogle, make a modest attempt to streamline this process by allowing us to automatically log into web services we have selected, like news services or various podcasting sources. But we still need to pick through that day’s offerings to determine whether they contain anything relevant to our interests. This approach to collecting information is at best clumsy and inefficient, and it can lead to inaccuracies simply because we run out of the time or motivation to do a thorough job.

Under Web 3.0, PLNs are built primarily around subjects, not services. Personal learning agents identify relevant information from any source that is semantically accessible and provide an information synthesis tailored to our personal learning objective. The result is similar to the one described in the “global warming” search example, but applied to an educational goal. Again, the objective is to spend less time searching for information and more time trying to understand, critically assess, and creatively expand it. The semantic web makes it possible for the web to become an effective and focused information resource that can be tailored for specific content area objectives.

Personal Educational Administration Most of us use a multi-source approach to resource gathering. If we want to develop a wardrobe, feed ourselves, or stock a tool shop or music library, we go to several providers to do so, including local stores, online vendors, garage sales, eBay, and even friends. Currently, it is very difficult to use this multi-source approach in obtaining an education and particularly in earning a degree. Educational institutions tend to be stand-alone entities that don’t facilitate working with each other.

There is no question that economics and turf drive the lack of inter-institutional cooperation. However, even if these impediments were to disappear, crafting a multi-institutional education from a student perspective would still be logistically very difficult because schools and other education providers for the most part do not share common languages in describing course or degree requirements. Transfer students can bear witness to how difficult it can be to do something as basic as transfer credit for Philosophy 101 from one institution to another.

The Semantic Web has the potential to challenge this kind of institution-centeredness in the same way that distance learning technologies challenged place-centric education. At some point, institutions will describe courses and degrees semantically, probably just to help their own internal functioning, but with the secondary effect of making many of the components of education at least somewhat comparable across institutions. It is a short leap from that point to students being able to identify comparable coursework and experiences from several educational providers and, in the process, even meet the graduation requirements of yet another. Smart schools will get ahead of this and figure out just what the inevitable institutional inter-connectedness will mean for them.

The Inevitability of the Semantic Web Is the Semantic Web inevitable? Absolutely. I don’t make this assertion based on advanced technological knowledge, which I most assuredly do not possess. Rather I make it because I have come to respect what Michael Dertouzos called “the ancient human in each of us” as a primary force in the evolution of our tools.3 As ancient human beings, we want to connect, share ideas, maintain relationships, understand the world around us, and sustain ourselves physically and emotionally regardless of—and sometimes despite—technological advancement. Those in the 1980s who told me e-mail would never catch on ignored the ancient human, as did those who told me just a few years ago that the world would come to see blogging as superfluous.

Remember, 15 years ago the web was science fiction to most. Today it is taken for granted. Eventually, we will take the Semantic Web for granted as well. Our thirst to make sense of the information available to us and to broaden and deepen our relationships with the world and each other will most certainly urge us on through whatever complex and challenging development period awaits us. The ancient human will see to it.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the Semantic Web are at

Liars Poker II is called "The End"
The Not-Funny Punch Line is Not Until Page 9 of This Tongue in Cheek Explanation of the Meltdown on Wall Street!

Now I asked Gutfreund about his biggest decision. “Yes,” he said. “They—the heads of the other Wall Street firms—all said what an awful thing it was to go public (beg for a government bailout) and how could you do such a thing. But when the temptation arose, they all gave in to it.” He agreed that the main effect of turning a partnership into a corporation was to transfer the financial risk to the shareholders. “When things go wrong, it’s their problem,” he said—and obviously not theirs alone. When a Wall Street investment bank screwed up badly enough, its risks became the problem of the U.S. government. “It’s laissez-faire until you get in deep shit,” he said, with a half chuckle. He was out of the game.

This is a must read to understand what went wrong on Wall Street --- especially the punch line!
"The End," by Michael Lewis December 2008 Issue The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong.

To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.

I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.

When I sat down to write my account of the experience in 1989—Liar’s Poker, it was called—it was in the spirit of a young man who thought he was getting out while the getting was good. I was merely scribbling down a message on my way out and stuffing it into a bottle for those who would pass through these parts in the far distant future.

Unless some insider got all of this down on paper, I figured, no future human would believe that it happened.

I thought I was writing a period piece about the 1980s in America. Not for a moment did I suspect that the financial 1980s would last two full decades longer or that the difference in degree between Wall Street and ordinary life would swell into a difference in kind. I expected readers of the future to be outraged that back in 1986, the C.E.O. of Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund, was paid $3.1 million; I expected them to gape in horror when I reported that one of our traders, Howie Rubin, had moved to Merrill Lynch, where he lost $250 million; I assumed they’d be shocked to learn that a Wall Street C.E.O. had only the vaguest idea of the risks his traders were running. What I didn’t expect was that any future reader would look on my experience and say, “How quaint.”

I had no great agenda, apart from telling what I took to be a remarkable tale, but if you got a few drinks in me and then asked what effect I thought my book would have on the world, I might have said something like, “I hope that college students trying to figure out what to do with their lives will read it and decide that it’s silly to phony it up and abandon their passions to become financiers.” I hoped that some bright kid at, say, Ohio State University who really wanted to be an oceanographer would read my book, spurn the offer from Morgan Stanley, and set out to sea.

Somehow that message failed to come across. Six months after Liar’s Poker was published, I was knee-deep in letters from students at Ohio State who wanted to know if I had any other secrets to share about Wall Street. They’d read my book as a how-to manual.

In the two decades since then, I had been waiting for the end of Wall Street. The outrageous bonuses, the slender returns to shareholders, the never-ending scandals, the bursting of the internet bubble, the crisis following the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management: Over and over again, the big Wall Street investment banks would be, in some narrow way, discredited. Yet they just kept on growing, along with the sums of money that they doled out to 26-year-olds to perform tasks of no obvious social utility. The rebellion by American youth against the money culture never happened. Why bother to overturn your parents’ world when you can buy it, slice it up into tranches, and sell off the pieces?

At some point, I gave up waiting for the end. There was no scandal or reversal, I assumed, that could sink the system.

The New Order The crash did more than wipe out money. It also reordered the power on Wall Street. What a Swell Party A pictorial timeline of some Wall Street highs and lows from 1985 to 2007. Worst of Times Most economists predict a recovery late next year. Don’t bet on it. Then came Meredith Whitney with news. Whitney was an obscure analyst of financial firms for Oppenheimer Securities who, on October 31, 2007, ceased to be obscure. On that day, she predicted that Citigroup had so mismanaged its affairs that it would need to slash its dividend or go bust. It’s never entirely clear on any given day what causes what in the stock market, but it was pretty obvious that on October 31, Meredith Whitney caused the market in financial stocks to crash. By the end of the trading day, a woman whom basically no one had ever heard of had shaved $369 billion off the value of financial firms in the market. Four days later, Citigroup’s C.E.O., Chuck Prince, resigned. In January, Citigroup slashed its dividend.

From that moment, Whitney became E.F. Hutton: When she spoke, people listened. Her message was clear. If you want to know what these Wall Street firms are really worth, take a hard look at the crappy assets they bought with huge sums of ­borrowed money, and imagine what they’d fetch in a fire sale. The vast assemblages of highly paid people inside the firms were essentially worth nothing. For better than a year now, Whitney has responded to the claims by bankers and brokers that they had put their problems behind them with this write-down or that capital raise with a claim of her own: You’re wrong. You’re still not facing up to how badly you have mismanaged your business.

Rivals accused Whitney of being overrated; bloggers accused her of being lucky. What she was, mainly, was right. But it’s true that she was, in part, guessing. There was no way she could have known what was going to happen to these Wall Street firms. The C.E.O.’s themselves didn’t know.

Now, obviously, Meredith Whitney didn’t sink Wall Street. She just expressed most clearly and loudly a view that was, in retrospect, far more seditious to the financial order than, say, Eliot Spitzer’s campaign against Wall Street corruption. If mere scandal could have destroyed the big Wall Street investment banks, they’d have vanished long ago. This woman wasn’t saying that Wall Street bankers were corrupt. She was saying they were stupid. These people whose job it was to allocate capital apparently didn’t even know how to manage their own.

At some point, I could no longer contain myself: I called Whitney. This was back in March, when Wall Street’s fate still hung in the balance. I thought, If she’s right, then this really could be the end of Wall Street as we’ve known it. I was curious to see if she made sense but also to know where this young woman who was crashing the stock market with her every utterance had come from.

It turned out that she made a great deal of sense and that she’d arrived on Wall Street in 1993, from the Brown University history department. “I got to New York, and I didn’t even know research existed,” she says. She’d wound up at Oppenheimer and had the most incredible piece of luck: to be trained by a man who helped her establish not merely a career but a worldview. His name, she says, was Steve Eisman.

Eisman had moved on, but they kept in touch. “After I made the Citi call,” she says, “one of the best things that happened was when Steve called and told me how proud he was of me.”

Having never heard of Eisman, I didn’t think anything of this. But a few months later, I called Whitney again and asked her, as I was asking others, whom she knew who had anticipated the cataclysm and set themselves up to make a fortune from it. There’s a long list of people who now say they saw it coming all along but a far shorter one of people who actually did. Of those, even fewer had the nerve to bet on their vision. It’s not easy to stand apart from mass hysteria—to believe that most of what’s in the financial news is wrong or distorted, to believe that most important financial people are either lying or deluded—without actually being insane. A handful of people had been inside the black box, understood how it worked, and bet on it blowing up. Whitney rattled off a list with a half-dozen names on it. At the top was Steve Eisman.

Steve Eisman entered finance about the time I exited it. He’d grown up in New York City and gone to a Jewish day school, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard Law School. In 1991, he was a 30-year-old corporate lawyer. “I hated it,” he says. “I hated being a lawyer. My parents worked as brokers at Oppenheimer. They managed to finagle me a job. It’s not pretty, but that’s what happened.”

He was hired as a junior equity analyst, a helpmate who didn’t actually offer his opinions. That changed in December 1991, less than a year into his new job, when a subprime mortgage lender called Ames Financial went public and no one at Oppenheimer particularly cared to express an opinion about it. One of Oppenheimer’s investment bankers stomped around the research department looking for anyone who knew anything about the mortgage business. Recalls Eisman: “I’m a junior analyst and just trying to figure out which end is up, but I told him that as a lawyer I’d worked on a deal for the Money Store.” He was promptly appointed the lead analyst for Ames Financial. “What I didn’t tell him was that my job had been to proofread the ­documents and that I hadn’t understood a word of the fucking things.”

Ames Financial belonged to a category of firms known as nonbank financial institutions. The category didn’t include J.P. Morgan, but it did encompass many little-known companies that one way or another were involved in the early-1990s boom in subprime mortgage lending—the lower class of American finance.

The second company for which Eisman was given sole responsibility was Lomas Financial, which had just emerged from bankruptcy. “I put a sell rating on the thing because it was a piece of shit,” Eisman says. “I didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to put a sell rating on companies. I thought there were three boxes—buy, hold, sell—and you could pick the one you thought you should.” He was pressured generally to be a bit more upbeat, but upbeat wasn’t Steve Eisman’s style. Upbeat and Eisman didn’t occupy the same planet. A hedge fund manager who counts Eisman as a friend set out to explain him to me but quit a minute into it. After describing how Eisman exposed various important people as either liars or idiots, the hedge fund manager started to laugh. “He’s sort of a prick in a way, but he’s smart and honest and fearless.”

“A lot of people don’t get Steve,” Whitney says. “But the people who get him love him.” Eisman stuck to his sell rating on Lomas Financial, even after the company announced that investors needn’t worry about its financial condition, as it had hedged its market risk. “The single greatest line I ever wrote as an analyst,” says Eisman, “was after Lomas said they were hedged.” He recited the line from memory: “ ‘The Lomas Financial Corp. is a perfectly hedged financial institution: It loses money in every conceivable interest-rate environment.’ I enjoyed writing that sentence more than any sentence I ever wrote.” A few months after he’d delivered that line in his report, Lomas Financial returned to bankruptcy.

Continued in article

Thanks Bob for the Michael Lewis article, “The End” – great explanation of the mess we a re in and how we got here. Just found this one that does a great job of summarizing the mess – visually
Tom Hood, CPA.CITP, CEO & Executive Director, Maryland Association of CPAs
Check out our blogs for CPAs 

Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker: Playing the Money Markets (Coronet, 1999, ISBN 0340767006)

Lewis writes in Partnoy’s earlier whistleblower style with somewhat more intense and comic portrayals of the major players in describing the double dealing and break down of integrity on the trading floor of Salomon Brothers.

A Bit of History from the Roaring 1990s

What are some of Frank Partnoy’s best-known works?

Frank Partnoy, FIASCO: Blood in the Water on Wall Street (W. W. Norton & Company, 1997, ISBN 0393046222, 252 pages). 

This is the first of a somewhat repetitive succession of Partnoy’s “FIASCO” books that influenced my life.  The most important revelation from his insider’s perspective is that the most trusted firms on Wall Street and financial centers in other major cities in the U.S., that were once highly professional and trustworthy, excoriated the guts of integrity leaving a façade behind which crooks less violent than the Mafia but far more greedy took control in the roaring 1990s. 

After selling a succession of phony derivatives deals while at Morgan Stanley, Partnoy blew the whistle in this book about a number of his employer’s shady and outright fraudulent deals sold in rigged markets using bait and switch tactics.  Customers, many of them pension fund investors for schools and municipal employees, were duped into complex and enormously risky deals that were billed as safe as the U.S. Treasury.

His books have received mixed reviews, but I question some of the integrity of the reviewers from the investment banking industry who in some instances tried to whitewash some of the deals described by Partnoy.  His books have received a bit less praise than the book Liars Poker by Michael Lewis, but critics of Partnoy fail to give credit that Partnoy’s exposes preceded those of Lewis. 

Frank Partnoy, FIASCO: Guns, Booze and Bloodlust: the Truth About High Finance (Profile Books, 1998, 305 Pages)

Like his earlier books, some investment bankers and literary dilettantes who reviewed this book were critical of Partnoy and claimed that he misrepresented some legitimate structured financings.  However, my reading of the reviewers is that they were trying to lend credence to highly questionable offshore deals documented by Partnoy.  Be that as it may, it would have helped if Partnoy had been a bit more explicit in some of his illustrations.

Frank Partnoy, FIASCO: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader (Penguin, 1999, ISBN 0140278796, 283 pages). 

This is a blistering indictment of the unregulated OTC market for derivative financial instruments and the million and billion dollar deals conceived in investment banking.  Among other things, Partnoy describes Morgan Stanley’s annual drunken skeet-shooting competition organized by a “gun-toting strip-joint connoisseur” former combat officer (fanatic) who loved the motto:  “When derivatives are outlawed only outlaws will have derivatives.”  At that event, derivatives salesmen were forced to shoot entrapped bunnies between the eyes on the pretense that the bunnies were just like “defenseless animals” that were Morgan Stanley’s customers to be shot down even if they might eventually “lose a billion dollars on derivatives.”
This book has one of the best accounts of the “fiasco” caused almost entirely by the duping of Orange County ’s Treasurer (Robert Citron) by the unscrupulous Merrill Lynch derivatives salesman named Michael Stamenson. Orange County eventually lost over a billion dollars and was forced into bankruptcy.  Much of this was later recovered in court from Merrill Lynch.  Partnoy calls Citron and Stamenson “The Odd Couple,” which is also the title of Chapter 8 in the book.Frank Partnoy, Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, 2003, ISBN: 080507510-0, 477 pages)Frank Partnoy, Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets (Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated, 2003, ISBN: 080507510-0, 477 pages)

Partnoy shows how corporations gradually increased financial risk and lost control over overly complex structured financing deals that obscured the losses and disguised frauds  pushed corporate officers and their boards into successive and ingenious deceptions." Major corporations such as Enron, Global Crossing, and WorldCom entered into enormous illegal corporate finance and accounting.  Partnoy documents the spread of this epidemic stage and provides some suggestions for restraining the disease.

"The Siskel and Ebert of Financial Matters: Two Thumbs Down for the Credit Reporting Agencies" by Frank Partnoy, Washington University Law Quarterly, Volume 77, No. 3, 1999 --- 

4.  What are examples of related books that are somewhat more entertaining than Partnoy’s early books?

Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker: Playing the Money Markets (Coronet, 1999, ISBN 0340767006)

Lewis writes in Partnoy’s earlier whistleblower style with somewhat more intense and comic portrayals of the major players in describing the double dealing and break down of integrity on the trading floor of Salomon Brothers.

John Rolfe and Peter Troob, Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle (Warner Books, Incorporated, 2002, ISBN: 0446676950, 288 Pages)

This is a hilarious tongue-in-cheek account by Wharton and Harvard MBAs who thought they were starting out as stock brokers for $200,000 a year until they realized that they were on the phones in a bucket shop selling sleazy IPOs to unsuspecting institutional investors who in turn passed them along to widows and orphans.  They write. "It took us another six months after that to realize that we were, in fact, selling crappy public offerings to investors."

There are other books along a similar vein that may be more revealing and entertaining than the early books of Frank Partnoy, but he was one of the first, if not the first, in the roaring 1990s to reveal the high crime taking place behind the concrete and glass of Wall Street.  He was the first to anticipate many of the scandals that soon followed.  And his testimony before the U.S. Senate is the best concise account of the crime that transpired at Enron.  He lays the blame clearly at the feet of government officials (read that Wendy Gramm) who sold the farm when they deregulated the energy markets and opened the doors to unregulated OTC derivatives trading in energy.  That is when Enron really began bilking the public.

Some of the many, many lawsuits settled by auditing firms can be found at

Bob Jensen's timeline of Derivatives Financial Instruments scams ---


Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at

Bob Jensen's timeline of Derivatives Financial Instruments scams ---

Bob Jensen's essay with its alphabet soup of appendices ---

All things Google do not shine even when they are free:  Lively takes a flying leap
Before reading this you may want to read about Google's "Lively" world at

"Google's virtual world Lively to die next month," PhysOrg, November 20, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on Second Life and other virtual worlds in education ---

"SEC Bars Adviser's Former Managing Director for Conversion, Fraud," Securities Law Professor Blog, November 21, 2008 ---

The SEC imposed sanctions on Brendan E. Murray, formerly a managing director of registered investment advisor Cornerstone Equity Advisers, Inc. (Cornerstone) and secretary to Cornerstone's advisory clients the Cornerstone Funds, Inc. (Funds), for willfully aiding and abetting, and being a cause of, Cornerstone's violations of antifraud provisions of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Cornerstone, a fiduciary to the Funds, misappropriated client funds by knowingly inflating and falsifying vendor invoices, directing the payments of the inflated amounts to an intermediary, and instructing the intermediary to pay the vendors lesser amounts (or nothing) while keeping the overage. The Commission found that Murray participated in the scheme by creating, submitting, and authorizing payment of the inflated invoices. The Commission also found that Murray, who as secretary owed a fiduciary duty to the Funds, converted corporate funds by knowingly submitting inflated invoices for reimbursement. The Commission concluded that it is in the public interest to bar Murray from associating with any investment adviser or investment company, to impose a cease-and-desist order, to impose a civil money penalty in the amount of $60,000, and to order disgorgement in the amount of $21,157 plus prejudgment interest.

Bob Jensen's fraud updates ---

Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at

From the Scout Report on November 21, 2008

Fast Blog Finder 2.50 --- 

As its name indicates, the Fast Blog Finder helps users look for weblog posts that have a particularly high ranking in Google for a given phrase. It can be useful for research purposes, and visitors can also make use of it if they wish to attract more traffic to their own websites. This version is compatible with all operating systems.

Family Cyber Alert 4.16 --- 

Many people are concerned about the content that their children might encounter on the web, and this helpful program might be just the thing for them. The Family Cyber Alert program records everything that is done on a computer, including email messages, chat sessions, screen views, and file access. Here, a fourteen day trial is available and this particular version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer.


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

Financial Education For All: Federal Reserve Bank of New York ---

Education Tutorials

From the U.S. Department of Education
Doing What Works (methods of teaching)

Doing What Works is a website dedicated to assisting teachers in the implementation of effective educational practices. The Doing What Works website contains practice guides developed by the Department’s Institute of Education Sciences that evaluate research on the effectiveness of teaching practices described in the guides. The website also contains examples of possible ways this research may be used, but not necessarily the only ways to implement these teaching practices.

The examples provided on the Doing What Works website – including any product names included in materials from schools – should not be construed as an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any products, programs, or curricula.

  • Early Childhood Education
  • English Language Learners
  • Math and Science
  • Psychology of Learning

Compass Learning (not free) ---

Furness Image Collection (Shakespearian theatrical productions) ---

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---


Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

NASA: For Policymakers --- 

50th Anniversary of NASA ---

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Research (video) ---

USDA: Animal Welfare Information Center ---

Animal Science Image Gallery ---

Ecology, Art, and Technology ---

Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology --- BioPortal ---

Ocean Science ---

Evidence Based Medicine ---

Medline Plus: Herbal Medicine ---

National Archaeological Database ---

The Assos Excavations (Turkey) ---

From the Scout Report on November 21, 2008

Tiny primate (re)discovered in the mountains of Indonesia Scientists rediscover pocket-sized primate 

Tiny primate rediscovered 80 years after it was thought to be extinct  

Anthropologist Discovers Long-Lost Primate 

"Extinct" Primate Found in Indonesia  


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

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Financial Education For All: Federal Reserve Bank of New York ---

Policy Archive --

International Center for Journalists ---

Human Security Gateway ---

Maynard Institute for Journalism Education ---

The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy (multimedia) ---

National Archaeological Database ---

The Assos Excavations (Turkey) ---

The UNESCO Courier ---

Unite for Children ---

C-SPAN: American Political Archive --- 

John H. W. Stuckenberg Map Collection ---

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection ---

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

EUROPE Gateway: Bulgaria --- 


Law and Legal Studies

Human Security Gateway ---

Law & Legal Research Center -

Doing Business (e.g., where are bribes necessary?) ---

American Social History ---

The Maritime Dimension of International Security: Terrorism, Piracy, and Challenges for the United States ---

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

Math Tutorials

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

History Tutorials

Arden: World of William Shakespeare ---

Furness Image Collection (Shakespearian theatrical productions) ---

National Museum of American History (Slide Show) ---

A History of the Crusades --- 

The Assos Excavations (Turkey) ---

C-SPAN: American Political Archive --- 

John H. W. Stuckenberg Map Collection ---

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection ---

This is Monumental from Google ---
Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google ---

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

Language Tutorials

Furness Image Collection (Shakespearian theatrical productions) ---

Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

Writing Tutorials

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

Updates from WebMD ---


New Books on Sexual Addiction ---

Evidence Based Medicine ---

Medline Plus: Herbal Medicine ---

"Healing with Laser Heat:  Surgical lasers could soon heal cuts as well as make incisions," by Lauren Gravitz, WebMD, November 19, 2008 ---

Sign me up now!
"Making an Old Brain Young:  Scientists are developing new ways to manipulate the brain's normal plasticity," by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, December 1, 2008 ---

New ways to manipulate neural plasticity--the brain's ability to rewire itself--could make adult brains as facile as young ones, at least in part. Drugs that target these mechanisms might eventually help treat neurological disorders as diverse as Alzheimer's, stroke, schizophrenia, and autism. But first scientists will need to figure out how to harness this rewiring capacity without damaging vital neural circuitry.

"Once we understand the mechanisms behind plasticity, we can design therapies to tap into it more specifically," says Joshua Sanes, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School.

The brain experiences a "critical period" of heightened malleability during development, when outside experiences--such as sights and sounds--are necessary for different brain systems to develop normally. Infants and toddlers between the ages of one and three need regular visual stimuli, for example, in order for their visual systems to form the appropriate neural circuits. If one eye is impaired during this time, such as with lazy eye (also called amblyopia), vision may be permanently faulty.

Studying the equivalent of lazy eye in rodents, Takao Hensch and his colleagues at Children's Hospital Boston discovered two mechanisms that control this critical period. While some drugs were already known to accelerate the onset of this critical period--for example, valium, an anxiety drug that targets the brain's inhibitory signaling system--Hensch's work helps explain why and provides specific targets for new treatments.

Like children, rodents with one eye covered during their critical period never recover normal sight. Scientists use this fact to measure treatments that affect the timing of developmental neural plasticity. Treatments that extend the critical period, for example, allow adult animals reared with only one functioning eye to regain normal sight. Hensch's group has previously shown that a specific cell type, called a large basket cell, triggers the onset of neural plasticity. These cells grow long extensions that form nets or baskets around neighboring neurons. "The critical period ends when the net wraps around [the cells] very tightly," says Hensch. So molecularly severing the nets with an enzyme called chondroitinase can restore plasticity in adults.

Hensch and his collaborators have now found that basket-cell development is controlled by a protein called Otx2. Overexpressing this protein can trigger a critical period of plasticity, while removing Otx2 halts it. While the findings are specific to the visual system, Hensch notes that different sensory systems also possess basket cells, and those might function the same way.

A second mechanism for manipulating neural plasticity in adults is blocking inhibitory molecules that the nervous system produces to stop neural growth. "The nervous system is hostile to growing new axons [the long neural projections that connect cells], which is why recovery after spinal-cord injury is so challenging," says Hensch.

Continued in article

Brains and Personality

There’s an old joke first told by Pete Seeger about a maggot named High Cotton in a wagon load of manure being pulled down the road by a team of horses. High Cotton looks down and sees his brother on the road below. What’d happened was that a few months earlier both baby brothers were airborne in the rear end of a huge crow. The crow dropped Brother Bad Luck onto a crack in the pavement and Brother High Cotton onto a ripe manure pile early on in the summer.

Late in that summer the sickly and scrawny Brother Bad Luck squints up at the moving wagon and asks Brother High Cotton how he became so fat and prosperous?

“Let me tell you Brother,” says High Cotton, “the reason is brains and personality.”

This is a very old joke oft repeated by public speakers in one form or another with reference to what it takes to be successful in life or how unjust life can be in terms of factors outside our control --- Click Here

I think it gives an alternate meaning whenever somebody talks about "being pooped out."


Tidbits Archives ---

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

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

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

Three Finance Blogs

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

Some Accounting Blogs

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

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

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

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

Free Textbooks and Cases ---

Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials ---

Free Science and Medicine Tutorials ---

Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials ---

Free Education Discipline Tutorials ---

Teaching Materials (especially video) from PBS

Teacher Source:  Arts and Literature ---

Teacher Source:  Health & Fitness ---

Teacher Source: Math ---

Teacher Source:  Science ---

Teacher Source:  PreK2 ---

Teacher Source:  Library Media ---

Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University ---

VYOM eBooks Directory ---

From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department ---

Online Mathematics Textbooks --- 

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---

Moodle  --- 

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

Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

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

Roles of a ListServ ---

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

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---


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