There's less than an inch of snow across my yard.  Most of what was there blew down the hill and into the woods. Of course there's more snow on the mountain tops. Winter roared in like a lion yesterday with below zero temperature and with arctic wind chills that defy global warming. Although we're nowhere near as cold or as windy as the summit of Mt. Washington (about 28 miles as viewed above slightly zoomed from our front porch), the following report tells what it was like on the summit on December 9, 2008 while I'm writing this tidbit ---

Mt. Washington on December 9, 2008
Temp Wind Gust W. Chill
-23.6°F 306° (NW), 97.1 mph 104.7 mph -74.2°F
-30.9°C 306° (NW), 156.2 kph 168.5 kph -59.0°C

Inside our front porch, this Christmas cactus is blooming away.

The above picture taken at night shows the blue and white sparkling lights that we have over each of the
curved windows in our front porch. These actually show up quite nicely in this holiday season. Because
of our high winds, I place the lights on the inside of the porch windows rather than on the howling outside.

Here are some even more spectacular light shows (links forwarded by Paula)


New Hampshire natives can take a lot of cold weather. Now's the best time of year for snorkeling in the mountains. I really don't know who this show off is or who took the picture. This was forwarded by a friend who lived in Sugar Hill and has since sold out and moved to Florida. The picture, however, was taken by one of her friends in New Hampshire --- maybe at one of the parties thrown by Val and her husband. This doesn't look like her husband as far as I can tell. Maybe he took the picture.

You might have a bit of fun imagining what he could possibly be trying to accomplish. I thought of the following possibilities:

  1. His physician can’t be reached, and he hits that four-hour symptom that Viagra warns about in television commercials.
    Supposedly snow snorkeling is better than a cold shower for such a symptom.
  2. He’s trolling for his friends that were buried in an avalanche that hit their pool party?
  3. He’s looking for a beer keg that accidently rolled down the hill.
  4. He’s trying to find where he left his snow mobile suit last June.
  5. It’s a New Hampshire contest for innovations in ice fishing (wonder what he’s dragging about for bait?)
  6. New Hampshire’s popular ice climbing sport is just too dangerous. It’s safer to snorkel.
  7. He's really on a snow board, too drunk drive his car, and trying to return home from the party.
  8. “He jumped for the saddle, and the saddle twarn’t thar … “
  9. Surely you can improve on these silly explanations?

I think what really happened is that his girl friend emailed him a picture from Florida where she ventured off to for the Holidays. Poor thing! She looks terribly sunburned.


With winter coming on like a lion, I also feature a lot of sad song music links (see below).
Don't tell anybody, but I actually love winter, because it is so beautiful, pure, and you don't have to weed it, water it, sow it, harvest it, or mow it.
Now driving in it or being stranded in it is altogether a different matter.



Tidbits on December 10, 2008
Bob Jensen

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

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

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

CPA Examination ---

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 ---

This is scary because you don't have to be a mastermind engraver or have the Treasury of a rogue nation such as North Korea or Iran to print money
"Money Factory:  The Rise of Counterfeit Money," National Geographic Channel (video) ---
This is important in accountancy, because all organizations need internal controls to detect counterfeit currency
Read more about counterfeit currency from a very good module at
Probably the biggest fear of worldwide criminals is that world economies will go cashless.

JC Penney: Beware of the Doghouse (funny video) ---

West Point Oral-History Project Will Make Soldiers' Stories Available Online ---

"No Thanks Required: 20 Worst Film and TV Turkeys of the Year," by John Scott Lewinski, Wired News, November 26, 2008 ---

Monty Python YouTube Channel ---

You Know You're a Baby Boomer When (video) ---

Whatever Happened to the Hollywood Cowboys (Statler Brothers) ---

The Federal Reserve (a five part video series) ---

Financial Times: Podcasts ---

Scripture Tree Interactive (click on the flowers to open and close famous scripture passages) ---

Rosemary Watson, who is fast emerging as America 's leading Hillary impersonator had thought her budding career would slip into obscurity when Mrs Clinton lost the Democratic nomination. In a video that can be seen on YouTube, she expressed her relief in a phone call from her Hillary alter ego, in which Mrs Clinton says: "Get the pantsuit back from the cleaners. It looks like I'll be giving your career a second wind after all."
Tim Shipman, London Telegraph, December 6, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Clearly this is in reference to the infamous Hillary Fart in a live televised campaign debate ( watch the live phhht video) ---

Mr Leno offered this joke: "We're going from a Clinton in pantsuits to a Clinton who drops his suit pants." And fellow comedian Conan O'Brien said: "Hillary Clinton has accepted Barack Obama's offer to become secretary of state. According to Bill Clinton, this is the first time in 20 years that Hillary has said: 'Yes'."
Tim Shipman, London Telegraph, December 6, 2008 --- Click Here

Free music downloads ---

TheRadio (this was my favorite until it started becoming consistently unreliable on my system) ---
I went back to my former favorite at

McCain-Palin Tradition (Hank Williams Jr.) ---

Roberto Plano's Schubert Sensibility ---

Mercy: Behind Roy Orbison's 'Pretty Woman' ---

Yahoo's Twenty Most Heartbreaking Songs of All Time --- Click Here

  1. He Stopped Loving Her Today (George Jones) ---
    Also Click Here

  2. It's Over (Roy Orbison) ---

  3. I'm a Fool to Want You (Frank Sinatra) ---

  4. Heart Like A Wheel (Kate and Anna McGarrigle) ---

  5. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (The Righteous Brothers) ---

  6. Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O'Connor) ---

  7. I've Been Loving You Too Long (Otis Redding) ---

  8. Knowing Me, Knowing You (Abba) ---

  9. Stay With Me (Lorraine Ellison) ---

  10. I Can't Make You Love Me (Bonnie Raitt) ---

  11. The Tracks Of My Tears (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles) ---

  12. Long Distance Love (Little Feat) ---

  13. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself (Dusty Springfield) ---

  14. I Go To Sleep (The Pretenders) ---

  15. Alone Again Or (Love) ---

  16. Don't Worry 'Bout Me (Billie Holiday) ---

  17. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye (Soft Cell) ---

  18. One Day I'll Fly Away (Randy Crawford:) ---

  19. It Makes No Difference (The Band) ---

  20. So Sad (The Everly Brothers) ---


Here are a few real heartbreakers that bring tears to my eyes on a lonely Saturday:

YouTube's Sad Song Channel ---

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

Photographs and Art

The Tibet Album: British Photography in Central Tibet, 1920-1950 ---
The Tibet Album presents more than 6000 photographs spanning 30 years of Tibet's history. These extraordinary photographs are a unique record of people long gone and places changed beyond all recognition. They also document the ways that British visitors encountered Tibet and Tibetans.

Military Picture Links Forwarded by Auntie Bev

Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant-Garde, 1910-1917 ---

200 Images by Rubens ---

Wenceslaus Hollar Collection ---

The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr.---

Geeky Toy Gifts ---

America's Favorite Architecture ---

Marcel Breuer Architectural Drawings and Sketches ---

Bata Shoe Museum ---

The Beazley Archive (art history)  ---

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 ---

Spanish Civil War Posters ---

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 ---

PJ O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores ---   

Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence ---

The Association of Jewish Libraries ---

West Point Oral-History Project Will Make Soldiers' Stories Available Online ---

Darwin 200 Celebration ---

The World's Billionaires, Forbes, March 5, 2008 --- Click Here 

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

Often when I was in a foreign land and people would ask me where I was from, I would respond by saying..."Nebraska, the Center of the Universe!" No one ever contested that definition.
Text of Sen. Chuck Hagel's farewell letter to Nebraskans, December 4, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
At one time there was a billboard between Des Moines and Omaha that read "Iowa:  Gateway to Nebraska."
I think the billboard space was rented by Warren Buffett.

Even if Catholics get married, they may still have to pay for it
A Long Island couple knew that getting married was expensive. What they didn't count on was the priest planning to charge them extra for living together. Fox 5's Arnold Diaz exposes a so-called 'fornication fee'.
Fox News, November 24, 2008 --- Click Here

Rosemary Watson, who is fast emerging as America 's leading Hillary impersonator had thought her budding career would slip into obscurity when Mrs Clinton lost the Democratic nomination. In a video that can be seen on YouTube, she expressed her relief in a phone call from her Hillary alter ego, in which Mrs Clinton says: "Get the pantsuit back from the cleaners. It looks like I'll be giving your career a second wind after all."
Tim Shipman, London Telegraph, December 6, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Clearly this is in reference to the infamous Hillary Fart in a live televised campaign debate (the phhht video) ---
Hillary Responds to Rosemary ---
CNN highlights ---

Mr Leno offered this joke: "We're going from a Clinton in pantsuits to a Clinton who drops his suit pants." And fellow comedian Conan O'Brien said: "Hillary Clinton has accepted Barack Obama's offer to become secretary of state. According to Bill Clinton, this is the first time in 20 years that Hillary has said: 'Yes'."
Tim Shipman, London Telegraph, December 6, 2008 --- Click Here

Between 2004 and 2007, Rep. Charles Rangel steered nearly $80,000 in campaign cash to an Internet company run by his son – paying lavishly for a pair of political Web sites so poorly designed an expert estimated one should have cost no more than $100 to create. The payments are apparently legal under federal law, but their disclosure raises new questions about the Ways and Means chairman as he faces House ethics committee probes into his failure to pay taxes on rental income and his alleged use of House stationery to solicit contributions for a public policy center that bears his name.
Glenn Thrush and Luke Rosiak, "Tangled Web: Rangel Son Got Campaign Cash," NBC New York, December 5, 2008 ---

Taxing Farts:  After a fart tax is imposed on livestock, bean-eating humans are Al Gore's next targets
The proposal is finally out there that will regulate all emissions of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, even if they are the bodily functions of livestock. Ridiculousness aside, the goal of curbing the release of carbon and hydrogen into the air is going to reach all the way to the rangeland of Kansas, the hog lots of Iowa and the front yard of the American home. Don't over-react or under-react to the desire of the public to control global warming. Don't deny the volume of methane that a cow can generate on a good day of grazing. There is a method to all of this that Al Gore uttered to me in 1999. He said, in response to a question about regulating the emissions of agriculture, that, "Everyone has to come to the table." He did not give the politically expedient answer that others must comply with regulations while farmers do not. His answer was in line with environmental activists from the early 1960s who kept repeating: "If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the pollution."

"A gas tax... for livestock?" High Plains Midwest AG Journal, November 29, 2008 ---
Also see "Proposed fee on smelly cows, hogs angers farmers," Yahoo News, December 5, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
The trick will be getting U.S. citizens to wear fart meters 24/7. Of course a fart tax is half-assed in the sense that, at least for cows, more greenhouse gas is probably released from cow burps than cow farts. Will this eventually entail wearing bags over our heads 24/7 since humans, especially Al Gore, release hot air every time they talk? Of course scientists could conduct research to measure the average annual gas passed each year by cows and humans and then tax based upon the average. But this tax offers no incentive to change diets so as to pass less gas.

Some opponents of prohibition pointed to Al Capone and increasing crime, violence and corruption. Others were troubled by the labeling of tens of millions of Americans as criminals, overflowing prisons, and the consequent broadening of disrespect for the law. Americans were disquieted by dangerous expansions of federal police powers, encroachments on individual liberties, increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the prohibition laws, and the billions in forgone tax revenues. And still others were disturbed by the specter of so many citizens blinded, paralyzed and killed by poisonous moonshine and industrial alcohol. Supporters of prohibition blamed the consumers, and some went so far as to argue that those who violated the laws deserved whatever ills befell them. But by 1933, most Americans blamed prohibition itself. When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish.
Ethan A. Nadelmann, "Let's End Drug Prohibition" Most Americans agreed that alcohol suppression was worse than alcohol consumption," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2008 ---

"Swiss approve pioneering legal heroin program," by Alexander G. Higgins, PhysOrg, December 1, 2008 ---

This Canadian oil is stable and reliable. It promises to substantially reduce America's future dependence on volatile Middle Eastern sources of oil. And much of it is profitable to produce even with oil prices hovering around $50 per barrel, which explains why some of the world's largest oil conglomerates have invested tens of billions of dollars here despite wild short-term swings in international oil prices. But what few American consumers know as they routinely fill up their tanks is that this new petroleum bonanza, drawn from dense, tarry deposits known as oil sands, ranks as what environmentalists call the dirtiest oil on the planet. Extracting it causes widespread ecological damage - and could accelerate global warming. In Canada, where pitched debate over expanded oil sands development is well under way, critics assert that this abundant source of oil is not worth the environmental costs of extracting it. Oil company officials, joined by Canadian government leaders, counter that they are investing in new technologies to reduce the ecological risks.
Howard Witt, "Canada's vast oil sands hide dirty environmental secret," PhysOrg, November 26, 2008 ---

"Norway is the most anti-Semitic country in Scandinavia," Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a scholar of Western European anti-Semitism from the Center said at the symposium. Gerstenfeld, a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Israel many years ago from Holland, projected cartoons he had found in Norwegian mainstream press over the past few years. One cartoon, which appeared in Dagsavisen, the same paper which published the ex-premier's reaction, showed an ultra-Orthodox Jew engraving "thou shall murder" into an alternative Decalogue. Another cartoon from the daily Dagbladet showed Ehud Olmert dressed up as a guard at a death camp, smiling and holding a rifle. "These cartoons are one of many ugly anti-Semitic phenomena in Norway," he said.
Cnaan Liphshiz, "Norwegian ex-premier counters anti-Semitism accusations, slams Israel," Haaretz, November 28, 2008 --- 
Jensen Comment
Sometimes I'm ashamed of the land of my ancestors.

Asked what was different about the victims of the Mumbai incident, another doctor said: "It was very strange. I have seen so many dead bodies in my life, and was yet traumatised. A bomb blast victim's body might have been torn apart and could be a very disturbing sight. But the bodies of the victims in this attack bore such signs about the kind of violence of urban warfare that I am still unable to put my thoughts to words," he said. Asked specifically if he was talking of torture marks, he said: "It was apparent that most of the dead were tortured. What shocked me were the telltale signs showing clearly how the hostages were executed in cold blood," one doctor said. The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: "Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again," he said.
P. Krishnakumar and Vicky Nanjappa in Mumbai, "Doctors shocked at hostages's torture," Rediff, November 30, 2008 --- 

High-ranking members of Congress were flown to a lush Caribbean resort this month for a three-day conference planned and paid for by several of the country's most powerful corporations - a violation of federal ethics rules, critics say.  . . . Officials with those companies were observed at the conference - sometimes acting as featured speakers at daily seminars and freely mingling among the pols at social events. Citigroup - which just last week received a massive bailout from the federal government - was one of the conference's biggest sponsors, ponying up $100,000 to help finance the event, according to one of the lobbyists at the gathering.
Ginger Adams Otis, "SHADY ISLAND 'HOUSE' PARTY POLS' TRIP TO CARIBBEAN SKIRTED RULES," New York Post, November 30, 2008 ---

Several changes do seem likely to be beneficial. Greater capital requirements (relative to assets) for all financial institutions, including investment banks and hedge funds, would help banks better weather runs on their assets. Greater transparency in the information financial institutions provide about their assets would also be useful, although modern assets are often so complicated that transparency will not always be easy to achieve. Fully privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would help reduce the flow of mortgages to unqualified homeowners. Incomes of many fund managers and private equity leaders rose enormously, but it is difficult to prevent that from happening again without introducing controls over their salaries, stock options, and bonuses. The greatest challenge is to find ways to reduce the type of private risk-taking in which the taxpayer bails out failure, although greater capital requirements would help.
Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, "The Future of Free Market Conservatism," The Becker-Posner Blog, November 30, 2008 ---

Now I know that it isn't really possible to think without preconceptions. As Bayesian decision theory teaches, a rational decision maker starts with a prior probability of some uncertain event (that a credit crunch will turn into a major depression, for example), but adjusts that probability as new evidence comes to his attention--which means that his prior belief, his preconception, may, depending on the strength and direction of the evidence, affect his ultimate decision, which will be based on his posterior probability that the event will occur. Nor do I mean to deny the value of theory, in particular economic theory, in guiding policy. But there is a difference between rational preconceptions, based on theory and experience, and rigid emotional preconceptions, such as dogmatic libertarianism or egalitarianism or ungrounded hopeful beliefs such as that everybody in the world is yearning for and ready for democracy, that tell one more about the thinker's personality than about the quality of his thought and that may be impervious to reconsideration in the light of new evidence. We should be skeptical of world views rooted in emotion that insulate people against inquiry into the foundations of their beliefs. Concretely, there is a range of perfectly respectable economic theorizing, at one end (the interventionist) typified by Paul Samuelson and at the other end (the libertarian) by Milton Friedman, but it would be a mistake to commit to one or the other end since neither can be proved to be correct. The libertarian end of the range failed to grasp the danger of deregulation of financial markets and underestimated the risk and depth of the current economic crisis--an economic shock that appears to be severe enough to trigger a genuine depression. But the point I particularly want to stress is that the recent failures of conservatism are not a vindication of liberalism. Both can fail, and as long as the failures are recognized, the United States can do fine.
Richard Posner, "The Future of Free Market Conservatism," The Becker-Posner Blog, November 30, 2008 ---

If the money is used to prop up failing companies, that's particularly bad since it is an attempt to override market realities, an attempt that is about as successful as trying to repeal gravity by throwing things up in the air.
Jeffrey Tucker, "Best Explanation in One Sentence," Ludwig von Mises Institute, November 25, 2008 ---

The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 coerces banks into making loans based on political correctness, and little else, to people who can't afford them. Enforced like never before by the Clinton administration, the regulation destroyed credit standards across the mortgage industry, created the subprime market, and caused the housing bubble that has now burst and left us with the worst housing and banking crises since the Great Depression.
"Stop Covering Up And Kill The CRA," Investor's Business Daily, November 28, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
The CRA was not the sole cause of the housing bubble, but when combined with Rep. Barney Frank's later coercion of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to buy the high risk political correctness mortgages, the CRA added a lot of air to the housing bubble. See Barney's Rubble at

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

"Seizing pensions, the final step to bankruptcy," Pravda, November 10, 2008 ---

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

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

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

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

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

So what is being contemplated by the American Congress?

Real estate appraisers in Hampton Roads and across the nation say they have felt intense pressure from lenders, mortgage brokers and real estate agents to deliver inflated valuations - a serious ethical breach that may have played a role in puffing up the real estate bubble and promoting mortgage fraud. The problem has been around for some time, says Woody Fincham, a Chesapeake-based appraiser. For several years in the mid-2000s, Fincham said, his company, FM & Associates, did steady business with a Virginia Beach mortgage brokerage but faced escalating pressure to deliver inflated appraisals. "They would get on the phone and scream at me to inflate values," he said. "They said, 'If you keep coming in low, we're not going to work with you anymore.' " Finally, the brokerage delivered on the threat, cutting off business with Fincham's company. "They said, 'You're not hitting the numbers we need you to hit,' " Fincham said.
Bill Sizemore, "Appraisers say they were pushed to overvalue properties," The Virginian-Pilot, December 5, 2008 ---
Jensen Comment
Pressure to increase the appraisal beyond fair market value stems in many cases from the buyers not having enough down payment to make up the difference between what the seller is asking and the buyer has in cash for difference between an amount borrowed on the mortgage and the seller's bottom price.
For "Sleaze (meaning sex), Bribery, and Lies " in the mortgage lending business before and after the economic meltdown see

When Wall Street investment banks sliced and diced the mortgage-backed loans into Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) that were sold as millions of Forrest Gump AAA Investment Grade chocolate boxes,  inflated real estate appraisals where the collateral was way above market value resulted in turds being mixed into those highly complex CDO chocolate boxes. Now the mortgage brokers and real estate agents are once again marketing turds as chocolates. The sewers are once again backing up on Main Street real estate markets. Here we go again!

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 if 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?


"False Cures for the Recession Why the bailout won't work," by Steve Chapman, Reason Magazine, December 4, 200/ ---

Shoveling cash into various public programs sounds like a surefire way to boost total demand and thus juice the economy. But the money doesn't sprout from trees in Tim Geithner's backyard. Any funds it wants to spend, the government will have to borrow. The people who lend the money will no longer have it to spend. So the total amount of spending may not change much, if at all.

Timing is another glitch. Putting crews to work on roads and bridges doesn't happen overnight—plans have to be approved, bids have to be solicited and contracts have to be signed. The Department of Transportation says that even with projects that are primed and ready, only one-fourth of the money gets spent in the first year. By the time an infrastructure program gets rolling, the downturn will almost certainly be shrinking in the rearview mirror.

If there are worthy projects out there, now is a good time to do them. But all we should expect in return is a better infrastructure a few years from now, not a stronger economy next May.

Tax cuts also promise disappointment. The Bush administration claimed its 2001 tax cut had a tonic effect on a weak economy, but it turns out that most of the money went to increase savings or reduce debt, not to unleash spending. Likewise with this year's tax rebates.

Even some experts who favor keeping tax rates low doubt that extending the Bush tax cuts beyond 2010 would do anything for the economy right now. "As a tool for dealing with this crisis, I don't know," Nobel Laureate economist Robert Lucas of the University of Chicago told me. "It's misleading to advertise them as an anti-recession device."

In fact, it's misleading to advertise any fiscal policy as an anti-recession device. University of California, Berkeley economist Alan Auerbach examined all the different tools that have been tried in the last 50 years and found "little evidence that these effects have provided a significant contribution to economic stabilization, if in fact they have worked in the right direction at all."

"Anatomy of a Breakdown:  Concerted government policy helped trigger the financial meltdown—and will almost certainly extend it," by Michael Flynn, Reason Magazine, January 2009 ---

Are the model builders having fun yet?

"How Scientists Helped Cause Our Financial Crisis," by John Carney, ClusterStock, November 25, 2008 --- 

In retrospect, the financial planning by our most sophisticated financial institution looks incredibly stupid. Merrill Lynch never included in its plans the risk that its counterparties could demand more collateral. Citigroup proceeded to dive headlong into the mortgage market on the assumption that a national housing decline was impossible. Everyone, it seems, failed to guard against the risk that they might be forced to sell assets to raise capital during a downturn. So it's worth asking: how did so many rich guys get so dumb?

If we're really cynical about it we'd say: they weren't dumb. They took huge risks, got paid immense amounts and the worst that happened is they lost their job. A few guys with hundreds of millions now have dozens of millions instead. Give them a few years, or even a few months, and many of them will be back in the drivers seat again, at a new bank or a hedge fund. Even the public scorn attached to bank failures is vague and undirected. Except for a few CEOs, almost no one is living with a scarlet letter attached to their name.

But a good many of these guys and gals probably thought they were making the right decisions. One of the reasons they thought that was because the super-smart math dudes and physicists they hired told them that they had calculated the risks involved in various positions and proved that everything would be okay.

Scientific American, in an editorial, blasts the "quants" and other scientists who helped contribute to this horrendous financial destruction.

The causes of this fiasco are multifold—the Federal Reserve’s easy-money policy played a big role—but the rocket scientists and geeks also bear their share of the blame. After the crash, the quants and traders they serve need to accept the necessity for a total makeover. The government bailout has already left the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve with extraordinary powers. The regulators must ensure that the many lessons of this debacle are not forgotten by the institutions that trade these securities. One important take-home message: capital safety nets (now restored) should never be slashed again, even if a crisis is not looming.

For its part, the quant community needs to undertake a search for better models—perhaps seeking help from behavioral economics, which studies irrationality of investors’ decision making, and from virtual market tools that use “intelligent agents” to mimic more faithfully the ups and downs of the activities of buyers and sellers. These number wizards and their superiors need to study lessons that were never learned during previous market smashups involving intricate financial engineering: risk management models should serve only as aids not substitutes for the critical human factor. Like an airplane, financial models can never be allowed to fly solo.

Melissa Lafsky, who writes the Reality Based blog for Discover magazine, seconds this condemnation and call for reform. "In other words, maybe we should start calculating risk using models that take into account actual human behavior, as opposed to some nebulous dreamland where markets don’t freeze solid and eras don’t go down in a haze of napalm," she writes.

Bob Jensen's threads on the obsession of academic accounting researchers with mathematical models ---

Bob Jensen's threads on the financial crisis are at

The End of the American Dream

"After 'GD2' in 2011, a 100-year bear market?" by Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch, November 28, 2008 --- Click Here

Nightmare scenario No. 1:
No exit, a never-ending disaster Remember former Goldman Chairman John Whitehead? He "sees" a tragic ending: This Reagan Deputy Secretary of State and former New York Fed chairman "sees" America burning through trillions, over many years: "Nothing but large increases in the deficit ... worse than the Depression." See previous Paul B. Farrell. He worries that "tomorrow is the day Moody's and S&P will announce a downgrade of U.S. government bonds." Politicians and public are delusional, promising huge new programs plus tax cutting: "This is a road to disaster.' Like Sartre's existential tragedy, "No Exit," he says: "I don't see a solution." If this dialogue emerged in "Rashomon," deep in the forest, I could "see" Whitehead pointing a finger at Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, accusing him of terrible deeds.

Nightmare scenario No. 2:
Washington's unsustainable deficits True to the "Rashomon" narrative Warren Buffett "sees" America sinking in a swamp of unsustainable debt to justify our excessive spending -- government, consumer, corporate. Remember Buffett's famous farmer's story: "We were taught in Economics 101 that countries could not for long sustain large, ever-growing trade deficits." America "has been behaving like an extraordinarily rich family that possesses an immense farm. In order to consume 4% more than they produce, that's the trade deficit, we have, day by day, been both selling pieces of the farm and increasing the mortgage on what we still own." See previous Paul B. Farrell. Like his farmers, we borrowed $700 billion a year to live high on the hog, selling off American assets. Now foreign sovereign funds own trillions of our assets. Today Uncle Warren's story is less a children's fairy tale and more a "Rashomon" tragedy.

Nightmare scenario No. 3:
The endless 100-year bear market Robert Prechter's a brilliant market forecaster and editor of the Elliott Wave Theorist newsletter. As early as 1978 he predicted the "raging bull market of the 1980s." Many laughed. Then tech roared and he became "Guru of the Decade." In the "Rashomon" cast he's credible. And ahead again: He "saw" the future in his "At the Crest of the Wave: A Forecast of the Great Bear Market." Today's darkening markets ride his "wave" theories: Rapidly unfolding, accelerating and intensifying economic cycles. First the dot-com crash, then the subprime housing bull, the credit meltdown, now the coming "Great Depression 2." In the '90s, Prechter had another vision from deep in the forest. Again we ignored him. No more. The same wisdom that let him "see" the 1980's bull years before it took off, may accurately predict the coming 100-year bear market well ahead of time. See previous Paul B. Farrell.

Nightmare scenario No. 4:
Pentagon 'warfare defines human life' In "Rashomon" they see all, we nothing. In courtrooms, lawyers deceive, suppress the truth. Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke are masters of deception in the courtroom of public opinion, as descendents of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. One intentional leak (obviously designed as a tactic to stoke public fear and create budget support for the DOD's war machine) surfaced in the early days of the Iraq War. Fortune analyzed a classified military report, the Pentagon's "Weather Nightmare:" "Climate could change radically and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues ... massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes ... by 2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening ... an old pattern could emerge; warfare defining human life." See previous Paul B. Farrell. Today, as a "Great Depression" and a "100-year Bear Market" become more real than a "Rashomon" sequel, ask yourself: Are there too many people? Too few resources? Too many competing special interests? In America? Worldwide? Are we all too greedy to compromise? Are we then left vulnerable to Paulson's multiple Reaganomics "weapons of financial mass destruction," land mines surviving his exit in bailout "sleeper cells," left to sabotage government budgets, taxpayers and the future of America?

Today's news suggests we may already be there, for the population explosion is the mother of all bubbles, a "nuclear" bomb that will explode all other bubbles, ushering onto the "Rashomon" stage a reality far beyond a 100-year bear, on a desolate, post-apocalyptic WALL-E planet Earth. See previous Paul B. Farrell.

Nightmare scenario No. 5:

The Earth supports 6.5 billion people. The United Nations predicts there will be 9.1 billion by 2050, all competing against 400 million Americans for ever-scarcer resources. The L.A. Times says that a U.N. report "paints a near-apocalyptic vision of Earth's future: hundreds of millions of people short of water, extreme food shortages in Africa, a landscape ravaged by floods and millions of species sentenced to extinction." Today's news suggests we may already be there, for the population explosion is the mother of all bubbles, a "nuclear" bomb that will explode all other bubbles, ushering onto the "Rashomon" stage a reality far beyond a 100-year bear, on a desolate, post-apocalyptic WALL-E planet Earth.

Nightmare scenario No. 6:
Star Trek's bold new 'end of days' One "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode haunts me, much like "Rashomon." In it past and future collide. Set in the 23rd century, "Inner Light" gives us a brief end-of-days look at the star-crossed future of two civilizations, one boldly exploring new worlds, the other leaving behind but a small sad trace of its mysterious disappearance. Two planets, which is our metaphor? See previous Paul B. Farrell. The Enterprise encounters a probe floating in space. Suddenly an energy beam zaps Captain Picard. He wakes up on an alien planet. Recovering from a fever he is "Kamin," can't recognize his "wife." Friends think he's delusional, mumbling about being a starship captain. Trapped in this parallel universe, time passes. Memories of his prior life fade. He falls in love with his wife, raises a family, kids, grandkids, lives the peaceful life he only imagined in space. But his new planet's resources gradually disappear. Temperatures rise. Water scarcer. Desert lands spread. The Pentagon scenario? Near the end, he watches a missile soar into space, an intergalactic time capsule, a final record of a once-great civilization. Suddenly the probe turns off. Picard awakes on floor of the Enterprise bridge. Twenty minutes passed. Engine power returns. They continue boldly going where no one has gone before, left with memories of a simple life on a dying planet that vanished eons ago. Ask yourself: Are we boldly going anywhere? Will someone, someday be reading our probe?

Nightmare scenario No. 7:
No-Growth Economics vs. Neo-Capitalism While Goldman former Chairman Whitehead gave up, there is still a solution, one way to dodge the "Great Depression 2," the "100-Year Bear." I reviewed this scenario in a recent issue of Adbusters magazine, where legendary economist Herman Daly was recently named "Man of the Year." The Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy" says this new greener economic theory calls for "stabilized population and consumption. Such stability means that the amount of resource throughput and waste disposal remains roughly constant." In this theory, all systems are in balance. "The key features of a steady state economy are: sustainable scale, in which economic activities fit within the capacity provided by ecosystems; fair distribution of wealth; and efficient allocation of resources." This new economics may be what sustains the Star Trek culture in the 23rd century, but unfortunately, it is unlikely to get broad support in today's free market Reaganomics capitalism, let alone support from America's political parties or any sovereign nations in today's highly competitive international arena ... at least not until we've gone past the point of no return, like that mysterious planet recorded on the probe discovered in the 23rd century by Star Trek's Captain Picard. As in "Rashomon," we "see" many competing scenarios, "seen" through many competing "eyes.' Yet, for the victims, the end game is always tragically irreversible. We may, however, find some comfort in the "wave theory," for all waves emerge, ripple, oscillate, accelerate until they inevitably self-destruct and fade. Earth appears destined to accelerate to 9 billion ... exhausting Earth's resources ... in a self-destructive Pentagon global warfare scenario ... driven by another Great Depression ... and 100-year bear market. In the end Whitehead said it all: "This is a road to disaster ... I don't see a solution." Probe dims, fade to black. Or will we finally wake up ... and take command of our starship?

"Reinventing the American Dream," by Christopher Jencks, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 17, 2008 --- 

A Sobering Paper from the University of Pennsylvania
"Think the Credit Crisis Is Bad? Coalition Sees Bigger Problems Down the Road,"  Knowledge@Wharton, October 29, 2008 ---;jsessionid=9a30144044b07a406280?articleid=2077

"Debtor Nation," by Clive Crook, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 24, 2008 --- 

Our National Debt is out of control ---

Our unbooked obligations for entitlement programs are out of control ---

Bob Jensen's threads on the reinventing the American Dream ---

"Probing Question: Did Shakespeare really write all those plays?" by Alexa Stevenson, PhysOrg, December 4, 2008 ---

“Lunacy,” says Patrick Cheney, Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature, gesturing to the early twentieth-century inventor of the Oxford theory, J. Thomas Looney. “The Shakespeare authorship controversy is all conspiracy. Not a single reputable scholar I know has the least doubt that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the plays and poems ascribed to him.”

One of the chief arguments of those who doubt his authorship is that Shakespeare lacked the education and experience to have produced such a wide-ranging body of work. Not so, argues Cheney, noting that William Shakespeare had a superior education, some of it acquired from grammar school in Stratford, but much expanded upon as an adult. Adds Cheney, research shows that even in a pre-library age, Shakespeare had a good deal of access to books. “Shakespeare was not simply a genius; he was by all accounts a voracious reader: the plots from nearly all his plays and poems come from books.”

As for lacking experience, anti-Stratfordians (as the authorship doubters are sometimes called) usually point to scenes featuring royals or to plays set in foreign countries, and argue that a provincial commoner such as Shakespeare could not have been familiar enough with these topics to have written his worldly plays. Cheney is not impressed by such arguments. “Neither royalty nor international travel has ever been a prerequisite for good fiction,” he notes. “As a member of a royal acting company, Shakespeare had plenty of opportunity to experience the courts of sovereigns first-hand. And as an avid reader of history, he could certainly re-create a foreign country in his fictions.”

The most popular of the anti-Stratfordian theories is that the plays attributed to Shakespeare were written by the Earl of Oxford. However, explains Cheney, Oxford died in 1604, and significant evidence indicates that some of Shakespeare’s work was produced years later. (For instance, The Tempest was influenced by a voyage to the Americas that did not occur until 1610). “The case for Oxford depends on the erasure of history,” says Cheney.

The entire authorship controversy itself “is a product of modernity,” he adds, noting, “For over two hundred years after Shakespeare’s death, it did not occur to anyone to challenge his authorship.”

Explains Cheney, the rising middle class of the nineteenth century could not believe that a mere country stripling could have written what scholar Stephen Greenblatt calls “the most important body of imaginative literature of the last thousand years.” But those who can’t believe that a man with a grammar-school education wrote these plays and poems overlook a sobering fact of literary history: the inventors of modern English literature were overwhelmingly from the working class. “Not only was Shakespeare the son of a glover, but Ben Jonson was the son of bricklayer, and Edmund Spenser the son of a tailor, while Christopher Marlowe was the son of a butcher,” says Cheney. “The case for the Earl of Oxford is about the belief of class-conscious gentlemen that only an aristocrat could produce great works of literature. Perhaps we should let Spenser, Marlowe, and Jonson know.”

Cheney believes there is an important question now being asked about Shakespeare’s authorship, and it has nothing to do with the Earl of Oxford. Instead, it asks what kind of author William Shakespeare really was. “Was he a consummate businessman concerned only with the commercial success of his acting company, or was he also a literary poet-playwright who cared about preserving his artistic legacy?” In two recent books, Cheney has tried to reclassify Shakespeare as at once a man of the theater and a writer with a literary career: “Our fullest understanding of Shakespeare needs to come to terms with both.”

Says Cheney: “It is true, when students come into my Shakespeare courses, they typically want to ask only a single question: ‘Did Shakespeare really write all his plays?’ When they leave, I hope they’re more inclined to ask, ‘How did it come to be that the world’s greatest man of the theater also penned some of the most extraordinary poems in English?’ Shakespeare wrote those plays—and poems. Read them; see them: listen to them. They are our great cultural inheritance, the real legacy of William Shakespeare.”

Source: By Alexa Stevenson, Research Penn State


Is the stock market down to where it should be on average?
Or put in another way, is the Fed at great inflationary risk trying to blow the bubble back up too quickly?

From Jim Mahar's Blog, December 3, 2008 ---

How Stocks Have Returned 10% Per Year

After Henry Blodget from Clusterstock was on NPR saying that stocks were back to "fair value" (i.e. their long run average), he had a listener email him about how the 10% annual return in stocks is found. His answer is below:

How Stocks Have Returned 10% Per Year:
"...the 10% number includes dividends, which is the way people normally look at stock market returns. On a pure price basis, returns have been far lower.

In fact, here's an approximate breakdown of the 10% average return for the last 80 years:

4 points: Dividends
2 points: Real EPS growth
3 points: Inflation (reflected in EPS growth)
1 point: Multiple expansion


Now that stocks have finally dropped back to fair value again, I think  the long-term return from here is likely to be in the average range again. The multiple expansion might not continue, and dividends are currently about 3%, not 4%, so it could be lower. But the dividend payout ratio could rise again, and it may be that structural changes (more cash-efficient services companies vs. low-return-on-capital industrial companies) will lead to continued PE expansion"

Bob Jensen's threads on the 2008 financial crisis are at

"Random House to digitize thousands of books," The Washington Post, November 24, 2008 ---

With e-book sales exploding in an otherwise sleepy market, Random House Inc. announced Monday that it was making thousands of additional books available in digital form, including novels by John Updike and Harlan Coben, as well as several volumes of the "Magic Treehouse" children's series.

Random House CEO Markus Dohle said in a statement that "more people everyday are enjoying reading in the electronic format and Random House wants to extend our reach to them with more of our books."

The publisher already has more than 8,000 books in the electronic format and will have a digital library of nearly 15,000. The new round of e-books is expected to be completed within months; excerpts can be viewed online through the publisher's Insight browsing service.

With e-book sales exploding in an otherwise sleepy market, Random House Inc. announced Monday that it was making thousands of additional books available in digital form, including novels by John Updike and Harlan Coben, as well as several volumes of the "Magic Treehouse" children's series.

Random House CEO Markus Dohle said in a statement that "more people everyday are enjoying reading in the electronic format and Random House wants to extend our reach to them with more of our books."

The publisher already has more than 8,000 books in the electronic format and will have a digital library of nearly 15,000. The new round of e-books is expected to be completed within months; excerpts can be viewed online through the publisher's Insight browsing service.

"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.”

Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books are at 

Now students and faculty can print at high speeds their own copies of many books found in the library

Millions upon millions of literature and scientific classics are now available free online ---
Most can be printed as well as read online.

But in specialized fields like accountancy, our classics are seldom available online. Now it is possible for our colleges to print hard copies of virtually any classic or other book where there are no copyright restrictions at a clip of about 15 minutes per book. This allows educators such as accounting educators to adopt supplementary books for courses at reasonable prices.

First watch the Expresso Book Machine Video ---

Then read about the Expresso Book Machine ---

The New York Public Library put the first Expresso Book Machine into operation ---

"New Machines Reproduce Custom Books on Demand," by Lisa Guernsey, Inside Higher Ed, December 5, 2008 ---

If you wonder what the future of book publishing might look, smell, and sound like, head north to the University of Alberta's bookstore in Edmonton. There a $144,000 machine is churning out made-to-order paperbacks at a cost of a penny a page.

It's the Espresso Book Machine, which converts digital files into bound books, one order at a time, in under 15 minutes. The contraption smells like glue, looks like a couple of copy machines attached to a cabinet, and emits its share of clunking and thunking sounds, said Jacqui Wong, the machine's operator, who calls it her "baby."

At least seven Espressos are in operation, several on college campuses. Instead of publishers' printing thousands of books and hoping some of them will find buyers — and losing money when they don't — the machine prints on demand. Customers can submit an order for, say, an old textbook or a copy of a 19th-century classic, and walk out with it several minutes later.

But the machine has limitations. It cannot print just any book. Copyright law limits the books that can be offered, the texts must be PDF's, and it can take days to get a repairman when something breaks.

The company behind the device is called On Demand Books. Founded in 2003, On Demand is the brainchild of Jason Epstein, former editorial director of Random House, who saw the machine's prototype in 1999 in a warehouse in St. Louis, where it was built by the inventor Jeff Marsh. The company's chief executive is Dane Neller, former chief executive of the gourmet food distributor Dean & Deluca.

"Our business proposition is to make books available anywhere, in any language, immediately," Mr. Neller says.

Todd Anderson, the University of Alberta's bookstore manager, says "tens of thousands" of books have been printed since the machine arrived last November.

He says orders come from multiple sources: Some professors order out-of-print textbooks to keep costs low for students. Others order classics, scanned with their own handwritten notes in the margins. Some customers want bound copies of book sections, like the first 10 chapters of a 20-chapter book. Hobbyists make custom books for gifts. A science-fiction writer used it to self-publish his first novel.

"I get calls on this every day," says Mr. Anderson, who adds that revenue is streaming in. "It's a symbol for change."

He can print an 800-page, out-of-print chemistry textbook for $18, he said, and sell it for $37, making a tidy profit. (Yet the price is well below what the text would cost elsewhere.) Mr. Anderson said he has already run off and sold tens of thousands of books, earning well over the cost of the machine.

Laws and Repairs

In addition to the technical restrictions, however, U.S. copyright regulations require that books be in the public domain (which includes anything printed before 1922), or that the copyright holder must grant permission for reprinting. Canadian law offers more avenues for reproduction under copyright, which may explain why two Canadian universities — Alberta and McMaster University, in Ontario — are among the sites using the machine. Printers in Canada must pay a royalty fee of no more than $10 for each copy of an out-of-print book, Mr. Anderson says. The law requires books in print to carry a royalty of no more than 10.3 cents per page.

The machine is not immune to glitches that come with human error and the wearing down of mechanical parts.

The University of Michigan Library bought one this summer with alumni donations and started using it in October, within a few steps of Shapiro Library's coffee shop. But the machine has been shut down twice for repairs. Several dozen requests have come in, but only a few have been fulfilled so far, says Terri Geitgey, the digital-projects librarian who is taking the orders.

Because so few people know how to repair it, waits for service can take several days, says Maria Bonn, the library's director of scholarly publishing. But she emphasizes that On Demand Books has been "very responsive."

Mr. Neller explained the Michigan glitches. "It was a programming error and one of the cutting sticks was misaligned," he says, adding that version 2.0, which became available this month, incorporates a Xerox machine that can be repaired, or unjammed, by anyone with Xerox training. The new machine is also more compact, with dimensions similar to those of a large copy machine.

The Michigan library may be in a prime position to produce public-domain books. It is part of the HathiTrust, a recently announced repository of two million digitized books shared among the universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (which includes the Big Ten research universities), the University of California's campuses, and the University of Virginia.

Printing Books at the Library

"We'd like to get to a point where, when you are looking through the catalog, you see three options for each book," Ms. Bonn says. "Do you want to check it out? Do you want to view it online? Or do you want to buy your own copy?" Michigan's prices are $6 for a book under 16 pages and $10 for a longer one.

It might sound strange for a library to be printing and selling books, but Ms. Bonn says the library's goal is no different than it always has been: making books accessible.

The lines between publishers, printers, bookshops and libraries were already blurring. With the book machine, they may be scrambled up, too. At Alberta, for example, Mr. Anderson expected to be printing mostly course packs and was surprised to find that self-publishers have been among his most frequent customers.

Now, with the machine hitting its first birthday, Mr. Anderson is considering buying a second one. "It paid for itself in 11 months," he says.

Free Electronic Literature ---

Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books are at 

If you absolutely despise Blackboard's attempts to get royalties from every distance education course in the world, even if it does not use Blackboard, you've gotta love this one if Blackboard loses in court

"Blackboard Sues U.S. Patent Office," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 2008 ---

Just when you thought the patent fight over course-management software couldn’t get any more confusing, Blackboard Inc. went to federal court to sue the United States Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to overturn a recent decision concerning Blackboard’s controversial patent on course-management software.

The issue at stake is who decides whether or not Blackboard’s patent is valid. Right now the patent is being challenged on two fronts:

Blackboard clearly wants the final decision to rest with the courts, where it has received the most favorable verdicts. Its new lawsuit, filed late last month against the patent office and Jon W. Dudas, the office’s director, seeks to overturn the patent office’s recent decision to continue its review of the patent’s validity while the court challenge goes on. Blackboard argues that once a court ruling about a patent is issued, the patent office should end any reexamination of that patent. The patent office has ruled that its reexamination will only end once a final verdict in court is issued, meaning only after all possible appeals are pursued.

Michael Feldstein, a blogger who has been tracking the Blackboard patent battle, argues that Blackboard’s latest action muddies the company’s efforts to display a greater willingness to make its software work with that of competitors. For instance, Blackboard has announced that future releases of its course-management software will allow colleges to synchronize with Sakai and with Moodle, two open-source alternatives.

“Regardless of the legal merits, the fact that Blackboard continues to assert the patent heavily undermines their new marketing message of openness,” wrote Mr. Feldstein. “I don’t understand why they still think this strategy is a winner.”

But Bruce Wieder, a partner with the Washington law firm Dow Lohnes who is watching the case, said that Blackboard’s latest move was not that unusual. “It’s not typical, but it’s not outrageous,” he said.

Blackboard issued a statement today saying that its latest action is “not an effort to stop the overall re-examination,” and that the company “remains confident in the re-examination process.” Company officials could not be reached for further comment.

Diane M. Lank, Desire2Learn’s in-house lawyer, said in an interview Tuesday that “it is rather clear that Blackboard doesn’t like the patent office since the reexamination started.”

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard are at

"Project Works to Format Textbooks for Disabled Students," by Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 5, 2008 ---

It’s tough enough to afford textbooks these days. Students with disabilities that make it hard to read standard type sizes face another challenge: getting textbooks in formats they can use.

The Association of American Publishers and the Alternative Media Access Center, part of the University System of Georgia, have come up with a way to help: AccessText Network, a “membership exchange network” that will serve as a clearinghouse for publishers and campus-based disability-service offices.

The idea, as the project’s Web site describes it, is to “facilitate and support the nationwide delivery of alternative files for students with diagnosed print-related disabilities.” AccessText will be a conduit for information about what is available and in what formats. Campus disability offices will be able to convey that information to students, who can then order what best fits their needs.

Eventually AccessText will charge a nominal membership fee. Several big textbook publishers — including Bedford/St. Martin’s, Cengage Learning, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson, Reed Elsevier, and W.W. Norton — have agreed to foot the bill for the next year or so.

Christopher M. Lee, director of the Alternative Media Access Center, is leading the project. The lack of a coordinated network has been hard not just on students but on colleges’ disability-service offices, whose staff members put a lot of time and money into converting standard textbooks, he said.

“The cost, the time, the lack of a systemized approach, the lack of education on what is alternative media and what is assisted media — the education piece needs to be better,” Mr. Lee said. “I’d say we have a long way to go, and AccessText will definitely push us several steps forward.”

Bob Jensen's threads on tools of the trade for handicapped students are at

December 2, 2008 message from


"In both friendship-driven and interest-driven online activity, youth create and navigate new forms of expression and rules for social behavior. In the process, young people acquire various forms of technical and media literacy by exploring new interests, tinkering, and 'messing around' with new forms of media."

"Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project" by Mizuko Ito et al. summarizes the findings of a three-year MacArthur Foundation study of 800 young people and their use of new media. The study sought answers to two research questions:

"How are new media being integrated into youth practices and agendas?"

"How do these practices change the dynamics of youth-adult negotiations over literacy, learning, and authoritative knowledge?"

Some of the study's implications for education include:

"Rather than seeing socializing and play as hostile to learning, educational programs could be positioned to step in and support moments when youth are motivated to move from friendship-driven to more interest-driven forms of new media use."

"Peer-based learning has unique properties that suggest alternatives to formal instruction. . . . the focus of learning and engagement is not defined by institutional accountabilities but rather emerges from kids' interests and everyday social communication."

". . . [R]ather than assuming that education is primarily about preparing for jobs and careers, what would it mean to think of education as a process of guiding kids' participation in public life more generally, a public life that includes social, recreational, and civic engagement?"

The paper is available at 

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation launched a five-year digital media and learning initiative in 2006 "to help determine how digital media are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life." For more information about the initiative, go to  or visit the Spotlight blog at 



"While an abundance of research exists on best practices in the face-to-face classroom, the same is not true for online learning. In this new and constantly evolving environment, researchers are just beginning to understand what constitutes effective learning strategies."

The paper "Student Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Group and Individualized Feedback in Online Courses" (FIRST MONDAY, vol. 13, no. 11, November 3, 2008), by Phil Ice, et al., reports on a study that examined the effectiveness of instructors' feedback to students in a graduate-level online course. The study revealed that the majority of master's level students "place a much higher value on individualized feedback and believe it is much more effective in helping them understand relevant topics." Doctoral students, however, found group feedback more informative as it "was related to these students' desire to compare and contrast their work with syntheses provided by the instructor."

The paper is available at 

First Monday [ISSN 1396-0466] is an online, peer-reviewed journal whose aim is to publish original articles about the Internet and the global information infrastructure. It is published in cooperation with the University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago. For more information, contact: First Monday, c/o Edward Valauskas, Chief Editor, PO Box 87636, Chicago IL 60680-0636 USA; email:; Web: 



Charles W. Bailey, Jr., publisher of Digital Scholarship has a new publication, "Author's Rights, Tout de Suite," which is "designed to give journal article authors a quick introduction to key aspects of author's rights and to foster further exploration of this topic though liberal use of relevant references to online documents and links to pertinent Web sites." The document is available at 

Bailey's other publications include:


"Google Book Search Bibliography"

"Open Access Bibliography"

"Electronic Theses and Dissertations Bibliography"

These documents and Bailey's other publications are available at 



The EDUCAUSE association recently announced several publications on higher education and information technology.


The e-book "examines the impact of IT on higher education and on the IT organization in higher education."


"The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008" 

This EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) study "is a longitudinal extension of the 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 ECAR studies of students and information technology . . . based on quantitative data from a spring 2008 survey of 27,317 freshmen and seniors at 90 four-year institutions and eight two-year institutions."


"A Guide for the Perplexed: Libraries and the Google Library Project Settlement" 

Discusses the recent Google Library Project settlement between Google, the Authors Guild, and the Association of American Publishers.


New additions to the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative's (ELI) "7 Things You Should Know About..." series
( ) include:

Flip Cameras 

Ustream -- interactive web streaming platform 

Zotero -- a research tool that "provides users with automated access to bibliographic information for online resources" 

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. The current membership comprises more than 1,900 colleges, universities, and educational organizations, including 200 corporations, with 15,000 active members. EDUCAUSE has offices in Boulder, CO, and Washington, DC. Learn more about EDUCAUSE at

Continued in article

How the Brain Deals With Information Overload

"Attention Must Be Paid," by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed, November 26, 2008 --- 

Actually looking at the e-mail would no doubt have informed me that it was a matter of paying a modest fee to some enterprising soul, probably in the Cayman Islands. Instead, I deleted this message on the basis of the subject line alone, along with a dozen other such communications. Meanwhile, my eyeballs were unwittingly drawn to a video loop of a woman screaming in terror – horrified at high credit card interest rates, which she could reduce via a company that advertises with my e-mail provider.

Then my cell phone emitted a short burst of music, announcing that someone had just left a text message.

All par for the course, of course. (At least I wasn’t driving.) The demands on our attention have now become a matter for professional expertise: An organization for specialists, the Information Overload Research Group, was formally incorporated as a nonprofit this summer and held its first conference in August. A substantial technical literature on interruption now exists. And one recent consideration of the world economic crisis suggests it has been exacerbated by all the data now sloshing around the globe: “We have far too much information today and that impedes our decision-making abilities and throttles our ability to resolve crises.”

The weak link in the information age seems to be our human hard-wiring. So one gathers from The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory (Oxford University Press) by Torkel Klingberg, who is a professor of developmental cognitive neuroscience at the Stockholm Brain Institute. A review of recent research on how attention and memory actually function within our gray matter, it is a work of scientific popularization rather than a handbook on how to minimize the cognitive drain of distraction.

But there may be some advantage to knowing how the systems in our heads actually operate – and it is Klingberg’s contention that, in spite of everything, those systems may actually benefit from the sometimes excessive demands our environments now place on our capacity to process the data flux. The human brain itself has not changed much in either anatomy or volume over the past 40,000 years. So at one level it seems natural that we should experience a cognitive bottleneck in handling the masses of information being hurled at us daily.

To simplify Klingberg’s already pared-down analysis, we can distinguish between two kinds of attention. One is controlled attention: the directed effort to apply one’s concentration to a particular task. The other is stimulus-driven attention, which is an involuntary response to something happening in the environment. (You can tune out the conversations going on around you in a restaurant. But if a waiter drops a tray full of dishes, it is going to impose itself on your awareness.)

But it’s not as if these forms of attention are – as it may seem – different manifestations of the same state of consciousness: researchers have found from tests that the controlled and stimulus-driven attention “seem fairly independent of one another,” says Klingberg, which may mean “that there are different parts of the brain, or different brain processes” involved in them.

Likewise, there is a distinction between the kind of memory that allows you to recall an event from five years ago and a set of information connected with a problem you are trying to solve. Your recollections of yesteryear are part of long-term memory, which can be mysteriously capacious. By contrast, there are definite limitations on how much task-oriented data can be held in your “working memory.” (Evidently there are grounds for debate among researchers over whether or not this is the same as “short-term memory,” but we’ll just stick to Klingberg’s preferred usage.)

As with the forms of attention, the distinction between long-term and working memory corresponds to different processes within the brain, occurring within different parts of its geography. But there is evidence that (as you might expect) working memory and controlled attention are closely related. People who score lower on tests for the ability to retain information in their working memory tend to have more difficulty in focusing attention on a complex task. “It might not come as too much of a surprise,” says Klingberg, “to find that working memory capacity correlates highly with reading comprehension.”

Klingberg reports that a two-year study in his lab showed that it was possible to increase working-memory capacity: “children who had done a certain type of computerized memory task, such as remembering positions in a four-by-four grid and clicking a mouse button, improved at other, noncomputerized types of working memory too.... We had shown that the systems are not static and that the limits of working memory capacity can be stretched.”

Further study suggested that this improvement also corresponded to increased problem-solving skills. Our brains may still have many of the same fundamental limitations as the Cro-Magnon model, but there is also some degree of plasticity in how we can use and develop it.

Which brings us to Klingberg’s most surprising and even counterintuitive suggestion. Multitasking often threatens to overload the working memory. But at the same time, it’s clear that we can actually manage it, at least to some degree – reading a newspaper while walking on a treadmill, for example, and occasionally glancing up at the TV screen to see what’s breaking on CNN.

“There is, fortunately, no research suggesting that exposure to mentally more demanding or challenging situations impairs our powers of concentration,” writes Klingberg. “Indeed, there is much that points to the contrary: it is in situations that push the boundaries of our abilities that we train our brains the most.”

But even if our basic ability to process information is increasing, a growing “discrepancy between demand and capacity” may account for the common sense of losing focus.

“You are very possibly 10 percent better at talking on the phone while erasing spam today than you were three years ago. On the other hand, the number of e-mails you receive per day has probably shot up about 200 percent. There is, therefore, no contradiction between the feeling that your abilities are inadequate and the improvement of those abilities.”

Well, that is some comfort – if not much. It’s been said that the scarcest resource in an information society is not information but attention. Klingberg’s book, interesting as it is, does not leave the reader with any way around that. In any case, a great deal of the “information” (such as my Ph.D. offer this morning) turns out to be noise, rather than anything meaningful. It’s necessary to pay just enough attention to decide not to pay any more attention – a kind of catch-22.

Which is why it sometimes feels like one’s brain is being nibbled by carnivorous gnats. It would be good if Dr. Klingberg and his colleagues would apply themselves to finding a salve. Or better yet, a repellent.

Bob Jensen's threads on metacognition are at

The Where's My Professor Game at Brigham Young University

Why can this innovation probably be used only once for the full effect?
Hint:  In subsequent terms the basic approach can be used although students will by then know that the person in front is being paid to guide learning.

"The Antiprofessor Speaks Out," by Kerry Soper, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle Review (from the Chronicle of Higher Education), December 5, 2008 ---

Now that the old teaching model of "sage on the stage" has finally given way to the more progressive "guide at the side," academe is ready for another paradigm shift. In my classes, I have adopted a philosophy that I call "peer at the rear." Here's how I break down and then rebuild students' expectations of a healthy student-instructor relationship.

I start the first day of the semester at the back of the classroom — literally. Students have no idea that I'm the professor. I pull this off by wearing clothes from Old Navy, sporting a backward baseball cap, and texting nonsense on a cellphone. If anyone tries to talk to me, I am prepared with gossip about misbehaving celebrities or new alternative-music bands.

When the real prof (the old me) doesn't show up after about 15 minutes, I — as the pretend student — go ballistic. I loudly "diss" the administration, the academic system, and myself (the outdated teacher-me) and make a big show of riffling through the textbook and calling it a load of you-know-what before tossing it into the garbage can.

After I cool down a bit, some of the students usually start to leave. That's when I casually mention that I saw some "cruddy syllabus or something" up at the front of the class. Of course they dutifully grab the paper before heading off to their next old-fashioned lecture. To further undermine the credibility of the phantom, old-school professor in their eyes, I intentionally make this syllabus as obtuse, incomplete, and condescending as possible.

At the start of the next class (while still disguised as a hip, slouching student), I call out something like, "Well, dudes, it looks like Señor Soper's not gonna show; guess we'll just have to teach ourselves!" That's when the students really begin to take charge of their own education. Granted, they mostly just read the newspaper or talk about what they're going to eat when they get out of class, but I can see in the way they carry themselves a new sense of ownership over their ideas and lunch plans.

In the middle of this second class period, I crank up some techno music on the sound system while doing a popping and locking dance routine. In the middle of it, I write in giant letters on the board — "Psych! I'm your instructor!" — and take off my baseball cap, revealing my receding hairline. I can tell that some of the students are relieved, but I keep them off balance by donning iPod earbuds, resuming my dance, and pretending that I can't hear what they're saying.

If students get so frustrated that they start to leave, I tone things down a bit and reveal the details of my peer-at-the-rear philosophy. That includes doing an imitation of what my old teaching persona might have done, had he been there. After getting a taste of that pedagogical nerd, they seem to chill out a bit.

I lay the ground rules: They have to treat me as an equal, not an authority figure or even a knowledgeable mentor. This includes calling me by my first name (or a cool nickname like "Kerr Dawg" or "Super Soper") and greeting me with some kind of groovester handshake or laid-back fist bump. When that's settled, I throw up my hands, say, "Dudes, the class is yours!," and watch as the magic unfolds.

Eventually some of the more alert students will reluctantly organize themselves into study groups. This is a move in the right direction; they're no longer relying on a self-inflated "professor" to show them the way. But they're still full of predictably boring ideas, and so I do my best to disrupt their discussions with postmodern Socratic methods: walking around making annoying sounds; loudly interjecting Zen-like non sequiturs into their conversations ("he who dealt it, smelt it"); or standing behind someone while mouthing their words and mimicking their posture.

To get things going on especially slow days, I do have to facilitate a bit, but I like to keep it loose and open-ended. I might show some music-videoclips and maybe a segment from The Colbert Report, and then I'll just shrug my shoulders and say in a bored voice, "Wassup?" This may irritate students who are still addicted to oppressive educational methods, but that's my intention. Students need to be goaded to confront the fallacies of the industrial/pseudo-educational complex, such as "grades matter" and "professors know more than we do."

But educational misconceptions are so deeply embedded that a large number of my young friends get frustrated with my progressive methods; sometimes they even mount a campaign for a new instructor or to get me fired. Right on! At least they're passionate about an idea or cause — they're no longer passive robots.

Ultimately, though, my core objective is to become students' buddy — their "homey," as it were. I try to achieve that rapport by first turning their animosity toward deserving targets — anal parents, stuffy professors, and faceless administrators. Then I build my own egalitarian friendship with them in a number of relentlessly methodical ways: following them around after class, texting them weird gossip about my colleagues, forwarding them hilarious YouTube clips; and showing up at their apartments to eat snacks and "crank some Halo" on the Xbox.

Many of the students resist those overtures, probably because truly progressive changes always feel a little uncomfortable at first. But by midsemester I usually manage to convert even the most stalwart holdouts when I start undermining the university's "bogus" grading system. If students insist on handing in essays, I mock traditional evaluative judgments by writing nonsensical Beat poetry in the margins or by marking every third sentence with a shiny kindergarten star. Sometimes I even plagiarize random feedback from Wikipedia or SparkNotes, just to make a point.

If students insist on taking a test, I adopt Dadaistic strategies, like making them solve the kids' word jumble from the Sunday comics page in a ridiculously short amount of time ("Go! You've got 12 seconds!") or assigning draconian grades based only on penmanship. The latter traumatizes them until I make a big show of ripping up my grade book and feeding it through a portable shredder. In the end, they get to choose their own grade, of course. (Yes, it's usually an A, but as if they even care at that point.)

Surprisingly, my student evaluations aren't as stellar as you would expect. I get the occasional "You rock, dude," but for the most part, my new peers seem too anxious to fully embrace my antipedagogical persona. My colleagues, too, have been lukewarm about my methods, some of them even holding special meetings to gripe about the way I dress and the "chaos" I supposedly spread into their classrooms. And then, of course, there are the ninnies in the administration building who don't like the "grades" I give, the complaints they get from parents, and the way I rap and beat-box loudly across the campus.

But I'm confident that eventually my new paradigm will take hold and everyone will acknowledge that I was simply ahead of the curve. I do hope I'll be vindicated before the special-action committee at my university succeeds in firing me. But if I am fired, so be it. I'll be remembered as the Galileo of my time, the "antiprofessor" bold enough to give power back to the students, where it belongs. When our movement is large enough, no one will be able to take us down (or, rather, make us stand up). So as united peers, let us sit down in the rear and rock this old school!n

Kerry Soper is an associate professor in the department of humanities, classics, and comparative literature at Brigham Young University.

Jensen Comment
Perhaps without realizing it, perhaps Professor Soper's success with this is due to metacognition that comes with self-learning tasks. A somewhat similar and controversial pedagogy is used the the BAM approach to intermediate accounting ---
Years of experience with the BAM pedagogy shows that for some instructors it is a disaster despised by students, although other instructors can like Anthony Catanach can pull it off with award-winning success. It's very hard for teachers not to teach!

Not by Grace:  Government by Contractor Is a Dis"grace"

"Government by Contractor Is a Disgrace:  Many jobs are best left to federal workers," by Thomas Frank, The Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2008 ---

Back in 1984, the conservative industrialist J. Peter Grace was telling whoever would listen why government was such a wasteful institution.

One reason, which he spelled out in a book chapter on privatization, was that "government-run enterprises lack the driving forces of marketplace competition, which promote tight, efficient operations. This bears repetition," he wrote, "because it is such a profound and important truth."

And repetition is what this truth got. Grace trumpeted it in the recommendations of his famous Grace Commission, set up by President Ronald Reagan to scrutinize government operations looking for ways to save money. It was repeated by leading figures of both political parties, repeated by everyone who understood the godlike omniscience of markets, repeated until its veracity was beyond question. Turn government operations over to the private sector and you get innovation, efficiency, flexibility.

What bears repetition today, however, is the tragic irony of it all. To think that our contractor welfare binge was once rationalized as part of an efficiency crusade. To think that it was supposed to make government smaller.

As the George W. Bush presidency grinds to its close, we can say with some finality that the opposite is closer to the truth. The MBA president came to Washington determined to enshrine the truths of "market-based" government. He gave federal agencies grades that were determined, in part, on how abjectly the outfits abased themselves before the doctrine of "competitive sourcing." And, as the world knows, he puffed federal spending to unprecedented levels without increasing the number of people directly employed by the government.

Instead the expansion went, largely, to private contractors, whose employees by 2005 outnumbered traditional civil servants by four to one, according to estimates by Paul Light of New York University. Consider that in just one category of the federal budget -- spending on intelligence -- apparently 70% now goes to private contractors, according to investigative reporter Tim Shorrock, author of "Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing."

Today contractors work alongside government employees all across Washington, often for much better pay. There are seminars you can attend where you will learn how to game the contracting system, reduce your competition, and maximize your haul from good ol' open-handed Uncle Sam. ("Why not become an insider and share in this huge pot of gold?" asks an email ad for one that I got yesterday.) There are even, as Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, D.C., told me, "contractor employees -- lots of them -- whose sole responsibility is to dream up things the government needs to buy from them. The pathetic part is that often the government listens -- kind of like a kid watching a cereal commercial."

Some federal contracting, surely, is unobjectionable stuff. But over the past few years it has become almost impossible to open a newspaper and not read of some well-connected and obscenely compensated contractor foisting a colossal botch on the taxpayer. Contractors bungling the occupation of Iraq; contractors spinning the revolving door at the Department of Homeland Security; contractors reveling publicly in their good fortune after Hurricane Katrina.

At its grandest, government by contractor gives us episodes like the Coast Guard's Deepwater program, in which contractors were hired not only to build a new fleet for that service, but also to manage the entire construction process. One of the reasons for this inflated role, according to the New York Times, was the contractors' standing armies of lobbyists, who could persuade Congress to part with more money than the Coast Guard could ever get on its own. Then, with the billions secured, came the inevitable final chapter in 2006, with the contractors delivering radios that were not waterproof and ships that were not seaworthy.

Government by contractor also makes government less accountable to the public. Recall, for example, the insolent response of Erik Prince, CEO of Blackwater, when asked about his company's profits during his celebrated 2007 encounter with the House Oversight Committee: "We're a private company," quoth he, "and there's a key word there -- private."

So you and I don't get to know. We don't get to know about Blackwater's profits, we don't get to know about the effects all this has had on the traditional federal workforce, and we don't really get to know about what goes on elsewhere in the vast private industries to which we have entrusted the people's business.

President-elect Barack Obama, for his part, seems to be aware of the problems. He has promised to make public the amounts contractors spend on lobbying and to "reform," in general terms, the contracting system. But much more is required.

What Mr. Obama must give us is a Grace Commission in reverse, a massive investigation of the entire history of government by contractor. It is time for accountability on a grand scale, and only government has the power to deliver it. This is one job that cannot be contracted out.

"Judge Rules In Favor Of CCSU Student Expelled For Cheating," by Leretta Waldman, The Hartford Courant, December 4, 2008 ---,0,4033428.story

A Waterbury Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a New Milford man expelled from Central Connecticut State University in 2006 for cheating. In a decision issued late Wednesday, Judge Jane Scholl cited a preponderance of evidence supporting Matthew Coster's claim that it was another student, Cristina Duquette of Watertown, who took Coster's term paper on the holocaust, not the other way around.

Coster and his family brought the civil suit against Duquette to clear his name and recoup the over $25,000 they spent pursuing the case. CCSU officials have said they would reconsider their decision pending the outcome of the suit but to date nothing has been scheduled.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
What I found interesting is the fact that the student named Matthew Costner was expelled for a first-time offense. Most colleges are not currently expelling a student for the first-time plagiarizing of a term paper.

Bob Jensen's threads on plagiarism are at

From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on December 4, 2008

UAW Gives Concessions to Big Three
by Alex P. Kellogg, Matthew Dolan, Greg Hitt, Jeffrey McCracken and Mike Spector
The Wall Street Journal
Dec 04, 2008

Click here to view the full article on ---

TOPICS: Accounting, Budgeting, Cash Flow

SUMMARY: In preparation for presenting revised turnaround plans to Congress, Detroit's Big Three automakers have negotiated concessions from the United Auto Workers' union to delay cash payments for post-employment health benefits and to suspend the jobs bank program.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Questions focus on the cash budgeting implications of the negotiations with UAW and the requests for Congressional aid, asking students to differentiate cash flow problems from profitability issues.

1. (Introductory) Describe the need for cash by each of Detroit's Big Three automakers. How do these companies determine the cash that will be needed over the next 3 months to one year?

2. (Introductory) Why is the UAW negotiating terms of its contracts with the Big Three Detroit automakers? Are the industry labor contracts up for renewal? In your answer, comment on the union's relationship to all three major U.S. automobile producers.

3. (Advanced) "...The union [will] allow the companies to delay billions of dollars in payments into funds that will cover health-care cost for retired workers." Will this concession actually reduce the expense associated with providing post-employment health-care benefits? What help will it provide to the automakers?

4. (Introductory) "The union also will suspend a controversial 'jobs bank' program..." What is this program? How will suspending it help the Big Three weather the current crisis?

5. (Advanced) Ford Motor Co. is asking for a line of credit from Congress, while General Motors and Chrysler are asking for low-cost federal loans. If they are granted, what benefit will these plans provide? Will these government supports help to return the auto manufacturers to profitability?

6. (Advanced) "The Detroit makers insist bankruptcy isn't an option" but others disagree. What can be done through bankruptcy to help ensure that companies can emerge through this process?

7. (Advanced) What is an Altman Z score? What factors enter into this model? In your answer, be sure to define the term "Z score".

8. (Introductory) Why do you think Congress is particularly interested in an academic's view on this matter of support for the automakers?

9. (Introductory) Chrysler "is not viable in its current configuration" according to a former Chrysler executive, Jerome B. York. Why not? What has changed about his company's configuration? What about today's global economy has impacted this company?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island


"UAW Gives Concessions to Big Three:  Banking Chairman Dodd Is Tapped to Develop Rescue Package in Senate That Could Top $25 Billion," by Alex P. Kellogg, Matthew Dolan, Greg Hitt, Jeffrey McCracken and Mike Spector, The Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2008 ---

The United Auto Workers union Wednesday offered two major concessions to the Big Three auto makers, as Democratic leaders in the Senate intensified efforts to find compromise legislation that would throw a financial lifeline to the industry.

Late Wednesday, Senate Banking Chairman Christopher Dodd was tapped to develop a consensus rescue package that could be brought to the Senate floor next week. The Connecticut Democrat, who convenes a hearing Thursday on the industry's latest appeal for assistance, is to focus on legislation that would effectively create a bridge loan for the industry, by diverting funds from an existing loan program originally intended to help the industry retool to meet higher fuel economy standards. The senator would impose much tougher conditions on the aid than a bipartisan bill developed in the Senate last month, congressional aides said.

The goal of the initiative would be for the Senate to move ahead of the House, where deep divisions exist on the issue. The final cost of the package could exceed the $25 billion originally sought by lawmakers last month. And to fund the measure the senator is also expected to consider drawing on the $700 billion government pool created to rescue financial markets, to form a dual-source of funding for the automakers, congressional aides said.

Behind the moves is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who pressed Sen. Dodd Wednesday to move forward. Mr. Reid is trying to break a stalemate between Congress and White House on the issue. Sen. Reid declared that a Democratic-backed bill -- which would solely draw on the $700 billion market rescue fund -- couldn't pass Congress, signaling to rank-and-file Democrats that compromise would be needed to avoid another collapse of legislative efforts to help the industry.

The maneuvering comes as the Detroit companies are set to make a second appeal to Congress for a bailout, and underscores the importance of the UAW's willingness to consider additional concessions.

Two weeks after insisting his union had already done enough to help the car makers, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said the union would allow the companies to delay billions of dollars in payments into funds that will cover health-care costs for retired workers. The union also will suspend a "jobs bank" program under which workers continue to collect most of their wages after they are laid off.

"We're willing to take an extra step here," Mr. Gettelfinger said at a news conference after meeting with UAW leadership in Detroit.

The union move comes amid increasing concern about the future of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC, and whether the written restructuring plans they submitted to Congress on Tuesday go far enough to return the companies to financial health. Lawmakers gave a cautious welcome to the turnaround plans, but significant opposition remains to giving the companies a bailout.

On Wednesday, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said he was "very concerned" about the fate of GM and Chrysler after each told Congress it needed an immediate cash infusion to survive. GM said it needs $4 billion this month, and a total of $18 billion; Chrysler said it needs $7 billion by the end of the month.

"Each revelation by our competitors has been of growing concern," Mr. Mulally said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Ford has greater cash reserves than GM and Chrysler, and asked the government to extend a $9 billion credit line that it would tap only if the U.S. recession proves worse than expected or one of its competitors fails.

Mr. Mulally, along with the CEOs of GM and Chrysler and Mr. Gettelfinger, are due to testify Thursday and Friday before House and Senate committees on how they intend to use low-cost federal loans to reorganize. They appeared last month but lawmakers were unconvinced that they had sound recovery strategies and told them to submit new plans by Dec. 2.

If the House and Senate panels are persuaded by the new plans, lawmakers could reconvene next week to consider legislation to provide funds.

Car-industry representatives held a briefing for more than 100 congressional aides Wednesday. Their response was generally positive, with little of the hostility displayed by lawmakers last month when the CEOs of the three makers first testified before Congress, said one person in attendance.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D., Calif.), a critic of the Detroit auto companies, said the new plans were a big improvement. "The original plan was, 'We flew here on our jets, we have enough room on each jet for the cash, so where's the cash?'" Mr. Sherman said. "This is way better than that."

Continued in article

"General Motors: Myths And Reality," by Jerry Flint, Forbes, December 5, 2008 ---

Forget what some people in the media are saying. General Motors is not going out of business. Yes, the company is in a terrible crisis, but even if the business here completely fails, GM's foreign empire--in Europe, Brazil and China--will carry on the fight.

In Europe, General Motors (nyse: GM - news - people ) newest sedan, the Opel Insignia, just won "car of the year" from the Continent's car writers. GM's sales in Brazil and Argentina--574,000 cars and trucks in 10 months--are 20% ahead of last year. This company will endure, regardless of what happens in the U.S.

Another misunderstanding is that the high price of labor is the company's greatest problem. Yes, labor costs are high, but that $75 an hour includes benefits, such as Social Security and health care. Base pay rates in the non-union auto plants are quite similar to the union rates, but older, higher seniority workers get more. The foreigners also do not have any pension costs--yet.

Keep in mind that volume is the key cost factor in this industry. Run a factory at three shifts and sell every vehicle at top dollar and the profits are great. Run at 50% capacity and the losses are great, whether you are General Motors or Toyota Motor (nyse: TM - news - people ).

The greatest problem for any automaker is creating vehicles that win customers. Today, the industry faces a new challenge: credit. Dealers need credit to finance their inventories and customers need credit to buy new cars.

Another myth is that retraining will help if Detroit goes down. Retraining does not work. I know because I read it in The New York Times--and I remember because I wrote that story. The people who get the most out of retraining are those hired to do it. If the trainees are paid, then it is little more than extended unemployment compensation.

General Motors' great gamble is the Chevrolet Volt. If it flops, GM falls on its face, bailout or no bailout. Just do not ask if the Volt will make money. That is not the issue.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the bailout of automobile companies and other non-financial companies are at

"Former Diebold Sales Rep Settles Inside Trading Charges," Securities Law Prof Blog, November 26, 2008 --- 

On November 19, 2008, the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma entered final judgment against Robert G. Cole in SEC v. Cole, Civ 08-265 C (W.D. Okla.), an insider trading case the Commission filed on March 13, 2008. The Commission’s complaint alleged that Cole, a former sales representative for Diebold, Inc., made over $500,000 in illegal profits by using material, nonpublic information to trade Diebold securities. Diebold is an Ohio-based public company that manufactures and sells automated teller machines, bank security systems, and electronic voting machines.

The Commission’s complaint alleged that on September 15, 2005, shortly after learning from his sales manager that revenues and orders in Diebold’s North American regional bank business were significantly below target, Cole began purchasing hundreds of soon-to-expire Diebold put options contracts, at a total cost of $70,110, anticipating that Diebold would lower its earnings forecast and the price of Diebold stock would fall. As alleged in the complaint, on September 21, 2005 — one day after Cole completed purchasing these Diebold put option contracts — Diebold announced that it was lowering its earnings forecasts, primarily because of a revenue shortfall in the company’s North American regional bank business. After this public announcement, Diebold’s stock price dropped sharply, closing at $37.27 per share, which was a 16% drop from the previous day’s closing price of $44.13. As the complaint alleged, Cole immediately sold the Diebold put option contracts for $579,190, realizing illicit profits of $509,080 (a 700% return).

The Commission alleged that Cole violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. Without admitting or denying the allegations in the complaint, Cole consented to the entry of a final judgment that permanently enjoins him from future violations of these provisions, and orders him to disgorge his illicit profits of $509,080, which will be deemed satisfied by a forfeiture order entered in a related criminal case. In that case, U.S. v. Robert Cole, No. 5:08-CR-327 (N.D. Ohio), Cole pled guilty to a felony charge of securities fraud, and was sentenced to a prison term of 1 year and 1 day, two years of supervised release, forfeiture of $509,080, and a $180,000 fine.

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at

"Professor Turns His Online Course Into a Role-Playing Game," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 1, 2008 --- Click Here

David Wiley says that teachers can learn a lot from online video games — the kind where players pretend to be orcs and wizards and work together in teams to slay dragons. So Mr. Wiley, an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University, has decided to turn an online course he’s teaching next semester into an online role-playing game.

That’s right, Mr. Wiley will invite students who sign up for his spring course (which is about online teaching methods) to be an artisan, a bard, a merchant, or a monk and go on learning “quests” together.

Although he’s using a game metaphor, Mr. Wiley says that dividing students up into teams and asking them to work on group projects are time-tested teaching techniques — ones that the best video games happen to make use of. “If you reverse-engineer a popular multiplayer game, they’ve somehow encoded all these things about what good learning ought to look like,” he argues. “Instead of just learning how to kill orcs, we can use these really effective techniques for honest-to-goodness educational content.”

And Mr. Wiley is inviting anyone to play along. Although only students at Brigham Young who enroll and pay for the course will get official credit, Mr. Wiley is inviting anyone else to participate informally free. And he’ll send homemade certificates of completion to the unofficial students, just as he did in a previous experiment.

When asked whether the playful approach might somehow dumb down the learning experience, Mr. Wiley defended the course. “I challenge you to find a meatier class in terms of the kind of skills students have to develop and the kind of project they have to pull off in the end,” he said.

Bob Jensen's threads on use of games and edutainment are at

"Better Learning With Sites and Sound," by Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, December 3, 2008 ---

Students in four graduate courses at West Virginia University worked on and submitted group projects in two different ways, alternating for each assignment: using Microsoft Word to save, track changes, add comments and send files back and forth as e-mail attachments; and sharing files and editing them online using Buzzword. According to the study, the students “were more likely to use graphics, charts, links, etc. in Buzzword because of the ease of inclusion” than in Word, possibly as a function of the interface’s comparative ease of use.

Perhaps more significantly, the study found that they were “more likely to explain more complex concepts using a combination of text and non-text based materials. The majority of participants ... expressed the view that it was easier to express themselves at a higher cognitive level when they could present material using multiple media sources.” They also had higher levels of satisfaction.

Although the study had a small sample size, Ice suggested in an interview that the “multiple forms of sensory input” such as charts, links and graphics not only make the information more understandable to the reader “but apparently ... students are learning more from that process as well"; a process that’s not too different from the wiki editing experience. He is preparing a larger follow-up study with at least six different institutions around the world.

In theory, then, collaborations using Web-based editing tools can potentially boost understanding, at least visually.

But learning doesn’t just occur in the visual realm. Ice co-authored a study, currently under review, that examines how listening to spoken words while also reading at the same time can improve students’ learning experiences. In particular, he and his colleagues attempted a method in which professors record comments on students’ written assignments, which students can then listen to as they read along at corresponding points in the text. They can also record their own responses and continue back and forth in a sort of audio conversation.

While the Web-based collaboration tools are free, Ice’s method makes use of embedded audio features in Adobe Acrobat Pro. If institutions own the software, however, students can listen to the audio (and record their own additions) on the free and commonly used Acrobat Reader. (Adobe provided 60 copies of Acrobat Pro for the study but no additional funding or support.)

The forthcoming paper found that students in the audio study were at least three times more likely to take professors’ comments into account in their final assignments if they were in audio form as opposed to written. What they found, Ice said, was that “students are actually listening to the instructor and reading what they wrote so they have two sensory modes working at the same time,” which could actually improve cognition.

Since the paper was produced, Ice added, additional research has confirmed that the findings are generalizable over many different contexts, such as types of learners and types of institutions.

But a central component of the effect is what the authors call the “asynchronous audio feedback” aspect of the comments: that students can listen to previously recorded audio while they’re reading what it is referring to.

“I’ve tried other methods, too, where you send the students a document and then also send them a [separate] sound file, and the effect is not nearly as strong; as a matter of fact, it’s barely significant when you do that,” Ice said.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on how the brain deals with information overload are at

Also see Tools and Tricks of the Trade at 

From the Scout Report on November 26, 2008

VoxOx 1.0 --- 

VoxOx 1.0 is an application that will help those parties who might be vexed or confounded by the world of communication or social networking software. With this application, users can easily participate in just about any form of communication (including telephony) separately or in a linked up fashion. VoxOx offers webmail integration, social networking support, mobile-to- mobile calls, and a call-forwarding service. This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP or Vista.

Picasa 3.0 ---

Developed by the folks at Google, Picasa is an effective and well-organized photo management application that will help users separate their Cyprus vacation photos from images from their child's birthday party. The application also includes several editing tools, an improved red-eye corrector, and a "Share" button which uploads photos online and emails friends and family directly. This version is compatible with all computers running Windows XP or Vista.

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

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

The Federal Reserve (a five part video series) ---

Financial Times: Podcasts ---

Bob Jensen's Primer on Derivatives ---

The World's Billionaires, Forbes, March 5, 2008 --- Click Here 

Education Tutorials

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

Triangles in the Sky: Trigonometry and Early Theories of Planetary Motion

America's Favorite Architecture ---

Marcel Breuer Architectural Drawings and Sketches ---

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 ---

American Social History --- 

Human Security Gateway ---

Law & Legal Research Center -

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

From the Scout Report on November 26, 2008

As cafés close in France, some grow concerned about the vibrancy of café culture Café where immigrant culture and mainstream Paris meet 

Across France, Café Owners Are Suffering [Free registration may be required] --- Click Here

Society-Parisian cafes and terraces --- Click Here

The Tradition of Coffee and Coffeehouses Among Turks --- Click Here

Smart City Radio: An Authentic Sense of Place --- Click Here

10 Hottest Coffeehouses 


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

Law and Legal Studies

Human Security Gateway ---

Law & Legal Research Center -

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


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

West Point Oral-History Project Will Make Soldiers' Stories Available Online ---

FDA: Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research ---

The Beazley Archive (art history)  ---

The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr.---

Triangles in the Sky: Trigonometry and Early Theories of Planetary Motion

Bata Shoe Museum ---

Spanish Civil War Posters ---

The Tibet Album: British Photography in Central Tibet, 1920-1950 ---
The Tibet Album presents more than 6000 photographs spanning 30 years of Tibet's history. These extraordinary photographs are a unique record of people long gone and places changed beyond all recognition. They also document the ways that British visitors encountered Tibet and Tibetans.

Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence ---

The Association of Jewish Libraries ---

Tango with Cows: Book Art of the Russian Avant-Garde, 1910-1917 ---

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

American Social History --- 

Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

Writing Tutorials

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

Updates from WebMD ---


"Fast-food linked to Alzheimer's:  Swedish scientists Medicine & Health / Health Eating fast food could contribute to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a new Swedish study published Friday which offered possible clues to preventing it," PhysOrg, November 28, 2008 ---

Treating sleep apnea in Alzheimer's patients helps cognition
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment seems to improve cognitive functioning in patients with Alzheimer's disease who also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, according to the results of a randomized clinical trial conducted at the University of California, San Diego. The study – led by Sonia Ancoli-Israel, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and one of the nation's preeminent experts in the field of sleep disorders and sleep research in aging populations – was published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
PhysOrg, December 3, 2008 ---

"How to... Prevent varicose veins," by Alison Johnson, PhysOrg, November 28, 2008 ---

Don't cross your legs. Sitting with your legs crossed squeezes veins and slows the upward flow of blood to the heart. That, in turn, increases the pressure inside veins in the legs.

Stay fit. Extra pounds also cause pressure to build inside veins, especially in the legs. Regular workouts, on the other hand, improve circulation throughout the body - especially leg-strengthening exercises such as walking, biking and swimming.

Watch your posture. Standing up straight helps blood flow properly in veins throughout the body.

Don't be a statue

... Standing still for long periods makes it harder for blood to move up to the heart. If you have a job that requires prolonged standing - a cashier, for example, or security guard - regularly shift your weight and bounce up and down. You also can consider wearing compression hose.

... or sit too still. Stand up, stretch your legs, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes often.

Elevate your feet. When lying down, prop them up with pillows so they're at least at the level of your heart.

Avoid tight clothes. Stay away from items that are snug around your waist and legs.

Don't wear heels. Unlike low-heeled shoes and sneakers, high heels put extra stress on your lower legs.

Consider vitamin C supplements. Some studies suggest vitamin C may help strengthen blood vessel walls. Ask your doctor.

Talk to a doctor. There now are treatments to correct problem veins before they become too swollen or painful.

"Take care of your aging bones," by Jane Glenn Haas, PhysOrg, November 28, 2008 ---

Now, I know that a hip replacement is pretty routine. But what puzzles me is why I have this problem at a time when modern medicine has tools - from pills and potions to exercise regimens - designed to prevent or minimize bone and joint problems.

What didn't I do that I should have done?

Turns out I'm not alone in wondering why bone problems don't get solved sooner.

Dr. Richard Dell, an orthopedic surgeon with Kaiser Permanente Group in Bellflower, Calif., asked himself why osteoporosis is a major medical problem affecting millions of Americans. And fragility fractures affect another 1.5 million people, a figure reaching epidemic proportions, Dell says.

"There is a huge cost associated with osteoporosis in terms of morbidity, mortality and the financial impact on society," writes Dell, lead author of a study on osteoporosis and the role of the orthopedic surgeon, just published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

He concludes that physicians need to be more aggressive in treating for osteoporosis.

Without treatment, patients suffer. For example, the most devastating complications are hip fractures, with 24 percent of the patients ending up in nursing homes, 50 percent never reaching their previous functional capacity and 25 percent dead a year after the fracture, he says.

No wonder I'm interested.

Q. Why don't we hear more about osteoporosis?

A. It's a silent disease. Until there is a fracture, there is no manifestation. You would think that people would have a higher interest because it is treatable and preventable. But people think they should have symptoms before they have the disease.

Q. How can I find out if I have osteoporosis?

A. A very low dose X-ray - it takes about two minutes to do the whole study. The amount of radiation is low, lower than a flight from L.A. to

New York. The treatment also is low-risk.

Q. Let's talk about hip fractures. Is there a difference between men and women?

A. When a man has a hip fracture, he's at twice the risk of a woman. The reason is that men will almost always turn out to have osteoporosis. A woman is postmenopausal and could have hormonal problems. A high percentage of people who have hip fractures are smokers, by the way.

Q. You think the numbers can be changed if patients are more aware of treatment?

A. It's one of those things where the general population needs to push harder. We think we can lower the hip fracture rate by 25 percent. In a well-controlled study where patients took their medications and did exercises, 50 percent became a reachable goal, so 25 percent is not like shooting for the moon. But you have to be willing to identify the population.

Continued in article

"Children who can't feel pain struggle to cope with rare, incurable disorder," by Ofelia Casillas, PhysOrg, December 5, 2008 ---

That's because they suffer from hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies - inherited disorders that result in nerve damage so severe the nerves fail to signal the brain to stop physically painful activity.

Their parents, however, acutely feel the emotional pain caused by their children's condition, for which there is no cure. They wage battles not just to get the right medical care for their children but to become experts on a disorder that is a mystery, even to many doctors.

"It's like living with an alien," said Jody Prunty of Wheaton, Ill., whose daughter, Sophie, 14, struggles with the disorder. "We've learned she doesn't follow anyone's textbook."

To try to understand and cope with the illness, parents have reached out to other families in the same situation, finding connections that have comforted them.

Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathies are an evolving area of neuroscience and medicine about which little is known, said Dr. Nancy Kuntz, a Mayo Clinic doctor specializing in neurology and pediatrics. Even categorizing the disorder into five types, as doctors have done, is misleading, she said.

"The science is being worked out as we speak," Kuntz said.

The life span of a person with a neuropathy "depends on how creative people are" in preventing and treating injuries, Kuntz said. "With modern medical care, in general, it is not a life-threatening illness. But it can cause a lot of complications."

The difficulties are immediately evident inside the Prunty home.

On a recent evening, Sophie was asleep in a netted bed with her hands covered by socks so she wouldn't accidentally hurt herself. Her mother monitored her daughter's image on a television.

Unable to feel pain, Sophie has bit down through her lips, losing teeth. She has poked her eyes, causing damage and a permanent need for goggles.

Complications from the neuropathy have severely restricted Sophie's life. She has a feeding tube, and two other tubes drain her stomach and large intestine. She has seizures and liver failure. She communicates by pressing buttons on a computer screen.

"It's sort of like winning the lottery - but not the one you want to win," Prunty said. "Love her to death, but wouldn't wish her on anybody."

Sophie is considered a high school freshman but attends class taught by a special-needs teacher in a "schoolroom" at home.

"They couldn't tell us how long she could live, so it's an open book," Prunty said.

The Pruntys rotate shifts at their daughter's bedside when they cannot get a night nurse they trust. "We haven't been on a vacation alone since she was born," she said.

Native American dream-catchers - hoops with weblike nets - decorate the home.

"I like the whole idea about catching the bad dreams and letting the happy dreams through," Prunty said.

The disease is so rare and all-consuming that many families feel isolated.

In Minnesota, the Gingras family was in and out of the hospital for the first three of their daughter Gabby's eight years. The girl poked her eyes so much her parents had them surgically sewn shut so they could heal. She wore goggles. She also bit her fingers, and eventually some of her baby teeth were removed (other teeth failed to grow in because of a jaw infection).

The family felt alone with their troubles until the local newspaper wrote a story about them in 2003. That led to appearances on talk shows and national news programs, and then the calls started to come in.

Families raising similar children contacted them from Norway, South Dakota, Germany, Washington and eventually Illinois and Wisconsin.

"We kept finding more people. We started to put together a list," said Tricia Gingras, 42. Soon the family started a foundation with about 40 members from across the world.

The foundation's Web site, , is also a support group where parents can serve as a reference for one another and provide helpful pointers, such as wearing goggles to shield the eyes, protecting hands with athletic tape and using a timer for children to know when they need to use the bathroom.

Continued in article

"Marriage improves after kids fly the coop, study suggests," PhysOrg, December 3, 2008 ---

"Swiss approve pioneering legal heroin program," by Alexander G. Higgins, PhysOrg, December 1, 2008 ---

The heroin program, started in 1994, is offered in 23 centers across Switzerland. It has helped eliminate scenes of large groups of drug users shooting up openly in parks that marred Swiss cities in the 1980s and 1990s and is credited with reducing crime and improving the health and daily lives of addicts.

The nearly 1,300 selected addicts, who have been unhelped by other therapies, visit one of the centers twice a day to receive the carefully measured dose of heroin produced by a government-approved laboratory.

They keep their paraphernalia in cups labeled with their names and use the equipment and clean needles to inject themselves - four at a time - under the supervision of a nurse, and also receive counseling from psychiatrists and social workers.

The aim is to help the addicts learn how to function in society.

The United States and the U.N. narcotics board have criticized the program as potentially fueling drug abuse, but it has attracted attention from governments as far away as Australia and Canada, which in recent years have started or are considering their own programs modeled on the system.

The Netherlands started a smaller program in 2006, and it serves nearly 600 patients. Britain has allowed individual doctors to prescribe heroin since the 1920s, but it has been running trials similar to the Swiss approach in recent years. Belgium, Germany, Spain and Canada have been running trial programs too.

Sixty-eight percent of the 2.26 million Swiss voters casting ballots approved making the heroin program permanent.

By contrast, around 63.2 percent of voters voted against the marijuana proposal, which was based on a separate citizens' initiative to decriminalize the consumption of marijuana and growing the plant for personal use.

Olivier Borer, 35, a musician from the northern town of Solothurn, said he welcomed the outcome in part because state action was required to help heroin addicts, but he said legalizing marijuana was a bad idea.

"I think it's very important to help these people, but not to facilitate the using of drugs," Borer said. "You can just see in the Netherlands how it's going. People just go there to smoke."

Continued in article

Some opponents of prohibition pointed to Al Capone and increasing crime, violence and corruption. Others were troubled by the labeling of tens of millions of Americans as criminals, overflowing prisons, and the consequent broadening of disrespect for the law. Americans were disquieted by dangerous expansions of federal police powers, encroachments on individual liberties, increasing government expenditure devoted to enforcing the prohibition laws, and the billions in forgone tax revenues. And still others were disturbed by the specter of so many citizens blinded, paralyzed and killed by poisonous moonshine and industrial alcohol. Supporters of prohibition blamed the consumers, and some went so far as to argue that those who violated the laws deserved whatever ills befell them. But by 1933, most Americans blamed prohibition itself. When repeal came, it was not just with the support of those with a taste for alcohol, but also those who disliked and even hated it but could no longer ignore the dreadful consequences of a failed prohibition. They saw what most Americans still fail to see today: That a failed drug prohibition can cause greater harm than the drug it was intended to banish.
Ethan A. Nadelmann, "Let's End Drug Prohibition" Most Americans agreed that alcohol suppression was worse than alcohol consumption," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2008 ---

PJ O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores ---   

Forwarded by Paula

Age By Wal-Mart:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tidbits Archives ---

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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

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         Also see
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Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

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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 ---

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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

Accounting program news items for colleges are posted at
Sometimes the news items provide links to teaching resources for accounting educators.
Any college may post a news item.

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