Love & Hate in New Hampshire
Love the Snow & Hate the Ice

An ice storm to compare with some of the Northeast's worst made a mess of the region Friday, leaving 1.25 million homes and businesses in seven states without power as it forced schools to close and toppled ice-laden trees and power lines onto slippery roads. Most of the outages were in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and New York, and it was expected to take several days to completely restore electricity. The storm wreaked havoc from Maine to Pennsylvania, leaving a sparkling, ice-covered landscape that was too destructive for many to find beautiful.
David Tirrell, "Northeast ice storm leaves 1.25M without power," Myway.com, December 12. 2008 --- http://apnews.myway.com/article/20081213/D951FQH80.html


Erika's latest spine therapy class.


Above is a wild cranberry bush three feet from the desk where I'm typing this on the other side of the glass.
 

The above guck on our cranberry bush is similar to the texture of the 6-8 inches of snow, ice, and slush guck that covered my driveway last Friday morning. The guck was too heavy and icy to remove with my snow thrower. I started out by driving my tractor up from the barn and shoveling this guck into the front-end loader. It was a slow process to repeatedly fill the bucket and carry the guck away, but I managed to clear about a third of the driveway until my neighbor Lon arrived with his snow plow. The problem was that, when all the guck was cleared from the driveway, there was an even more treacherous thin layer of black ice beneath the guck. It then took me many hours to salt and scrape the sheet of ice away with my lowly seven-inch wide steel ice scraper. That went about the same speed as washing the drive down with a toothbrush. Thus, last Friday became a wasted day of my life that I would like to forget. It was wasted in the sense that two days later the temperature soared to 50 degrees with high winds and melted all the guck and black ice away from all the roads and lawns and woods. I should've stayed in bed for two days and waited for the heat wave.

Today it is snowing, but at least it's soft fluffy snow like we love to have falling for a white Christmas.

 

Below is a picture of a turkey looking in at the turkey typing this tidbit.


The wild turkey is outside between the monitor and the green lamp.
Below are some of her friends staring in at me.


Our power went out for six hours a couple of days before the ice storm of the decade (thus far) struck New England. My new generator kicked in just like it was supposed to, but at the price of propane I could not afford multiple days of running this generator. Bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to generators. When the ice storm hit on the night of December 11, thick ice snapped millions of trees in our White Mountain National Forest. But the power lines were not so badly affected in the north. Up here where we live in the north there was no loss of electric power. Down in southern New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont it's another story. Over a million homes and businesses lost power just one day before temperatures plunged 10-30 degrees below freezing. Most of those without power had no emergency generators, but many without heat did manage to drain their water pipes. Then a few days later the temperature soared back up to 10-20 degrees above freezing, melting most of the ice. But that alone did not solve the power outage crisis.

After the ice melted, thousands upon thousands of miles of power lines are tangled amongst downed trees. It's an utter mess that in many instances cannot be untangled and repaired for the remainder of the year. I guess this is our version of Katrina in southern New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. The big difference is that we're expecting more snow and very cold weather before the end of the year such that thousands of people will be without heat and water in sub-freezing weather. I especially feel sorry for those who did not get their pipes drained before they burst and filled their basements with water. I guess flooded basements are what we call indoor swimming pools in New Hampshire.

The only bright side is that the ice in the trees is like crystal in sunlight and moonlight --- it's absolutely beautiful like the Devil dressed up in a glossy coat of many colors for a winter carnival.

The ice dropped a birch tree across our driveway. Our fabulous helper Dorothy Corey has two degrees in entomology that she really doesn't use. She's a single mom and great friend who works at everything from painting and wall papering to landscaping to building miles of New Hampshire countryside rock walls one rock at a time. Dorothy stopped by to leave a Christmas present and ended up helping me clear (she ran the chain saw) a path. Then I was lucky to get a tree service with a chipping machine to come in within a day to clean up the remainder of the mess.


I will miss the above tree that the ice storm brought down.
Fortunately it was in a cluster of three such trees; It's brother and sister still stand.

Most of the pictures I took of the ice in the trees are still in the camera. Here are some older pictures that I've been waiting to share. The first picture was taken in early October when Ken and Judy Hummel visited up here. There were a bit early for our full autumn foliage, but they did manage to have a good trip in Maine and New Hampshire. Ken is a retired mathematics professor from Trinity University. He and his wife are avid skiers and hikers, although for years they've preferred to ski in Colorado.

Erika's roses you see behind Ken and Judy on the other side of the pond are shown below:


Above and slightly to the left is our living room view of Mt. Lafayette.
Below is a zoomed view of Mt. Lafayette


Above the sun is rising just to the right of Mt. Lafayette --- closer to Mt. Lincoln.
Before living up here, I never noticed how the position of the sunrise changes so dramatically from north to south.
Any day now it will head back north where it eventually goes beyond Mt. Washington from my summertime perspective.

 

 

 

Tidbits on December 17, 2008
Bob Jensen

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

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


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


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

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

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

Essay

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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/NHcottage/NHcottage.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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




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

All-electric refitted old Datsen sets drag racing record (110 mph in less than 12 seconds) --- http://www.opb.org/programs/ofg/videos/view/56-Electric-Drag-Racing
(Must be recharged after each race, and there's a huge loss of cargo space.)
The killer is this video is the electric motorcycle that hits 60 mph in less than two seconds.
The video stresses speed but tends to gloss over problems of distance between charges.  It's still really a research toy in the transportation world.

How to Live Your Life --- Click Here

Type in a command for this dog (like jump) --- http://www.idodogtricks.com/index_flash.html
Also see the idiot dog (better to train him for housework) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PcL6-mjRNk

Tech News:  Computers for all U.S. children, the first computer mouse, and other tech news for the week --- http://www.pcworld.com/video.html

RefuseToHate --- http://vimeo.com/2213624

Middle Eastern Geography (Interactive) --- http://www.rethinkingschools.org/just_fun/games/mapgame.html

Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates [iTunes] http://insideislam.wisc.edu/

From The Washington Post, December 7, 2008
Ten Silliest Videos We Watched This Year ---
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/04/AR2008120403410.html?wpisrc=newsletter

I Saw Maxine Kissing Franklin Raines --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbZnLxdCWkA
Before Franklin Raines resigned as CEO of Fannie Mae and paid over a million dollar fine for accounting fraud to pad his bonus, he was the darling of the liberal members of Congress. Frank Raines was creatively managing earnings to the penny just enough to get his enormous bonus. The auditing firm of KPMG was accordingly fired from its biggest corporate client in history --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#Manipulation

Video on the efforts of some members of Congress seeking to cover up accounting fraud at Fannie Mae ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RZVw3no2A4 

Oxfam International Climate ChangeVideo --- http://www.oxfam.org/en/video

Sexy Santa --- http://adoniscabaret.co.uk/saucy-santa-hen-night/index.htm    


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

Ben Gray Lumpkin Digital Folk Music Collection --- http://libluna.lib.ad.colorado.edu:8081/insight/sample/SoundModel/index.htm

Male Choir from Indiana University (Christmas Carols) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fe11OlMiz8

Female Choir from Indiana University --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcwwmermqe4
Also see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx13ABJEQz4

Samford Univ A Cappella Choir - Handl "This is the Day" --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzKeL_ourfw

Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming - TJC A Cappella Choir --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fsYyErZKEs
Also see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHBeRutj76o

Richie Havens: A Folk Icon, Still Strumming --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98123038

Old Hollywood Westerns --- http://oldfortyfives.com/thoseoldwesterns.htm

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


Photographs and Art

Paris Daily Photo Calendar --- http://www.zazzle.com/2009_paris_daily_photo_calendar-158191099824470278

Striped Icebergs --- http://www.snopes.com/photos/natural/stripedicebergs.asp

Elk Walking Bridge in Canada --- http://www.topix.com/forum/city/washington-township-nj/TVV2SA6PJGB4HBD6B

History's Ten Biggest Disappointment (according to the New York Post) --- Click Here

Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian (art history) --- http://www.nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/scholder/introduction.html

Aboriginal Canada Portal --- http://www.aboriginalcanada.gc.ca/acp/site.nsf/en/index.html

Halta Definizione (fine art for homes) --- http://www.haltadefinizione.com/home.jsp?lingua=en

Meeting of Frontiers (historic maps of the arctic) --- http://frontiers.loc.gov:8081/intldl/mtfhtml/mfdigcol/uafmp.html

Japanese Old Photographs of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods --- http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/

Magic Lantern Slides Collection from Japan --- http://digicoll.manoa.hawaii.edu/lanternslides/index.php?c=1


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

International Children’s Digital Library --- http://www.icdlbooks.org/

The Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project --- http://www.mainlesson.com/main/displayfeature.php

One More Story is an interactive online library for children --- http://www.onemorestory.com/ 

An electronic library that teaches children how to read better
Chelsea Waugaman, "Read the story again? Sure. Computers don't get tired," The Christian Science Monitor, July 11, 2005 --- http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0711/p12s01-stin.html 

Awesome Library (Elementary) ---
http://www.awesomelibrary.org/Classroom/English/Literature/Elementary_Literature.html

Baldwin Library of Children's Literature, Digital Collection --- http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/UFDC/UFDC.aspx?c=juv

Alice in Wonderland (Infomotions) ---
http://www.infomotions.com/etexts/literature/english/1800-1899/carroll-alices-99.txt

Lewis Carroll Homepage --- http://www.lewiscarroll.org/carroll.html

Through the Looking Glass (Infomotions) ---
http://www.infomotions.com/etexts/literature/american/1900-/burroughs-tarzan-334.txt

A Wonderland Miscellany - Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898) --- http://www.wordtheque.com/pls/wordtc/new_wordtheque.w6_start.doc?code=13891&lang=EN

Into the Wardrobe :: a C. S. Lewis web site --- http://cslewis.drzeus.net/

Logos Free Children's Library --- http://www.wordtheque.com/owa-wt/new_wordtheque.main?lang=en&source=search

Logos Free Children's Dictionary --- http://www.logosdictionary.org/pls/dictionary/new_dictionary.index_p

Children's Storybooks Online --- http://www.magickeys.com/books/

Ted Hughes Poems (includes poems for children) --- http://www.earth-moon.org/

Sample Pages from Dick and Jane Readers --- http://faculty.valpo.edu/bflak/dickjane/

Edward Lear's Nonsense Poetry and Art --- http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/

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




As a three-time Chicago Congressman and two-time Chicago Governor. I can personally testify to the heartbreak of erectile dysfunction.
Rod Blagojevich, New Republic, December 13, 2008 --- http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2148135/posts
Jensen Comment
Now we know the real reason the Governor wanted to sell Obama's Senate seat, and why his foul-mouthed wife is behind him all the way. "Patti Blagojevich was also heard saying the Trib should "just fire" some editors. And the federal complaint suggests she agreed that Obama's Senate seat was worth a seat on a corporate board and a six-figure salary."

The green in Governor Rod R. Blagojevich's "Green Lane" tolling proposal was headed to the pocket of the Illinois Democrat, according to charges filed this weekend. Most of the attention drawn to yesterday's arrest of Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, has centered on the governor's reported attempt to sell the US Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama (D). Blagojevich's "Tomorrow's Transportation Today" scheme to impose new tolls on motorists for the enrichment of his personal campaign contributors has received less scrutiny. Blagojevich took office in 2003 after his predecessor, George Ryan (R) was similarly arrested for corruption. "If (Illinois) isn't the most corrupt state, it's one hell of a competitor," Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent-in-Charge Robert D. Grant said yesterday. "Even the most cynical agents in our shop were shocked."
"Illinois Governor Blagojevich Saw Personal Green in Toll Lane Idea," The Newspaper.com, December 10, 2008 --- http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/26/2622.asp

I am not including our newly famous Blago. Rarely has there been such a case in which the sin is perfectly represented by the physical presence of the sinner. I had never seen him until the news this week, and there he was, a lipless, dull-featured, wig-wearing moron with a foul-mouthed harridan of a wife. (Oh, maybe it's not a wig, but I think Chicago should know everyone in New York thinks it is.) The minute I saw him I thought: That's exactly what a guy like that would look like! And then I thought: Oh, God bless him, because it's kind of a gift when things look as they are. Not all is shade and shadow, some things are hearteningly obvious. He really was abusive. He really was selfish. He really gives you something to react against, a sense of "That's what not to be." Rectitude chic, coming to a statehouse near you. Another part of the big reaction.
Peggy Noonan, "Rectitude Chic"  The first Christmas in the age of restraint," The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122903389043599605.html?mod=djemEditorialPage .

The media defense of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and corruption in politics continued Sunday morning as NBC's new "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, along with his guests, actually defended Blago's actions as "pay to play" business as usual that's just "part of the system" and "how the world works."
Noel Sheppard, Newsbusters, December 14, 2008 ---
http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2008/12/14/gregory-mtp-guests-defend-blago-its-how-world-works
Jensen Comment
Leave it to NBC to justify graft linked to the Democratic, but never the Republican, Party. What's sad is that David Gregory is considered the most objective of the NBC broadcasting team. What was that again?

MSNBC (the official network of the Democratic Party) has banished the last bastion of objectivity from its line-up of evening hosts. The network has announced that David Shuster [file photo] will be replacing David Gregory as host of '1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.' [H/t Mike Allen's Political Playbook.] Gregory, his pending Meet The Press appointment no doubt in mind, had been on his best behavior while hosting 1600. Gregory was an oasis of objectivity in the liberal MSNBC desert. Shuster will be under no such restraints. The evening Eastern time line-up will henceforth stand.
Newsbusters, December 15, 2008 --- Click Here

Jesus said upon this rock I will build--listen to the promise--my church," he said. "And the gates of Hell--listen to the promise--the gates of Hell--neither ABC nor CNN--the gates of Hell--neither Hannity nor O'Reilly--the gates of Hell--neither Time, Time magazine, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune ... the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Nothing will be impossible with God.
Rant of Rev. Jeremiah Wright from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ, December 7, 2008 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
Note in particular how he did not mention MSNBC, the Official Network of the Democratic Party

Chase Bank raised my rate from 8.99 to 30% for no reason—my reward for being a pristine customer. These are the same bullies that used to take your lunch money in first grade.
Jessica Silver-Greenberg, "The Next Meltdown: Credit-Card Debt Rising rates are accelerating credit-card defaults and soured debt could further undermine the financial system," (video included), Business Week, October 9, 2008 --- http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_42/b4104024799703.htm

Three suspects, including a Jewish American, had their remand extended yesterday after being nabbed on suspicion of attempting to smuggle a missile to Muslim terror groups operating inside the United States. British arms dealer Hemant Lakhani is suspected of heading the half a million dollar operation with two accomplices, Yehuda Avraham, a New York resident and Moinuddeen Ahmed Hameed, of Malaysia, who helped to launder the missile funds.The three were captured in a sting operation mounted over the past year-and-a-half in coordination among American, Russian and British authorities, the FBI revealed yesterday. Yehuda Avraham received the payment for the first missile from Lakhani and transferred it to a bank account outside the U.S., and Hameed was to launder the money.
Natan Guttman and Shlomo Shamir, "NY Jew among three held in missile plot," Haaretz, December 8, 2008 --- Click Here

President-elect Barack Obama will offer Israel a strategic pact designed to fend off any nuclear attack on the Jewish state by Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday. Haaretz, quoting an unnamed source, said the Obama administration would pledge under the proposed "nuclear umbrella" to respond to any Iranian strike on Israel with a "devastating U.S. nuclear response." Granting Israel a nuclear guarantee would essentially suggest the U.S. is willing to come to terms with a nuclear Iran, the paper reported. According to the paper's source, Obama's nuclear guarantee would be backed by a new and improved Israeli anti-ballistic missile system. The Bush administration took the first step by deploying an early-warning radar system, which enhances the ability to detect Iranian ballistic missiles.
"Report: Obama to Offer Israel 'Nuclear Umbrella' Against Iran," Fox News, December 11, 2008 --- http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2008/12/11/report-obama-offer-israel-nuclear-umbrella-iran/

Nobel economics prize winner Paul Krugman says the troubled U.S. auto industry will "probably disappear" as a result of the geographical forces he described in his award-winning analysis. Krugman told reporters in Stockholm Sunday that congress support to the auto-industry was not a long-term solution, but the result of a "lack of willingness to accept the failure of a large industry in the midst of an economic crisis." However, he said government aid was the only possible response to the current financial crisis since the private sector would not be able to support itself.
"Nobel winner Krugman: U.S. auto industry will 'probably disappear'," CNN, December 7, 2008 --- http://edition.cnn.com/2008/BUSINESS/12/07/krugman.nobel.economics.auto.ap/

Is GM "too big" to fail? I do not believe the company is too big to go into a reorganization-which is what bankruptcy would involve. Such reorganization would abrogate its untenable labor contracts, and give it a chance to survive in long run. A bailout, by contrast, would simply postpone the needed reforms in these labor contracts, the business model of GM, and its management.
Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, "Bail Out the Big Three Auto Producers? Not a Good Idea" The Becker-Posner Blog, November 16, 2008 ---
http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/

You wouldn't by are crappy cars, so now we're going to get your money anyway. The joke's on you!
General Motors

By engineering the metabolic process of the common E. coli bacteria, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have coaxed the microorganism into churning out useful long-chain alcohols that have potential as new biofuels. The bacteria-produced biofuels have between five and eight carbon atoms, compared with ethanol, which has two carbons. The higher number of carbon atoms gives the biofuels as much energy per gallon as gasoline; by comparison, ethanol has 30 percent less energy than gasoline. And unlike ethanol, the new biofuels are compatible with today's gasoline infrastructure, says James Liao, a UCLA chemical- and biomolecular-engineering professor, who headed the research. Since the long-chain alcohols do not absorb water as easily as ethanol, they could be transported around the country in existing petroleum pipelines.
Prachi Patel-Predd, "Bacteria Make Better Alcohol Fuels:  Modified E. coli produce long-chain alcohol fuels that have advantages over ethanol and butanol," MIT's Technology Review, December 9, 2008 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21783/?nlid=1568&a=f

I Saw Maxine Kissing Franklin Raines --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbZnLxdCWkA
Jensen Comment
Before Franklin Raines resigned as CEO of Fannie Mae and paid over a million dollar fine for accounting fraud to pad his bonus, he was the darling of the liberal members of Congress. Frank Raines was creatively managing earnings to the penny just enough to get his enormous bonus. The auditing firm of KPMG was accordingly fired from its biggest corporate client in history --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#Manipulation

Henry Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met Tuesday to examine "The Role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the Financial Crisis." Alas, Mr. Waxman didn't come to bury Fan and Fred, but to bury the truth. The two government-sponsored mortgage giants have long maintained they were merely unwitting victims of a financial act of God. That is, while the rest of the market went crazy over subprime and "liar" loans, Fan and Fred claimed to be the grownups of the mortgage market. There they were, the fable goes, quietly underwriting their 80% fixed-rate 30-year mortgages when -- Ka-Pow! -- they were blindsided by the greedy excesses of the subprime lenders who lacked their scruples. But previously undisclosed internal documents that are now in Mr. Waxman's possession and that we've seen tell a different story. Memos and emails at the highest levels of Fannie and Freddie management in 2004 and 2005 paint a picture of two companies that saw their market share eroded by such products as option-ARMs and interest-only mortgages. The two companies were prepared to walk ever further out on the risk curve to maintain their market position.
"Whitewashing Fannie Mae:  Congress begins its self-absolution campaign," The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122895461803096429.html?mod=djemEditorialPage .
Also see http://www.floppingaces.net/2008/12/11/fannie-freddie-hearings-feel-good-dance-to-bury-the-truth/
Jensen Comment
Henry Waxman will probably go down not only as the most dangerous senator in the history of the United States. He  may also go down as the most biased, least truthful, and most grandstanding Senator in U.S. History. I like the cartoon showing Henry Waxman as being against both business and energy. Now he's out to defend his friends like Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd for their despicable roles in forcing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase home mortgages with zero chance of ever being repaid while knowing full well in advance that the U.S. Government would eventually get stuck with the bad mortgages.

I Saw Maxine Kissing Franklin Raines (as ) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbZnLxdCWkA
Before Franklin Raines resigned as CEO of Fannie Mae and paid over a million dollar fine for accounting fraud to pad his bonus, he was the darling of the liberal members of Congress. Frank Raines was creatively managing earnings to the penny just enough to get his enormous bonus. The auditing firm of KPMG was accordingly fired from its biggest corporate client in history ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#Manipulation
Read about one of the largest accounting frauds in history that transpired at Fannie Mae when Franklin Raines was its CEO and buying Congressional favors with Fannie Mae money. Franklin Raines got fired and paid over a million dollars in fines. The KPMG auditors were fired from their biggest client in KPMG history ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory01.htm#Manipulation
Shareholders in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lost virtually everything in spite of the Federal Government getting stuck with paying off hundreds of billions of the debts of these two companies now owned by the U.S. Congress ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#Rubble

“Peter writes: ‘Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there?’ No! No! No! Bear Stearns is fine! Do not take your money out. … Bear Stearns is not in trouble. I mean, if anything they’re more likely to be taken over. Don’t move your money from Bear! That’s just being silly! Don’t be silly!” —Jim Cramer, responding to a viewer’s e-mail on CNBC’s Mad Money, March 11, 2008 Hopefully, Peter got a second opinion. Six days after the volatile CNBC host made his emphatic pronouncement, Bear Stearns faced the modern equivalent of an old-fashioned bank run. Amid widespread speculation on Wall Street about the bank’s massive exposure to subprime mortgages, Bear’s shares lost 90 percent of their value and the investment bank was sold for a pittance to JPMorgan Chase, with a last-minute assist from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
"The 10 Worst Predictions for 2008," Foreign Policy, December 2008 --- http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4569 

OnStar, the unit behind General Motors' GPS-based in-vehicle security system, offers Stolen Vehicle Slowdown technology: An OnStar operator can send a signal to a vehicle, restricting its fuel and slowing it to 3-5 mph. The technology is available on about 1 million 2009 GM vehicles, OnStar spokesman Jim Kobus says. Another company, Virginia Beach-based StarChase, is field-testing its Pursuit Management System. It's a launcher on the front of a police car that fires projectiles that stick on a fleeing vehicle targeted by laser, enabling police to track it by GPS. The system, which has been tested by police in Columbus,...
Larry Copeland, "Technology May Halt the High Speed Chase," News Factor, December 12, 2008 ---
http://www.newsfactor.com/news/Technology-May-Halt-the-Hot-Pursuit/story.xhtml?story_id=030002ZP0QPC&full_skip=1

In another successful anti-piracy operation, Navy warship on Saturday repulsed an attack on a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden and nabbed 23 Somali and Yemeni sea brigands, in a show of resolve to weed out the menace that affected maritime trade in the region. The pirates on two speed boats had surrounded the merchant vessel flying the Ethiopian flag around noon, when INS Mysore warship intervened and warded off the attack, Navy spokesperson said. The pirates had fired at the merchant vessel with their small arms, when it sent out a rescue call and the Indian warship, which was sailing nearby moved its Marine Commandos on a helicopter to help the distressed cargo vessel, he said.
"Indian Navy repulses attack, arrests 23 pirates," Express India, December 13, 2008 ---
http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Indian-Navy-repulses-attack--arrests-23-pirates/398079/

Despite the seriousness of the present crisis, we should not forget that the past quarter century has been a great period of growth and stability for most of the world. Hundreds of millions of men, women, and children were pulled out of extreme poverty in China, India, and elsewhere by the rapid growth of their economies, due in considerable measure to the steep expansion in world trade, and the stability of the world economy. Even with two years of a rather deep world recession added in, the period since the early 1980s would look good by historical standards. True, as I argued in prior posts on our blog, additional regulations of financial institutions are desirable, and the Fed has to think deeply about how to expand its arsenal of weapons. Yet it would be a major mistake to seriously hamper a worldwide competitive market engine that has brought so many benefits to the world's population.
Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, "Central Bank Confidence in Taming the Business Cycle: A Grand Illusion?" The Becker-Posner Blog, December 7, 2008 --- http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/

The general point I am making is that an economic theory of how markets operate is necessary to evaluate any significant new regulations and other government policies for financial markets (and more generally, for other markets as well, such as the subject of our blog two weeks ago on whether a bailout of the auto industry is justified). Some retreat from free market conservatism is to be expected an s a result of the crisis, but it would be a serious mistake if the analysis of financial and other markets that becomes dominant in Washington gives insufficient weight to the enormous contributions of business competition in raising human welfare.
Richard Posner, "Central Bank Confidence in Taming the Business Cycle: A Grand Illusion?" The Becker-Posner Blog, December 7, 2008 --- http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/

MSNBC (the official network of the Democratic Party) has banished the last bastion of objectivity from its line-up of evening hosts. The network has announced that David Shuster [file photo] will be replacing David Gregory as host of '1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.' [H/t Mike Allen's Political Playbook.] Gregory, his pending Meet The Press appointment no doubt in mind, had been on his best behavior while hosting 1600. Gregory was an oasis of objectivity in the liberal MSNBC desert. Shuster will be under no such restraints. The evening Eastern time line-up will henceforth stand.
Newsbusters, December 15, 2008 --- Click Here

State Department officials have suspended a program that allows refugees in the U.S. to bring family members into the country after an investigation revealed widespread fraud in the system. Since the 1980's, the State Department has granted refugee family members who are left behind in war-torn countries priority-3 access to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program on a case-by-case basis. After suspicions of fraud were raised last year – often involving unrelated children being claimed as family – the State Department conducted DNA testing of 3,000 applicants to the program, to see if they were actually related to the family members they claimed. In more than 80 percent of the cases, the applicants either refused to take the tests or were discovered to have DNA that didn't match their reported family members.
"Rampant fraud puts stop to U.S. refugee program:  DNA confirms fewer than 20% telling truth about family ties," WorldNetDaily, December 13, 2008 --- http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=83580

A new Citigroup scandal is engulfing Robert Rubin and his former disciple Chuck Prince for their roles in an alleged Ponzi-style scheme that's now choking world banking. Director Rubin and ousted CEO Prince - and their lieutenants over the past five years - are named in a federal lawsuit for an alleged complex cover-up of toxic securities that spread across the globe, wiping out trillions of dollars in their destructive paths.
Paul Tharp, "'PONZI SCHEME' AT CITI SUIT SLAMS RUBIN," The New York Post, December 5, 2008 --- http://www.nypost.com/seven/12042008/business/ponzi_scheme_at_citi_142511.htm
Jensen Comment
Robert Rubin is the former Secretary of the Treasury when Bill Clinton was President of the United States. He later became, for a short time, the CEO of Citigroup.

Donald Trump has had a rough few weeks. He went to court in an effort to avoid paying off a $640 million construction loan on his struggling condo/hotel project in Chicago, and was countersued by his lender. Meanwhile, rating agencies downgraded Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings' bonds after the casino company said it would miss a $53 million interest payment. Over the past year, a number of other developments bearing the Trump name have been halted, named in lawsuits, or both. Mr. Trump insists that this string of events isn't a replay of his travails in the early 1990s, when the...
Theresa Agovino, "Donald Trump faces tower of troubles," Crain's New York Business, December 14, 2008 --- http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081214/FREE/812149996/1059

Temperatures in the northeast Siberian republic of Yakutia could fall to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit) in the next few days, the local meteorological service said Monday. With average low temperatures in Yakutia dropping below minus 40 degrees Celsius (minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit) overnight, weather in the town of Verkhoyansk dropped overnight to minus 53 degrees Celsius (minus 63.4 degrees Fahrenheit), while in Oymyakon it reached minus 57 degrees Celsius (minus 70.6 degrees Fahrenheit). "However, this is not the limit - in the next few days weather in the town of Krestyakh could drop below minus 58 degrees Celsius (minus 72.4 degrees Fahrenheit)," the meteorological service spokesman said. The spokesman added that the current spell of extremely cold weather was due to an influx of cold polar air masses.
"Northeast Siberia braces for extreme cold of -60C," Ryan, December 15, 2008 --- http://en.rian.ru/russia/20081215/118857527.html
Jensen Comment
Why don't we make Al Gore spend the winter in Yakutia?

English is the easiest language to speak badly.
George Bernard Shaw as quoted by Mark Shapiro at http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-12-15-08.htm

As the wise and wonderful scholars we are, English teachers find ourselves caught in the cycle of being corrected and correcting. We are damned if we do, whatever we do. While we prefer not to clear the room with the mention of our field of expertise, we also do not want to horrify others with occasional lapses into normalcy. Society has set high standards for us, and we'd better not mess up! Therefore, I suggest that we all be relegated to an island where we can be free to be ourselves, whether that means reading a collection of comic books, or saying, “I dunno” every time anyone asks, “Who wrote ...?” Hopefully this will be a good solution. I'm gonna go on the first ship. Who’s going with?
Evanthia O. Rosati, "So You Want to be an English Teacher," The Irascible Professor, December 15, 2008 ---
http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-12-15-08.htm
 




At Brandeis University, faculty are considering whether to voluntarily forgo 1 percent of their salaries next year to prevent possible layoffs of support staff.
Elizabeth Redden, "Taking One (Percent) for the Team," Inside Higher Ed, December 10, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/12/10/brandeis
Also see "While Public Colleges Feel Pain, For-Profits See Gains ," by Jack Stripling, Inside Higher Ed, December 10, 2008 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/12/10/forprofit

Facing projections of a 30-percent drop in its endowment, Harvard will freeze salaries for faculty members and nonunion staff members, suspend nearly all searches for tenure-track and tenured professors, and place restrictions on hiring instructional faculty members, The Harvard Crimson reported today.
Chronicle of Higher Education, December 9, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/news/article/5630/harvard-freezes-salaries-suspends-faculty-searches?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

The for-profit college industry, unlike the rest of higher education, is enjoying a financial tailwind that is only likely to improve in the next couple of years. Enrollments this fall at nine major publicly traded college companies grew at a pace faster than the average annual rate of growth for the past three years, while profit margins for this year are projected to be higher than they've been since 2005. And the grim financial outlook that has led to freezes on hiring and new construction at many nonprofit colleges (like Harvard) isn't having the same effect on the for-profit sector, which accounts for about 5 percent of all postsecondary enrollments.
Goldie Blumenstyke, "Economic Downturn Is a Boon for For-Profit Colleges," Chronicle of Higher Education, December 10, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/12/8330n.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
Jensen Comment
Goldie is the Chronicle of Higher Education editor who, without announcing who she worked for, took an online governmental (fund) advanced accounting course for credit from the University of Phoenix (a for-profit university). Her report on the experience is quite favorable, although she found the course to be a lot more demanding than she had expected.

My tidbit on Goldie's experience can be found at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/crossborder.htm

The Chronicle's Goldie Blumenstyk has covered distance education for more than a decade, and during that time she's written stories about the economics of for-profit education, the ways that online institutions market themselves, and the demise of the 50-percent rule. About the only thing she hadn't done, it seemed, was to take a course from an online university. But this spring she finally took the plunge, and now she has completed a class in government and nonprofit accounting through the University of Phoenix. She shares tales from the cy ber-classroom -- and her final grade -- in a podcast with Paul Fain, a Chronicle reporter.
Chronicle of Higher Education, June 11, 2008 (Audio) --- http://chronicle.com/media/audio/v54/i40/cyber_classroom/

Jensen Added Comment
It wasn't mentioned, but I think Goldie took the ACC 460 course --- Click Here

ACC 460 Government and Non-Profit Accounting

Course Description

This course covers fund accounting, budget and control issues, revenue and expense recognition, and issues of reporting for both government and non-profit entities.

Topics and Objectives

Environment of Government/Non-Profit Accounting

Fund Accounting Part I

Fund Accounting Part II

Overview of Not-for-Profit Accounting

Current Issues in Government and Not-for-Profit Accounting

Bob Jensen's threads on asynchronous learning --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255wp.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on free online video courses and course materials from leading universities --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/assess.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on the dark side --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm

 




Turbo Tax Really Goofed on This One
Intuit responds to TurboTax customer revolt
 

2008 TurboTax Boycott Begins
Tax Software Boycott of TurboTax Begins:  I'll Bet You Can't Find the Hidden Fees Disclosed on the TurboTax Website

Users are not complaining about the functionality of TurboTax. The problem, as they see it, is with pricing changes. For the first time, TurboTax producer Intuit started charging users an additional $9.95 for each additional return whether they print or e-file. Also, readers complain that the 2008 software costs more at checkout, jumping from $44.95 to $59.95. (However, when AccountingWEB went on Amazon, the software could be had at the discounted price of $54.99.) . . . One reviewer seemed to be issuing a battle cry by writing, "Time to start the boycott." Another reviewer had criticism of a more personal nature: "You should fire the person who came up with pay to print!" Of the 182 product reviews as of the evening of December 9, 2008, 171 of them were one-star reviews and only five were five-stars, the highest rating. Of the five five-star ratings, one user named Fernando Ortega said TurboTax is still the best, pointing out that he doesn't have to enter all of his personal information and previous returns manually.
"TurboTax turmoil: Online reviews pan the top selling software," AccountingWeb, December 2008 ---
http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=106620

H&R Block did not raise the software fee and has no additional user fee --- http://newsblaze.com/story/2008120913262200003.mwir/topstory.html
I shifted to TaxCut years ago and have never regretted doing so --- http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/products/software/index.html
Maybe it's just me, but I prefer to buy TaxCut in the box at Wal-Mart so that I have a CD for each year to file away. I prefer not to download the software directly, although download updates are free and easy to install.

Jensen Comment
It has been popular in the past for a person to file his or her tax return and then use the same software for filing the tax returns of children or parents. No longer will this be possible for free from TurboTax. Presumably the add-on fee has to be paid when spouses file separate returns rather than a joint return. Turbo Tax along with other popular tax software for individuals does participate in the Free File Alliance for taxpayers having less than $54,000 adjusted gross income. This is only  free tax software for the Federal Return, but the accompanying TurboTax State Return costs $26 so all is not free if you need to file both a State and Federal Return using Turbo Tax.

The new additional return fee irks taxpayers in 2008 just like the TurboTax activation fee in 2003 really irked taxpayers --- http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,821308,00.asp

What irks me is how hard it is at the TurboTax Web site about this $9.95 additional return fee. It's almost like TurboTax is playing a game to make it easier to drop the fee if the boycott really becomes serious.

Another thing that irks me with the TurboTax Web site is that it highlights that users can get a free edition of TurboTax and allows users to start filling in the information. Then it suddenly springs on the purchase fee along the way for users who will have an adjusted gross income above $54,000 after they have started preparing their return. This essentially wastes their time if they decide not to order the Turbo Tax software for $59 directly from TurboTax. For example, someone who decides to pay $54 from Amazon essentially has to start over preparing the return. I think hiding the $54,000 AGI maximum is highly unethical on the part of the TurboTax Website.

TaxACT  has its standard 1040 product free for download. The deluxe is $7.95 and software for Federal and State combined is $16/95.
The standard only allows one return, with the others you can do multiple returns. E-file is free --- http://www.taxact.com/
Low income filers can get a free download of the TaxACT software. I would use this software if it was possible to buy the CD at Wal-Mart. I think Wal-Mart only sells TaxCut and TurboTax CD boxes and manuals.

I really like the tax preparation hand book and forms that the IRS mails out automatically to some taxpayers and not others. My trick is to print my tax return from the TaxCut software, Then I replace the top two pages with an inked-in 1040 form as if I computed my taxes by hand. Then I mail our return. I think if I filed a computer-printed return in total or e-filed, I would not necessarily receive my handbook automatically each year from the IRS. I could be wrong about this, but the one year that I filed a total computer-printed tax return, the IRS did not mail me the handbook. It's possible to get the handbook for free, but this way I don't have to bother asking for the handbook. By the way, you should file the IRS handbook with your CD so that if the IRS raises questions a couple of years later you have the hand book available for that particular year if needed.

December 17, 2008 Update on Intuit's Reversal
"Intuit responds to TurboTax customer revolt," Accounting Web, December 17, 2008 ---
http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=106668

Responding to market pressure and consumer outrage, Intuit has reversed its original position and announced that customers using its best-selling TurboTax software can prepare and print multiple returns at no additional cost. Also, free e-filing is included with five Federal returns.

"We're responding to changing market conditions and customer feedback," said Dan Maurer, general manager of Intuit's consumer division. "We believe this better positions TurboTax in the marketplace with an even stronger value proposition for consumers. It's one more way we help make it easier for TurboTax customers to keep more money in their pockets."

Last week, AccountingWEB reported that 171 online product reviewers on Amazon.com had panned TurboTax with one-star ratings (as of this writing, the number is at 276). The reason? For the first time, Intuit had started charging users an additional $9.95 for each additional return whether they print or e-file. Also, reviewers complained that the 2008 version of the software costs more than last year's model, from $44.95 to $59.95.

After the Intuit changes were put in place, one Amazon reviewer gave TurboTax a five-star rating and declared, "We won, you can print unlimited returns for free."

Under the headline, "Intuit Finds Customer Complaints Too Taxing to Endure," the Washington Post reported the company would refund any preparation fees customers had already paid and an upcoming update to TurboTax software would "remove any mention of the $9.95 additional-return fee."

TurboTax guarantees taxpayers will get their biggest possible refund. TurboTax customers also benefit from many features, such as built-in guidance for more than 350 possible deductions. Intuit's product line includes QuickBooks and Quicken.

Bob Jensen's tax helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010304Taxation

 


"Falsely Accused A case of sexual harassment and mistaken identity in the digital age," by K. Josef, The Chronicle Review published by The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 10, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2008/12/2008121001c.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

"Have I ever told you about the time I was accused of sexually harassing one of my college students?"

[most of this article is not reproduced in this tidbit]

"Make sure anyone who knows about this situation is informed of the mistake you have made," I demanded, more coldly now, purposely not addressing the issue of whether I intended to sue. I had no such intention. But they needed to sweat a little.

The meeting adjourned. The dean, never one for gracious damage control, disappeared. The ombudswoman made some pleasant conversation as I put on my jacket and collected my things. But no one in the room apologized. No one there expressed concern regarding the impact the event might have had on me or my reputation. Their immediate presumption of my guilt was apparently not to be regretted by anyone but me.

Tempted as I was to call my lawyer friend again, I let the feeling ebb. I wasn't looking to create more problems. But the university officials who attended this meeting were ill prepared to handle the situation — and that, I strongly suspect, is the case on many other campuses where such incidents have occurred.

In the end, the person who was most emotionally distressed by the incident was the student who had filed the complaint. When she discovered what had occurred, she was distraught over the crisis created by her own mistake. She was, in fact, the only person to offer me an apology. I made it clear to her that, based on what she believed to be the facts at the time, it was neither her mistake nor even her complaint that was the most significant problem, but the inadequate campus procedural process through which she had brought her complaint.

Since then I have frequently taken note of other incidents in which there is a rush to judgment regarding men (typically) who are accused of sexual harassment; I used to react the same way myself. That rush to judgment probably stems from the fact that instances of sexual harassment are known to be both common and underreported, so we assume that when an accusation does get made, it must be accurate.

But such an assumption is morally sloppy. The criminal-justice system may be founded upon the presumption of innocence, but on the street or the campus, we are less committed to suspending judgment until all the evidence is heard. Such impulsiveness can result in disastrous misjudgments, and any misjudgment compromises the quality and integrity of the procedures we all rely upon to adequately deal with sexual harassment when it does occur.

In a digital age, when errors or misunderstandings in correspondence happen all the time, policies for addressing the complex human problem of sexual harassment cannot be adequately forged if they do not consider the possibility, however remote, of error. Yet few, if any, studies on sexual harassment even broach the topic of false accusations. It's as if doing so would constitute one more example of blaming the victim.

But the fact remains that while false or mistaken accusations of sexual harassment are relatively uncommon, they do occur, as I can now attest. Until we devise more-sophisticated approaches for handling this complex problem on campuses, we will continue to see potentially clumsy responses that further complicate an already painful problem.

In Franz Kafka's novel The Trial, Josef K. finds himself accused of an unknown crime and subjected to an impossible bureaucratic and judicial process of trying to defend himself against charges that are never clear to him. The story presents multiple and connected metaphors. Sartre claimed it was an allegory for the alienation experienced by European Jews in the early 20th century. Others focus on the story's depiction of the inherent corruption of bureaucracies. Accompanying any interpretation is the protagonist's struggle to remain oriented in the face of increasing absurdity.

I used a play on Josef K.'s name as my pseudonym for this article in order to borrow Kafka's warning regarding such absurdity. Because sexual harassment is such a serious offense, and because it has such a long and sordid history in academe, procedures for dealing with it must be understood as far too important to resemble Kafka's bleak labyrinth, built from mysterious origins, quick assumptions, and expedited conclusions.

.Josef is the pseudonym of a former professor at a university in the South. He has since left the campus where this incident occurred and works as a clinical psychologist at a medical institution.


Question
When is the Nobel Price not a Noble (or even an ethical) prize?

A very serious developing story is being heavily covered by German media, but Sweden's two major daily newspapers remain conspicuously and Swedishly silent: The Nobel Prize Committee is coming under scrutiny for possible criminal charges of bribery and corruption in connection with this year's award in medicine. On Monday, December 8th, two days before the award ceremony, it came to light that two Nobel affiliated corporations—Nobel Media and Nobel Webb—have in the past six months received an undisclosed amount said to be "many millions" from Swedish/American pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca, which benefits financially from the award given to German Harald zur Hauser for his discovery of Human Papilloma Virus, claimed to cause cervical cancer. AstraZeneca, which holds patents on and collects royalties for both human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines currently available—Gardasil in the U.S. and Cerverix in Europe (he latter of which has been linked to at least 16 deaths in young girls)—stands to benefit greatly from the 2008 Nobel Prize given to German Harald zur Hauser for his discovery of HPV and its link to cervical cancer.
Celia Farber, Splice Today, December 11, 2008 --- Click Here

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


Newseum: Today's Front Pages (of over 600 newspapers around the world) --- http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/default.asp

Jensen Comment
This site is both useful and frustrating. It is useful because of the large number of newspapers covered in the daily free service. It is frustrating since the front pages shown are pictures such that selection, copying, and pasting text quotations as text is not possible. It is possible to use graphics capturing software such as Paintshop Pro or SnagIt, but pasting pictures of text adds greatly to file size and is not searchable when embedded among a lot of other text such as the text of a blog.

Media Channel --- http://www.mediachannel.org/


2008 TurboTax Boycott Begins
Tax Software Boycott of TurboTax Begins:  I'll Bet You Can't Find the Hidden Fees Disclosed on the TurboTax Website

Users are not complaining about the functionality of TurboTax. The problem, as they see it, is with pricing changes. For the first time, TurboTax producer Intuit started charging users an additional $9.95 for each additional return whether they print or e-file. Also, readers complain that the 2008 software costs more at checkout, jumping from $44.95 to $59.95. (However, when AccountingWEB went on Amazon, the software could be had at the discounted price of $54.99.) . . . One reviewer seemed to be issuing a battle cry by writing, "Time to start the boycott." Another reviewer had criticism of a more personal nature: "You should fire the person who came up with pay to print!" Of the 182 product reviews as of the evening of December 9, 2008, 171 of them were one-star reviews and only five were five-stars, the highest rating. Of the five five-star ratings, one user named Fernando Ortega said TurboTax is still the best, pointing out that he doesn't have to enter all of his personal information and previous returns manually.
"TurboTax turmoil: Online reviews pan the top selling software," AccountingWeb, December 2008 ---
http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=106620

H&R Block did not raise the software fee and has no additional user fee --- http://newsblaze.com/story/2008120913262200003.mwir/topstory.html
I shifted to TaxCut years ago and have never regretted doing so --- http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/products/software/index.html
Maybe it's just me, but I prefer to buy TaxCut in the box at Wal-Mart so that I have a CD for each year to file away. I prefer not to download the software directly, although download updates are free and easy to install.

Jensen Comment
It has been popular in the past for a person to file his or her tax return and then use the same software for filing the tax returns of children or parents. No longer will this be possible for free from TurboTax. Presumably the add-on fee has to be paid when spouses file separate returns rather than a joint return. Turbo Tax along with other popular tax software for individuals does participate in the Free File Alliance for taxpayers having less than $54,000 adjusted gross income. This is only  free tax software for the Federal Return, but the accompanying TurboTax State Return costs $26 so all is not free if you need to file both a State and Federal Return using Turbo Tax.

The new additional return fee irks taxpayers in 2008 just like the TurboTax activation fee in 2003 really irked taxpayers --- http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,821308,00.asp

What irks me is how hard it is at the TurboTax Web site about this $9.95 additional return fee. It's almost like TurboTax is playing a game to make it easier to drop the fee if the boycott really becomes serious.

Another thing that irks me with the TurboTax Web site is that it highlights that users can get a free edition of TurboTax and allows users to start filling in the information. Then it suddenly springs on the purchase fee along the way for users who will have an adjusted gross income above $54,000 after they have started preparing their return. This essentially wastes their time if they decide not to order the Turbo Tax software for $59 directly from TurboTax. For example, someone who decides to pay $54 from Amazon essentially has to start over preparing the return. I think hiding the $54,000 AGI maximum is highly unethical on the part of the TurboTax Website.

TaxACT  has its standard 1040 product free for download. The deluxe is $7.95 and software for Federal and State combined is $16/95.
The standard only allows one return, with the others you can do multiple returns. E-file is free --- http://www.taxact.com/
Low income filers can get a free download of the TaxACT software. I would use this software if it was possible to buy the CD at Wal-Mart. I think Wal-Mart only sells TaxCut and TurboTax CD boxes and manuals.

I really like the tax preparation hand book and forms that the IRS mails out automatically to some taxpayers and not others. My trick is to print my tax return from the TaxCut software, Then I replace the top two pages with an inked-in 1040 form as if I computed my taxes by hand. Then I mail our return. I think if I filed a computer-printed return in total or e-filed, I would not necessarily receive my handbook automatically each year from the IRS. I could be wrong about this, but the one year that I filed a total computer-printed tax return, the IRS did not mail me the handbook. It's possible to get the handbook for free, but this way I don't have to bother asking for the handbook. By the way, you should file the IRS handbook with your CD so that if the IRS raises questions a couple of years later you have the hand book available for that particular year if needed.

December 10, 2008 reply from Sam A. Hicks [shicks@VT.EDU]

For an extra $5 you can get the Tax Act software on a CD from 2nd Story Software. They also have partnership, corporation, and S Corporation. I agree with others, Tax Act is easy to use and links from tax return lines into the IRS instructions for additional info. I highly recommend it to anyone who does more than a couple of returns.

December 11, 2008 reply from Frimette Kass-Shraibman [Frimette@BROOKLYN.CUNY.EDU]

I use ATX. I like it because you actually fill out returns rather than fill in screens.

They’re customer support is very good. I had hardware problems and they spent hours on the phone with me. They were better when they were in Maine, before being bough out by CCH, but still very good.

Recently a 2005 return walked through the door. Normally you have to buy the rights to do 5 returns at a time. I didn’t want to buy 5 2005 returns so we called them They gave me the key to open 2005 at no charge.

I would recommend trying them for any that does returns other than their own.

Best,

Frimette Kass-Shraibman, CPA, Ph.D.
Ass't Prof. of Accounting
Dept of Economics
Brooklyn College - CUNY
2900 Bedford Avenue
218A Whitehead Hall
Brooklyn, NY 11210
718-951-5000 x1533

 

Bob Jensen's tax helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#010304Taxation


"Life in the Big Four: Pranks," AccountingWeb, December 2008 --- http://www.accountingweb.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=106619

As long as there are interns and new hires, there will be pranks. Some pranks are timeless, and incredibly clever. There's a famous prank to play on new audit hires/interns. A senior (or manager) sends the unsuspecting kid into the CFO's office asking for a "bag of tickmarks."

This inside joke is HILARIOUS.............assuming you were born in the 1920s and have the sense of humor of a dead hamster. This is not an example of a timeless and/or clever joke. If I wanted to laugh this hard, I would have crashed an eight-year old's birthday party and listened intently to the Knock-Knock jokes.

Interns will do whatever you tell them, as long as they believe it will get them a job offer. Wasting it on a bad joke that was out-of-date when the CFO was in high school is not the way to use this wonderful gift. The best jokes, in fact, are the ones that the intern never realizes are jokes.

Consider, for example, the following conversation.

"Dammit."

"What's wrong, Anonymous Senior?"

"These idiots repaved the parking lot, and capitalized the whole damned thing. We didn't cover this in our fixed asset testing."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" (translation: Is there anything I can do to get a job offer?)

"Well, a parking space covers about 30 square feet, and they said they paved 5000 square feet. It would be great if you could go out and count the parking spaces so that we could figure out roughly how much was actually paved."

The result: Intern spends four hours counting 200 parking spaces, and often ends up thinking he did something constructive.

Everyone is a big winner.

The best office jokes, of course, are played on those who have no inherent ability to cope with the emotional fallout.

Myself and another senior were at a client once with an IT audit senior. My friend and I went to lunch, and returned to find an open text document on each of our computers, reading "IT Security is serious business. Lock your computer when you leave or I will report you to the National Office."

The IT Audit Senior had decided to play vigilante.

Both my co-senior and I were slightly offended, because IT people were rarely allowed to interact with clients. This business trip, we decided, was a privilege for IT Guy, not a right.

In the words of the Senior George Bush, "This aggression would not stand."

The next time IT guy went to the restroom, he did not lock his computer. IT security is SERIOUS BUSINESS, DAMMIT!!!

To demonstrate how serious, we sat at his computer and activated a little known feature of Microsoft Word: the customizable area of Autocorrect.

This deserves some explanation.

You know how, if you type "auidt" instead of "audit," and Bill Gates often works some magic and fixes the typo for you automatically? Well, the list of common typos that Word uses can be edited. In fact, it can be edited to the point where your name, or your firm's name, can be considered a typo by Word and replaced with any vulgar word of your choosing.

For example, suppose IT Guy's name was Fred. You can tell Word that "Fred" is a typo, and should be replaced with a word like "Slut." Whenever IT Guy types his name, Word automatically replaces it with the word "Slut."

As there are countless "common" words used in everyday Big4 life, and countless vulgar words in the English language, one can have infinite amounts of fun with this trick.

Later that day, IT Guy typed a memo on Word and e-mailed to his boss without manually proofreading it.

He was never heard from again.

* This is the second in a series of reminiscences about life in the Big Four accounting firms. The author has asked to remain anonymous.

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting humor are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnron.htm#Humor

Bob Jensen's threads on humor in general are in each prior edition of New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookurl.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting careers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers

Jensen Comment
When I was about six years old my play friend Joe (Kooky) Kuckenberger and I did not know that new chimes had been installed in the Methodist Church steeple near downtown. We'd not been informed that these chimes were to commence, for the first time, resounding all over town (small Iowa farm town) at noontime later in the morning. Some older boys let us in on a secret that, when we heard chimes coming from heaven at noontime, we should watch for a golden stairway to descend that would be held up by thousands of winged angels. Just before noon Kooky and I stood tall in our army surplus store helmets and backpacks. When the mysterious chimes did indeed resound, we scanned the blue sky with our binoculars for nearly an hour waiting for the angels and the golden stairs leading to heaven. Now I'm awaiting the same event when the U.S. Treasury will deliver my economic stimulus bag of gold

Bob Jensen's story about growing up is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/max01.htm


Compare Alternative Credit Card Deals

December 16, 2008 message from Ashley Turner [ashleyturns@gmail.com]

Hi Bob!

I stumbled upon your site looking for finance resources--I recently graduated college and am just starting to stand on my own feet financially. This is also my first year that I'll be paying taxes, so all your IRS info was especially appreciated! I actually wanted to suggest a site that your readers might be helpful: I've been consulting bankaholic.com quite a bit, and I've found their information to be quite good. I've read their section on comparing credit cards over and over again! Just a thought!

Take care,
Ashley T
.

Bankaholic.com --- http://www.bankaholic.com/

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

Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card companies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO


Terminology for a Mission Statement:  If you have to write a mission statement for a program, department, or an entire college here's a way to think about and write about such things

"An Economist's Tools of the Trade:  How the science of economics is instrumental in helping a president run his university," by James L. Doti, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 9, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2008/12/2008120901c.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

I've often been asked whether my academic background in economics serves me well in carrying out my presidential duties at Chapman University. No doubt, course work in accounting while I was an undergraduate has helped me to critically read and understand income statements and balance sheets.

But what about my many years of almost total immersion in the dismal science? Does it translate to executive leadership? Can economics help a chief executive be more effective, or is it only the stuff of dry mathematical models and esoteric theories, with little practical value?

In reflecting on those questions, I've concluded that my economic brainwashing has been instrumental in how I think about things and make decisions as a university president. I may not always be conscious of it, but economics rears its head in many telling ways. And the same holds true, I believe, for other university leaders, whether they know it or not.

Comparative advantage.
In the early 1800s, the millionaire stockholder David Ricardo showed how the law of comparative advantage can be used to explain the gains of trade. That law is why most economists believe in the efficacy of free trade across international borders. I use the law of comparative advantage in a somewhat different way.

In strategic planning for a university, we are often confronted with many proposals for new academic programs. Making choices is difficult but choose we must, since resource constraints limit what we can do. About 10 years ago, we had to decide at Chapman whether to significantly expand our small department of film production or focus on alternative programs with great promise.

In the end, we concluded that Chapman had a comparative advantage in film over other universities because of our location in Southern California and because of a team of leaders in our nascent program who shared a compelling academic vision. That small department has since grown to become one of the leading film schools in the nation.

Another area of Chapman's comparative advantage goes beyond its location. I have long observed that unlike professors at most universities, our faculty engage in a good deal of interdisciplinary work. Without much prodding, various schools offer a variety of joint programs; the disciplinary silos that impede interdisciplinary work at other institutions do not seem to exist at Chapman. While I'm not certain how that happened, I do know that it represents a comparative advantage for Chapman that should not only be nurtured but exploited.

With that in mind, we decided last year to recruit a world-class team of six faculty members in computational science — an interdisciplinary area of study that integrates physics, computer science, and engineering. The new center will use tools from various disciplines to study such hot topics as adaptation to climate change, nanotechnology, wildfire prediction, and even earthquake forecasting.

I believe we're making the right choices, but more important, I am confident that by placing great emphasis on comparative advantage, we're using the right decision-making process.

Incentives.
Any discussion about the workings of a market economy ultimately falls back on the power of incentives. And any discussion about the workings of a vibrant academic community ultimately falls back on attracting and retaining the best and brightest faculty members and students. For that to happen, we must use an arsenal of incentives. The fact that people respond to rewards is understood even by noneconomists. But economists tend to be obsessed with the connection between incentives and results.

Salaries and scholarships are certainly among the carrots we offer. But the market economy has been unfairly pilloried for dealing only with monetary rewards. Incentives can and do take many other forms.

For example, realizing how much faculty members value endowed chairs and professorships, we began creating more of them. The number of endowed positions at Chapman has grown from one in 1991 to 33 chairs and 19 professorships today.

Creating those endowed positions also relies on using incentives in our fund-raising efforts. It always troubled me that donors who endow faculty positions get little recognition for their philanthropy. Naming a chair after a donor obviously lacks the panache that comes with giving money for a major construction project and seeing your name in large letters on a building.

One day, as I was jogging along the beautiful trails of the Borghese Gardens in Rome, I noticed busts of famous artists and scientists framing the paths. I'm not sure now, but probably because of my obsession with incentives, I was struck by the idea of creating a similar promenade on the Chapman campus. It would be flanked by busts of personages to represent the various disciplines of our endowed chairs and professorships, and by each bust we could name the donor whose money had made the position possible.

Our campus now has busts of Abraham Lincoln, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, George Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Smith, and many others. Most recently, we had a public ceremony to celebrate the creation of a new chair in Italian studies. On the pedestal of an exquisite bronze bust of Giacomo Puccini is a plaque that also commemorates Paul and Marybelle Musco, whose donation made the chair possible.

In tough economic times, when both donors and institutions are suffering under fiscal constraints, the arsenal of monetary incentives will be limited. But market incentives can be as simple yet powerful as giving praise and public recognition to professors, staff members, students, and alumni.

Sunk costs.
Those are expenditures that, once incurred, cannot be recovered. Sounds simple enough, but those costs are oh-so-powerful in administrative decision making.

Recently, in evaluating an academic program created several years ago, we reached a point where it became clear we had a failure on our hands. Students and faculty members weren't engaged or interested. The program lurched forward but had few prospects for real success. When our discussion turned to the possibility of ending the program, someone argued, "Yes, but what about all the money we've invested in this?"

That person was referring to sunk costs. But since these costs are "sunk," they should not be considered in evaluating whether to continue a program. Only its future prospects — both pro and con — are relevant.

Because of the long planning horizon for construction, the perceived benefits of a project often change during the time it takes to complete it. For example, we once spent close to $1-million in architectural costs for a new classroom building. But by the time we were ready to break ground, we had come to the conclusion that we really needed a new student union more than a classroom building.

The $1-million was already spent and, so, not directly relevant to forward-looking decisions. Let's say, for example, that the total cost (including architectural fees) for either the classroom building or the student union was $10-million. In deciding between those projects, the relevant cost for the student union is $10-million. But the relevant cost for the classroom building is $9-million.

Clearly, an understanding of sunk costs is necessary for relevant cost-benefit analysis. In deciding what to do, presidents should not be swayed by sunk costs. The only relevant costs for decision making are the costs that would be incurred from the present to the future.

Price discrimination.
Private colleges and universities are price discriminators. That is, they use tuition rates and grants as pricing tools to achieve certain quantitative and qualitative objectives. Tuition grants in the form of financial aid, for example, can be used to make a college experience more affordable. They can also be used in the form of academic or athletic scholarships to attract better-prepared students or star athletes.

Our ability to charge different net (after-grant) tuition rates to different students is to be contrasted with businesses in which everyone pays the same price for a particular product. For example, unlike higher education, most sellers of agricultural products do not have the ability to maximize revenues and shape customer profiles by charging different prices for such commodities. Commodity customers face the same stated market price and determine whether to buy or sell on the basis of it.

Many experts in the economics of higher education, however, argue that colleges and universities are losing their ability to effectively price discriminate. I made that argument myself in a November 2004 article I wrote in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management ("Is Higher Education Becoming a Commodity?"). In my research, I found that the ability to use price discrimination is declining at different rates for different types of institutions. I found that more-selective colleges had a greater degree of price-discriminating ability. That is consistent with economic theory which suggests that price discrimination is conducted more effectively when demand for a product or service does not vary much with price, which is certainly the case at selective institutions.

Strategically, the findings suggest that more-selective institutions will be better able to price tuition and grants at relatively high levels. Less-selective colleges would be better off with a low tuition and grant strategy.

At Chapman, recognition of that relationship helped us to significantly increase student selectivity. Not only would the recruitment of better-prepared students improve the intellectual life on the campus, but it would also place us in a stronger market position. As our selectivity increased — moving steadily upward from a "student selectivity" rank in U.S. News & World Report of 92 out of 112 Western master's universities in 1991, to a rank of 2 out of 127 campuses in 2008 — so did our net tuition. We found that being more selective made it possible for us to increase tuition at a faster rate than the rate at which we increased financial aid. In contrast, less-selective institutions generally have to give most of their tuition increases back in the form of scholarships and tuition grants, resulting in no increase in net tuition revenue.

Those are but a few examples of how economics can be used to inform administrative decision making in academe. I could go on. But there is something else I know about economics, in addition to its usefulness in decision making: The human mind is capable of absorbing only so much economics at one time. So let me end here before the dismal science becomes even more dismal.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm


College is about having a career after high school, after college, so you want students to understand the material and not just get good grades in class. I feel like it’d be better for the students to actually understand the material and for the teachers to change their teaching so that the students get a real understanding.
Student, Los Medanos College

"Listening to Students About Learning," by Andrea Conklin Bueschel, The Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching of Community Colleges, 2008 ---  http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/dynamic/publications/elibrary_pdf_737.pdf

Students get it. By the time they get to college, they know a good deal about education. They know that grades do not always reflect “real understanding.” They know that not every class is the same and that not all teachers teach the same way. They know that students learn in different ways, and they understand that how teachers teach has very real consequences for their future. They understand that they have a role in their own success.

Students who come to college underprepared are especially attuned to these realities. Recent reports from education researchers and in the mainstream media point to how few of the growing numbers of students entering college underprepared move successfully through the system. But students do not need reports and headlines to understand how much learning matters and how elusive success can be. For them the challenge is personal and immediate: if they can’t get the education they need, then they can’t get a job that pays the rent, read the rental lease, or calculate the monthly budget. If they don’t succeed, there are real consequences—for them as individuals and for all of us as a society. This problem is not just one of depressing statistics, but of people whose life chances rise or fall depending on their performance in our community colleges.

Too often, community college students taking basic skills classes have been exposed throughout their earlier schooling to the same material taught in the same way multiple times with unsuccessful results (see, for example, Grubb and Associates, 1999). Their knowledge tends to be precarious, and often they haven’t mastered the art of being a good student, let alone content knowledge.

The chances of failure are high indeed. There are many approaches to this challenge. Often discussions of community colleges—and the many underprepared students who attend them—focus on financial aid policies, student background, and support services of various kinds. Real gains have been made by focusing on these non-instructional or extracurricular aspects of students’ lives.

In addition to addressing these factors, however, there is much to be gained from a focus on the classroom itself, especially in the pre-collegiate (developmental or basic skills) courses that are supposed to prepare students for college-level work.1 In particular, this essay focuses on how listening to students talk about learning can help them become more active partners in their own education, more engaged in the classroom, and better positioned to succeed. A large literature on adult learning supports the value of student engagement and partnership, insights that were brought home in a recent project undertaken with 11 California community colleges sponsored by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Faculty who participated in the Strengthening Pre-collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC) project, used technology, different class structures, learning communities, lab components, and supplemental instruction to help developmental students master material they had struggled with in the past. At the same time, these teachers of precollegiate English and mathematics used a variety of strategies to become better observers of student learning and help students themselves become more aware of their needs as learners.

Perhaps the most common message from our interviews with SPECC students (like the young woman quoted at the beginning of this essay) is that students care about their educational experiences.2 In many cases, students didn’t think about how their classes were taught until they saw a teacher do something different from traditional instruction (especially lecture format). Once they were exposed to different practices and styles—whether group work, different technology, or new types of assessment—they felt more confident about articulating what helped them learn best. Not only can innovations in teaching improve students’ mastery of content, they can also make students better learners. Perhaps the most important message is that teachers can accomplish a great deal when they treat students as valuable partners in improving teaching and learning.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on dysfunctional grade inflation are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#GradeInflation


Most Students in Remedial Classes in College Had Solid Grades in High School
Nearly four out of five students who undergo remediation in college graduated from high school with grade-point averages of 3.0 or higher, according to a report issued today by Strong American Schools, a group that advocates making public-school education more rigorous.
Peter Schmidt, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 15, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/news/article/5145/most-students-in-remedial-classes-in-college-had-solid-grades-in-high-school-survey-finds

The investigation revealed that 91 percent of Harvard's students graduated cum laude.
Thomas Bartlett and Paula Wasley, "Just Say 'A': Grade Inflation Undergoes Reality Check:  The notion of a decline in standards draws crusaders and skeptics," Chronicle of Higher Education, September 5, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i02/02a00104.htm?utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

Question
If median grades for each course are made publically available on the Internet, will students seek out the high grade average or low grade average courses?
Examples of such postings at Cornell University are at http://registrar.sas.cornell.edu/Student/mediangradesA.html

Hypothesis 1
Students will seek out the lower grade average courses/sections thinking that they have a better chance to compete for high grades.

Hypothesis 2
Students will seek out the higher grade average courses/sections thinking that particular instructors are easier graders.

However, when Cornell researchers studied about 800,000 course grades issued at Cornell from 1990 to 2004, they found that most students visited the site to shop for classes where the median grade was higher. Plus, professors who tended to give out higher grades were more popular. Students with lower SAT scores were the most likely to seek out courses with higher median grades.
"Easy A's on the Internet:  A surprising Cornell experiment in posting grades; plus a look at recent research into ethical behavior, service charges, and volunteer habits," by Francesca Di Meglio, Business Week, December 11, 2007 ---
http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/content/dec2007/bs20071211_885308.htm?link_position=link2 

In a striking example of unintended consequences, a move by Cornell University to give context to student grades by publicly posting median grades for courses has resulted in exactly the opposite student behavior than anticipated.

Cornell's College of Arts & Sciences originally set up a Web site in 1997 where median grades were posted, with the intention of also printing median class grades alongside the grade the student actually received in the course on his or her permanent transcript. Administrators thought students would use the information on the Web site to seek out classes with lower median grades—because, they reasoned, an A in a class that has a median grade of B-minus would be more meaningful than say, an A in a course where the median was A-plus.

Course Shopping Leads to Grade Inflation

However, when Cornell researchers studied about 800,000 course grades issued at Cornell from 1990 to 2004, they found that most students visited the site to shop for classes where the median grade was higher. Plus, professors who tended to give out higher grades were more popular. Students with lower SAT scores were the most likely to seek out courses with higher median grades.

This "shopping" in turn led to grade inflation, Vrinda Kadiyali, associate professor of marketing and economics at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management, one of the authors, explained in an interview. The study, which is undergoing peer review, has not yet been published.

So far, however, the university has posted the median course grades only on the Internet and has not yet put those grades on transcripts. According to an article in the Cornell Daily Sun, the school will start posting the grades on transcripts in the spring. School officials were not immediately available for comment.

The research team hopes the school follows through on its plans. "That will allow Cornell to hold itself to a higher standard because it lets potential employers know where students stand relevant to other students," says Kadiyali.

The presence of the median grade data is well-known to students but less well-known to faculty. The researchers themselves were prompted to do the study when one of them learned of the Web site from a student questioning grades in her course.

Kadiyali says the formula the researchers used to come to these conclusions could easily be applied to Internet teacher rating sites, such as ratemyprofessors.com. It's something educators should consider, she adds, to find out how these posts affect the decision-making of students and, thus, professors and their courses.

Jensen Comment
The problem is that, in modern times, grades are the keys to the kingdom (i.e., keys unlocking the gates of graduate studies and professional careers) such that higher grades rather than education tend to become the main student goals. A hundred years ago, just getting a degree could open postgraduate gates in life because such a small proportion of the population got college diplomas. With higher percentages of the population getting college diplomas, high grades became keys to the kingdom. In many colleges a C grade is viewed as very nearly a failing grade.

At the same time, formal teaching evaluations and teacher rating sites like ratemyprofessors.com have led to marked grade inflation in virtually all colleges. The median grades are often A, A-, B+, or B. The poor student's C grade is way below average. Just take a look at these course medians from Cornell University --- http://registrar.sas.cornell.edu/Grades/MedianGradeSP07.pdf


The investigation revealed that 91 percent of Harvard's students graduated cum laude.
Thomas Bartlett and Paula Wasley, "Just Say 'A': Grade Inflation Undergoes Reality Check:  The notion of a decline in standards draws crusaders and skeptics," Chronicle of Higher Education, September 5, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i02/02a00104.htm?utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

"Just Say 'A': Grade Inflation Undergoes Reality Check:  The notion of a decline in standards draws crusaders and skeptics," by Thomas Bartlett and Paula Wasley, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 5, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i02/02a00104.htm?utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

Does Florida State University have a grade-inflation problem?

The numbers are certainly suspicious. A decade ago, only 19 percent of the students who took an oceanography class earned A's. Last fall it was 57 percent.

Or take mathematics. Ten years ago, 27 percent of math students at Florida State failed. Last fall it was 10 percent. With a few exceptions, the same trend holds in other departments.

But what does that mean? At the provost's request, a committee of deans is trying to figure out why grades have gone up and what, if anything, should be done about it.

Grade inflation is among the oldest and thorniest problems in higher education. In 1894 a committee at Harvard University reported that A's and B's were awarded "too readily." But after more than a century of fulmination, there is little agreement on the cause or how to fix it.

There is even contentious debate about whether the phenomenon of grade inflation exists at all. It is the question at the center of a new collection of essays, Grade Inflation: Academic Standards in Higher Education (State University of New York Press).

Those who believe that grade inflation exists say that when colleges do try to hold grades in check or make professors accountable, they usually fail.

Among the contributors to the new volume is Mary Biggs, an English professor at the College of New Jersey, who sees little hope for those trying to stem the tide.

"Once grade inflation has taken hold," she says, "it develops its own constituencies and acquires a heavy weight and powerful momentum of its own."

No Consensus

Those who see grade inflation as a serious concern often have a hard time getting taken seriously. In part that is because not everyone is convinced that grade inflation actually exists — or that it's necessarily such a bad thing.

Among the agnostics is Maureen A. McCarthy, a professor of psychology at Kennesaw State University, who recently participated in a debate on the topic at a conference sponsored by the American Psychological Association. While it may be true that college grades have generally trended northward in the past 20 years, she points out, so have scores on more "objective" forms of assessment, like the SAT and IQ tests.

Today's students may legitimately be achieving more than their parents' generation, she argues. "So in that sense, do we even have grade inflation? I'm not certain."

Still, many find the numbers on grade inflation, like those at Florida State, hard to ignore. And evidence such as the exposé published by The Boston Globe in 2001 on Harvard University's grading practices add more ballast to the argument that grade inflation is a serious problem. The investigation revealed that 91 percent of Harvard's students graduated cum laude. (The university has since placed a limit on the number of seniors eligible for Latin honors.)

While complaints about grade inflation date back more than a century, according to Ms. Biggs, lax grading and slipping standards were much-discussed in the 1960s, when grades began to rise noticeably. That's when critics coined the term "grade inflation."

Scholars of the phenomenon also point to other reasons that it not only exists, but is so powerful. A reputation for giving low grades creates problems in recruitment and retention. In addition, because grading is considered part of a professor's academic freedom, regulating the distribution of A's and B's can be tricky.

For faculty members, the pressure to grade generously comes not only from anxious students and "helicopter" parents, but also from promotion-and-tenure committees that look carefully at end-of-term student evaluations.

"It's easier to be a high grader," says Ms. Biggs. "You can write that A or B, and you don't have to defend it. You don't have students complaining or crying in your office. You don't get many low student evaluations. The amount of time that is eaten up by very rigorous grading and dealing with student complaints is time you could be spending on your own research."

Leaders Needed

Could those reasons account for Florida State's rising grades? Sally McRorie, dean of the College of Visual Artists there, leads the committee that is looking into the issue. The group plans to quiz grade-inflation experts and talk to professors and department chairmen. "There are a lot of factors at play," she says.

Among them are the Bright Futures scholarships. Most Florida State students receive some money from the lottery-supported program, which requires them to maintain a certain grade-point average, though it varies depending on the amount of the scholarship. It's no secret that students often beg professors for better grades, citing the possible loss of their scholarships.

If Florida State is serious about tackling grade inflation, observers say, the university will need strong leadership in doing so. And sometimes even that isn't enough.

In 2006, Hank Brown, then president of the University of Colorado, waged a public campaign against grade inflation. Calling it a high priority of his administration, he proposed adding class rank to transcripts to give employers a better sense of students' achievements.

The top-down policy proposal was unpopular with faculty members, however, and in the end the regulation of grades was left up to individual colleges and departments.

The flagship campus's College of Arts & Sciences, for example, chose to promote "academic rigor" through other measures, such as disseminating data on grade distribution and working to standardize teaching practices among sections of large lecture classes, says the provost, Philip P. DiStefano.

These efforts have had modest success in reining in grades, he says: The college has brought down its grades five-hundredths of a percentage point, from an average of 2.99, in 2004, to 2.94, in 2007.

Move to the Median

Cornell University has tried something similar. In 1996 officials there decided to make median grades for each class available on the university's Web site. The aim was to make grades more meaningful by putting them in context and thus preventing grade inflation.

But the plan seems to have backfired, according to a recent paper by three Cornell professors. Students, not surprisingly, tended to choose classes with higher median grades. The scholars also found that overall grades at Cornell have risen since the information was made public.

"The hope was that this would encourage students to go into tougher classes because they would be recognized for taking them," says Talia Bar, an assistant professor of economics and one of the paper's authors. "We're not seeing that effect."

Some faculty members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill think the cure for grade inflation may be a mathematical formula.

Spurred by a report in 2000 that showed a steady rise in grades at Chapel Hill, a faculty committee proposed a GPA alternative called the Achievement Index, a weighted class-ranking system that measures a student's academic performance relative to those of classmates.

Andrew J. Perrin, a professor of sociology who is one of the system's backers, likens the index to the "strength of schedule" system used in basketball to compare teams from different leagues on the basis of wins and losses against common opponents. Similarly, he says, the Achievement Index formula takes into account not only how a student performs vis-à-vis others in the course section, but also how those classmates fare in all of their courses.

The index is a resurrected version of a 1997 proposal by a Duke University statistician, Valen E. Johnson, who found that positive student evaluations correlated with lenient grading. The algorithm he devised was intended to neutralize differences in professors' grading practices and remove incentives for students to choose easier courses to inflate their GPA's.

Duke's faculty rejected a proposal to use Mr. Johnson's formula in lieu of the GPA a decade ago. Proponents of the weighted class-ranking system at Chapel Hill have been only marginally more successful. In 2007 a plan to put Achievement Index information on students' transcripts alongside GPA's, and to use the formula to determine student honors, was narrowly voted down by the faculty council.

Some students objected that the index would stoke competition. But the main problem, faculty members felt, was that the solution was just too complicated. Grade-point averages are intuitive and easy to calculate. The Achievement Index requires advanced math and can be computed only with full access to the registrar's data. "The biggest concern was that this was a black box," says Mr. Perrin, "and that we didn't really understand what it would do."

Still, the sociologist is hopeful that he and his colleagues will get the go-ahead from Chapel Hill administrators to run a pilot version of the Achievement Index. Under the revised plan, index information won't appear on transcripts, but students who log onto the registrar's site to check their end-of-term grades will also be able to see their index-based rankings. Mr. Perrin hopes that distributing the Achievement Index results will help both faculty members and administrators understand how it works and convince students that it's a fairer assessment measurement than the straightforward grade-point average ranking.

Formula for Success?

Perhaps the most successful attempt to combat grade inflation has been at Princeton University, which was singled out as one of the worst Ivy League offenders in this regard. In the fall of 2004, Princeton approved a policy of grading expectations.

It's simple enough: All departments are expected to keep the number of A's down to 35 percent. In any one class, of course, that number might be considerably higher (or lower), but the idea is that the expectation will create consistency across departments.

The idea seems to be working. From 2004 to 2007, the percentage of A's in undergraduate courses was 41 percent, down from 47 percent during the previous three years. Princeton isn't hitting its target yet, but it's getting closer.

All of which pleases Nancy W. Malkiel, dean of the college at Princeton. "We think it's really important to use grades to signal to students the difference between their very best work and their good work," she says. "Otherwise how do they know how to stretch themselves if they don't have clear signals?"

Whether such guidelines would work at a university like Florida State is uncertain. Deans there are still trying to determine whether they have a problem and, if so, what's causing it.

According to Joseph A. Travis, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, officials are determined to do something — they're just not sure what. "Things like this creep up on you," he says. "No one's sanguine about it. No one is saying 'Oh, yeah, this is fine.'"

Bob Jensen's threads on dysfunctional grade inflation are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#GradeInflation


LearningScience --- http://www.learningscience.org/index.htm

LearningScience.org is an organization dedicated to sharing the newer and emerging "learning tools" of science education. Tools such as real-time data collection, simulations, inquiry based lessons, interactive web lessons, micro-worlds, and imaging,  among others, can help make teaching science an exciting and engaging endeavor. These tools can help connect students with science, in ways that were impossible just a few years ago. Take a look at a few different types of "learning tools" at this link, Tool Examples. At this point in our project we are highlighting some of the best web resources for science concepts. Although our main emphasis is on students, teachers, and parents, really anyone interested in science education will find the site useful and informative. 

Using the National Science Education Standards (1996, National Academy of Sciences) as our framework, we highlight only the best of these "learning tools" for students and teachers. All of the featured tools go through a  review process. Once a "learning tool" is submitted it is analyzed by an editorial panel of science educators and scientists for content and design.

LearningScience.org  is proof of concept project and a work in progress. Most of our "learning tools" are web based and free. We will remain a totally FREE online learning community that researches, reviews, and recommends the best of world wide science education interactives. This means that most of these are accessible to teachers, students, and parents who have access to the Internet.  For some of the concepts, we have only a few "learning tools".  That is why it is important that you join us in this effort. If you are a science professional, or someone who enjoys science, please consider sending us your ideas.. If you have found science resources that we should add,  please share your ideas with others, we would love to hear from you. Just email George Mehler with your suggestions.

LearningScience.org is a collaborative project of the Central Bucks School District (PA,USA), the teachers of the Central Bucks School District, The College of Education at Temple University (PA, USA), and George Mehler Ed.D.  George Mehler can be reached at gmehler@cbsd.org
or 267 893 2044
.


"Union Linked to Corruption Scandal," by Steven Greenhouse, The New York Times, December 11, 2008 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/us/politics/12union.html?_r=1

The Service Employees International Union has long boasted that it is on the cutting edge of the labor movement. But it found itself badly embarrassed this week when it was linked by name to Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s maneuvering to secure some financial gain from picking the next Senator from Illinois.

The federal criminal complaint filed against Mr. Blagojevich said his chief of staff, John Harris, had suggested to a service employees’ official that the union should help make the governor the head of Change to Win, the federation of seven unions that broke away from the A.F.L.-C.I.O. The complaint said Mr. Blagojevich was seeking a position that paid $250,000 to $300,000 a year.

In exchange, the complaint strongly suggested, the service employees union and Change to Win would help persuade Mr. Blagojevich to name Valerie Jarrett, President-elect Barack Obama’s first choice, as the state’s new senator. And the union would get help from the Obama administration, presumably for its legislative agenda.

Several union officials in Chicago and Washington said that the service employees official approached by Mr. Harris was Tom Balanoff, the president of the union’s giant janitors’ local in Chicago and head of the union’s Illinois state council. Mr. Balanoff, one of the union officials closest to Mr. Obama, is widely seen as an aggressive, successful labor leader, who has helped unionize thousands of janitors not just in the Chicago area but also in Texas.

Reached by telephone on Tuesday, Mr. Balanoff said, “I can’t comment on anything right now.”

The Illinois branch of the service employees issued a statement on Wednesday night saying, “We have no reason to believe that S.E.I.U. or any S.E.I.U. official was involved in any misconduct.” It added that the union and Mr. Balanoff “are fully cooperating with the federal investigation.”

Greg Denier, Change to Win’s spokesman, said the federation “had no involvement, no discussion, no contact” with Mr. Blagojevich or his staff. “The idea of a position at Change to Win was totally an invention of the governor, and his stance has no basis in reality,” Mr. Denier said.

Mr. Denier noted that the presidency of Change to Win was an unsalaried position. The federation’s president, Anna Burger, is the service employees’ secretary treasurer and receives only her S.E.I.U. salary.

Continued in article

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


"The 'Certified' Teacher Myth: It doesn't help classroom performance," The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122912779960403217.html?mod=djemEditorialPage

Like all unions, teachers unions have a vested interest in restricting the labor supply to reduce job competition. Traditional state certification rules help to limit the supply of "certified" teachers. But a new study suggests that such requirements also hinder student learning.

Harvard researchers Paul Peterson and Daniel Nadler compared states that have genuine alternative certification with those that have it in name only. And they found that between 2003 and 2007 students in states with a real alternative pathway to teaching gained more on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (a federal standardized test) than did students in other states.

"In states that had genuine alternative certification, test-score gains on the NAEP exceeded those in the other states by 4.8 points and 7.6 points in 4th- and 8th-grade math, respectively," report the authors in the current issue of Education Next. "In reading, the additional gains in the states with genuine alternative certification were 10.6 points and 3.9 points for the two grade levels respectively."

The study undermines the arguments from colleges of education and teachers unions, which say that traditional certification, which they control, is the only process that can produce quality teachers. The findings hold up even after controlling for race, ethnicity, free-lunch eligibility, class size and per-pupil state spending.

The study also found that loosening certification rules can help alleviate teacher shortages. Unions blame these shortages on low pay, though in Washington, D.C. now they are also refusing an offer of higher pay in return for giving up teacher tenure. Messrs. Peterson and Nadler show that broader recruitment paths can also address shortages, particularly among minority teachers who are in especially short supply.

This is important because there is broad agreement that minority students tend to benefit from having a minority instructor, who can also serve as a role model. And it turns out that black and Hispanic college graduates are much more likely to take advantage of alternative paths to certification.

"Minorities are represented in the teaching force to a greater extent in states with genuine alternative certification than in other states," write the authors, who conclude, "there is every reason to believe that alternative certification is key to recruiting more minorities into the teaching profession." In Mississippi, 60% of the more than 800 teachers who were alternatively certified in 2004-05 were minorities, even though the overall teaching force in the state is only 26% minority.

President-elect Barack Obama has expressed guarded support for education reforms like merit pay and charter schools. Yet he chose Linda Darling-Hammond to head the education policy team for his transition. Ms. Darling-Hammond, a professor at Stanford, is a union favorite and vocal supporter of traditional certification. She's also been a fierce critic of Teach for America and other successful alternative certification programs.

Unions claim that traditional certification serves the interests of students. But it's clear that students would be better served if the teaching profession were open to more college graduates. Teachers learn by teaching, not by mastering the required "education" courses associated with state certification.

Far from regulating teacher quality, forcing prospective teachers to take a specific set of education-related courses merely deters college graduates who might otherwise consider teaching. That outcome may serve the goals of labor unions, but it's hard to see how it helps the kids. If we want better teachers and more of them, relaxing certification standards would be a good place to start.


"Helping Your Data Decamp to a Mac," by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2008 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122886922043793175.html

Apple has promoted this PC-to-Mac switching concept heavily over recent years -- particularly with its "I'm a Mac" commercials, which bluntly compare the Windows and Mac operating systems. Windows Vista has been a source of consternation all its own, and some people have opted for the Mac rather than risking problems with a Vista PC. Apple recently reported that about 50% of the people buying Macs in the Apple stores are new to the Mac.

If you buy a new Mac from the Apple store, staffers there ("Geniuses," as they call themselves) will transfer your files over to the new machine free. This process takes place in the store, though Apple says it generally isn't a "while you wait" task. If you buy a Mac elsewhere, such as online or at Best Buy, Apple stores charge $50 for this transfer.

But some people aren't comfortable with the idea of handing a computer filled with their personal files over to a stranger. If this is the case for you, some other viable options include copying your old PC's data onto a portable hard drive or onto discs that are compatible with the new computer. If several home computers are networked, files can be transferred onto a drive accessible by all the machines.

This week, I tried yet another method, copying data from a Windows machine over to a new MacBook using a special transfer cable from Belkin International Inc. The aptly named Switch-to-Mac Cable plugs into USB ports on two computers. It came out a month ago and is available for $50 at places like Best Buy and Apple stores. Like other transferring methods, it moves only files and not programs or applications, such as Microsoft Word. (Windows applications can run on a Mac using programs like Boot Camp, Fusion or Parallels.)

I tested the Belkin Switch-to-Mac Cable by transferring data to a new Apple MacBook from my two-year-old Lenovo ThinkPad X60, which runs Vista. (Most people will transfer from an older PC that doesn't run Vista.)

After installing the software included and connecting the transfer cable to both the Mac and Windows PC, short, on-screen prompts walked me through the steps for copying data from one computer to the other. On one instructional screen, I checked boxes to indicate what I wanted to transfer, including documents, pictures, music, videos, Internet Explorer bookmarks, desktop wallpaper and desktop files. Here, I could also opt to transfer a custom folder as well as personal information from Outlook like email, contacts and calendar.

I liked Belkin's simple approach, including unintimidating software and a straightforward cable with a glowing, white indicator. But the files didn't all properly transfer from my Windows laptop to my Mac. Most notably, the software prompted me to move files on my desktop, but the cable moved only five of the 23 selected files stored there.

Also, I use Mozilla's Firefox as my default browser, but Belkin doesn't move Firefox bookmarks to the Mac. Still, my Internet Explorer bookmarks moved over into Safari, Apple's browser. Belkin explained that it left out Firefox transfers, instead focusing on programs like Safari that come installed on Macs. Even without a cable, Firefox itself will export bookmarks to be moved to the Mac in just a few simple steps.

I had no problems transferring everything else, and things like photos and music moved to the Mac appeared there in logical places. For example, photos stored in the "My Pictures" folder on my Windows PC automatically moved over to iPhoto on the Mac and retained their original folder labels in iPhoto.

In most cases, newly transferred files were clearly labeled on the Mac in folders marked "Windows PC." After my initial transfer, I used the cable for additional transfers, and the data moved in those follow-ups were labeled "Windows PC-2" and so on. When my email, contacts and calendar transferred from my Windows Live Mail desktop client, I wasn't sure where this data had moved within Apple Mail because I didn't see a "Windows PC" folder. A Belkin representative explained that files transferred to Apple Mail are stored in an "Import" folder.

If your transfer doesn't work perfectly the first time, try moving stray files into a folder that transferred successfully in a previous attempt. I did this with some of my desktop files when they didn't move over and it worked, albeit with an extra step.

Over the phone, I walked through numerous troubleshooting scenarios with Belkin to figure out why my desktop files didn't transfer over to the new Mac, but nothing helped. Belkin said it hadn't seen my desktop transfer problem in its tests.

I was frustrated to find that Belkin doesn't offer much in the way of detailed instructions for users, such as a FAQs Web site or troubleshooting steps for common hiccups. Its simplicity is an asset, but when performing an important task like transferring data, I'd rather have the option of knowing more than less. Belkin says it plans to add more help for users in the future.

As its name indicates, the Belkin Switch-to-Mac Cable isn't designed to transfer data from one Mac to another, nor from one Windows PC to another. Nor will it transfer data from a Mac to a Windows PC. Additionally, all hidden directories and system directories are ignored, as are all files with the following extensions: .exe, .com, .dll, .scr, .ini, .db, .lnk.

Not tested was a competing product from Detto Technologies, the $50 Move2Mac, which comes in two versions: One enables transfers from older PCs without USB ports, the other enables transfers from PCs with USB ports that are running Windows 98, Millennium, 2000 or XP -- but not Vista, which the Belkin enables.

If you're moving away from a Windows PC, Belkin's Switch-to-Mac Cable is one tool that can make this transition easier.

Bob Jensen's technology bookmarks are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob4.htm


The Next Meltdown: Credit-Card Debt

Chase Bank raised my rate from 8.99 to 30% for no reason—my reward for being a pristine customer. These are the same bullies that used to take your lunch money in first grade.
Jessica Silver-Greenberg, "The Next Meltdown: Credit-Card Debt:  Rising rates are accelerating credit-card defaults and soured debt could further undermine the financial system," (video included), Business Week, October 9, 2008 --- http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_42/b4104024799703.htm

The troubles sound familiar. Borrowers falling behind on their payments. Defaults rising. Huge swaths of loans souring. Investors getting burned. But forget the now-familiar tales of mortgages gone bad. The next horror for beaten-down financial firms is the $950 billion worth of outstanding credit-card debt—much of it toxic.

That's bad news for players like JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) that have largely sidestepped—and even benefited from—the mortgage mess but have major credit-card operations. They're hardly alone. The consumer debt bomb is already beginning to spray shrapnel throughout the financial markets, further weakening the U.S. economy. "The next meltdown will be in credit cards," says Gregory Larkin, senior analyst at research firm Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. Adds William Black, senior vice-president of Moody's Investors Service's structured finance team: "We still haven't hit the post-recessionary peaks [in credit-card losses], so things will get worse before they get better." What's more, the U.S. Treasury Dept.'s $700 billion mortgage bailout won't be a lifeline for credit-card issuers.

The big firms say they're prepared for the storm. Early last year JPMorgan started reaching out to troubled borrowers, setting up payment programs and making other adjustments to accounts. "We have seen higher credit-card losses," acknowledges JPMorgan spokeswoman Tanya M. Madison. "We are concerned about [it] but believe we are taking the right steps to help our customers and manage our risk."

But some banks and credit-card companies may be exacerbating their problems. To boost profits and get ahead of coming regulation, they're hiking interest rates. But that's making it harder for consumers to keep up. That'll only make tomorrow's pain worse. Innovest estimates that credit-card issuers will take a $41 billion hit from rotten debt this year and a $96 billion blow in 2009.

Those losses, in turn, will wend their way through the $365 billion market for securities backed by credit-card debt. As with mortgages, banks bundle groups of so-called credit-card receivables, essentially consumers' outstanding balances, and sell them to big investors such as hedge funds and pension funds. Big issuers offload roughly 70% of their credit-card debt.

But it's getting harder for banks to find buyers for that debt. Interest rates have been rising on credit-card securities, a sign that investor appetite is waning. To help entice buyers, credit-card companies are having to put up more money as collateral, a guarantee in case something goes wrong with the securities. Mortgage lenders, in sharp contrast, typically aren't asked to do this—at least not yet. With consumers so shaky, now isn't a good time to put more skin in the game. "Costs will go up for issuers," warns Dennis Moroney of the consultancy Tower Group.

Sure, the credit-card market is just a fraction of the $11.9 trillion mortgage market. But sometimes the losses can be more painful. That's because most credit-card debt is unsecured, meaning consumers don't have to make down payments when opening up their accounts. If they stop making monthly payments and the account goes bad, there are no underlying assets for credit-card companies to recoup. With mortgages, in contrast, some banks are protected both by down payments and by the ability to recover at least some of the money by selling the property.

THE BIG BOYS' BURDEN Making matters worse, the subprime threat is also greater in credit-card land. Risky borrowers with low credit scores account for roughly 30% of outstanding credit-card debt, compared with 11% of mortgage debt. More than 45% of Washington Mutual's credit-card portfolio is subprime, according to Innovest. That could become a headache for JPMorgan Chase, which agreed on Sept. 25 to buy the troubled thrift's credit-card business and other assets for $1.9 billion. Says a JPMorgan spokeswoman: "

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card companies credit scoring --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO


"Avoid These Debit Card Traps:  New scams, fees, and traps to avoid," by Teri Cettina Close, Readers Digest, (Add Date) ---
http://www.rd.com/content/debit-card-traps-and-fees-to-avoid/

The Latest Target of Thieves When Brad Lipman took his family out for dinner in July 2006, he had no idea it would end up costing him $1,800. Lipman paid for the $60 meal with his debit card. After the waiter took the card, someone swiped it through a portable "skimmer." This handheld electronic device allowed the thief to copy Lipman's account information and security codes, and clone his card.

Over the following week, the culprit drained Lipman's checking account and tapped into his overdraft line. He didn't realize anything was amiss until his credit union called him about some unusual charges. "It's hard to explain the feelings of violation," says Lipman, 40, owner of a lending company in Thousand Oaks, California. "Someone had their hand directly in my money."

Many people wrongly assume that debit cards offer the same protection against fraud as credit cards. But when a debit card is stolen or copied, there's no grace period while you contest the charges. Your cash has already been electronically zapped from your checking account. And if it falls short, as Lipman's did, you could face expensive overdraft charges that your bank isn't required to repay.

Debit cards have overtaken credit cards as Americans' plastic of choice for in-store transactions—33 percent debit, compared with 19 percent credit. Financial experts often recommend them as a money-management tool. Three years from now, debit card use will account for more than half our retail purchases, according to the Nilson Report, a payment-systems industry publication.

Debit cards have become the latest target of thieves, and it's not just random cases like Lipman's. In early 2007, hundreds of customers of a national chain restaurant in Sioux City, Iowa, learned their debit card numbers had been stolen. Thieves made cloned cards and are using them in stores in California and northern Mexico. And in 2006, the TJX Companies, which owns T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, reported one of the largest customer-data breaches ever: 45.7 million debit and credit card numbers were stolen from the retailer's computer systems over an 18-month period. Authorities still don't fully know the scope.

There's little you can do to predict a mass retail theft. But you can be smarter about how you use your card to avoid these and other common pitfalls. In addition to scams, hidden overdraft fees are at an all-time high, not to mention surprise holds and mismanagement traps that could land your account in the red faster than the ATM can spit out your receipt.

Know When to Hold 'Em

When Ann Agent of Portland, Oregon, was planning to attend a children's book publishing conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she booked her hotel room over the phone by debit card. She and three colleagues intended to split the bill and each pay the hotel directly at checkout time.

Two days into the conference, Agent's husband called from home to read her a letter from her bank: Her checking account was overdrawn, and she was being charged $35 a day in overdraft fees. "I thought there had to be a mistake," Agent, 45, says. "I keep close track of my account balance."

Turns out when Agent reserved the room, the hotel "blocked," or held, enough money in Agent's account to cover the entire four nights' stay, plus miscellaneous charges, amounting to $580. This blocked every available penny she had and caused her to overdraw. The charges weren't reversed until Agent returned home the following Monday.

Holds are common practice in the travel and hospitality industry. They're the merchant's way of ensuring you'll pay your bill. If you rent a car, the agency could block several thousand dollars to make sure you return the vehicle. Some restaurants will place debit card holds for large parties, and a friendly bartender can put a hold on your card if you start a tab. The hold is usually removed within five business days, sometimes much sooner.

Gas stations are notorious for holds. On a Friday morning in January 2005, Jessica Hathaway of Allentown, Pennsylvania, bought $22.29 of gas by debit. On Saturday, the 34-year-old single mother of three checked her bank balance and learned she was almost broke. Right before the gas station debited Hathaway's account for the gas, it imposed a $75 block.

"I was living paycheck to paycheck. I didn't have much extra in my account, and this $75 charge worried me all weekend," she says. Hathaway was out of luck—and cash—until the following Tuesday, when her bank released the hold.

The kind of hold Hathaway described is a standard preauthorization for signature (non-PIN) transactions. Stations vary widely in their hold amounts. Because Hathaway bought gas before the weekend, her hold may have taken longer than usual to clear.

Avoid the Trap

Leave your debit card at home when traveling. "People should use a credit card, even if they don't any other time," advises Clark Howard, consumer advocate and radio host of The Clark Howard Show. Never use a debit card any place your card is taken out of sight, like a restaurant. Book dinner reservations on a credit card. If you must use debit at a gas station—a hot spot for skimming—use your PIN inside or at the pump. Your card is safest if it stays in your hand, and typing in a PIN eliminates the hold.

Be Wary on the Web Say you buy an MP3 player for $80 through an Internet discounter. You wait two weeks. Your music player never arrives, and now the seller is nowhere to be found.

If you used your credit card to buy the player, you've got options. Under the terms of the Fair Credit Billing Act, your card company must remove the questionable charge from your bill while it investigates. The law says you're liable for up to $50, but you'll most likely end up owing nothing.

If you paid by debit card, you're doubly out of luck: no pocket tunes for you, and your money is already gone. Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, your debit card issuer isn't required to step in if you make a deal with an unscrupulous merchant. You get to wrangle with the seller yourself, no matter what your bank promised when you opened your account.

Then there's the fraud issue. Federal law generally limits your liability to no more than $50 if your debit card is stolen or copied, as long as you report the crime within two days of receiving your statement. However, if you don't notice the suspicious activity till weeks later, you may be liable for up to $500 or more. As with transaction disputes, recouping your cash isn't a sure thing.

Avoid the Trap

Don't use debit for online purchases, especially if you don't know the retailer's reputation, says Avivah Litan, electronic security specialist for Gartner, an information technology research firm that works with banks. Also opt for credit for all expensive items, like furniture.

Fraud is trickier because it can strike even if you're careful. Nessa Feddis, a senior federal counsel to the American Bankers Association, recommends checking your printed statements every month. Better yet, register for online banking and track your money trail even more frequently.

Some card issuers offer zero liability policies, meaning they won't hold customers responsible for even that first $50 in fraud charges. But they are not legally bound to do so. "We get calls from listeners who struggle for weeks to get their own money back," notes Howard. Even if a store's card reader prompts for your PIN, you can override the system by pressing Credit/Other or asking the cashier to process the sale that way. When you sign a receipt, your debit transaction piggybacks on the credit card processing system, triggering the zero liability policy to kick in.

Steer Clear of Hidden Fees At the end of the week, most of us pull a wad of debit receipts out of our wallets and purses. Do we religiously record these amounts? Probably not. And even a $5 purchase can cause you to overdraw if your balance is tight.

"Banks sometimes change the order of transactions at night. They take your biggest transactions and run them first," says Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. By manipulating the order of checks and debits, banks can cause you to overdraw sooner and more often than you thought, earning huge overdraft fees for themselves. Debit purchases and withdrawals are now the single largest cause of customer overdrafts, according to the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL). "Five years ago, if you didn't have enough money in your account to buy something, your card would be declined," says Leslie Parrish, a CRL senior researcher. Today banks extend "courtesy overdraft loans," the financial euphemism for letting you overdraw and then charging you for it. Charges average $34 per transaction and add up to an estimated $17.5 billion in annual fees for financial institutions, says the CRL.

Avoid the Trap

Link your checking account to another account in case you overdraw. The fee, if any, is much lower than overdraft loans. If you incur fees, banks will often waive them if you ask. Some banks offer e-mail or text-message alerts if your balance gets too low. That could be a warning that someone has copied your card or charged you incorrectly.

What's Next?

If you thought debit cards were popular now, just wait. The young tech-savvy generation is entering its prime earning and spending phase of life, and they live by their debit cards.

All the more reason for debit card security to step up a notch. Brad Lipman, the man who lost $1,800 at a restaurant (his credit union eventually returned his money, including overdraft fees) was inspired to develop TablePay, a device that allows diners to safely swipe their debit cards right at their tables. Before long, U.S. debit card issuers may embed electronic chips in cards' magnetic strips, predicts Litan, the security specialist. These sophisticated cards are much harder to copy and use fraudulently.

And that's good, since even fraud victims like Lipman aren't willing to part with their debit cards. "I just can't give up the convenience," he says.


How to avoid those huge debit card fees?
Debit cards may seem attractive to consumers who want to avoid racking up credit charges, because they appear to have the safeguard of drawing from your checking account. But it is possible to overdraw from your debit card, and the resulting fees are very high. Here's how to avoid such charges.
Michelle Singletary, "Watch Your Debit Card Balance," NPR, July 31, 2007 --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12374687
 

Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card companies credit scoring --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO


From the Scout Report on December 5, 2008

Media Monkey 3.0.6 --- http://www.mediamonkey.com/ 

Despite its seemingly jocular name, the Media Monkey performs a very crucial task: wrangling together one's digital music collection. Developed as an alternative to other music management software, Media Monkey gives users the ability to create detailed tags for each song, sync tracks, and also link up to various portable music devices. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.


Sage 1.4 --- https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/77

A number of RSS feed aggregators might be too cumbersome for some users with basic needs. Fortunately, Sage 1.4 offers just enough for the more casual user, as it allows users to integrate RSS feeds from other browsers and it integrates quite effectively with Firefox's bookmark storage. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer in conjunction with Firefox 1.0 and 2.0.0.


Obama Acceptance Speech Email Messages May Have Virus Risks

There are so many warnings about virus risks in links sent in some email messages that I rarely forward a warning.

Apparently the email with a subject line “Obama Acceptance Speech” is an exception to the point that a warning may be justified. The dangerous message subject line may also read “Amazing Speech by Obama.” Other political-interest subject lines with great risk are noted in the Snopes site linked below.

You can read about this particular “Obama Acceptance Speech” email message at Snopes ---
http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/obamaspeech.asp

The best rule to follow is to both avoid opening attachments and avoid forwarding messages with attachments unless you absolutely trust the source. The problem, of course, is that the trusted source may sometimes innocently forward an infected attachment.

One of the more problematic types of email messages is one that attaches or links to a greeting card. There are many hoax warnings and some important warnings about greeting card viruses --- http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/virtualcard.asp   
One of the important warnings appears at http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/postcard.asp

I now delete greeting card messages without even opening the messages.

It is also a good idea to frequently use your virus protection software scanner to scan your entire system. I did so yesterday (actually I let it run all night) with my Symantec AntiVirus Program. It found 11 Trojan horse files and deleted them (some were the same virus files under different file names). You can read about Trojan horse viruses at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_horse_virus

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


Academic Cheating Goes On and On for Athletes in Colleges

Most of the violations occurred in Alabama State’s football program, the NCAA said. It is the fourth major infractions case for the university and the third for the football program. In a 43-page report released today, the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions outlined a series of missteps by the university’s athletics administrators. Among other violations, the officials arranged fraudulent academic credits for eight football players by changing their letter grades without authorization, which allowed them to remain academically eligible. The officials also permitted numerous athletes in different sports to practice, compete, and receive scholarships even though they were academically ineligible, the report stated.
Libby Sander, "NCAA Penalizes Alabama State U. for Rules Violations," Chronicle of Higher Education, December 10, 2008 --- Click Here

When they play by the rules, there are usually selected programs that provide easier courses and grades, including courses in social science and humanities departments seeking bodies to flesh out sparse classes

"College athletes studies guided toward 'major in eligibility'," by Jill Steeg et al., USA Today, November 2008, Page 1A --- http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2008-11-18-majors-cover_N.htm

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bob Jensen's threads on athletics controversies in higher education are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Athletics


    Bernard Madoff, former Nasdaq Stock Market chairman and founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, was arrested and charged with securities fraud Thursday in what federal prosecutors called a Ponzi scheme that could involve losses of more than $50 billion.

    It is bigger than Enron, bigger than Boesky and bigger than Tyco
    Even baseball's NY Mets may strike out as victims to this fraud


    "Madoff Scandal: 'Biggest Story of the Year'," Seeking Alpha, December 12, 2008 ---
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/110402-madoff-scandal-biggest-story-of-the-year?source=wildcard

    According to RealMoney.com columnist Doug Kass, general partner and investment manager of hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Short LP and Seabreeze Partners Short Offshore Fund, Ltd., today's late-breaking report of an alleged massive fraud at a well known investment firm could be "the biggest story of the year." In his view,

    it is bigger than Enron, bigger than Boesky and bigger than Tyco.
    It attacks at the core of investor confidence -- because, if true, and this could happen ... investors might think that almost anything imaginable could happen to the money they have entrusted to their fiduciaries.

    Here are some excerpts from the Bloomberg report, entitled "Madoff Charged in $50 Billion Fraud at Advisory Firm":

    Bernard Madoff, founder and president of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities, a market-maker for hedge funds and banks, was charged by federal prosecutors in a $50 billion fraud at his advisory business.

    Madoff, 70, was arrested today at 8:30 a.m. by the FBI and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Eaton in Manhattan federal court. Charged in a criminal complaint with a single count of securities fraud, he was granted release on a $10 million bond guaranteed by his wife and secured by his apartment. Madoff’s wife was present in the courtroom.

    "It’s all just one big lie," Madoff told his employees on Dec. 10, according to a statement by prosecutors. The firm, Madoff allegedly said, is "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme." He was also sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Madoff’s New York-based firm was the 23rd largest market maker on Nasdaq in October, handling a daily average of about 50 million shares a day, exchange data show. The firm specialized in handling orders from online brokers in some of the largest U.S. companies, including General Electric Co (GE). and Citigroup Inc. (C).

    ...

    SEC Complaint

    The SEC in its complaint, also filed today in Manhattan federal court, accused Madoff of a "multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme that he perpetrated on advisory clients of his firm."

    The SEC said it’s seeking emergency relief for investors, including an asset freeze and the appointment of a receiver for the firm. Ira Sorkin, another defense lawyer for Madoff, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

    ...

    Madoff, who owned more than 75 percent of his firm, and his brother Peter are the only two individuals listed on regulatory records as "direct owners and executive officers."

    Peter Madoff was a board member of the St. Louis brokerage firm A.G. Edwards Inc. from 2001 through last year, when it was sold to Wachovia Corp (WB).

    $17.1 Billion

    The Madoff firm had about $17.1 billion in assets under management as of Nov. 17, according to NASD records. At least 50 percent of its clients were hedge funds, and others included banks and wealthy individuals, according to the records.

    ...

    Madoff’s Web site advertises the "high ethical standards" of the firm.

    "In an era of faceless organizations owned by other equally faceless organizations, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC harks back to an earlier era in the financial world: The owner’s name is on the door," according to the Web site. "Clients know that Bernard Madoff has a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm’s hallmark."

    ...

    "These guys were one of the original, if not the original, third market makers," said Joseph Saluzzi, the co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading LLC in Chatham, New Jersey. "They had a great business and they were good with their clients. They were around for a long time. He’s a well-respected guy in the industry."

    The case is U.S. v. Madoff, 08-MAG-02735, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)

    Continued in article

    And here is the SEC press release

    Also see http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/securities/

    What was the auditing firm of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities, the auditor who gave a clean opinion, that's been insolvent for years?
    Apparently, Mr Madoff said the business had been insolvent for years and, from having $17 billion of assets under management at the beginning of 2008, the SEC said: “It appears that virtually all assets of the advisory business are gone”. It has now emerged that Friehling & Horowitz, the auditor that signed off the annual financial statement for the investment advisory business for 2006, is under investigation by the district attorney in New York’s Rockland County, a northern suburb of New York City.
    "The $50bn scam: How Bernard Madoff allegedly cheated investors," London Times, December 15, 2008 ---
    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/banking_and_finance/article5345751.ece

    It was at the Manhattan apartment that Mr Madoff apparently confessed that the business was in fact a “giant Ponzi scheme” and that the firm had been insolvent for years.

    To cap it all, Mr Madoff told his sons he was going to give himself up, but only after giving out the $200 - $300 million money he had left to “employees, family and friends”.

    All the company’s remaining assets have now been frozen in the hope of repaying some of the companies, individuals and charities that have been unfortunate enough to invest in the business.

    However, with the fraud believed to exceed $50 billion, whatever recompense investors could receive will be a drop in the ocean.

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

    Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm


    Robert Edward Rubin (born August 29, 1938) is Director and Senior Counselor of Citigroup where he was the architect of Citigroup's strategy of taking on more risk in debt markets, which by the end of 2008 led the firm to the brink of collapse and an eventual government rescue [1]. From November to December 2007, he served temporarily as Chairman of Citigroup.[2][3] From 1999 to present, he earned $115 million in pay at Citigroup[4]. He served as the 70th United States Secretary of the Treasury during both the first and second Clinton administrations.
    Wikipedia --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Rubin

    A new Citigroup scandal is engulfing Robert Rubin and his former disciple Chuck Prince for their roles in an alleged Ponzi-style scheme that's now choking world banking. Director Rubin and ousted CEO Prince - and their lieutenants over the past five years - are named in a federal lawsuit for an alleged complex cover-up of toxic securities that spread across the globe, wiping out trillions of dollars in their destructive paths.
    Paul Tharp, "'PONZI SCHEME' AT CITI SUIT SLAMS RUBIN," The New York Post, December 5, 2008 --- http://www.nypost.com/seven/12042008/business/ponzi_scheme_at_citi_142511.htm

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

    Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm


    "Feds Now Say Dreier Bilked Investors Of $380 Million," Liz Moyer, Forbes, December 12, 2008 ---
    http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/11/legal-fraud-dreier-biz-wall-cx_lm_1211dreier_print.html

    Prosecutors have expanded their investigation of prominent New York attorney Marc Dreier, uncovering hundreds of millions more of missing funds in what they characterize as an "extraordinary" fraud played out over two years.

    A federal magistrate judge ordered Dreier to remain behind bars Thursday, denying bail because of the "enormous risk of flight." Dreier was arrested in New York Sunday evening and has been charged with fraud in an alleged brazen scheme to bilk sophisticated hedge funds.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Streeter said in court Thursday the loss from the alleged fraud is $380 million, well more than the $113 million cited in criminal charges filed Monday because of new information pouring into the prosecutor's office.

    The alleged fraud has been carried out since at least January 2006, Streeter said, and targeted some of the most sophisticated institutional investors. Dreier, a Harvard and Yale-educated litigator with a roster of celebrity clients at the 238-attorney firm he founded in 1996, is a "Houdini of impersonation and false pretenses," Streeter said at Thursday's bail hearing.

    Dreier's lawyer, Gerald Shargel, had asked that Dreier be released on a $10 million bond signed by Dreier's 19-year-old son and 85-year-old mother and allowed to live under house arrest at his beach home in Quogue, N.Y., or at his Manhattan apartment.

    Shargel also told Judge Douglas Eaton that Dreier was prepared to meet with the court-appointed receiver of the Dreier LLP law firm Thursday evening to help identify and locate assets and would provide a complete financial statement. None of Dreier's money is overseas, he said.

    But Streeter successfully argued the government's case that Dreier could have squirreled away substantial assets overseas. Much of the $380 million is unaccounted for, he said. With his firm in tatters and his U.S. property to be seized--and with overwhelming evidence against him--Dreier had nothing to lose by skipping out of the country, he said.

    Prosecutors initially accused Dreier of selling $113 million of fake notes to two hedge funds in October in an elaborate scheme that involved forgery and ruse. Canadian law enforcement arrested Dreier last week alleging he impersonated the senior counsel of a major Canadian pension fund to effect a similar scheme.

    The evidence now shows the activity may have targeted many more hedge funds over a far longer period of time, Streeter says.

    On top of that, employees and partners of the Dreier law firm learned last week that tens of millions were missing from client escrow accounts and other firm accounts.

    Dreier even managed to transfer $10 million by telephone from escrow accounts to his personal account last Thursday while sitting in a Canadian jail awaiting a bail hearing, the documents say.

    Dreier, the only equity partner, is the only person authorized to make transfers from the escrow accounts, according to court documents. A statement by a Dreier law partner says $37.5 million of $38 million attributed to a single client had been transferred from the firm's escrow accounts into an account controlled by Dreier, but the statement didn't give a time frame for that transfer.

    The tip-off about the missing funds was a request by a Dreier partner, Norman Kinel, to Dreier to disburse $38 million in client escrow funds for unsecured creditors of 360 Networks, a Seattle telecommunications company that emerged from bankruptcy in 2002. The Dreier firm represents the unsecured creditors.

    Kinel first requested the funds on Dec. 1. On Dec. 2, when he realized the transfer hadn't been made, he twice requested the funds again. He learned of Dreier's arrest on Dec. 3 and, through a lawyer, contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. attorney.

    John Provenzano, the law firm's controller, said in the court documents that at the time of Kinel's request, the escrow accounts had only $19 million in them.

    Dreier was in contact with partners at the firm last week, according to the court documents. Asked about the missing escrow funds for 360 Networks, Dreier is reported to have said he could have sold some of the art collection to return the money if he had been allowed to return to New York.

    "I understood from his conversation that Mr. Dreier was implicitly admitting he had improperly used client escrow funds," says the court declaration by Joel Chernov, one of the partners at Dreier who was on that phone call.

    Dreier's world started collapsing in October, his lawyer said, when an accounting firm employee told him he would go to the police after finding out Dreier allegedly falsified accounting materials using the firm's name as part of his scheme.

    Even then, his lawyer argued, Dreier left the U.S. a few times and came back, compelling evidence that he was not a flight risk. He traveled to Dubai on business in October and to St. Bart's in the Caribbean right before Thanksgiving, "knowing full well his life was unraveling," Shargel said. He had a private plane available to him in Canada last week but decided to fly commercial back to the U.S., where authorities were waiting at LaGuardia Airport to arrest him.

    Dreier led an opulent, jet-setting life by most reports, with several homes and a 120-foot yacht. Now he sits in a maximum security wing of the federal prison in Manhattan, where he has no books, no television and no visitors. His lawyer asked the judge Thursday to at least have him moved to a more suitable part of the prison. "You could lose your mind in there," Shargel argued.

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

    Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm


    Siemens to Pay $1.34 Billion in Bribery Settlement
    One major question spiraling out of all this is what roll Siemens' auditor, KPMG played in allowing all this to come to pass.
    The Daily Caveat, November 26, 2008 --- http://www.michaeldavidthomas.com/dailycaveat/labels/Siemens.html

    The American settlement includes a $350 million payment to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle allegations of accounting rule violations, which Siemens neither admitted nor denied. Siemens falls under American jurisdiction because its shares are listed in New York. Siemens pleaded guilty to circumventing and failing to maintain adequate internal controls, a requirement of the antibribery law, and will pay $450 million to the Justice Department. Three Siemens subsidiaries also pleaded guilty to more specific charges.

    "Siemens to Pay $1.34 Billion in Bribery Settlement," by Carter Dougherty, The New York Times, December 15, 2008 --- http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/16/business/worldbusiness/16siemens.html

    Siemens, the German engineering conglomerate, closed the book on Monday on wide-ranging criminal investigations in the United States and Germany by agreeing to pay a record $1.34 billion in fines to settle cases accusing it of bribery around the world.

    In Washington, Siemens’s general counsel, Peter Solmssen, signed an $800 million settlement with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to end an inquiry into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The fine is, by a colossal margin, the largest ever imposed under the antibribery legislation, now 31 years old.

    Munich prosecutors, whose trailblazing work revealed the outlines of a huge system of slush funds and illegal payments, also announced a deal with Siemens that would cost the company 395 million euros , or $540 million.

    German authorities are still looking into potential wrongdoing by former Siemens employees that could result in criminal charges.

    Crucially, Siemens avoided either a guilty plea or a conviction for bribery, allowing it to maintain its status as a “responsible contractor” with the United States Defense Logistics Agency. Without this benchmark certification, Siemens could have been excluded from public procurement contracts in the United States and elsewhere. German authorities are preparing a similar certification.

    The fine in the United States was nearly 17 times more than the next-largest imposed for overseas commercial bribery. Yet it still represents victory for Siemens, because it is far below what might have been levied under the Justice Department’s guidelines.

    With $1.36 billion identified as potentially corrupt payments worldwide, a fine of up to $2.7 billion would have been possible. But American authorities said in court papers filed in Washington that they were impressed by the company’s efforts to identify wrongdoing and prevent new occurrences.

    “Compared to other cases that have been brought, we have been dealt with very fairly,” Mr. Solmssen of Siemens said in a telephone interview.

    The next-highest fine imposed by American authorities for bribery was $48 million, paid by the oil field services company Baker Hughes in 2007.

    Shares of Siemens, based in the southern German city of Munich, initially rallied on the news, which was lower than what investors had anticipated as settlement talks entered their final phase this autumn. But the shares later fell lower in Frankfurt, ending at 47.15 euros, down 23 euro cents. On the New York Stock Exchange, the American depository receipts of Siemens gained 55 cents, to $64.47.

    “Before Siemens started giving hints, we would have expected much more,” said Roland Pitz, an analyst at UniCredit in Munich. “The employees must be celebrating.”

    Gerhard Cromme, the Siemens chairman — who had to juggle the sudden departure of a chief executive as a result of the crisis, and a two-year distraction from its core business of manufacturing energy, medical and other industrial equipment, — allowed himself just a few smiles as he announced the deals in Munich.

    “Siemens is closing a painful chapter in its history,” Mr. Cromme said at a news conference.

    The American settlement includes a $350 million payment to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle allegations of accounting rule violations, which Siemens neither admitted nor denied. Siemens falls under American jurisdiction because its shares are listed in New York.

    Siemens pleaded guilty to circumventing and failing to maintain adequate internal controls, a requirement of the antibribery law, and will pay $450 million to the Justice Department. Three Siemens subsidiaries also pleaded guilty to more specific charges.

    The Siemens approach was also striking for its alacrity. The Baker Hughes settlement took five years to reach, but Siemens, determined to end a persistent distraction to a new management team, pulled off a settlement in less than two.

    Munich prosecutors are still investigating former Siemens employees and say they have not ruled out criminal charges. So far, they have leveled only minor charges of failing to effectively supervise the company against two former chief executives, Heinrich von Pierer and Klaus Kleinfeld, which could result at most in fines.

    “This investigation will continue as planned and might take considerable time,” Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld, the lead Munich prosecutor, said in a statement on Monday.

    But the company itself is no longer in danger of being charged.

    “We have wrapped up all of the potential claims against Siemens arising out of the alleged conduct in both countries,” Mr. Solmssen said.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on KPMG's litigation problems are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm#KPMG

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

    Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm

     


    Lawyers Like the Subprime Litigation Cash Cow (note the year)

    "The finger of suspicion," The Economist, December 19, 2007 --- http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10337884

    FINANCIAL firms have already been drenched by mortgage-related losses. Now a wave of litigation threatens to assail them. According to RiskMetrics, a consulting firm, between August and October federal securities class-action lawsuits were filed in America at an annualised pace of around 270—more than double last year's total and well above the historical average. At this rate, claims could easily exceed those of the dotcom bust and options-backdating scandal combined.

    At most risk are banks that peddled mortgages or mortgage-backed securities. Investors have handed several writs to Citigroup and Merrill Lynch. Bear Stearns has received dozens over the collapse of two leveraged hedge funds. A typical complaint accuses it of failing to make adequate reserves or to explain the risks of its subprime investments, and of dubious related-party transactions with the funds. Several firms, including E*Trade, a discount broker with a banking arm sitting on a radioactive pile of mortgage debt, are being sued for allegedly failing to disclose problems as they became apparent to managers.

    But one thing that sets the subprime litigation wave apart from that of the 2001-03 bear market is its breadth. After the collapses of Enron and WorldCom, lawsuits were targeted at a fairly narrow range of parties: bust internet firms, their accountants and some banks. This time, investors are aiming not only at mortgage lenders, brokers and investment banks but also insurers (American International Group), bond funds (State Street, Morgan Keegan), rating agencies (Moody's and Standard & Poor's) and homebuilders (Beazer Homes, Toll Brothers et al).

    Borrowers, too, are suing both their lenders and the Wall Street firms that wrapped up their loans. Several groups of employees and pension-fund participants have filed so-called ERISA/401(k) suits against their own firms. Local councils in Australia are threatening to sue a subsidiary of Lehman Brothers over the sale of collateralised-debt obligations (CDOs), the Financial Times has reported. Lenders are even turning on each other; Deutsche Bank has filed large numbers of lawsuits against mortgage firms, claiming they owe money for failing to buy back loans that soured within months of being made.

    “It seems that everyone is suing everyone,” says Adam Savett of RiskMetrics' securities-litigation group. “It surely can't be long before we get the legal equivalent of man bites dog, where a lender sues its borrowers for some breach of contract.”

    Continued in article

    Crooked Lawyers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#Lawyers


    "Retail Fraud Rates Plummeted the Night McColo Went Offline," by Brian Krebs, The Washington Post, December 2008 --- http://voices.washingtonpost.com/securityfix/2008/12/mccolo_shutdown_killed_retaile.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter

    One month after the shutdown of hosting provider McColo Corp., spam volumes are nearly back to the levels seen prior to the company's take down by its upstream Internet providers. But according to one noted fraud expert, spam wasn't the only thing that may have been routed through the Silicon Valley based host: New evidence found that retail fraud dropped significantly on the same day.

    It is unclear whether the decrease in retail fraud is related to the McColo situation, but in speaking with Ori Eisen, founder of 41st Parameter, he said close to a quarter of a million dollars worth of fraudulent charges that his customers battle every day came to a halt.

    Eisen, whose company provides anti-fraud consulting to a number of big retailers and banks, told me at least two of the largest retailers his company serves reported massive declines in fraud rates directly following McColo's termination.

    "It stopped completely that night," Eisen said, referring to a drop in fraudulent activity linked to purchases of high-value merchandise with stolen credit and debit cards on Nov. 11, the day McColo was shut down. "Yet, it will come back after [the scammers] erect their new infrastructure."

    Eisen's testimony suggests that a great many fraudsters may have been using McColo to funnel their Internet connections when attempting to purchase goods from retailer sites.

    In a follow-up blog post about the casualties of the McColo disconnection, Security Fix called attention to a Web site called "fraudcrew.com," a Web service that offered paying customers the ability to hide their identities online by routing their traffic through computers controlled by others. Fraudcrew.com was hosted on McColo's servers.

    From that piece:

    There are a number of services like those offered by Fraudcrew (Security Fix profiled another one earlier this year) that not only aid in hiding one's identity online, but could also defeat security measures put in place by financial institutions. Many online banks will check to see whether the customer's Internet address is coming from a location already associated with the customer's user name and password, or at least from a geographic location that is close to where the customer lives.

    These masking services provide a software program that allows the user to pick from a drop down list of Internet addresses to proxy through. For example, if a user in Ukraine, has stolen the user name and password that Joe from St. Louis uses to access his bank online, that user can simply select a node in the proxy list that's in St. Louis, and the bank site will be none the wiser that the person logging in is not actually in St. Louis.

    It is impossible to say whether the same individuals who were funneling their spam operations through McColo have moved elsewhere. For its part, Fraudcrew appears to have found a new host, a provider in Luxembourg.

    Spam volumes have since risen almost to pre-McColo levels in the past month. Some of this resurgence has been sporadic, thanks in no small part to the efforts of FireEye, a Milpitas, Calif., based security startup, which has kept pressure on Internet service providers not to associate themselves with the spam gangs that have been trying to regain control over their herds of spam spewing zombie PCs. Interested readers can learn more about these efforts by visiting the always-interesting FireEye blog, at this link here

    Bob Jensen's threads on spam are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ecommerce/000start.htm#Spam


    "Power Up From Puzzles to Princes, Our Top Video Game Picks of the Year," The Washington Post, December 9, 2008, Page C12 --- Click Here

    Lego Batman

    Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii, Nintendo DS and PC

    Rating: Everyone 10+

    Price: $29.99-$59.99

    Details: Everyone's favorite Caped Crusader is back, this time in the Lego world. In this game, based on the popular comic book rather than the recent movies, players must capture the escaped foes from Arkham Asylum, including the Joker, the Penguin and Poison Ivy. With the help of his trusty gadgets and his pal Robin, Batman swiftly brings justice to Gotham City.

    LittleBigPlanet

    Platform: PlayStation 3

    Rating: Everyone

    Price: $59.99

    Details: What may look like a typical game proves to be much more than meets the eye. Players solve puzzles while controlling adorable characters called Sackboy and Sackgirl as they interact with their environment. You can play alone or with friends. Creative minds can design their own levels.

    Mario Kart Wii

    Price: $49.99

    Details: Mario Kart is back, and it's better than ever. With the Wii Wheel (included with the game), racing is now more fun. Just place your Wii-mote in it and you're off. With 16 new courses and 16 classics from previous Mario Kart editions, there is more than enough here to keep the most seasoned racer busy.

    Mirror's Edge

    Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC

    Rating: Teen

    Price: $49.99-$59.99

    Details: Set in the not-too-distant future, Mirror's Edge puts players in the role of a "runner," a person who transmits messages while evading government surveillance. Played from the first-person perspective, this action adventure has you running, jumping, vaulting, climbing and grabbing your way through obstacles and sticky situations.

    Platform: Wii

    Rating: Everyone

    Continued in article


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


    Education Tutorials

    Search Helper
    Current and former media sources (such as magazines that became defunct) --- http://www.mondotimes.com/

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


    Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

    International Atomic Energy Agency --- http://www.iaea.org/

    Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. --- http://www.arcus.org/

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


    Social Science and Economics Tutorials

    World Bank: Global Challenges --- http://www.worldbank.org/sixthemes

    Debating Our Destiny --- http://www.pbs.org/newshour/debatingourdestiny/index.html

    Pueblo, USA: How Latino Immigration is Changing America --- http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/immigration/

    Newseum: Today's Front Pages (of over 600 newspapers around the world) --- http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/default.asp
    Jensen Comment
    This site is both useful and frustrating. It is useful because of the large number of newspapers covered in the daily free service. It is frustrating since the front pages shown are pictures such that selection, copying, and pasting text quotations as text is not possible. It is possible to use graphics capturing software such as Paintshop Pro or SnagIt, but pasting pictures of text adds greatly to file size and is not searchable when embedded among a lot of other text such as the text of a blog.

    Media Channel --- http://www.mediachannel.org/

    Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates [iTunes] http://insideislam.wisc.edu/ 

    The most exciting and eagerly awaited title in this season’s haul from the scholarly presses is Jeffrey B. Perry’s study Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918, just published by Columbia University Press. Well, eagerly awaited by me, anyway.... The world at large has not exactly been clamoring for a gigantic biography of Hubert Harrison — whose name, until quite recently, was little known even to specialists in African-American political and intellectual history. But that started to change over the past few years, thanks to Perry’s decades of research and advocacy.
    Scott McLemee, "Rediscovering Hubert Harrison," Inside Higher Ed, December 11, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/12/10/mclemee

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


    Law and Legal Studies

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


    Math Tutorials

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


    History Tutorials

    Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates [iTunes] http://insideislam.wisc.edu/

    Perry Visits Japan --- http://dl.lib.brown.edu/japan/index.html

    Japanese Old Photographs of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods --- http://oldphoto.lb.nagasaki-u.ac.jp/en/

    Magic Lantern Slides Collection from Japan --- http://digicoll.manoa.hawaii.edu/lanternslides/index.php?c=1

    Newseum: Today's Front Pages (of over 600 newspapers around the world) --- http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/default.asp
    Jensen Comment
    This site is both useful and frustrating. It is useful because of the large number of newspapers covered in the daily free service. It is frustrating since the front pages shown are pictures such that selection, copying, and pasting text quotations as text is not possible. It is possible to use graphics capturing software such as Paintshop Pro or SnagIt, but pasting pictures of text adds greatly to file size and is not searchable when embedded among a lot of other text such as the text of a blog.

    Media Channel --- http://www.mediachannel.org/

    Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian (art history) --- http://www.nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/scholder/introduction.html

    Aboriginal Canada Portal --- http://www.aboriginalcanada.gc.ca/acp/site.nsf/en/index.html

    Ben Gray Lumpkin Digital Folk Music Collection --- http://libluna.lib.ad.colorado.edu:8081/insight/sample/SoundModel/index.htm

    The most exciting and eagerly awaited title in this season’s haul from the scholarly presses is Jeffrey B. Perry’s study Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918, just published by Columbia University Press. Well, eagerly awaited by me, anyway.... The world at large has not exactly been clamoring for a gigantic biography of Hubert Harrison — whose name, until quite recently, was little known even to specialists in African-American political and intellectual history. But that started to change over the past few years, thanks to Perry’s decades of research and advocacy.
    Scott McLemee, "Rediscovering Hubert Harrison," Inside Higher Ed, December 11, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2008/12/10/mclemee

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


    Language Tutorials

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


    Writing Tutorials

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


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

     


    "Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease, especially in younger people," PhysOrg, December 11, 2008 --- http://www.physorg.com/news148193239.html

    The study found that people who were younger than 50 when first diagnosed had a significantly higher risk of subsequent heart attacks (or myocardial infarctions, MI), but this was not the case in older people. It also found there was a significantly higher incidence of subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD) in people diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder at all ages, but this was more marked in the under 50s.

    However, the research also showed that the risk of dying from CHD was actually reduced amongst people of all ages who had been diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder.

    The study is the first to look at a very large sample of the UK population of all ages (a total of 404,654 people) selected from a primary care population that can be broadly generalised to other countries with a similar socio-demographic structure. It is also the first to identify that the higher risk of heart attacks with panic attacks/disorder is mainly in younger people (aged under 50 years), and that having a panic attacks/disorder diagnosis is associated with a lower risk of dying from heart conditions.

    Dr Kate Walters, a senior lecturer in primary care at University College London (UK), who led the research, said: "Not much is known about the relationship between panic disorder and cardiac disease. The symptoms of panic attacks can closely mimic those of a heart attack or acute cardiac disease, and it seems that there may be a complex relationship between them.

    "Our findings have significant implications for clinicians. Panic attacks were associated with a significant increased risk of a subsequent diagnosis of CHD and acute MI in those aged younger than 50. This may be due to initial misdiagnosis of CHD as panic attacks, or a true underlying increased risk of CHD with panic attacks. Clinicians should be vigilant for this possibility when diagnosing and treating people presenting with symptoms of panic."

    Dr Walters and her colleagues looked at primary care medical records for 57,615 adults diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder and 347,039 adults who did not have the condition. They found that those aged under 50 were more than a third (38%) as likely to have a heart attack and nearly half (44%) as likely to develop heart disease subsequently than people who had not been diagnosed with the condition. For people aged over 50 there was a slightly increased risk of heart disease (11%).

    However, when the researchers looked at deaths amongst adults diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder, they found that for all ages the risk of death from heart disease was reduced by about a quarter (24%) compared with the normal population.

    Dr Walters speculated about the possible reasons for the reduced risk of death. "This might be because the higher risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks occurred amongst younger people who have fewer heart-related deaths generally; or it might be because people with panic disorders go to their doctors earlier and more frequently and, therefore, are more likely to have their heart disease identified and treated early, thus reducing the likelihood of dying from it."

    The study also found that women younger than 40 with panic attacks/disorder had higher increases in incidence of MI and CHD than men, but Dr Walters said this result needed to be treated with caution as the actual number of events was very low and so it could be due to chance.

    The reasons why panic attacks/disorder are linked to higher rates of MI and CHD are not understood completely. Dr Walters said: "These findings could be due to several factors, including initial misdiagnosis of CHD as panic attacks/disorder by GPs or due to a true increase in CHD and acute MI caused by panic disorder, potentially through activation of the sympathetic nervous system [3] in ways that lead to clogging of the arteries and reductions in the normal variation in heart rate. This hypothesis, rather than GP misdiagnosis, is supported by the fact that we observed an increasing risk of CHD with increasing frequency of panic attacks/disorder events.

    Continued in article


    "Preventing a broken heart:  Research aims to reduce scarring from heart attacks," PhysOrg, December 14, 2008 --- http://www.physorg.com/news148487985.html

    Now researchers have identified a key molecule involved in controlling excessive scar tissue formation in mice following a heart attack. When they stopped the scarring from occurring, the scientists found that the animals' heart function greatly improved following the injury.

    The study, by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University, appears in Nature Cell Biology online Dec. 14, 2008.

    The findings offer heartening news for the millions who have heart attacks each year and suffer from the resulting poor heart function. The study raises the hope that the outlook for people with this major disability might be markedly improved.

    The scientists studied a protein, sFRP2, which they unexpectedly found to be involved in the formation of collagen, the main component of scar tissue.

    "With many injuries and diseases, large amounts of collagen are formed and deposited in tissues, leading to scarring and a condition called fibrosis," explains co-author Daniel S. Greenspan, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. "Fibrosis can seriously affect the functioning of heart, lung, liver and other tissues."

    Greenspan, an expert on collagen, joined with Thomas Sato of Weill Cornell Medical College to study mice that don't produce sFRP2 to understand how the protein works. When the scientists restricted blood flow to the animals' hearts, mimicking a heart attack, they found that scarring was significantly reduced in these sFRP2-free animals.

    "Importantly, we found that when we reduced the level of fibrosis, heart function significantly improved in the mice," says Greenspan, also a professor of pharmacology at UW-Madison.

    Identifying agents that specifically target sFRP2 and halt its activity will be a promising approach to controlling heart attack-induced scarring and impaired heart function, says Greenspan, and his lab has begun the search. The UW scientists also hope to study how sFRP2 and other proteins that enhance collagen formation may interact.

    The protein may also be important in treating other diseases resulting in severe fibrosis, adds Greenspan, including liver cirrhosis and interstitial lung disease.

    Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison




    An oldie but goodie forwarded by Bud Weiler

    Subject: Defining political and business systems

    SOCIALISM You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbor.

    COMMUNISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk.

    FASCISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.

    NAZISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you.

    BUREAUCRATISM You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away...

    TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

    SURREALISM You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

    AN AMERICAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow has dropped dead.

    VENTURE CAPITALISM You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States , leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys your bull.

    A FRENCH CORPORATION You have two cows. You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

    A JAPANESE CORPORATION You have two cows. Y you redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called 'Cowkimon' and market it worldwide.

    A GERMAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

    AN ITALIAN CORPORATION You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.. You decide to have lunch.

    A RUSSIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 2 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

    A SWISS CORPORATION You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them.

    A CHINESE CORPORATION You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

    AN INDIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. You worship them.

    A BRITISH CORPORATION You have two cows. Both are mad.

    AN IRAQI CORPORATION Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No-one believes you, so they bomb you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of Democracy... .

    AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION You have two cows. Business seems pretty good.

     




    Forwarded by Professor Edwards (who ought to know)

    Perks of reaching 50 or being over 60 and heading towards 70 AND PLUS!

    01. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

    02. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

    03. No one expects you to run--anywhere.

    04. People call at 9 pm and ask, did I wake you?

    05. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

    06. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

    07. Things you buy now won't wear out.

    08. You can eat supper at 4 pm.

    09. You can live without sex but not your glasses.

    10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

    11. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

    12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

    13. You sing along with elevator music.

    14. Your eyes won't get much worse.

    15 . Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

    16. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

    17. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either. 18. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

    19. You can't remember who sent you this list.

    And you notice these are all in Big Print for your convenience.

    Forward this to everyone you can remember right now!

    Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

     




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

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

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

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

    Three Finance Blogs

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

    Some Accounting Blogs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Teaching Materials (especially video) from PBS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Moodle  --- http://moodle.org/ 

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

    Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

    Accounting program news items for colleges are posted at http://www.accountingweb.com/news/college_news.html
    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   http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
    AECM (Educators)  http://pacioli.loyola.edu/aecm/ 
    AECM is an email Listserv list which provides a forum for discussions of all hardware and software which can be useful in any way for accounting education at the college/university level. Hardware includes all platforms and peripherals. Software includes spreadsheets, practice sets, multimedia authoring and presentation packages, data base programs, tax packages, World Wide Web applications, etc

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

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

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

     

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