Tidbits on March 26, 2009
In the winter hungry birds flock to our
deck, but in early
springtime the bears awaken and will rip out our bird feeders.
After two seasons of having bears on our deck, we
stopped feeding the birds in late March.
Great Bird Photographs ---
To see a slide show, click on one of the pictures, then click on the blue arrow
at the top of the picture.
Wild turkeys forage for themselves year
around in our lawn.
This is what happens if we set out window
boxes too early in the spring.
What a difference a few weeks in May can
make in bringing color of springtime.
Compare the rock garden on the left on May 1 versus May 20
The phlox and bleeding hearts commenced to bloom in the middle of May.
Between May 20 and May 25 I added to this
color around all sides of the cottage.
Erika no longer can bend to plant seedlings, so I dug in over 250 of the
This year I mostly planted pansies, snap dragons, verbena, alyssum, and bordering
I took some pictures of my latest efforts but have not yet finalized the disk in my camera.
For now you can view some roses and marigolds from last summer.
Bull frogs in the pond serenade us on summer nights.
This is what the pond looks like when it's
frozen over and the roses are covered in burlap.
Below is the type of
N.H. White Mountains' view I get each sunrise in the wintertime.
I'm a lucky man to be able to truly enjoy the dormancy of winter months
when I don't have to plant, weed, water, or mow. I hate gardening but I love
Below is a view from our bedroom window
Vermont's Green Mountains to the west.
This picture was taken when the moon was exceptionally close to earth and
appeared very large.
The colored rings around the moon are camera effects. The moon was actually all
white and very bright.
On May 24, 2009 PBS Television broadcast its
National Memorial Day Concert ---
Featured this year was our (former) Sugar Hill Chief of Police on the two-man
force. Chief Pequeño was called up to Iraq in the New Hampshire National Guard.
His tragic story was broadcast as follows during the Concert:
José Pequeño was a Staff Sergeant in the
New Hampshire National Guard when he volunteered to deploy to Iraq. While on
duty, he was calling in about a suicide bomber when an insurgent tossed a
grenade into his Humvee.
José lost the bottom two lobes of the left
side of his brain, and doctors held out very little hope for his recovery.
His mother Nellie and sister Elizabeth went immediately to his side and
remain there over three years later. Here they describe getting the news of
Watch the video about him at
I knew Chief Pequeño only slightly and recall
that he was an especially handsome young man who was admired in our community.
When he was so severely wounded my good neighbor up the road, Fire Chief Alan
Clark, commenced a campaign to build a new home for Jose's wife and two
school-age children. The new house was built as a labor of love in nearby Lisbon
where the family lived while Jose was still able to be our Sugar Hill Chief of
I'm told that his children still attend the
Lisbon school. Their father was taken by the Army to be honored by the entire
world at the May 24 National Memorial Day Concert on PBS. These children must be
especially proud of their brave father who essentially gave his life for his
country. He can no longer communicate in any way with his family. I just could
not muster up the will to show his picture now after his severe and permanent
brain injury. God bless his mother and the rest of his family for setting an
example for the world concerning what caring is all about.
Joseph Stalin once said that the loss of over
a million soldiers in war is a statistic.
He added that it's the loss of one soldier that's a great tragedy.
Thank You America ---
I never can watch this slide show without crying out loud.
Forwarded by Doug Jenson
1/2 boy 1/2 man
The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired,
tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as
half man, half boy.
Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to
die for his country.
He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than
wash his father's, but he has never collected unemployment either.
He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student,
pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy and has a
steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be
waiting when he returns.
He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm
He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is
working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.
He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can
field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark.
He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher
and use either one effectively if he must.
He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.
He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march.
He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without
spirit or individual dignity.
He is self-sufficient.
He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other.
He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush
his teeth but never to clean his rifle.
He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes and fix his own hurts.
If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his
food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you
He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his
hands. He can save your life - or take it because that is his job.
He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still
find ironic humor in it all.
He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short
lifetime. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in
combat and is unashamed.
He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body at rigid
attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him
who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking.
In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to
Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the
price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American
Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.
He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.
Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his
And now we have women over there in combat, doing their part in this
tradition of protecting us when our nation calls them to do so.
Thank You America ---
I never can watch this slide show without crying out loud.
Tidbits on March 26, 2009
For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
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enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
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Free Residential and Business Telephone Directory (you must listen to an
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Free Online Telephone Directory ---
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To find names addresses from listed phone numbers, go to
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appendices can be found at
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On May 14, 2006 I retired from Trinity University after a long
and wonderful career as an accounting professor in four universities. I was
generously granted "Emeritus" status by the Trustees of Trinity University. My
wife and I now live in a cottage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire ---
Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
(Also scroll down to the table at
Global Incident Map ---
If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops ---
Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
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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 ---
Video on the Long-term Disaster of Beranke's Money Supply
Printing Press That Will Kick in Hyperinflation ---
Will the U.S. become Zimbabwe? ---
This is a great learning resource: Very Effective
Visual Guide to the Federal Reserve," Simoleon Sense, May 22, 2009 ---
General Petraeus fights for the wounded ---
Virtual Microbiology ---
The Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican
American Recordings ---
Fashioning Felt ---
How to Live a Better Life ---
Free music downloads ---
PBS Television will now answer your personal
finance questions ---
Two Oldsters Standing at the Piano ---
Banker Rescues Ducks (featured on May 18 by
Charlie Gibson) ---
The Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and
Mexican American Recordings ---
Web outfits like
Pandora, Foneshow, Stitcher, and Slacker broadcast portable and mobile content
that makes Sirius look overpriced and stodgy ---
TheRadio (my favorite commercial-free
online music site) ---
Slacker (my second-favorite commercial-free online music site) ---
Gerald Trites likes this
international radio site ---
Search for a song or band and play the selection ---
Also try Jango ---
Sometimes this old guy prefers the jukebox era (just let it play through) ---
And I listen quite often to Soldiers Radio Live ---
Also note U.S. Army Band recordings
Bob Jensen listens to music free online (and no commercials)
Photographs and Art
Flag of Two Million Larkspur Flowers ---
Alaska's Hubbard Glacier is advancing at an
amazing seven feet per day (see the Image Gallery) ---
Images from the History of Medicine ---
Laura den Hertog Fine Art (Laura claims she's taken her art to a
new level) ---
Old Cars ---
Fashioning Felt ---
Tate Liverpool: Glenn Brown
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 ---
Jewish American Heritage Month
AgeSource/AgeStats Worldwide ---
Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---
Peter Schiff is a widely-known
economist who predicted the financial crisis well ahead of most everybody, but
nobody listened when he blared out warnings throughout the media, some of which
are on YouTube
No, the main issue with Schiff seems to be that he
hasn't changed his tune (in 2009) --- and it
isn't a pleasant tune to listen to. He thinks the "phony economy" of the U.S. is
headed for even harder times. He believes that the crisis-fighting measures
coming out of Washington are merely delaying the inevitable, debasing the dollar
and loading future taxpayers with huge debts.
Justin Fox, "Excluding the
Extremist: Peter Schiff predicted the credit collapse long before the
'experts." So why is it so hard to hear him now," Time Magazine, June 1,
2009, Page 48.
Ten (now eleven) Trillion and Counting
(a full-length PBS Frontline video) ---
All of the federal government's efforts to
stem the tide of the financial meltdown have added hundreds of billions of
dollars to an already staggering national debt, a sum that is expected to double
over the next 10 years to more than $23 trillion. In Ten Trillion and Counting,
FRONTLINE traces the politics behind this mounting debt and investigates what
some say is a looming crisis that makes the current financial situation pale in
"As U.S. Spending Balloons,
Concerns Grow over Size and Cost of Debt," International Herald Tribune via
SmartPros, May 5, 2009 ---
The U.S. debt clock is
ticking faster than ever, and Wall Street is getting worried.
As the administration of
President Barack Obama racks up an unprecedented spending bill for bank
bailouts, Detroit rescues, health care overhauls and stimulus plans, the
bond market is starting to push up the cost of trillions of dollars in
borrowing for the government.
Last week, the yield on
10-year Treasury notes rose to its highest level since November, briefly
touching 3.17 percent, a sign that investors are demanding larger returns on
the masses of U.S. debt being issued to finance an economic recovery.
While that yield is still
low by historical standards - it averaged about 5.7 percent in the late
1990s - investors are starting to wonder whether the United States is headed
for a new era of rising market interest rates as the government borrows,
borrows and borrows some more.
Already, in the first six
months of this fiscal year, the U.S. government deficit is running at $956.8
billion, or nearly one- seventh of gross domestic product - proportional
levels not seen since World War II, according to Wrightson ICAP, a research
Debt held by the public is
projected by the Congressional Budget Office to rise from 41 percent of
gross domestic product in 2008 to 51 percent in 2009 and to a peak of about
54 percent in 2011 before declining again in the following years. For all of
2009, the administration probably needs to borrow about $2 trillion.
The rising bill has prompted
warnings from the Treasury that the Congressionally mandated debt ceiling of
$12.1 trillion will most likely be breached in the second half of this year.
Last week, the Treasury
Borrowing Advisory Committee, a group of industry executives that advises
the Treasury on its financing needs, warned about the consequences of higher
deficits at a time when tax revenue was "collapsing" by 14 percent in the
first half of the fiscal year.
"Given the outlook for the
economy, the cost of restoring a smoothly functioning financial system and
the pending entitlement obligations to retiring baby boomers," a report from
the committee said, "the fiscal outlook is one of rapidly increasing debt in
the years ahead."
While the real long-term
interest rate will not rise immediately, the committee concluded, "such a
fiscal path could force real rates notably higher at some point in the
In some ways, ballooning
deficits should not matter. Deficits are a useful way for governments to use
public spending to stimulate the economy when private demand is weak. That
works as long as a country closes its deficit and pays back its borrowings
after its economy starts to recover.
The trouble is that
government borrowing risks crowding out private investment, driving up
interest rates and potentially slowing a recovery still trying to take hold.
That is why the Federal Reserve announced an extraordinary policy this year
to buy back existing long-term debt - $300 billion over six months - to
drive down yields. The strategy worked for a while, but now the effect of
that decision appears to be wearing off as long-term interest rates tick up
Then there is the concern
that the interest the government must pay on its debt obligations may become
unsustainable or weigh on future generations. The Congressional Budget
Office expects interest payments to more than quadruple in the next decade
as Washington borrows and spends, to $806 billion by 2019 from $172 billion
"You're just paying more and
more interest and having to borrow more and more money to pay the interest,"
said Charles S. Konigsberg, chief budget counsel for the Concord Coalition,
which advocates lower deficits. "It diverts a tremendous amount of
resources, of taxpayer dollars."
Of course, no one is
suggesting the United States will have problems paying the interest on its
debt. On Wednesday, even as it announced its huge financing needs for the
latest quarter, the Treasury said financial markets could accommodate the
flood of new bonds. "We feel confident that we can address these large
borrowing needs," said Karthik Ramanathan, the Treasury's acting assistant
secretary for financial markets.
One worry, however, is that
there are fewer eager lenders to buy all that American debt. Most of the
world is in recession, and other countries have rising borrowing needs as
well. As other nations' surpluses turn to deficits, America will face
competition in global financial markets for its borrowing needs. For the
moment, the United States is actually benefiting from a flight to quality
into Treasury securities brought on by the global financial crisis, which
helped reduce rates to record lows over the winter. But the influx will not
China has lent immense sums
to the United States - about two- thirds of its central bank's $1.95
trillion in foreign reserves is believed to be in U.S. securities - but it
has begun to voice concerns about America's financial health.
To calm nerves and fill the
deficit hole, the government is getting creative. The Treasury is speeding
up its auction calendar, holding more frequent sales of government debt and
selling the debt in expanded amounts. It is now holding sales of its 30-year
bond each month, up from four times annually.
It is also resuscitating
previously discontinued bonds, like the seven-year note and the three-year
note, to try to mop up any available money all along the yield curve. There
is even talk of issuing billions of dollars in a new 50-year bond, though
the idea has not won official approval.
On a second front, the
Treasury and the Federal Reserve are trying to bolster the mechanics of the
market to make sure every auction goes smoothly. With such enormous sums
involved, every additional basis point on the interest rate the government
pays could mean extra billions of dollars for the taxpayer.
Bernanke's money printing press
On March 18, the Federal Reserve announced it would purchase up to $300 billion
of long-term bonds as well as $750 billion of mortgage-backed securities. Of all
the Fed's moves, this "quantitative easing" gets money into the economy the
fastest -- basically by cranking the handle of the printing press and flooding
the market with dollars (in reality, with additional bank credit). Since these
dollars are not going into home building, coal-fired electric plants or auto
factories, they end up in the stock market. A rising market means that banks are
able to raise much-needed equity from private money funds instead of from the
feds. And last Thursday, accompanying this flood of new money, came the
reassuring results of the bank stress tests. The next day Morgan Stanley raised
$4 billion by selling stock at $24 in an oversubscribed deal. Wells Fargo also
raised $8.6 billion that day by selling stock at $22 a share, up from $8 two
months ago. And Bank of America registered 1.25 billion shares to sell this
week. Citi is next. It's almost as if someone engineered a stock-market rally to
entice private investors to fund the banks rather than taxpayers .
Andy Kessler, "Was It a Sucker's
Rally? You can have a jobless recovery but you can't have a profitless one,"
The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2009 ---
Video on the Long-term Disaster of Beranke's Money Supply
Printing Press That Will Kick in Hyperinflation ---
Will the U.S. become Zimbabwe? ---
Stop Imitating Hyper-inflated Zimbabe: The U.S. Treasury Should
Cease Monetizing the Debt
The U.S. should borrow or tax to pay its debts, but stop printing money to pay
"Don't Monetize the Debt: The president of the Dallas Fed on inflation risk
and central bank independence," by Mary Anastasia O'Grady, The Wall Street
Journal, May 23, 2009 ---
From his perch high atop the palatial
Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, overlooking what he calls "the most modern,
efficient city in America," Richard Fisher says he is always on the lookout
for rising prices. But that's not what's worrying the bank's president right
His bigger concern these days would seem
to be what he calls "the perception of risk" that has been created by the
Fed's purchases of Treasury bonds, mortgage-backed securities and Fannie Mae
Mr. Fisher acknowledges that events in the
financial markets last year required some unusual Fed action in the
commercial lending market. But he says the longer-term debt, particularly
the Treasurys, is making investors nervous. The looming challenge, he says,
is to reassure markets that the Fed is not going to be "the handmaiden" to
fiscal profligacy. "I think the trick here is to assist the functioning of
the private markets without signaling in any way, shape or form that the
Federal Reserve will be party to monetizing fiscal largess, deficits or the
The very fact that a Fed regional bank
president has to raise this issue is not very comforting. It conjures up
images of Argentina. And as Mr. Fisher explains, he's not the only one
worrying about it. He has just returned from a trip to China, where "senior
officials of the Chinese government grill[ed] me about whether or not we are
going to monetize the actions of our legislature." He adds, "I must have
been asked about that a hundred times in China."
A native of Los Angeles who grew up in
Mexico, Mr. Fisher was educated at Harvard, Oxford and Stanford. He spent
his earliest days in government at Jimmy Carter's Treasury. He says that
taught him a life-long lesson about inflation. It was "inflation that
destroyed that presidency," he says. He adds that he learned a lot from then
Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who had to "break [inflation's] back."
Mr. Fisher has led the Dallas Fed since
2005 and has developed a reputation as the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC)
lead inflation worrywart. In September he told a New York audience that
"rates held too low, for too long during the previous Fed regime were an
accomplice to [the] reckless behavior" that brought about the economic
troubles we are now living through. He also warned that the Treasury's $700
billion plan to buy toxic assets from financial institutions would be "one
more straw on the back of the frightfully encumbered camel that is the
federal government ledger."
In a speech at the Kennedy School of
Government in February, he wrung his hands about "the very deep hole [our
political leaders] have dug in incurring unfunded liabilities of retirement
and health-care obligations" that "we at the Dallas Fed believe total over
$99 trillion." In March, he is believed to have vociferously objected in
closed-door FOMC meetings to the proposal to buy U.S. Treasury bonds. So
with long-term Treasury yields moving up sharply despite Fed intentions to
bring down mortgage rates, I've flown to Dallas to see what he's thinking
Regarding what caused the credit bubble,
he repeats his assertion about the Fed's role: "It is human instinct when
rates are low and the yield curve is flat to reach for greater risk and
enhanced yield and returns." (Later, he adds that this is not to cast
aspersions on former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and reminds me that these
decisions are made by the FOMC.)
"The second thing is that the regulators
didn't do their job, including the Federal Reserve." To this he adds what he
calls unusual circumstances, including "the fruits and tailwinds of
globalization, billions of people added to the labor supply, new factories
and productivity coming from places it had never come from before." And
finally, he says, there was the 'mathematization' of risk." Institutions
were "building risk models" and relying heavily on "quant jocks" when "in
the end there can be no substitute for good judgment."
What about another group of alleged
culprits: the government-anointed rating agencies? Mr. Fisher doesn't mince
words. "I served on corporate boards. The way rating agencies worked is that
they were paid by the people they rated. I saw that from the inside." He
says he also saw this "inherent conflict of interest" as a fund manager. "I
never paid attention to the rating agencies. If you relied on them you got .
. . you know," he says, sparing me the gory details. "You did your own
analysis. What is clear is that rating agencies always change something
after it is obvious to everyone else. That's why we never relied on them."
That's a bit disconcerting since the Fed still uses these same agencies in
managing its own portfolio.
I wonder whether the same bubble-producing
Fed errors aren't being repeated now as Washington scrambles to avoid a
sustained economic downturn.
He surprises me by siding with the
deflation hawks. "I don't think that's the risk right now." Why? One factor
influencing his view is the Dallas Fed's "trim mean calculation," which
looks at price changes of more than 180 items and excludes the extremes.
Dallas researchers have found that "the price increases are less and less.
Ex-energy, ex-food, ex-tobacco you've got some mild deflation here and no
inflation in the [broader] headline index."
Mr. Fisher says he also has a group of
about 50 CEOs around the U.S. and the world that he calls on, all off the
record, before almost every FOMC meeting. "I don't impart any information, I
just listen carefully to what they are seeing through their own eyes. And
that gives me a sense of what's happening on the ground, you might say on
Main Street as opposed to Wall Street."
It's good to know that a guy so obsessed
with price stability doesn't see inflation on the horizon. But inflation and
bubble trouble almost always get going before they are recognized. Moreover,
the Fed has to pay attention to the 1978 Full Employment and Balanced Growth
Act -- a.k.a. Humphrey-Hawkins -- and employment is a lagging indicator of
economic activity. This could create a Fed bias in favor of inflating. So I
push him again.
"I want to make sure that your readers
understand that I don't know a single person on the FOMC who is rooting for
inflation or who is tolerant of inflation." The committee knows very well,
he assures me, that "you cannot have sustainable employment growth without
price stability. And by price stability I mean that we cannot tolerate
deflation or the ravages of inflation."
Mr. Fisher defends the Fed's actions that
were designed to "stabilize the financial system as it literally fell apart
and prevent the economy from imploding." Yet he admits that there is
unfinished work. Policy makers have to be "always mindful that whatever you
put in, you are going to have to take out at some point. And also be mindful
that there are these perceptions [about the possibility of monetizing the
debt], which is why I have been sensitive about the issue of purchasing
He returns to events on his recent trip to
Asia, which besides China included stops in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and
Korea. "I wasn't asked once about mortgage-backed securities. But I was
asked at every single meeting about our purchase of Treasurys. That seemed
to be the principal preoccupation of those that were invested with their
surpluses mostly in the United States. That seems to be the issue people are
most worried about."
As I listen I am reminded that it's not
just the Asians who have expressed concern. In his Kennedy School speech,
Mr. Fisher himself fretted about the U.S. fiscal picture. He acknowledges
that he has raised the issue "ad nauseam" and doesn't apologize. "Throughout
history," he says, "what the political class has done is they have turned to
the central bank to print their way out of an unfunded liability. We can't
let that happen. That's when you open the floodgates. So I hope and I pray
that our political leaders will just have to take this bull by the horns at
some point. You can't run away from it."
Voices like Mr. Fisher's can be a problem
for the politicians, which may be why recently there have been rumblings in
Washington about revoking the automatic FOMC membership that comes with
being a regional bank president. Does Mr. Fisher have any thoughts about
This is nothing new, he points out,
briefly reviewing the history of the political struggle over monetary policy
in the U.S. "The reason why the banks were put in the mix by [President
Woodrow] Wilson in 1913, the reason it was structured the way it was
structured, was so that you could offset the political power of Washington
and the money center in New York with the regional banks. They represented
"Now we have this great populist fervor
and the banks are arguing for Main Street, largely. I have heard these
arguments before and studied the history. I am not losing a lot of sleep
over it," he says with a defiant Texas twang that I had not previously
detected. "I don't think that it'd be the best signal to send to the market
right now that you want to totally politicize the process."
Speaking of which, Texas bankers don't
have much good to say about the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP),
according to Mr. Fisher. "Its been complicated by the politics because you
have a special investigator, special prosecutor, and all I can tell you is
that in my district here most of the people who wanted in on the TARP no
longer want in on the TARP."
At heart, Mr. Fisher says he is an
advocate for letting markets clear on their own. "You know that I am a big
believer in Schumpeter's creative destruction," he says referring to the
term coined by the late Austrian economist. "The destructive part is always
painful, politically messy, it hurts like hell but you hopefully will allow
the adjustments to be made so that the creative part can take place." Texas
went through that process in the 1980s, he says, and came back stronger.
This is doubtless why, with Washington
taking on a larger role in the American economy every day, the worries
linger. On the wall behind his desk is a 1907 gouache painting by Antonio De
Simone of the American steam sailing vessel Varuna plowing through stormy
seas. Just like most everything else on the walls, bookshelves and table
tops around his office -- and even the dollar-sign cuff links he wears to
work -- it represents something.
He says that he has had this painting
behind his desk for the past 30 years as a reminder of the importance of
purpose and duty in rough seas. "The ship," he explains, "has to maintain
its integrity." What is more, "no mathematical model can steer you through
the kind of seas in that picture there. In the end someone has the wheel."
He adds: "On monetary policy it's the Federal Reserve."
Bob Jensen's threads on the National Debt Crisis are at
Bob Jensen's threads on the Entitlements Crisis are at
Not a single county in the entire state
(California) voted for the tax-and-spend propositions
on yesterday's referendum ballot, not even the peculiar folks who live in Nancy
Pelosi's far-left 8th Congressional District who persist in sending the Wicked
Witch of the West to the Nation's Capitol to wage war on the CIA and the
nation's taxpayers. The only measure voters did approve was one to freeze
salaries of senior public officials during budget emergencies.
Michael Reagan, "Terminating the
Terminator," Townhall, May 20, 2009 ---
What's worse in many respects is that California voters sent a message to
President Obama that taxing the middle class (the only way to raise serious
deficit-cutting revenue) to halt deficit-induced halt hyperinflation of the U.S.
dollar will not be supported by voters.
democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist
until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public
treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates
promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a
democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a
Alexander Tyler. 1787 - Tyler was a Scottish history professor that had
this to say about 2000 years after "The Fall of the Athenian Republic" and about
the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution.
As quoted at
http://www.babylontoday.com/national_debt_clock.htm (where the debt clock in
real time is a few months behind)
The National Debt Amount This Instant (Refresh your browser for updates by the
Bob Jensen's threads on impending disaster in
the United States are at
Watch the CBS Sixty Minutes Video While its Free Online
Of all the corporate bailouts that have taken place
over the past year, none has proved more costly or contentious than the rescue
of American International Group (AIG). Its reckless bets on subprime mortgages
threatened to bring down Wall Street and the world economy last fall until the
U.S Treasury and the Federal Reserve stepped in to save it. So far, the huge
insurance and financial services conglomerate has been given or promised $180
billion in loans, investments, financial injections and guarantees - a sum
greater than the annual cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
"Why AIG Stumbled, And Taxpayers Now Own It," CBS Sixty Minutes,
May 17, 2009 ---
To add pain to misery, AIG lied to the media about the extent of bonuses granted
after receiving TARP funds.
Bob Jensen's threads on AIG are at
AIG now says it paid out more than $454 million in
bonuses to its employees for work performed in 2008. That is nearly four times
more than the company revealed in late March when asked by POLITICO to detail
its total bonus payments. At that time, AIG spokesman Nick Ashooh said the firm
paid about $120 million in 2008 bonuses to a pool of more than 6,000 employees.
The figure Ashooh offered was, in turn, substantially higher than company CEO
Edward Liddy claimed days earlier in testimony before a House Financial Services
Subcommittee. Asked how much AIG had paid in 2008 bonuses, Liddy responded: “I
think it might have been in the range of $9 million.”
Emon Javers, "AIG bonuses four times
higher than reported," Politico, May 5, 2009 ---
The housing bubble was unique, and uniquely awful.
Each of the previous waves had come in response to a profound shift in the real
economy. With the housing bubble, by contrast, there was no meaningful
development in the real economy that could explain why homes were suddenly so
much more attractive or valuable. The only thing that had changed, really, was
that banks were flinging cheap money at would-be homeowners, essentially
conjuring up profits out of nowhere. And while previous booms (at least, those
of the twenties and the nineties) did end in tears, along the way they made the
economy more productive and more innovative in a lasting way. That’s not true of
the past decade. Banking grew bigger and more profitable. But all we got in
exchange was acres of empty houses in Phoenix.
James Surowiecki, "Have We Gained
Anything from the Housing Bubble?" Seeking Alpha, May 20, 2009 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on Greed, Sleaze, Bribery, and Lies in the housing bubble
PBS Television will now answer your personal finance questions ---
Helpful Personal Finance Calculators free from the Florida
Institute of CPAs ---
Quarter (2009) net cash flow hemorrhage of
Per Day: $113.3 million
Per Hour: $4.72 million
Per Minute: $78,704
Per Second: $1,312
Jim Mahar, Finance
Professor Blog, May 7, 2009 ---
This is one of those classroom illustrations of where accrual accounting alone
paints a misleading picture unless accompanied by cash flow statements. Note
that net cash flow in this case includes all cash coming in, including
Bob Jensen's threads on cash flow vs. accrual accounting are at
Obama may earn millions from taxpayer-funded schools
in his new book deal. Five days before taking the oath of office,
President-elect Barack Obama signed a book deal with Crown Publishing Group to
publish a version of his best-selling book, "Dreams from My Father", aimed at
middle school and young adult age groups. Obama would receive a $500,000 advance
payment against royalties, plus ongoing royalty payments. Some in the media have
questioned the propriety of this deal from the angle that the President might be
unduly influenced by Bertelsmann AG, the German based media publishing empire
which owns Random House, which is the parent company of Crown Publishing. But
there is a far larger dynamic at work. Random House and Crown are interested in
selling books. And most middle and high school students do not buy lots of
books, but the schools they attend do. So we presume that Crown Publishing will
primarily pitch the book to schools along with libraries. The real issue then
becomes the tremendous influence that President Obama now enjoys over the
spending plans of thousands of school districts which just received $44.5
Billion from the Stimulus Bill plus additional billions in the Omnibus Spending
Bill, both of which Obama signed.
Richard Henry Lee, "Obama may earn
Millions from Schools in Book Deal," American Thinker, May 20, 2009 ---
The Death of Print?
Oddly enough, newspapers are reaching more people than ever before. In 1999, The
Washington Post had a circulation of 786,000, essentially limited to Washington
and its suburbs. Now the print circulation is 665,000 and The Post's Web site is
drawing 9.4 million unique monthly visitors from around the world.
Howard Kurtz, "The Death of Print?" The Washington Post,
May 11, 2009 ---
Something you will never learn from MSNBC or the NYT or
Media Covering Up The $100+ billion
per month hemorrhage of Fan..it and Free...die
Weisenthal also reminds us that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are losing e money
($400 B to date) faster than AIG and GM combined
but we hardly hear anything. (in the
Jim Mahar, Finance Professor Blog,
May 9, 2009 ---
But the news of the quarterly loss is getting
hardly any attention....The problem is that the Fannie and Freddie disasters
don't fit into any conventional media narrative....Fannie Mae? They help
nice families get into homes. Their motto is something about helping the
people who help house America. Who could be against that? Plus, the Fannie
and Freddy story doesn't help explain the idea that laissez-faire
deregulation is what allowed Wall Street to go crazy. Fannie and Freddy had
their own freakin' regulator....
Joe Weisenthal, Media Still Covering Up The
$400 Billion Fannie And Freddie Scandal," Business Insider, May 8,
"We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama -- $60.7
million to be exact -- and we're proud of it," boasted Andy Stern, president of
the Service Employees International Union, to the Las Vegas Sun this week. The
behemoth labor organization's leadership is getting its money's worth. Whether
rank-and-file workers and ordinary taxpayers are profiting from this ultimate
campaign pay-for-play scheme is another matter entirely . . . Obama champions
the SEIU's top legislative priorities: expansive government health care (paid
for with regressive sin taxes) and the "Employee Free Choice Act" to do away
with private-ballot union elections in the workplace. He has SEIU-blessed
bureaucrats installed in every corner of his administration to carry out the
agenda. The SEIU scored not one but two Cabinet appointees: Health and Human
Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. The SEIU
pitched in with maximum donations to Solis' first congressional campaign and
lent her nearly 300 canvassers and ground troops. "I wouldn't be here, were it
not for my friends in the labor movement," she gushed. Indeed, over four terms
in Congress, Solis has pocketed more than $900,000 in union campaign
Michelle Malkin, "Big Labor's Investment in Obama Pays
Off," Townhall, May 13, 2009 ---
Can you see why I believe this is a sucker's rally?
The stock market still has big hurdles to clear. You
can have a jobless recovery, but you can't have a profitless recovery. Consider:
Earnings are subpar (and may get worse with more concessions to labor
unions), Treasury's last auction was a bust because of
weak demand, the dollar is suspect, the stimulus is pork, the latest budget
projects a $1.84 trillion deficit, the administration is berating investment
firms and hedge funds saying "I don't stand with them," California is dead
broke, health care may be nationalized, cap and trade will bump electric bills
by 30% . . . Shall I go on? Until these issues are resolved, I don't see the
stock market going much higher. I'm not disagreeing with the Fed's policies --
but I won't buy into a rising stock market based on them. I'm bullish when I see
productivity driving wealth.
Andy Kessler, "Was It a Sucker's
Rally? You can have a jobless recovery but you can't have a profitless one,"
The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2009 ---
Nobody can be counted on to predict the stock market and the unpredictable
shocks that affect it. One shock that will ultimately drive equity market prices
up is inflation, and inflation is inevitable with Obama's annual egalitarian
deficits of $2 trillion or more. One problem with inflation is that nobody can
accurately predict just when the stock market will make huge upward moves for
Zimbabwe-like inflation. A second problem is that paper profits on equity are
not real profits. They're probably losses in spending power. If these huge Obama
deficits continue in the future, both debt and equity will have to be indexed
for inflation when investors cease to be suckers. For many years investors in
high-inflation nations like Brazil stopped being suckers. Virtually all security
investments in Brazil are indexed for inflation.
America, what is happening to you?
“One thing seems probable to me,” said Peer Steinbrück,
the German finance minister, in September 2008....“the United States will lose
its status as the superpower of the global financial system.” You don’t have to
strain too hard to see the financial crisis as the death knell for a
debt-ridden, overconsuming, and underproducing American empire.
Richard Florida, "How the Crash Will
Reshape America," The Atlantic, March 2009 ---
California is Liberalism's "Canary
in the Coal Mine"
Carol Platt Liebau ---
For union members, life is good.
California teachers earn 25% more than the national average, even though some of
the most incompetent, indifferent or downright dangerous of them cannot be fired
because of concessions won by the teachers’ unions. The SEIU is so powerful that
some of its members were able to listen in on a phone call between the Obama
administration and the state – which resulted in the President’s threat to
withhold stimulus money if the cash-strapped state made even modest cuts in the
salaries of unionized home health care employees. In fact, state government is
routinely held hostage by public employee unions; not surprising when one
considers that California is home to 356,000 state workers – 9.3 of them for
every 1,000 residents.
Carol Platt Liebau, Townhall,
May 18, 2009 ---
Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio
University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day
including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states
such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the
nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New
Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax
states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than
their high-tax counterparts. Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen
by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation,
California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of
academic studies -- old and new -- have found clear and irrefutable statistical
evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses.
Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore,
"Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich: Americans know how to use the moving van to
escape high taxes," The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2009 ---
Sadly, when hoards of people flock to a tax haven the taxes and crime rates tend
Bob Jensen's threads on state tax rates are at
Actually one of the best tax havens, aside from Alaska, is Delaware. If you're
thinking of moving to New England, you will find that Maine and Vermont are
lovely states with more shoreline than New Hampshire. And New Hampshire does
have an income tax of sorts --- 5% of cash dividends and interest received. I'd
avoid New Hampshire if I were in your place.
In his book "The Enemy at Home,"
Dinesh D'Souza shows little patience with the leftists who reacted to 9/11 by
declaring that America had it coming. And yet, his book is a variant on that
theme. It was our cultural decadence, our foul popular movies, music and
pornography, D'Souza argues, that enraged traditional Muslims worldwide and
moved some to violence.
Mona Charen, "Is It All About
Britney? Frontpage, May 22, 2009 ---
A Georgia man was sentenced to 100 years in prison
for poisoning his two children to extort money from Campbell Soup Co. William
Cunningham was sentenced Thursday after a jury found him guilty of five counts
of cruelty to children and two counts of aggravated assault, said Kellie Perry,
a clerk at the Clayton County Superior Court.
Yahoo News, May 22, 2009 ---
Bob Jensen’s threads on impending disaster ---
Nancy Pelosi raised such a fuss about having to have a small UASF jet like
previous Speakers of the House, she now has an enormous Boeing 757 for all
personal as well as business trips. The cash operating cost for fuel and crew is
around $6 million a year. And people complain about $500 tennis shoes for
President Obama's wife.
The Obama administration, while trumpeting
"transparency," wants to rescind accountability and financial disclosure
regulations for America's unions. And while that's music to the ears of union
bosses, it's a sour note for dues-paying members. It's one thing if the tougher
regulations initiated by the Bush administration served no purpose. But the
record shows otherwise. Since 2001, heightened fiscal scrutiny has led to more
than 1,000 indictments of union officials and 929 convictions, according to The
Heritage Foundation. A small cross section of bad apples? Perhaps. But those
rotten to the core also were slapped with $93 million in court-ordered
restitution to union members. Among the casualties of exposure: Tyrone Freeman,
who led the 160,000-member Service Employees International Union of Los Angeles.
That is, until filings revealed that the union paid hundreds of thousands of
dollars to companies owned by Freeman's family members with nary any benefit for
the union's members. Mr. Freeman ultimately resigned.
"Obama's union sop," Pittsburgh Trib., May 10, 2009 ---
Although Obama expounds accountability and transparency, the desire of the
Democratic party for illegal political contributions takes priority when it
comes to labor unions.
What if terrorists in the United Kingdom plan once again to blow up U.S.
airplanes leaving England?
This is a lousy policy for U.S. airliners President Obama
The Obama administration says it may curtail Anglo-American intelligence
sharing if the British High Court discloses new details of the treatment of a
former Guantanamo detainee.
"Obama threatens to limit U.S. intel with Brits:
Justice letter filed in court," Washington Times, May 12, 2009 ---
Catherine Scott left her wealthy parents' home to
have a baby Four years later, she has just had twins by another man more than
twice her age. She says taxpayers should provide a four-bedroom house in a more
affluent area for her, jobless 40-year-old Dean Evans and their children. Miss
Scott, whose boyfriend has five other children by three ex-wives, is also
demanding more benefits, saying that £16,000 a year is not enough to live on. At
14, she gave birth to a son but after six months she left him with her parents .
Rebecca Camber, Mail Online,
May 11, 2009 ---
Gen. David Petraeus said he believes Usama bin
Laden and his No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri remain in charge of the terrorist network.
"They surface periodically. We see communications that they send out," Petraeus
said. Though Petraeus said nobody can provide an accurate location for either
terrorist, he said Al Qaeda senior leadership clearly is now rooted in the
border region of western Pakistan. "There's no question that Al Qaeda's senior
leadership has been there and has been in operation for years," Petraeus said.
"Petraeus: Al Qaeda No Longer Operating in Afghanistan," Fox
News, May 10, 2009 ---
Much has been made about the claim issued in
November by the U.S. Joint Forces Command that Mexico, along with Pakistan, is
at risk of becoming a failed state. Yet in a ranking of the Western Hemisphere's
most at-risk countries, where criminal networks threaten to overwhelm the
authority of the state, Mexico might not even make the top 10. Central America
and parts of South America are in far worse shape.
O'Grady, "Finally, a Real Revolution
A civil-society movement emerges in Central America," The Wall Street Journal,
May 18, 2009 ---
US firms seized, Obama lets him get away with it
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has sent troops to
take over companies that provide services for the oil industry. "This is a
revolutionary offensive," he told workers near Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela's main
oil-producing area. Military vehicles were used as the state oil company seized
supply boats and two US-owned gas facilities.
"Chavez seizes oil service firms," BBC News, May 9, 2009
What assurance is there that after a ransom is paid these felons still
would not sell the data?
The FBI and Virginia State Police are searching for
hackers who demanded that the state pay them a $10 million ransom by Thursday
for the return of millions of personal pharmaceutical records they say they
stole from the state's prescription drug database. The hackers claim to have
accessed 8 million patient records and 35 million prescriptions collected by the
Prescription Monitoring Program. "This was an intentional criminal act against
the commonwealth by somebody who was trying to harm others," Gov. Timothy M.
Kaine (D) said. "There are breaches that happen by accident or glitches that you
try to work out. It's difficult to foil every criminal that may want to do
something against you." Although the hackers had threatened to sell the data if
they did not receive payment by Thursday, the deadline passed with no immediate
sign that they followed through.
Brian Krebs and Anita Kumar, "Hackers Want Millions For Data on Prescriptions:
Theft of Va. Patient Records Claimed," The Washington Post, May 8, 2009
There's nothing a teenager hates more than being
manipulated, yet they are so skillfully twisted by today's media world that they
don't even know it. Encourage them to dissect advertisements and look critically
at programming content and how it shapes their own attitudes. Show them how they
are being preyed upon. I highly recommend viewing with them a PBS video
entitled, "The Merchants of Cool." Produced several years ago it is still the
definitive study on how teens are being used by an industry peddling a worldview
that keeps them hyped up and caught up in the worst inclinations of the teen
years. Viewing the program together will help foster a closer relationship and
joint understanding of what to do next. We must deliberately work to bring out
the best of the transitional teen years - a time that is supposed to be a bridge
from childhood into responsible adulthood. Rally around your children during
these vulnerable years and find other adults who will help you shape your girls
into women of intelligence and virtue and your sons into gentlemen of strong
character. Parents must cut through the garbage and make adolescence productive,
fun and healthy. But it doesn't happen by accident or by absentee parenting. It
takes your time and daily commitment to them as people, determined to pass on
your values instead of the values of those who only see your children as cash
Rebecca Hagelin, "We Must Do Better
By Our Children," Townhall, May 19, 2009 ---
Here's a pleasant surprise: The Supreme Court agreed
yesterday to hear arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the
Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. This could get interesting.
"Sarbox and the Constitution," The Wall Street Journal,
May 19, 2009 ---
This is a pleasant surprise for CEOs who do not want to take
responsibility for internal controls in their companies and for companies that
want weaker and cheaper financial audits. It is not a pleasant surprise for
auditing firms. It could return auditing to the 1990s when audits became
This could be a disaster to
auditing firm revenues. Hopefully the Supreme Court will instead lock in SOX for
the smelly feet of unscrupulous corporations. It also could badly hurt the
recovery of the stock market since investors will have less confidence in the
integrity of financial statements.
The poor services of auditing firms became a focal point in
the U.S. Congress when equity markets appeared of the verge of collapse due to
fear and distrust of the financial reporting of corporations dependent upon
equity markets for capital. The Roaring 1990s burned and crashed. In a
desperation move Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) of 2002 ---
SOX was a shot in the arm for the auditing industry. SOX
forced the auditing industry to upgrade services with SOX legal backing that
doubled or even tripled or quadrupled fees for such services. Clients continue
to grumble about the soaring costs of audits, but in my opinion SOX was a small
price to pay for saving our equity capital markets.
The (gay) activist is Andrew Sullivan, one of the
movers and shakers in the international homosexual movement. "The real reason
for hate crime laws is not the defense of human beings from crime. There are
already laws against that," Sullivan writes on his blog, "and Matthew Shepard's
murderers were successfully prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in a
state with no hate crimes law at the time." Sullivan continues: "The real reason
for the invention of hate crimes was a hard-left critique of conventional
liberal justice and the emergence of special interest groups which need boutique
legislation to raise funds for their large staffs and luxurious buildings. Just
imagine how many direct mail pieces have gone out explaining that without more
money for [Human Rights Campaign], more gay human beings will be crucified on
fences. It's very, very powerful as a money-making tool -- which may explain why
the largely symbolic federal bill still hasn't passed."
Charlie Butts, "'Hate crimes' a
bogus argument for raising funds," One News Now, May 18, 2009 ---
"Busted At Last: KB Home, Countrywide (now owned by Bank of America) Hit
With $2.8 Billion Racketeering Charge," Money News, May 8, 2009 ---
Homeowners brought a federal racketeering lawsuit
on Thursday against KB Home (KBH.N), the former Countrywide Financial Corp
and appraiser LandSafe Inc, accusing the companies of operating a scheme to
fraudulently inflate sales prices of KB homes in Arizona and Nevada.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Phoenix,
claims the three companies colluded to overprice as many as 14,000 homes in
the two states by an average of $20,000, for an estimated total of $2.8
billion between 2006 and the present. The plaintiffs seek class action
status and triple damages.
A KB Home spokeswoman said the Los Angeles-based
home builder had not seen the lawsuit and had no comment. Calabasas,
California-based Countrywide, which was acquired last year by Bank of
America (BAC.N), could not be reached for comment.
The lawsuit contends that KB and Countrywide formed
the joint venture Countrywide KB Home Loans to "rig and falsify" appraised
values of the homes they were selling and financing in the two states.
The joint venture steered prospective buyers of KB
Homes to hand-picked appraisers at Countrywide subsidiary LandSafe who would
"come in with the appraisal at whatever number was necessary to close the
deal," the lawsuit said.
LandSafe appraisers "blatantly falsified" sales
prices for comparable properties, using prices from homes as much as 10
miles away, and citing comparable properties that were in different planned
communities, the suit said.
The homes were generally priced between $250,000
and $350,000 -- inflated sums that homeowners discovered when they attempted
to sell their homes and hired independent appraisers, said plaintiffs
attorney Steve Berman of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP in Seattle.
"Most of these people were underwater from the
get-go," said Berman.
The Hagens firm filed a similar lawsuit against KB
and Countrywide earlier this year in California, citing claims under the
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and violation of the
state's unfair competition law.
The case is Nathaniel Johnson v. KB Home et al.,
2:09-CV-00972-MHB, in U.S. District Court in Arizona.
Bob Jensen's threads on Rotten to the Core are at
Bob Jensen's threads on Countrywide Financial (now owned by Bank of
America) fraud are at
CEO Pay: How to get your bailout taxpayer cake and eat it too
The new Chrysler is among the first companies to
fall under rules outlined in February by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner,
for companies getting "extraordinary assistance" from the Treasury that would
cap pay for top executives at $500,000, excluding restricted shares of stock.
The final rules for the limits have not been released. . . . Fiat CEO Sergio
Marchionne has already indicated he will replace Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli. But
under the deal, any of Chrysler's top officers can be deemed a Fiat employee
who's "seconded" to Chrysler, and therefore take pay from Fiat beyond any
"Fiat plans to bypass U.S. exec pay limits," by Justin Hyde and Greg Gardner,
Freep.com, May 13, 2009---
PS: Fiat is not putting up any cash to get control of Chrysler. What a
"Golden coffins, golden offices, golden retirement: Ten of the most
egregious executive perks,"
by Allistair Barr, Market Watch, May 13, 2009 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous executive compensation schemes are at
Running Your On Campus Computer from Off-Campus Using
I am afraid
I don’t have much to add other than what you can read under “Security” at
free trial is important since you can test whether GoToMyPC can penetrate
your campus firewall. Keep in mind that your on-campus computer has to be
booted up, which may entail having a secretary boot it up now and then
(e.g., after there’s a power failure on campus).
Also keep in
mind that if you have a laptop that you use on campus, there’s not added
risk in connecting that same laptop off campus.
GoToMyPC for a few years and was able to penetrate the Trinity University
firewall. There were not problems using my laptop off campus to access my
office computer on campus. I was somewhat surprised that GoToMyPC could
penetrate the sensitive firewall at Trinity University.
retired, Trinity requested that I instead use their Cisco VPN system which
is much more limited (albeit free) than GoToMyPC. With VPN, I can update
files stored on network drives (e.g., Web server files, BlackBoard files,
and my LAN private-access drives on the Trinity network) but not my
on-campus computer (which no longer exists after my retirement). I suspect
that I could access my on-campus secretary’s computer with GoToMyPC, but I
have no need to do that. When I want to send files to her, I upload files
via VPN or FTP to my Drive J LAN drive on campus. She also has rights to
access my Drive J. She can also access my Web server files such that the few
times I’ve had trouble accessing the Web server from New Hampshire she can
update my Web files on campus. For a few weeks recently, the Clean Sweep
security program for Web server access was giving me trouble. I actually had
to send my laptop to techies on campus to fix up the Clean Sweep problem. In
the meantime I uploaded files to Drive J on campus, and Debbie then uploaded
them into the Drive W Web server on campus. Fortunately this is no longer
necessary after my laptop was returned from the techies on campus.
system really does not add much more than what I can also do with the old
fashioned FTP protocol. I actually use VPN and FTP with equal effectiveness.
But I miss my GoToMyPC full access to a campus computer.
alternatives to GoToMyPC ---
Controversial humanist and bioethicist Leon Kass delivers Jefferson
warning that, like the sciences, the humanities seem to have lost their soul.
"Tough Love for the Humanities," by Serena Golden, Inside Higher Ed, May 22,
While he described himself as “stunned” to be
chosen as this year’s Jefferson Lecturer, Leon Kass was hardly apologetic.
The University of Chicago professor is best known for the years he spent as
chair of President Bush’s Council on Bioethics, and he was invited to give
the lecture last fall by the then-chairman of the National Endowment for the
Humanities, Bruce Cole, himself twice appointed by President Bush. But Kass
-- whose selection was not made public until March 23, two months into the
Obama administration -- dismissed the idea that it might be in any way odd
for him to deliver the first Jefferson Lecture in the age of Obama.
“My view of the
humanities,” he told Inside Higher Ed, “has nothing to do with whose
administration it is.”
The Jefferson Lecture
is sponsored by the NEH, which describes it as "the highest honor the
federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the
humanities." And in his lecture, “’Searching for an Honest Man’: Reflections
of an Unlicensed Humanist” -- delivered Thursday night at Washington’s
Warner Theatre -- Kass summed up his philosophy by saying that “[t]he search
for our humanity, always necessary, yet never more urgent, is best
illuminated by the treasured works of the humanities….”
But Kass did not come to
Washington to defend the humanities; far from it. In his speech, Kass argued
that we only benefit from studying the humanities if we do so “in search of
the good, the true, and the beautiful” -- and that most institutions of
higher learning today are teaching nearly the opposite.
Kass’s reservations about
humanistic studies mirror his well-known
reservations about scientific advances,
and his lecture drew repeated parallels between the two, describing how his
early career and studies led him to his current beliefs about both.
In 1965, having completed
an M.D. at the University of Chicago and while working on a Ph.D in
biochemistry at Harvard University, Kass -- along with his wife, Amy --
spent a summer doing civil rights work in Mississippi. The experience forced
him to drastically rethink his world view: “A man of the left, I had
unthinkingly held the Enlightenment view of the close connection between
intellectual and moral virtue: education and progress in science and
technology would overcome superstition, poverty, and misery, allowing human
beings to become… morally superior creatures.”
But “the uneducated, poor
black farmers” he met that summer “seemed to display more integrity,
decency, and strength of character, and less self-absorption and
self-indulgence, than did many of my high-minded Harvard friends who shared
my progressive opinions.”
This cognitive dissonance,
Kass said, was exacerbated by his readings: Rousseau’s Discourse on the
Arts and Sciences, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and C.S.
Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. His concerns about education, and about
scientific progress in particular, led him, in 1970, to trade his scientific
career for one in the humanities; he wanted to study "not the hidden parts
of the human being," in the manner of the sciences, but "the manifest
activities of the whole" -- for in Kass's view,
the great failure of the modern sciences is their
refusal to define a human being as anything beyond the precise sum of his
In his ensuing career as a
humanist -- besides his years on the President’s Council on Bioethics, Kass
has been, since 1976, a professor of humanities at the University of
Chicago, where he is currently the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the
College and the Committee on Social Thought; he is also Hertog Fellow at the
American Enterprise Institute -- Kass became known for his misgivings about
scientific and technological advances. And while in his speech he referred
frequently to those misgivings, his message was about the humanities.
For while the sciences
have lost touch with their humanistic origins, Kass said, the humanities
have forgotten their relationship “to the ‘divinities’ -- the inquiry into
matters metaphysical and ultimately theological.”
Kass argued that it is the
job of the humanities to address “questions of ultimate concern: the
character and source of the cosmic whole and the place and work of the human
being within it.” Unfortunately, the modern “direction of humanistic
learning” has “culminat[ed] in a cynical tendency to disparage the great
ideas and to deconstruct the great works that we have inherited from ages
This trend, Kass said, is
not only antithetical to the proper mission of the humanities, but unfair to
college students, most of whom “are in fact looking for a meaningful life or
listening for a summons.”
As he told Inside
Higher Ed, “There are people who would love to study English literature
-- but they go to the English department, where, obsessed with theory,
they’re not teaching the books the way the students want to read them.
"We live in a world in
which very few people have anything positive to say; there's a kind of
intellectual chaos that surrounds us. The last thing young people need is
cynicism and a belief that the truth about these matters is whatever you
want it to be. They deserve the best help that the best books can offer
them, the best thinkers."
In the conclusion of his
lecture, Kass argued for a return to his own “old-fashioned” brand of
humanism. It is best to read books, he said, “in a wisdom-seeking spirit”;
that is, students and professors both should “search [for] the true, the
good, and the beautiful.”
Asked by Inside Higher
Ed to expound upon this, he complied: “I'm basically saying look,
especially in an age in which science is promising or threatening major
alterations in human nature and in which the world is changing beyond our
comprehension, it seems crucial for humanists to keep alive the important
questions of what is a human being, what is a good life for a human being --
individually and communally -- and make sure that everyone is as thoughtful
and concerned about those things as possible.”
To Kass, the humanities
need not and should not be locked in the ivory tower away from the everyday
world; they are not –
as Stanley Fish would have it – an end unto
themselves. On the contrary, humanistic learning is our best hope for
finding the wisdom we need to deal with "the profound ethical dilemmas of
our biotechnological age."
At the beginning of his
speech, Kass had offered his own life as an example of "what anyone
can learn with and through the humanities." But, of course, Leon Kass is not
just anyone -- and thus his closing list of those to whom he owes gratitude
included "President Bush for the privilege of leading wonderful
colleagues... in exploring and defending what is humanly at stake in our
emerging brave new world."
At this point, the
audience's respectful quiet (broken with laughter at the appropriate points)
became a rather more awkward silence, punctuated only by coughs. As he'd
promised, the gist of Kass's lecture did not have much to do with whose
administration it is.
Bob Jensen's threads on political correctness in academia are at
A Knew Kind of Knowledge and Calculating Site: I found it
disappointing for accounting research
Wolfram Alpha ---
A few things to try: enter any date (e.g. a birth date) june 23, 1988
enter any town (e.g. a home town) new york
I entered Sugar Hill, New Hampshire and got Sugar Hill,
enter any two stocks IBM Apple
enter any calculation $250 + 15%
enter any math formula x^2 sin(x)
enter any two first names andrew, barbara
enter any food 1 apple + 2 oranges
enter any measurement 45 mph
enter any chemical formula H2SO4
enter any musical notes C Eb G C
more » Examples by Topic »
Visual Gallery of Examples »
Watch Overview Video »
"Physicist Set to Unveil 'WolframAlpha' Web Site, a New Kind of
Research Helper," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, May
12, 2009 ---
What if you could ask your encyclopedia to not only
spit out facts, but to perform an analysis with those facts or compute the
answers to a math problem for you? A free Web site set to go live this month
promises to do just that, potentially becoming a virtual research assistant
for professors — or a new way for students to cheat on their homework.
The new site, called
WolframAlpha, seems bound to be a useful — and
possibly controversial — tool on college campuses. The service will present
users with a simple search box, as Google does. But WolframAlpha won’t just
point to Web sites about what the user types; it will attempt to compute an
answer based on its vast collection of facts and statistical-analysis
The hype for the service has been building all
a New York Times article called it “one of
the most anticipated Web products of the year.”
The site is the brainchild of Stephen Wolfram, a
scientist and entrepreneur who is best known for creating Mathematica,
number-crunching software popular with engineers and mathematicians.
The product is so new and different that the best
way to get a sense of it is to watch a demonstration. Thankfully, Mr.
Wolfram presented a sneak peek to researchers at Harvard University’s
Berkman Center for Internet & Society late last month.
of the talk is available online.
Wolfram Alpha needs a much faster server. Most of my attempts to access items
failed with a message that the site was under extreme user stress (even at 4:00
a.m. on a Sunday morning). The site also needs to add many modules in
accounting, business, and finance. I don't think there's much risk that business
students will be using this site to find homework answers. The site no doubt
works better for science students. The site is good for looking up
listed-company summary statistics.
Will the business school faculty shortage be a thing of the past?
"Business PhD Applications on the Rise: A weak job market has many
contemplating PhDs and faculty jobs. Will the business school faculty shortage
be a thing of the past?" by Alison Damast, Business Week, May 11, 2009
With expenses such as business lunches being
curtailed and a dwindling list of new clients, Wayne Nelms knew it was only
a matter of time before he would be laid off by accounting firm Grant
"The writing was on the wall. I just didn't know
when," says Nelms, 36, who worked as senior internal auditor at the
company's Baltimore office for two-and-a-half-years. "Then I got the
By January he was out of a job and found himself at
a crossroads. Reluctant to jump back into the job market immediately, he
started exploring his options and stumbled upon the PhD Project, a nonprofit
that encourages minority business professionals to earn PhDs and go on to
become professors. He'd heard of the program back when he was an MBA student
at Howard University but had put it on the back burner after graduation.
"When D-day happened, I decided, well I can do one
of two things with my future: Either get a doctorate or look for a good old
dependable job," said Nelms, who got in contact with the PhD Project. A few
weeks later he applied and was accepted to the accounting PhD program at
Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., where he'll be starting full-time
this fall. Says Nelms: "With a doctorate, I thought my destiny would be a
little more in my control."
Nelms is part of a growing wave of professionals
who are leaving the battered business world behind for a career in the
hallowed halls of academia. Applications are up substantially this year at
many top business PhD programs, with some business schools reporting jumps
in applications as high as 40%. PhD program directors attribute the jump to
professionals fleeing a weak job market, coupled with a surge of interest
from undergraduates bypassing that job market entirely to head straight for
An Encouraging Sign Meanwhile, organizations like
the PhD Project say more people than ever before are expressing interest in
their programs and annual conference, which attracted the largest number of
participants in the organization's 15-year history this fall. It's an
encouraging sign for the world of management education, where a looming
faculty shortage has had B-school deans worried for years.
The surge of interest in becoming a business
professor comes just as a backlash is being felt among those in the business
community who hold MBAs, says Yuval Bar-Or, an adjunct at Johns Hopkins
University's Carey Business School and author of Is a PhD for Me? A
Cautionary Guide for Aspiring Doctoral Students, slated for release on May
19. Many fleeing the business world for academia may view it as a more
venerable profession, he says.
"MBAs are now persona non grata in many places, and
there is a fair amount of animosity being directed at them for living in the
fast lane, spending everyone's money, and not being responsible enough,"
Bar-Or says. "So business leaders, in society's eyes, have been knocked off
a pedestal, and that may be causing a lot of people with an interest in
business to want to go down a path that is more respected in society."
Those who have been thinking about getting a PhD
are not wasting any time exploring their options. Potential PhD students
were out in full force this fall at the PhD Project's annual conference in
Chicago last November, where attendees mingled with professors and deans
from nearly 100 business schools around the country. The conference usually
attracts around 330 people, but this year 832 people applied, about 534 of
whom were invited to attend.
"This was a substantial increase. It was so big
that we were starting to worry from a budgetary standpoint about how we were
going to pay for everything and if the room and hotel was going to be big
enough," said Bernie Milano, president of the PhD Project. He expects that
interest will continue to grow. He's already received 65 applications for
next year's conference, triple the amount he usually receives by this time
of year, he says.
Continued in article
There are a number of things working against an explosion of doctoral students
Firstly, the traditionally large accounting doctoral programs (Illinois,
Texas, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio State, etc.) have greatly
shrunk in size since their days of glory before the "accountics" revolution
commenced in the 1960s. Shrinking departmental budgets will further dry up
funding going into doctoral programs and accounting research in general.
Generosity of hard-pressed accounting firms and alumni may also shrink private
donations that are often used heavily to fund endowed chair faculty and other
needs of doctoral programs.
Secondly, many jobless accountants with high GMAT scores often have
children and financial responsibilities and will be turned off by the five-year
average time it takes to get an accounting PhD, especially for jobless
applicants who have weak and or maybe forgotten accountics
prerequisites (calculus, advanced calculus, linear algebra, mathematical
statistics, econometrics, data mining, etc.) for which few have interest in
studying for five more years of their lives. Accounting doctoral programs now
have little to do with accounting and everything to do with making graduates
scientists in econometrics, mathematics, and psychometrics ---
Thirdly, virtually all colleges and universities are now being forced
to downsize in some way due to shrinking budget allocations. Recovery of these
budgets will be slow long after the current recession turns around because of
the many demands placed upon states for other priorities such as Medicare and
expanded welfare that was only temporarily shrunk by the Clinton
Administration.. While expanding entitlements for poor people, President Obama
promises to eventually reduce the Federal deficit which means more and more of
the funding burdens will fall upon state taxation. Californians are now showing
the world that taxpayers are not in the mood for higher state taxes. I do not
anticipate that the shrinking doctoral programs in accountancy will get heavy
revival funding for years to come.
Fourthly, due to shrinking budgets and explosive growth in
undergraduate accountancy programs, virtually all colleges and universities,
with blessings from the AACSB, are creating full-time faculty positions for
former practitioners who do not have accounting doctoral degrees (although many
have law degrees or doctorates in other disciplines). These faculty reduce the
demand for more expensive graduates from accountancy doctoral programs. And this
is an outlet for early retirees who are great instructors with specialized
skills (e.g., ERP, auditing, and tax) that are more in line with undergraduate
teaching curricula in accountancy undergraduate and masters programs.
The new AICPA-sponsored fellowship program for doctoral students who elect
auditing and tax will help but the number of students funded in these
professional specialties is too small to have much of an impact on filling empty
tenure track positions. The KMPG Foundation fellowships for minority students
has helped to get more African Americans into accounting doctoral programs, but
I do not anticipate great increases in this funding source. The numerical impact
of both these dedicated programs will be very small among the thousands of
accountancy education programs in the United States.
There will be substantial increases in the doctoral programs in management,
marketing, MIS, and economics. Finance is a question mark since the number of
undergraduate students majoring in finance will greatly decline due to black
hole in job opportunities for graduates in finance. With declines in
undergraduate finance majors there will be less demand for newly-minted
professors of finance. Economics will probably fare better because the fact that
economics doctoral students on average only take three years beyond a bachelors
degree to complete the doctoral program. Three-year doctorates are drawing
cards to many returning jobless graduate students who do not want to spend more
than three years earning a doctorate. And there will probably be increased
opportunities for economists in Obama's exploding Federal government.
Purportedly increasing numbers of doctoral students in economics are looking
forward to civil service careers ---
May 20, 20096 reply from Zane Swanson
One other mitigating factor which could increase
space at PhD schools may happen “if” PhD students opt for leaving campus
“all but dissertation” due to the monetary attraction from schools who need
to fill faculty shortage positions.
May 21, 2009 reply from Bob Jensen
I think there are more reasons these days not to leave ABD until the
dissertation draft is completed and given preliminary approval by the
dissertation advisor. Firstly, most PhD programs provide financial
incentives to say on campus (e.g., assistantships for the first three or
four years and fellowships at the dissertation stage).
Secondly, most hiring schools place increased stress on dissertation
completion. Tenure clocks start running upon arrival at a new job whether or
not the dissertation is completed. Since publishing is more difficult for
ABD faculty concentrating on both teaching and thesis completion, this is a
huge incentive to delay startup of a new job.
Thirdly, student evaluation of instructors has become an enormous factor
in performance evaluation. A newly hired ABD tenure track professor cannot
shirk on teaching preparation and time spent with students. This factor has
changed greatly over the past few decades. In 1970 an ABD professor could
afford to spend less time on teaching until the dissertation was accepted.
Of course there are many other factors that complicate matters. An ABD
candidate may follow a spouse to a new job. An ABD candidate may go beyond
five years when there is little financial support in the sixth year of a
doctoral program. Sometimes there is a new expected baby adding to financial
Sadly, most excuses for working full time ABD become reasons for never
finishing the dissertation. This happens time and time again. The spouse of
a new professor at Trinity University in 2000 was herself ABD in
microbiology at the University of Illinois. She was ever so close to
finishing but decided to move with her husband to San Antonio and have two
new babies after moving. Her husband doubts that she will ever finish her
PhD degree since it’s especially difficult in science to take up where she
left off years ago. How many times have we heard similar stories about ABD
full-time teachers and ABD spouses who become full time parents?
You can read more about the accountics revolution that shrank the
accountancy doctoral programs at
You can read more about trends in accountancy doctoral programs at
"Test Preparation May
Help High Scorers Most, Report Says," by Eric
Hoover, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2009 ---
Students with above-average scores on standardized
admissions tests are likely to get the greatest benefit from commercial test
preparation, according to a
new report from the National Association for
College Admission Counseling.
Yet those benefits may not outweigh the costs for
many families, says the report's author, Derek C. Briggs, associate
professor of education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "If there
are effects to be gained through preparation," Mr. Briggs said, "can you get
the same effect without spending the money? That's a pertinent question in
Existing research suggests that coaching tends to
raise students' SAT scores by up to 30 points. Yet students cannot
necessarily attribute gains they might see to coaching alone, Mr. Briggs
After all, students who take the test more than
once tend to see their scores increase anyway. So, Mr. Briggs suggests, some
students may raise their scores just as much by doing what he once did:
taking a series of practice tests in a relatively inexpensive book.
But even if test takers raise their scores by 30
points, would that make a difference in admissions? It may depend on the
scores they start with and the selectiveness of the colleges to which they
In his report, "Preparation for College Admission
Exams," Mr. Briggs examined to what extent such increases influence
admissions decisions. One third of colleges he surveyed agreed that in some
cases an increase of 20 points on the SAT's math section, or an increase of
10 points on the critical-reading section, would "significantly improve" an
The proportion of colleges that agreed with that
statement rose as the base SAT scores (the scores earned before the gains)
increased. That was especially true of more-selective colleges, where
applicants' scores fall in a relatively narrow range.
"If you come from a wealthy family and have high
scores to begin with and can spend $1,000, then test prep might be worth it
for those 30 points," Mr. Briggs said. "What's unfortunate is if
middle-class or poorer families think test prep is going to raise their
scores by 300 points. If you're a kid with scores between 400 to 500, I'm
not sure it's going to make any difference."
Seppy Basili, a vice president at Kaplan Test Prep
and Admissions, was concerned about what that conclusion might say to test
takers, particularly black and Hispanic students who, on average, do not
score as high as their white peers on the SAT. "I wouldn't want the message
to minority students to be that you can't benefit by preparing," said Mr.
Basili, who had not seen the report but was familiar with its findings.
Mr. Basili agreed that practice alone can help
students improve their scores, but he described effective test preparation
as something that also helps students analyze the mistakes they make on
exams and develop strategies for correcting them.
Yet Mr. Basili agreed with at least one of Mr.
Briggs's observations: the quality of test coaching, like anything else,
varies. "I would be the first to tell you that not all test prep is great,"
Mr. Basili said.
Bob Jensen's threads on affirmative action controversies in admissions can
be found at
Credit Derivative Swap Fraud
"SEC Charges Pair with Insider Trading in Swaps," SmartPros, May 5, 2009
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday
charged a securities salesman and a portfolio manager with insider trading
in the first such case involving credit default swaps.
The SEC alleges that Jon-Paul Rorech, a salesman at
Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., tipped off Renato Negrin, a former portfolio
manager at hedge fund investment adviser Millennium Partners LP, about a
possible change in terms of a bond being issued by VNU NV, a Dutch
publishing company that owns Nielsen Media and other media businesses, in
2006. Deutsche Bank was acting as the lead underwriter of the VNU bond
With knowledge of the potential change in bond
terms, Negrin purchased credit default swaps on VNU for a Millennium hedge
fund, according to the SEC complaint. After news of the bond terms was
released, Negrin sold the swaps at a profit of $1.2 million, according to
Credit default swaps are an insurance-like contract
that protects a buyer from potential losses that might be incurred on an
underlying financial investment, such as a corporate bond or mortgage-backed
security. Many of those types of underlying investments have lost much of
their value or increasingly defaulted amid the credit crisis.
If the underlying financial investment is not
repaid, the buyer of the swap is covered in full for the losses through the
Credit default swaps have been widely seen as one
of the major factors in the credit crisis. The trading of swaps helped push
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. into bankruptcy protection and American
International Group Inc. the to brink of failure before being bailed out by
Richard Strassberg, a lawyer representing Rorech,
said in a statement that his client acted "consistently with the accepted
practice in the industry." Strassberg said Rorech did not violate any
securities laws tied to the sale of the VNU bonds.
A lawyer for Negrin was not immediately available
to comment on the case.
The SEC is asking for the judge to force the two to
repay the money gained from the transaction, plus penalties and back
interest on the allegedly ill-gotten gains.
The SEC's hedge fund working group handled the
investigation. The group has brought more than 100 cases alleging fraud and
manipulation by hedge funds over the past five years, including more than 20
Bob Jensen's threads on bank fraud are at
Bob Jensen's threads on derivative financial instruments fraud ---
"Insider Trading Inside the SEC," by Joe Weisenthal, Business
Insider, May 15, 2009 ---
Kotz, who told Congress last year he was examining
whether frequent trades by the pair broke agency
rules, referred the case to the U.S. Attorney’s
Office in Washington after finding evidence the bets
might amount to insider trading, he wrote in the
March 3 report released by Senator
Both lawyers still work for the agency and denied
The report faults the agency for inadequately
monitoring trades by employees and relying on an
“honor system.” The lawyers frequently discussed
stocks at work, traded in at least one company under
investigation and didn’t properly disclose some
transactions, it says. One lawyer made 247 trades in
the two years ending January 2008, and the other
ead the whole thing >
Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads ---
A Raft of Universities Contemplating Suspension of TIAA-CREF and Other
Retirement Fund Contributions
"Brandeis Halts Retirement Payments," by Tamar Lewin, New York Times,
May 21, 2009 ---
Buffeted earlier this year by the outcry over its
plans to raise money by closing its art museum and selling the collection,
Brandeis University said this week that it would suspend payments to the
retirement accounts of faculty and staff members starting in July.
While universities across the country have taken a
wide range of actions to confront their financial problems, including
layoffs and the suspension of capital projects, freezing contributions to
retirement accounts is rare. Financially troubled corporations have been
taking such action, but faculty and staff members at colleges and
universities have traditionally enjoyed stable, and generous, benefits — and
expect no less.
“There is this perception that the nonprofit world
is maybe a gentler, kinder world than corporate,” said Roland King, vice
president for public affairs at the National Association of Independent
Colleges and Universities. “So some people seem to perceive this as a breach
of faith, especially since many people go into nonprofit work at less
salary, because the benefits are so good. But we are absolutely at a point
in this economy where these sort of things have to be on the table.”
Suspending Brandeis’s contribution to retirement
plans from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, will cover $7.4 million of
its projected $8.9 million deficit, the university’s president, Jehuda
Reinharz, said in an e-mail message to the faculty and staff. In the
message, Mr. Reinharz said he had planned to share the news of the
suspension at the end of the week, but was pre-empted when it was announced
in the May 19 edition of the student newspaper, The Justice.
Peter B. French, the executive vice president and
chief operating officer at Brandeis, called the decision “the most equitable
and least bad of the options” the university had been considering, adding,
“I am quite confident that you will soon see more universities take the same
So far, though, there are only scattered reports of
colleges’ freezing retirement contributions — though accompanied by rumors
that some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious universities are
considering the same move.
“It’s showing up first at smaller institutions that
are more financially vulnerable, tuition driven, and maybe have less fiscal
options to fill the gap,” Mr. King said.
Brandeis officials said they had concluded that a
temporary freeze on retirement contributions would be fairer, and do less
harm to the university’s mission and future, than layoffs or
across-the-board pay cuts, which some other colleges have undertaken.
Brandeis’s staff and faculty members will still be
able to contribute to their retirement accounts, but for the next year,
those contributions will not be matched by the university.
Among the other colleges that have frozen
retirement contributions in this recession are Cornerstone University, a
Christian institution in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Dana College, a 550-student
college in Blair, Neb.; and Stephens College,a women’s college in Columbia,
At Dana, which two years earlier cut some programs
and laid off tenured faculty members, the retirement contribution freeze was
accepted quietly, said Nikki Kinsey, the director of marketing. “People are
happy to still have their jobs, and understand why we had to do it, and that
it’s the lesser of two evils,” Ms. Kinsey said.
In Boston, Simmons College suspended its retirement
contributions for four months, from March to June, effectively lowering its
9 percent matching of employee contributions to 6 percent for the year.
Chad W. Peterson, a spokesman for TIAA-CREF, the
largest retirement fund manager for college employees, said that so far this
year 15 higher education institutions and other nonprofits had suspended
their employer retirement plan contributions.
The University of Miami said earlier this year that
it was considering suspending retirement contributions as part of its
strategy for dealing with the economic crisis, but then decided not to do
so, at least in the coming fiscal year.
And a number of colleges and universities have
trimmed the percentage of retirement contributions they would match; Ithaca
College, for example, reduced the percentage to 8 percent, from 8.75
Brandeis, founded in 1948 in Waltham, Mass., has
had a tough year.
In January, the art world was rocked by news that
the trustees had authorized the closing of the Rose Art Museum and the sale
of its well-regarded collection, which includes works by Roy Lichtenstein,
Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Ellsworth Kelly. That plan is now
under review. The museum’s curated exhibitions ended last weekend, but some
of the permanent collection will be exhibited starting in July.
Continued in article
Legendary Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff made off with most of the $530 million
endowment fund losses at Brandeis University which a year ago had $712 million a
year ago before dropping to less than $200 million.
Bob Jensen's thread on the economic crisis ---
Helpful Calculators free from the Florida Institute of CPAs ---
Financial literacy quiz ---
Now's the time to really make sure you understand the basics of personal
Bob Jensen's threads on helpful calculators ---
Bob Jensen's personal finance helpers ---
Drunken judge drowns in 4 inches of water after
slipping into stream walking home from the pub.
Daily Mail (U.K.), May 15, 2009 ---
"JPMorgan (read that Chase Bank) faces SEC lawsuit," by Aline van Duyn
and Francesco Guerrera, Financial Times, May 8, 2009 ---
JPMorgan Chase may be sued by US regulators for
violating securities laws and market rules related to the sale of bonds and
interest-rate swaps to Jefferson County, Alabama.
The potential Securities and Exchange Commission
action is the latest twist in a complex debt financing saga which has
already led to charges against Jefferson County officials and which has left
the municipality struggling to avoid default on over $3bn of debt, much of
it taken on to improve its sewage system.
JPMorgan said in a regulatory filing, made late on
Thursday just as the results of bank stress tests were being released, that
it had been told about the SEC action on April 21. It said it “has been
engaged in discussions with the SEC staff in an attempt to resolve the
matter prior to litigation”. The bank had no further comment on Friday.
Jefferson County is one of the most indebted
municipalities in the US due to its expensive overhaul of its sewage system.
JPMorgan is one of the lenders which has repeatedly extended the deadline on
payments due by Jefferson County on its debt and derivatives.
A law is currently being considered that would
create a new tax which would provide revenues to pay the sewer debt. If
Jefferson County defaults, it would be the biggest by a US municipality,
dwarfing the problems faced by California’s Orange County in the 1990s.
The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, and two of his
friends were last year charged by US regulators in connection with an
undisclosed payment scheme related to municipal bond and swap deals.
The SEC alleged that Larry Langford, the mayor,
received more than $156,000 in cash and benefits from a broker hired to
arrange bond offerings and swap agreements on behalf of Jefferson County,
where Birmingham is located.
Although the details of the SEC investigation are
not known, it is likely to be related to the payment scheme through which
banks like JPMorgan paid fees to local brokers at the request of Jefferson
The credit crisis has brought to light numerous
problems in the municipal bond markets. Many borrowers relied on bond
insurance to sell their deals, and the collapse in the credit ratings of
bond insurers has made it difficult for many to raise funds or to do so at
low interest rates.
Bob Jensen's banking fraud threads are at
Book Readers versus Hard Copy Textbooks
Especially note the two messages from Cheryl Dunn Below
We're glad she was not further harmed after being carjacked at gun point
The $359 Kindle ---
The $489 Kindle DX
Much still depends upon the textbook publishers.
The ideal for Kindle is where virtually all textbook publishers have Kindle
versions. Then for every semester all the required textbooks in all courses can
loaded onto Kindle. Gone are the heavy backpacks. The savings to students across
the years will depend upon how much discount is obtained on Kindle versions
relative to used hard copy prices.
It’s inevitable that the day will come when hard copy will no longer be an
option because of hard copy printing costs, inventory carrying costs, logistical
costs of shipping to stores or retail customers, and the costs of buying back
unsold copies from the stores. The question is when this day will arrive. My
guess is that we are at least ten years or more away from that point in time.
Between now and 2020, book readers will improve greatly just like laptop
computers improved greatly between 1995 and 2009.
Students gain the immense advantage of Kindle’s word search. Students lose
all the comfort and other traditional benefits of curling up in bed or chair
with a book.
There is much more risk with a Kindle. If a student loses a book or has a
book stolen it’s one book. If a Kindle is stolen it can be the loss of all of a
semester’s textbooks. There’s also the risk that Kindle needs to be repaired. I
might say Kindle becomes kindle that goes up in smoke, but that’s probably going
a bit too far. Eventually there might be local repair/replacement shops for
Kindles, but that day is way off into the future.
In ideal circumstances, students should be able to submit police reports to
publishers or Amazon for free replacement downloads in a replacement Kindle.
Perhaps the Kindle licensed repair shops of the future will be able to download
free replacement books. [This is not necessary --- See
Cheryl Dunn's reply below]
Can you imagine 12 students coming ten days before the final exam and
reporting that their Kindles were stolen? In the past I’ve carried a few extra
textbooks for the occasional circumstance where a student needs to borrow a book
for a few days. Textbook reps usually supplied me with a few copies for such
purposes, but with Kindle the textbook rep will eventually be out of the
picture, especially when publishers cease to publish hard copy textbooks.
I personally think the risk of dependency on a Kindle is too high until
publishers and/or Amazon take away the worst risks. One possibility would be to
sell a backup hard drive that will only work with a given Kindle or replacement
Kindle. Then a student who must replace a Kindle could get the secret password
to download from the hard drive into the replacement Kindle.
I’ve not yet purchased a Kindle and am waiting for some improvements like
multimedia and computing capabilities. But if I were a student today given a
choice between hard copy and a Kindle version, I would go for the hard copy
every time in spite of putting my spine at risk with a heavy backpack. I guess
only nerds/faculty carry brief cases.
Eventually a book reader will not contain downloaded books. It will only
access student-rented books from one or two sources. One source might be an
on-campus library server. Backup servers might be available from publishers or
from distributors like Amazon. That eliminates much of the risk of loss of
purchased books stored on a Kindle. A book reader might have computing and note
Along fraternity/sorority row back at Iowa State University years ago, the
only accepted way to go to class was for fraternity men to carry a book and
clipboard on the opposite side from where a slide rule dangled from a belt.
Sorority women carried the clip board, book, and slide rule pressed to their
chests. Eventually students will be able to carry a Kindle that replaces all
this on their hips or chests. They won’t have to rush back to the fraternities
and sororities between classes just to change books.
Of course students today use back packs. I’m so old that I don’t recall
seeing a single fellow student at Iowa State University wearing a back pack.
In the rain, students usually wrapped their book and clipboard in plastic.
If you had two classes in a row, it was acceptable to carry two books and a
clipboard. More than two books turned you into a nerd.
May 11, 2009 reply from Amy Dunbar
Great analysis of the issues, Bob. As for me, I can
hardly wait to hold that lovely Kindle DX in my hands. I look forward to
waking up on Sunday morning and reading my downloaded NY Times in bed. I
will have no trouble cuddling up with a Kindle.
As for risk, back up your books! I am much more at
risk with my laptop that contains my whole life. I have hard drive backups
at school and home.
Cheryl Dun is an accounting professor specializing in Accounting Information
She corrects some misleading comments above by Bob Jensen
May 11, 2009 reply from Cheryl Dunn
If you purchase and download the books from Amazon,
the book is not only downloaded onto your Kindle but is also stored on your
"electronic bookshelf" where you can re-download it any time onto a kindle
that is registered to you. My brother gave me a Kindle in November for my
birthday. I had purchased and downloaded several books in the six weeks I
had it. A few days before Christmas
I was carjacked at gunpoint and my laptop,
backup hard drive, kindle, purse, and several other precious personal
possessions that were in the backseat of my vehicle were stolen. The police
recovered the vehicle, albeit with a blown engine. Insurance paid to fix
that. Insurance also replaced my Kindle, and it was very easy to download my
previously purchased books onto my replacement Kindle (which was actually
the kindle 2 since that had come out in the time I was dealing with all the
messy paperwork from the theft). Insurance replaced my laptop and backup
hard drive, but of course couldn't replace the lost data. Beware of carrying
around your backup hard drive with you -- although you are protecting
yourself from a crashed hard drive, an armed robbery will devastate you.
Online backup is a much safer way to go.
Grand Valley State University
May 11, 2009 reply from Bob Jensen
I’m glad it wasn’t worse for you Cheryl --- such as taking you with them.
Thanks for information about the “electronic bookshelf.”
I was an early adopter of Rocket eBook where most downloaded books were
free. New books tended not to be available for download. I found myself
using the Rocket eBook on long flights such as to Asia, Europe, and Down
Under. But it sat unused on my shelf except when I was on a long flight ---
I don’t even know where to find it after our move to the mountains.
Pricing will probably be greatly reduced when serious competition
emerges. Also there might be special offers such as pre-packaged offers of
several books for first-time buyers. Students might also get special offers,
perhaps through their college bookstores. I don’t think the cost of a Kindle
DX will be the main issue by any means.
Competitors may have more innovative ideas, especially online book
rentals. But there are other possibilities such as a Kindle-like device
that’s internal or external to a laptop computer where books can be
downloaded to suit publisher security requirements for books that can be
read on computer screens, thereby avoiding the main cost of a Kindle --- the
cost of having its own reader screen.
May 11, 2009 reply from Cheryl Dunn
Yes, it could have been much worse. I am grateful
to be alive after believing for those few terrifying minutes that those
would be my last few minutes on earth. Most of the aftermath has subsided
and life is back to mostly normal.
I should also point out that if you download books
without purchasing them from Amazon, for example, if you download free books
from gutenberg.org then you may either keep your own backup copies or you
could just re-download them if anything happens. Keeping your own backup
copies would prevent you having to re-do any search(es) you did to find the
books you wanted.
Another benefit to having the kindle is the free
cellular connection to Amazon's whispernet. Although its primary purpose is
for you to use it to purchase books with immediate downloads, there is also
an experimental feature for basic web browsing. It can't handle very
complicated websites, but it still comes in handy especially when I am in
locations that don't have a wireless computer network available but do get
cellular signals (I have not yet invested in a cellular modem). And you can
highlight text passages, look up definitions, make notes, search for a word
in a book, and set bookmarks. And if you have vision difficulties you can
enlarge the font size several times. The battery life is amazing, especially
if you keep the wireless turned off when you are not using it. My only
complaint regarding my kindle is that I have to wait until the airline
personnel approve the use of electronic devices to use it on an airplane.
And I am a bit concerned about the pricing because the last couple of books
I purchased had price tags that were higher than the supposed $9.99
My son who will be starting at Michigan State
University as a physics major this fall is very excited about the kindle dx
and hopes the textbook publishers hurry to make textbooks available in
kindle format. He is willing to spend his own hard-earned money on it. And,
yes, he does curl up in bed with his current kindle to read, just as he
would with a novel.
May 11, 2009 reply from Jim McKinney
Built-In PDF Reader Unload the loose documents from
your briefcase or backpack, and put them all on Kindle DX. From neighborhood
newsletters to financial statements to case studies and product manuals--you
can take them all with you on Kindle DX. Native PDF support allows you to
carry and read all of your personal and professional documents on the go.
With Amazon's Whispernet service, you can send your documents directly to
your Kindle DX and read them anytime, anywhere.
Jim McKinney, Ph.D., C.P.A.
Tyser Teaching Fellow Accounting and Information Assurance
Robert H. Smith School of Business
4333G Van Munching Hall
University of Maryland College Park, MD 20742-1815
Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books are at
PDF to MS Word
Turn PDFs Into Word Documents:
The aptly named PDF to Word service
extracts the text from PDFs for easy editing in Word. And it's free!" by Rick
Broida, PC World via The Washington Post, May 15, 2009 ---
Ever wish you could edit a PDF file in Microsoft Word? Seems like that
should be easy enough, especially when you're dealing with a document that's
mostly text. Alas, a PDF is really just a collection of images, meaning you
can't edit the contents in their native format.
Of course, there are
pricey software utilities that will convert a
PDF into Word-friendly text. But there's also
PDF to Word, a Web
service that accomplishes the same thing
All you do is upload your PDF and choose your
desired output format: Word or Rich Text Format. Then you sit tight while
the service works its magic, eventually sending you an e-mail with a link to
download the converted document.
Best bet: Choose Word over RTF. Word conversions
end up looking remarkably similar to your original PDFs. Ultimately, the
quality varies from one document to another depending on its content,
It is also possible to scan hard copy pages and convert the scanned text into
computer text. This is not so simple when using electronic book readers like
Kindle, which is why they are the most secure form of publishing for authors who
do not want their works copied. Of course no form of publishing is completely
secure since cameras may take pictures of text pages.
Last year Noah
Wardrip-Fruin, an assistant professor of communication at the University of
California at San Diego,
an experiment with his latest academic book: He
let readers of a popular blog to which he contributes peer review the book
in public. This week he shared
his final conclusions about the strengths and
weaknesses of his unusual approach.
The book’s publisher,
MIT Press, administered a traditional peer review
of the book, and Mr. Wardrip-Fruin was able to compare the two approaches.
One major difference: Blog commenters tended to focus on discrete paragraphs
and points, and rarely compared ideas in one chapter to those later in the
work. But the blog readers offered more detailed input than the anonymous
reviewers solicited by the press.
Mr. Wardrip-Fruin argues
that blog reviewing works and that it should be tried again in the future.
“Of course, widely read blogs won’t want to be completely taken over by
manuscript review,” he writes. “But I can imagine them hosting two or three
a year, selected for their level of interest or because they are written by
one of the blog’s authors.”
Is this the beginning of the end for the traditional refereeing process of
Could this be the death knell of the huge
SSRN commercial business
that blocks sharing of academic working papers unless readers and libraries
"Nature editors start online peer review," PhysOrg, September 14,
Editors of the prestigious scientific journal
Nature have reportedly embarked on an experiment of their own: adding an
online peer review process.
Articles currently submitted for publication in
the journal are subjected to review by several experts in a specific
field, The Wall Street Journal reported. But now editors at the
136-year-old Nature have proposed a new system for authors who agree to
participate: posting the paper online and inviting scientists in the
field to submit comments approving or criticizing it.
Although lay readers can also view the
submitted articles, the site says postings are only for scientists in
the discipline, who must list their names and institutional e-mail
The journal -- published by the Nature
Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd., of London --
said it will discard any comments found to be irrelevant, intemperate or
Nature's editors said they will take both sets
of comments -- the traditional peer-review opinions and the online
remarks -- into consideration when deciding whether to publish a study,
The Journal reported.
Elite Researchers No Longer Need Peer Reviewed Elite Journals
"Peer Review in Peril?" by Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed,
July 26, 2007 ---
worry about,” Ellison said, “is you get to a point where
you can’t make a reputation for yourself by publishing
in the peer-reviewed journals. That locks in today’s
“Is Peer Review in Decline?,”
Ellison argues that the peer-reviewed journals,
traditionally relevant for their quality control and
dissemination functions, have become less important for
well-known economists in the Internet age. When papers
can be posted on personal home pages, conference Web
sites and online databases, an article written by a
professor who has already established a reputation can
immediately “be read by thousands.”
Professors in the top five economics departments, as
ranked by the National Research Council — Harvard
University, the University of Chicago, MIT, Stanford and
Princeton Universities – published 86.4 papers in 13
high-profile journals in economics subfields from
1990-93, compared to 71.2 from 2000-3. That 18 percent
drop happened even as many journals were “substantially”
increasing the number of papers they published, Ellison
writes, with the share of papers contributed by scholars
in top departments dropping from 4 percent in the early
1990s to 2.7 percent in 2000-3. Meanwhile, Ellison said,
scholars in the top departments seem to be writing as
much as they ever were, and citations of Harvard
scholars are increasing even as their number of
peer-reviewed publications has declined.
well-known people are going to cut back on their
publishing in top journals because they don’t need the
peer review anymore. They can get attention to their
work without it,” Ellison said. The “slowdown” in the
revisions process for peer-reviewed journals also seems
to be a contributing factor to the decline in
peer-reviewed publications by top department members
with less to gain from the effort: It typically takes
about three years for a paper to be published after its
Ellison did not find much
evidence to support the alternative theory that the
trend could be a result of high-profile scholars being
“crowded out of the top journals by other researchers,”
though he acknowledges that may be a factor. A 2006
study by scholars from the Universities of Chicago and
“Are Elite Universities Losing Their Competitive Edge,”
elite universities have lost their edge when it comes to
research productivity — in
part because of changes brought about by the advent of
a question of whether it’s a trend on publication or a
trend on the professors. I hate to say that, but if they
don’t publish and others do, maybe it says something,”
said Ehud Kalai, a professor at Northwestern
University’s Kellogg School of Management and editor of
Games and Economic Behavior, one of the 13 field
journals analyzed by Ellison.
other thing that’s a bit puzzling in this whole theory,
it seems to me, is that with this explosion of
information on the Internet, peer review has become even
more needed because there are so many more papers,”
Kalai said, adding that the number of economics journals
has exploded in recent years. “They’re just multiplying
like mad. If there is a trend not to publish, why are so
many starting them?”
does find that even as they’ve shifted their energies
away from the 13 specialized journals examined,
academics in the top departments are still publishing as
much as ever in five of the most prestigious general
interest economics journals: the American Economic
Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political
Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics and
the Review of Economic Studies. But, beyond those
publications, Ellison said, “it’s fairly high up that we
see people pulling out.” He added that there are
hundreds of academic economics journals.
Ellison’s working paper is
his Web site or online through
National Bureau of Economic Research
with a subscription or $5 payment.
And no, it has not been peer reviewed.
An Analysis of
the Contributions of The Accounting Review Across 80 Years: 1926-2005
Co-authored with Jean Heck, December 2007 edition of
the Accounting Historians Journal.
Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at
Bob Jensen's threads on peer review are at
Interchangeable Files on a Mac versus a PC
Mac Version of Quicken is Inferior and Incompatible
From Walter S. Mossberg's Mailbox on May 7, 2009 ---
Q: I switched from PC to Mac a
year ago, but now I am thinking of adding a Windows laptop. If I do, what
kind of compatibility problem would I have? I would be using the laptop
mostly to write, to send/receive email and to Web browse.
A: In the old days, there were
compatibility problems, but most of those have gone away. Based on your
simple predicted usage, I'd say that you should be fine. For instance, both
Macs and PCs can interchangeably open and edit all of the major file types
-- JPG pictures, MP3 music, Microsoft Office documents, Adobe PDF files,
etc. Email and instant messages can, of course, be exchanged between the two
platforms, even if you are using different programs. And Macs understand
Windows file extensions. Also, you can use both platforms simultaneously on
the same home network to access the Internet.
In some cases, you might need different programs to
open the same files on the two platforms. But even that obstacle has greatly
diminished. For instance, programs like the Firefox and Safari Web browsers,
Adobe Reader, iTunes, Microsoft Office, Google Earth, Picasa, Photoshop and
many others come in native versions for both platforms that can handle the
same files. And, of course, Web-based programs like Gmail and Yahoo Mail
work on both. Sometimes, the same programs have different features and user
interfaces on Windows and Macs, but I haven't found these differences hard
The biggest problems for average users are
Quicken, whose Mac version is inferior and incompatible;
Internet Explorer, which is no longer made for the
Mac; and Microsoft Outlook, which is replaced on the Mac by a program called
Entourage that is similar but uses a different file format. And networking
can be tricky. In general, the Mac does a better job of seeing Windows PCs
on a network than Windows does of seeing Macs.
May 12,m 2009 reply from Richard C. Sansing
An alternative is to use a Mac program such as
"Parallels Desktop 4 Mac", which emulates a Windows environment on a
Macintosh computer. I use it to run software such as Scientific Workplace,
which is available for Windows but not for the Mac.
Bob Jensen's bookmarks on technology are at
Before reading this it is advisable to read about the Efficient Market
For decades Fama and French have been the leading scholars on this
Are mutual fund managers with "superior skills" earning their keep?
For 1984-2006...mutual funds on average and the
average dollar invested in funds underperform three-factor and four-factor
benchmarks by about the amount of costs (fees and expenses). Thus, if there are
fund managers with skill that enhances expected returns relative to passive
benchmarks, they are offset by managers whose stock picks lower expected
returns. We attempt to identify the presence of skill via bootstrap simulations.
The tests for net returns say that even in the extreme right tails of the
cross-sections of three-factor and four-factor t(α) estimates,
there is no evidence of fund managers with skill
sufficient to cover costs.
Eugene F. Fama and Kenneth R. French, "Luck versus Skill in the Cross
Section of Mutual Fund Alpha Estimates," SSRN, March 9, 2009 ---
The aggregate portfolio of U.S. equity mutual funds is close to the market
portfolio, but the high costs of active management show up intact as lower
returns to investors. Bootstrap simulations produce no evidence that any
managers have enough skill to cover the costs they impose on investors. If
we add back costs, there is some evidence of inferior and superior
performance (non-zero true alpha) in the extreme tails of the cross section
of mutual fund alpha estimates. The evidence for performance is, however,
weak, especially for successful funds, and we cannot reject the hypothesis
that no fund managers have skill that enhances expected returns.
Bob Jensen's threads on the EMH are at
"Out of Work in Finance, They Turn to Teaching," by Mary Jo Patterson,
The New York Times, May 10, 2009 ---
In March, the State Legislature approved a pilot
program that seemed tailor made for her situation. Called Traders to
Teachers, it is designed to turn unemployed finance professionals into math
teachers in three months. Successful candidates, who are not required to
have been math majors, will attend classes free at Montclair State
The response to the program has been overwhelming.
Within 48 hours of its unveiling, 200 people called or e-mailed; at least
100 are expected to apply for the first class of 25, according to university
administrators. Besides Mrs. Marshall, those who responded include Pedro
Ramirez, 48, of Cranford, a Goldman Sachs executive let go in February 2008;
Robert Stanley, 50, of Basking Ridge, a 26-year Wall Street veteran out of
work since October; and Tony Malanga, 46, of Verona, a mortgage banker who
lost his job in March.
“Things collapsed to such an extent in financial
services, it’s going to take years to get back to normalcy,” said Mr.
Malanga, a father of six. “It’s a good point for me to transition into a new
career. Teaching was always something I wanted. In your late 40s, after
coming through this, you care more about stability than building wealth.”
Since December 2007, New Jersey’s financial
services sector has shed 16,000 jobs, said David J. Socolow, state
commissioner of labor and workforce development. Thousands of other
residents lost similar jobs in New York.
Traders to Teachers, financed by a federal grant,
will do more than retrain dislocated workers, Mr. Socolow said, it will also
ease the state’s shortage of math teachers.
Ada Beth Cutler, dean of the College of Education
and Human Services at Montclair State, said the idea came to her and Lucille
E. Davy, New Jersey’s education commissioner, last fall.
“She called me and said she was hearing about all
the people being laid off from financial services,” Dr. Cutler recalled.
“She said, ‘Don’t you think these people would make great math teachers?’ I
said, ‘That’s funny you should ask, because we’ve been getting calls from
them about this.’ ”
Most of the callers had majored in finance or
accounting. When they learned they needed 30 college credits in mathematics,
she said, they were dismayed.
Special legislation was introduced to ease that
rule and fast-track certification.
“That does not mean we will compromise our
standards,” Dr. Cutler said. “We will take very bright people and, through a
very intensive program, teach them the mathematics they need to know and how
to teach it.”
The first 25 of the newly trained teachers are
expected to be placed in teaching positions in January. Three more groups
are expected to be trained within a year, Montclair State administrators
Continued in article
Even the Top Ranked Business Schools are in a Crisis in 2009 (including a
slide show) ---
Applications for MBA programs are up, but job opportunities for second-year
students in finance or consulting have turned wretched.
The scary part is that it will be a long, long time before finance and economics
students will have rising opportunities.
Bob Jensen's threads on career alternatives ---
Computing a College's Cost of Each Degree Awarded:
This illustrates problems managerial accountants face when estimating various
types of costs in industry
"What Does a Degree Cost?" by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, May 19,
College tuition prices keep rising. State budgets
are stagnant or shrinking. And policy makers, from President Obama on down,
are increasingly calling for increases in the number of Americans who get
some higher education or training.
Those factors have led more state legislators,
trustees and others to argue that, to accomplish the latter goal given the
former circumstances, colleges are going to have to lower what they spend to
produce the average credential they award. But any discussion of lowering
the "cost per degree" must start with a more fundamental question: What does
a degree cost to produce now?
That question may be basic, but it is not simple,
a new report from the Delta Project on
Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity, and Accountability makes clear.
The paper, prepared by Nate Johnson, associate director of institutional
planning and research at the University of Florida, lays out a range of
possible approaches to calculating the cost of a college degree and then
calculates them using a rich set of data from the State University System of
Florida, where Johnson formerly worked.
The paper shows that it is distinctly possible to
come up with such a figure, but the wide variation in the numbers -- based
on institution type, program, degree level, and other factors -- suggests
that the answer will depend in large part on how the question is framed. And
that decision is a surprisingly value-laden one, says Johnson. "You frame
the question one way if you are only interested in students who graduate,
and another way if you want to know the cost for people who go to college
and don't complete," he says. "The point is, this is not just a data
question. It's a question of what it is that we want from our colleges and
The broad work of the Delta Project and its
founder, Jane Wellman, is to analyze the "spending side" of the higher
education cost and price picture; the group has released a series of reports
that try to document the interplay of colleges' revenues and expenditures,
and how those trends affect what they charge to students. The new study,
which grew out of Johnson's work in Florida, he says, aims to develop a
"common language," if not a common format, for focusing the discussion about
how one might measure the cost of a degree in a particular institution,
system or state. Toward that end, Johnson proposes several possible ways of
calculating the average cost of a degree.
The analyses are based on data showing that the
Florida university system incurred an average of $288 in direct and indirect
instructional expenditures per credit hour, with wide variation by level
($188 for lower division undergraduate, $537 for master's, etc.),
institution ($240 for an upper level undergraduate credit at the massive
University of Central Florida, $677 for the same credit at the 700-student
New College), and field of study ($159 in family/consumer sciences, $509 for
natural resources/conservation). The analysis counts only those expenditures
derived from state appropriations and student tuition, excluding endowment
and other funds.
The first estimate, which Johnson calls the
"catalog cost," calculates what a college would spend to educate a student
who fulfills the "catalog requirements" of the average degree to the letter
-- no more, no less. (The equation: cost per credit hour x instructional
expenditures/credit hours.) The average cost is $26,485, with institutions
within the Florida system ranging from $22,440 to nearly double that.
Johnson also found significant variation by field because of vastly
different requirements and program length, with mechanical engineering
averaging $37,870 vs. $27,159 for elementary education.
The catalog method is easily understood, but it
"does not reflect actual student behavior," Johnson notes. More accurate in
gauging how students actually maneuver through institutions, he writes, is
the "transcript method" of cost analysis, in which the total number of
credit hours students take are multiplied by the cost per credit hour, and
then divided by the number of degrees awarded. The average freshman who
entered a Florida system university and graduated in 2003-4 "attempted" 131
credits, including failed or withdrawn courses and subtracting for any AP or
dual enrollment courses that reduced their course requirements.
The average "transcript cost," then, was $31,763;
converting to 2006 dollars, to make parallel to the figures from the
"catalog cost" analysis, Johnson writes, the average figure is $33,672. (The
2003-4 figure for mechanical engineering was $47,257.)
Both the catalog and transcript cost methods factor
into the calculation only those costs incurred by students who actually
graduate. The third major analysis, "full cost attribution," examines the
entire amount that an institution or system spent on instructional purposes
to achieve an "aggregate level of degree completion." The equation looks
like this: all credits taken at an institution over three years x the
three-year average cost per credit hour/three years of degrees.
Not surprisingly, because all courses taken by all
students would be allocated to the smaller proportion who actually earned
degrees, this produces the highest cost per degree number; $37,757 in 2002-3
dollars, equivalent to $40,645 in 2005-6, Johnson writes. This analysis
grows less predictable and valid the more narrowly it is drawn, he adds,
because programs with high attrition, or into which many students transfer
late in the game, can have their figures drastically altered. The overall
high and low for the Florida university system, for example, were $170,831
for "multidisciplinary studies" and $21,473 for parks and recreation, and
the variation by degree level was enormous: $33,425 for a law degree,
$259,781 for an M.D., and $121,725 for a doctorate.
So which is the most accurate assessment of what a
university spends to educate a graduate? The catalog cost of $26,485, the
transcript cost of $33,672, or the "full cost" $40,645? The last is
"probably closer to an answer" to the question that policy makers are
increasingly asking now, about "what would we have to spend to get more
graduates," though that assumes that colleges maintained their current
enrollment and expenditure levels, he notes.
But the other key point, Johnson says, is that the
choice of how you measure cost depends, to an extent, on how you perceive
the role of colleges. Using the "full cost" measure, he asserts, more or
less says that most of what a university does is designed to educate
students, and that "all of those costs could be attributed to the cost of
producing college graduates," as overhead, he says.
"If you highly value research or public service,"
though, "you could almost say that the graduates are free -- a byproduct" of
what you spend on those other purposes.
See Bob Jensen's threads on "Systemic" problems of accountancy ---
Especially note the problems of joint costing that plague college cost
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
The Media's Broken Business Model
The common thread in all of this is that traditional
distribution models don’t work anymore. In the past, it was difficult and
expensive to move information from producer to consumer. Ever since the middle
ages, this has enabled a business model which was all about controlling not
content, but how content got to consumers. Newspapers are printed and
distributed locally using an expensive and heavily unionized industrial process
of the kind that moved offshore decades ago in every other industry. Film, video
and music are distributed on plastic discs and reels of film, which someone has
to manufacture, ship, and retail. Television requires a special viewer with
chips in it that distribution companies have some control over.
Francis Cianfrocca, "The Media's
Broken Business Model," Real Clear Markets, May 19, 2009 ---
A problem with information as a product is that once a piece of information is
broadcast or leaked to the public, millions of free riders redistribute this
information. It is very difficult for the investor (e.g., a newspaper that paid
a reporter) to earn a return on the cost of its network of reporters and
commentators in this era of free-riding bloggers.
Research that has zero surprises
"No Kidding," by David Shieh, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 22,
An occasional look at research results that
didn't surprise us
SINK OR SWIM: Young children who take
swimming lessons are less likely to die of drowning than those who don't
take lessons, found a study published in the March issue of the Archives
of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers, who interviewed the
families of 88 drowning victims in six states, conceded that their study did
not explain why the correlation exists, but noted that "it seems reasonable
to assume that at least part of the protective effect is through increased
BOREDOM EVERLASTING: Bored after seven years
of marriage? Little will change after nine more, says a study published last
month in Psychological Science. In a study of 123 married couples,
researchers reported that boredom in the seventh year of marriage "strongly
and significantly predicted less satisfaction" in the 16th year. Luckily,
researchers also found a way to save marriages from being eroded by boredom:
adding "excitement" to the relationship.
SWEDE TOOTH: Those who wake up in the middle
of the night to head for the refrigerator are more likely to be obese,
reports a study in this month's issue of the journal Obesity.
Researchers, who teamed up with the Swedish Twin Registry in Stockholm to
survey more than 20,000 Swedish twins for the study, found that "night
eating" was also correlated with binge eating, disrupted sleep patterns, and
IS THAT A BENTLEY IN YOUR POCKET? Men who
drive luxury cars are found to be more attractive than those who drive
subcompacts, says a study published online in March in the British
Journal of Psychology. Study participants were shown pictures of a model
of the opposite sex in two different cars: a silver Bentley Continental and
a red Ford Fiesta. While men found the model equally attractive in both
settings, women rated the model as "significantly more attractive" when
sitting in the Bentley. Noted the study: "It would appear that despite a
noticeable increase in female ownership of prestige/luxury cars over recent
years, males, unlike females, remain oblivious to such cues."
Send ideas to
This bring backs those chuckling "Golden
Fleece Awards" that were given annually out by
William P:roxmire (D, Wisconsin) when he was in office. The Golden Fleece
Awards had the added distinction of having government funding for the research.
Research in the leading "accountics" academic accounting journals has the
lowest citation rate among all the business research disciplines. Virtually
none of it is ever replicated. I think one of the main reason is that there are
no surprises to a point where many of the published academic research studies in
accounting are candidates for Shieh's "No Kidding" acknowledgements and often a
"Golden Fleece Award" (GFA) when university funds contributed to the research
Academic accounting research has the added distinction of having some GFA
candidates that also won top awards such as Notable Contributions to Accounting
Awards issued by the American Accounting Association ---
Most of these awards have questionable value since nobody ever found them worthy
Bob Jensen's threads on the lack of replication in empirical accounting
Bob Jensen's threads on accountics research ---
Professor Ketz Asserts Other Comprehensive Income (OCI from FAS 130)
may be More Important to Study Than Reported Income
"Citigroup Remains in Critical Condition," by: J. Edward Ketz , SmartPros,
May 2009 ---
Note that all Citigroup dollar amounts are in millions of dollars such that
$(27,684) is really a $27,684,000,000 billion loss.
The stress tests conducted by the Fed are a farce
inasmuch as the stress isn't too strenuous. That the Fed ascertained
additional capital requirements for several banks merely points out the
obvious - the banking sector remains in serious trouble.
That the financial industry was and remains in
trouble is not revelatory to those who pay attention to fair value
measurements. Take Citigroup for instance. This firm, once a giant among
banks, now gasps for its existence.
Citi’s reported net income was $(27,684) for 2008
(all accounting numbers in millions of dollars). While this is a smelly
number, the odor grows worse when one adjusts it for various items that
bypass the income statement.
Ever since the FASB invented the comprehensive
income statement in a political move to get business enterprises to do some
accounting for items they didn’t want to disclose, I have advocated that
investors use comprehensive income instead of net income. Comprehensive
income includes relevant items that have had a real economic impact on the
business entity; therefore, investors will find these items informative.
For fiscal 2008, Citi shows unrealized losses on
its available-for-sale securities of $(10,118). It also shows a loss on the
foreign currency translation adjustment of $(6,972), a loss on its cash flow
hedges of $(2,026), and a loss for additional pension liability adjustment
of $(1,419). This makes Citi’s comprehensive income $(48,219).
But the bad news doesn’t end there. The pension
footnote (footnote 9) shows the expected rate of return is 7.75%. While this
is what is required per FAS 87, it is nonsense. Did anybody know the 2008
rate of return in (say) 2005? The FASB should get rid of such fantasyland
assumptions and require business enterprises to employ the actual rate of
return. If Citi had done so on its pension assets, it would have had an
actual return of (5.42)%, so we shall adjust downward the 2008 income by
The most interesting item is Citi’s move with
respect to its investments. It reports debt securities in its 2007
held-to-maturity portfolio of only $1. By year end 2008, however, this
amount mushroomed to $64,459. Clearly, Citi is shielding these debt
instruments from fair value accounting and the reporting of additional
losses. Footnote 16 indicates that these losses for 2008 amounted to
Another item concerns the firm’s deferred income
tax assets. For 2008, Citi discloses $52,079 in deferred income tax assets
and a valuation allowance of zero. Given that Citi paid no federal income
taxes in 2007 or 2008 and likely will pay no federal income taxes in the
near future, if ever, how can the company justify a valuation allowance of
zero? Whatever amount it should be would further reduce the profits of the
firm. Since we don’t know how to estimate this valuation allowance
correctly, we shall continue to hold its balance at zero, even though this
is clearly wrong.
Putting these considerations together, Citigroup
has an adjusted income in 2008 of $(53,671). This is still an estimate but
clearly it is more nearly accurate than the reported number. And it reveals
that Citi lost twice as much as it reported.
Recently, we have been hearing how Citi has turned
things around and that the first quarter in 2009 returns Citi to the black
column with a profit of $1,593. Don’t believe a word of it!
Items in comprehensive income shows a modest gain
in the available-for-sale portfolio of $20, gains on cash flow hedges of
$1,483, and a gain because of the pension liability adjustment of $66.
Unfortunately, these gains are wiped out by a loss in the foreign currency
translation adjustment of $(2,974). Comprehensive remains ugly at $(225).
We don’t have any disclosure in the quarterly
report about actual versus expected returns on pension assets, so we cannot
adjust them to show the truth.
But, the strategy to move debt securities from
available-to-sale to held-to-maturity paid off significantly. First quarter
results show a staggering loss on these securities of $(7,772).
So far, the adjusted earnings for Citigroup for the
first quarter of 2009 is $(7,584). Don’t tell me that Citi has improved its
Further, these numbers have been improved by an
eccentricity in FAS 157. For some silly reason, the board allows entities to
show a gain on their liabilities if the firm’s own credit risk has
increased. This takes a perfectly good notion of fair value of liabilities
to an absurd result. Failing companies might be able to make liabilities
disappear by claiming a sufficiently high increase in their own credit
ratings! Utter rubbish—and the FASB should amend its statement.
Citi disclosed in a conference call that the first
quarter results include a gain of $2,700 because of this increase in its own
nonperformance risk. This gain is total nonsense, so I would adjust
quarterly income further, giving Citi adjusted earnings of $(10,284).
Citigroup suffered a cardiac arrest in 2008, and it
remains in critical condition. Any other conclusion is propaganda or self
deception. And forget the stress tests; they are so flawed that Lehman
Brothers might pass them. The Fed says that Citi needs another $5,500 in
capital to weather any additional economic crises it might face. It isn’t
true. Citi needs a lot more capital than that just to weather current
conditions. If a real crisis occurs, Citi will become a flat-liner; it might
If you want to protect your portfolio, don’t listen
to the optimistic forecasts coming from Washington and don’t stop at the
reported income number. Look at the fair value disclosures within SEC
filings, adjust reported earnings for these fair value gains and losses, and
then you will obtain the truth.
Bob Jensen's threads on the banking bailout are at
"U. of Colorado Makes
It Official: Ward Churchill Is Not Welcome Back,"
by Peter Schmidt, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 21, 2009 ---
The University of Colorado has filed a court brief
formally responding to Ward Churchill’s
for court-ordered reinstatement to the faculty. As
university officials had suggested would be the case, their stand on his
reinstatement is a very emphatic no.
In the brief, filed yesterday in state court, the
university’s lawyers note that the jury that found last month that Mr.
Churchill had been
fired unjustly, in violation of his free-speech
rights, also determined that he was due only $1 in damages. The jury’s
decision to award Mr. Churchill such a nominal sum “can be seen only as a
complete repudiation of Professor Churchill’s scholarship and the jury’s
ultimate conclusion that he destroyed his own reputation.”
The brief also seizes upon remarks by Mr.
Churchill’s lawyer, David A. Lane, as reason to deny the professor’s
reinstatement. In an interview with
The Denver Post following the jury’s verdict,
Mr. Lane said university officials would face another lawsuit by Mr.
Churchill if they so much as “look at him cross-eyed” after his
reinstatement. Likewise, Mr. Lane told the
Colorado Daily that Mr. Churchill would sue
if the university put him in a basement office or stripped him of class
The brief argues that such threats place the
university in an untenable position, where it faces the threat of litigation
over routine academic decisions and must effectively immunize Mr. Churchill
from complying with professional scholarly standards if it does not want to
be sued for investigating any new complaints of misconduct brought against
If the court decides to award Mr. Churchill
anything, the brief says, it should only be compensation for the pay he
would be earning if he had kept his job. The brief argues, however, that he
should not even be given that.
Bob Jensen's threads on Ward Churchill are at
From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on May 7, 2009
Firms Face New Tax Curbs
by John D.
McKinnon and Jesse Drucker
The Wall Street Journal
May 04, 2009
Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com
Tax, International Taxation, Tax Accounting, Tax Deferrals
White House is unveiling a tax plan that will crack down on corporate
offshore tax avoidance. The plan also will seek to tighten rules that
have encouraged thousands of American individuals to open offshore
accounts. Opponents say the new rules will hamper U.S. companies in
competing with foreign competitors not subject to the U.S. tax.
CLASSROOM APPLICATION: President
Obama is proposing changes to many of the corporate tax laws. Our
students should know that the tax code is constantly changing, and major
changes can and do happen. This should further inspire them as future
business managers to monitor tax law that could impact their business or
industry, even if they are not accountants. The article also discusses
many of the tax deductions, credits, and deferrals that could change in
the near future. It could also be used for class discussion regarding
the influence tax law has on U.S. businesses with foreign competition.
What proposals is the Obama administration making regarding corporate
taxation? What reasons has the administration given for the changes?
What is the position of those who are opposed to the changes? Why is
there a competition issue?
What changes are proposed for individuals? How would these changes be
implemented and enforced?
What amount of money is projected to be raised by each of these changes?
Who ultimately pays for these additional taxes?
How is job creation related to the tax incentives? The parties differ on
the impact the changes would have on the creation of jobs. How could
jobs created by the proposed changes in tax law? How could jobs be lost
if the changes were made? Thinking through the ripple effects of the tax
changes, which do you think would happen - more U.S. jobs or fewer? Why?
How is deferral used to benefit companies? How are the "check-the-box"
rules used? Are these improper rules or is the usage of the rules
sometimes abusive? Please offer reasons for your answer.
Reviewed By: Linda Christiansen, Indiana University Southeast
President's Tax Proposal Riles Business
by John D. McKinnon
May 05, 2009
"Firms Face New Tax Curbs," by John D. McKinnon and Jesse Drucker, The Wall
Street Journal, May 4, 2009 ---
The Obama administration will roll out details
Monday of what aides are calling a far-reaching crackdown on offshore tax
avoidance, targeting many U.S.-based multinational corporations and wealthy
President Barack Obama will flesh out a proposal
included in his February budget blueprint seeking to curb the practice of
parking foreign earnings in offshore tax havens indefinitely. By some
estimates, $700 billion or more in U.S. corporate earnings have accumulated
in overseas accounts in recent years.
The plan to be announced Monday will go further. It
aims to change the legal treatment of offshore subsidiaries and structures
that companies have used to avoid not only U.S. taxes, but taxes in other
developed countries as well.
In addition, the administration will strive to
tighten rules that have encouraged thousands of Americans to open offshore
bank accounts in an effort to duck U.S. taxes. The plan would increase
information reporting and tax withholding as well as penalties, and make it
harder for foreign account-holders to win cases in court. The administration
promised new enforcement tools to crack down on tax-haven abuse.
"What we really have is a system that is in many
ways broken," a senior administration official said Sunday, one that "allows
people to play games...to almost completely avoid paying taxes on active
The sweep of the administration's plan took some
tax experts by surprise, and foreshadows potential fights with big
businesses later this year over some of their most cherished breaks,
particularly as Congress looks for revenue to pay for new initiatives.
"There absolutely will be" opposition from
business, particularly if the administration doesn't allow a suitable
adjustment period, said Phil West, a lawyer with Steptoe & Johnson LLP, who
was international tax counsel for the Treasury Department under President
The president's announcement comes as he prepares
to release a more detailed budget blueprint later this week. And the
high-level attacks on big business follow a series of White House broadsides
on corporate practices. Mr. Obama riled Wall Street last week by crafting a
bankruptcy deal for Chrysler LLC that favored the United Auto Workers union
over a series of lenders.
White House officials said the latest proposals
simply follow through on Mr. Obama's frequent criticism that current U.S.
tax rules encourage multinationals to move jobs overseas. The new tax plan
also aims to increase incentives for job creation in the U.S., they said,
noting that some of the money raised would be used to cover the cost of
extending a soon-to-expire federal tax credit for research costs.
Many of Mr. Obama's proposals will require
congressional approval. And while Democrats control both houses of Congress,
many members of his own party have expressed reluctance about raising taxes,
so prospects for the proposals are uncertain, even though none would take
effect until 2011.
A senior Republican aide termed the proposals a
"revenue grab," predicting they could end up driving more corporate
operations overseas. Some or all of the changes could become fodder for
broader tax reform next year.
"If rules are changed on tax deferral and we are
taxed in the U.S. on non-U.S. profit, this significant additional U.S. tax
cost would adversely impact our ability to invest and grow our business in
the U.S....and to compete against our foreign competitors who are not
subject to this U.S. tax," said John Earnhardt, a Cisco Systems Inc.
The president's tax announcement, to be made with
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, is part of an administration plan to
raise as much as $210 billion in extra tax revenue over the next decade, in
an effort to trim budget deficits and pay for job-creation incentives and
The plan takes aim at a range of financial
practices that have combined to erode the U.S. tax base in recent decades.
As money has become more readily transferable -- and aggressive tax planning
more widespread -- it has become easier for companies and individuals to
take advantage of low taxes as well as lack of transparency in many offshore
In one big change, the administration is aiming to
curb a practice commonly known as "deferral," which U.S. multinationals use
to shave their tax bills on their overseas operations.
Under current law, U.S. companies can defer taxes
indefinitely on the many of the profits they say they have earned overseas
until they "repatriate" that money back to the U.S. The administration seeks
to sharply limit the tax deductions that companies taking advantage of
deferral can take.
Still, the proposal is far less dramatic than what
many companies had feared: a complete repeal of the deferral regime.
The proposal to be announced Monday also would
clamp down on some other overseas tax-avoidance techniques that are widely
used by U.S. multinationals.
The Obama administration wants to overhaul what it
describes as a much-abused set of regulations known as the "check-the-box"
rules. These give companies great latitude in deciding where exactly their
subsidiaries should be taxed. Those rules have encouraged companies to take
further advantage of low-tax haven countries with their offshore
The administration also wants to toughen rules
governing the tax credits that the U.S. grants companies to offset taxes
they pay to foreign governments. That system has become the subject of
elaborate gaming, U.S. tax officials say.
Overall, the deferral proposal would raise about
$60.1 billion through 2019, according to the administration's estimates.
Unlike a similar proposal in the House, it wouldn't affect research
deductions, a likely victory for some industries such as pharmaceuticals.
The reform of check-the-box rules would raise about $86.5 billion through
the same period. The changes in foreign-tax-credit rules would raise about
$43 billion. The changes to crack down on individual bank accounts would
raise $9 billion.
The current U.S. rules for corporations carry
enormous benefits for companies. Unlike most deferred taxes, those stemming
from foreign earnings don't cut into a company's bottom line as long as they
are considered "permanently reinvested" overseas.
The result can have a huge impact on a company's
bottom line. The pharmaceutical and technology industries are particular
From the Scout Report on May 8, 2009
Ubuntu 9.04 ---
The word "ubuntu" is an African word that means
"Humanity to others". It seems like an appropriate name for a free operating
system that contains a slew of applications such as a web browser, document
and spreadsheet software, and instant messaging. This particular version is
compatible with all operating systems running Linux.
Moo0 System Monitor --- 1.4.0
With the Moo0 system Monitor, visitors can keep a
close eye on how their operating system is utilizing different resources.
From the left hand side of the homepage find the "System" heading, then
click on System Monitor. Once downloaded, the resource monitor appears as a
long vertical bar that provides basic data on CPU, network, and memory
utilization. Additionally, the bar can be shrunk so it is a bit less
intrusive. This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP and
With an urban renaissance underway, Hartford begins
to think about their hockey heritage In Hartford, Fans Still Harbor Hope For
N.H.L. Team [Free registration may be required]
The Blowhole! Hartford Whalers
The Sports Economist
Grateful Dead Live at Hartford Civic Center on
October 10, 1984
Mark Twain House http://www.marktwainhouse.org/
Free online textbooks, cases, and tutorials in accounting, finance,
economics, and statistics ---
Academic Service [iTunes]
Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at
Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials
Physics for Humanists ---
Physics History Videos: Physclips ---
Physics Education Technology ---
Virtual Microbiology ---
Supercourse: Epidemiology, the Internet and Global Health
Images from the History of Medicine ---
Bob Jensen's threads on free online science,
engineering, and medicine tutorials are at ---
Social Science and Economics Tutorials
PBS Television will now answer your personal finance questions ---
Jewish American Heritage Month ---
ShortEnd Magazine: Thoughts on Independent Film [iTunes] ---
The Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings
Bob Jensen's threads on Economics, Anthropology, Social Sciences, and
Philosophy tutorials are at
Law and Legal Studies
Primary Sources on Copyright, 1450-1900 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on law and legal studies are at
Bob Jensen's threads on free online mathematics tutorials are at
Oregon Maps ---
The Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings
Fashioning Felt ---
African tribe colonized world 70,000 years ago
Research by geneticists and archaeologists has allowed
them to trace the origins of modern homo sapiens back to a single group of
people who managed to cross from the Horn of Africa and into Arabia. From there
they went on to colonise the rest of the world. While there are 14 ancestral
populations in Africa itself, just one seems to have survived outside of the
continent, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The Times of India, May 11, 2009 ---
A single tribe of around 200 people which crossed the Red Sea 70,000 years ago
is responsible for the existence of the entire human race outside Africa, a new
study has found. Research by geneticists and archaeologists has allowed them to
trace the origins of modern homo sapiens back to a single group of people who
managed to cross from the Horn of Africa and into Arabia. From there they went
on to colonise the rest of the world. While there are 14 ancestral populations
Bob Jensen's threads on history tutorials are at
Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at
The Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings
Bob Jensen's threads on free music tutorials are at
Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at
Updates from WebMD ---
"How Down Syndrome Stops Cancer:
Customized Down syndrome stem cells reveal a way to starve tumors," by Jocelyn
Rice, MIT's Technology Review, May 21, 2009 ---
For decades scientists have known that people with
Down syndrome, who have an extra copy of chromosome 21, get certain types of
cancer at dramatically lower rates than normal. Now, partly by using stem
cells derived from the skin of an individual with Down syndrome, researchers
at Children's Hospital Boston have pinpointed the gene that appears to
underlie the cancer-protective effect.
The researchers say the results of their study,
which were published today in Nature, may point to a promising new target
for future cancer treatments. And according to stem-cell biologists, the
work also highlights a growing trend in the field: harnessing
disease-specific stem cells not as therapies but rather as models for
understanding particular genetic disorders.
Stem cells "can be useful not simply because you
take them and transplant them," says Evan Snyder, director of the stem cells
and regenerative medicine program at the Burnham Institute for Medical
Research in San Diego. "They are useful as models of disease that reveal
other kinds of therapies." Snyder was not involved in the new study.
The late Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher
renowned for pioneering the notion that blocking angiogenesis--the growth of
new blood vessels--can prevent tumors from thriving, hypothesized that the
lower cancer rates associated with Down syndrome might be traced to
anti-angiogenesis genes on the 21st chromosome. So Sandra Ryeom, a member of
the Folkman Laboratory in the Vascular Biology Program at Children's
Hospital, zeroed in on a region on chromosome 21 known to encode a regulator
of blood vessel growth called DSCR1.
In chromosomally normal mice, the standard two
copies of the Dscr1 gene produce just enough protein to help reign in normal
blood-vessel growth, but not enough to stem the angiogenesis overload
triggered by a developing tumor. But in mice with an artificial version of
Down syndrome (and thus a third copy of the Dscr1gene), Ryeom found that the
surplus of DSCR1 protein kept abnormal angiogenesis--and the resulting tumor
While Ryeom and her colleagues suspect that DSCR1
works in concert with a handful of other chromosome 21 genes, they confirmed
that the protein plays a central role in tumor suppression. A third copy of
the Dscr1 gene alone was enough to stifle cancer formation in otherwise
normal mice, though not to the same degree as in the Down syndrome mice.
To confirm that the gene is relevant in human
cancers, Ryeom and her colleagues created a custom line of stem cells from
skin cells taken from an individual with Down syndrome. Using a relatively
new technique called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell reprogramming,
researchers can express specific genes in differentiated adult cells and
revert them to an earlier developmental state, where they are capable of
giving rise to many different cell types.
Continued in article
Forwarded by Auntie Bev
Punning in a Foreign
These are from a New York magazine competition where they asked
competitors to change one letter in a familiar non-English phrase and redefine
- Harlez-vous francais? --
Can you drive a French motorcycle?
- Ex post fucto. -- Lost in
- Idios amigos. -- Wild and
- Veni, vipi, vici. -- I
came; I'm a very important person; I conquered.
- Veni vidi Velcro -- I
came, I saw, I stuck around.
- J'y suis, j'y pestes. -- I
can stay for the weekend.
- Cogito eggo sum. -- I
think; therefore, I am a waffle.
- Rigor morris. -- The cat is
- Repondez s'il vous plaid.
-- Honk if you're Scots.
- Que sera serf. -- Life is
- Le roi est mort. Jive le
roi. -- The king is dead. No kidding.
- Posh mortem. -- Death
styles of the rich and famous.
- Pro bozo publico. --
Support your local clown.
- Monage a trois. -- I am
three years old.
- Pardonnez-mot. -- That
wasn't funny. Sorry.
- Felix navidad. -- Our cat
has a boat.
- Haste cuisine. -- Fast
- Veni, vidi, vice. -- I
came, I saw, I partied.
- Quip pro quo. -- A fast
- Aloha oy. -- Love;
greetings; farewell; from such a pain you should never know.
- Mazel ton. -- Lots of luck.
- Apres Moe le deluge. --
Larry and Curly get wet.
- Porte-kochere --
- Ich liebe rich -- I'm
really crazy about having dough.
- Fui generis -- What's mine
- Visa la france -- Don't
leave chateau without it.
- Ca va sans dirt -- And
that's not gossip.
- Merci rien -- Thanks for
- Amicus puriae. -- Platonic
- L'etat, c'est moo. -- I'm
bossy around here.
- L'etat, c'est Moe. -- All the
world's a stooge.
A friend said this recession is worse than divorce.
He lost half his money and is still stuck with his wife.
Forwarded by Paula
The Darwin Awards ---
The Darwin Awards It's that time again... The Darwin Awards are finally out,
the annual honor given to the persons who did the gene pool the biggest service
by killing themselves in the most extraordinarily stupid way.
Last year's winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine which
toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out.
This year's winner was a real rocket scientist.... HONEST!
Read on...And remember that each and every one of these is a TRUE STORY.
* * * * * * * * * * * And the nominees were:
A young Canadian man, searching for a way of getting drunk cheaply, because
he had no money with which to buy alcohol, mixed gasoline with milk. Not
surprisingly, this concoction made him ill, and he rushed to vomit into the
fireplace in his house. This resulting explosion and fire burned his house down,
killing both him and his unfortunate sister.
Three Brazilian men were flying in a light aircraft at low altitude when
another plane approached. It appears that they decided to moon the occupants of
the other plane, but lost control of their own aircraft and crashed. They were
all found dead in the wreckage with their pants around their ankles (HARD to
control light airplanes when everyone moves to one side).
A 22-year-old Reston , VA man was found dead after he tried to use octopus
straps to bungee jump off a 70-foot rail road trestle. Fairfax County police
said Eric Barcia, a fast food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together,
wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake
Accotink Park, jumped and hit the pavement. Warren Carmichael, a police
spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found
nearby.. 'The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the
distance between the trestle and the ground,' Carmichaelsaid. Police say the
apparent cause of death was 'Major trauma.'
A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. It seems that he and a friend
were playing a game of catch, using the rattlesnake as a ball. The friend -- no
doubt a future Darwin Awards candidate -- was hospitalized.
Employees in a medium-sized warehouse in west Texas noticed the smell of a
gas leak. Sensibly, management evacuated the building extinguishing all
potential sources of ignition; lights, power, etc.
After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company
were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty
navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked.
Witnesses later described the sight of one of the technicians reaching into his
pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a cigarette lighter. Upon
operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending
pieces of it up to three miles away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but
the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician suspected
of causing the blast had never been thought of as ''bright'' by his peers.
Now, to the winner of this year's Darwin Award
(awarded, as always, posthumously):
The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded in
the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The wreckage
resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it was a car. The type of car was
unidentifiable at the scene. Police investigators finally pieced together the
mystery. An amateur rocket scientist ... had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit
(Jet Assisted Take Off, actually a solid fuel rocket) that is used to give heavy
military transport planes an extra 'push' for taking off from short airfields.
He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight
stretch of road.. He attached the JATO unit to the car, jumped in, got up some
speed and fired off the JATO. The facts as best as could be determined are that
the operator of the 1967 Impala hit the JATO ignition at a distance of
approximately 3..0 miles from the crash site. This was established by the
scorched and melted asphalt at that location.
The JATO, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within 5
seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph and
continuing at full power for an additional 20-25 seconds.
The driver, and soon to be pilot, would have experienced G-forces usually
reserved for dog fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, causing him to
become irrelevant for the remainder of the event. However, the automobile
remained on the straight highway for about 2.5 miles (15-20 seconds) before the
driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires and leaving
thick rubber marks on the road surface, then becoming airborne for an additional
1.4 miles and impacting the cliff face at a height of 125 feet leaving a
blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock. Most of the driver's remains were not
recoverable. However, small fragments of bone, teeth and hair were extracted
from the crater, and fingernail and bone shards were removed from a piece of
debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel.
Epilogue: It has been calculated that this moron attained a ground speed of
approximately 420-mph, though much of his voyage was not actually on the ground.
Forwarded by Gene and Joan
I've often been asked, “What do you old folks do now that you're retired?”
I'm fortunate to have a chemical engineering background, and one of the
things I enjoy most is turning beer, wine, Scotch, and margaritas into urine.
Tidbits Archives ---
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enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
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Interesting Online Clock
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Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.
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Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New
Current and past editions of my newsletter called
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud
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 ---
The Master List of Free
Online College Courses ---
Shared Open Courseware
(OCW) from Around the World: OKI, MIT, Rice, Berkeley, Yale, and Other Sharing
Free Textbooks and Cases ---
Free Mathematics and Statistics Tutorials ---
Free Science and Medicine Tutorials ---
Free Social Science and Philosophy Tutorials ---
Free Education Discipline Tutorials ---
Teaching Materials (especially
video) from PBS
Teacher Source: Arts and
Teacher Source: Health & Fitness
Teacher Source: Math ---
Teacher Source: Science ---
Teacher Source: PreK2 ---
Teacher Source: Library Media ---
Free Education and
Research Videos from Harvard University ---
VYOM eBooks Directory ---
From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department ---
Online Mathematics Textbooks ---
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---
The word moodle is an acronym for "modular
object-oriented dynamic learning environment", which is quite a mouthful.
The Scout Report stated the following about Moodle 1.7. It is a
tremendously helpful opens-source e-learning platform. With Moodle,
educators can create a wide range of online courses with features that
include forums, quizzes, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, and surveys. On the
Moodle website, visitors can also learn about other features and read about
recent updates to the program. This application is compatible with computers
running Windows 98 and newer or Mac OS X and newer.
Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials
Accounting program news items for colleges are posted at
Sometimes the news items provide links to teaching resources for accounting
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 is an email Listserv list which
provides a forum for discussions of all hardware and software
which can be useful in any way for accounting education at the
college/university level. Hardware includes all platforms and
peripherals. Software includes spreadsheets, practice sets,
multimedia authoring and presentation packages, data base
programs, tax packages, World Wide Web applications, etc
Roles of a ListServ ---
CPAS-L 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.
This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA.
This can be anything from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ
initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as
accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed
assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and
This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag
Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---
Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586