Tidbits on January 5, 2012
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

Happy New Year
This week I show pictures of a spectacular fire that took place after the demolition of the SSH Resort and the move of our cottage


Auld Lang Syne by Sissel (Norwegian Soprano).wmv ---

More of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories

Blogs of White Mountain Hikers (many great photographs) ---

Especially note the archive of John Compton's blogs at the bottom of the page at

White Mountain News --- http://www.whitemtnews.com/


Tidbits on January 5, 2012
Bob Jensen

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Obamas' Christmas Message (video) ---

Santa's elves take over one of airBaltic planes --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=f-UinluQJpE

Best Christmas Lights Display --- http://www.flixxy.com/best-christmas-lights-display.htm

The Wunderland German Miniature Train ---

Best Christmas:  Kids Tell it Like it Is --- http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=ki8EcnVbd-Q

15 Free Charlie Chaplin Films Online --- Click Here

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

Happy New Year - Auld Lang Syne by Sissel (Norwegian Soprano).wmv ---

Best Music of 2011 --- http://www.npr.org/series/142592217/best-music-of-2011?ps=cprs

John Eliot Gardiner's Historical Beethoven At Carnegie Hall (full concert) ---

'Messiah': A Holiday Tradition Transcending Time ---

Karita Mattila In Recital At Carnegie Hall ---

Partner Content from WGBH Franz Liszt At 200: Performances At Boston's WGBH ---

The Orchestra Of St. Luke's: Home At Last ---

The Best and Worst Commercials in 2011 according to Tax Prof blogger Paul Carron ---

Jackie Evancho Video - To Believe with Lyrics HDHide (voice of an angel) ---

Classical:  Charting Their Own Paths: Top 5 Orchestral Albums Produced In-house ---

Talk Like An Opera Geek: Breaking Down Baritones ---

Pickin’ & Trimmin’ in a Down-Home North Carolina Barbershop: Award-Winning Short Film --- Click Here

Hot Rod Lincoln --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDbON8udTPo&feature=fvw

The Blues (Martin Scorsese's PBS documentary series) --- http://www.pbs.org/theblues/index.html 

Chet Atkins: The Lasting Influence Of 'Mr. Guitar' --- http://www.npr.org/2011/12/17/143837702/chet-atkins-the-lasting-influence-of-mr-guitar

Dessa: A Twin City Rapper Explores A Softer Side --- http://www.npr.org/2011/12/17/143857164/dessa-a-twin-city-rapper-explores-a-softer-side

Christmas Season Classics --- http://profalbrecht.wordpress.com/2011/12/24/off-topic-classical-sounds-of-the-season/

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978): It’s Oh So Kitsch --- Click Here

Cars of the 1950s ---

 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) --- http://www.theradio.com/
Slacker (my second-favorite commercial-free online music site) --- http://www.slacker.com/

Gerald Trites likes this international radio site --- http://www.e-radio.gr/
Songza:  Search for a song or band and play the selection --- http://songza.com/
Also try Jango --- http://www.jango.com/?r=342376581
Sometimes this old guy prefers the jukebox era (just let it play through) --- http://www.tropicalglen.com/
And I listen quite often to Soldiers Radio Live --- http://www.army.mil/fieldband/pages/listening/bandstand.html
Also note
U.S. Army Band recordings --- http://bands.army.mil/music/default.asp

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

Photographs and Art

http://maaw.info/Photos/BrookGreenGardens.htm --- http://maaw.info/Photos/BrookGreenGardens.htm
Thank you Jim Martin for the heads up.

The Best 2011 Photo Exhibitions Picked by The New Yorker ---

The New Yorker's 2011 Cartoon Contest for 2011 ---

M.C. Escher (Graphic Arts) --- http://www.facebook.com/pages/M-C-Escher/103776486328068
Thank you Richard Sansing for the heads up

Bob Jensen's threads on history, literature and art ---

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

Neil Gaiman’s Free Short Stories and New Year’s Wishes (children) --- Click Here

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read --- Click Here

Guns, Germs, and Steel (history, biography) by Jared Diamond --- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Guns-Germs-and-Steel/109141935771708
Thank you Richard Sansing for the heads up.

Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens --- http://www.facebook.com/pages/Letters-to-a-Young-Contrarian/109556775728628
Thank you Richard Sansing for the heads up.

Fill Your New Kindle, iPad, iPhone with Free eBooks, Movies, Audio Books, Courses & More --- Click Here

Drinking with William Faulkner --- Click Here

Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover's Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath

Editor: George H. Nash
Pub Date: 
November 07, 2011
Product Format: 
Not online and not free


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

Now in Another Tidbits Document
Political Quotations on January 5, 2012

The booked National Debt on January 5, 2012 was slightly over $15 trillion ---
U.S. National Debt Clock --- http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

World Giving Index 2011: U.S. Is #1 (Out of 153 Countries)
Gallup Survey:  Giving money, volunteering time and helping a stranger ---
The comments at the end are nasty.

From BBC News, December 13, 2011
Top Economists Reveal Their Graphs --- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-16090055
Click on the Start Slide Show button

"Lessons from a century of large public debt reductions and build-ups," by S. M. Ali Abbas, Nazim Belhocine, Asmaa El-Ganainy, and Mark Horton, Vox, December 18, 2011 ---

As policymakers continue to grapple with high debts and the troubles that come with them, this column looks at the lessons from data on public debt in 178 countries stretching back as far as 1880. It argues that when faced with an unsustainable debt burden, slow but steady adjustment is the way to go.

Empirical work on debt cycles and debt sustainability has been constrained by lack of public debt data on a large number of countries over a long time period. Existing studies are based on datasets that either cover short time periods (such as Jaimovich and Panizza 2010) or omit a large number of countries (such as Reinhart and Rogoff 2010). In our latest study (Abbas et al 2011), we compile a comprehensive historical public debt database covering 178 countries, starting from 1880 for G7 countries and a few other advanced and emerging economies, and from 1920 for additional advanced and emerging economies. For low-income countries, data coverage generally starts in 1970 (Abbas et al 2011).

Figure 1. Debt-to-GDP ratios across country groups, 1880–2009 (Group PPPGDP-weighted averages, in percent of GDP)

. . .

Figure 1 provides a broad historical perspective of debt developments in advanced, emerging, and low-income economies. Debt levels in advanced economies (now the G20) averaged 55% of GDP over 1880–2009, with a number of peaks and troughs that correspond with key historical events along the way.

Episodes of large debt reductions and build-ups in advanced economies

So much for aggregate trends; what about individual episodes? For a group of 19 advanced economies, we identify 68 debt declines (including seven defaults) and 60 debt increases sized greater than 10% of GDP (see Figures 2 and 3).1 The ‘non-default’ debt declines averaged 38% of GDP, and were distributed roughly evenly across four periods: the pre-1914 gold standard era, the two World Wars and intervening decades, the Bretton Woods years from 1946–70, and the post-1970 period. Debt surges averaged 44% of GDP and were bunched around 1914–45 and the peacetime period of 1970–2007.

Figure 2. Identified episodes of debt-to-GDP Decreases (in percent of GDP)

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements ---


Crowded House: How the World’s Population Grew to 7 Billion People --- Click Here

The January 2010 Booked National Debt Plus Unbooked Entitlements Debt
The GAO estimated $76 trillion Present Value in January 2010  unless something drastic is done.
Click Here |

There are many ways to describe the federal government’s long-term fiscal challenge. One method for capturing the challenge in a single number is to measure the “fiscal gap.” The fiscal gap represents the difference, or gap, between revenue and spending in present value terms over a certain period, such as 75 years, that would need to be closed in order to achieve a specified debt level (e.g., today’s debt to GDP ratio) at the end of the period.2 From the fiscal gap, one can calculate the size of action needed—in terms of tax increases, spending reductions, or, more likely, some combination of the two—to close the gap; that is, for debt as a share of GDP to equal today’s ratio at the end of the period. For example, under our Alternative simulation, the fiscal gap is 9.0 percent of GDP (or a little over $76 trillion in present value dollars) (see table 2). This means that revenue would have to increase by about 50 percent or noninterest spending would have to be reduced by 34 percent on average over the next 75 years (or some combination of the two) to keep debt at the end of the period from exceeding its level at the beginning of 2010 (53 percent of GDP).


Peter G. Peterson Website on Deficit/Debt Solutions ---

Bob Jensen's health care messaging updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Health.htm

I had nothing whatsoever to do with two good news items from Trinity University, so that gives me license to brag.

Trinity's MS in Accounting graduates scored 5th in the Nation on the CPA Examination ---
Bravo Linda, Sankarin, John, Kate and Julie!

My long-time friend, as winner of the Scott All-University Excellence in Teaching Award, gave the Fall Semester Commencement Address. I don't think the video of his talk is posted at this moment, but I will be looking forward to it.
Don holds a PhD from Columbia University and is a Professor of Organization Behavior at Trinity University. He is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and a former Battalion Commander in the Viet Nam War. For years he's also been an extensive consultant to NASA of organizational matters and leadership training.
Bravo Don!

These two things make me very proud to have been on the faculty of Trinity University for 24 years. I retired in 2006.---

A Cloudy Future
"Best of 2011 Technology:  A year in which new processes, platforms, and devices demanded new rules for doing business and new roles for CFOs," CFO.com, December 29, 2011 ---

"Top B-School Stories of 2011:  2011 brought good news on the MBA job front, with unconventional careers more popular than ever. Plagiarism and cheating marred an otherwise-upbeat year," by Alison Damast and Erin Zlomek, Business Week, December 28, 2011 ---

"Six Predictions for Digital Business in 2012," by Andrew McAfee, Harvard Business Review Blog, December 28, 2011 --- Click Here

"The 10 Biggest Web News Stories of 2011," by John Paul Titlow, ReadWriteWeb, December 23, 2011 ---

"Top 10 Culture-Tech Stories of 2011," ReadWriteWeb, December 19, 2011 ---

"The Top 10 tech trends for 2012," by Pete Cashmore, CNN, December 19, 2011 ---

"52 Cool Facts About Social Media," http://dannybrown.me/2010/07/03/cool-facts-about-social-media/
Thank you David Albrecht for the heads up on this link

NPR's list of Best Books in 2011 ---

"Best Coffee Table Books 2011," by Robert Birnbaum, The Daily Beast, December 22, 2011 ---

"10 Most Hated Movies of 2011," by Michael Lennon, Wired News ---

2011 In Film: Bob Mondello's Top 10 (Plus 10) ---

The Best and Worst Commercials in 2011 according to Tax Prof blogger Paul Carron ---

The Year's Weirdest News Stories ---

Wow, this is an Amazon-centric list
"8 Ed Tech Predictions for 2012," by Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, December 22. 2011 ---

1. Tuition and Campaigns:  The cost of higher ed will become a major campaign issue in 2012.  Candidates will have competing diagnoses for the issue, and competing plans to make higher ed both more affordable and more available. Educational technology and blended/online learning will receive lots of attention.  

2. For-Profits and Open Education: The (welcome) surprise of 2012 will be an existing for-profit higher ed provider making an important and significant contribution to the open education movement. For-profits will step up to open learning for purely practical and self-interested reasons, namely the need to improve brand positioning and status, but this will not matter as all lifelong learners will benefit.

3. Kindle Subscription Model: Amazon will surprise the doubters and finally introduce an "all-you-can-read" KIndle subscription model.  The price point will be high enough ($1 dollar a day) to exclude all but the most dedicated biblioholics, but the program will be way more successful (in terms of people signed up and Kindle devices sold) than Amazon could predict.

4. Media Management and Lecture Capture Tie-Up:  We will see a merger between some lecture capture company (Echo360, Panopto, MediaSite, Tegrity) and some media management player (Kaltura, Ensemble, ShareStream). This tie-up might be a merger, but more likely will be the result of a purchase by a larger company (publishing or tech) or an investment from a private equity group.   

5.  A LMS Data Loss Event: Someplace, somewhere, something very bad will occur. This will be the loss of a significant number of courses with the associated course data -- and these courses will not be retrievable. This event will accelerate the adoption of cloud-based, LMS-as-a-service models, as local LMS installs are at higher risk than industrial grade distributed LMS/database cloud services.

6. China Investment:  A Chinese company (backed by the state) will make a major investment in a U.S. ed tech company and/or a for-profit EDU provider. The Chinese higher education market is currently huge but poor, in the future it will be both bigger and richer. China will not be able to build enough campus-based universities to meet demand, and will need to find methods to quickly scale postsecondary blended and online higher ed. These will be strategic investments on the part of China.

7. Academic Library / Amazon Breakthrough: 2012 will be the year that academic librarians and Amazon finally enter into a productive relationship. Amazon will figure out that today's college students are tomorrow's e-book buyers, and will finally understand that the academic library is an incredible resource and partner.

8.  Amazon Purchases: Amazon will get into the digital textbook and digital coursepack market in a big way with a major purchase (XanEdu or Study.net or Atavist or Inkling or some other). My money is on Amazon also buying Netflix or Hulu, solidifying its position as the great content aggregator and distributor of the early 21st century.

Wow, this is an Amazon-centric list


A Multiple Choice Test
"The Year in Review:  Test your recall of 2011 finance trends," CFO.com, December 1, 2011 ---


Bob Jensen's threads on education technology are at

"Bright Ideas: Innovation in 2011 The Year's Inventions: From IBM's 'Jeopardy'-Playing Watson to a Replacement Heart Valve," The Wall Street Journal, December 30, 2011 ---

Apple, Facebook and Google aren't the only companies coming up with cool ideas.

Though news of the latest iPhone or Facebook remodel dominated headlines in 2011, the year saw many other companies quietly—and some not so quietly—flex their own creative muscle. Inventions ranged from the high-tech (brainy computers and self-piloting planes) to the startlingly simple (bits of paper that can diagnose some of the world's most troubling illnesses).

While many this year mourned the loss of Apple's Steve Jobs, considered one of the great innovators of his time, creativity and invention are far from gone.

Here is a handful of some of the year's most impressive inventions: IBM's Watson Computer

Reality caught up with fiction when International Business Machines Corp.'s Watson computer system thumped two "Jeopardy!" champions in a nationally televised competition this February. The victory marked a milestone for the field of artificial intelligence, conjuring memories of the HAL 9000 computer from the classic science-fiction flick "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Watson—a group of technologies designed to understand the complex domain of words, language and human knowledge—is more than a cool R&D project. Health-plan company WellPoint Inc. plans to use Watson to help suggest treatment options and diagnoses to doctors. IBM executives believe Watson has the potential to grow into a billion-dollar business in three to five years as it is applied to other fields, such as call centers and engineering.

Watson shared the spotlight this year with one other disembodied assistant: Apple Inc.'s Siri voice-recognition software for its iPhone. While limited, Siri is a precursor for a range of new voice-activated consumer products, and could be followed with variants that make decisions for users, too, based on their past behavior and preferences. —Spencer E. Ante Northrop's X-47B Drone

In February, an unmanned, bat-winged fighter jet soared over a desert north of Los Angeles in a 29-minute test flight that signaled a new age in naval aviation. This isn't your average drone, piloted remotely with a joystick by someone with extensive flying experience. A computer takes care of the X-47B's flight mission, while an operator can simply click a mouse to start the engines and send it on its way.

Enlarge Image TOPTECH_drone TOPTECH_drone Associated Press

The unmanned X-47B, shown above, can be controlled entirely by computer.

Northrop Grumman Corp.'s X-47B, which can carry up to 4,500 pounds of weapons in its two internal bays, will also be the first drone that can take off and land on the moving deck of an aircraft carrier.

Drone technology has made enormous strides over the past decade, but its limits were demonstrated late in 2011, when Iran claimed to have downed an RQ-170, a pilotless stealth aircraft operated by the U.S. military. Carrier-launched drones, set to enter service later in the decade, will be near-invisible to enemy radars. —Nathan Hodge Lytro's 'Living Pictures'

Many technological breakthoughs come from labs at big companies, but it was little Lytro Inc. that generated big buzz in the photography world.

Billed as a revolutionary development in digital photography, the Silicon Valley start-up's still cameras create what it calls "living pictures," which can be refocused after they are taken. When viewed through a Web browser, users can click on different spots to bring objects into focus.

Lytro says it updated a century-old invention called light-field cameras, which capture much more information than conventional digital cameras. Lytro in October began taking orders for its cameras, priced at $399 to $499, but doesn't expect to fill them until early 2012. —Don Clark Leveraged Freedom Chair

Rolling around a city in a wheelchair is difficult enough without ramps and elevators. Toss in unpaved roads full of rocks and mud, as found throughout the developing world, and it becomes impracticable.

A new wheelchair created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mobility Lab could be the solution for millions of disabled people in these countries, a large share of whom live in rural areas and travel upwards of two to three miles to get to work or school, or simply stay at home.

Built with bicycle parts found cheaply and abundantly in developing countries, the Leveraged Freedom Chair costs only about $100 to make—compared with a few thousand dollars for conventional push-rim wheelchairs—and is designed with a special lever system that enables the user to muscle over rough terrain and up steep hills.

After several years of testing, the chair will begin production early next year in India, with other countries likely following. —Scott Austin Sapien Transcatheter Heart Valve

The Sapien, made by Edwards Lifesciences Corp., does for diseased aortic valves what the stent did for clogged arteries: It enables treatment without open-heart surgery.

Made partly of cow tissue and polyester and approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 2, it's the first replacement heart valve delivered via catheter, through either a leg artery or a minor chest incision, rather than open-heart surgery.

The rise of stents, which are implanted only by cardiologists, meant a big reduction in cases for heart surgeons, rupturing relations between the fields. The new valve was developed collaboratively and can be deployed by both groups. If the device is widely adopted, Sapien's true innovation may be in healing the rift between the specialties. —Ron Winslow Diagnostics for All

Postage stamp-sized paper could be a key to diagnosing some of the world's troubling illnesses—all for less than a penny.

Diagnostics for All, a Boston-based non-profit organization created by biotechnology executive Una Ryan and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has developed a blood test using specially treated paper that channels a single drop of blood or urine and in minutes will change color if a problem is found.

Its first target is African AIDS patients with tuberculosis who often die of liver failure because of the highly potent drugs they take. This liver function test, which detects toxicity in blood, will cost 0.10 cents or less and work without external power or equipment, the group says. —Scott Austin Tri-Gate Transistors

Personal computers, smartphones and iPads would never have arrived without the relentless improvement of computer chips. Intel Corp. took a radical step to keep the innovation going, into the third dimension.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204552304577115143024715100.html#ixzz1i2GALpme

Walt Mossberg's  2011 Year in Technology
"Year of the Talking Phone And a Cloud That Got Hot," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2011 ---

While other industries struggled, consumer technology seemed to march ahead as always in 2011, with important new products and services continuing to roll out. Sure, some tech companies, like BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, suffered reverses. And some products, like Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad, flopped. But many shone.

So here is a look at a few of the biggest tech products of the past year, with some analysis of what they signified and what issues they raise for 2012. As with all my columns, this one is focused only on products and services provided to consumers. Also, as usual, this column isn't meant to offer investment advice or to evaluate the management skills or financial condition of companies.Even in a year when its iconic leader, Steve Jobs, resigned as CEO and then passed away, Apple kept going from success to success. In March, it introduced the iPad 2, a thinner, lighter, faster version of its groundbreaking tablet and sold tens of millions of them. In October, it brought out the iPhone 4S, which proved popular even though it looked identical to the prior model. One reason: The phone introduced a voice-controlled artificial-intelligence system called Siri that answers questions and performs tasks without requiring typing or searching. Siri, while still rudimentary, could herald a revolution in practical artificial intelligence for consumers.

The lesson here is that Apple is driving the industry toward simpler, more reliable digital experiences tied into ecosystems of content and cloud services. It is expected to bring out radically new iPhones and iPads in 2012. But can it fend off challenges from popular, rapidly improving rivals using Google's Android operating system? And, in the absence of Mr. Jobs, can it keep churning out game-changing hits?

The Kindle Fire

Despite some initial software flaws and its chunky, plain hardware, the diminutive Fire appeared to be the first color tablet to gain significant traction against the iPad. The biggest reasons are its ultralow $199 price and its tie-in to Amazon's huge content library. But the Fire may have started a trend that could be a problem for Google: It demotes the Android operating system to an under-the-covers piece of plumbing, ignoring Google's user interface and apps marketplace.

In 2012, Amazon is expected to bring out a larger, possibly sleeker Fire, and, if it continues to prove popular, it could attract larger numbers of apps designed for the Fire and sold only through Amazon. But despite its success with simple e-readers, Amazon has little experience as a maker of general-purpose computing devices, and it will have to be nimble and creative to keep up with Apple and more-traditional Android rivals.


Though several cellular technologies claim the moniker "4G" to indicate fast data speeds and greater capacity, only one, LTE (Long Term Evolution,) delivers true broadband speeds consistently. This past year, it finally spread significantly in the U.S., both in terms of geography and in the number of devices supporting it. The LTE leader by far is Verizon Wireless and it has the potential to make the wireless Web, and wireless streaming of video, the equal of their wired counterparts. AT&T is racing to catch up and Sprint, which uses a different 4G system, says it will join the LTE parade.

But at this stage, LTE still consumes too much battery power. And LTE networks, if they become the norm, could get overwhelmed. To fend off this prospect, the biggest carriers in 2011 began charging more for greater data usage, a move that could curb the spread of innovative services that rely on large data downloads, such as video streaming and sharing of music and high-resolution photos.

The Cloud

Many players began offering consumers the opportunity to both store their data on, and run apps from, remote servers on the Internet, a system called cloud computing. Google even introduced a new kind of laptop, the Chromebook, that has almost no internal storage and relies almost entirely on the cloud. An example of a cloud service: music "lockers" that store all your songs on multiple devices. Cloud services are sure to expand in 2012, but questions remain on their reliability, security and privacy. And while most now cost little or nothing, these offerings could become another monthly fee burden for consumers. [PTECH-JUMP] Samsung

Android became easier to use with the release of the Ice Cream Sandwich version, used in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The Android Army

In 2011, Android overtook Apple's iPhone and iPad operating system, called iOS, in users. Though no single Android device is as popular as the iPhone or iPad, Android is now the collective leader, with hundreds of devices using it. Samsung, in particular, had success with its Android-based Galaxy devices. And a new version, called Ice Cream Sandwich, continued Android's steady improvement by making it easier to use. However, Google may be losing control of Android, as hardware makers and cellular carriers redefine it to suit their own needs, and fail to offer consumers updates in a timely fashion. Except for the Kindle Fire, the operating system hasn't caught on in tablets. Windows

Microsoft has been way behind in the new areas of super-smartphones and tablets. In 2011, the software giant began to try to reverse that situation. It introduced the first competitive version of its sleek, sophisticated Windows Phone software, called Mango, though so far without much uptake by consumers. And it previewed a bold new version of main Windows, called Windows 8, with a multitouch interface that, unlike Apple's approach, is a single operating system meant for both PCs and tablets. It will start shipping in 2012.

Still, Windows Phone must somehow attract many more users. And Windows 8 is a gamble, because it includes two interfaces: the new tabletlike face and the old, familiar Windows look, which could confuse consumers.


In 2011, Apple's MacBook Air, previously a niche product, became the new standard for laptops—thin, light, speedy, with long battery life and solid-state memory for storage instead of a hard disk. Now, Windows PC makers are following suit with similar machines called Ultrabooks.

Ultrabooks may recharge the Windows laptop scene in 2012. However, they will have to become less costly—they now hover at around $1,000—and their solid-state drives don't offer the capacity of hard disks at an affordable price. [PTECH-JUMP] Lenovo


Continued in article

Bob Jensen's technology bookmarks are at

"Apple: How The iTV Will Revolutionize The Television Industry," Seeking Alpha, December 30, 2011 ---

. . .

It's important that Apple lines up the content in order for the iTV to catch on. Apple has been running into issues in this regard. Apple has been facing tough resistance from content providers who want to stick with a bundled subscription model. U.S. cable operators are also working on a plan to force content providers to unbundle services. I expect the networks to eventually unbundle services and provide content on an a la carte basis. This reminds me of when networks resisted licensing content to online media companies like Hulu. The networks feared that online sources would damage their existing revenue streams. They quickly realized it was better to generate revenue by licensing content online since content would often make it online through illegal means anyway. The networks will be forced to adapt as consumers move to an a la carte model.

These are other points I like about the Apple story:

Continued in article

"Seven Top Leaders on Making Tough Calls and Serving for the Greater Good," Knowledge@Wharton, December 9, 2011 ---

Creative Commons Case Studies --- http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Case_Studies

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology ---

Bob Jensen's threads on Case Research and Writing ---

Fill Your New Kindle, iPad, iPhone with Free eBooks, Movies, Audio Books, Courses & More --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of Ebooks are at

Bob Jensen's threads on free electronic literature ---

Bob Jensen's threads on free courses, lectures, videos, and course materials from prestigious universities ---


'Foreign Enrollment Surges at (Top) U.S. B-Schools:  When the economic downturn hit, international enrollment at top business schools tanked. Today, it's back up to prerecession levels," by Alison Damast, Business Week, December 19, 2011 ---

Graduates Who Are Happy to Land Minimum Wage Careers
"Little-Known (usually unaccredited) Colleges Exploit Visa Loopholes to Make Millions Off Foreign Students," by Tom Bartlett, Karin Fischer, and Josh Keller, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 20, 2011 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on for-profit colleges working in the gray zone of fraud ---

Bob Jensen's threads on diploma mills ---

Tips for Training a Dog (and other useful information about man's best friend) --- http://dogtrainer.quickanddirtytips.com/

How to Lie/Mislead With Statistics:  Great Graphs on Correlation vs.Causes

"Correlation or Causation? Need to prove something you already believe? Statistics are easy: All you need are two graphs and a leading question," by Vali Chandrasekaran, Business Week, December 1, 2011 ---

Visualization of Multivariate Data (including faces) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/352wpvisual/000datavisualization.htm 

Facing Up to Ugly
"Forget PIN Numbers, Apple Wants to Let You Unlock Your iPhone With Your Face," by John Paul Titlow, ReadWriteWeb, December 29, 2011 ---

Compared to how things used to be done with desktop computers, accessing your smartphone seems as instantaneous as it gets. You just pick up the device, tap a button, slide a finger to the right, enter (or Swype) your passcode and you're in. The whole process takes about two seconds and requires virtually no physical energy on your part. Piece of cake.

As quick and painless as this seems, Apple wants to simplify things even further for owners of its iPhones, iPads and other iOS devices. Imagine walking up to your phone or tablet in its dock and seeing the screen light up with a greeting. You pick it up and pull it a few inches closer to your face, and voilà! the screen is unlocked and the digital universe is instantly at your finger tips.

This reality is not too far off, according to a patent filed recently by Apple. The company wants to build presence and facial recognition into its device so that users can simply approach and peer into a device in order to activate it. No more PIN numbers or button-pressing.

This is a feature already available on jailbroken iPhones, but one that works very slowly and can easily be hacked using a photograph.

Update: As some of our diligent commenters have pointed out, facial recognition unlock feature is also available in Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest version of Android. That implementation, however, has been shown to be easily fooled and Google has acknowledged that its not as secure as a traditional passcode.

The technology required to get this type of feature to work effectively is pretty sophisticated and, as Patently Apple describes it, "computationally expensive." The trade-off for using an alternative method is weaker security, which defeats the purpose.

In a somewhat jargon-loaded post, the Apple patent-watching blog describes how the company plans to overcome the challenges associated with implementing such technology. Their method would use a two-dimensional analysis of the placement of facial features as well as skin tone and check those details against "target images" previously captured by the device. This patent comes about a month after news of Apple's acquisition of a patent for advanced 3D object recognition, which could be used in a similar fashion.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
This technology might have a tremendous future in online and onsite academic integrity. Firstly, it might discourage students from hiring smart people to take entire courses for them. Secondly, it might discourage students from hiring smart people from taking examinations for them. Thirdly, it might discourage fraudulent students from being admitted to universities or to pretend they were admitted like the guy who keeps pretending he's a Harvard Student.

And it may have tremendous possibilities in crime prevention. For example, a pedophile with a long rap sheet might find it harder to get a job teaching in pre-school or K-12 schools.

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at

How can your students watch you dance across Excel cells?

While reading this I kept thinking of how an instructor might use this same technology to be immersed in an Excel spreadsheet or a MS Access database.

Seeing Green Video Trick: This Will Also Work for Still Photographs Edited in Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, or Other Picture Editing Software
"Hollywood-Style Tricks on the Cheap," by David Pogue, The New York Times, December 29, 2011 ---

A couple of weeks ago, my 12-year-old daughter sought my advice about a video she wanted to make. Her concept was so elaborate and involved so many scenes, I doubted it was even doable — unless she used a green screen and filmed the whole thing in the basement.

A green screen, of course, is the oldest trick in the movie-making book. You name the “how did they film that?” movie — “Mission Impossible,” “Avatar,” “The Matrix,” whatever — and I’ll show you scenes that they shot using the old-fashioned green screen technique.To make it work, you film your actor in front of a bright green background — either a green cloth or a painted wall. Then you import the video into the computer, and its software elves cleverly replace every pixel of green with a background you’ve selected, like a photograph or a video you shot at another place or time. If it is done properly, the audience never suspects that the actor was not, in fact, right there at the Eiffel Tower, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro or the moon.

The key word, though, is “properly.” Getting green screen shots to look right is fiendishly difficult. If the green dropcloth has wrinkles, if the actor casts a shadow on it, if the actor’s lighting doesn’t match the substituted video background, then the illusion is ruined. (Ever see the final scene of “The Hunt for Red October”? The green screen setup is so crude, it almost looks as if there are crayon lines around Sean Connery’s head.)

So as you can imagine, my success at using home green screen kits has been pretty mixed. Just hanging a green cloth usually doesn’t work very well. You have to light the green cloth perfectly evenly, which requires at least two lights on stands, to prevent shadows. Then you have to light the actor, which usually requires a third light. And if you want your actor to walk, you need a second green cloth on the ground (or you have to paint the floor).

After years of fiddling around with amateur kits, I decided to see what a pro green screen kit might cost. My daughter’s project needed one, and there have been many times over the years when I’ve wished I had one for my own video projects.

So I poked around on photo-video Web sites like bhphotovideo.com and adorama.com. As I figured, the pro kits, containing both screen and lights, cost $1,300 and up. (A 6-by-6 cloth with frame by itself costs $675.) But there, nestled among all the high-priced kits, I saw something that I thought must be a misprint: a complete green screen setup — 9-by-10-foot green screen, a second 5-by-7-foot cloth, two 500-watt lights with 20-inch “softboxes” (diffusing screens for even light), two collapsible seven-foot light stands, software to teach you green screen techniques and perform the actual actor extraction — for $250.

But the customer reviews were overwhelmingly glowing. All of them seemed shocked that a rig this good could cost so little.

So I ordered one.

It’s called the Westcott uLite Green Screen Lighting Kit. It comes in a surprisingly tiny box, but everything was compactly folded inside. In our basement, I hung the 9-by-10-foot screen by its grommets from a water pipe along the ceiling. The light stands were easy to set up, sturdy and extremely easy to position and adjust. With one on each side of the green screen, I had a huge, perfectly evenly lit, wrinkle-free background.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
A popular application of this green backdrop filming is in weather forecast videos where the broadcaster is not really standing in front of a weather map.

While reading this I kept thinking of how an instructor might use this same technology to be immersed in an Excel spreadsheet or a MS Access database.

Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---

Some Big Retail Chains Are Unhappy With 2011 Holiday Sales
"Sears, Kmart to shut 100-120 stores," CNN Money, December 27, 2011 ---

Sears Holdings on Tuesday reported a sharp drop in holiday sales compared to a year ago, and said the results will force it to close 100 to 120 Sears and Kmart stores.

The company said the stores to be closed have yet to be identified.

Sears Holdings said sales at stores open at least a year, a closely watched retail measure known as same-store sales, tumbled 5.2% in the eight weeks ended on Christmas Day. That came from a 4.4% drop in sales at Kmart stores and a 6% slide in sales at domestic Sears stores.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
I don't know of any Kmart in our vicinity. There are, however, somewhat limited Sears stores in Littleton (10 miles away) and St. Johnsbury, Vermont (30 miles away). I shop for almost all  appliances at Sears because I think Sears has the best and reasonably priced in-your-home service contracts. I hate service contracts that make you haul an item back to the store or haul it for miles to a service center. My neighbor has a huge Circuit City TV set that I recently helped him load into his car to take to a distant service center (not Sears). And the first time he brought it home it still didn't work. So I once again helped him load it up for a long trip.

For my items from Sears, either Sears repairs the item at my home or Sears hauls it to and from a Sears service center. Sears has had to come to my house 12 times to repair a snow thrower. All is better now after Sears engineers finally solved a fundamental engineering problem of having long chute cables that froze up in cold weather. At last Sears manufactured shorter cables that won't freeze up. Sears also came into our basement last month and put a new motor and belt on our walking machine. I sure would not want to have to hall that big thing to a service center. And the parts and labor were all free under our five-year service contract that cost much less than the new motor and belt. In addition Sears makes annual free visits to service and clean all our other Sears appliances (over ten items in our house).

This raises some accounting questions about how Sears should account for its repair and maintenance service contracts that our closest Sears dealer tells me is the main selling point of appliances in her Sears store.

"Banks Favor Companies with Women CFOs? A female finance chief may be an asset when pitching for bank loans, a new Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute study suggests," by Marielle Segarra, CFO.com, December 22, 2011 ---

GirlGeeks --- http://www.girlgeeks.org/ 

Who was the first woman to be admitted as an audit partner in a Big Eight accounting firm?

Indiana University's Photo Archives (over two million pictures) ---

Jensen Comment
I did a search on the term "Accounting." One hit was a 1936 photograph of an "accounting machine room" that in some respects resembles a computing lab room of modern times. I don't know why an "auto polo" site also showed up on the hit list for accounting. That photograph mentions Ernie Pyle, although I'm wasn't sure this is the famous Ernie Pyle. However, a check on Ernie Pyle showed at he was at Indiana University at that time ---

It was slightly more productive to search on the word "Business".

Here's a 1957 photograph of a computing machine in the school of business ---

Various photographs of Michele Fratianni (economics professor) show how men can truly disguise their appearances with glasses and a mustache. I wonder if the nose was attached to the glasses.

Cartoon:  Players may strut and players may fret but orators rave on forever ---

Here's a 1945 Careers for Women photograph ---
It would be interesting to investigate what female career opportunities were being promoted at the time by Indiana University. It was in some ways too early to suggest CPA firm careers. Most of the large CPA firms were not yet admitting women partners (at least not in any significant numbers), and women were not usually allowed to travel on audits and meet with clients. How times have changed now that CPA firms hire more women graduates than men in recent years.

In 1960 Mary Jo McCann became the first woman CPA in Kansas ---
Fifteen years later she became Chair of the Kansas State Board of Accountancy

In 1977 Cheryl Wilson became the first woman partner of any Big Eight firm in Chicago (Coopers & Lybrand) ---

In  the1960s Mary E. Lanigar, a Stanford University mathematics graduate and attorney and CPA, was the arguably first U.S. female to be made partner in any Big Eight firm (Arthur Young). She was a tax partner. In 1938 she'd worked as an accountant in the Stanford University Athletics Department.

In 1973 Marianne Burge became the first Price Waterhouse female partner. She was also a tax partner.

Ernst & Ernst acquired a woman partner in 1957, but I think she was inherited as a partner in a merger with a British accounting firm (Whinney, Murray, & Company) ---

It would be interesting to know when the first U.S. female audit partner was admitted in a Big Eight firm.
I suspect that Dale Flesher (Ole Miss. expert on accounting history) probably knows the answer to this one.

Bob Jensen's career helpers ---

"What the Hell Has Happened to College Sports?" Chronicle of Higher Education, December 11, 2011 ---

Flaunting the NCAA Academic Standards for Top Athletes
"Bad Apples or More?" by Doug Lederman, Inside Highe Ed, February 7, 2011 ---

"North Carolina Admits to Academic Fraud in Sports Program," Inside Higher Ed, September 20, 2011 ---

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special Admission Students in Varsity Athletics
Many universities fill the spots on their football squads through the use of “special admits,” a phrase that means that these students didn’t meet regular admissions requirements, according to an article and survey in The Indianapolis Star. While most colleges have provisions for special admits, which in theory are for truly special applicants, very few non-athletes benefit. For example, the Star noted that 76 percent of the freshman football class at Indiana University at Bloomington is made up of special admits. Among all freshmen last year, only 2 percent are special admits. Some universities rely even more on special admits for football, the survey found: the University of California at Berkeley (95 percent of freshmen football players, compared to 2 percent for the student body), Texas A&M University (94 percent vs. 8 percent), the University of Oklahoma (81 percent vs. 2 percent). While some universities didn’t report any special admits, the Star article quoted athletics officials who are dubious of these claims. Myles Brand, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, told the newspaper he was surprised by the extent of special admits, but said the issue was whether universities provide appropriate help for these students to succeed academically.
Inside Higher Ed, September 8, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/09/08/qt

"The Admissions Gap for Big-Time Athletes," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, December 29, 2008 ---

"Academic fraud runs rampant at major universities," by Mike Finger, San Antonio Express-News, September 2, 2003 --- http://news.mysanantonio.com/story.cfm?xla=saen&xlb=200&xlc=1058365&xld=200 

The first time a coed casually walked up to him, introduced herself and offered to do his homework, it would have been natural for Terrance Simmons to be taken aback.

When he learned that his basketball coach at Minnesota, Clem Haskins, was being forced out as a result of massive NCAA rules violations, Simmons understandably could have been shocked.

And when he read this spring about another seemingly endless string of new academic fraud cases — involving people who somehow didn't learn from the 1999 scandal that was supposed to be a national wake-up call — one might have expected Simmons to be a bit dismayed.

But he wasn't.

None of it surprised him.

Because the way Simmons sees it, he knew the kind of world he was getting into from the very beginning.

He remembers sitting in his family's living room in Louisiana as a prized high school recruit. He remembers college coaches — "and we're talking about coaches from major universities," he said — giving him all kinds of reasons to join their programs.

Most of all, he remembers many of those recruiters making it quite clear that scholastic integrity wasn't exactly their top priority.

"They didn't come right out and say I didn't have to go to class," Simmons said, "but it wasn't very hard to read between the lines."

Likewise, it doesn't take many code-breaking skills to figure out that academic fraud has become a scourge of epic proportions in major college athletics.

In the past four years alone, the NCAA has doled out punishment nine times for academic infractions, ranging from grade tampering to improper use of tutors. That number doesn't even include all of the schools involved in the latest outbreak.

In the span of just a few weeks at the end of last season, the men's basketball teams at Fresno State, Georgia and St. Bonaventure all removed themselves from postseason play amid reports of fraud.

Those scandals were followed by accusations of similar violations at Fairfield and Missouri. The possibility of academic infractions hasn't been ruled out at Baylor, where the basketball program is already under intense scrutiny after the alleged murder of a player, the ensuing cover-up and the resignation of coach Dave Bliss.

Simmons, who graduated from Minnesota with a degree in communications and economics and wasn't involved in the violations that occurred while he played for the Golden Gophers, thinks the frequency of reported similar transgressions will grow before it subsides.

Continued in the article

Academic Fraud and Friction at Florida State University
On Friday, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced that more than 60 athletes at the university had cheated in two online courses over a year and a half long period, one of the most serious cases of academic fraud in the NCAA's recent history. Yet just about all anyone seemed to be able to talk about -- especially Florida State fans in commenting on the case and news publications in reporting on it -- is how the NCAA's penalties (which include requiring Florida State to vacate an undetermined number of victories in which the cheating athletes competed) might undermine the legacy of the university's football coach, Bobby Bowden. Bowden has one fewer career victory than Pennsylvania State University's longtime coach, Joe Paterno, and if Florida State has to wipe out as many as 14 football wins from 2007 and 2008, it could end Bowden's chance of being the all-time winningest coach in big-time college football.
Inside Higher Ed, March 9, 2009 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/03/09/fsu

Compounding FSU's problem is an earlier cheating scandal
20 Florida State University Football Players Likely to Be Suspended in Cheated Scandal

"Source: Multiple suspensions likely for Music City Bowl, plus 3 games in 2008," by Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com, December 18, 2007 --- http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3159534

As many as 20 Florida State football players will be suspended from playing against Kentucky in the Dec. 31 Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, as well as the first three games of the 2008 season, for their roles in an alleged cheating scandal involving an Internet-based course, a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday morning.

Florida State officials are expected to announce the results of the investigation this week. The source said university officials determined Monday night the exact number of football players who will be suspended. Federal privacy laws prohibit the school from releasing names.

. . .

The investigation already has led to the resignations of two academic assistance employees who worked with FSU student-athletes. The school revealed in September that as many as 23 student-athletes were given answers before taking tests over the Internet.

Further investigations revealed additional student-athletes were involved in the cheating, according to the source.

"If the players fight the suspensions, they'll risk losing all of their eligibility," a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday morning.

The school's investigation found that a tutor gave students answers while they were taking tests and filled in answers on quizzes and typed papers for students.

Florida State president T.K. Wetherell, a former Seminoles football player, reported the initial findings in a letter to the NCAA in September.

Wetherell ordered an investigation by the university's Office of Audit Services in May after receiving information an athletics department tutor had directed one athlete to take an online quiz for another athlete and then provided the answers.

The tutor implicated in the audit told investigators he had been providing students with answers for the test since the fall of 2006, according to a university report.

Wisconsin was the last football program to suspend as many as 20 players. Days before the start of the 2000 regular season, 26 Badgers were given three- or one-game suspensions for getting unadvertised price breaks at a shoe store.

Florida State announced in October that athletics director Dave Hart Jr. will resign Dec. 31. Wetherell appointed State Rep. William "Bill" Proctor interim athletics director. Proctor also is a former FSU football player.

The school announced last week that longtime football coach Bobby Bowden had agreed to a one-year contract extension through the 2008 season that will pay him at least $1.98 million. Bowden, who is in his 32nd season at the school, is major college football's all-time winningest coach with 373 career victories.

Florida State also designated offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher as Bowden's eventual successor. Fisher's new contract calls for him to replace Bowden by the end of the 2010 season. If Fisher isn't named FSU's new coach by then, the school's booster organization would owe him $2.5 million. Under the terms of the new contract, Fisher would owe Seminoles boosters $2.5 million if he leaves the school before the end of the 2010 season.

The Seminoles struggled for the fourth consecutive season in 2007, finishing 7-5 overall, 4-4 in ACC play. It is the fourth consecutive season they failed to win 10 games, after winning at least 10 games in 14 consecutive seasons, from 1987 to 2000.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
It ended up being 25 players who were suspended --- http://www.palmbeachpost.com/sports/content/sports/epaper/2007/12/18/1218fsu.html
Florida State lost to Kentucky in the Music Bowl (35-28)

The Now Infamous Favored Professor by University of Michigan Athletes
A single University of Michigan professor taught 294 independent studies for students, 85 percent of them athletes, from the fall of 2004 to the fall of 2007, according to The Ann Arbor News. According to the report, which kicks off a series on Michigan athletics and was based on seven months of investigation, many athletes reported being steered to the professor, and said that they earned three or four credits for meeting with him as little as 15 minutes every two weeks. In addition, three former athletics department officials said that athletes were urged to take courses with the professor, John Hagen, to raise their averages. Transcripts examined by the newspaper showed that students earned significantly higher grades with Hagen than in their regular courses. The News reported that Hagen initially denied teaching a high percentage of athletes in his independent studies, but did not dispute the accuracy of documents the newspaper shared with him. He did deny being part of any effort to raise the averages of his students. The newspaper also said that Michigan’s president and athletics director had declined to be interviewed for the series.
Inside Higher Ed, March 17, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/03/17/qt

Has the University of Michigan blocked efforts to investigate its "independent study" athletics scandals?

In March, The Ann Arbor News ran a series of articles exploring allegations that many top athletes at the University of Michigan were encouraged to enroll in independent study courses with a professor who allegedly didn’t require much work for great grades. On Sunday, the newspaper started a new seriesarguing that the university has blocked efforts by professors to study issues related to athletes and academics. While university officials have said that they would provide information sought by faculty members, the series suggests otherwise.
Inside Higher Education, June 16, 2008 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/06/16/qt


"When Independent Study Raises Red Flags," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, March 18, 2008 ---


Bob Jensen's threads on athletics controversies in higher education ---

M.I.T. Camera Captures Speed of Light: A Trillion-Frames-Per-Second --- Click Here

Jensen Comment
Imagine being able to view the booked U.S. National Debt in 15 seconds.
And in less than two minutes scientists at MIT can view the entire unfunded U.S. OBSF debt.

A Failing Grade for Honor Codes Extended to Online Courses

"Far From Honorable," by Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, October 25, 2011 ---

Much of the urgency around creating a “sense of community” in online courses springs from a desire to keep online students from dropping out. But a recent paper suggests that strengthening a sense of social belonging among online students might help universities fight another problem: cheating.

In a series of experiments, researchers at Ohio University found that students in fully online psychology courses who signed an honor code promising not to cheat broke that pledge at a significantly higher rate than did students in a “blended” course that took place primarily in a classroom.

“The more distant students are, the more disconnected they feel, and the more likely it is that they’ll rationalize cheating,” Frank M. LoSchiavo, one of the authors, conjectured in an interview with Inside Higher Ed.

While acknowledging the limitations inherent to a study with such a narrow sample, and the fact that motivations are particularly hard to pin down when it comes to cheating, LoSchiavo and Mark A. Shatz, both psychology professors at Ohio University's Zanesville campus, said their findings may indicate that meeting face-to-face with peers and professors confers a stronger sense of accountability among students. “Honor codes,” LoSchiavo said, “are more effective when there are [strong] social connections.”

Honor codes are not, of course, the only method of deterring cheating in online courses. The proliferation of online programs has given rise to a cottage industry of remote proctoring technology, including one product that takes periodic fingerprint readings while monitoring a student’s test-taking environment with a 360-degree camera. (A 2010 survey by the Campus Computing Project suggests that a minority of institutions authenticate the identities of online students as a rule.)

But LoSchiavo said that he and Shatz were more interested in finding out whether honor codes held any sway online. If so, then online instructors might add pledges to their arsenal of anti-cheating tools, LoSchiavo said. If not, it provides yet an intriguing contribution to the discussion about student engagement and “perceived social distance” in the online environment.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at


"U. of Kansas Researcher Is Penalized for Plagiarism," Chronicle of Higher Education, December 23, 2011 ---

The U.S. Office of Research Integrity has found that a University of Kansas researcher, Gerald Lushington, engaged in research misconduct on projects supported by National Institutes of Health grant money. According to a notice published in today’s Federal Register, Mr. Lushington, who is director of a bioinformatics center at Kansas and is director of its Molecular Graphics and Modeling Lab, approved “publication of three articles and one abstract he knew contained significant amounts of plagiarized text without attribution or citation from other writers’ published papers.” The notice says Mr. Lushington has agreed to undergo supervision of his research supported by the Public Health Service and to exclude himself from serving as an adviser to the service, among other things.

Bob Jensen's threads on professors who cheat ---

"Medical Diagnostic Test Taken Down By Copyright Claim," by Alex Knapp, Forbes, December 31, 2011 ---
Thank you Robert Harris for the heads up.

For twenty five years, doctors and psychologists made use, free of charge, of the of the Mini–Mental State Examination, a 30 item list of questions used to cognitively screen patients for different mental tasks. It was used in textbooks, in medical schools, and a number of other applications. That’s because it was incredibly useful for doctors to use in order to diagnose certain ailments, even without specialized training.

In 2000, however, the authors of the MMSE started to enforce their copyright – for the first time since its inital publication in 1975. They granted a license to the company Psychological Assessment Resources, which now charges for use of the MMSE. As a result, the MMSE is now being used in fewer and fewer textbooks and other applications.

In response to the loss of a useful diagnostic tool, a group of researchers from Harvard developed the “Sweet 16″ in March of 2011. The Sweet 16 is comprised of 16 questions, used for the same cognitive screening tasks as the MMSE. Not only that, it performed as well or better than the MMSE, and the researchers made it freely available to anyone who wanted it.

. . .

There is also, I think, a serious legal question as to whether PAR can copyright the MMSE form in the first place – much less suggest that the Sweet 16 is infringing. James Grimmelmann, an associate professor at the New York Law School, has a long analysis in which he suggests that the MMSE form is uncopyrightable. Here’s a snippet.

In the first place, copyright is not available for any “procedure” or “process.” Administering the MMSE is carrying out a process. It cannot be copyrighted, any more than a new drug could be. That’s what patents are for, not copyright. [...]

What about the forms? You might object that PAR isn’t trying to stop doctors from using the MMSE, only to stop others from selling the forms that go with it. Well, it turns out the Supreme Court rejected that argument, too. In Baker v. Selden, the defendant was selling a book of blank forms to be used with the plaintiff’s accounting system. The Court held that this, too, was permissible. Yes, the Court said, the plaintiff could copyright his book explaining the system of accounting, but that copyright would not extend to the forms themselves.

The bottom line, according to Grimmelmann, is that the authors of the Sweet 16 pretty much “did everything right” by ensuring that the expressive portions of their test were different. And where those questions are similar to the MMSE, they’re not copyrightable. Nor, for that matter, are the forms used to administer the Sweet 16. Now, if the authors of the Sweet 16 were to copy portions of, say, a diagnostic manual explain the best way to administer the test, that probably (and rightly) would be a violation of copyright.

This is going to be an interesting story to watch over the coming months, both regarding the copyright of the MMSE and possibly enforcement of copyright of other clinical tests. Personally, I agree with Grimmelmann that the authors of the MMSE should terminate their license and release the MMSE into the public domain. I also agree with Newman and Feldman that clinicians should release any future diagnostic tests into the public domain or, at the very lease, should adopt “copyleft” techniques such as Creative Commons use to ensure that enforcement of copyright doesn’t put patients at risk.

Bob Jensen's threads on the dreaded DMCA are at

"Automatic File Conversions and More with Dropbox Automator," by Joe Brockmeier, ReadWriteWeb, December 31, 2011 ---

Computers keep getting closer and closer to making people obsolete. The latest step towards human obsolescence? Dropbox Automator, a Web-based tool for setting up actions that happen as soon as you put a file in a Dropbox folder. It’s not flawless just yet, but it might provide a useful service for many Dropbox users.

The service is powered by Wappwolf, an online “action storethat features a set of Web actions that can process files. For example, it has ready made actions to encrypt and decrypt files, extract text from PDFs, convert documents to PDF, generate QR codes and manipulate images.

Zoho CRM offers a complete customer life cycle management service online. Zoho CRM helps you manage your Sales, Marketing & Customer Interactions online. Automation, customization, integration, and collaboration allow you to grow your business and have a 360-degree view of your business. Get Started with 3 Users Free!

Archiving and Long-Term Storage ---

"Professors Cede Grading Power to Outsiders—Even Computers:  One college gives the job to software, while another employs independent 'evaluators'," by Jeffrey Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 7, 2011 ---

The best way to eliminate grade inflation is to take professors out of the grading process: Replace them with professional evaluators who never meet the students, and who don't worry that students will punish harsh grades with poor reviews. That's the argument made by leaders of Western Governors University, which has hired 300 adjunct professors who do nothing but grade student work.

"They think like assessors, not professors," says Diane Johnson, who is in charge of the university's cadre of graders. "The evaluators have no contact with the students at all. They don't know them. They don't know what color they are, what they look like, or where they live. Because of that, there is no temptation to skew results in any way other than to judge the students' work."

Western Governors is not the only institution reassessing grading. A few others, including the University of Central Florida, now outsource the scoring of some essay tests to computers. Their software can grade essays thanks to improvements in artificial-intelligence techniques. Software has no emotional biases, either, and one Florida instructor says machines have proved more fair and balanced in grading than humans have.

These efforts raise the question: What if professors aren't that good at grading? What if the model of giving instructors full control over grades is fundamentally flawed? As more observers call for evidence of college value in an era of ever-rising tuition costs, game-changing models like these are getting serious consideration.

Professors do score poorly when it comes to fair grading, according to a study published in July in the journal Teachers College Record. After crunching the numbers on decades' worth of grade reports from about 135 colleges, the researchers found that average grades have risen for 30 years, and that A is now the most common grade given at most colleges. The authors, Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy, argue that a "consumer-based approach" to higher education has created subtle incentives for professors to give higher marks than deserved. "The standard practice of allowing professors free rein in grading has resulted in grades that bear little relation to actual performance," the two professors concluded.

Naturally, the standard grading model has plenty of defenders, including some who argue that claims of grade inflation are exaggerated—students could, after all, really be earning those higher grades. The current system forges a nurturing relationship between instructor and student and gives individualized attention that no robot or stranger could give, this argument goes.

But the efforts at Western Governors and Central Florida could change that relationship, and point to ways to pop any grade-inflation bubble.

An Army of Graders

To understand Western Governors' approach, it's worth a reminder that the entire institution is an experiment that turns the typical university structure on its head. Western Governors is entirely online, for one thing. Technically it doesn't offer courses; instead it provides mentors who help students prepare for a series of high-stakes homework assignments. Those assignments are designed by a team of professional test-makers to prove competence in various subject areas.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
If grading is taken out of the hands of a teacher, one problem is that teacher loses a big carrot/stick in motivating students to learn. There's greater pressure from all sides that forces teachers to teach to the tests and other aspects of the grading process that our out of her/his control.

For example, I motivated students to prepare for class by giving a quiz every day. The quizzes motivated students because they were factored rather heavily into final grades. If my quizzes no longer factored into final grades, my students would have reduced incentives to prepare for each and every class. They're more apt to wait until the last minute to cram for the examinations that are not graded by me.

Be that as it may, I favor competency-based grading in this era of grade inflation where teachers shivering in fear of student evaluations make courses easier and easier ---

Bob Jensen's threads on competency-based assessment ---

Bob Jensen's threads on computer-based assessment ---

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment in general ---

"In Washington, Large Rewards in Teacher Pay," by Sam Dillon, The New York Times, December 31, 2011 ---

. . .

Many districts have tried over the last decade to experiment with performance pay systems but have frequently been thwarted by powerful teachers’ unions that negotiated the traditional pay structures. Those that have implemented merit pay have generally offered bonuses of a few thousand dollars, often as an incentive to work in hard-to-staff schools or to work extra hours to improve students’ scores. Several respected studies have found that such payments have scant effect on student achievement; since most good teachers already work hard, before and after class, there are limits to how much more can be coaxed out of them with financial incentives.

But Washington is the leader among a handful of large cities that are seeking a more fundamental overhaul of teacher pay. Alongside the aggressive new evaluation system that has made the city famous for firing poor-performing teachers — more than 400 over the past two years — is a bonus-and-raise structure aimed at luring talented people to the profession and persuading the most effective to stick with it.

“The most important role for incentives is in shaping who enters the teaching profession and who stays,” said Eric A. Hanushek, a professor of economics at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. “Washington’s incentive system will attract talented teachers, and it’ll help keep the best ones.”

Under the system, known as Impact Plus, teachers rated “highly effective” earn bonuses ranging from $2,400 to $25,000. Teachers who get that rating two years in a row are eligible for a large permanent pay increase to make their salary equivalent to that of a colleague with five more years of experience and a more advanced degree.

Those rewards come with risk: to receive the bonuses and raises, teachers must sign away some job security provisions outlined in their union contract. About 20 percent of the teachers eligible for the raises this year and 30 percent of those eligible for bonuses turned them down rather than give up those protections.

One persistent critic of the system is Nathan Saunders, president of the Washington Teachers Union, who argues that the evaluations do not adequately take into account the difficulties of working in poor neighborhoods. He also says that performance pay inappropriately singles out stars.

“This boutique program discourages teachers from working together,” Mr. Saunders said.

Several other big-city school systems have recently tried to break out of the mold of paying all teachers according to a single salary schedule.

In 2007, Denver enacted a merit pay system, which President Obama has praised but experts see as flawed. It gives larger monetary awards to teachers who earn advanced degrees than to those who significantly improve student achievement, though there is little evidence that students learn more when taught by teachers with advanced degrees.

Continued in article

Wow:  97% of Elementary NYC Public Students Get A or B Grades --- There must be higher IQ in the water!
"City Schools May Get Fewer A’s," by Jennifer Medina, The New York Times, January 28, 2010 ---

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, criticized the decision to reduce the number of schools that receive top grades.

Continued in article

"Culture of cheating breeding in schools across U.S. Poor test scores risk teachers’ jobs," by Ben Wolfgang, The Washington Times, July 14, 2011 ---

Those sneaky students in the back of the classroom aren't the only cheaters.

Teachers and school leaders are getting in on the scams by boosting test scores not through better instruction, but by erasing wrong answers, replacing them with the right ones and hoodwinking parents in the process.

Nowhere was the corruption more widespread than in Atlanta, where a recent probe found that 44 schools and 178 teachers and principals had been falsifying student test scores for the past decade. Suspected cheating also is under review in the District, and the Department of Education's inspector general is assisting with the investigation.

In Pennsylvania, reports that surfaced this week show suspected cheating in at least three dozen school districts. State Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis on Thursday ordered those districts to investigate the suspicious scores and report back within 30 days. He also asked a data company to analyze 2010 scores, according to the Associated Press.

Similar charges of cheating have been discovered in Baltimore, Houston and elsewhere.

Although the details differ, education specialists think each scandal has a common denominator.

"There's a very simple cause: consequences," said Gregory Cizek, a professor of educational measurement and evaluation in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Any district where you've got kids who are at risk of not succeeding ... there are problems as big as Atlanta, as big as D.C., as big as Philadelphia. The more stakes there are involved, the more you're going to see it."

The Atlanta probe found that "cheating occurred as early as 2001," the year the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted. Mr. Cizek and others argue that the greater accountability schools face, the more likely that teachers and administrators are to, at best, turn a blind eye to cheating. At worst, they encourage it.

Former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall was named superintendent of the year by the American Association of School Administrators in 2009. She retired last month and told USA Today on Wednesday that she "did not know about the cheating."

Under No Child Left Behind guidelines, schools can be labeled "failing" if student test scores don't meet state benchmarks. Poor results are embarrassing for teachers and often cost principals, superintendents and school board members their jobs. By contrast, high scores on reading and math tests equal praise for those in charge.

In the face of such pressure, teachers and administrators sometimes go with their "natural reaction," said Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

"The teachers and principals who changed test scores did something unethical and probably illegal, [but they were] caught between a rock and a hard place," he said. "We've created a climate that corrupted the educational process. The sole goal of education ... became boosting scores by any means necessary."

The Education Department has estimated that more than 80 percent of schools could be labeled as "failing" this year under No Child Left Behind, and congressional leaders are working on overhauling the law.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has passed the first three pieces of its five-step reform process, and Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican and committee chairman, has said the final legislation will change the accountability process and free schools from the testing mandates.

"One of our primary goals is to put more control in the hands of state and local education officials who can properly monitor and address situations like this to ensure students are not being cheated out of a quality education," Mr. Kline said.

Investigations of suspected violations often move slowly.

Until recently, education officials in Pennsylvania apparently were unaware of a 2009 analysis of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment that identified "testing irregularities" at schools in Philadelphia, Hazleton, Lancaster and elsewhere. Former Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak, who served under Gov. Edward G. Rendell, has denied seeing the 44-page document, the Associated Press reported.

Continued in article

"Who Will Be Held Responsible in the Atlanta Public School Cheating Scandal?" by Lori Drummer, Townhall, July 19, 2011 ---

"Georgia lawmaker wants cheating educators to return bonuses,"  WRDW TV, July 19, 2011 ---


Bob Jensen's threads about controversies in education ---


"The Syllabus and a 21st Century Education," by Rey Rosales, Educause, 2011 --- Click Here
Thank you Barry Rice for the heads up

The form and content of a syllabus offer important clues about the course instructor and the teaching style to expect in the course, giving students a preview of what to expect. Nowadays, all course syllabi should indicate the huge range of resources available online and convert the content to be covered in the course into a high-tech learning system that provides a roadmap for students. Taking the time to draw up such a syllabus can enhance learning outcomes in many ways, from encouraging greater collaborative learning opportunities to DIY learning.

Continued in article

The problem is when the model created to represent reality takes on a life of its own completely detached from the reality that it is supposed to model that nonsense can easily ensue.

Was it Mark Twain who wrote: "The criterion of understanding is a simple explanation."?
As quoted by Martin Weiss in a comment to the article below.

But a lie gets halfway around the world while the truth is still tying its shoes
Mark Twain as quoted by PKB (in Mankato, MN) in a comment to the article below.

"US Net Investment Income," by Paul Krugman, The New York Times, December 31, 2011 ---

December 31, 2011 Comment by Wendell Murray

Mathematics, like word-oriented languages, uses symbols to represent concepts, so it is essentially the same as word-oriented languages that everyone is comfortable with.

Because mathematics is much more precise and in most ways much simpler than word-oriented languages, it is useful for modeling (abstraction from) of the messiness of the real world.

The problem, as Prof. Krugman notes, is when the model created to represent reality takes on a life of its own completely detached from the reality that it is supposed to model that nonsense can easily ensue.

This is what has happened in the absurd conclusions often reached by those who blindly believe in the infallibility of hypotheses such as the rational expectations theory or even worse the completely peripheral concept of so-called Ricardian equivalence. These abstractions from reality have value only to the extent that they capture the key features of reality. Otherwise they are worse than useless.

I think some academics and/or knowledgeless distorters of academic theories in fact just like to use terms such as "Ricardian equivalence theorem" because that term, for example, sounds so esoteric whereas the theorem itself is not much of anything

Ricardian Equivalence --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardian_equivalence

Jensen Comment
One of the saddest flaws of accountics science archival studies is the repeated acceptance of the CAPM mathematics allowing the CAPM to "represent reality on a life of its own" when in fact the CAPM is a seriously flawed representation of investing reality ---

At the same time one of the things I dislike about the exceedingly left-wing biased, albeit brilliant, Paul Krugman is his playing down of trillion dollar deficit spending and his flippant lack of concern about $80 trillion in unfunded entitlements. He just turns a blind eye toward risks of Zimbabwe-like inflation. As noted below, he has a Nobel Prize in Economics but "doesn't command respect in the profession". Put another way, he's more of a liberal preacher than an economics teacher.

Paul Krugman --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Krugman

Economics and policy recommendations

Economist and former United States Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers has stated Krugman has a tendency to favor more extreme policy recommendations because "it’s much more interesting than agreement when you’re involved in commenting on rather than making policy."

According to Harvard professor of economics Robert Barro, Krugman "has never done any work in Keynesian macroeconomics" and makes arguments that are politically convenient for him.Nobel laureate Edward Prescott has charged that Krugman "doesn't command respect in the profession", as "no respectable macroeconomist" believes that economic stimulus works, though the number of economists who support such stimulus is "probably a majority".

Bob Jensen's critique of analytical models in accountics science (Plato's Cave) can be found at


The Seven Deadly Sins of Student Writers
"The Elements of Clunk," by Ben Yagoda, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 2, 2012 ---

Four years ago, I wrote an essay for The Chronicle Review cataloging "The Seven Deadly Sins of Student Writers"—the errors and infelicities that cropped up most frequently in my students' work. Since then a whole new strain of bad writing has come to the fore, not only in student work but also on the Internet, that unparalleled source for assessing the state of the language.


For our one year anniversary, my girlfriend and myself are going to a Yankees game, with whomever amongst our friends can go. But, the Weather Channel just changed their forecast and the skies are grey, so we might go with the girl that lives next door to see the movie, "Iron Man 2".

Those two hypothetical sentences contain 11 instances of this new type of "mistake" (I put the word in quotes to include usages that would almost universally be deemed errors, ones that merely diverge from standard practice, and outposts in between). They are as follows:

1. There should be no comma after "But."

2. The period after "Iron Man 2" should be inside the quotation marks around the title (which would be italicized in most publications, including The Chronicle).

3. No comma is needed after "movie."

4. "Its," not "their," is needed with "Weather Channel."

5. "Whomever" should be "whoever."

6. "Myself" should be "I."

7. "Girl that" should be "girl who"

8. "Gray" is the correct spelling, not "grey."

9. "Amongst" should be "among."

10. "One year anniversary" should be written as "one-year anniversary," but, really, "first anniversary."

11. It's a "Yankee," not "Yankees," game.

Are you surprised by the absence of smiley faces, LOL-type abbreviations, and slang terms like "diss" or "phat"? A reading of the typical lament about student writing would lead you to think all are rampant. However, I have yet to encounter a single example in all my years of grading. Students realize that this kind of thing is in the wrong register for a college assignment (even an assignment for my classes, which for the most part cover journalism, broadly defined—that is, writing for publication in newspapers and magazines, in print or online). Maybe students are being too careful. Slang can streamline or lend poetry to language, or both. The new errors and changes, on the other hand, make it longer and more prosaic. They give a new sound to prose. I call it clunk.

The leadoff hitters are Nos. 1 to 3; punctuation is a train wreck among my students. I have no doubt as to the root of the problem: Students haven't spent much time reading. Punctuation, including the use of apostrophes and hyphens, is governed by a fairly complicated series of rules and conventions, learned for the most part not in the classroom but by encountering and subliminally absorbing them again and again. Students have a lot of conversations and texting sessions, but that's no help. You need to read a lot of edited and published prose.

Unfamiliarity with written English has brought about the other mistakes and changes as well. They may not appear at first to have much in common, but note: All except Nos. 2 and 8 lengthen the sentence they're in. This is the opposite of the way language usually changes. "God be with you" becomes "goodbye"; "base ball" becomes "base-ball" and then "baseball"; "disrespect" becomes "diss." Two hundred years ago, Jane Austen wrote, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." A copy editor today would cut both commas.

Standard written English is a whole other language from its spoken (and texted) counterpart, with conventions not just of punctuation but also of many shortcuts to meaning—streamlined words and phrases, ellipses (omitted word or words), idioms, figures of speech—that have developed over many years. You learn them by reading. And if you haven't read much, when you set pen to paper yourself, you take things more slowly and apply a literal-minded logic, as you would in finding your way through a dark house.

Thus, in No. 1, it seems natural to place a comma after "But" because in speaking you would pause there. (So natural that commas after "But," "And," or "Yet" at the start of a sentence now show up frequently in Associated Press dispatches and The New York Times, as well as in blogs and other writing on the Web.) And in No. 2, it makes sense to put a period after the title Iron Man 2—after all, a film title is a unit. But in both cases the rules, animated by a general urge to make writing smooth and efficient, allow us and in fact compel us to punctuate in an illogical and counterintuitive way.

The question in No. 3, of whether to put a comma after the word "movie," relates to the famously difficult issue of defining or nondefining clauses and phrases—the whole "that/which" thing. It's a slam dunk that students would be clueless here. What I want to point out is that they're much more likely to err by putting a comma in than by taking one out. In other words, every day I see mistakes like "the movie, Iron Man 2" or "my friend, Steve." But rarely do I encounter something along the lines of "We live in the richest country in the world the United States."

As for No. 4, every student of mine who is not the child of a high-school English teacher uses the third-person plural pronoun ("they," "them," "their") to refer to companies, organizations, and rock bands with nonplural names, such as the Clash and Arcade Fire. That is eminently reasonable, given that these outfits consist of multiple individuals, and in fact the plural pronoun is standard in Britain. However, we live in the United States, where it is not.

(Even English teachers' children use "they" for the epicene pronoun—that is, to stand for a person of indeterminate sex. Thus, "Everyone who wants to come on the trip should bring their passport." In that sentence, "their" is so much better a choice than "his or her," "her or his," or "her/his" that it will almost certainly become standard in written English in the next 10 years.)

Continued in article

Jensen Common
Along with a lot of other bloggers I admit to a lot of grammar mistakes in email messages. The biggest problem for me is that after 40+ years as a professor I know most of the rules of writing (like knowing not to split infinitives), but there's a tendency among those of us who write a lot of email messages to type phonetically and fail to proof read because we're in a hurry.

I also admit over the years to be much more tolerant of grammatical errors of other professors and most friends who send me email messages, because we wear the same shoes. More importantly, it's not my responsibility to correct their grammar. Occasionally when I quote them on my Website I correct some grammar errors that I know would embarrass them.

On the other hand, I've never been tolerant of grammatical errors of my students. This is because it's my responsibility to correct their grammar --- at least while they're still my students. After they graduate they become my friends and not my students.

I'm never tolerant of bad grammar when I'm an assigned referee on a research paper. That's because it's my  responsibility to at least point out some of the grammatical errors, although it's not my responsibility to rewrite the submitted paper.

An Old One Forwarded by Auntie Bev

You think English is easy? It took a lot of work to put this together.

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig..

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick' ?

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this...

I have read this about 'up' before.

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP.'

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wakeUP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?

Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends.

And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning.

People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.

In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.

It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.

When the sun comes out we say it is clearingUP. When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP,

for now my time is UP,

so........it is time to shut UP!

Now it's UP to you what you do with this email.



"Highest Paid Private College Presidents, 2009," Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2011 ---

Highest Paid Private College Presidents, 2009 President Total compensation 1-year change

1. Constantine N. Papadakis Drexel University (1995–2009) Full profile → $4,912,127 +202%

2. William R. Brody Johns Hopkins University (1996–2009) Full profile → $3,821,886  +349%

3. Donald V. DeRosa University of the Pacific (1995–2009) Full profile → $2,357,540  +118%

4. Henry S. Bienen Northwestern University (1995–2009) Full profile → $2,240,775  +78%

5. Nicholas S. Zeppos Vanderbilt University (2007–Present) Full profile → $1,890,274  –21%

6. Charles H. Polk Mountain State University (1990–Present) Full profile → $1,843,746  NA

7. Shirley Ann Jackson Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1999–Present) Full profile → $1,771,877  +7%

8. Alfred H. Bloom Swarthmore College (1991–2009) Full profile → $1,756,293  +128%

9. Richard C. Levin Yale University (1993–Present) Full profile → $1,627,649  +6%

10. James L. Doti Chapman University (1991–Present) Full profile → $1,542,270  +23%

Table of all salaries in this survey → http://chronicle.com/article/Salary-Table/129982/ 


"If Car Companies Were Run Like Tech Companies …," by David Pogue, The New York Times, December 22, 2011 ---

Jensen Comment
This item focuses upon R&D in the automotive industry and failed models that vanished from the scene. David Pogue is one of my favorite tech authors.

In an indirect way the above article may be of interest to financial accountants in the area of R&D accounting differences between the international (IASB) versus domestic (FASB) standards. Both standard setting bodies require expensing of research outlays due to uncertainties about valuation on the balance sheet. The FASB, however, requires expensing of development costs that the IASB is more inclined to want capitalized as assets. The above article illustrates how difficult it can be to carry development costs as assets.

Especially note the comments that follow this article. One of the main problems with vehicles is that there are so many components. Hence, predicting the future of a new vehicle model is like predicting the future of a "portfolio" of components having different futures and risks. This makes R&D accounting for "portfolios" much more complicated than R&D accounting for many other products such as new drugs, new cat food, and even new laptop computers. But it's less complicated than accounting for more complicated "portfolios" of components in new aircraft, submarines, nuclear power plants, and space ships.

Is a MIT online certificate worth more than most any comparable course grade from a North American college or university?

"Will MITx Disrupt Higher Education?" by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 20, 2011 ---

MIT has been doing online access to education a lot longer than most people, largely due to their invaluable OpenCourseWare project. (Here’s an interview MIT did with me last year on how OCW strongly influenced my inverted-classroom MATLAB course.) Now they are poised to go to the next level by launching an online system called MITx in Spring 2012 that provides credentialing as well as content:

Mr. Reif and Anant Agarwal, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, said M.I.T.x would start this spring — perhaps with just one course — but would expand to include many more courses, as OpenCourseWare has done. [...]

The M.I.T.x classes, he said, will have online discussions and forums where students can ask questions and, often, have them answered by others in the class.

While access to the software will be free, there will most likely be an “affordable” charge, not yet determined, for a credential.

“I think for someone to feel they’re earning something, they ought to pay something, but the point is to make it extremely affordable,” Mr. Reif said. “The most important thing is that it’ll be a certificate that will clearly state that a body sanctioned by M.I.T. says you have gained mastery.”

The official FAQ reveals a couple of additional points. First, the content of MITx courses will be free — which seems to imply that MITx course content will be different than OCW course content, and not just a certification layer on top of existing resources — and you’ll only pay money for the certificate. Second, there will be no admissions process. If you want a course, you just take it and then pay for the credentialing if you feel like you’re up to it.

I think this last point about having no admissions process may be the most significant piece of MITx. It seems to represent a complete shift from the traditional way of providing access to higher education. As far as I can tell, there will not even be a system of checking prerequisites for MITx courses. If that’s so, then if you feel you can step into, say, an Algorithms class and keep up with the material and demonstrate your mastery, then nobody at MIT will care if you haven’t had the right courses in basic programming, data structures, discrete math, or whatever. MIT is basically saying, we won’t be picky about who we let take these courses — if you can afford it and live up to our standards, we’re happy to credential you.

Of course there are a lot of questions about MITx that are yet to be answered. What is the “modest fee” they plan to charge, and is it really affordable? How exactly will the credentialing process work? (It’s interesting that the certification will be handled by a non-profit organization to be formed within MIT. Is this a kind of outsourcing of grading?) How will one “demonstrate mastery” and what will MITx define as “mastery” in courses that are not strictly skills-based? Will there eventually be a full enough slate of courses offered to make the whole system compelling for learners? And perhaps most importantly, what will employers, graduate schools, and even undergraduate institutions make of applicants who come in with some of these MITx certifications? Without external buy-in, MITx will likely be just another continuing education program like hundreds of others.

We’ll hear a lot more about this in the future, but for now this seems to have the potential to be genuinely disruptive in higher education. What do you think?

"MIT Expands 'Open' Courses, Adds Completion Certificates," Inside Higher Ed, December 19, 2011 ---

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- which pioneered the idea of making course materials free online -- today announced a major expansion of the idea, with the creation of MITx, which will provide for interaction among students, assessment and the awarding of certificates of completion to students who have no connection to MIT.

MIT is also starting a major initiative -- led by Provost L. Rafael Reif -- to study online teaching and learning.

The first course through MITx is expected this spring. While the institute will not charge for the courses, it will charge what it calls "a modest fee" for the assessment that would lead to a credential. The credential will be awarded by MITx and will not constitute MIT credit. The university also plans to continue MIT OpenCourseWare, the program through which it makes course materials available online.

An FAQ from MIT offers more details on the new program.

While MIT has been widely praised for OpenCourseWare, much of the attention in the last year from the "open" educational movement has shifted to programs like the Khan Academy (through which there is direct instruction provided, if not yet assessment) and an initiative at Stanford University that makes courses available -- courses for which some German universities are providing academic credit. The new initiative would appear to provide some of the features (instruction such as offered by Khan, and certification that some are creating for the Stanford courses) that have been lacking in OpenCourseWare.


Bob Jensen's threads on open source video and course materials from prestigious universities ---

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology in general ---


Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---

Bob Jensen's threads on online training and education alternatives ---

Distance Education.org is a Great Helper Site
Ben Pheiffer in San Antonio forwarded this link to a terrific listing (with pricing estimates) of online training and education degree programs and courses from respectable universities --- http://www.distance-education.org/Courses/
Both graduate and undergraduate degree programs are listed as well as training courses (some free).

Free online tutorials in various disciplines --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm/#Tutorials

Education & Learning: Asia Society --- http://www.asiasociety.org/education-learning

Latino Distance Education
American RadioWorks: Rising by Degrees [iTunes] http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/latino_college/index.html

The Master List of Free Online College Courses --- http://universitiesandcolleges.org/


Phony Education and Training Search Sites

These phony education search programs sponsored by for-profit universities are getting a bit more sophisticated by salting a very few not-for-profit programs to make you think they are legitimate education and training search programs. But in reality they are still phony for-profit university search sites.

For example, I read in my old zip code 78212 into the search site http://lpntobsnonline.org/ 

Sure enough, up pops the University of Phoenix and other for-profit university alternatives. No mention is made of San Antonio's massive University of Texas Health Science Nursing Alternative and other non-for-profit nursing education alternatives in the area.

Boo/poo on this http://lpntobsnonline.org/  site!

For-profit universities provide some free Website services in an effort to lure people into signing up for for-profit programs without ever mentioning that in most instances the students would be better off in more prestigious non-profit universities such as state-supported universities with great online programs and extension services.

I'm bombarded with messages like the following one from ---

Then go to the orange box at http://www.paralegal.net/more/ 
If you feed in the data that you're interested in a bachelor's degree in business with an accounting concentration, the only choices given are for-profit universities. No mention is made of better programs at the Universities of Wisconsin, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, etc.

I've stopped linking to the many for-profit university promotional sites because they are so misleading.
My threads on distance education alternatives are at

"The corporations that occupy Congress," by David Coy Johnston, Reuters, December 20, 2011 ---

Some of the biggest companies in the United States have been firing workers and in some cases lobbying for rules that depress wages at the very time that jobs are needed, pay is low, and the federal budget suffers from a lack of revenue.

Last month Citizens for Tax Justice and an affiliate issued “Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers 2008-10″. It showed that 30 brand-name companies paid a federal income tax rate of minus 6.7 percent on $160 billion of profit from 2008 through 2010 compared to a going corporate tax rate of 35 percent. All but one of those 30 companies reported lobbying expenses in Washington.

Another report, by Public Campaign, shows that 29 of those companies spent nearly half a billion dollars over those three years lobbying in Washington for laws and rules that favor their interests. Only Atmos Energy, the 30th company, reported no lobbying.

Public Campaign replaced Atmos with Federal Express, the package delivery company that paid a smidgen of tax — $37 million, or less than one percent of the $4.2 billion in profit it reported in 2008 through 2010.

For the amount spent lobbying, the companies could have hired 3,100 people at $50,000 for wages and benefits to do productive work.

The report – “For Hire: Lobbyists or the 99 percent” – says that while shedding jobs, the 30 companies are “spending millions of dollars on Washington lobbyists to stave off higher taxes or regulations.”

These and other companies have access to lawmakers and regulators that are unavailable to ordinary Americans.


Doubt that? Dial the Capitol switchboard at 1 (202) 224-3121, ask for your representative’s office and request a five-minute audience, in person, at the lawmaker’s convenience back in the home district.

In more than a decade of lectures recommending this, I have yet to have a single person email me (see address to the right) about having scored a private meeting with the representative called.

Corporations have vast resources to pour into ensuring access — resources that expand when little or no taxes are paid on profits thanks to rules they previously lobbied into law.

Companies form nonprofit trade associations, hire former lawmakers and agency staffers, and have jobs to dole out to lawmakers after they leave office and to friends and family while they’re in office. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, corporations can now pour unlimited sums into influencing elections. So can unions, but they are financial pipsqueaks compared to companies.

Then there are political action committees, or PACs, to finance campaigns as well as donations by executives and major shareholders.

Combine all this and you have a powerful formula for making rules that favor corporate interests over human interests, something that the framers of the U.S. Constitution understood more than two centuries ago.

James Madison wrote disapprovingly in 1792 of “a government operating by corrupt influence, substituting the motive of private interest in place of public duty” where eventually “the terror of the sword, may support a real domination of the few, under an apparent liberty of the many.”


The late U.S. president’s fears have come to life. For swords, just substitute police with rubber bullets, batons and pepper spray at Occupy demonstrations, including perfectly peaceful ones.

Company reports to shareholders show that among the 30 companies in the Public Campaign report, the 10 firms that spent the most on lobbying during the same three-year period fired more than 93,000 American workers.

Those firings took place in an economy that had five million fewer people with any work in 2010 than in 2008.

Continued in article


Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at

Feminism --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism

Third Wave Feminism
Gender, Sexualities and Law
Edited by Jackie Jones, Anna Grear, Rachel Anne Fenton, Kim Stevenson
Routledge, 2011

"Third-Wave Feminism, Motherhood and the Future of Legal Theory," by Bridget J. Crawford, SSRN, 2011 ---

Using motherhood as a lens, this book chapter argues that third-wave feminism needs law and law needs third-wave feminism. Twenty years ago, young women in the United States boldly proclaimed the onset of feminism’s “third wave.” Third-wave feminists embraced the “fun,” “sexy,” and “girly,” rejecting the (supposedly) strident, humorless feminism of the 1970s and 1980s, while also taking up the feminist mantle. The third-wave feminist agenda makes several claims about the law, and yet it has had little or no impact on feminist legal theory. This is because third-wave feminist writing fails to grapple with gender equality or law writ large. Far from improving on the feminism of the past, third-wave feminists retreat -- to women’s detriment -- from their predecessors’ theoretical and methodological commitments. Nowhere is this clearer than in third-wave writings about fertility and motherhood.

Much of third-wave feminist writing has taken the form of the first-person narrative. Somewhat predictably, as third-wave feminists have aged, their subject-matters have changed. For third-wave feminists now in their thirties and forties, the personal account of one’s “journey” toward motherhood seems to have become the new rite of passage. Rebecca Walker’s Baby Love, Evelyn McDonnell’s Mama Rama, and Peggy Orenstein’s Waiting for Daisy are three representative examples of this milestone narrative. Taken together, these third-wave fertility and motherhood narratives contribute (perhaps unwittingly) to a mythology of motherhood that prior feminists sought to dismantle. These works pay lip-service to the notion that motherhood should not be the measure of a woman’s worth, but they embrace motherhood as the ultimate personal fulfillment. Second-wave feminists critiqued the influence of state systems, especially law, on motherhood as a practice and status. But third-wave feminists keep most critical theory at a distance. Joining third-wave feminism and law will help develop an equality jurisprudence that acknowledges women’s reproductive capacities but neutralizes the role those capacities play in women’s legal subordination.


"Winning Football, Falling Grades," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, December 20, 2011 ---

I've mentioned previously on the AECM that the problem of study time of athletes is worse for basketball and baseball players because they play so many more games per season and are on the road in games, hotels, buses, and airplanes much more than football players.

I really don't know what the answer is to the broad problem of scholarship versus athletics at the NCAA Division 1 collegiate level. But one thing I would recommend is scheduling half as many games in Division 1 basketball and baseball.

I always remember the five varsity basketball players who sued UCLA after four years of playing basketball, never graduating, and still not being able to functionally read.

My threads on the other many problems of collegiate athletics are at

It's sad how some of our most popular Division 1 coaching reputations have been trampled upon by scandal late in their careers.

The great Bobby Bowden was tainted, late in his career, by grade-fixing scandals at Florida State ---

 Joe Paterno was forced to resign mid-season this year for his role in covering up pedophilia  of his friend and assistant coach.

Barry Switzer is known as the most philandering coach in history, including sleeping with the wives of his own assistant coaches. And some of his players did not even bother to attend any classes in college  ---


Jackie Sherill had the back luck of getting caught paying his players when thousands of other collegiate coaches have been smarter about not getting caught ---

And the list goes on and on for our one-time heroes who are no longer heroes.

Then there's the Woody Hayes coaching scandal where late in his career in front of tens of thousands of fans he threw a sucker punch as an opposing team player ---

"Police Tactic: Keeping Crime Reports Off the Books," by Al Baker and Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times, December 30, 2011 ---

Jill Korber walked into a drab police station in Queens in July to report that a passing bicyclist had groped her two days in a row. She left in tears, frustrated, she said, by the response of the first officer she encountered.

“He told me it would be a waste of time, because I didn’t know who the guy was or where he worked or anything,” said Ms. Korber, 34, a schoolteacher. “His words to me were, ‘These things happen.’ He said those words.”

Crime victims in New York sometimes struggle to persuade the police to write down what happened on an official report. The reasons are varied. Police officers are often busy, and few relish paperwork. But in interviews, more than half a dozen police officers, detectives and commanders also cited departmental pressure to keep crime statistics low.

While it is difficult to say how often crime complaints are not officially recorded, the Police Department is conscious of the potential problem, trying to ferret out unreported crimes through audits of emergency calls and of any resulting paperwork.

As concerns grew about the integrity of the data, the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, appointed a panel of former federal prosecutors in January to study the crime-reporting system. The move was unusual for Mr. Kelly, who is normally reluctant to invite outside scrutiny.

The panel, which has not yet released its findings, was expected to focus on the downgrading of crimes, in which officers improperly classify felonies as misdemeanors.

But of nearly as much concern to people in law enforcement are crimes that officers simply failed to record, which one high-ranking police commander in Manhattan suggested was “the newest evolution in this numbers game.”

It is not unusual for detectives, who handle telephone calls from victims inquiring about the status of their cases, to learn that no paperwork exists. Detectives said it was hard to tell if those were administrative mix-ups or something deliberate. But they noted their skepticism that some complaints could simply vanish in the digital age.

Detective Louis A. Molina, president of the National Latino Officers Association, said that for some officers, the desire of supervisors to keep recorded crime levels low was “going to be on your mind,” and that it “can play a role in your decision making.”

“For police officers,” he added, “it’s gotten to the point of what’s the most diplomatic way to discourage a crime report from being taken.”

Some public officials have said they have received more complaints from constituents that their reports of crime were not being recorded. State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn said his office had to contact “local precincts directly to make sure that criminal complaints were filed and processed appropriately.”

In the case of Ms. Korber, the police did eventually take a report of her being groped, but only after her city councilman, Peter F. Vallone Jr., intervened, she and Mr. Vallone said. In fact, Mr. Vallone said that he had grown so alarmed over how many women were being groped in his district that he contacted the 114th Precinct; his staff then asked Ms. Korber to go there again.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said each precinct must audit police responses to radio dispatches four times a month “to assure that crime complaints are taken when necessary and prepared accurately.”

Continued in article

2011 Courageous Act of the Year Goes to the First Person to Test This Pen ---

"2011 Tokyo Motor Show: Honda Uni-Cub First Ride," Car and Driver, December 5, 2011 ---

Jensen Comment
Yeah right. I really want one of those things in a mountain winter.

Below is a link to a long article about scientific misconduct and the difficulties of investigating such misconduct. The conclusion seems to rest mostly upon what insiders apparently knew but were unwilling to testify about in public. Marc Hauser eventually resigned from Harvard. The most aggressive investigator in this instance appears to be Harvard University itself.

"Disgrace: On Marc Hauser," by Mark Gross, The Nation, January 9, 2012 ---

. . .

Although some of my knowledge of the Hauser case is based on conversations with sources who have preferred to remain unnamed, there seems to me to be little doubt that Hauser is guilty of scientific misconduct, though to what extent and severity remains to be revealed. Regardless of the final outcome of the investigation of Hauser by the federal Office of Research Integrity, irreversible damage has been done to the field of animal cognition, to Harvard University and most of all to Marc Hauser.

Bob Jensen's threads on the lack of validity testing and investigations of misconduct in accountics science ---


"Bad science: The psychology behind exaggerated & false research [infographic]," Holykaw, December 21, 2011 ---

One in three scientists admits to using shady research practices.
Bravo:  Zero accountics scientists admit to using shady research practices.

One in 50 scientists admit to falsifying data outright.
Bravo:  Zero accountics scientists admit to falsifying data in the history of accountics science.

Reports of colleague misconduct are even more common.
Bravo:  But not in accountics science

Misconduct rates are highest among clinical, medical, and phamacological researchers
Bravo:  Such reports are lowest (zero) among accountics scientists

Four ways to make research more honest

  1. Make all raw data available to other scientists
  2. Hold journalists accountable
  3. Introduce anonymous publication
  4. Change from real science into accountics science where research is unlikely to be validated/replicated except on rare occasions where no errors are ever found

574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

"Freakonomics: What Went Wrong? Examination of a very popular popular-statistics series reveals avoidable errors," by Andrew Gelman and Kaiser Fung, American Scientist, 2011 ---

The nonfiction publishing phenomenon known as Freakonomics has passed its sixth anniversary. The original book, which used ideas from statistics and economics to explore real-world problems, was an instant bestseller. By 2011, it had sold more than four million copies worldwide, and it has sprouted a franchise, which includes a bestselling sequel, SuperFreakonomics; an occasional column in the New York Times Magazine; a popular blog; and a documentary film. The word “freakonomics” has come to stand for a light-hearted and contrarian, yet rigorous and quantitative, way of looking at the world.

The faces of Freakonomics are Steven D. Levitt, an award-winning professor of economics at the University of Chicago, and Stephen J. Dubner, a widely published New York–based journalist. Levitt is celebrated for using data and statistics to solve an array of problems not typically associated with economics. Dubner has perfected the formula for conveying the excitement of Levitt’s research—and of the growing body of work by his collaborators and followers. On the heels of Freakonomics, the pop-economics or pop-statistics genre has attracted a surge of interest, with more authors adopting an anecdotal, narrative style.

As the authors of statistics-themed books for general audiences, we can attest that Levitt and Dubner’s success is not easily attained. And as teachers of statistics, we recognize the challenge of creating interest in the subject without resorting to clichéd examples such as baseball averages, movie grosses and political polls. The other side of this challenge, though, is presenting ideas in interesting ways without oversimplifying them or misleading readers. We and others have noted a discouraging tendency in the Freakonomics body of work to present speculative or even erroneous claims with an air of certainty. Considering such problems yields useful lessons for those who wish to popularize statistical ideas.

On a Case-by-case Basis

In our analysis of the Freakonomics approach, we encountered a range of avoidable mistakes, from back-of-the-envelope analyses gone wrong to unexamined assumptions to an uncritical reliance on the work of Levitt’s friends and colleagues. This turns accessibility on its head: Readers must work to discern which conclusions are fully quantitative, which are somewhat data driven and which are purely speculative.

The case of the missing girls: Monica Das Gupta is a World Bank researcher who, along with others in her field, has attributed the abnormally high ratio of boy-to-girl births in Asian countries to a preference for sons, which manifests in selective abortion and, possibly, infanticide. As a graduate student in economics, Emily Oster (now a professor at the University of Chicago) attacked this conventional wisdom. In an essay in Slate, Dubner and Levitt praised Oster and her study, which was published in the Journal of Political Economy during Levitt’s tenure as editor:

[Oster] measured the incidence of hepatitis B in the populations of China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, and other countries where mothers gave birth to an unnaturally high number of boys. Sure enough, the regions with the most hepatitis B were the regions with the most “missing” women. Except the women weren’t really missing at all, for they had never been born.

Oster’s work stirred debate for a few years in the epidemiological literature, but eventually she admitted that the subject-matter experts had been right all along. One of Das Gupta’s many convincing counterpoints was a graph showing that in Taiwan, the ratio of boys to girls was near the natural rate for first and second babies (106:100) but not for third babies (112:100); this pattern held up with or without hepatitis B.

In a follow-up blog post, Levitt applauded Oster for bravery in admitting her mistake, but he never credited Das Gupta for her superior work. Our point is not that Das Gupta had to be right and Oster wrong, but that Levitt and Dubner, in their celebration of economics and economists, suspended their critical thinking.

The risks of driving a car: In SuperFreakonomics, Levitt and Dubner use a back-of-the-envelope calculation to make the contrarian claim that driving drunk is safer than walking drunk, an oversimplified argument that was picked apart by bloggers. The problem with this argument, and others like it, lies in the assumption that the driver and the walker are the same type of person, making the same kinds of choices, except for their choice of transportation. Such all-else-equal thinking is a common statistical fallacy. In fact, driver and walker are likely to differ in many ways other than their mode of travel. What seem like natural calculations are stymied by the impracticality, in real life, of changing one variable while leaving all other variables constant.

Stars are made, not born—except when they are born: In 2006, Levitt and Dubner wrote a column for the New York Times Magazine titled “A Star Is Made,” relying on the research of Florida State University psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, who believes that experts arise from practice rather than innate talent. It begins with the startling observation that elite soccer players in Europe are much more likely to be born in the first three months of the year. The theory: Since youth soccer leagues are organized into age groups with a cutoff birth date of December 31, coaches naturally favor the older kids within each age group, who have had more playing time. So far, so good. But this leads to an eye-catching piece of wisdom: The fact that so many World Cup players have early birthdays, the authors write,

may be bad news if you are a rabid soccer mom or dad whose child was born in the wrong month. But keep practicing: a child conceived on this Sunday in early May would probably be born by next February, giving you a considerably better chance of watching the 2030 World Cup from the family section.

Perhaps readers are not meant to take these statements seriously. But when we do, we find that they violate some basic statistical concepts. Despite its implied statistical significance, the size of the birthday effect is very small. The authors acknowledge as much three years later when they revisit the subject in SuperFreakonomics. They consider the chances that a boy in the United States will make baseball’s major leagues, noting that July 31 is the cutoff birth date for most U.S. youth leagues and that a boy born in the United States in August has better chances than one born in July. But, they go on to mention, being born male is “infinitely more important than timing an August delivery date.” What’s more, having a major-league player as a father makes a boy “eight hundred times more likely to play in the majors than a random boy,” they write. If these factors are such crucial determinants of future stardom, what does this say about their theory that a star is made, not born? Practice may indeed be a more important factor than innate talent, but in opting for cute flourishes like these, the authors venture so far from the original studies that they lose the plot.

Making the majors and hitting a curveball: In the same discussion in SuperFreakonomics, Levitt and Dubner write:

A U.S.-born boy is roughly 50 percent more likely to make the majors if he is born in August instead of July. Unless you are a big, big believer in astrology, it is hard to argue that someone is 50 percent better at hitting a big-league curveball simply because he is a Leo rather than a Cancer.

But you don’t need to believe in astrology to realize that the two cited probabilities are not the same. A .300 batting average is 50 percent better than a .200 average. In such a competitive field, the difference in batting averages between a kid who makes the majors and one who narrowly misses out is likely to be a matter of hundredths or even thousandths of a percent. Such errors could easily be avoided.

Predicting terrorists: In SuperFreakonomics, Levitt and Dubner introduce a British man, pseudonym Ian Horsley, who created an algorithm that used people’s banking activities to sniff out suspected terrorists. They rely on a napkin-simple computation to show the algorithm’s “great predictive power”:

Starting with a database of millions of bank customers, Horsley was able to generate a list of about 30 highly suspicious individuals. According to his rather conservative estimate, at least 5 of those 30 are almost certainly involved in terrorist activities. Five out of 30 isn’t perfect—the algorithm misses many terrorists and still falsely identified some innocents—but it sure beats 495 out of 500,495.

The straw man they employ—a hypothetical algorithm boasting 99-percent accuracy—would indeed, if it exists, wrongfully accuse half a million people out of the 50 million adults in the United Kingdom. So the conventional wisdom that 99-percent accuracy is sufficient for terrorist prediction is folly, as has been pointed out by others such as security expert Bruce Schneier.

But in the course of this absorbing narrative, readers may well miss the spot where Horsley’s algorithm also strikes out. The casual computation keeps under wraps the rate at which it fails at catching terrorists: With 500 terrorists at large (the authors’ supposition), the “great” algorithm finds only five of them. Levitt and Dubner acknowledge that “five out of 30 isn’t perfect,” but had they noticed the magnitude of false negatives generated by Horsley’s secret recipe, and the grave consequences of such errors, they might have stopped short of hailing his story. The maligned straw-man algorithm, by contrast, would have correctly identified 495 of 500 terrorists.

This unavoidable tradeoff between false positive and false negative errors is a well-known property of all statistical-prediction applications. Circling back to check all the factors involved in the problem might have helped the authors avoid this mistake.

The climate-change dustup: Rendering research conducted by others is much more challenging than explaining your own work, especially if the topic lies outside your domain of expertise. The climate-change chapter in SuperFreakonomics is a case in point. In it, Levitt and Dubner throw their weight behind geoengineering, a climate-remediation concept championed at the time by Nathan Myhrvold, a billionaire and former chief technology officer of Microsoft. Unfortunately, having moved outside the comfort zone of his own research, Levitt is in no better a position to evaluate Myhrvold’s proposal than we are.

When an actual expert, University of Chicago climate scientist Raymond Pierrehumbert, questioned the claims in Levitt and Dubner’s writing on climate, Levitt retorted that he enjoyed Pierrehumbert’s “intentional misreading” of the chapter. Referring to his own writings on the subject, Levitt wrote, “I’m not sure why that is blasphemy.” We’re not sure on this point either—we could not find a place where Pierrehumbert described Levitt’s writings in those terms. It is easy to be preemptively defensive of one’s own work, or of researchers whose work one has covered. Viewing alternative points of view as useful rather than threatening can help take the sting out of critiques. And if you’re covering subject matter outside your expertise, it pays to get second—and third and fourth—opinions.

Problems—and Solutions

2012-01MacroGelmanFB.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageHow could an experienced journalist and a widely respected researcher slip up in so many ways? Some possible answers to this question offer insights for the would-be pop-statistics writer.

Leave friendship at the door: We attribute many of these errors to the structure of the authors’ collaboration, which, from what we can tell, relies on an informal social network that has many potential failure points. In the original Freakonomics, much of whose content appeared originally in columns for the New York Times Magazine, the network seems to have been more straightforward: Levitt did the research, Dubner trusted Levitt, the Times trusted Dubner, and we the readers trusted the Times’s endorsement. In SuperFreakonomics and the authors’ blog, it becomes less clear: Levitt trusts brilliant stars such as Myhrvold or Oster, Dubner trusts Levitt, and we the readers trust the Freakonomics brand. A more ideal process for science writing (as shown in the illustration above) will likely look much messier—but it offers the promise of better results.

Don’t sell yourself short: Perhaps Levitt’s admirable modesty—he has repeatedly attributed his success to luck and hard work rather than genius—has led him astray. If he feels he is surrounded by economists more exceptional and brilliant than he is, he may let their assertions stand without challenge. Here it might be good to remember the outsider’s perspective so prized by Levitt: If you find yourself hesitant to ask questions that seem “stupid,” or if you feel intimidated, think of yourself as a “rogue.” Just don’t take it so far that you value your own rogueness over empirical evidence.

Maintain checks and balances: A solid collaboration requires each side to check and balance the other side. Although there’s no way we can be sure, perhaps, in some of the cases described above, there was a breakdown in the division of labor when it came to investigating technical points. The most controversial statements are the most likely to be mistaken; if such assertions go unchallenged, you will have little more than a series of press releases linked by gung-ho commentary and eye-popping headlines. Hiring a meticulous editor who can evaluate the technical arguments is another way to avoid embarrassing mistakes.

Take your time: Success comes at a cost: The constraints of producing continuous content for a blog or website and meeting publisher’s deadlines may have adverse effects on accuracy. The strongest parts of the original Freakonomics book revolved around Levitt’s own peer-reviewed research. In contrast, the Freakonomics blog features the work of Levitt’s friends, and SuperFreakonomics relies heavily on anecdotes, gee-whiz technology reporting and work by Levitt’s friends and colleagues. Just like good science, good writing takes time. Remembering this can help hedge against the temptation to streamline arguments or narrow the pool of sources, even in the face of deadlines.

Be clear about where you’re coming from: Levitt’s publishers, along with Dubner, characterize him as a “rogue economist.” We find this odd: He received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institue of Technology, holds the title of Alvin H. Baum Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and has served as editor of the mainstream Journal of Political Economy. He is a research fellow with the American Bar Foundation and a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, and has worked as a consultant for Corporate Decisions, Inc. One can be an outsider within such institutions, of course. But much of his economics is mainstream. And his statistical methods are conventional (which, we hasten to add, is not a bad thing at all!). One of the pleasures of reading Freakonomics is Levitt’s knack for finding interesting quantitative questions in obscure corners, such as the traveling bagel salesman and cheating sumo wrestlers. Often such problems have not been extensively studied or even been noticed by others, and in these cases one is hard-pressed to identify any consensus or conventional wisdom. Often, in the authors’ writing, the “conventional” and the “rogue” live side by side. Chapter one of SuperFreakonomics, for instance, can be viewed either as a clear-eyed quantitative examination of the economics of prostitution, or as an unquestioning acceptance of conventional wisdom about gender roles. In exploring new territory, it’s especially important to be plainspoken about where your assumptions come from and what your primary ideas are.

Use latitude responsibly: When a statistician criticizes a claim on technical grounds, he or she is declaring not that the original finding is wrong but that it has not been convincingly proven. Researchers—even economists endorsed by Steven Levitt—can make mistakes. It may be okay to overlook the occasional mistake in the pursuit of the larger goal of understanding the world. But once one accepts this lower standard—science as plausible stories or data-supported reasoning, rather than the more carefully tested demonstrations that are characteristic of Levitt’s peer-reviewed research articles—one really has to take extra care, consider all sides of an issue, and look out for false positive results.

Continued in article

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research? 
How did academic accounting research become a pseudo science?

574 Shields Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

  • "On Assets and Debt in the Psychology of Perceived Wealth," by Abigail B. Sussman and Eldar Shafir, Psychological Science, December 23, 2011 ---

    Where Rotten Teachers Can Get Tenure Up Front Before They are Ever Evaluated
    Even most K-12 schools will not grant tenure to any and all full-time teachers. But in this community college there's not much of a test for earning tenure. Just think of the newly hired faculty member who is given a full load of courses and tenure up front only to discover at the end of the term that he/she is a really lousy teacher.

    "Tenure Conversion," Inside Higher Ed, December 20, 2011 ---

    . . .

    Tenure can be a lure for attracting quality job applicants, and Lane said he hopes it will help Delta bring more recruits to central Michigan.

    “We’re in the middle of a cornfield," Lane said. And any advantage helps.

    Jensen Comment
    Delta College is an equal opportunity employer. Both excellent and lousy teachers alike that are attracted to this cornfield college will be given tenure.

    One thing having at least a seven year probationary period can do is that it can delay for at least seven years before a teacher shifts into automatic pilot and cares  "meh" about teaching or students.


    "Apple secretly working on wearable, Siri-compatible computers," by Sam Oliver, Apple Insider, December 19, 2011 ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on ubiquitous computing ---

    Illustration of Replication Research Efforts

    Northwestern University School of Law
    This was called to my attention by Paul Caron on December 26, 2011 who then links to some "updates"

    The current issue of the Northwestern University Law Review contains a remarkable "clarification" regarding Katherine Y. Barnes (Arizona), Is Affirmative Action Responsible for the Achievement Gap Between Black and White Law Students, 101 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1759 (2007), which disputed the "mismatch" theory proposed by Richard H. Sander (UCLA) in A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools, 57 Stan. L. Rev. 367 (2004):

    Katherine Barnes concludes the following:

    The revised results present a different picture of student outcomes. The data do not support either the antimismatch effect or the mismatch hypothesis: mismatched students do not explain the racial gap in student outcomes. The weakest students do not have systematically different outcomes at HBS, low-range schools, or mid-range schools. Black students have lower bar passage rates at HBS schools than at other institutions. Thus, the results suggest that there remain other factors, which I term race-based barriers, that adversely affect minority law student performance. Professors Williams, Sander, Luppino, and Bolus write that my conclusions are “exactly opposite” to the conclusions in my 2007 essay, suggesting that my revised results support mismatch.36 This is incorrect. Their first argument is that ending affirmative action would increase the percentage of black law students who pass the bar by 27%.This is irrelevant to mismatch. Their second argument is that I have miscoded bar passage in this Revision.38 I fixed this coding but was not permitted to publish it here.

    Doug Williams, Richard Sander, Marc Luppino and Roger Bolus conclude the following:

    In the conclusion of her original essay, Barnes stated: “Although I am cautious about drawing conclusions from the results due to significant data limitations, the results suggest that mismatch does not occur. Instead, the data suggest that reverse mismatch—lower credentialed students learn more when challenged by classmates who outmatch them—may be occurring.” As we have shown, this conclusion cannot be supported by either our replication or Barnes’s revision. To the extent that her model tells us anything about the issues at hand, it is exactly opposite to the conclusions of her original essay. Low-credential students have better, not worse, outcomes at schools where their credentials are closer to their peers; white students are affected by mismatch as much as black students; and Barnes’s corrected simulation suggests that, in the absence of any affirmative action, the number of black and Hispanic lawyers would not change whereas the number of unsuccessful minority students would drop precipitously.

    Bob Jensen's threads on replication research are at

    Bob Jensen's threads on affirmative action in academe are at


    "529 college savings plans have their downsides The state-sponsored programs offer a tax-advantaged way to save for college. But there are pitfalls to 529s that even careful investors can overlook," by Walter Hamilton and Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times, December 18, 2011 ---

    Sherri and Cliff Nitschke thought they were planning wisely for their children's college educations when they opened a 529 savings account in 1998.

    The Fresno couple saved diligently over the years in hopes of avoiding costly student loans. But their timing couldn't have been worse.

    When they needed the money a decade later, their 529 account had plunged in value during the global financial crisis. Their portfolio sank 30% in 2008, forcing the Nitschkes to borrow heavily to send their two sons to

    "529s were no friend to us," Cliff Nitschke said. "Honestly, it's probably one of the worst things we did. I could have made more money putting it in a mayonnaise jar and burying it in the backyard."

    Over the last decade, 529 savings plans have surged in popularity as parents scramble to keep up with rapidly escalating college costs.

    Similar in some ways to 401(k) retirement plans, 529s are state-sponsored programs offering a tax-advantaged way to save for college. Parents typically invest in stock and bond mutual funds with after-tax dollars. But the earnings grow free of federal, and generally state, taxes.

    Every state offers at least one 529 plan, and parents can invest in any state's plan. Many states give up-front tax deductions for 529 contributions, though California does not.

    Assets in 529 accounts have swelled to $135 billion today from $91 billion five years ago, according to Financial Research Corp.

    But as the Nitschkes discovered, there are downsides to 529s that even careful investors can overlook.

    "There are a number of pitfalls that can catch parents completely off guard," said Deborah
    Fox, founder of Fox College Funding in San Diego, which advises families on how to pay for college. "They are not a panacea."

    December 20, 2011 reply from Ramesh Fernando

  • Here in Canada, we have something called Register Education Savings Plan (RESP). The federal government gives 20% of the RESP contribution up to $2500 or $500 in grants as well as extra grants depending on income. For example for our daughter we contribute a minimum of $2500 a year and we get another $500 in grants. All income earned under the plan is not taxed federally or provincally (tax-exempt). Maximum contributions for the lifetime was $50,000 last time I recall. I think it may have increased it. I am keeping the money in mutual funds of utilities, resource stocks and banks. Canadian utilties (Bell Canada Enterprises BCE, Enbridge), oil companies (Suncor)and banks ( RBC, TD-Canada Trust) are safe!

    Bob Jensen's personal finance helpers ---

    "Endpoint Security is Changing Fast," by Richi Jennings, Computer World, December 14, 2011 ---
    Thank you Jerry Trites for the heads up ---

    Sophisticated social engineering techniques for hacking are becoming the norm. And it is moving fast, such that traditional tools don't do the job any more. Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) is one of the manifestations of this trend. It involves sending malware to people disguised in something that is likely to appear to them and to fool them. APT messages are very customized, based on knowledge of a person that is obtained from information available in the internet, through such social media as Facebook and perhaps other sources.They can even follow shortly after a person performs some action, such as paying bills on their bank website. In such a case, they might receive a message that their transaction has failed, or that their account has gone into an overdraft and they should log in (to a bogus account) and verify it. There are countless variations.

    Most of us are aware of many of these messages and don't get fooled by them. However, there is a possibility that one variation might be sufficiently relevant that we are fooled, and it might only take once to cause a lot of damage.

    Companies are exposed because all of their employees are exposed, and might inadvertently expose corporate assets to theft or damage.

    Various solutions are available, many cloud based, that are particularly designed to keep up with the rapidly changing trends in this area. It is imperative to keep up with these tools. Such knee jerk reactions as prohibiting employees from using Facebook and the like just won't work. But some clearly defined and carefully designed policies around the use of corporate computers, resources and IDs are badly needed.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on computing and networking security ---

    Book Review of
    That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World That It Invented and How We Can Come Back
    by Thomas L. Friedman & Michael Mandelbaum
    Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011, 400 pp., $28

    Mandelbaum and Friedman offer one of the funniest lines in the book. It comes from a member of President Obama’s Simpson-Bowles deficit commission, who quips that China had better not invade Taiwan because, if the United States rode to the rescue, “we would now have to borrow the money from China to do it.”

    "Declinism's Fifth Wave," by Josef Joffe, The American Interest, January/February 2012 ---

    . . .

    For instance, in none of the past four Declinist waves did the nation face bankruptcy. Why does it now? And here is a modern-day sage, Princeton economist Alan Blinder, with a brief take that spins a larger narrative in a way any layman can grasp:

    The nation took leave of its fiscal senses and simply stopped paying for anything during President Bush 43’s term. Not for huge tax cuts. . . . Not for the Medicare drug benefits. . . . Not for two wars. That spree was followed by the financial crisis . . . and the policy responses thereto—all of which blew up the deficit massively under President Obama.

    Friedman and Mandelbaum underline the broader ramifications of this debt run-up. This millstone will hang on the neck of the United States for decades, unless... To drive the depressing point home, and to relate America’s astronomic debt to its shrinking power abroad, Mandelbaum and Friedman offer one of the funniest lines in the book. It comes from a member of President Obama’s Simpson-Bowles deficit commission, who quips that China had better not invade Taiwan because, if the United States rode to the rescue, “we would now have to borrow the money from China to do it.”

    The domestic implications of the U.S. plight are just as stark. Back in the Eisenhower days, Little Johnny couldn’t read so well, but so what? He could still take his place in the country’s humming industrial machine. Today, he can’t get a job because (a) net job-growth has been zero for the past decade and (b) low-skill, high-wage jobs are disappearing forever. Nor is this just Johnny’s problem. Behind him lurks an education system that isn’t equipping children with the intellectual capital in demand in the new knowledge economy. Though the United States boasts the world’s best research universities (17 of the Top Twenty), grades K–12 are struggling. In international comparisons such as the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment study, American students come out in the middle in reading skills but way down in math. 

    There is no quick fix here, given the country’s dysfunctional political system. The Sputnik Shock swept billions into education and research. Neil Armstrong landed on the moon soon after. But now the Shuttle has been grounded. Who would call the nation to arms now, as Messrs. Kennedy and Reagan did?

     Not the Congress, not Mr. Obama, who seems not to believe in America’s exceptionalism and mission, while musing that the nation “has gone a little soft.” His rhetoric may echo JFK’s cadences, but not his spunk. Recall Kennedy’s First Inaugural Address: “We shall pay any price, bear any burden....”

    So what’s wrong with American politics in this fifth wave of Declinism? To their credit, the authors don’t fall for buzzwords about how America is “polarized as never before.” Polarization has been as American as apple pie since the Jeffersonians had it out with John Adams’s minions. Remember, too, Andrew Jackson and William Jennings Bryan, who make Nancy Pelosi and Michelle Bachmann look like choir girls. The good news today is an electorate where the center holds as always, shifting from election to election to check the radicals. Why, then, the triumph of party (as opposed to voter) extremism that eats away at sensible governance? 

    Unfortunately, these trends, as those of the economy, are not fleeting phenomena; they reflect long-term changes. The Democratic Party, which used to harness Dixiecrats and FDR-type Big Spenders, has “homogenized” and veered way to the left. Same on the other side of the aisle: The GOP, where “Rockefeller Republicans”, “Main Street” and God-fearing cultural conservatives used to coexist under a big tent, has swerved way to the right. Between the two parties, the national interest and the vast center of the electorate are being held hostage as never before. “If we don’t save the store”, the authors quote an old Republican hand, “we will all be working at TGI Friday’s in Beijing.” A Democratic old-timer would say “Amen.”

    In the 1958 film Touch of Evil, the authors relate, the bad guy played by Orson Welles stumbles into a brothel where Marlene Dietrich works as a fortuneteller. “Read my future for me”, Welles asks. She replies: “You haven’t got any. Your future is all used up.” Shall this be the fate of Lincoln’s “last best hope on Earth?”

    Recall the Jeremiah technique: It’s damnation first and salvation later, but only if... The United States can become “us” again if it harkens to the authors’ five-pronged prescription: Address the deficit, cut entitlements, raise taxes, invest in educational and infrastructural programs that feed economic excellence, and reduce America’s oil addiction. Who but doctrinaire Dems and Reps would disagree with this agenda? The issue in politics is always: How do we get from insight to reform—especially when neither party has the guts to tell it as it is?

    Naturally, diagnosis is easier than therapy. So what do Friedman and Mandelbaum counsel? They think that a third party, representing the “radical center”, will do the trick. But they are far too savvy to pin their hopes on a third-party President. This is not how the system works. Remember William Jennings Bryan, or Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose insurgency; recall George Wallace, John Anderson and Ross Perot. Like bees, third parties die after they sting. 

    Our duo thinks that even these moribund bees can actually heal the body politic. How so, if an independent candidate is doomed from the start? By hammering home the right questions and proffering precise and gutsy answers. Thus would such a candidate force those demented Donkeys and Elephants to sober up and think for the nation. The pre-ordained loser will “have a greater impact on the course of American history” than the winner, Friedman and Mandelbaum aver. Would that they were right.

    Until this savior comes, read this book, for never has the cruel truth been so entertaining as well as edifying. This reviewer is as bullish on America as the authors. He would be even more bullish if That Used to Be Us were to galvanize a national debate that is so strangely absent amidst this fifth wave of Declinism. In the past, doom always came with “do!” How is this night different from all other nights? The fifth wave comes with an out-of-character lassitude, if not resignation, that is, well, un-American.

    Bob Jensen's threads on entitlements are at

    "What Fannie and Freddie Knew The SEC shows how the toxic twins turbocharged the housing bubble.," The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2011 ---

    Democrats have spent years arguing that private lenders created the housing boom and bust, and that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac merely came along for the ride. This was always a politically convenient fiction, and now thanks to the unlikely source of the Securities and Exchange Commission we have a trail of evidence showing how the failed mortgage giants turbocharged the crisis.

    That's the story revealed Friday by the SEC's civil lawsuits against six former Fannie and Freddie executives, including a pair of CEOs. The SEC says the companies defrauded investors because they "knew and approved of misleading statements" about Fan and Fred's exposure to subprime loans, and it chronicles their push to expand the business.

    The executives deny the charges, and we hope they don't settle. The case deserves to play out in court, so Americans can see in detail how Fan and Fred were central to the bubble. The lawsuits themselves, combined with information admitted as true by Fan and Fred in civil nonprosecution agreements with the SEC, are certainly illuminating.

    The Beltway story of the crisis claims that Congress's affordable housing mandates had nothing to do with it. But the SEC's lawsuit shows that Fannie degraded its underwriting standards to increase its market share in subprime loans. According to the SEC suit, for instance, in 2006 Fannie Mae adjusted its widely used automated underwriting system, "Desktop Underwriter." Fannie did so as part of its "Say Yes" strategy to "provide more 'approve' messages . . . for larger volumes of loans with lower FICO [credit] scores and higher LTVs [loan-to-value] than previously permitted."

    The SEC also shows how Fannie led private lenders into the subprime market. In July 1999, Fannie and Angelo Mozilo's Countrywide Home Loans entered "an alliance agreement" that included "a reduced documentation loan program called the 'internet loan,'" later called the "Fast and Easy" loan. As the SEC notes, "by the mid-2000s, other mortgage lenders developed similar reduced documentation loan programs, such as Mortgage Express and PaperSaver—many of which Fannie Mae acquired in ever-increasing volumes."

    Mr. Mozilo and Fannie essentially were business partners in the subprime business. Countrywide found the customers, while Fannie provided the taxpayer-backed capital. And the rest of the industry followed.

    As Fannie expanded its subprime loan purchases and guarantees, the SEC alleges that executives hid the risk from investors. Consider Fannie's Expanded Approval/Timely Payment Rewards (EA) loans, which the company described to regulators as its "most significant initiative to serve credit-impaired borrowers."

    By December 31, 2006, Fannie owned or securitized some $43.3 billion of these loans, which, according to the SEC, had "higher average serious delinquency rates, higher credit losses, and lower average credit scores" than Fannie's disclosed subprime loans. By June 30, 2008, Fannie had $60 billion in EA loans and $41.7 billion in another risky program called "My Community Mortgage," but it only publicly reported an $8 billion exposure.

    The SEC says Fannie executives also failed to disclose the company's total exposure to risky "Alt-A" loans, sometimes called "liar loans," which required less documentation than traditional subprime loans. Fannie created a special category called "Lender Selected" loans and it gave lenders "coding designations" to separate these Alt-A loans from those Fannie had publicly disclosed. By June 30, 2008, Fannie said its Alt-A exposure was 11% of its portfolio, when it was closer to 23%—a $341 billion difference.

    All the while, Fannie executives worked to calm growing fears about subprime while receiving internal reports about the company's risk exposure. In February 2007, Chief Risk Officer Enrico Dallavecchia told investors that Fannie's subprime exposure was "immaterial." At a March 2007 Congressional hearing, CEO Daniel Mudd testified that "we see it as part of our mission and our charter to make safe mortgages available to people who don't have perfect credit," adding that Fannie's subprime exposure was "relatively minimal." The Freddie record is similarly incriminating. ***

    The SEC's case should embarrass Congress's Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which spent 18 months looking at the evidence and issued a report in January 2011 that whitewashed Fan and Fred's role. Speaker Nancy Pelosi created the commission to prosecute the Beltway theory of the crisis that private bankers caused it all, and Chairman Phil Angelides delivered what she wanted.

    Far from being peripheral to the housing crisis, the SEC lawsuit shows that Fan and Fred were at the very heart of it. Private lenders made many mistakes, but they could never have done as much harm if Fan and Fred weren't providing tens of billions in taxpayer-subsidized liquidity to lend on easy terms to borrowers who couldn't pay it back.

    Congress created the two mortgage giants as well as their "affordable housing" mandates, and neither the financial system nor taxpayers will be safe until Congress shrinks the toxic twins and ultimately puts them out of business.

    Also see The New York Times report on the SEC's case at
    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/s-e-c-sues-6-former-top-fannie-and-freddie-executives/?scp=4&sq=fannie mae&st=cse

    Subprime: Borne of Greed, Sleaze, Bribery, and Lies ---

    Barney Frank: I've destroyed the economy, my work here is done.
    Washington Times headline, Nov. 29, 2011
    Barney's Rubble --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#Rubble

    What is wrong with the long colorful tail of the peacock?
    An attack of ROE (and in effect the University of Chicago)

    Video:  Capitalism Gone Wild
    Harvard Business Review Blog trying to appease the other side of the Charles River
    December 21, 2011 --- Click Here

    Video on the opposing side (that the only responsibilities of business firms are to earn a profit and obey the law)

    Bob Jensen's threads on what's wrong with ROI and ROE ---

    "Research Roundup: Improving Intelligence Forecasts, Vertically Integrated Health Care, and 'Worrisome' Health Care Costs," Knowledge@wharton,  December 20, 2011 ---

    How can intelligence agencies improve accountability and forecasting accuracy? Can hospitals become more efficient through vertical integration with home health agencies and nursing homes? Do taxpayers fully understand how the expansion of health care will be financed? Wharton professors Philip Tetlock and Barbara Mellers; Guy David and Evan Rawley; and Mark Pauly, respectively, examine these issues -- and what they mean for business -- in recent research articles.

    Helping Intelligence Agencies -- and Companies -- Avoid the Blame Game

    When business leaders fail to make accurate forecasts, profitability is at risk. When intelligence agencies miss the mark on their predictions, however, the results can be far worse. In a new analysis of behavior in the intelligence community, with implications for business managers, Wharton management professor Philip E. Tetlock and Wharton marketing professor Barbara A. Mellers present a framework to improve accountability and forecasting accuracy, particularly in a politically polarized climate.

    In their article, "Intelligent Management of Intelligence Agencies: Beyond Accountability Ping-Pong," published in the September 2011 edition of American Psychologist, the authors note that forecasts by intelligence organizations frequently are open to harsh criticism for either underreporting potential danger or overreacting to threats that never materialize. A clear recent example of underreporting would be the September 11, 2011, terrorist attacks on the United States, Tetlock says. At the other extreme, he points to reports -- which later proved to be unfounded -- that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction.

    "The intelligence community is often whipsawed between these conflicting criticisms," says Tetlock. "The question is: Is it possible in this kind of political environment to learn anything beyond avoiding the last mistake?" The authors propose three steps to end the "blame game" in intelligence predictions and improve accountability and intelligence forecasting.

    First, the authors argue that intelligence agencies and constituents in government and throughout society need to come together and agree to put an end to bitter, often ideologically driven, assignment of blame. Tetlock suggests that "thoughtful moderates" with a long-term view of policy will need to drive this part of the process, especially during periods of deep division.

    Next, intelligence agencies need to step up and agree to have their forecasting assessed on clear metrics. Tetlock says that meaningful forecasts could result from reports that put a hard number on predictions. For example, analysts could be required to put specific percentage odds on the likelihood that a coup, or uprising in a given country, would occur in a certain period of time. Agencies would amass large databases of predictions that could, over time, be reviewed to assess which were accurate and why.

    Finally, in the authors' view, intelligence groups and their overseers should acknowledge that ideology plays a part in forecasting. "If you want ... the left and right to hold back their fire on unfair criticism, the best way to do that is to reassure people on the left and the right that their points of view are at least being used in the prediction process," Tetlock notes.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on health care ---


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

    More than 100 colleges have set up channels on YouTube --- http://www.youtube.com/edu
    Many universities offer over 100 videos, whereas Stanford offers a whopping 583
    Search for words like “accounting”

    "YouTube Creates New Section to Highlight College Content," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2009 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3684&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

    There are now nearly 7,000 accounting education videos on YouTube, most of which are in very basic accounting.
    But there are nearly 150 videos in advanced accounting.
    There are nearly 70 videos on XBRL

    YouTube Education Channels --- http://www.youtube.com/education?b=400

    "MIT Expands 'Open' Courses, Adds Completion Certificates," Inside Higher Ed, December 19, 2011 ---

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- which pioneered the idea of making course materials free online -- today announced a major expansion of the idea, with the creation of MITx, which will provide for interaction among students, assessment and the awarding of certificates of completion to students who have no connection to MIT.

    MIT is also starting a major initiative -- led by Provost L. Rafael Reif -- to study online teaching and learning.

    The first course through MITx is expected this spring. While the institute will not charge for the courses, it will charge what it calls "a modest fee" for the assessment that would lead to a credential. The credential will be awarded by MITx and will not constitute MIT credit. The university also plans to continue MIT OpenCourseWare, the program through which it makes course materials available online.

    An FAQ from MIT offers more details on the new program.

    While MIT has been widely praised for OpenCourseWare, much of the attention in the last year from the "open" educational movement has shifted to programs like the Khan Academy (through which there is direct instruction provided, if not yet assessment) and an initiative at Stanford University that makes courses available -- courses for which some German universities are providing academic credit. The new initiative would appear to provide some of the features (instruction such as offered by Khan, and certification that some are creating for the Stanford courses) that have been lacking in OpenCourseWare.


    Bob Jensen's threads on open source video and course materials from prestigious universities ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on education technology in general ---


    Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on online training and education alternatives ---


    Education Tutorials

    From Bryn Mawr College
    Serendip [Often makes use of Flash Player] --- http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/

    The Scout Reports Best New Bookmarks of 2010-2011 ---

    Best of 2010-2011
    - NOVA Teachers
    - Invitation to World Literature
    - NOAA Education Resources
    - The Mourners
    - Museum of Science, Boston: Podcasts [iTunes]
    - Growing Knowledge: The Evolution of Research
    - Science360: Chemistry
    - National Archives: Teachers' Resources
    - Teaching Geoscience Online
    Dictionary of Art Historians


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

    Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

    From Stanford University
    Better Know a Bioengineer --- http://paper.li/businessschools?utm_source=subscription&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=paper_sub

    Biography of an Experiment --- http://www.haverford.edu/kinsc/boe/

    STEM - Minnesota State Colleges and Universities --- http://www.stem.project.mnscu.edu/

    Pathways to Science --- http://www.pathwaystoscience.org/index.asp

    Pathways to Science: STEM

    I-STEM --- http://www.istem.illinois.edu/index.html

    Office of Science Education - LifeWorks --- http://science.education.nih.gov/LifeWorks.nsf/feature/index.htm

    Planet Earth --- http://www.learner.org/resources/series49.html

    Richard Dawkins Introduces His New Illustrated Book, The Magic of Reality --- Click Here

    A Moment of Science (explanations of phenomena) --- http://indianapublicmedia.org/amomentofscience/

    National Association for Gifted Children - STEM --- http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=1484

    Science Mentoring Research --- http://ehrweb.aaas.org/sciMentoring/index.php

    Boston Science Partnership [middle school] http://www.bostonscience.org/

    National Science Teachers Association: Lab Out Loud (podcast) --- http://www.nsta.org/publications/laboutloud.aspx

    EurekAlert! - Multimedia Gallery (science news) ---  http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/


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

    Social Science and Economics Tutorials

    Great Scholarly Video:  The MediaScape from YouTube to Blogosphere to Social Networks
    YouTobe distributes more original programming in six months than the U.S. TV networks did in 30 years
    Highly Educational and Entertaining About the YouTube Generation
    Forwarded by anthropology professor John Donahue
    An anthropological introduction to YouTube
    (and social networks) by Michael Wesch (55 minute video)--- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU

    Creating Communities --- http://creatingcommunities-denverlibrary.org/

    Cosmos and Culture (science) --- http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/  

    International Museum of Women --- http://imow.org

    Beloit College Digital Collections (global affairs, anthropology, geography) ---  http://www.beloit.edu/bcdc/

    Louisiana Works Progress Administration (WPA) --- http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/LWP

    Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America --- http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/ruralatlas/

    Documenting the American South: Oral Histories --- http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/index.html

    Practical Action (using technology to solve poverty problems) --- http://practicalaction.org/home

    Stem Up (poverty youth in Boyle Heights of Los Angeles) --- http://www.stemup.org/su/index.html

    Great Minds in Sociology ---
    Also see http://www.sociologyprofessor.com/


    Law and Legal Studies

    Creative Heritage Project: Strategic Management of Intellectual Property Rights and Interests ---  http://www.wipo.int/tk/en/folklore/culturalheritage/

    Bob Jensen's threads on copyright law --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm#Copyright

    The Robbins Collection: School of Law, University of California at Berkeley --- http://www.law.berkeley.edu/library/robbins/

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Digital Collection ---

    U.S. Supreme Court Scotus Blog --- http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/

    Supreme Court Nominations --- http://www.loc.gov/law/find/court-nominations.php

    The Supreme Court Database --- http://scdb.wustl.edu/index.php

    Law School Directory --- http://www.aboutlawschools.org/

    New Rules Project --- http://www.newrules.org/ 

    Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online --- http://www.albany.edu/sourcebook/

    Legal Research Portals

    FindLaw --- http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html

    Westlaw --- http://web2.westlaw.com/signon/default.wl?bhcp=1&fn=_top&newdoor=true&rs=WLW7.02&vr=2.0


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

    Math Tutorials

    MIT's Video Lecture Search Engine: Watch the video at --- http://web.sls.csail.mit.edu/lectures/
    Researchers at MIT have released a video and audio search tool that solves one of the most challenging problems in the field: how to break up a lengthy academic lecture into manageable chunks, pinpoint the location of keywords, and direct the user to them. Announced last month, the MIT
    Lecture Browser website gives the general public detailed access to more than 200 lectures publicly available though the university's OpenCourseWare initiative. The search engine leverages decades' worth of speech-recognition research at MIT and other institutions to
    convert audio
    into text and make it searchable.
    Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, November 26, 2007 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/19747/?nlid=686&a=f
    Once again, the Lecture Browser link (with video) is at http://web.sls.csail.mit.edu/lectures/
    Bob Jensen's search helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm

    Find free video lectures from free universities at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

    Teaching College Math --- http://teachingcollegemath.com/

    MathBench [undergraduate math curriculum and content] --- http://mathbench.umd.edu/

    Impatience With Theoretical Reasoning: Math Textbooks are Equivalents of Sitcoms
    Ted Video: Math Class Needs a Makeover (Dan Meyer Video) --- http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover.html

    Video: Why Singapore Leads The World In Mathematics --- http://www.simoleonsense.com/why-singapore-leads-the-world-in-mathematics/

    My Good Friend Bill Trench
    One of my very good friends in my days at Trinity University was mathematics professor Bill Trench. Bill retired several years before I retired, but he's still very active in mathematics research and presentations of his research.
    Andrew G. Cowles Distinguished Professor (Retired) --- http://ramanujan.math.trinity.edu/wtrench/index.shtml

    Bill and Beverly first retired near Pike's Peak in Colorado but now own a circa 1803 house near Concord, New Hampshire. Among their successful children is one with a well-known name --- Joe Trench, President for Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services Performance,

    The Math Guy Radio Archive
    Keith Devlin, a Stanford math professor's 78 Tutorials on NPR --- Click Here

    INTRODUCTION TO REAL ANALYSIS by William Trench can now be downloaded free --- http://ramanujan.math.trinity.edu/wtrench/misc/index.shtml
    A complete solutions manual is available by request to wtrench@trinity.edu  on verification of faculty status

    This book was previously published by Pearson Education. This free edition is made available in the hope that it will be useful as a textbook or reference. Reproduction is permitted for any valid noncommercial educational, mathematical, or scientific purpose. It may be posted on faculty web pages for convenience of student downloads. However, sale of or charges for any part of this book beyond reasonable reproduction costs are prohibited.

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

    The Promise and Peril of Big Data --- http://www.aspeninstitute.org/sites/default/files/content/docs/pubs/InfoTech09.pdf

    2010 Found Math Gallery --- http://www.maa.org/FoundMath/FMgallery10.html

    Mathematics papers have a reputation for being poorly written on top of dealing with topics not easily understood
    Here are some examples of award-winning writing
    Mathematical Association of America Writing Awards --- http://mathdl.maa.org/mathDL/22/

    The Opportunity Equation (education and careers in math and science) --- http://opportunityequation.org/

    Teaching and Research with Original Sources from the Euler Archive ---

    Loci: Constructing Mathlets Quickly Using LiveGraphics3D --- http://mathdl.maa.org/mathDL/23/?pa=content&sa=viewDocument&nodeId=11

    Mathematical Imagery --- http://www.ams.org/mathimagery/thumbnails.php?album=28#galleries

    National Girls Collaborative Project (science, engineering, and math) --- http://www.ngcproject.org/resources/newsletter.cfm

    The Bridges Organization (mathematics and art) --- http://bridgesmathart.org/

    MAA Online: Classroom Capsules and Notes --- http://mathdl.maa.org/mathDL/20/

    MAA Math Alert --- http://www.maa.org/mathalert/mathalert.html

    Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership: For Parents --- http://www.iowamathscience.org/parents

    Applied Math and Science Educational Repository --- http://amser.org.


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

    History Tutorials

    Gerald Steinacher, “Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s Henchmen Fled Justice” --- Click Here

    Drinking with William Faulkner --- Click Here

    M.C. Escher (Graphic Arts) --- http://www.facebook.com/pages/M-C-Escher/103776486328068
    Thank you Richard Sansing for the heads up

    Neil Gaiman’s Free Short Stories and New Year’s Wishes --- Click Here

    15 Free Charlie Chaplin Films Online --- Click Here

    Google App Enhances Museum Visits; Launched at the Getty --- Click Here

    Pacific Standard Time at the Getty (art history) --- http://www.getty.edu/pacificstandardtime/

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

    Bob Jensen's threads on online textbooks are at --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks

    BBC: A History of the World [Flash Player, Video] --- http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/ 

    Ruskin at Walkley (English History Museum) --- http://www.ruskinatwalkley.org/

    Teaching History With Technology --- http://www.thwt.org/

    Cultural & Academic Films --- http://www.archive.org/details/culturalandacademicfilms

    The First Actresses

    Oz Collection --- http://special.lib.umn.edu/clrc/oz/index.php

    Moving Image Source (history of film) --- http://www.movingimagesource.us/

    Multimedia: de Young Museum --- http://deyoung.famsf.org/deyoung/collections/multimedia

    Sistine Chapel --- http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html
    Move the mouse around

    Back to School: Free Resources for Lifelong Learners Everywhere --- Click Here

    Shakespeare in the Parlor (Art, Illustrations, Drawings) --- http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Exhibitions/Printsinparlor/shakespeare/index.htm

    Slavery in America: Image Gallery --- http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/scripts/sia/gallery.cgi

    Walter Gordon Collection of Photographs (African American History) ---

    Unknown No Longer: Virginia Historical Society (African American History) --- http://unknownnolonger.vahistorical.org/

    The Negro Travelers' Green Book, Spring 1956 (African American History) --- http://library.sc.edu/digital/collections/greenbook.html

    The Science of Vision and the Emergence of Art --- http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/index.html

    Discovering African-American History in Rural Ohio --- https://communitywithin.kenyon.edu/

    From Stanford University
    Humanities Research Network (including music and composition)--- https://www.humanitiesnetwork.org/

    Film Noir Foundation --- http://www.filmnoirfoundation.org/

    Name That Painting! --- Click Here


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

    Language Tutorials

    Modern Language Association Language map ---  http://www.mla.org/resources/census_main 

    Welcome to Zon! (learning Chinese through interactive game playing) ---  http://enterzon.com/

    Learning Languages Net --- http://www.learninglanguages.net/

    Language Translation Software --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/searchh.htm#ForeignLanguage 

    Various modern language and literature helpers are linked at http://www.trinity.edu/departments/modern_languages/index.html

    "Overcoming Language Anxiety," by Andy Guess, Inside Higher Ed, June 29, 2007 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/06/29/language

    Free Language Learning Helpers (With Audio) --- http://www.vocabulix.com

    Learn Spanish --- http://www.spanishprograms.com/

    Foreign Language Faculty in the Age of Web 2.0 --- http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0831.pdf

    European Languages Tutorials [iTunes] --- http://www.ielanguages.com/

    Distance Education.org or DistanceEducation.Org is a Great Helper Site
    Ben Pheiffer in San Antonio forwarded this link to a terrific listing (with pricing estimates) of online training and education degree programs and courses from respectable universities --- http://www.distance-education.org/Courses/

    Both graduate and undergraduate degree programs are listed as well as training courses (some free).


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

    Music Tutorials

    Baker's Student Encyclopedia of Music --- http://www.enotes.com/music-encyclopedia/

    This talented guitar player is also our UPS driver up in these mountains
    B.B. King Blues Guitar Solo Improv by Joey Vaughan "World Blues Attack" PRS
    Joe also has a degree in finance and is about as nice a guy as you will find up here in the snow
    For his other videos search for "Joey Vaughan" on YouTube --- http://www.youtube.com/ 

    The Blues (Martin Scorsese's PBS documentary series) ---  http://www.pbs.org/theblues/index.html

    Guitar Heroes --- http://blog.metmuseum.org/guitarheroes/

    Back to School: Free Resources for Lifelong Learners Everywhere --- Click Here

    From Stanford University
    Humanities Research Network (including music and composition)--- https://www.humanitiesnetwork.org/

    National Music Museum --- http://orgs.usd.edu/nmm/

    Alice Dancing Under the Gallows --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlccsLr48Mw&sns=em 
    The oldest survivor of the Holocaust

    Remember Me: Displaced Children of the Holocaust --- http://rememberme.ushmm.org/

    Andover-Harvard Library: Holocaust Rescue and Relief: Digitized Records
    of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

    Free Federal Resources in Various Disciplines --- http://www.free.ed.gov/  

    Essentials of Music --- http://www.essentialsofmusic.com/

    Music Lesson Plans --- http://www.lessoncorner.com/Art_and_Music/Music/Classical_Music

    Boston Symphony Orchestra Podcasts [iTunes] --- http://www.bso.org/bso/mods/toc_01_gen_noSubCat.jsp?id=bcat12650019

    Science of Music: Exploratorium's Accidental Scientist --- http://www.exploratorium.edu/music/index.html

    The Visual Dictionary --- http://www.infovisual.info/

    National Jukebox --- http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/

    Digital Collections: Amherst College --- https://www.amherst.edu/library/archives/holdings/electexts

    The Montreal Symphony's Evolution Of Music (entire concert) ---

    Science of Music: Exploratorium's Accidental Scientist --- http://www.exploratorium.edu/music/index.html

    Moof (music sharing) --- http://moof.com/

    Introducing the New York Philharmonic Digital Archives --- http://archives.nyphil.org/

    Hear HERE!: The Royal Philharmonic Society --- http://www.hearhear.org.uk/


    Bob Jensen's threads on music tutorials ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on music performances ---

    Writing Tutorials

    Grammar Girl Tips --- http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/

    The Writing Center at Harvard University --- http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/resources.html

    "Mistakes Are Made (but Using the Passive Isn’t One of Them)," by Geoffrey Pullum, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 2011 ---
    Thank you Dan Stone for the heads up.

    National Writing Project ---  http://www.nwp.org/

    In particular note the Resources for Teachers at
    Note that many of the resources are not free.

    One of the resources is a book called Breaking the Rules, by Edgar H. Schuster

  • . . .

    Schuster devotes eleven pages on how to teach students the difference between the active and passive voices. A simpler explanation—that the active voice, where the subject is performing the primary action and not having it performed on him, leads to more concise, lively writing, but the passive voice is acceptable at times—would eliminate Schuster's stultifying morass of lessons that evoke the following quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth: ". . . I am . . . . stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more/Returning were as tedious as go o'er . . ." (III, iv, 135-137).

    Continued in this book review.

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

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

    December 20, 2011

    December 21, 2011

    December 22, 2011

    December 24, 2011

    December 26, 2011

    December 27, 2011

    December 28, 2011

    December 28, 2011

    December 30, 2011





    December 24 message on heroism from Dan Stone

  • source: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/23/144184623/mumbai-terror-
    "Heroes Of The Taj Hotel: Why They Risked Their Lives," by Alix Spiegel, NPR, December 23, 2011 ---

    On Nov. 26, 2008, terrorists simultaneously attacked about a dozen
    locations in Mumbai, India, including one of the most iconic
    buildings in the city, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

    For two nights and three days, the Taj was under siege, held by men
    with automatic weapons who took some people hostage, killed
    others and set fire to the famous dome of the hotel.

    The siege of the Taj quickly became an international story. Lots of
    people covered it, including CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who grew up in
    Mumbai. In a report that aired the day after the attacks, Zakaria spoke
    eloquently about the horror of what had happened in Mumbai, and
    then pointed to a silver lining: the behavior of the employees at the

    Apparently, something extraordinary had happened during the siege.
    According to hotel managers, none of the Taj employees had fled the
    scene to protect themselves during the attack: They all stayed at the
    hotel to help the guests.

    continued at source....

    Stone comment: Our literature (my own work included) seems to far
    too often focus on incentives to the exclusion of character and
    relations. This is, seemingly, a story of extraordinary character and a
    shared commitment to social values.

    Steve Bridges as Barack Obama at at Fund Raiser --- http://www.stevebridges.com/obamavideos-promo-Aug-2011.html

    The Best and Worst Commercials in 2011 according to Tax Prof blogger Paul Carron ---

    Forwarded by Ed Scribner

    A touching Christmas story.

    A couple was Christmas shopping at the mall on Christmas Eve and the mall was packed.

    Walking through the mall the surprised wife look up and noticed her husband was nowhere around and she was very upset because they had a lot to do.

    She used her cell phone to call her husband to ask him where he was because she was so upset.

    The husband in a calm voice said, "Honey, remember the jewelry store we went into 5 years ago where you fell in love with that diamond necklace that we could not afford and I told you that I would get it for you one day?"

    His wife said, crying, "Yes, I remember that jewelry store."

    He said, "Well, I'm in the bar right next to it."

    Memory --- A Spoof --- http://www.youtube.com/embed/HzSaoN2LdfU?fs=1


    Humor Between December 1-31, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q4.htm#Humor123111 

    Humor Between November 1 and November 30, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q4.htm#Humor113011 

    Humor Between October 1 and October 31, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q4.htm#Humor103111 

    Humor Between September 1 and September 30, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q3.htm#Humor093011

    Humor Between August 1 and August 31, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q3.htm#Humor083111 

    Humor Between July 1 and July 31, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q3.htm#Humor073111

    Humor Between May 1 and June 30, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q2.htm#Humor063011 

    Humor Between April 1 and April 30, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q2.htm#Humor043011  

    Humor Between February 1 and March 31, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q1.htm#Humor033111 

    Humor Between January 1 and January 31, 2011 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/book11q1.htm#Humor013111 


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

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

    Online Distance Education Training and Education --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm
    For-Profit Universities Operating in the Gray Zone of Fraud  (College, Inc.) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ForProfitFraud

    Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

    What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?  ---

    The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most Accountants ---


    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory ---

    Tom Lehrer on Mathematical Models and Statistics ---

    Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---


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

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

    Free (updated) Basic Accounting Textbook --- search for Hoyle at

    CPA Examination --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cpa_examination
    Free CPA Examination Review Course Courtesy of Joe Hoyle --- http://cpareviewforfree.com/

    Rick Lillie's education, learning, and technology blog is at http://iaed.wordpress.com/

    Accounting News, Blogs, Listservs, and Social Networking ---

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

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

    Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

    Accounting program news items for colleges are posted at http://www.accountingweb.com/news/college_news.html
    Sometimes the news items provide links to teaching resources for accounting educators.
    Any college may post a news item.

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


    Accounting  and Taxation News Sites ---



    For an elaboration on the reasons you should join a ListServ (usually for free) go to   http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
    AECM (Educators) http://listserv.aaahq.org/cgi-bin/wa.exe?HOME
    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.

    Over the years the AECM has become the worldwide forum for accounting educators on all issues of accountancy and accounting education, including debates on accounting standards, managerial accounting, careers, fraud, forensic accounting, auditing, doctoral programs, and critical debates on academic (accountics) research, publication, replication, and validity testing.


    CPAS-L (Practitioners) http://pacioli.loyola.edu/cpas-l/  (Closed Down)
    CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments, ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed. Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or education. Others will be denied access.
    Yahoo (Practitioners)  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/xyztalk
    This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA. This can be anything  from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
    AccountantsWorld  http://accountantsworld.com/forums/default.asp?scope=1 
    This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and taxation.
    Business Valuation Group BusValGroup-subscribe@topica.com 
    This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM
    FEI's Financial Reporting Blog
    Smart Stops on the Web, Journal of Accountancy, March 2008 --- http://www.aicpa.org/pubs/jofa/mar2008/smart_stops.htm

    Find news highlights from the SEC, FASB and the International Accounting Standards Board on this financial reporting blog from Financial Executives International. The site, updated daily, compiles regulatory news, rulings and statements, comment letters on standards, and hot topics from the Web’s largest business and accounting publications and organizations. Look for continuing coverage of SOX requirements, fair value reporting and the Alternative Minimum Tax, plus emerging issues such as the subprime mortgage crisis, international convergence, and rules for tax return preparers.
    The CAlCPA Tax Listserv

    September 4, 2008 message from Scott Bonacker [lister@bonackers.com]
    Scott has been a long-time contributor to the AECM listserv (he's a techie as well as a practicing CPA)

    I found another listserve that is exceptional -

    CalCPA maintains http://groups.yahoo.com/taxtalk/  and they let almost anyone join it.
    Jim Counts, CPA is moderator.

    There are several highly capable people that make frequent answers to tax questions posted there, and the answers are often in depth.


    Scott forwarded the following message from Jim Counts

    Yes you may mention info on your listserve about TaxTalk. As part of what you say please say [... any CPA or attorney or a member of the Calif Society of CPAs may join. It is possible to join without having a free Yahoo account but then they will not have access to the files and other items posted.

    Once signed in on their Yahoo account go to http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/TaxTalk/ and I believe in top right corner is Join Group. Click on it and answer the few questions and in the comment box say you are a CPA or attorney, whichever you are and I will get the request to join.

    Be aware that we run on the average 30 or move emails per day. I encourage people to set up a folder for just the emails from this listserve and then via a rule or filter send them to that folder instead of having them be in your inbox. Thus you can read them when you want and it will not fill up the inbox when you are looking for client emails etc.

    We currently have about 830 CPAs and attorneys nationwide but mainly in California.... ]

    Please encourage your members to join our listserve.

    If any questions let me know.

    Jim Counts CPA.CITP CTFA
    Hemet, CA
    Moderator TaxTalk







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

    Some Accounting History Sites

    Bob Jensen's Accounting History in a Nutshell and Links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

    Accounting History Libraries at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) --- http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/accountancy/libraries.html
    The above libraries include international accounting history.
    The above libraries include film and video historical collections.

    MAAW Knowledge Portal for Management and Accounting --- http://maaw.info/

    Academy of Accounting Historians and the Accounting Historians Journal ---

    Sage Accounting History --- http://ach.sagepub.com/cgi/pdf_extract/11/3/269

    A nice timeline on the development of U.S. standards and the evolution of thinking about the income statement versus the balance sheet is provided at:
    "The Evolution of U.S. GAAP: The Political Forces Behind Professional Standards (1930-1973)," by Stephen A. Zeff, CPA Journal, January 2005 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/105/infocus/p18.htm
    Part II covering years 1974-2003 published in February 2005 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/205/index.htm 

    A nice timeline of accounting history --- http://www.docstoc.com/docs/2187711/A-HISTORY-OF-ACCOUNTING

    From Texas A&M University
    Accounting History Outline --- http://acct.tamu.edu/giroux/history.html

    Bob Jensen's timeline of derivative financial instruments and hedge accounting ---

    History of Fraud in America --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/415wp/AmericanHistoryOfFraud.htm
    Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm

    More of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories

    All my online pictures --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/PictureHistory/


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