Tidbits on February 14, 2012
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

In this Valentines Day edition of of Tidbits the following pictures are featured:
Erika's Roses and the Seasonal Life Cycle of Bob Jensen's Impatiens
Part 2:  July-August
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/Impatiens/ImpatiensSet02/ImpatiensSet02.htm 

 

More of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Pictures.htm

 

Blogs of White Mountain Hikers (many great photographs) ---
http://www.blogger.com/profile/02242409292439585691

Especially note the archive of John Compton's blogs at the bottom of the page at
http://1happyhiker.blogspot.com/

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

 

Tidbits on February 14, 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

3-D Video on the Web --- http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=EEu42L0ufBY

Video on Monarch Butterflies --- http://www.youtube.com/v/xHkq1edcbk4?version=3

A Crash Course in World History --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/a_crash_course_in_world_history.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

An Animated History Of Aviation: From da Vinci’s Sketches to Apollo 11 --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/an_animated_history_of_aviation_from_da_vincis_sketches_to_apollo_11.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29fBY 

A Crash Course in World History --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/a_crash_course_in_world_history.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

An Animated History Of Aviation: From da Vinci’s Sketches to Apollo 11 --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/an_animated_history_of_aviation_from_da_vincis_sketches_to_apollo_11.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

The Top Five Regrets of Dying --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/the_top_five_regrets_of_the_dying.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29
The Top Five Regrets are Listed at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying
Read the comments at the bottom of the page.
Poet Carl Sandburg who lived to a ripe old age wished he'd watched more sunsets and eaten more ice cream.


The Sixth Regret is that there is no beer in heaven (at least according to German legend) ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_tVkkoeVmc
Also see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya-ArnK8Bpk

What to do for a kitchen oil fire --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb78sGL-pag

How to prevent and electrical fire --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmh8ywnkaSM

The Intelligent Channel Launches (with Colum McCann Interview) --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/the_intelligent_channel_launches_with_colum_mccann_interview.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Little Boy and His Dog --- http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=SS-sWdAQsYg&vq=medium

Whole Foods Organic Foods Shocker (imported mostly from China) ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=JQ31Ljd9T_Y

The Horrible Earthquakes in Japan and a Thank You from Japan ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=SS-sWdAQsYg&vq=medium

Dragon Flying in China --- http://player.vimeo.com/video/31481531?autoplay=1

The Scientist --- Multimedia http://the-scientist.com/category/multimedia/

The Archaeology of an Ant Colony --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/the_archaeology_of_an_ant_colony.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Three Passions of Bertrand Russell (and a Collection of Free Texts) --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/three_passions_of_bertrand_russell.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Leonard Cohen’s New Album, Old Ideas: Stream It for Free Online --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/leonard_cohens_new_album_old_ideas_online_stream_it_for_free_.html

Comedian John Branyan tells the story of The Three Little Pigs as it would have sounded if written by Shakespeare in this hilarious stand-up performance ---
http://biggeekdad.com/2011/11/the-three-little-pigs/

Disneyland 1957: A Little Stroll Down Memory Lane --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/disneyland_1957.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29


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

Little Darlin' by The Diamonds in 1957 and again in 2004 ---
http://www.flixxy.com/the-diamonds-little-darlin-1957-2004.htm
Purportedly the lead singer is Oscar winner Tom Hanks' dad. But I can find no solid evidence of this (except for an uncanny resemblance) ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diamonds#Original_members

1950: The boy singing with Mario Lanza is Luciano Pavarotti! ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmJSWgWNCFQ&feature=related

Disney’s Oscar-Winning Adventures in Music ---
http://www.openculture.com/2011/01/disneys_oscar-winning_adventures_in_music.html

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

Ballad of Timothy Geithner --- 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAdJLLmpWBU

A Ballet Dancer's Workout Music? Classical, Of Course ---
http://www.npr.org/2012/02/09/146589759/a-ballet-dancers-workout-music-classical-of-course

Little Boy and His Dog --- http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=SS-sWdAQsYg&vq=medium

Here Comes The Sun: The Lost Guitar Solo by George Harrison --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/here_comes_the_sun_the_lost_guitar_solo_by_george_harrison.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Web outfits like Pandora, Foneshow, Stitcher, and Slacker broadcast portable and mobile content that makes Sirius look overpriced and stodgy ---
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2009/tc20090327_877363.htm?link_position=link2

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

Comparing Income, Corporate, Capital Gains Tax Rates: 1916-2011 --- Click Here
http://visualizingeconomics.com/2012/01/24/comparing-tax-rates/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+VisualizingEconomics+%28Visualizing+Economics%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

3-D Video on the Web --- http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=EEu42L0ufBY

An Animated History Of Aviation: From da Vinci’s Sketches to Apollo 11 --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/an_animated_history_of_aviation_from_da_vincis_sketches_to_apollo_11.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Pulse News --- http://www.pulse.me/

Stars and Their Cars --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/StarsAndCars.pdf

Country Woman Magazine --- http://www.countrywomanmagazine.com/

Audubon Magazine - Multimedia --- http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/multimedia/index.html

Howard Hughes Aviation Photograph Collection --- http://digital.library.unlv.edu/hughes/

An Animated History Of Aviation: From da Vinci’s Sketches to Apollo 11 --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/an_animated_history_of_aviation_from_da_vincis_sketches_to_apollo_11.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

National Naval Aviation Museum [Flash Player] --- http://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/

The Tinkering Studio (arts & crafts in San Francisco) ---  http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/

The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore) --- http://thewalters.org/

The Baltimore Museum of Art --- http://www.artbma.org/

Yosemite National Park in All of Its Time-Lapse Splendor --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/yosemite_national_park_in_all_of_its_time-lapse_splendor.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Photo History of Bethlehem Steel --- http://www.technologyreview.com/article/39201/
Especially note the comments (really a debate) below the pictures

Temple University: City Parks Association Photographs ---
http://digital.library.temple.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2Fp15037coll

Philadelphia Museum of Art: Audio Tours --- http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/audiotours.html

Sid Lapidus '59 Collection on Liberty and the American Revolution --- http://pudl.princeton.edu/collections/pu

Photographs of Vergennes (Vermont) http://cdi.uvm.edu/collections/getCollection.xql?pid=bixby

Long Trail Photographs (the Green Mountains of Vermont) http://cdi.uvm.edu/collections/getCollection.xql?title=Long%20Trail%20Photographs 
Oldest Long Distance Hiking Trail in the United States

City of New York Parks & Recreation --- http://www.nycgovparks.org/

Kansas Memory --- http://www.kansasmemory.org/

Kansas Collection Photographs --- http://luna.ku.edu:8180/luna/servlet/kuvc1kcp~1~1

The Raimund McClain European Architecture Slides Collection ---
http://collections.lib.ttu.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/RMEAS

A Tour Inside Salvador Dalí’s Labyrinthine Spanish Home --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/salvador_dalis_home.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Chicago Public Art Group --- http://www.cpag.net/

Chicago Newspaper Photographs
Hyde Park Herald Digital Collections ---
http://www.hpherald.com/archi

Beauties of America: Staffordshire Pottery --- http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Exhibitions/Ridgway/enter.htm

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucnredlist.org/

Art for the Sky (Ecology, Threatened Species) --- http://www.artforthesky.com/default.htm

Chicago Examiner --- http://www.chipublib.org/images/examiner/index.php

Bob Jensen's threads on history, literature and art ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#History


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

Celebrate the 200th Birthday of Charles Dickens with Free Movies, eBooks and Audio Books --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/celebrate_the_200th_birthday_of_charles_dickens_with_free_movies_ebooks_and_audio_books.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Three Passions of Bertrand Russell (and a Collection of Free Texts) --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/three_passions_of_bertrand_russell.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

The Greatest Books of All Time, As Voted by 125 Famous Authors --- Click Here
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/01/30/writers-top-ten-favorite-books/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+brainpickings%2Frss+%28Brain+Pickings%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

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 February 14, 2012
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2012/TidbitsQuotations021412.htm           

"New-home sales post worst year (2011) on record," by Vicki Needham, The Hill, January 26, 2012 ---
http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/1091-housing/206813-new-home-sales-post-worst-year-on-record-

Graphic:  How Much People Pay for Health Care Around the World ---
http://visual.ly/how-much-people-pay-health-care-around-world

"5% of patients account for half of health care spending," by Kelly Kennedy, USA Today, January 20, 2012 ---
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-01-11/health-care-costs-11/52505562/1

Peter G. Peterson Website on Deficit/Debt Solutions ---
http://www.pgpf.org/

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




U.S. National Debt Clock --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/
Also see http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

Money Chart --- http://xkcd.com/980/huge/#x=-8064&y=-2880&z=4
Thank you George Wright for the heads up.

How Income Taxes Work (including history) --- http://money.howstuffworks.com/income-tax.htm

Why not start with the IRS? (The best government agency web site on the Internet) http://www.irs.gov/ 

IRS Site Map --- http://www.irs.gov/sitemap/index.html

FAQs and answers --- http://www.irs.gov/faqs/index.html

Taxpayer Advocate Service --- http://www.irs.gov/advocate/index.html

Forms and Publications, click on Forms and Publications

 

IRS Free File Options for Taxpayers Having Less Than $57,000 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) ---
http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html?portlet=104

Free File Fillable Forms FAQs ---
http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=226829,00.html

Visualizing Economics
Comparing Income, Corporate, Capital Gains Tax Rates: 1916-2011 and Other Graphics --- Click Here
http://visualizingeconomics.com/2012/01/24/comparing-tax-rates/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+VisualizingEconomics+%28Visualizing+Economics%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

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

Hint:
If you plan to cheat, use TurboTax since our U.S. Treasury Secretary in charge of the IRS explained how to get away with cheating by using Turbo Tax ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKVxGlkPRlo

Here's what happens if you don't use TurboTax

So why not the Turbo Tax Defense?
"Former Ohio State Bar President Gets One Year in Prison for Tax Fraud," by Paul Caron, Tax Prof Blog, January 19, 2012 ---
http://taxprof.typepad.com/

Leslie Hines, a former senior antitrust partner in Thompson Hine's Cleveland office, was sentenced Tuesday to serve a year and a day in prison in connection with his guilty plea on a federal tax fraud charge, according to a press release issued by the Justice Department.

Federal prosecutors had been seeking a sentence of up to 16 months in prison for Jacobs, who was charged last October with filing false tax returns and overstating his business expenses by more than $250,000.

According to court filings [PDF], Jacobs filed four federal income tax returns between 2004 and 2007 that inflated his business expenses by as little as $25,000 and as much as $94,000 in an effort to lower the taxable income he collected from his Thompson Hine partnership. Prosecutors said Jacobs's income in each of those years should have ranged from $633,303 to $759,973.

Jensen Comment
A better lawyer would've embezzled more than that from clients.
Even a lousy accountant could've fabricated expense receipts better than that.
Hence Mr. Hines should've been either an accountant or a better lawyer.

Better yet he should've used the TurboTax Defense that works for big crooks ---
Watch the video how how Mr. Hines should6ve proceeded ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKVxGlkPRlo


January 24, 2012 heads up from Barry Rice

Video 1
TurboTax SnapTax Mobile App - File Taxes on Your Android and iPhone!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-VyLXLAipg

Video 2
SnapTax From TurboTax Will Let You File Your Taxes From Your iPhone ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jQ2xLQvbio

Jensen Advice
I instead recommend:

IRS Free File Options for Taxpayers Having Less Than $57,000 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) ---
http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html?portlet=104

Free File Fillable Forms FAQs ---
http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=226829,00.html


Possibly the Worst Academic Scandal in Past 100 Years:  Deception at Duke
The Loose Ethics of Co-authorship of Research in Academe

In general we don't allow faculty to have publications ghost written for tenure and performance evaluations. However, the rules are very loose regarding co-author division of duties. A faculty member can do all of the research but pass along all the writing to a co-author except when co-authoring is not allowed such as in the writing of dissertations.

In my opinion the rules are too loose regarding co-authorship. Probably the most common abuse in the current "publish or perish" environment in academe is the partnering of two or more researchers to share co-authorships when their actual participation rate in the research and writing of most the manuscripts is very small, maybe less than 10%. The typical partnering arrangement is for an author to take the lead on one research project while playing only a small role in the other research projects
Gaming for Tenure as an Accounting Professor ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TheoryTenure.htm
(with a reply about tenure publication point systems from Linda Kidwell)

Another common abuse, in my opinion, is where a senior faculty member with a stellar reputation lends his/her name to an article written and researched almost entirely by a lesser-known colleague or graduate student. The main author may agree to this "co-authorship" when the senior co-author's name on the paper improves the chances for publication in a prestigious book or journal.

This is what happened in a sense in what is becoming the most notorious academic fraud in the history of the world. At Duke University a famous cancer researcher co-authored research that was published in the most prestigious science and medicine journals in the world. The senior faculty member of high repute is now apologizing to the world for being a part of a fraud where his colleague fabricated a significant portion of the data to make it "come out right" instead of the way it actually turned out.

What is interesting is to learn about how super-knowledgeable researchers at the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston detected this fraud and notified the Duke University science researchers of their questions about the data. Duke appears to have resisted coming out with the truth way to long by science ethics standards and even continued to promise miraculous cures to 100 Stage Four cancer patients who underwent the miraculous "Duke University" cancer cures that turned out to not be miraculous at all. Now Duke University is exposed to quack medicine lawsuit filed by families of the deceased cancer patients who were promised phone 80% cure rates.

The above Duke University scandal was the headline module in the February 12, 2012 edition of CBS Sixty Minutes. What an eye-opening show about science research standards and frauds ---
Deception at Duke (Sixty Minutes Video) --- http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57376073/deception-at-duke/

Next comes the question of whether college administrators operate under different publishing and speaking ethics vis-à-vis their faculty
"Faking It for the Dean," by Carl Elliott, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 7, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/says-who/43843?sid=cr&utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en

Added Jensen Comment
I've no objection to "ghost writing" of interview remarks as long as the ghost writer is given full credit for doing the writing itself.

I also think there is a difference between speeches versus publications with respect to citations. How awkward it would be if every commencement speaker had to read the reference citation for each remark in the speech. On the other hand, I think the speaker should announce at the beginning and end that some of the points made in the speech originated from other sources and that references will be provided in writing upon request.

Bob Jensen's threads on professors who let students cheat ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm#RebeccaHoward

Bob Jensen's threads on professors who cheat
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm#ProfessorsWhoPlagiarize


Question
Can you lower income taxes for people who don't pay any income taxes?
Note that about half the taxpayers in the United States do not pay any income taxes.

Answer
Of course. You can increase their refunds that their already receiving before you "lower" their taxes.

"Can you cut taxes for people who don't pay taxes?" Des Moines Register, February 07, 2012 ---
http://www.rothcpa.com/archives/007655.php

Tax Information for Home Owners ---
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p530.pdf

Selling Your Home ---
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p523.pdf

Jensen Comment
It was conservative economist and Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman who advocated simplifying the welfare system by introducing a negative income tax. We seem to have a negative income tax in place without giving Professor Friedman enough credit .


"IRS: Identity Theft Crackdown Sweeps Across the Nation:  More than 200 Actions Taken In Past Week in 23 States," SmartPros, February 1, 2012 ---
http://accounting.smartpros.com/x73338.xml

. . .

To help taxpayers, the IRS earlier this month created a new, special section on IRS.gov dedicated to identity theft matters, including YouTube videos, tips for taxpayers and a special guide to assistance. The information includes how to contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit and tips to protect against “phishing” schemes that can lead to identity theft.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personal information without their permission to commit fraud or other crimes using the victim’s name, Social Security number or other identifying information. When it comes to federal taxes, taxpayers may not be aware they have become victims of identity theft until they receive a letter from the IRS stating more than one tax return was filed with their information or that IRS records show wages from an employer the taxpayer has not worked for in the past.

If a taxpayer receives a notice from the IRS indicating identity theft, they should follow the instructions in that notice. A taxpayer who believes they are at risk of identity theft due to lost or stolen personal information should contact the IRS immediately so the agency can take action to secure their tax account. The taxpayer should contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490.  The taxpayer will be asked to complete the IRS Identity Theft Affidavit, Form 14039, and follow the instructions on the back of the form based on their situation.

Taxpayers looking for additional information can consult the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft or the IRS Identity Theft Protection page on the IRS website.

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


Our goal is for our economy to look more like Texas, and a lot less like California.
Sam. Brownback, 2012 Governor of Kansas --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Brownback

"The Heartland Tax Rebellion:  More states want to repeal their income taxes," The Wall Street Journal, February 7, 2012 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203889904577200872159113492.html#mod=djemEditorialPage_t

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is starting to feel surrounded. On her state's southern border, Texas has no income tax. Now two of its other neighbors, Missouri and Kansas, are considering plans to cut and eventually abolish their income taxes. "Oklahoma doesn't want to end up an income-tax sandwich," she quips.

On Monday she announced her new tax plan, which calls for lowering the state income-tax rate to 3.5% next year from 5.25%, and an ambition to phase out the income tax over 10 years. "We're going to have the most pro-growth tax system in the region," she says.

She's going to have competition. In Kansas, Republican Governor Sam Brownback is also proposing to cut income taxes this year to 4.9% from 6.45%, offset by a slight increase in the sales tax rate and a broadening of the tax base. He also wants a 10-year phase out. In Missouri, a voter initiative that is expected to qualify for the November ballot would abolish the income tax and shift toward greater reliance on sales taxes.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley wants to abolish her state's corporate income tax. And in the Midwest, Congressman Mike Pence, who is the front-runner to be the next Republican nominee for Governor, is exploring a plan to reform Indiana's income tax with much lower rates. That policy coupled with the passage last week of a right-to-work law would help Indiana attract more jobs and investment.

That's not all: Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey and Ohio are debating income-tax cuts this year.

But it is Oklahoma that may have the best chance in the near term at income-tax abolition. The energy state is rich with oil and gas revenues that have produced a budget surplus and one of the lowest unemployment rates, at 6.1%. Alaska was the last state to abolish its income tax, in 1980, and it used energy production levies to replace the revenue. Ms. Fallin trimmed Oklahoma's income-tax rate last year to 5.25% from 5.5%.

The other state overflowing with new oil and gas revenues is North Dakota thanks to the vast Bakken Shale. But its politicians want to abolish property taxes rather than the income tax.

They might want to reconsider if their goal is long-term growth rather than short-term politics. The American Legislative Exchange Council tracks growth in the economy and employment of states and finds that those without an income tax do better on average than do high-tax states. The nearby table compares the data for the nine states with no personal income tax with that of the nine states with the highest personal income-tax rates. It's not a close contest.

Skeptics point to the recent economic problems of Florida and Nevada as evidence that taxes are irrelevant to growth. But those states were the epicenter of the housing bust, thanks to overbuilding, and for 20 years before the bust they had experienced a rush of new investment and population growth. They'd be worse off now with high income-tax regimes.

The experience of states like Florida, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Texas also refutes the dire forecasts that eliminating income taxes will cause savage cuts in schools, public safety and programs for the poor. These states still fund more than adequate public services and their schools are generally no worse than in high-income tax states like California, New Jersey and New York.

They have also recorded faster revenue growth to pay for government services over the past two decades than states with income taxes. That's because growth in the economy from attracting jobs and capital has meant greater tax collections.

The tax burden isn't the only factor that determines investment flows and growth. But it is a major signal about how a state treats business, investment and risk-taking. States like New York, California, Illinois and Maryland that have high and rising tax rates also tend to be those that have growing welfare states, heavy regulation, dominant public unions, and budgets that are subject to boom and bust because they rely so heavily on a relatively few rich taxpayers.

The tax competition in America's heartland is an encouraging sign that at least some U.S. politicians understand that they can't take prosperity for granted. It must be nurtured with good policy, as they compete for jobs and investment with other states and the rest of the world.

"Our goal is for our economy to look more like Texas, and a lot less like California," says Mr. Brownback, the Kansas Governor. It's the right goal.

 

Continued in article

State Individual Income Tax Rates in the 50 States, 2000-2011 ---
http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/228.html
On a per capita basis ---
50-State Table of State and Local Individual Income Tax Collections Per Capita

Comparison of Corporate Income Tax Rates in the 50 States ---
http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/230.html
On a per capita basis ---
http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/281.html
This is a little misleading since many states like Illinois give their largest corporate employers "Get Out of Tax Free" cards (or offsetting subsidies)

State Sales, Gasoline, Cigarette, and Alcohol Tax Rates by State, 2000-2010 ---
http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/245.html

PBS Video:  What Do Tax Rates' Ups and Downs Mean for Economic Growth?
http://video.pbs.org/video/2176062522
Thank you Paul Caron for the heads up.

Marginal Tax Rates Around the World --- http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/MarginalTaxRates.html

Tax Foundation --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_Foundation

Video from the Tax Foundation --- How Much Do U.S. Corporations Really Pay in Taxes? New Video Documents High Effective Rates
http://taxfoundation.org/news/show/27953.html
Thank you Paul Caron for the heads up at the Tax Prof blog

U.S. companies pay among the highest corporate tax rates in the world, even after accounting for all deductions and loopholes, according to a new video produced by the Tax Foundation. This explanation of “effective” tax rates for corporations, based on recent academic studies of tax systems around the globe, is the third in a 5-part series on corporate taxes. “The impression that a large number of U.S. companies are using loopholes and creative accounting to get out of paying taxes could not be more wrong,” said Tax Foundation president Scott Hodge. “American corporations are consistently paying at the highest levels in the world, and that burden impacts their ability to compete both at home and abroad.”

Jensen Comment
The Tax Foundation has been around since 1937, but it has been recently heavily criticized by liberals like Paul Krugman for misleading research.

Note that just because a corporation elects to not transmit profits earned abroad back to the United States, thereby deferring U.S. corporate taxes, does not mean it is not paying taxes on these profits that are often subject to foreign corporate taxes that are usually lower than U.S. corporate taxes on those profits.

Bob Jensen's threads on taxation ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#Taxation

 


"First Glimpses of Microsoft Office 15 Are Minus the Ribbon," by Scott M. Fulton, III , ReadWriteWeb, February 9, 2012 ---
http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2012/02/first-glimpses-of-office-15-ar.php


"Top 5 Weirdest Companies on the Market," by Katie Morel, Open Forum, January 27, 2012 ---
http://www.openforum.com/articles/top-5-weirdest-companies-on-the-market?extlink=em-openf-SBdaily


How Bob Jensen used Wolfram Alpha to save his reputation:

http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theorylearningcurves.htm


Freshman Research Initiative (at the University of Texas)  --- http://fri.cns.utexas.edu/

Undergraduate Research Ethics Cases ---
http://www.udel.edu/chem/white/HHMI3/EthicsCases.html

Council on Undergraduate Research on the Web --- http://www.cur.org/quarterly/webedition.html


"Losing Is for Losers: It’s Easier Than Ever to Back Up Your Work," by Carol Saller, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 3, 2012 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2012/02/03/losing-is-for-losers-it%E2%80%99s-easier-than-ever-to-back-up-your-work/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Dropbox file synchronization and storage ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dropbox_(storage_provider)

"Windows 7's Built-in Backup," Lincoln Spector, PC World via The Washington Post, January 20, 2010 ---
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/18/AR2010011802423.html?wpisrc=nl_tech

Robert wants to know if Windows 7's built-in backup program is worth using.

Microsoft has a history of bundling really bad backup programs with their operating systems. The company has been accused of a lot of monopolistic behavior, but their backup programs often seemed designed to not threaten the market for third-party competitors.

So I wasn't prepared to like Windows 7's Backup and Restore. But much to my amazement, I kind of do. It does image backups for system protection and file backups for regular data protection--and does both for the Home Premium as well as the Business and Ultimate editions. For file backups, it defaults to backing up exactly what you should be backing up (libraries, appdata, and a few other important folders), and lets you tell it to back up any other folders you want to protect.

Backup and Restore can backup files incrementally, saving only those created and changed since the last backup. And it does versioning--if several versions of a file have been backed up, you can pick which you want to restore. It defaults to restoring the most recent backup, and generally avoids the confusion that versioning causes in some people.

And it's all very easy and direct.

Not that it's perfect. Backup and Restore allows you to pick which drive you wish to backup to, but won't let you pick a folder in that drive. It can be pretty picky about restoring an image, to the point where I wouldn't use it for image backup. You can save to a network, but not over the Internet. If you're looking for something better, see 7 Backup Strategies for Your Data, Multimedia, and System Files.

PC World Senior Editor Robert Strohmeyer (full disclosure: He's my editor) created a video showing how to set up a scheduled, automatic backup with Backup and Restore. But since I don't believe in automatic backups--at least not to local media like an external hard drive--I'll tell you how to back it up manually.

(What do I have against automatic backups? For them to work, the backup media must always be available. This is fine if you're backing up over a network or the Internet, but an external drive that's connected to your PC 24/7 is vulnerable to the same disasters that could destroy the data on your internal hard drive. It's best to connect a backup drive only when you need to.)

To launch the program, simply click Start, type , and select Backup and Restore. Plug in your external hard drive and click Set up backup. Make your own decisions in the setup wizard, but when you get to the last page, click Change schedule. Uncheck Run backup on a schedule (recommended), and click OK. You're set up.

To back up your data (and you should do this every day), plug in the external drive, launch Backup and Restore as described above, and click Back up now.

You can continue working as you back up.

Bob Jensen's threads on storage alternatives ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob4.htm#archiving


Visualizing Economics
Comparing Income, Corporate, Capital Gains Tax Rates: 1916-2011 and Other Graphics --- Click Here
http://visualizingeconomics.com/2012/01/24/comparing-tax-rates/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+VisualizingEconomics+%28Visualizing+Economics%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

"U.S. Taxes Really Are Unusually Progressive," by Clive Crook, The Atlantic, February 10, 2012 ---
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/02/us-taxes-really-are-unusually-progressive/252917/

If you ask me, Jonathan Chait, a writer I respect, has made an ass of himself in a fight he picked with Veronique de Rugy over taxes and progressivity. She offended him by saying that America's income taxes are more progressive than those of other rich countries. Chait assailed her "completely idiotic" reasoning, called her an "inequality denier", "a ubiquitous right-wing misinformation recirculator" and asked if it was really any wonder he cast insults now and then at such "lesser lights of the intellectual world". (Paul Krugman said he sympathises. With Chait, obviously. The only danger here is in being too forgiving, Krugman advises. Chait may think the de Rugys of this world are only lazy and incompetent, but we know them to be liars as well.)

Just one problem. On the topic in question, De Rugy is right and Chait is wrong.

Income taxes in America are more progressive than in other rich countries--according to an authoritiative official study which, to my knowledge, has not been contradicted. The OECD's report "Growing Unequal", on poverty and inequality in industrial countries, includes a table that provides two measures of income tax progressivity in 2005. This is evidently the source of de Rugy's numbers. Here they are in an excel file. According to one measure, America's income taxes were the most progressive of the 24 countries in the sample, except for Ireland. According to the other, they were the most progressive full stop. (A more recent OECD report, "Divided We Stand", uses different data, a smaller sample of countries and a different measure of progressivity: the results are similar.)

Before you ask, this ranking takes account of employee-side payroll tax as well as the federal income tax.

Chait first objected to de Rugy's claim about progressivity because he thought she was inferring it from the fact that the US collects the biggest share of income taxes--45 percent of the total, col B1 in the table--from the top income decile. That would be a false inference, as Chait says, because it could be true of a country with a very unequal income distribution even if its taxes were not especially progressive. But look at the table. There was no need for de Rugy to draw any such inference, let alone try to mislead readers. All she needed to do--and all, I'm sure, she did--was glance over to the last column, which actually gives the measure of progressivity, showing the US to have the highest score.

The measure of progressivity is hard to explain, so I can see why de Rugy quoted the tax share instead. But she could have chosen a much more dramatic number if she was seeking merely to bamboozle her readers. Exclude payroll tax, and the top 1 percent of taxpayers, not the top 10 percent, have lately accounted for nearly 40 percent of income tax receipts, the top 5 percent for nearly 60 percent, and the top decile for roughly 70 percent. (Here are the IRS data, excel file.)

For the reason I just gave, this does not prove that the US tax system is more progressive than anybody else's--but it surely has some relevance to the question, "Are the rich paying their fair share of income tax?" If this isn't fair, what would be?

When Chait, with all the authority of a leading light of the intellectual world, says "Rich Americans pay a bigger share of the tax burden because they earn a bigger share of the income, not because the U.S. tax code is more progressive," he is making the same kind of sloppy bias-driven error he falsely accuses de Rugy of making. (I'll refrain from wondering whether he made the mistake deliberately.) According to the OECD, rich Americans bear a bigger share of the tax burden because they earn a bigger share of the income and because the US income tax system is more progressive.

There's a lot more to say on this subject.

Is measuring progressivity straightforward? No. It's difficult, because the underlying data are very complicated and hard to compare across countries. Another problem: expressing progressivity across the whole income range as a single number, so that one can say A is more or less progressive than B, can be misleading. Unfortunately, we all want to be able to say, A is more or less progressive than B.

Why, according to the OECD, is the US system so progressive? Not because the rich face unusually high average tax rates, but because middle-income US households face unusually low tax rates--an important point which de Rugy mentions and Chait ignores.

How does the picture change if you take indirect taxation into account? That would make the US system look even more progressive, because the US doesn't rely on a flat consumption tax like most other governments.

Continued in article

Most developed nations, other than the U.S., provide relief on double taxation
"Corporate Dividend and Capital Gains Taxation: A Comparison of the United States to Other Developed Nations," by Ernst & Young (Drs. Robert Carroll and Gerald Prante), February 2012 ---
http://images.politico.com/global/2012/02/120208_asidividend.html


From Rice University (as far as I can tell nothing is yet available for accountancy)
"Why Pay for Intro Textbooks?" by Mitch Smith, Inside Higher Ed, February 7, 2012 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/02/07/rice-university-announces-open-source-textbooks

If ramen noodle sales spike at the start of every semester, here’s one possible reason: textbooks can cost as much as a class itself; materials for an introductory physics course can easily top $300.

Cost-conscious students can of course save money with used or online books and recoup some of their cash come buyback time. Still, it’s a steep price for most 18-year-olds.

But soon, introductory physics texts will have a new competitor, developed at Rice University. A free online physics book, peer-reviewed and designed to compete with major publishers’ offerings, will debut next month through the non-profit publisher OpenStax College.

Using Rice’s Connexions platform, OpenStax will offer free course materials for five common introductory classes. The textbooks are open to classes anywhere and organizers believe the programs could save students $90 million in the next five years if the books capture 10 percent of the national market. OpenStax is funded by grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation and the Maxfield Foundation.

Traditional publishers are quick to note that the new offerings will face competition.  J. Bruce Hildebrand, executive director for higher education of the Association of American Publishers, said any textbook’s use is ultimately determined by its academic value. “Free would appear to be difficult to compete with,” Hildebrand said. “The issue always, however, is the quality of the materials and whether they enable students to learn, pass their course and get their degree. Nothing else really counts.”

In the past, open-source materials have failed to gain traction among some professors; their accuracy could be difficult to confirm because they hadn't been peer-reviewed, and supplementary materials were often nonexistent or lacking because they weren't organized for large-scale use.

OpenStax believes it addressed those concerns with its new books, subjecting the texts to peer review and partnering with for-profit companies to offer supplementary materials for a cost.

Whether the books are used at Rice is up to each professor, but several colleges and universities – “in the low 10s” said Connexions founder and director Richard Baraniuk – have already signed on for the first batch of texts. Baraniuk sees a quality product with the potential to defray a student’s total cost and increase access to higher education and expects more colleges to integrate the books as word spreads.

While open-source materials are nothing new, a series of free self-contained textbooks designed to compete head-to-head with major publishers is. Instructors building a class with open-source materials now must assemble modules from several different places and verify each lesson’s usefulness and accuracy.

The new textbooks eliminate much of that work, which Baraniuk thinks will be make the free materials more palatable to professors who have been reluctant to adopt open-source lessons. In the next five years, OpenStax hopes to have free books for 20 of the most common college courses.

OpenStax used its grant money to hire experts to develop each textbook and then had their work peer reviewed. The process has taken more than 18 months and will go live next month with sociology and physics books. The only cost to users comes if an instructor decides to use supplementary material from a for-profit company OpenStax partners with, such as Sapling Learning.

Two introductory biology texts, one for majors and another for nonmajors, are slated to go online in the fall along with an anatomy and physiology book. Students and professors will be able to download PDF versions on their computers or access the information on a mobile device. Paper editions will be sold for the cost of printing. The 600-page, full-color sociology book is expected to sell for $30 for those who want a print version -- those content with digital will pay nothing. Leading introductory sociology texts routinely cost between $60 and $120 new.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
These open source textbooks work best in disciplines that are not being constantly updated with updates --- like mathematics. However, the textbooks available to date for OpenStax include such introductory textbooks as biology which changes more quickly than introductory mathematics.

In accounting, intermediate accounting is particularly problematic even with for-profit publishing houses as new domestic and international accounting standards and implementation guides keep coming forth on a weekly basis.

I have a directory for free textbooks in various academic disciplines, including accountancy and finance. Many of these were previous hot selling books that were dropped when publishers merged and thinned out their product lines after the mergers (giving copyrights to authors whose books were dropped)  ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks
But I find it increasingly difficult for me to recommend some of those free books because there is no economic incentives for authors to keep updating free textbooks and supplements (like answer books and text banks) when the textbooks are free.

Ambitious instructors may be better off scouring for course materials from prestigious universities. These course materials are more likely to be updated relative to older free textbooks ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

 


Putting a College Diploma Inside a Tool Belt
"The Future of American Colleges May Lie, Literally, in Students' Hands," Chronicle of Higher Education, February 5, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/Tools-for-Living/130615/?sid=cr&utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en

Jensen Comment
The risk in this education/training module is that it will do a poor job of meeting both goals. My advice would be to keep the academic standards high and provide more of a survey of what trade workers do rather than get bogged down in how they do it. For example, it is doubtful that a graduate of such a program will be able to work in a transmission shop without much more tech schooling and apprenticeship. The hard thing about being a mechanic or a plumber is becoming experienced in the highly variable problems that are encountered on the job. For example, automobiles now contain computers that greatly complicate automotive repair relative to taking the head off a Model T Ford and scraping off the carbon.


Bringing Low Cost Education and Training to the Masses

"MIT’s New Free Courses May Threaten (and Improve) the Traditional Model, Program’s Leader Says," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 2012 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/mits-new-free-courses-may-threaten-the-traditional-model-programs-leader-says/35245?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

The recent announcement that Massachusetts Institute of Technology would give certificates around free online course materials has fueled further debate about whether employers may soon welcome new kinds of low-cost credentials. Questions remain about how MIT’s new service will work, and what it means for traditional college programs.

On Monday The Chronicle posed some of those questions to two leaders of the new project: L. Rafael Reif, MIT’s provost, and Anant Agarwal, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. They stressed that the new project, called MITx, will be run separately from the institute’s longstanding effort to put materials from its traditional courses online. That project, called OpenCourseWare, will continue just as before, while MITx will focus on creating new courses designed to be delivered entirely online. All MITx materials will be free, but those who want a certificate after passing a series of online tests will have to pay a “modest fee.”

Q. I understand you held a forum late last month for professors at MIT to ask questions about the MITx effort. What were the hottest questions at that meeting?
 

Mr. Agarwal: There were a few good questions. One was, How will you offer courses that involve more of a soft touch? More of humanities, where it may not be as clear how to grade answers?

Mr. Reif: One particular faculty member said, How do I negotiate with my department head to get some time to be doing this? Another one is, Well, you want MIT to give you a certificate, how do we know who the learner is? How do we certify that?

Q. That is a question I’ve heard on some blogs. How do you know that a person is who they say they are online? What is your answer to that?
 

Mr. Agarwal: I could give a speech on this question. … In the very short term students will have to pledge an honor code that says that they’ll do the work honestly and things like that. In the medium term our plan is to work with testing companies that offer testing sites around the world, where they can do an identity check and they can also proctor tests and exams for us. For the longer term we have quite a few ideas, and I would say these are in the so-called R&D phase, in terms of how we can electronically check to see if the student is who they say they are, and this would use some combination of face recognition and other forms of technique, and also it could involve various forms of activity recognition.

Q. You refer to what’s being given by MITx as a certificate. But there’s also this trend of educational badges, such as an effort by Mozilla, the people who make the Firefox Web browser, to build a framework to issue such badges. Is MIT planning to use that badge platform to offer these certificates?
 

Mr. Agarwal: There are a lot of experiments around the Web as far as various ways of badging and various ways of giving points. Some sites call them “karma points.” Khan Academy has a way of giving badges to students who offer various levels of answering questions and things like that. Clearly this is a movement that is happening in our whole business. And we clearly want to leverage some of these ideas. But fundamentally at the end of the day we have to give a certificate with a grade that says the student took this course and here’s how they did—here’s their grade and we will give it to them. … But there are many, many ways the Internet is evolving to include some kind of badging and point systems, so we will certainly try to leverage these things. And that’s a work in progress.

Q. So there will be letter grades?

 

Mr. Agarwal: Correct.

Q. So you’ve said you will release your learning software for free under an open-source license. Are you already hearing from institutions that are going to take you up on that?
 

Mr. Agarwal: Yes, I think there’s a lot of interest. Our plan is to make the software available online, and there has been a lot of interest from a lot of sources. Many universities and other school systems have been thinking about making more of their content available online, and if they can find an open platform to go with I think that will be very interesting for a lot of people.

Q. If you can get this low-cost certificate, could this be an alternative to the $40,000-plus per year tuition of MIT for enough people that this will really shake up higher education? That may not threaten MIT, but could it threaten and even force some colleges to close if they have to compete with a nearly free certificate from your online institution?
 

Mr. Reif: First of all this is not a degree, this is a certificate that MITx is providing. The second important point is it’s a completely different educational environment. The real question is, What do employers want? I think that for a while MITx or activities like MITx—and there is quite a bit of buzz going on around things like that—will augment the education students get in college today. It’s not intended to replace it. But of course one can think of, “What if in a few years, I only take two MITx-like courses for free and that’s enough to get me a job?” Well, let’s see how well all this is received and how well or how badly the traditional college model gets threatened.

In my personal view, I think the best education that can be provided is that in a college environment. There are many things that you cannot teach very well online. Let me give you, for instance, an example of something that is important: ethics and integrity and things like that. You walk on the MIT campus and by taking a course with Anant Agarwal and meeting him and other professors like him you get the sense of ethics and integrity. Is it easy to transfer that online in a community? Maybe it is, but it’s going to take a bit of research to figure out how to do that.

Continued in article

The Game Changer
More on Porsches versus Volkswagens versus Competency Based Learning
Bringing Low Cost Education and Training to the Masses
Both a 1950 VW bug and a 1950 Porsche can be driven from Munich to Berlin. A Porsche (MIT degree) can make the trip faster, more comfortable (the VW didn't even have a heater), and safer on the autobahn.  But the VW can achieve the same goal at a lower cost to own and drive.

As fate would have it, the day after I wrote about Hitler's Volkswagen versus Porsche analogy with meeting higher education needs of the masses at very low cost, the following article appeared the next day of February 3. Ryan Craig and I went about make the same point from two different angles.

Part of my February 2, 2012 message read as follows:

. . .

But the MITx design is not yet a Volkswagen since MIT provides high quality lectures, videos, and course materials without yet setting academic standards. MIT is instead passing along the academic standard setting to the stakeholders. For example, when an engineering student at Texas A&M graduates with a 3.96 grade average, the Texas A&M system has designed and implemented the academic quality controls. In the MITx certificate program, the quality controls must be designed by the employers or graduate school admissions officers not part of the Texas A&M system..

My earlier example is that a student in the MITx program may learn a great deal about Bessel functions --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessel_functions 
But obtaining a MITx certificate for completing a Bessel function module says absolutely nothing about whether the certificate holder really mastered Bessel functions. It's up to employers and graduate school admissions officers to introduce filters to test the certificate holder's mastery of the subject.

I hope that one day the MITx program will also have competency-based testing of its MITx certificate holders --- that would be the second stage of a free MITx Volkswagen model.

Bob Jensen

"A Policy Wonk Brings Data on College Costs to the Table," by Goldie Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 5, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/A-College-Cost-Policy-Wonk/130662/

The dozen higher-education leaders summoned to the White House in December to talk about college affordability included 10 prominent college presidents and the head of one of the nation's most visible education foundations.

And the 12th person, the person seated right across from the president to open and frame the discussion? A self-made number cruncher named Jane Wellman, whose outspoken devotion to the power of data has helped raise some uncomfortable questions about the way states and colleges spend their higher-education dollars.

That Roosevelt Room meeting helped shape some of the college-cost-control proposals Mr. Obama announced last month. It also provided a notable reminder of the national influence Ms. Wellman and her Delta Cost Project now wield.

With sophisticated analyses and an often-sardonic delivery, Ms. Wellman has been a pull-no-punches critic of fiscal policies that starve the institutions educating the biggest proportion of students—"public universities are getting screwed, and the community colleges in particular are getting screwed," she says.

She is just as dismissive of the "trophy-building exercises" of public and private institutions that elevate their research profiles by hiring professors who never teach or that dole out merit aid to enhance their admissions pedi­grees. And don't even get her started on the climbing-wall craze or colleges whose swimming pools "have those fake rivers for people to raft on."

But most of all, through the Delta Project and other consulting work, she's been an advocate for using financial information and other data to highlight spending patterns and bring into greater relief the true costs of academic and administrative decisions. In higher education, she says, policy makers and administrators too often present "an analytically correct road to complete ground fog."

Her antidote, created in 2006, was the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity, and Accountability, an independent, grant-backed organization that produces the annual "Trends in College Spending" and other reports. Over the past several years, the Delta Project's reports have highlighted the spending shift from instruction to administration, the rising cost of employee benefits, and how community colleges have been disproportionately hurt by public disinvestment.

Notably, the reports are formatted to reflect the diversity of institutions—the comparisons are organized by sector, so community colleges aren't compared with research universities—and to reflect several categories of spending, not simply revenues and expenses. Ms. Wellman says that's deliberate. Too many of the generalizations about higher-education costs are "based on one part of the elephant," she says. "I wanted to neutralize that."

She has also been eager to bust open some of the rationalizations that college leaders trot out, such as that higher education's rising costs are justified because of uniquely high personnel expenditures. "Everybody spends 80 percent on payroll, unless you're a lumber mill," she says.

That mix of bluntness and evidence is what's brought the Delta Project, and her, credibility and fans.

"It's the only place in higher ed that's really laser-focused on the question 'How much do you get for how much you put in?'" says Travis Reindl, program director for the education division of the National Governors Association. "She has made the cost issue more approachable than anybody else I can think of, especially for people who don't eat, sleep, and breathe this stuff."

A Background in Policy

But after five years, Ms. Wellman and the Delta Project are undergoing a transition. Under an arrangement Ms. Wellman masterminded, the organization last month merged its database of financial information into the National Center for Education Statistics and moved the policy-analysis side of its work to the American Institutes for Research, where it will continue to produce reports as the Delta Cost Project AIR.

Ms. Wellman, 62, will remain an adviser to the project, but will also devote more time to her role as executive director of the Na­tional Association of System Heads, a group for presidents and chancellors of public university and community-college systems. She says the new role will give her a different kind of platform to articulate "the moral imperative" of financing the institutions attended by a majority of students—including those who are the neediest.

It's a natural step for her, says Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the California State University system: "Jane has a vision, and I think it's because of the work she's created in the Delta Project."

Ms. Wellman's interest in higher education began largely by accident. She dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1960s to get a job and establish residency as an in-state student. As she tells it, she "ended up typing for David Breneman," who was then finishing his dissertation before going on to become a nationally known scholar on the economics of higher education. The subject matter "resonated with my political interest," says Ms. Wellman.

She stayed at Berkeley for a master's in higher education and then began working as policy analyst, first for the University of California system and later as staff director for the Ways and Means Committee in the California State Assembly. (The man who would become her husband was working there, too, for a committee on prisons.) She was frustrated by a lot of what she saw, both in Sacramento and when she moved to Washington, in the early 1990s, and worked for two and a half years as a lobbyist for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Her higher-education colleagues would say things like "Complexity is our friend" when preparing to talk budgets to legislators­—and to bury them with numbers.

By the mid-2000s, after about a decade of consulting for the Cal State system and working on government and association commissions on college costs—and seeing all of them "go to naught"—she decided it was time "to create the data set and the methodology that I knew was possible" to bring more clarity to the issues of spending.

"We were hugely helped by the recession," she says. "At any other time, I would have gotten much more pushback from the institutions."

Data for Everybody

Richard Staisloff, a consultant on college finance who teaches with Ms. Wellman at an executive doctoral program in education at the University of Pennsylvania, says her contribution comes in "myth busting." Often, he says, she makes it clear that where students are is not where money is being spent. "It's hard to run from the data," says Mr. Staisloff.

Mr. Reindl remembers getting together for coffee with Ms. Wellman here in Washington and listening as "she sketched out on a Starbucks napkin" her plans for the Delta Project (she chose the name since it's the mathematical symbol for "change"). Those ideas have taken root, he says. When people like Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri and a Demo­crat, talk about state spending and degrees per dollar spent, "that's really out of Delta, and that's a governor talking," he says. "She has made it not only OK to talk about outcomes and resources in the same sentence, she's made it necessary."

At least one critic of rising college costs, however, questions whether she's too much of an "establishment figure" to be an effective re­former. Richard Vedder, a professor of economics at Ohio University (and a blogger for The Chroni­cle), says her data are good, but "Jane doesn't tell us what to do about it." He says he wishes she'd do more to tie her information to data on what students are learning. "Where does Academically Adrift fit into the picture?" he asks.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Having taught managerial and cost accounting for over 40 years, it seems to me that Jane Wellman is overlooking some systemic problems of cost accounting, cost allocations, and cost aggregations that can make her numbers very misleading ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews

Bob Jensen's threads on on other questionable attempts to derive and compare costs of alternative degree tracks in colleges and universities and the "worth" of professors ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#CostAccounting ---
 

 

For all the hubbub about massive online classes offered by elite universities, the real potential game-changer in higher education is competency-based learning.
Ryan Craig. February 3, 2012

"Adventures in Wonderland, by Ryan Craig, Inside Higher Ed, February 3, 2012 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/02/03/essay-massive-online-courses-not-game-changing-innovation

"Will MITx Disrupt Higher Education?" by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 20, 2011 ---
http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/castingoutnines/2011/12/20/will-mitx-disrupt-higher-education/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

"MIT Expands 'Open' Courses, Adds Completion Certificates," Inside Higher Ed, December 19, 2011 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2011/12/19/mit-expands-open-courses-adds-completion-certificates

"MIT’s New Free Courses May Threaten (and Improve) the Traditional Model, Program’s Leader Says," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 2012 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/mits-new-free-courses-may-threaten-the-traditional-model-programs-leader-says/35245?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

 

Bob Jensen's threads on open source video and course materials from prestigious universities ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

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

THE COLLEGE OF 2020: STUDENTS  ---
https://www.chronicle-store.com/Store/ProductDetails.aspx?CO=CQ&ID=76319&PK=N1S1009

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

Bob Jensen's threads on online training and education alternatives ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm


It's troubling enough to study one university's financial reports. It's a nightmare to compare universities.
"So You Want to Examine Your University's Financial Reports?"  by Charles Schwartz, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 7, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/So-You-Want-to-Examine-Your/130672/

With financial difficulties facing many universities, some faculty members feel the urge to take a critical look into their own institution's audited financial reports and see what they can learn.

The impulse is admirable, but some guidance is needed before you enter such unfamiliar territory. Having spent some time looking at such things at my own institution (the University of California, which provides an enormous amount of financial data online), I must warn about the dreadful pitfalls awaiting any newcomer.

When you wade into those financial reports, you should understand that the numbers are invariably correct. What you need to be skeptical about are the words and labels attached to the numbers. There is, of course, a large amount of jargon. For example, if you wanted to find out how much money is spent on administration and management, you might start with "institutional support," which covers high-level administration on the campus; then there is "academic administration," (a subcategory of "academic support"), which covers the deans' offices; and then there are lower levels of administrative services buried in every other category.

It turns out that the trickiest category is the one you would think faculty members understand the best: expenditures for "instruction." Let me show you some data for my own university, looking at its two most famous campuses. This chart comes from page eight of the latest UC Annual Financial Report.

Operating Expenses by Function, 2010-11 ($ in Millions)

  Total Instruction Research Medical Centers
UC Berkeley $2,026 $ 566 $ 533 0
UC Los Angeles $4,563 $1,240 $ 702 $1,285

 

UCLA has a medical school and associated hospitals; Berkeley doesn't. That mostly explains the large difference in total expenditures between the two institutions. Otherwise, one thinks of the two campuses as quite comparable in size and academic quality. So why is there such a disparity in the expenditures for instruction? The answer is not easy to find by simply reading the audited financial report.

The answer starts to appear when you search more detailed financial reports (the best resource at my university is called Campus Financial Schedules) and find tables relating revenues to expenditures. For UCLA there is a contribution of $530 million for instruction that comes from "sales and services of educational activities."

What is that? It turns out that faculty members in the medical school not only teach and carry out research but are also doctors who treat patients. That activity, called "clinical practice," is a lucrative business that is conducted by the university. In the accounting system, such revenues are lumped into the category "sales and services of educational activities." Part of that money is used to cover costs of the clinical practice (offices, supplies, personnel); and a large part of it is paid out to the medical faculty members on top of their regular academic salaries. It just happens that the accounting system lumps all of those payments to faculty members under the heading of "expenditures for instruction." Who knew?

Does that have any troublesome consequences? Yes. There is a famous national repository for detailed data on the nation's colleges and universities: the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). One of the things you can get from that lovely online source is the per-student expenditure for instruction, for any college or university, in any year. And if you look up that data for Berkeley and UCLA, you will find that the latter amount is twice as big as the former. IPEDS uses data supplied by the individual campuses, the very same data that I mentioned above. Nobody seems to be aware of how misleading those numbers can be if the campus you ask about happens to be in the medical-services business. (By the way, not all campuses with medical enterprises use the same accounting procedures I described.) IPEDS is seriously distorted.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Think of college and university financial reports as being fund-based accounting reports similar to municipal, state, and federal government financial reports. Reporting standards are so messed up for such financial reporting that it's usually possible to hide anything from the public simply by overwhelming them with a truck load of information that is not indexed or otherwise linked in a comprehensible manner.

The Sad State of Not-for-Profit accounting ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory02.htm#GovernmentalAccounting

Issues in Computing a College's Cost of Degrees Awarded and "Worth" of Professors ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#CostAccounting


Altmethrics
"Scholars Seek Better Ways to Track Impact Online," by Jennifer Howard, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 29, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/As-Scholarship-Goes-Digital/130482/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

In academe, the game of how to win friends and influence people is serious business. Administrators and grant makers want proof that a researcher's work has life beyond the library or the lab.

But the current system of measuring scholarly influence doesn't reflect the way many researchers work in an environment driven more and more by the social Web. Research that used to take months or years to reach readers can now find them almost instantly via blogs and Twitter.

That kind of activity escapes traditional metrics like the impact factor, which indicates how often a journal is cited, not how its articles are really being consumed by readers.

An approach called altmetrics—short for alternative metrics—aims to measure Web-driven scholarly interactions, such as how often research is tweeted, blogged about, or bookmarked. "There's a gold mine of data that hasn't been harnessed yet about impact outside the traditional citation-based impact," says Dario Taraborelli, a senior research analyst with the Strategy Team at the Wikimedia Foundation and a proponent of the idea.

Interest in altmetrics is on the rise, but it's not quite right to call it a movement. The approach could better be described as a sprawling constellation of projects and like-minded people working at research institutions, libraries, and publishers.

They've been talking on Twitter (marking their messages with the #altmetrics hashtag), sharing resources and tools online, and developing ideas at occasional workshops and symposia. They're united by the idea that "metrics based on a diverse set of social sources could yield broader, richer, and timelier assessments of current and potential scholarly impact," as a call for contributions to a forthcoming altmetrics essay collection puts it.

Jason Priem, a third-year graduate student at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a leader in this push to track impact via the social Web. Scholarly workflows are moving online, leaving traces that can be documented—not just in articles but on social networks and reference sites such as Mendeley and Zotero, where researchers store and annotate scholarship of interest. "It's like we have a fresh snowfall across this docu-plain, and we have fresh footprints everywhere," he says. "That has the potential to really revolutionize how we measure impact."

Mr. Priem helped write a manifesto, posted on the Web site altmetrics.org, which articulates the problems with traditional evaluation schemes. "As the volume of academic literature explodes, scholars rely on filters to select the most relevant and significant sources from the rest," the manifesto argues. "Unfortunately, scholarship's three main filters for importance are failing."

Peer review "has served scholarship well" but has become slow and unwieldy and rewards conventional thinking. Citation-counting measures such as the h-index take too long to accumulate. And the impact factor of journals gets misapplied as a way to assess an individual researcher's performance, which it wasn't designed to do.

"I'm not down on citations," Mr. Priem says. "I'm just saying it's only part of the story. It's become the only part of the story we care about."

That's where altmetrics comes in. It's a way to measure the "downstream use" of research, says Cameron Neylon, a senior scientist at Britain's Science and Technology Facilities Council, and another contributor to the manifesto. Any system that turns out to be a useful way to measure influence will tempt the unscrupulous to try and game it, though. One concern is that someone could build a program, for instance, that would keep tweeting links to an article and inflate its altmetrics numbers. Devising a Method

So how do you reliably measure fluid, fast-paced, Web-based, nonhierarchical reactions to scholarly work? That problem has been keeping Mr. Priem busy. He's part of the team that designed an altmetrics project called Total-Impact.

Researchers can go to the site and enter many forms of research, including blog posts, articles, data sets, and software they've written. Then the Total-Impact application will search the Internet for downloads, Twitter links, mentions in open-source software libraries, and other indicators that the work is being noticed. "We go out on the Web and find every sort of impact and present them to the user," Mr. Priem explains. When possible, they gather data directly from services' open-application programming interfaces, or API's.

These are very early days for Total-Impact, and there's a lot of information it doesn't gather yet. For instance, right now it only searches blogs indexed by the site Research Blogging. That "amounts to a very small subset of science blogs," according to Mr. Priem, who adds that most of the other metrics are more robust.

Continued in article

 

Jensen Comment
When I look at my own teaching, research, and service record over 40+ years, I sometimes wonder where and how I've made my major "impact" to date ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Resume.htm

It's a no-brainer to conclude that virtually all instructors have impacts on students both in teaching and in counseling/advising. However, since over half my career was spent on the faculty of small universities, the numbers of students that I've impacted is relatively small.

I've had successes in research and publication, but I don't think these are what people to day think of if they know anything about the retired accounting professor named Bob Jensen. I was honored to be invited to a think tank for two years where I mingled with better thinkers than me, including two with Nobel Prizes in science.

Service is a very broad concept that includes both service to my employer and service to my profession in the form of committee appointments, serving as an officer, and making presentations at over 350 campuses and conferences. These probably did the most in the early days of education technology to further my career and reputation.

However, as I look back upon everything I've accomplished, I think my Website has had the greatest "impact" in the context of the above article ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ 

Website success, however, has been interactive with messaging on a listserv known as the AECM. I've undoubtedly sent more messages to the AECM than any other subscriber, but I've also probably benefitted more than any other subscriber in terms of posting messages for AECM scholars on my Website. Thus I alone will never take the credit for "my" Website. What I might call "my" Website is really the product of tens of thousands of messages that I sometimes did little more than archive the messages of others at :"my" Website. I've made comments favorable and critical of most of those messages of others, but the genuine value of the modules in question came from the outside.

My point here is that it's very difficult to assess "my" impact when much of what I've done is make it easier for the world to find my archives of the works of others. It's virtually impossible to partition what impacts are "mine" and what impacts I've merely "archived."

But that's the way scholarship and research work in academe. There are very few discipline-shaking seminal contributions, although there are many smaller seminal contributions that build on previous (hopefully always cited) previous knowledge.

What the digital age has provided us are the tools for more efficiently finding the knowledge to date on each given topic and to communicate the small tidbits we try to add to that knowledge.

The "impact" of each tidbit is tiny, tiny, tiny. But like grains of sand the tidbits pile on top of other tidbits until there's a heap of knowledge upon which to judge a scholar. However, because many of these tidbits are combinations of my own contributions mixed with the contributions of others, it becomes very difficult to take credit for the  aggregate "impact" that is "mine." But then who really cares whether the impact is "mine" or not. The important thing is that impact of each tidbit in what becomes a mountain of tidbits of scholarship heaped higher and higher by tidbits added one grain at a time.

As written above:

These are very early days for Total-Impact, and there's a lot of information it doesn't gather yet. For instance, right now it only searches blogs indexed by the site Research Blogging. That "amounts to a very small subset of science blogs," according to Mr. Priem, who adds that most of the other metrics are more robust.

It will never be possible in knowledge sharing to measure "my" Total-Impact. Superficial measures like numbers of hits on "my" Website or number of citations of my published research are meaningless since we have no way of assessing the ultimate value of one hit versus the value of any one of a million other hits. And the real value of my work may still lie in the future when scholars not yet born discover my works.

At this stage of my life in retirement it does not really matter to me what my score is on Total-Impact. What matters most is that I played a part, however large or small, in the accumulation of knowledge in my chosen specialties. Put another way, I don't much care about my "altmetrics." A note of appreciation from a friend or a total stranger means much more to me. And I appreciate it when others are critical of selected tidbits I've archived. The fact that it was worthwhile for them to take the time to criticize my work is a backhanded compliment. I truly do love to debate controversial issues.

Randy Pausch said it very well when he wrote about his tough old football coach, Coach Graham, in Chapter Seven of The Last Lecture (Hyperion Books, 2008, IABN 978-1-4013-2325-7).

. . . one of the assistant coaches came over to reassure me. "Coach Graham rode you pretty hard , didn't he?" he said.

I could barely muster a "yeah."

"That's a good thing," the assistant told me. "When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you."

. . .

There's a lot of talk these days about giving children self-esteem. It's not something you can give;  it's something they have to build. Coach Graham worked in a no-coddling zone. Self-esteem? He knew there was really only one way to teach kids how to develop it:  You give them something they can't do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and your just keep repeating the process.

When Coach Graham first got hold of me, I was this wimpy kid with no skills, no physical strength, and no conditioning. But he made me realize that if I work hard enough, there will be things I can do tomorrow that I can't do today. Even now, having just turned forty-seven, I can give you a three point stance that any NFL lineman would be proud of.

I realize that, these days, a guy like Coach Graham might get thrown out of a youth sports league. He'd be too tough. Parents would complain.

I remember one game when our team was playing terribly. At halftime, in our rush for water, we almost knocked over the water bucket. Coach Graham was livid:  "Jeez! That's the most I've seen you boys move since this game started!" We were eleven years old, just standing there, afraid he'd pick us up one by one and break us with his bare hands. "Water?" he barked. "You boys want water?" He lifted the bucket and dumped all the water on the ground.

. . .

It saddens me that many kids today are so coddled. I think back to how I felt during that halftime rant. Yes, I was thirsty. But more than that, I felt humiliated. We had all let down Coach Graham, and he let us know it in a way we'd never forget. He was right.

. . .

I haven't seen Coach Graham since I was a teen, but he just keeps showing up in my head, forcing me to work harder whenever I feel like quitting, forcing me to be better. He gave me a feedback loop for life.

Bob Jensen's football coach would've viewed Coach Graham as a wimp. My Algona High School coach's name was "The" Coach Tony Gazowski. Tony grew up Polish and tough in the shadows of the steel mills in Pittsburgh. He became an "All-Big-Ten" defensive end at the University of Iowa and never did catch on that later in life he was a football coach and not a Marine drill instructor (he was also a former Marine sergeant). Coach Gazowski did for me what Coach Graham did for Randy, but Coach Gazowski sometimes went a bit too far in urging us to play a bit rougher than the rules allowed if we thought we could get away with it. This might be a good thing to do on a wartime battlefield, but it's not something I recommend in athletics and most other aspects of life.

You can read more about Randy and find the link to the video of his "Last Lecture" and commentaries that followed at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2008/tidbits080415.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm


Video Tutorial
"Windows on an Ipad," MIT's Technology Review, January 30, 2012 ---
http://www.technologyreview.com/video/?vid=796&nlid=nldly&nld=2012-01-31

"Working In Word, Excel, PowerPoint on an iPad," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, January 12, 2012 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203436904577154840906816210.html?mod=WSJ_Tech_RightMostPopular

Although Apple's popular iPad tablet has been able to replace laptops for many tasks, it isn't a big hit with folks who'd like to use it to create or edit long Microsoft Office documents.

While Microsoft has released a number of apps for the iPad, it hasn't yet released an iPad version of Office. There are a number of valuable apps that can create or edit Office documents, such as Quickoffice Pro, Documents To Go and the iPad version of Apple's own iWork suite. But their fidelity with Office documents created on a Windows PC or a Mac isn't perfect.

This week, Onlive Inc., in Palo Alto, Calif., is releasing an app that brings the full, genuine Windows versions of the key Office productivity apps—Word, Excel and PowerPoint—to the iPad. And it's free. These are the real programs. They look and work just like they do on a real Windows PC. They let you create or edit genuine Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

I've been testing a pre-release version of this new app, called OnLive Desktop, which the company says will be available in the next few days in Apple's app store. More information is at desktop.onlive.com.

My verdict is that it works, but with some caveats, limitations and rough edges. Some of these downsides are inherent in the product, while others have to do with the mismatch between the iPad's touch interface and the fact that Office for Windows was primarily designed for a physical keyboard and mouse.

Creating or editing long documents on a tablet with a virtual on-screen keyboard is a chore, no matter what Office-type app you choose. So, although it isn't a requirement, I strongly recommend that users of OnLive Desktop employ one of the many add-on wireless keyboards for the iPad.

OnLive Desktop is a cloud-based app. That means it doesn't actually install Office on your iPad. It acts as a gateway to a remote server where Windows 7, and the three Office apps, are actually running. You create an account, sign in, and Windows pops up on your iPad, with icons allowing you to launch Word, Excel or PowerPoint. (There are also a few other, minor Windows programs included, like Notepad, Calculator and Paint.)

In my tests, the Office apps launched and worked smoothly and quickly, without any noticeable lag, despite the fact that they were operating remotely. Although this worked better for me on my fast home Internet connection, it also worked pretty well on a much slower hotel connection.

Like Office itself, the documents you create or modify don't live on the iPad. Instead, they go to a cloud-based repository, a sort of virtual hard disk. When you sign into OnLive Desktop, you see your documents in the standard Windows documents folder, which is actually on the remote server. The company says that this document storage won't be available until a few days after the app becomes available.

To get files into and out of OnLive Desktop, you log into a Web site on your PC or Mac, where you see all the documents you've saved to your cloud repository. You can use this Web site to upload and download files to your OnLive Desktop account. Any changes made will be automatically synced, the company says, though I wasn't able to test that capability in my pre-release version.

Because it's a cloud-based service, OnLive Desktop won't work offline, such as in planes without Wi-Fi. And it can be finicky about network speeds. It requires a wireless network with at least 1 megabit per second of download speed, and works best with at least 1.5 to 2.0 megabits. Many hotels have trouble delivering those speeds, and, in my tests, the app refused to start in a hotel twice, claiming insufficient network speed when the hotel Wi-Fi was overloaded.

The free version of the app has some other limitations. You get just 2 gigabytes of file storage, there's no Web browser or email program like Outlook included, and you can't install additional software. If many users are trying to log onto the OnLive Desktop servers at once, you may have to wait your turn to use Office.

In the coming weeks, the company plans to launch a Pro version, which will cost $10 a month. It will offer 50 GB of cloud document storage, "priority" access to the servers, a Web browser, and the ability to install some added programs. It will also allow you to collaborate on documents with other users, or even to chat with, and present material to, groups of other OnLive Desktop users.

The company also plans to offer OnLive Desktop on Android tablets, PCs and Macs, and iPhones.

In my tests, I was able to create documents on an iPad in each of the three cloud-based Office programs. I was able to download them to a computer, and alter them on both the iPad and computer. I was also able to upload files from the computer for use in OnLive Desktop.

OnLive Desktop can't use the iPad's built-in virtual keyboard, but it can use the virtual keyboard built into Windows 7 and Windows' limited touch features and handwriting recognition. As noted above, I recommend using a wireless physical keyboard. But even these aren't a perfect solution, because the ones that work with the iPad can't send common Windows keyboard commands to OnLive Desktop, so you wind up moving between the keyboard and the touch screen, which can be frustrating. And you can't use a mouse.

Another drawback is that OnLive Desktop is entirely isolated from the rest of the iPad. Unlike Office-compatible apps that install directly on the tablet, this cloud-based service can't, for instance, be used to open Office documents you receive via email on the iPad. And, at least at first, the only way you can get files into and out of OnLive Desktop is through its Web-accessible cloud-storage service. The free version has no email capability, and the app doesn't support common file-transfer services like Dropbox or SugarSync. The company says it hopes to add those.

OnLive Desktop competes not only with the iPad's Office clones, but with iPad apps that let you remotely access and control your own PCs and Macs, and thus use Office and other computer software on those.

Continued in article


A USB Port of Sorts for the mobile phones, iPads, Kindle Fires, and other tablet computers
"For iPad And Mobile Devices, a 'Port' out of the Norm," by Water S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2012 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204136404577211141651710950.html

The pocket-size USB flash drive has become nearly ubiquitous in the PC world, for moving files among machines and for adding extra storage. But it can't be used with most tablets because they lack standard USB ports. 

Now, there's a special, modified, pocket flash drive that works as usual with PCs and Macs, but can transfer and stream files to popular mobile devices without standard USB ports, such as Apple's iPad and iPhone, Amazon's Kindle Fire and many other Android devices. Its secret: It has built-in Wi-Fi to beam the files to and from tablets and smartphones wirelessly. It can even stream files like videos to many devices simultaneously.

It's called the AirStash and is made by a tiny company called Wearable Inc., and distributed by Maxell Corp. It's available at Amazon.com and a few other retailers for $150 for an 8 gigabyte model, which can increase the storage capacity of a base iPad by 50%. An AirStash model with 16 gigabytes is $180.

The AirStash is a clever device that solves a genuine problem, though not without some issues. In my tests, it worked as advertised, without crashing or exhibiting bugs. But it's pricey and has one big drawback: When a device is connected to the AirStash via Wi-Fi, it can't be connected to the Internet. The company plans a fix for that as early as next month.

The AirStash looks like other USB flash drives, except a bit wider. Its storage is provided by a removable SD memory card that pops into the bottom edge. You can substitute your own larger card. In fact, you can swap in the memory card from your camera and beam your photos. [PTECH] Wearable Inc.

The AirStash drive with removable SD memory card

This product is aimed at the iPad and iPhone, and the company has a free app for those products that makes it easy to manage and view the files on the drive. But its wireless file transfers also work, via the Web browser, on non-Apple devices, even computers. And the company plans an Android version of the app.

A typical way to use the AirStash would be to first plug it into your computer like any flash drive and copy onto it photos, documents, videos, podcasts or songs. Then remove it from the computer and press a small button on the front of the AirStash that turns on its Wi-Fi network. Next, you connect your iPad to this network, launch the AirStash app and all the files on the drive show up.

Enlarge Image PTECH-JUMP PTECH-JUMP Wearable Inc.

The AirStash app allows an iPad to wirelessly import photos from the drive.

Enlarge Image PTECH-JUMP PTECH-JUMP Wearable Inc.

The AirStash app allows an iPad to create a new directory on the drive, below.

From the app, you can view documents, play songs, watch videos, view photos or listen to podcasts. On a non-Apple device, there's no special app, but you can still access the content on the drive. You just link up to the AirStash Wi-Fi network, launch your Web browser and go to airstash.net. A page appears with a list of the drive's contents.

AirStash performed some feats I found impressive. In one test, I was able, from about 75 feet away, to flawlessly watch three movies stored on the AirStash at the same time on three devices. I had "Inception" playing on an iPad; "The King's Speech" playing on a Kindle Fire; and "Star Trek" playing on a Dell laptop. I stress, none of these movies was stored on the devices—all were stored on the AirStash.

In another test, I was able to watch a movie on an iPad, play a song on an Android-based Motorola Droid and read a PDF file on a Mac, simultaneously. Once again, all these files were stored on an AirStash drive 75 feet away.

The AirStash can beam material to as many as eight devices at once, except for video, where the limit is three devices. It can beam the same video to three devices at the same time. A parent could use one AirStash to provide different videos to each of three kids during a drive in the car.

Wearable, the maker of the AirStash, boasts it works in both directions: You can also write files to the AirStash from a device like an iPad. Technically, this is true. For instance, from the AirStash app, you can export photos stored on an iPad or iPhone to the drive.

But several iPad apps for viewing or editing documents, which the company says work with AirStash, require a geeky setup process, and I couldn't get them to send edited documents back to the drive.

There are some other limitations. For instance, on non-Apple devices, the Web interface is rudimentary, and on the Kindle Fire, music can't be streamed from the AirStash.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

 


"Wordle Revisited," by Erin E. Templeton, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/wordle-revisited/38293?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

ProfHacker first wrote about Wordle back in October 2009, when Julie Meloni called it the gateway drug to textual analysis.” George Williams followed her post with another in November of 2009 that further considered ways to[Use] Wordle in the classroom.”

Inspired by a Twitter conversation last week with Caleb McDaniel (@wcaleb), I decided to revisit it here.

I recently used Wordle in an assignment for my January Intercession class (on F. Scott Fitzgerald) and found it very useful for introducing students to close-reading and the basics of textual analysis. As an English professor, textual analysis is one of the most fundamental skills that I teach, and as a result, it can feel like the bane of my existence. The source of my frustration (and that of my students) is trying to get from summary and/or description to analysis. Students are often very good at describing what is happening in a text, but it can be very hard for them to break out of this habit and think about language in other ways.

Enter Wordle.

To me, there are two things that make Wordle invaluable:

In my class, I first demonstrated how to use Wordle with the novel we were reading (This Side of Paradise), which had the added benefit of being published in 1921, so it is no-longer copyright protected so I could use passages from Project Gutenberg’s edition of the novel rather than having to transcribe them manually. We created a few word clouds together as a class to make sure everyone knew how to do it, and then I asked the students how looking at these passages through the Wordle lens might change their understanding. What did they notice seeing the words rearranged, and in some cases resized (the size of words in the Wordle is directly proportionate to the number of times that the word appears in the initial text block)? By deconstructing and defamiliarizing the passage, Wordle magically freed students from the summary trap and helped them to think about the text analytically beyond the constraints of plot. Word clouds do not have plots, at least not in the linear convention sense that allows easy summary, so analysis was suddenly less confusing.

Finally, I asked students to create a Wordle on their own and post a screenshot of it to the class blog. They could choose any episode from This Side of Paradise that we had not already examined together in class. Once they had their Wordle, they were asked to answer a few questions: “Does this graphic visualization of the text highlight certain themes or issues in the episode? Does it emphasize particular themes or ideas? Do you notice things about the episode that you had previously discounted in your earlier reading?”

Posting the Wordles to the website proved to be a bit tricky for some, but that difficulty stemmed from the screenshot rather than Wordle itself.

My class created some very interesting Wordles, and more to the point, using this tool helped to make the task of literary analysis less daunting, which is often no easy feat! I was left wondering why I don’t use it more often in my classes and am currently trying to figure out ways to incorporate it into other assignments.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm


"Copyright Goes Philosophical," by Carlin Romano, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 29, 2011 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/Copyright-Goes-Philosophical/130451/?sid=cr&utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en

If God hadn't felt confident that he'd maintain copyright control over Creation, would he have sat on his hands for six days? True, his control presumably runs for the life of the author plus eternity—which may be the same thing in his case—but you figure he had bigger fish to fry, or at least to put in the sea.

How about ordinary sons and daughters of Adam and Eve? (Note to Supreme Court: I claim "fair use" here vis-à-vis the Big Guy, Moses, biblical scribes, whoever.) Exactly what incentive do they need to create books, poems, articles, songs, albums, movies, documentaries, TV shows, and more? Do they need profit? Or do they just enjoy and prefer profit? Must it be big profit—even if a project is one's lifelong creative dream—or will a small payoff do?

And how long must the profit continue? Do most artists care about what happens 70 years after their death? (Many artists, as we know, need a scheduler to figure out what's happening tomorrow.) And how about break-even status? Can that incentivize creativity? Wouldn't a lot of noncommercial types—the kind of nonprofit artists perennially going out of business—be happy with that?

Last month brought an explosion of breaking news about intellectual-property issues, including copyright—the public battle over Internet-piracy bills in Congress, with ideological alliances crisscrossing standard lines, and sponsors turning against their own bills; the Supreme Court decision, Golan v. Holder, which strengthened copyright holders by permitting former public-domain works to be whooshed into copyright; and the Justice Department attack on Megaupload.

To casual observers, it might seem that issues of intellectual property—the term generally refers to copyright, patent, trademark, and trade secrets—like so much in Washington, get decided through battle in the political and judicial policy trenches, abetted by lobbying. The striking aspect of the IP cascade was the ideological uncertainty—the unpredictability of where various parties lined up, or might.

Hard-core libertarians and others, as has been the case in recent decades, continue to differ on whether they want information to be free or want it sufficiently controlled by corporate America so that Big Corporate can be free to make huge profits. Free-speech advocates generally loathe copyright expansion that blocks the ability of "everyman" to use or play with the speech of others, but they also share concerns of artists and creative sorts, who feel pinched by the ability of others to copy and distribute their work amid the digital revolution.

The Chronicle has covered the developments most pertinent to academics. (See, in particular, "The Copyright Rebellion," May 29, 2011, with its guide to Web sources.) But as copyright law has grown and altered in recent decades, "intellectual property" has become a term that leapfrogs a number of philosophical issues, and a body of philosophical and jurisprudential work has grown that can help one clarify positions on the trench warfare. As this brief, highly selective Baedeker to books and journals indicates, there's more than enough IP material around for on-the-fence Congresspeople, or their staffers, to find a way back to ideological moorings.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the dreaded DMCA are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm#Copyright


"The Fed Votes No Confidence The prolonged—'emergency'—near-zero interest rate policy is harming the economy," by Charles Schwab, The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2012 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577197374292182402.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_t

We're now in the 37th month of central government manipulation of the free-market system through the Federal Reserve's near-zero interest rate policy. Is it working?

Business and consumer loan demand remains modest in part because there's no hurry to borrow at today's super-low rates when the Fed says rates will stay low for years to come. Why take the risk of borrowing today when low-cost money will be there tomorrow?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers last week that fiscal policy should first "do no harm." The same can be said of monetary policy. The Fed's prolonged, "emergency" near-zero interest rate policy is now harming our economy.

The Fed policy has resulted in a huge infusion of capital into the system, creating a massive rise in liquidity but negligible movement of that money. It is sitting there, in banks all across America, unused. The multiplier effect that normally comes with a boost in liquidity remains at rock bottom. Sufficient capital is in the system to spur growth—it simply isn't being put to work fast enough.

Average American savers and investors in or near retirement are being forced by the Fed's zero-rate policy to take greater investment risks. To get even modest interest or earnings on their savings, they move out of safer assets such as money markets, short-term bonds or CDs and into riskier assets such as stocks. Either that or they tie up their assets in longer-term bonds that will backfire on them if inflation returns. They're also dramatically scaling back their consumer spending and living more modestly, thus taking money out of the economy that would otherwise support growth.

We've also seen a destructive run of capital out of Europe and into safe U.S. assets such as Treasury bonds, reflecting a world-wide aversion to risk. New business formation is at record lows, according to Census Bureau data. There is still insufficient confidence among business people and consumers to spark an investment and growth boom.

We're now in the 37th month of central government manipulation of the free-market system through the Federal Reserve's near-zero interest rate policy. Is it working?

Business and consumer loan demand remains modest in part because there's no hurry to borrow at today's super-low rates when the Fed says rates will stay low for years to come. Why take the risk of borrowing today when low-cost money will be there tomorrow?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told lawmakers last week that fiscal policy should first "do no harm." The same can be said of monetary policy. The Fed's prolonged, "emergency" near-zero interest rate policy is now harming our economy.

The Fed policy has resulted in a huge infusion of capital into the system, creating a massive rise in liquidity but negligible movement of that money. It is sitting there, in banks all across America, unused. The multiplier effect that normally comes with a boost in liquidity remains at rock bottom. Sufficient capital is in the system to spur growth—it simply isn't being put to work fast enough.

Average American savers and investors in or near retirement are being forced by the Fed's zero-rate policy to take greater investment risks. To get even modest interest or earnings on their savings, they move out of safer assets such as money markets, short-term bonds or CDs and into riskier assets such as stocks. Either that or they tie up their assets in longer-term bonds that will backfire on them if inflation returns. They're also dramatically scaling back their consumer spending and living more modestly, thus taking money out of the economy that would otherwise support growth.

We've also seen a destructive run of capital out of Europe and into safe U.S. assets such as Treasury bonds, reflecting a world-wide aversion to risk. New business formation is at record lows, according to Census Bureau data. There is still insufficient confidence among business people and consumers to spark an investment and growth boom.

Jensen Comment

The video is a anti-Bernanke musical performance by the Dean of Columbia Business School ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3u2qRXb4xCU
Ben Bernanke (Chairman of the Federal Reserve and a great friend of big banks) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Bernanke
R. Glenn Hubbard (Dean of the Columbia Business School) ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Hubbard_(economics)

 

Bob Jensen's threads on the bailout mess are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on The Greatest Swindle in the History of the World ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#Bailout


Big Brother Watch
"Hiding Income? Look Out, Here Comes the 1099-K What merchants need to know about a new form that requires payment processors to report transactions to the IRS," by Karen E. Klein, Bloomberg Business Week, January 24, 2012 ---
http://www.businessweek.com/small-business/hiding-income-look-out-here-comes-the-1099k-01242012.html

Starting this month, business owners will begin getting new tax forms issued by their credit-card and online-payment processors and intended to keep businesses from hiding income. The form, called 1099-K, will document all 2011 transactions processed for sellers with more than 200 transactions and $20,000 in annual gross receipts. The IRS estimates that 53 million forms will be issued by such processors as eBay, PayPal, and Amazon as well as credit-card companies, says Steven Aldrich, chief executive officer of Outright.com, which makes online bookkeeping applications for self-employed people and small business owners. Aldrich spoke with Smart Answers columnist Karen E. Klein about how small business owners should handle the new forms. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.

The new 1099-K requirement was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008 but is just now taking effect. Why is the government mandating this?

Electronic payments are a growing part of our economy, but up to now they have not been officially reported to the IRS. People were on their scout’s honor to report this income. This new form is designed to help close the gap between what businesses and individuals owe the IRS and what they actually pay. It is expected to bring about $9.5 billion into the U.S. Treasury over 10 years by taxing revenue flowing through electronic networks.

That’s a big number.

It is a big number, but our concern is keeping the burden on small business low enough so they don’t lose their competitiveness and don’t have a big burden of extra time they have to put into dealing with this. All businesses will get these, not just small businesses, but larger businesses have got tax teams and people to handle these matters and small business people usually do not. Our concern is that small business owners could be distracted and worried when they get this form and not know what to do with it.

This is going out for the first time to individuals such as eBay and Etsy online sellers. Have they gotten any notice about the form?

The payment processors were required to obtain sellers’ tax identification numbers for these forms, so many of them sent out notices last year when they were verifying the information and making sure the right people got the right form.

What information will the form list?

It’s actually very simple. At the top is a box with your total gross revenue for the year, processed by PayPal or whichever payment processor you use. Beneath that box is a breakdown of revenue month by month.

How is that number going to be compared with what’s reported on an individual’s tax return?

The IRS will look at the gross sales amount reported on the 1099-K and compare it with the total gross receipts reported on an individual’s Schedule C. The amount on the tax return has to be at least as much as what’s reported on the 1099-K.

The interesting thing is that these amounts reported to the IRS are gross sales numbers. But businesses never actually make their gross sales because of refunds, frauds, exchanges, and returns. But none of those expenses are taken out of the gross sales amount.

And business owners don’t pay taxes on gross income, but on net income.

Exactly. So it will be incumbent on the business owner to take the gross amount reported on the 1099-K and capture all the transaction fees, charges, and returns, in addition to the other expenses of running their business, in their tax reporting.

Is that going to be a big burden for micro-businesses?

It’s not going to be a big deal if you have good record keeping. The problem is that most small business owners are still using paper and pencil and spreadsheets to track their business data. This reporting is really a clarion call to move those people into the digital age. Certainly, if you’re taking electronic payments, you need to move to a digital form of keeping your books.

Are there other pitfalls related to the 1099-K?

For service providers, like consultants, who are taking advantage of electronic payment systems, they might get a 1099-MISC for some part of their consulting revenue. But that income would also show up on the 1099-K if it was processed electronically. That could result in double counting that income, so that’s something to be very careful about, especially as more people in the service industry are starting to use services such as PayPal or mobile credit-card readers instead of taking cash or check payments.

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


Jensen Comment
Note a quotation from below:

Details on the new formula are still being refined, but a document released by the White House on Friday said it would reward institutions that admitted and graduated a relatively higher proportion of low-income students, demonstrate that their students complete college and find employment, and set "responsible tuition" policies.

One problem of this is that universities with enormous endowments get richer from the above "reward institutions that admitted and graduated a relatively higher proportion of low-income students" policy is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Rich universities with enormous endowments like Harvard, Yale, Rice, and the University of Texas at Austin are now giving free education to most students from poverty who meet the admissions academic criteria such as high SAT scores. They can award scholarships and living allowances to students of poverty because these universities have so much income from their enormous endowments. In doing so these wealthy universities would take the lion's share of the Federal rewards under President Obama's new plan.

Universities having relatively small endowments like community colleges cannot offer so many full ride tuition and living cost benefits to students of poverty. The only way they can compete is by lowering the costs of services (e.g., by reducing faculty salaries and increasing class sizes) when such costs have already been driven to rock bottom. Hence, the University of Texas at Austin can highly "demonstrate that their students complete college and find employment, and set "responsible tuition" policies." Because budgets are so tight at Dade County Community College, however, it becomes much more difficult to  "demonstrate that their students complete college and find employment, and set "responsible tuition" policies."

And the reason low-income graduates of Harvard University do better in completing college and finding employment is confounded by the fact that with their high SAT scores, work ethic, and academic aptitude they would probably complete college and find great careers no matter where they graduated from college.

Thus much of what the President is proposing is truly "political theater" in an election year.

 

"College Officials Welcome Obama's Focus on Higher-Education Costs, but Raise Some Concerns," by Goldie Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 30, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/President-Puts-College-Costs/130503/

President Obama chose a spiffy new indoor football field at the University of Michigan here on Friday to kick off a broad campaign for college affordability, calling higher education "an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."

Blending the personal with the political—and playfully responding to shouts of support from the audience—Mr. Obama made clear that the college-cost themes in this 35-minute speech would set the tone for a continuing national discussion that will be central not only in his administration's coming budget fight with Congress but also as he campaigns around the country for re-election.

With a message that prompted cheers and praise here—but already criticism from other college and political leaders around the country, including one president who called it "political theater at its worst"—Mr. Obama challenged states to spend more on higher education, describing cuts by Michigan and 39 other states as "the largest factor in tuition increases over at public colleges over the past decade."

He urged students to pressure Congress to keep the interest rate on federal student loans from doubling in July. "That would not be good for you," he noted with exaggerated directness, drawing laughs and applause from the crowd of more than 3,000, most of whom had camped out for hours in the cold a day earlier to get tickets.

And he warned that colleges themselves needed to do more to cut costs and not assume they can "just jack up tuition every single year." Government "can't just keep on subsidizing skyrocketing tuition," he said.

"We should push colleges to do better," said Mr. Obama, as he briefly touched on forthcoming proposals to overhaul how billions of dollars in federal aid to colleges and students are awarded. "We should hold them accountable if they don't."

The secretary of education, Arne Duncan, who accompanied the president here and spent time with reporters and local television stations before the speech, said the public sees higher education as unaffordable, and "that's simply unacceptable."

That anxiety was clearly reflected in the crowd that made its way through the dark and slushy streets to hear what the president had to say on Friday. "I have a daughter coming here next fall, and I want to know how we're going to afford it," said Annie Hiltner, an Ann Arbor resident waiting as the line of students and other locals filed past metal detectors.

Inside, as rock music from Bruce Springsteen and U2 played through the speakers, interrupted now and then by live blasts of the Fight Song by the Michigan pep band, Danielle Wiliams, a sophomore from nearby Eastern Michigan University, said college costs and student-loan debt loomed large for her and most of her friends. A reporter for the student paper at Eastern Michigan, Ms. Williams said many of her classmates aren't Obama supporters but they appreciate his push to keep higher education affordable. "It's too important to worry about political divisions because it's our future," she said.

Beth Dobias, an Ann Arbor resident who lives here "because it's cool" and who works at the university, said she was glad to hear Mr. Obama talk about creating more opportunities for people who need retraining. "My uncle's in that boat right now," she said. He was an engineer at Chrysler but is now learning welding.

In the budget President Obama will release next month, the administration will ask Congress to change the criteria under which funds from three federal aid programs, known as "campus-based aid," are awarded. (The government has more say over the allocation of money to those programs, which are used primarily by public and nonprofit colleges, than it does for larger student-aid programs such as Pell Grants and the primary student-loan program.)

Details on the new formula are still being refined, but a document released by the White House on Friday said it would reward institutions that admitted and graduated a relatively higher proportion of low-income students, demonstrate that their students complete college and find employment, and set "responsible tuition" policies.

"It's not just about access, it's about completion," said Mr. Duncan, emphasizing the formula would recognize affordability and "net tuition" when calculating aid awards to colleges. "If they are providing great financial aid and they serve more Pell students," that's good, he said.

Mixed Reactions

Mary Sue Coleman, the university's president, said the plan showed that the administration understands "the complexity" of issues, including the role of states and the need for universities to curtail costs. "I'm so happy that he's brought this to a national conversation," said Ms. Coleman. She watched the speech alongside students from her campus and several nearby institutions, standing behind Mr. Obama beneath a banner with the slogan he introduced during his State of the Union speech, "An America Built to Last."

Her enthusiasm was not universally held.

While many higher-education leaders said they were grateful for the president's attention, they were wary of many specifics: The American Council on Education's Molly Corbett Broad raised the concern that proposed changes in the aid formula would "move decision making in higher education from college campuses to Washington, D.C."

The American Association of Community Colleges said a change in the formula would be welcome but worried about the "extraordinary difficulty" of developing measures of student outcomes in a way that was fair to community colleges.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the largest private-college group, said the answer to the affordability problem "is not going to come from more federal controls on colleges or states." The association's president, David L. Warren, also criticized the idea of "telling families to judge the value of an education by the amount young graduates earn in the first few years after they graduate," one of the same arguments raised by the for-profit-college industry over a controversial new regulation introduced last year, the gainful-employment rule.

Sterner attacks came from some university presidents, including the University of Washington's Michael K. Young, who invoked Jeremy Bentham's famous "nonsense on stilts" invective in decrying the ideas as political theater, according to the Associated Press.

Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, however, said the ideas deserve a try, assuming the right metrics could be designed and states do their part. "It's important to focus on value and quality," he said. He'd like to see Mr. Obama’s ideas tested with new federal investment in the campus-based programs. "We think it's time to move to access plus completion" he said.

Continued in article

Recent attempts to "put metrics" on costs of degrees awarded and value of professors ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#CostAccounting 
 

"Senate Republicans Question Obama's Plan to Tie Federal Aid to Tuition," by Kelly Field, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 2, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/Senators-Question-Obamas-Plan/130658/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

Senate Republicans pushed back against President Obama's college-affordability agenda at an education-committee hearing Thursday, expressing doubts about the administration's plans to reward colleges and states that hold down tuition and maintain their higher-education budgets.

"I don't believe the government's role is to pick winners and losers," said Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, explaining that he was uncomfortable "shifting the determination of affordability to Washington."

Later, during a question-and-answer session with the under secretary of education, Martha J. Kanter, Mr. Burr asked whether states that trim their higher-education budgets after years of steady growth would be spurned from a proposed $1-billion grant competition for states that keep costs under control.

"I find it incredible that we might exclude a state that ticks up a little more than others because they have held [tuition] down for so long," he said.

Ms. Kanter responded that the administration would judge states based on their "long-term policies in place to stabilize tuition"—suggesting that states would not be excluded from the grant competition on the basis of a one-year cut.

The president's plan, unveiled a week ago in a fiery speech at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, would raise the Perkins Loan program's budget from $1-billion to $8-billion, offering additional aid to colleges that restrain tuition growth. It would also provide $1-billion to states that maintain "adequate" spending on higher-education, among other things. His plan would keep the interest rate on student loans at 3.4 percent for an additional year and expand other financial-aid programs.

During the question-and-answer session, Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, the committee's top Republican, asked Ms. Kanter where the money for the president's proposals would come from, noting that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that simply extending the 3.4-percent interest rate for an extra year would cost $5.9 billion.

Ms. Kanter said the answers would come in the president's budget, due out February 13, but she assured senators that the administration would find offsets for the spending.

"This won't cost taxpayers more," she said.

Mr. Enzi asked whether the Perkins Loan plan would provide allowances for colleges that raise tuition in response to declining state subsidies, arguing that "colleges don't have control" over state spending decisions.

Ms. Kanter didn't answer directly, but she said the administration hoped to forestall future budget cuts through its $1-billion "Race-to-the-Top"-style grant program for higher-education.

"We can't restrict tuition increases—that's not the role of the federal government," she said. "But we want to provide incentives to states" to provide stable funds for higher education.

Senators from both parties challenged the administration to do more to rein in federal regulation, arguing that compliance costs are driving up college tuition. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, who has had a lonely crusade to streamline federal regulations, suggested a "Race to the Top" contest for the government, with agencies competing to eliminate the most regulations.

Ms. Kanter reminded senators that the Obama administration has directed all federal agencies to scrub their regulations, and said she has talked to over 100 college presidents and associations about what to cut first.

But that answer didn't satisfy Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, who demanded to know what the administration was doing "now!" When Ms. Kanter tried to respond, the senator interrupted repeatedly, asking "what three steps" the administration was taking. Ms. Kanter gamely cited the department's effort to reduce the number of items that colleges and states must complete on the annual federal survey of teacher-preparation programs.

Continued in article

Recent attempts to "put metrics" on costs of degrees awarded and value of professors ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#CostAccounting 
 

Jensen Comment
Note a quotation from above:

Details on the new formula are still being refined, but a document released by the White House on Friday said it would reward institutions that admitted and graduated a relatively higher proportion of low-income students, demonstrate that their students complete college and find employment, and set "responsible tuition" policies.

One problem of this is that universities with enormous endowments get richer from the above "reward institutions that admitted and graduated a relatively higher proportion of low-income students" policy is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Rich universities with enormous endowments like Harvard, Yale, Rice, and the University of Texas at Austin are now giving free education to most students from poverty who meet the admissions academic criteria such as high SAT scores. They can award scholarships and living allowances to students of poverty because these universities have so much income from their enormous endowments. In doing so these wealthy universities would take the lion's share of the Federal rewards under President Obama's new plan.

Universities having relatively small endowments like community colleges cannot offer so many full ride tuition and living cost benefits to students of poverty. The only way they can compete is by lowering the costs of services (e.g., by reducing faculty salaries and increasing class sizes) when such costs have already been driven to rock bottom. Hence, the University of Texas at Austin can highly "demonstrate that their students complete college and find employment, and set "responsible tuition" policies." Because budgets are so tight at Dade County Community College, however, it becomes much more difficult to  "demonstrate that their students complete college and find employment, and set "responsible tuition" policies."

And the reason low-income graduates of Harvard University do better in completing college and finding employment is confounded by the fact that with their high SAT scores, work ethic, and academic aptitude they would probably complete college and find great careers no matter where they graduated from college.

Thus much of what the President is proposing is truly "political theater" in an election year.


"New Business-School  (AACSB) Accreditation Is Likely to Be More Flexible, Less Prescriptive," by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, February , 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/New-Business-School/130718/

New accreditation standards for business schools should be flexible enough to encourage their widely divergent missions without diluting the value of the brand that hundreds of business schools worldwide count among their biggest selling points.

That message was delivered to about 500 business deans from 38 countries at a meeting here this week.

The deans represented the largest and most geographically diverse gathering of business-school leaders to attend the annual deans' meeting of AACSB International: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

The association is reviewing its accreditation standards, in part to deal with the exponential growth in the number of business schools overseas, many of which are seeking AACSB accreditation.

The committee that is drawing up proposed new standards gave the deans a glimpse at the changes under consideration, which are likely to acknowledge the importance of issues like sustainable development, ethics, and globalization in today's business schools. A council made up of representatives of the accredited schools will have to approve the changes for them to take effect, and that vote is tentatively scheduled for April 2013.

Joseph A. DiAngelo, the association's chair-elect and a member of the committee reviewing the standards, said that when the rules are too prescriptive, schools' mission statements, which drive their curricula and hiring patterns, all start to look the same.

"It's all vanilla. I want to see the nuts and the cherries and all the things that make your school unique," said Mr. DiAngelo, who is also dean of the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph's University, in Philadelphia.

The last time the standards were revised, in 2003, schools were put on notice that they would have to measure how much students were learning—a task some tackled with gusto. One business school Mr. DiAngelo met with on a recent accreditation visit "had 179 goals and objectives, and they only have 450 students," he said. "I said, You can't be serious."

The committee's challenges include providing a more flexible accreditation framework to allow schools to customize their approaches without angering members that have already sweated out the more rigorous and prescriptive process.

And even though many schools outside the United States have trouble meeting the criteria for accreditation, especially when it comes to having enough professors with Ph.D.'s, "We don't think it's appropriate to have dual standards for schools in the U.S. and those outside the U.S.," said Richard E. Sorensen, co-chair of the accreditation-review committee and dean of the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
In the 1970s when I guided the University of Maine at Orono to AACSB accreditation the standards were relatively fixed for all business schools that got accredited. By the 1990s when I participated (but did not lead) the AACSB accreditation effort of Trinity University, the accreditation standards had changed significantly. The relevant accreditation standards became menu driven. Getting accreditation entailed choosing missions from the menu. In other words attaining accreditation became mission driven. Whereas an R1 university's main mission might be having a leading research reputation and a doctoral program, a non-R1 university might have more focus on other missions such as teaching reputation or innovative programs for minority student admissions.

There were and still are limits set on mission-driven AACSB accreditation standards. For example, to my knowledge no program that has more online students than onsite students to my knowledge as ever attained AACSB accreditation. However, universities having prestigious online business and accounting programs like the University of Connecticut can have online degree programs provided their main missions are to serve onsite students. No North American for-profit business program to my knowledge has ever been accredited, including some prestigious MBA programs initiated by leading consulting firms. Outside North America, however, the AACSB does seem to have a bit more flexibility in terms of a for-profit mission.

In North America, the AACSB seems to fear opening Pandora's box to for-profit universities. At the same time, I do not know of any for-profit university that currently has admission standards and academic standards that I personally would consider a great candidate for AACSB accreditation. This, of course, does not mean that some questionable non-profit universities that somehow achieved AACSB accreditation have stellar admission and academic standards. Maybe I'm a snob, but I think the AACSB took this mission-driven thing a bridge too far. The renewed effort to provide even more flexible standards may cheapen the currency even more.

Sigh! Maybe I really am an old snob!

Unreliability of Higher Education's Accrediting Agencies
"Mend It, Don't End It," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, February 4, 2011 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/02/04/education_department_panel_hears_ideas_about_improving_higher_education_accreditation

About two-thirds of the way through the first day of the Education Department's two-day forum on higher education accreditation, something strange happened: a new idea emerged.

Not that the conversation that preceded it was lacking in quality and thoughtfulness. The discussion about higher education's system of quality assurance included some of the sharper minds and best analysts around, and it unfolded at a level that was quite a bit higher than you'd find at, say, the typical Congressional hearing.

The discussion was designed to help the members of the Education Department's National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity understand the accreditation system, so it included a wide range of voices talking about many aspects of quality, regulation and oversight in higher education. The exchanges served largely to revisit history and frame the issues in a way that probably seemed familiar, at least to those who follow accreditation closely.

The basic gist on which there was general agreement:

Yet given Education Secretary Arne Duncan's formal charge to the newly reconstituted panel, which was distributed at its first formal meeting in December, most of the higher education and accreditation officials who attended the policy forum said they had little doubt that the panel is strongly inclined to recommend significant changes, rather than just ruminating about how well the system is working.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
On of the biggest abuses is the way for-profit universities buy out failing non-profit colleges for the main purpose of gaining accreditation by buying it rather than earning it. The scandal is that the accrediting agencies, especially the North Central accrediting agency, let for-profits simply buy this respectability. For-profit universities can be anywhere and still buy a North Central Association accreditation.

I do not know of any successful attempt of a for*profit university to buy out a failing university that has AACSB accreditation.

Bob Jensen's threads about accreditation are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm#AccreditationIssues


An Honest Book About For-Profit Universities Operating in the Gray Zone of Fraud

What happens when it's not executed well? I guess I'm accustomed to more bullish claims from executives of for-profit colleges. I don't recall any of them saying, "We face powerful short-term incentives to shortchange students, but if we can resist those and manage to implement our model well over the long term we might find that the incentives exist for more student learning."
See below

"'Change.edu' and the Problem With For-Profits," by Robert M. Shireman, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 31, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/Changeeduthe-Problem/130596/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

It is clear that Andrew Rosen, the chief executive of Kaplan, wants to leave readers of Change.edu with the idea that for-profit colleges are innovative, efficient, and effective in serving people left out by traditional higher education, and that their bad reputation is the result of unfair attacks.

I picked up Rosen's book wanting to see how the power of the market can transform the enterprise and improve student learning. Instead, I am now more concerned about the hazards of for-profit colleges than I was before.

The eye-opening, gasp-inducing elements involve Rosen's descriptions of the intense pressures on company executives to produce quick, huge profits for investors by shortchanging students. "An investor who wants to make a quick hit can, at least theoretically, buy an institution, rev up the recruitment engine, reduce investment in educational outcomes," and deliver "a dramatic return on investment."

The nefarious temptation is not just theoretical, though, and Rosen says so when he introduces the case of abuses by the Career Education Corporation. "There will always be some leaders who choose to manage for the short term ... particularly when they hold the highly liquid equity stakes that the leadership of private-sector institutions sometimes receive as part of their compensation. This isn't a theoretical issue; it has happened."

The word "always" concerns me. Always as in: This can't be fixed? And how many are the "some" who would eagerly dismiss student needs in the pursuit of a rapid, profitable expansion?

I would have liked to hear that the contrasting example to CEC is the for-profit college where the investors are committed to the long term and never bring up the idea of a get-rich-quick scheme that victimizes students. Instead, Rosen presents the chief executive of Strayer University as the good-college leader who has valiantly managed to resist the terrible, incessant pressure from shareholders to increase profits by "shortchange[ing] the educational offering." Apparently, that's what it's like to run a for-profit college: The temptations to do ill are unrelenting.

Not just unrelenting, but according to Rosen, "inherent in this model." Nevertheless, he insists, we should cherish the for-profit college model because "when executed well, [it] can incent a much greater focus on learning outcomes." Pause and review that statement again. It only can bring better outcomes when it's executed well. I would certainly hope that when the model is executed well, it does incent better outcomes.

What happens when it's not executed well? I guess I'm accustomed to more bullish claims from executives of for-profit colleges. I don't recall any of them saying, "We face powerful short-term incentives to shortchange students, but if we can resist those and manage to implement our model well over the long term we might find that the incentives exist for more student learning."

Perhaps I should find Rosen's honesty refreshing, but it's just scary that he doesn't realize how bad his descriptions sound. To wit: "The vast majority of the players in for-profit education work very hard to avoid succumbing to these short-term temptations." The words "vast majority" seem horribly wrong in this context. Imagine that Mr. Rosen is on the podium speaking to a crowd of for-profit college leaders, and he says, "I'm so proud that the vast majority of you are not crooks and cheats." Applause.

And notice that they "work very hard to avoid succumbing." Personally, when I try to avoid succumbing to chocolate cake, I invariably end up eating the cake. ("Do or do not. There is no try." -Yoda) If Rosen thought that the vast majority of his fellow leaders actually succeeded in their resistance, it seems like he would say so. Instead, I'm picturing them working hard to avoid succumbing, but ultimately giving in.

To his credit, Rosen does admit that regulation is needed to prevent a repeat of the "deplorable and unacceptable" behavior that has occurred. Not partial to stupid regulation, he supports "smart regulation to ensure that private-sector colleges act in ways that are beneficial to their students." What smart rules does he recommend? "If a buyer of an institution were on the hook for educational outcomes for at least seven years after acquisition—or, even better, for several years after it sold a school—there would be less incentive for that buyer to exploit the school and its students for short-term gain."

That's all. It is his only specific suggestion for addressing the genetic defect he says afflicts for-profit higher education, and it's not even specific enough to be adopted: Figuring out how to measure "educational outcomes" and how to hold anyone accountable for them is the central struggle of education policy.

The rest of Rosen's reforms are even less helpful—but they make for excellent sound bites for Congressional testimony: Instead of a "simplistic, one-size-fits-all approach [that] promotes spending in the wrong places and doesn't encourage the kind of innovation and excellence we need," the government should adopt "more nuanced, results-oriented federal and state funding systems that tilt dollars toward performance and away from mediocrity," a "funding mechanism to encourage learning, access, and other national education priorities." Traditional colleges should learn from private-sector colleges, which "build virtuous cycles that will continue to improve the quality of learning outcomes for many years to come."

And one more in the parade of empty statements that make reform-minded foundation executives swoon: "Those who are charged with higher-education policy should have their own Learning Playbook. They should explicitly reward and subsidize activities that further learning—not just deep learning for a select few, but quality learning for many." Sign me up.

Continued in article

"The University Of Adam Smith:  In the scramble for money and prestige, colleges lose their focus on education. A business executive thinks he has a solution," The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2012 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204879004577110970031199712.html#mod=djemEditorialPage_t 

About halfway through "Change.edu," Andrew Rosen relates a story from a consultant who was hired by a small private college to help it implement the once-trendy concept of Total Quality Management. The consultant began by asking the school's administrators and staff a question: "Who is your customer?" The provost said that "basically everyone is our customer." Two of the school's deans named "the faculty" as their main customer. The college president picked "the trustees." The faculty itself found the word "customer" offensive. The consultant was eventually fired.

Mr. Rosen, who is chief executive of Kaplan Inc., one of the largest for-profit higher-education providers in the country, has a way with an anecdote, and "Change.edu" is a lively read thanks to his in-person interviews and firsthand reporting at colleges across the country. As the customer-related anecdote suggests, one of the book's themes is that most colleges and universities have trouble identifying exactly whom they are trying to please and thus what exactly they are supposed to be doing.

And little wonder—think only of the tangled network of income sources and self-interested constituencies that vie for the attention of a college administrator. There are of course students and the parents who pay the tuition bill. There are taxpayers, who underwrite college subsidies in one form or another (including research grants and financial aid). There are alumni, whose donations are a key to university solvency. There are even sports fans, whose enthusiasm plays no small role in college branding and consumer appeal.

Unfortunately, this mix of financial imperatives can lead colleges to focus too little on what students are learning in the classroom. Money and effort, instead, go to moving up the prestige ladder, often by enhancing "selectivity." In a chapter called "Harvard Envy," Mr. Rosen notes: "Under the existing rules of higher education, a college is defined as 'better' by turning away more potential students—no different than a nightclub that's 'hot' because its system of bouncers and velvet ropes leaves a critical mass of people on the outside, noses pressed to the glass."

This strategy is often fruitless; a list of the top 10 or 15 universities in the country in 1940 looks almost the same as one today. But it is also undesirable. If we as a nation are going to support higher education because it serves some broad, democratic goal—an educated citizenry, a common culture, a pool of skilled labor—then shouldn't college be more accessible, not less?

A confusion over the purpose of higher education reaches far into America's past, and "Change.edu" benefits from Mr. Rosen's lucid retelling of the mid-19th-century debate over the new land-grant universities, which were an object of condescension from the 1% of the population that attended college back then. Similarly, the expansion of community colleges in the period after World War II was greeted with derision by the academic elite.

Land-grant institutions went on to establish themselves as among our most prestigious schools, and community colleges, of late, have received praise from our political classes, including Presidents Clinton and Bush. In 2009, President Obama traveled to Macomb Community College in Michigan to announce a $12 billion community-college initiative.

It is easy to see the appeal of community colleges—they cater to working-class kids and to adults who want to go back to school, and they teach the skills that graduates may need in a new economy. But there are problems, not least dismal graduation rates. (Macomb's is 13.1%.) The leaders of community colleges—which are already heavily subsidized—say that they need yet more taxpayer help to survive. But as Mr. Rosen notes, they are unlikely to get it. When the economy tanks, everyone wants to go back to school—just when the government has less money to give.

Mr. Rosen's answer to all this is for-profit education. He believes that for-profits are the rightful inheritors of America's abiding mission to expand access to higher education. But unlike public and private not-for-profit schools, for-profits can be single-minded: The student is the customer. Tuition makes up almost all the revenue of a for-profit school. At private not-for-profits, tuition accounts for only 29% of revenues and at public colleges as little as 13%.

The accusations of misconduct that have been leveled at some for-profit schools in recent years, Mr. Rosen concedes, are not unfounded—pushing unaffordable loans on students, recruiting students who are not able to do the work, etc. He merely says that, in the for-profit world, companies that cheat their customers or that aim at only short-term profits will not survive. Meanwhile public and private not-for-profits can remain in business regardless of how badly they behave.

For-profits have largely opted out of the prestige game. The schools are not looking to turn away students. Their professors are engaged exclusively in teaching, not research. No one has tenure, so incompetence means dismissal. Teaching is quality-controlled and student performance strictly measured.

Continued in article

Our Compassless Colleges ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#Berkowitz

Bob Jensen's threads about for-profit universities operating in the gray zone of fraud ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ForProfitFraud


"Note to a Former Student," by Joe Hoyle, January 21, 2012 ---
http://joehoyle-teaching.blogspot.com/2012/01/note-to-former-student.html


Most readers may not even remember Dick Tracy's cool wrist watch ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Tracy

"A New G-Shock Watch Awaits a New Bluetooth," by David Pogue, The New York Times, January 24, 2012 ---
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/24/a-new-g-shock-watch-awaits-a-new-bluetooth/

As one Las Vegas cab driver told me, the International Consumer Electronics Show held earlier this month seems to be in an economic bubble all its own. “The big fashion industry convention show was down, from 80,000 attendees to 40,000,” he said. “But C.E.S. didn’t seem to get the e-mail that we’re in an economic slump.”

And sure enough, those 37 football fields’ worth of exhibit space packed in mobs of exhibitors and attendees—and a lot of great ideas.

One of the best came from Casio, whose representatives conducted 20-minute demonstrations of its new G-Shock GB6900 wristwatch.

The central conceit is that it communicates with your phone, making all kinds of cool features possible. As I wrote in my column on C.E.S.:

“Your watch can vibrate when you get a call, text or e-mail and show the person’s name, even if your phone is in your purse or briefcase. The G-Shock can help you find a phone lost in your sofa by making it chirp loudly. It can also beep at you if you leave the phone behind in, say, a restaurant. Only two obscure phones work with this watch so far — but when more phones become compatible, watch out.”

This arrangement makes a huge amount of sense. How many times have you complained that you missed a call because you didn’t feel the phone’s feeble vibrating in your pocket? Now you won’t be able to miss it; the vibration takes place right on your wrist. (You tap twice on the watch’s face to send the call to voice mail.)

You know how cellphones set themselves automatically as you travel from time zone to time zone, courtesy of the cellular network? Well, now your watch can set itself, too, since it’s talking wirelessly with your phone. Clever!

So is the song-title feature, which displays the name of whatever song your phone is playing right now.

Casio also demonstrated an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” app: when you collapse on the kitchen floor, far from a phone, you can press a button on the G-Shock to place a 911 call through your cellphone, wherever it may be in the house.

Finally, I loved the automatic login/logout feature, a software concept in which your PC unlocks your account when you (wearing your watch) are nearby, and locks it when you wander away for coffee or a meeting. No more passwords!

I found all of these ideas really ingenious — but I was sad to find out that you can’t actually buy or use this watch yet. It uses a new, low-power Bluetooth chip called Bluetooth Smart (or Bluetooth 4.0), which will mean great things for gadget lovers who currently associate Bluetooth with battery drain. But the watch doesn’t work unless your phone also has Bluetooth 4.0 — and right now, only a couple of them do.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on gadgets are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob4.htm#Technology


"Top 3 Rules for Good Facebook Manners," by Richie Frieman, Quick and Dirty Tricks, December 2, 2011 ---
http://manners.quickanddirtytips.com/top-3-rules-for-good-facebook-manners.aspx?WT.mc_id=0

I added the above link to the Writing Forum on the AAA Commons ---
http://commons.aaahq.org/posts/c5fdcaace5

Jensen Comment
Another good manners idea is to give credit where credit is due, particularly on heads up messages. However, when you have friends who often send you messages you should understand their wishes. I have friends, often from CPA firms, who send me messages that as a rule they would like me to post but not associate their names with the posts.

And I have friends who send me messages who generally want me to give them credit for their finds. For example, David Albrecht sometimes sends me humor finds that he would like to have me give him credit for finding.

For example, a few days ago David sent me links to the following hilarious videos:

http://www.youtube.com/v/gBnvGS4u3F0?hl=en&fs=1&autoplay=1

http://www.youtube.com/v/mgCIKGIYJ1A?hl=en&fs=1&autoplay=1

http://www.youtube.com/v/LuVPnW0s3Vo?hl=en&fs=1&autoplay=1

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

 


Big Google Becomes Big Brother

From ACLU Week in Review on January 27. 2012 ---
http://www.aclu.org/blog/organization-news-and-highlights/week-civil-liberties-1272012

ACLU Lens: Google's New Privacy Policy
This week
, Google announced a new privacy policy effective March 1. The new policy is consistent across the vast majority of Google products, and it’s in English; you don’t have to speak legalese to understand it. But, the new privacy policy makes clear that Google will, for the first time, combine the personal data you share with any one of its products or sites across almost all of its products and sites (everything but Google Chrome, Google Books, and Google Wallet) in order to obtain a more comprehensive picture of you. And there’s no opting out.


Jensen Question
Is this doing "no evil?"

"What Google's Larry Page Doesn't Understand," by Maxwell Wessel, Harvard Business Review Blog, January 27, 2012 --- Click Here
http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/01/what_larry_page_doesnt_underst.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date

Google has been self-destructive recently. Last weekend, Google was exposed by engineers from Twitter, Facebook, and mySpace for interfering with their search results. Instead of apologizing and vowing to protect the sanctity of search, this week Larry Page announced that Google will soon integrate its products even further. On March 1st, Google will change its privacy agreement to allow the company to collect and unify user data across all its web properties. There is no opting out. Whether you want it or not, Google will be consolidating the data about what you search for, what you read in your email, and what you write in the cloud into a single profile that is you. Google wants to know everything about you with the intention of "improving" your Internet experience. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, there's something that Larry Page doesn't seem to understand: delivering what he calls "Search Plus Your World" is going to create some problems.

Allow me to explain. At the beginning of my career, I worked on something that resembles the "Search Plus Your World" project. In my first job, I was asked to build a fairly complex algorithm to help a big retail pharmacy identify customers with a potential to have hazardous drug interactions. From my clients' perspective, the last remaining hole in their drug screen came from patients who did not buy all their medication from one chain. Without a full purchase history, the pharmacist couldn't identify patients at risk.

My job was to use patient purchase histories and flag patients who were "switchers" — those who alternated between pharmacy chains. I thought if I could figure this out, I could do a whole lot of good for patients. All the data showed that patients who consolidated their medication with one pharmacy were less likely to overdose on medications or have hazardous drug interactions. It was a win-win.

Eight months after starting the job, we'd built the algorithm and were rolling out a counseling program to thousands of stores across the country. On paper, the program looked fantastic. We were identifying tens of thousands of potential "switchers" a week by looking at nothing other purchase information in our own stores. Once we'd identified patients, we'd send contact lists to pharmacies and ask the pharmacists to gently remind patients of the health benefits that came from consolidating their medication. It turned out that we were pretty accurate. Of the patients we'd identified, about 70 percent were actually picking up medication at other pharmacies, and missing important hazardous drug screens.

But in practice, it was a disaster. The problem? We never took into account patients' expectations. As you might imagine, patients expected their health data to be treated as sacred. Imagine walking into a pharmacy, proceeding to the pharmacy counter, and asking for your monthly supply of Lipitor. Normally, you'd expect to simply pick up your prescription and go home. But instead of simply paying for your medication and leaving, the pharmacist comes over from the other side of the room to chat. He asks whether you are currently picking up your prescriptions from two different pharmacies. He explains the benefit of consolidating. Not so upsetting. At least, it's not upsetting until you ask yourself "Why did I get the sudden counseling session?" The pharmacist explains that someone from his pharmacy noticed odd behavior in your pickup history.

And that's when the problems start.

For most patients, the counseling sessions were matter of fact. But for a handful of patients, the counseling sessions felt like an enormous violation of their privacy. They'd never opted into a program that examined their purchase history, they didn't want to participate, and they were certain they were more than capable of handling their own medication management. The patients were upset; they threatened to leave. Some caused real scenes. It made pharmacists, techs, and other patients uncomfortable.

When we designed our program, we imagined how the world should be from our perspective. We didn't consider how the world was from their perspective or the importance of our implicit agreements in their minds. We had their personal information. With it came their trust. We lost it. What we didn't understand then is what Larry Page seems not to understand today. Google is about to have their own "switcher" program.

Continued in article

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


"Compensation and the Myth of the Corporate Superstar," by Charles M. Elson and Craig K. Ferrere, Harvard Business Review Blog, February 1, 2012 --- Click Here
http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/02/compensation_and_the_myth_of_t.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date

The public is up in arms about some of the big bonuses being paid to the CEOs of big bailed-out banks. The boss of Britain's RBS, one of the biggest casualties of the banking crash, has felt obliged to turn down a $1.5 million bonus in the face of mounting anger and the threat of legislation.

It all used to be very different. Al Dunlap, the former Sunbeam CEO, and once handsomely rewarded corporate icon, was fond of reminding his investors that "the best bargain is an expensive CEO." Great managers, the argument went, deserve the big bucks because of the tremendous wealth they create.

According to this logic, expecting RBS to pay its CEO, Stephen Hester, less is analogous to asking that it pay less for any other necessary business commodity. If executive talent has a price, a firm will get only that which it pays for. So if Stephen Hester were not paid his bonus, another firm would bid away his services and RBS would not be able to attract and retain similar talent at more modest pay levels.

This notion that there is an open and competitive market for highly talented executives is at the heart of the process by which CEO pay is set. Board compensation committees rely almost exclusively on comparisons to CEO compensation at companies of similar size and in similar industries.

This practice, known as peer benchmarking, is used to approximate the next best employment option for that executive in the labor-market, the reservation wage. Pay is typically targeted at the 50th, 75th, or 90th percentile of this group. The implicit assumption is that a talented manager is interchangeable between firms, and thus should be paid very nearly what other executives are paid.

But although the notion that talent is a competitive market is both attractive and plausible, it is highly questionable. Executive talent is not fully transferable between companies. Scholars have long recognized a distinction between firm-specific and general skills. It is quite apparent that successful CEOs leverage not only their intrinsic talents but also, and more importantly, a vast accumulation of firm-specific knowledge developed over a multi-year career. Whether it is deep knowledge of an organization's personnel or the processes specific to a particular operation, this skill set is learned carefully over a long tenure with a company and not easily capable of quick replication at other firms. In fact, when "superstar" executives change companies, the result is usually disappointing.

If this is true, then the CEO labor market is less competitive than CEO compensation committees implicitly assume. Executives are in fact to a great extent captive to their companies, which ought to provide boards with scope for negotiating actively on compensation rather than relying on peer comparisons. The best bargain in corporate America, then, is not Al Dunlap's superstar CEO, but rather the home-grown executive, with whom fair and modest pay is negotiated, often less than suggested by peer comparisons.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads about outrageous executive compensation are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#OutrageousCompensation


"The Coming Tech-led Boom:  Three breakthroughs are poised to transform this century as much as telephony and electricity did the last," by Mark P. Mills and Julio M. Ottino, The Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2012 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203471004577140413041646048.html?mod=djemEditorialPage_t

In January 1912, the United States emerged from a two-year recession. Nineteen more followed—along with a century of phenomenal economic growth. Americans in real terms are 700% wealthier today.

In hindsight it seems obvious that emerging technologies circa 1912—electrification, telephony, the dawn of the automobile age, the invention of stainless steel and the radio amplifier—would foster such growth. Yet even knowledgeable contemporary observers failed to grasp their transformational power.

In January 2012, we sit again on the cusp of three grand technological transformations with the potential to rival that of the past century. All find their epicenters in America: big data, smart manufacturing and the wireless revolution.

Information technology has entered a big-data era. Processing power and data storage are virtually free. A hand-held device, the iPhone, has computing power that shames the 1970s-era IBM mainframe. The Internet is evolving into the "cloud"—a network of thousands of data centers any one of which makes a 1990 supercomputer look antediluvian. From social media to medical revolutions anchored in metadata analyses, wherein astronomical feats of data crunching enable heretofore unimaginable services and businesses, we are on the cusp of unimaginable new markets.

The second transformation? Smart manufacturing. This is the first structural shift since Henry Ford launched the economic power of "mass production." While we see evidence already in automation and information systems applied to supply-chain management, we are just entering an era where the very fabrication of physical things is revolutionized by emerging materials science. Engineers will soon design and build from the molecular level, optimizing features and even creating new materials, radically improving quality and reducing waste.

Devices and products are already appearing based on computationally engineered materials that literally did not exist a few years ago: novel metal alloys, graphene instead of silicon transistors (graphene and carbon enable a radically new class of electronic and structural materials), and meta-materials that possess properties not possible in nature; e.g., rendering an object invisible—speculation about which received understandable recent publicity.

This era of new materials will be economically explosive when combined with 3-D printing, also known as direct-digital manufacturing—literally "printing" parts and devices using computational power, lasers and basic powdered metals and plastics. Already emerging are printed parts for high-value applications like patient-specific implants for hip joints or teeth, or lighter and stronger aircraft parts. Then one day, the Holy Grail: "desktop" printing of entire final products from wheels to even washing machines.

The era of near-perfect computational design and production will unleash as big a change in how we make things as the agricultural revolution did in how we grew things. And it will be defined by high talent not cheap labor.

Finally, there is the unfolding communications revolution where soon most humans on the planet will be connected wirelessly. Never before have a billion people—soon billions more—been able to communicate, socialize and trade in real time.

The implications of the radical collapse in the cost of wireless connectivity are as big as those following the dawn of telegraphy/telephony. Coupled with the cloud, the wireless world provides cheap connectivity, information and processing power to nearly everyone, everywhere. This introduces both rapid change—e.g., the Arab Spring—and great opportunity. Again, both the launch and epicenter of this technology reside in America.

Few deny that technology fuels economic growth as well as both social and lifestyle progress, the latter largely seen in health and environmental metrics. But consider three features that most define America, and that are essential for unleashing the promises of technological change: our youthful demographics, dynamic culture and diverse educational system.

First, demographics. By 2020, America will be younger than both China and the euro zone, if the latter still exists. Youth brings more than a base of workers and taxpayers; it brings the ineluctable energy that propels everything. Amplified and leavened by the experience of their elders, youth and economic scale (the U.S. is still the world's largest economy) are not to be underestimated, especially in the context of the other two great forces: our culture and educational system.

The American culture is particularly suited to times of tumult and challenge. Culture cannot be changed or copied overnight; it is a feature of a people that has, to use a physics term, high inertia. Ours is distinguished by incontrovertibly powerful features, namely open-mindedness, risk-taking, hard work, playfulness, and, critical for nascent new ideas, a healthy dose of anti-establishment thinking. Where else could an Apple or a Steve Jobs have emerged?

Then there's our educational system, often criticized as inadequate to global challenges. But American higher education eludes simple statistical measures since its most salient features are flexibility and diversity of educational philosophies, curricula and the professoriate. There is a dizzying range of approaches in American universities and colleges. Good. One size definitely does not fit all for students or the future.

We should also remember that more than half of the world's top 100 universities remain in America, a fact underscored by soaring foreign enrollments. Yes, other nations have fine universities, and many more will emerge over time. But again the epicenter remains here.

Continued in article


Insurance fraud is spreading like wildfire
On January 26, 2012 CBS News had a segment on the latest scheme in Florida and elsewhere where all participants in an "accident" are fraudsters. The states most vulnerable to these latest schemes are the 12 "no-fault" insurance states. These fake accident scams have exploded in this down economy.

Since there are so many fake medical clinics in Florida, many of these so-called "rear-enders" are reported in Florida. Florida is also the most troublesome state in the U.S. for filing millions of phony disability claims that give recipients at any age Social Security monthly payments for life plus Medicare coverage for life even if the faker is young such as 23 years of age and a long expectation of life. The phony medical clinics of course get a big cut of the pot. Some of the worst abusers of this fraud are Cuban immigrants in south Florida, but there are tens of millions of other perfectly healthy people in the United States who are now drawing lifetime Social Security benefit checks plus Medicare medical insurance coverage originally intended for retirees over age 65. The road to economic hell is paved with good intentions!

Here's an example of a fake auto accident scam that does not even require a lawsuit in a no-fault insurance state"

  1. All the fraudsters are recruited up front for small amounts of cash
  2. Two cheap cars are damaged slightly
  3. The cars are parked on an isolated road in such a manner that it looks line one car hit the back end of the other car
  4. The "accident" is phoned into the police
  5. Before the police arrive five fraudsters with picture IDs enter the front car
  6. Five more enter the rear car
  7. The police arrive and write up an accident report
  8. The next day all 10 people are examined by a fraudulent medical clinic that organized the scheme and supposedly finds soft tissue spinal damage in each passenger
  9. Insurance laws demand immediate payment to each passenger --- amounts vary by state with $10,000 in Florida to $50,000 in New York
  10. Nobody has to sue anybody for causing the accident
  11. Most of the money is raked off by the fraudulent medical clinic that organized and carried out the scheme, including recruiting of the passengers

There are of course variations in car accident scams, but these are often more dangerous and may entail lengthy litigation.

 

CBS News, January 26, 2012 ---
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57367081/scammers-cash-in-on-car-accidents
 

"Scammers cash in on car 'accidents'"  --- Watch the video!

(CBS News)

In this tough economy, one type of insurance fraud is more popular than ever. It involves scam artists who stage car crashes in order to cash in. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian shows us how it works.

In Tampa, Florida, security cameras outside a business captured an accident: an SUV "slammed" into a car.

But rewind the tape and you see the car was actually driven into the middle of the street. The driver got out, a collision, and then five people climbed into the damaged vehicle.

The passengers later claimed they were injured, to rip off their car insurance company. Instead, they were arrested and convicted of "staging" a car accident.

Ron Poindexter is the Florida director for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, a not-for-profit agency funded by the insurance industry to investigate fraud.

"It's a big problem nationally," he said. "In Florida it's a huge, growing problem that's out of control."

Today 12 states have what's known as no-fault auto insurance. That means no matter who's at fault, everyone involved in a car accident is entitled to insurance money if they're hurt. In Florida, it's up to $10,000 per person; in New York, it's $50,000 -- payouts so big, it's set the stage for massive fraud and scammers like this man, who asked we conceal his identity.

"First of all you gotta recruit people," said the former scammer. "You have to look around for people who wanna do car accidents. And then you have to ask them if they wanna be the hitter or the one [who's] hit [by the] car in front."

"The hitter or the one that's getting hit," asked Keteyian.

"Yeah," he said.

Here's how it works: It's run by organizers who own bogus medical clinics. They in turn hire recruiters who find people willing to stage accidents for money.

The people involved are then taken to the bogus clinics. An undercover video, shot by Florida State investigators, shows what typically happens next. Here, an investigator posing as an accident "victim" was told to sign one insurance form after another for medical treatment he'll never receive. He was then paid $700 in cash for faking the accident and an injury.

"It's easy money like that. And it's a lot of money," said the former scammer.

"Is it always the same thing, is it a back problem?" asked Keteyian.

Continued in article

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


To help explain what is really going on here I wrote a teaching case:
A Teaching Case:  Professor Tall vs. Professor Short vs. Freddie Mac
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TallVerusShort.htm 

Question
Why won't Freddie Mac provide more relief to homeowners having mortgages that are under water --- meaning the prepayment balance due is more than 80% of the current value of the property?

"Freddie Mac’s big bet against homeowners," by Suzy Khimm, The Washington Post, January 31, 2012 ---
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/freddie-macs-big-bet-against-homeowners/2012/01/30/gIQAQ8tYcQ_blog.html

ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger and NPR’s Chris Arnold have discovered that Freddie Mac has used a complex derivative transaction to place large bets that rely on millions of American homeowners remaining in overpriced mortgages to pay off. The bets in Freddie’s investment portfolio — which totaled $3.4 billion in 2010 and 2011 — directly contradict the housing giant’s stated mission to provide affordable mortgages to Americans.

Freddie’s bet against refinancing — known as an “inverse floater,” which depends on mortgages interest payments — underscores a central tension between the White House and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which gained conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie after the crisis. When Freddie and Fannie’s huge investment portfolios profit, it helps reduce the potential burden on taxpayers. That’s been a priority for FHFA under Edward DeMarco’s leadership. At the same time, Fannie and Freddie could, by easing the way for homeowners to lower their payments, help heal the housing market. That’s the priority for the White House. As such, Freddie Mae made “a direct bet against the administration’s public policy effort,” Christopher Mayer, professor of housing finance at Columbia University, tells me.

When it comes to refinancing, “there’s always been this lingering question — why aren’t the GSEs doing more? Everyone says it’s because of their portfolio, ” said Mayer, who’s been a proponent of mass refinancing through Fannie and Freddie. He points out that Freddie, in recent months, had tighter rules for refinancing than its counterpart Freddie. “Now we know why,” Mayer says.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
To help explain what is really going on here I wrote a teaching case:
A Teaching Case:  Professor Tall vs. Professor Short vs. Freddie Mac
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TallVerusShort.htm 

"Once a Castle, Home is Now a Debtors' Prison," Nicolas P. Retsinas, Harvard Business School, February 2, 2012 ---
http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6791.html

We have created a housing hybrid in America, refashioning the single-family home into a mini debtors' prison. Almost 11 million dot the landscape. In Las Vegas and Phoenix, over 50 percent of homeowners live in one.

Forget the notion of the home as "castle," protecting the owner from greedy landlords. Forget too the expectation that a physical nest will morph into a nest egg. For 22 percent of people who hold mortgages, those notions are anachronistic—relics of a long-ago era before unemployment soared, the Dow plummeted, and credit default swaps surfaced. In today's jargon, these owners are underwater—they owe more than the value of their homes.

But underwater is a misnomer. People underwater either swim or drown.

These underwater owners linger, trapped in their very own debtors' prisons. Their task is Sisyphean: they work, pay the monthly debt to the lender, yet see a perpetual gap between payments and value. The payments can seem like an extortion episode from The Sopranos.

Exit strategies are few. If an owner sells the house for less than the mortgage, the owner must pay the lender the difference. Owners will still need to find someplace else to live.

An owner can walk away from the loan and join the "strategic defaulters," who defaulted not because they could not pay but because they did not want to. Their house was a bad investment. The advantage of this maneuver is real: strategic defaulters save money. Sometimes they can rent a comparable home. But they risk a lower credit rating, which could bar them from buying another home for up to seven years.

Understandably, most owners do not grab either of these solutions; instead, they live shackled in what the Chinese call fang nu—slaves to their house.

One owner's misery is personal; when over a fifth of mortgage-holders are shackled, the personal misery becomes national. For the country, these homes are an economic shackle, hobbling the housing market. They also distort the labor market: people offered jobs far afield stay put, reluctant (and unable) to leave their underwater homes. Since the recovery of the housing market will undergird any broader recovery, we must address these debtors' prisons.

Novel solutions

The solutions will force lenders to throw out their textbooks.

First, lenders can recognize the wisdom of short sales, accepting less than the face value of the mortgage. Currently banks do accept short sales but only after protracted negotiations. One advice columnist recently advised sellers eager to unload an underwater house to keep trying—on the third try, a bank might relent. A short sale will put the house on the market, opening it to another buyer, letting the seller move. Lenders could proactively set prices for short sales.

Continued in article

To help explain what is really going on here I wrote a teaching case:
A Teaching Case:  Professor Tall vs. Professor Short vs. Freddie Mac
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TallVerusShort.htm 

 


PBS Video:  What Do Tax Rates' Ups and Downs Mean for Economic Growth?
http://video.pbs.org/video/2176062522
Thank you Paul Caron for the heads up.

Marginal Tax Rates Around the World --- http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/MarginalTaxRates.html

Although I favor raising taxes at all income levels with much higher marginal rates for the wealthy, keep in mind that there are limits. A close friend in Sweden argued that at one point for certain wealthy Swedes like him the marginal tax rate exceeded 100% --- which has to really discourage both working and investing risk capital.


In the 1970s and 1980s economic growth in Sweden was very low compared to other Western European nations, and much of this is attributed to high marginal tax rates (80+%) on workers in general and even higher for wealthy Swedes, many of whom shifted their wealth and even themselves out of Sweden ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweden

 
A bursting real estate bubble caused by inadequate controls on lending combined with an international recession and a policy switch from anti-unemployment policies to anti-inflationary policies resulted in a fiscal crisis in the early 1990s.] Sweden's GDP declined by around 5%. In 1992, there was a run on the currency, with the central bank briefly jacking up interest to 500%.


The response of the government was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Sweden's competitiveness, among them reducing the
welfare state and privatising public services and goods. Much of the political establishment promoted EU membership, and the Swedish referendum passed with 52% in favour of joining the EU on 13 November 1994. Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995.


Marginal Tax Rates by Country ---
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/tax_hig_mar_tax_rat_ind_rat-highest-marginal-tax-rate-individual


By 2009, Sweden had dropped its marginal tax rate of well over 80% to 57%. This still leaves Sweden with the third-highest marginal tax rate. At a marginal tax rate of 35%, the United States is tied with many nations at Rank 37. The reason almost half of U.S. taxpayers, many of whom are well above the poverty level, pay zero or very low income tax is that there are so many ways to avoid or defer income taxes, especially with all the newer types of credits available in the revised U.S. Tax Code.


Sometimes what appears to be a raising of income taxes is merely a shifting of taxes such as when huge and painful increases on a state's cost of capital are passed to its more regressive sales and property taxes and apartment rentals. It will be very tough if school districts, towns, cities, counties, and states must compete head-to-head in bond markets with corporations.


The problem with tax exempt bonds is that there are gazillions of dollars invested in these bonds such that even small increases in tax-exempt cost of capital can clobber citizens in need of schools, road repairs, welfare, etc.

Rates Versus Enforcement
Marginal Tax Rates by Country ---
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/tax_hig_mar_tax_rat_ind_rat-highest-marginal-tax-rate-individual

One of the problems in comparing marginal tax rates and economic growth by country is the enormous problem of variations in tax enforcement between nations. Countries (read that Greece and Italy) may have relatively high marginal tax rates where enforcement is a sham. Illinois just imposed one of the largest tax rate increases among all 50 states in the United States. But Illinois is handing out "Get Out of Tax Free" cards right and left for large corporations that threaten to pull up stakes in Illinois and move on to states that have lower tax rates.

Benefits Covered in Tax Payments
Marginal Tax Rates by Country ---
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/tax_hig_mar_tax_rat_ind_rat-highest-marginal-tax-rate-individual

Another problem in comparing marginal tax rates and economic growth by country is that countries vary in terms of what taxpayers receive in return. Many nations provide health care benefits for all citizens in revenues collected from taxes. Others provide less health services from taxation. Some nations can keep taxes lower because they are protected by the military might of neighbors. Canada, for example, has never had to invest heavily in its military because it lives under the powerful military umbrella of the United States. Israel is a high taxation state, but taxes would soar through the roof if the United States did not heavily subsidize military protection of Israel.

 


"Former Penn State Prof Charged With $3M Fraud," Inside Higher Ed,  February 1, 2012 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/02/01/former-penn-state-prof-charged-3m-fraud

Bob Jensen's threads on professors who cheat ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Plagiarism.htm#ProfessorsWhoPlagiarize

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


"Using Google Docs to Check In On Students’ Reading," by Brian Croxall, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8 ,2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/using-google-docs-to-check-in-on-students-reading/38405?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Last semester I taught my favorite book, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. With nightly reading assignments that take three to four hours, I expect students to fall behind. So I wasn’t surprised when, a few days in, I asked if everyone had done all the reading and the majority of the class avoided looking at me. Such are the occupational hazards of teaching.

We’re only a few weeks into the semester, but experience shows that it’s never too early for students to get behind in their reading—even if you’re not teaching amazing post-print fiction. While students clearly have the right to choose what they will and will not read, when a significant portion of the class falls behind it can make it very difficult to lead a class discussion.

Last semester, I heard a strategy from my friend and colleague Alyssa Stalsberg-Canelli for dealing with exactly this problem: have the students write down the page number they’ve reached in their reading on a scrap of paper and pass it up to the front. Students can then tell you, more or less anonymously, how far they’ve come in their reading. Taking the class’s temperature in this manner allows you to adjust your strategy for leading the class and saves you from asking questions that no one will be able to answer, resulting in the not-so-golden silence.

For just one more turn of the screw, I decided to forego the pieces of paper and instead used Google Docs. (You want posts about Google Docs? We got ‘em!) First, I created a spreadsheet. As I’ve said before, I use spreadsheets for everything! Then I clicked the “Share” button in the upper right corner.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Google Docs are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#GoogleApps

 

"Google Docs Can Now Be Exported Through Takeout," by Jon Mitchell, ReadWriteWeb, January 24, 2012 ---
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_docs_data_can_now_be_exported_through_takeo.php

Google Docs can now be exported from the Google Takeout menu, thanks to Google's Data Liberation Front. Previously, users could export and import documents in various formats, but they are now available alongside data from all other Google services in Takeout.

Google Takeout was unveiled in summer 2011. It allows Google users to export all their Google data to disk or just data from individual services. It's all thanks to the Data Liberation Front team, which builds tools to give Google users control over their data.

Continued in article

Tax Professor Amy Dunbar Loves Google Docs

Collaboration --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Collaboration

Social Networking --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm

Google Wave --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Wave

Google Docs --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Docs

May 31, 2010 message from Amy Dunbar [Amy.Dunbar@BUSINESS.UCONN.EDU]

I just finished the first week of a 12-week MSA online tax course at UConn. I put students in groups and I ask them to work fairly lengthy quizzes (homework) independently, putting their answers in an Excel spreadsheet, and then they meet in chats to discuss their differences. When they can’t resolve a question, they invite me into chat. This week a student introduced me to Google docs, and I was swept off my feet by the way this tool could be used in my class. I love it! I created a video on the fly on Thursday to illustrate how to create a spreadsheet and share it with other group members. I may be the last to the party on this tool, but in case some of you aren’t aware of it, I am posting the video.

http://users.business.uconn.edu/adunbar/videos/GoogleDocs/GoogleDocs.html 

If anyone wants the “quiz” that the students worked, send me an email (not AECM), and I will send you the file.

Amy

Amy Dunbar University of Connecticut School of Business Department of Accounting 2100 Hillside Road Unit 1041 Storrs, CT 06269-1041

cell 860-208-2737
amy.dunbar@business.uconn.ed 

May 31, 2010 reply from Rick Lillie [rlillie@CSUSB.EDU]

Hi Amy,

I use Google Docs and Spreadsheets with all of my courses.  It's free, includes most of the Microsoft Office features, and makes it easy for students to collaborate on team projects.  It also makes it easy to submit the final document in various formats (e.g., .pdf format).

My students use two communication tools in conjunction with Google Docs and Spreadsheets (i.e., TokBox and Skype).  To use these tools, they need a headset/microphone and webcam.

TokBox (http://www.tokbox.com) is a free, hosted video messaging service.  You can record up to a 10 minute video clip that can be shared by URL link.  TokBox also includes a video chat feature that enables multiple people to video conference.  This feature works great with study teams.

Skype (http://www.skype.com)  includes chat, audio and video-conferencing.  The chat feature works probably better than what you have been using.  With a headset/microphone, you can have up to 10+ people in a audio conference call.  Video-conferencing is 1:1 and includes a great  screen sharing feature.

You can really change the nature of team collaboration when you combine Google Docs and Spreadsheets with TokBox and/or Skype.  Following is an example of how to do this.

EXAMPLE

Students use Google Docs to create a shared workspace for writing a paper.  One student sets up the workspace and invites team members into the space through an email link.  Each team member is given editor rights.

Using a headset/microphone and webcam, students use TokBox to host a group video conference call.  This enables students to brainstorm and get a project running.

During the work process, each team member adds/changes the paper in the common workspace in Google Docs.

When it is time to pull the paper together and do final editing, students use the audio conference call feature to talk with each  other.  While all are online in Skype, each team member logs into the Google Docs paper and views it on his/her computer screen.  One or more students act as the editor.  All see changes as they are made.

When editing is finished, one student exports the final assignment document in .pdf format to his/her hard drive.  The student then submits the document for grading (e.g., student uploads the paper through the Digital Drop Box in Blackboard).

OUTCOME

By combining the features of Google Docs and Spreadsheets with communication tools like TokBox and Skype, students learn how to use technology to get things done.  Major companies pay a fortune to do what your students can  do for free.  Purchasing a headset/microphone and webcam is relatively inexpensive.  The experience students get is priceless.

I use this approach and technology tools with face-2-face, blended, and online classes.  It works great.  The approach changes the nature of how students and instructor interact in the teaching-learning experience.

Rick Lillie, MAS, Ed.D., CPA
Assistant Professor of Accounting
Coordinator, Master of Science in Accountancy
CSUSB, CBPA, Department of Accounting & Finance
5500 University Parkway, JB-547
San Bernardino, CA.  92407-2397
Email:  rlillie@csusb.edu
Telephone:  (909) 537-5726Skype (Username):  ricklillie

On the last day of class, I would love to hear my students say:

“I never thought I could work so hard. I never thought I could learn so much. I never thought I could think so deeply. And, it was actually fun.”
(Joe Hoyle)

Bob Jensen's threads on Tricks and Tools of the Trade are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

How to author books and other materials for online delivery
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

How Scholars Search the Web ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#Scholars


"Building Programming Tutorials with Codecademy," by Anastasia Salter, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8, 2012 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/building-programming-tutorials-with-codecademy/38378?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

For those learning to code this year, either for professional reasons or to expand personal horizons, Codecademy has been a popular tool. Jason has written about Codecademy as a platform for code-literacy, and I discussed the Codeyear “new year’s resolution” initiative the site launched in January. Now the platform has expanded even further with the addition of tools that allow any user to create new courses and projects in JavaScript, Python and Ruby.

Codecademy may not be a substitute for more traditional forms of programming instruction, but this new platform does offer possibilities for shaping hybrid learning or building coding familiarity into a course dedicated to another topic, as customized tutorials could supplement face to face instruction. Julie Meloni makes some great points about the pedagogical problems of Codecademy and the question of results: “…it is not teaching you how to code. It is teaching you how to call-and-response, and is not particularly helpful in explaining why you’re responding, why they’re calling, or—most importantly—how to become a composer.” I share a number of these concerns, particularly when Codecademy is the only source of knowledge–and I hope that this new tool affords Codecademy the opportunity to crowdsource new approaches to pedagogy.

There are some great examples of instructional programming tools available for free on the web, such as Scratch, MIT’s young-learner friendly code “building blocks.” (Scratch is just one kid-targeted programming tool: there are other great suggestions at Digital Humanities Q&A.) But these are often starter languages that don’t directly apply to web development or other applications, and thus require additional investment before literacy in more widely-used languages is achieved.

The choice of languages in Codecademy’s toolset focuses on utilitarian scripting languages with a range of potential applications. As Ryan Cordell noted in Ruby for Humanists, Ruby is a great starting language and its inclusion is particularly promising. As Ryan mentioned, there’s already a site for learning programming basics through Ruby tutorials: Hackety Hack. But Codecademy moves a step further with an easy system for building and sharing interactive tutorials.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on new and old tools are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#NewTools


4Teachers: Teach with Technology --- http://www.4teachers.org/

"Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching," by Dan Berrett, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 5, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/Harvard-Seeks-to-Jolt/130683/


"Why Is Arizona State Blocking Change.org?" Inside Higher Ed, February 6, 2012 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/02/06/why-arizona-state-blocking-changeorg


"It's Time to Ditch StumbleUpon for Pinterest,": by Alicia Eler, ReadWriteWeb, February 3, 2012 ---
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/its_time_to_ditch_stumbleupon_for_pinterest.php 

StumbleUpon is one of those sites we've had on our radar for quite sometime. We covered the company's redesign last year, which re-focused the site on topic features. So when StumbleUpon snuck in a strange change the other day without telling anyone, we were shocked. This update made it impossible to get direct links for the pages one is stumbling unless they choose to not sign-in to the service.

The entire point of StumbleUpon, for the user, is to build up a taste graph that will better deliver stories that the user would like. But many sites depend on referral traffic from StumbleUpon, which is something outside of the StumbleUpon user's direct stumbling experience.

StumbleUpon is one of those sites we've had on our radar for quite sometime. We covered the company's redesign last year, which re-focused the site on topic features. So when StumbleUpon snuck in a strange change the other day without telling anyone, we were shocked. This update made it impossible to get direct links for the pages one is stumbling unless they choose to not sign-in to the service.

The entire point of StumbleUpon, for the user, is to build up a taste graph that will better deliver stories that the user would like. But many sites depend on referral traffic from StumbleUpon, which is something outside of the StumbleUpon user's direct stumbling experience.

StumbleUpon is one of those sites we've had on our radar for quite sometime. We covered the company's redesign last year, which re-focused the site on topic features. So when StumbleUpon snuck in a strange change the other day without telling anyone, we were shocked. This update made it impossible to get direct links for the pages one is stumbling unless they choose to not sign-in to the service.

The entire point of StumbleUpon, for the user, is to build up a taste graph that will better deliver stories that the user would like. But many sites depend on referral traffic from StumbleUpon, which is something outside of the StumbleUpon user's direct stumbling experience.

"My website used to get 70-80% of referral traffic from StumbleUpon," writes ReadWriteWeb commenter Jeffrey Davis. "After the redesign, that percentage dropped to 40%. I suspect now that it will drop even further...especially since SU is now hijacking the pageview."

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
I stopped going to StumbleUpon years ago out of security concerns. I did not think this company was adequately investigating security risks of the sites it recommended.

I've never tried Pinterest and probably won't until somebody respectable like Walt Mossberg or David Pogue tells me it's safe to do so.

It's so sad that the bad guys on the Web have made us so paranoid.


"Fair-Use Guide Seeks to Solve Librarians’ VHS-Cassette Problem," by Nick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 25, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/fair-use-guide-hopes-to-solve-librarians-vhs-cassette-problem/35151?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

The Association of Research Libraries might have a solution to what some librarians call “the VHS-cassette problem.”

Here’s the scenario: An academic library has a collection of video tapes that is slowly deteriorating, thanks to the fragile nature of analog media. A librarian would like to digitize the collection for future use, but avoids making the copies out of fear that doing so would violate copyright law. And the institution’s attorneys have advised the librarian that the fair-use principle, which might offer a way to make copies legally, is too flexible to rely on.

When the Association of Research Libraries and a team of fair-use advocates surveyed librarians to find out how they navigate copyright issues, many of them described that exact conundrum. But they may soon have a way out. Tomorrow the group will announce a code of best practices designed to outline ways academic librarians can take advantage of their fair-use rights to navigate common copyright issues.

The new code is one of a series published with the help of Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, a pair of American University scholars known for pushing back against the restrictions of copyright law. The duo has helped several professional communities develop similar codes. Brandon Butler, director of public-policy initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries, said this guide is different than early fair-use guidelines for libraries, which he described as narrowly crafted “safe harbors” that had the unintended effect of making it more difficult for librarians to do their jobs. Mr. Butler said this version gives librarians a collective voice that they haven’t enjoyed in the past.

“It’s not meant to be a legal memo handed down from on high telling librarians, We the lawyers have told you here are your rights,” he said. “It’s meant actually to be exactly the opposite of that. It’s meant to be a brief from the librarians to the lawyers saying, We know a little bit about fair use too, and here’s what we think are our rights.”

The team assembled the code during nearly 40 hours of group discussions with research librarians, Mr. Butler said. It identifies eight common library practices to which the fair-use principle can be applied, like making special-collections items available electronically and creating digital versions of library materials for patrons with disabilities. Each principle includes a set of limitations and enhancements that further specify how a fair-use claim can be made. A consensus about the eight items did not emerge immediately, Mr. Butler said, especially when some of the principles discussed material posted on the Web.

“There’s a kind of feeling that if you do something on the Internet, that’s especially dangerous,” he said. “We’ve been doing physical exhibits for time immemorial, but once it’s on the Internet, anyone in the world can see it and maybe they could even copy it. And that creates a special heartburn.”

Eventually, the groups realized that self-censoring their online activities would be contrary to their mission as librarians.

“Should we really be limiting what we do out of this kind of generic fear of the Internet?” Mr. Butler asked. “Or can we think this through and find a way to make it fair use if we do it right?”

Continued in article

"New DVD Copyright Exemption for Educational Purposes," Inside Higher Ed, July 27, 2010 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/27/qt#233421

The U.S. Copyright Office on Monday promulgated a number of new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including one allowing university staffers and students to hack DVD content and display it for educational purposes. If a university or student lawfully obtains copy of a DVD, the agency says, they can bypass the encryption so long as "circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for... Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students." The exemption applies when professors or students want to use excerpts of the hacked DVD in documentary films or "non-commercial videos." Tracy Mitrano, director of I.T. policy at Cornell University and a technology law blogger for Inside Higher Ed, called the decision "very big news," and "good news," for higher education, noting that advocates in academe have been lobbying for an expansion of fair use exemptions for some time. One campus that might take heart is the University of California at Los Angeles, which an educational media group threatened to sue last spring for copying and streaming DVD content on course websites. The university had refused to stop the practice, and a UCLA spokesman said the group, the Association for Information and Media Equipment, has not followed through. He said UCLA is reviewing the new rules.

Bob Jensen's threads on the dreaded DMCA are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/theworry.htm#Copyright


Memory Tricks for Better Spelling

"Palette," "Palate," and "Pallet," by Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl, January 23, 2012 ---
http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/palette-palate-pallet.aspx?WT.mc_id=undefined

I added this to the AAA Commons Writing Forum/Author's Corner ---
http://commons.aaahq.org/posts/c5fdcaace5

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


MITx Open Sharing Wonder
"MIT Mints a Valuable New Form of Academic Currency," by Kevin Carey, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/MIT-Mints-a-Valuable-New-Form/130410/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has invented or improved many world-changing things—radar, information theory, and synthetic self-replicating molecules, to name a few. Last month the university announced, to mild fanfare, an invention that could be similarly transformative, this time for higher education itself. It's called MITx. In that small lowercase letter, a great deal is contained.

MITx is the next big step in the open-educational-resources movement that MIT helped start in 2001, when it began putting its course lecture notes, videos, and exams online, where anyone in the world could use them at no cost. The project exceeded all expectations—more than 100 million unique visitors have accessed the courses so far.

Meanwhile, the university experimented with using online tools to help improve the learning experience for its own students in Cambridge, Mass. Now MIT has decided to put the two together—free content and sophisticated online pedagogy­—and add a third, crucial ingredient: credentials. Beginning this spring, students will be able to take free, online courses offered through the MITx initiative. If they prove they've learned the materi­al, MITx will, for a small fee, give them a credential certifying as much.

In doing this, MIT has cracked one of the fundamental problems retarding the growth of free online higher education as a force for human progress. The Internet is a very different environment than the traditional on-campus classroom. Students and employers are rightly wary of the quality of online courses. And even if the courses are great, they have limited value without some kind of credential to back them up. It's not enough to learn something—you have to be able to prove to other people that you've learned it.

The best way to solve that problem is for a world-famous university with an unimpeachable reputation to put its brand and credibility behind open-education resources and credentials to match. But most world-famous universities got that way through a process of exclusion. Their degrees are coveted and valuable precisely because they're expensive and hard to acquire. If an Ivy League university starts giving degrees away for free, why would everyone clamor to be admitted to an Ivy League university?

MIT is particularly well suited to manage that dilemma. Compared with other elite universities, MIT has an undergraduate admissions process that is relatively uncorrupted by considerations of who your grandfather was, the size of the check your parents wrote to the endowment, or your skill in moving a ball from one part of a playing field to another. Also in marked contrast to other (in some cases highly proximate) elite institutions, MIT under­graduates have to complete a rigorous academic curriculum to earn a degree. This means there should be little confusion between credentials issued by MIT and MITx. The latter won't dilute the value of the former.

MIT is also populated by academic leaders with the better traits of the engineer: a curiosity about how things work and an attraction to logical solutions. So MITx will be accompanied by a campuswide research effort aimed at discovering what kinds of online learning tools, like simulation laboratories and virtual-learning communities, are most effective in different combinations of subject matter and student background. MITx courses will also be delivered on an "open learning platform," which means that any other college or higher-education provider will be able to make its course available through the same system.

The university is fortunate to have faculty who are comfortable working with technological tools and eager to try out new educational methods. Professors in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (Csail) are already experimenting with ideas like "crowdsourced" grading of computer programs, in which qualified Web users comment on student work. MIT also plans to retool its lecture videos to make them interactive and responsive to students' academic progress. Anant Agarwal, director of Csail and a leader of the MITx effort, notes that "human productivity has gone up dramatically in the past several decades due to the Internet and computing technologies, but amazingly enough the way we do education is not very different from the way we did it a thousand years ago."

Most important, MITx is animated by a sense of obligation to maximize human potential. Great research universities have vast abilities to distribute knowledge across the globe. But until recently, they have been highly limited in their ability, and willingness, to distribute authentic education. Before the information-technology revolution, the constraints were physical—you can fit only so many people in dorms and classrooms along the Charles River.

The Internet has ripped those barriers away. As MIT's provost, L. Rafael Reif, observes, "There are many, many learners worldwide—and even here in the United States—for whom the Internet is their only option for accessing higher education." Reif emphasizes that the courses will be built with MIT-grade difficulty. Not everyone will be able to pass them. But, he says, "we believe strongly that anyone in the world who can dedicate themselves and learn this material should be given a credential."

This sensible and profound instinct sets a new standard for behavior among wealthy, famous universities. Elite colleges all allege to be global institutions, and many are known around the world. But it is simply untenable to claim global leadership in educating a planet of seven billion people when you hoard your educational offerings for a few thousand fortunates living together on a small patch of land.

Continued in article

College diplomas might be obtained in three different scenarios:

  1. Traditional College Courses
    Students take onsite or online courses that are graded by their instructors.
     
  2. Competency-Based College Courses
    Students take onsite or online courses and are then given competency-based examinations.
    Examples include the increasingly popular Western Governors University and the Canada's Chartered Accountancy School of Business (CASB).
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm#ComputerBasedAssessment
     
  3. Competency-Based College Courses That Never Meet or Rarely Meet
    Students might study from course materials and videos in classes that do not meet or rarely meet with instructors.
    In the 1900s the University of Chicago gave degrees to students who took only examinations to pass courses.
    In current times BYU teaches the first two accounting courses from variable speed video disks and then administers competency-based examinations.
    The University of New Hampshire now is in the process of developing a degree program for students who only competency-based examinations to pass courses.
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#NoInstructors

Recently, there are increasingly popular certificates of online "attendance" in courses that do not constitute college credits toward diplomas. MIT is providing increasingly popular certificates ---
"Will MITx Disrupt Higher Education?" by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 20, 2011 ---
http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/castingoutnines/2011/12/20/will-mitx-disrupt-higher-education/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en
There are no admission requirements or prerequisites to enroll in these online courses. Presumably the only tests of competency might be written or oral examinations of potential employers. For example, if knowledge of Bessel Functions is required on the job, a potential employer might determine in one way or another that the student has a competency in Bessel Functions ---
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessel_Functions

In all the above instances, a student's transcript is based upon course content whether or not the student takes courses and/or competency-based examinations in the content of those courses.

StraighterLine's new certificates based upon "Critical-Thinking Tests" is an entirely different concept. Presumably the certificates no longer are rooted on knowledge of content. Rather these are certificates based upon critical thinking skills in selected basic courses such as a writing skills course.
Critical Thinking Badges for Brains That Do Not Have Course Content Competency
"Online Course Provider, StraighterLine, to Offer Critical-Thinking Tests to Students," by Jeff Selingo, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 19, 2012 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-course-provider-straighterline-to-offer-critical-thinking-tests-to-students/35092?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

In my opinion these will be a much harder sell in the market. Whereas a potential employer can assess whether an applicant has the requisite skills in something like Bessel Functions, how does an employer or college admissions officer verify that StraightLine's "Critical-Thinking Tests" are worth a diddly crap and, if so, what does passing such tests mean in terms of job skills?

Thus far I'm not impressed with Critical Thinking Certificates unless they are also rooted on course content apart from "thinking" alone.

Bob Jensen's threads on the BYU Variable Speed Video Courses ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#BYUvideo

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

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing courses. lectures, videos, tutorials, and course materials from prestigious universities ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

Bob Jensen's threads on online training and education alternatives ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

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

"10 Faculty Perspectives on What Works in Lecture Capture," Chronicle of Higher Education, November 4, 2011 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/10-Faculty-Perspectives-on/129268/

Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm


"Making Assessment Work," by Kaplan University, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 4, 2011 ---
http://chronicle.com/article/Making-Assessment-Work/129266/

Accreditors are increasingly requiring assessment of student learning to become a focus for post-secondary institutions. The increased importance placed on assessment is not without good reason. Student learning is an important outcome of higher education. With increasing accreditation and public pressure, student learning should be more important to colleges and universities than it ever has. What is important should be measured and what is measured can be improved.

Case in point, Kaplan University (KU) is a for-profit, career oriented university where learning is not just one of the important outcomes it is the most important outcome. More specifically, Kaplan University’s focus is student learning that will materialize into positive career outcomes for its students. With this mission in mind, Kaplan University spent four years planning, developing and implementing Course Level Assessment (CLA), a system specifically designed to close the loop between measurement and improved student outcomes.

CLA is multi-tiered assessment system mapping course level learning goals to program level learning goals. Each of the 1,000 courses contains an average of four to six learning goals that map to one or more of the program learning objectives. Assessment against these outcomes is comprehensive; every outcome is assessed for every student, every term in every course. The Learning outcomes and scoring rubrics that appear in the online grade book all come from a common data repository. The instructor scores the assessment directly in the online gradebook and the data automatically feed back into the data repository. By linking those objectives, rubrics, and assessment data, we can compare student achievement on any specific objective for a course across any number of instructors, sections, or terms with the confidence that the same assessment was used, addressing the same learning objective, graded with the same rubric.

The data mapping enables rapid and sophisticated analytics that supports a tight feedback loop. Another design element of CLA that enhances a short feedback cycle is the proximity of the assessment to the learning event. This is a key differentiator of Kaplan’s CLA. While other strategies can produce reliable evidence of student learning, they are far removed from the actual learning to pin-point any specific deficiency in curriculum or instruction. By combining assessments linked directly to specific learning and automated data analytics, CLA provides a platform to rapidly test and improve curriculum whether on-ground or on-line.

With the technology foundation for CLA fully in place, KU evaluated curricular changes in 221 courses with assessment data. The results showed that 44% of the revisions produced statistically significant improvements while only 23% led to decreases. The CLA system is the cornerstone of all programs to analyze these interventions and make evidence based decisions about course offerings that drive student outcomes.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment (including competency-based assessment) ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Assess.htm


Big Brother's Hawaiian

Natives wanting privacy might return to coconut wireless systems
"Hawaii may keep track of all Web sites visited Declan McCullagh," by Declan McCullagh, C|net, January 26, 2012 ---
http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57366443-281/hawaii-may-keep-track-of-all-web-sites-visited/

Hawaii's legislature is weighing an unprecedented proposal to curb the privacy of Aloha State residents: requiring Internet providers to keep track of every Web site their customers visit.

Its House of Representatives has scheduled a hearing this morning on a new bill (PDF) requiring the creation of virtual dossiers on state residents. The measure, H.B. 2288, says "Internet destination history information" and "subscriber's information" such as name and address must be saved for two years.

H.B. 2288, which was introduced Friday, says the dossiers must include a list of Internet Protocol addresses and domain names visited. Democratic Rep. John Mizuno of Oahu is the lead sponsor; Mizuno also introduced H.B. 2287, a computer crime bill, at the same time last week.

Last summer, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) managed to persuade a divided committee in the U.S. House of Representatives to approve his data retention proposal, which doesn't go nearly as far as Hawaii's. (Smith, currently Hollywood's favorite Republican, has become better known as the author of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.)

Democrat Jill Tokuda, the Hawaii Senate's majority whip, who introduced a companion bill, S.B. 2530, in the Senate, told CNET that her legislation was intended to address concerns raised by Rep. Kymberly Pine, the first Republican elected to her Oahu district since statehood and the House minority floor leader.

Continued in article

"Hawaiian politician backs away from Web dossier law," by Declan McCullagh, C|net, January 26, 2012 ---
http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57367226-281/hawaiian-politician-backs-away-from-web-dossier-law/?tag=mncol;txt

A Hawaii politician who proposed requiring Internet providers to record every Web site their customers visit is now backing away from the controversial legislation.

Rep. Kymberly Pine, an Oahu Republican and the House minority floor leader, told CNET this evening that her intention was to protect "victims of crime," not compile virtual dossiers on every resident of--or visitor to--the Aloha State who uses the Internet.

"We do not want to know where everyone goes on the Internet," Pine said. "That's not our interest. We just want the ability for law enforcement to be able to capture the activities of crime."

Pine acknowledged that civil libertarians and industry representatives have leveled severe criticism of the unprecedented legislation, which even the U.S. Justice Department did not propose when calling for new data retention laws last year. A Hawaii House of Representatives committee met this morning to consider the bill (PDF), which was tabled.

The bill, H.B. 2288, will likely now be revised, Pine said. The idea of compiling dossiers "was a little broad," said Pine, who became interested in the topic after becoming the subject of a political attack Web site last year. "And we deserved what we heard at the committee hearing."

What the House Committee on Economic Revitalization and Business heard from opponents today was that the bill was anti-business and fraught with civil rights issues.

Laurie Temple, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, wrote a letter (PDF) calling H.B. 2288 a "direct assault on bedrock privacy principles." Instead of keeping more and more records about users, good privacy practices require deleting data that's no longer needed, the ACLU said.

NetChoice, a trade association in Washington, D.C., that counts eBay, Facebook, and Yahoo as members, sent a letter (PDF) warning that H.B. 2288's data collection requirements "could be misused in lawsuits." And the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association warned in its own letter (PDF) that H.B. 2288 would be incredibly expensive to comply with. "Narrower" national requirements would cost much more than $500 million in just short-term compliance costs, the letter said, and Hawaii's legislation is broader.

Continued in article


"Tenured Professor Departs Stanford U., Hoping to Teach 500,000 Students at Online Start-Up," by Nick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 23, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/tenured-professor-departs-stanford-u-hoping-to-teach-500000-students-at-online-start-up/35135?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

The Stanford University professor who taught an online artificial intelligence course to more than 160,000 students has abandoned his tenured position to aim for an even bigger audience.

Sebastian Thrun, a professor of computer science at Stanford, revealed today that he has departed the institution to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. He made the surprising announcement during a presentation at the Digital – Life – Design conference in Munich, Germany. The development was first reported earlier today by Reuters.

During his talk, Mr. Thrun explored the origins of his popular online course at Stanford, which initially featured videos produced with nothing more than “a camera, a pen and a napkin.” Despite the low production quality, many of the 200 Stanford students taking the course in the classroom flocked to the videos because they could absorb the lectures at their own pace. Eventually, the 200 students taking the course in person dwindled to a group of 30. Meanwhile, the course’s popularity exploded online, drawing students from around the world. The experience taught the professor that he could craft a course with the interactive tools of the Web that recreated the intimacy of one-on-one tutoring, he said.

Mr. Thrun told the crowd his move was motivated in part by teaching practices that evolved too slowly to be effective. During the era when universities were born, “the lecture was the most effective way to convey information. We had the industrialization, we had the invention of celluloid, of digitial media, and, miraculously, professors today teach exactly the same way they taught a thousand years ago,” he said.

He concluded by telling the crowd that he couldn’t continue teaching in a traditional setting. “Having done this, I can’t teach at Stanford again,” he said.

One of Udacity’s first offerings will be a seven-week course called “Building a Search Engine.” It will be taught by David Evans, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Virginia and a Udacity partner. Mr. Thrun said it is designed to teach students with no prior programming experience how to build a search engine like Google. He hopes 500,000 students will enroll.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment (true story)
This reminds me of a time when possibly the most popular accounting teacher, Professor XXXXX,  in the United States left the most prestigious accounting program (at the time) in the nation to teach at an almost unheard of small private college (that I don't think was even accredited) for an astronomical salary at the time. This particular professor had a genuine gift for teaching a capstone CPA examination review course to seniors just prior to taking the CPA examination (before the 150-hour requirement).

What Professor XXXXX discovered is that there's a real difference when teaching a CPA examination review course to low SAT scoring students having a lousy set of prerequisite accounting courses before taking the capstone CPA examination review course.


Competitive Strategies: Options and Games by Benoit Chevalier-Roignant and Lenos Trigeorgis (MIT Press; 488 pages; $55). Combines the decision-making approaches of real options and game theory.

Amazon's reviews are strong but possibly biased
http://www.amazon.com/Competitive-Strategy-Options-Benoit-Chevalier-Roignant/dp/0262015994/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327414652&sr=1-1


Building a Search Engine at Udacity ---
http://www.udacity.com/
Thank you Joe Hoyle for the heads ups

Learn programming in seven weeks. We'll teach you enough about computer science that you can build a web search engine like Google or Yahoo!

"So you want to learn to program?" by Robert Talbert, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 16, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/blognetwork/castingoutnines/2012/01/16/so-you-want-to-learn-to-program/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Jensen Comment
Having taught both Fortran and COBOL at one point in my career, I will pass on this opportunity to upgrade my programming skills. However, these sound like valuable free resources for the younger generation headed for college or that generation of unemployable history majors seeking new skills.

Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm


"OECD Targets Tax Relief on Mortgages," The Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2012 ---
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203806504577179223659194122.html?mod=googlenews_wsj&mg=reno-wsj

Governments should eliminate tax relief on mortgage interest payments and pension contributions, and tax capital gains from the sale of residential property in order to boost growth and reduce inequality, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Monday.

In a chapter from its annual "Going for Growth" report, the OECD said that while economists don't agree on the link between inequality and growth, there are some policies that are clearly "win-win" options, which both boost growth and reduce income inequality.

"Income inequality has drifted up, and at the same time the recovery is very patchy and the outlook uncertain," said Peter Hoeller, head of the public economics division at the OECD. "But we can find policies that are good for inequality and raise growth."

The Paris-based think tank said a broad range of measures that it described as "tax expenditure," and are more popularly known as "tax breaks," were obvious candidates.

They include tax relief on interest paid on mortgage loans, relief on contributions to private pension funds, and exemptions from capital gains tax on the sale of primary or secondary residences.

The OECD argued that while reducing the gap between rich and poor, the money saved by eliminating breaks that largely benefit the wealthy could be used to cut income tax rates and thereby boost growth.

"Cutting back tax expenditures, which mainly benefit high-income groups, is likely to be beneficial both for long-term GDP per capita, allowing a reduction in marginal tax rates, and for a more equitable distribution of income," the OECD said.

The OECD also questioned the use of some tax relief measures that are justified as encouraging entrepreneurial activity, but show little sign of doing so.

"In particular, there is little justification for tax breaks for stock options and carried interest," it said. "Raising such taxes would increase equity and allow a growth-enhancing cut in marginal labor income tax rates."

The OECD's proposals come at a time of renewed focus on the perceived fairness of developed economies following the financial crisis and more than a decade-and-a-half of rising income inequality.

In the U.K., the junior partner in the government coalition campaigned on a promise to make the tax system fairer in the May 2010 election, and still hopes to introduce a so-called "Mansion Tax" on residential properties with a value of £2 million or more.

Jensen Comment

Economic success stories aren't based on rising tax rates. China's certainly wasn't.
Nial Feguson, Harvard University as quoted in "The Inequality Dodge," Newsweek Magazine, February 6, 2012, Page 258

President Obama's drive to increase tax rates for the wealthy is based more on a political ploy to win another term as President than it is to stimulate jobs and the economy. There are really three issues that should not be bundled into one. Firstly there is the issue of principal residence versus vacation homes. Secondly, there is the issue of whether or not to cap the interest rate deduction. Thirdly, there's the issue of minimum thresholds for deductions from adjusted gross income as is currently built into the U.S. tax rules and is probably hurting lower income tax payers more than its hurting higher income taxpayers when the minimum threshold cannot be reached by lower income taxpayers.

There's also an issue of abruptly hammering down on a real estate market that is already under water. The mortgage interest deduction most certainly impacts demand for and prices paid for real estate. In my opinion the deductibility of home mortgage interest and property taxes has greatly increased both the amount of housing built in the United States and the quality/maintenance of such housing.

There are externalities to consider. Home owners take more pride in maintaining and adding to homes that they own. If there are fewer tax breaks of home ownership more and more potential owners will instead opt for rentals. When Erika and I visit Germany we're amazed by the proportion of the population that appears to us to live in rental housing (although I've not researched this question). It also seems that those big apartment houses are run down relatively to what they would become as condos.


"Things That Were Once Amazing," by David Pogue, The New York Times, February 2, 2012 ---
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/things-that-were-once-amazing/
Note the comment about EULA


How to Mislead With Statistics

January 29, 2012 message from Jagdish Gangolly

Hi all,
 
Came across an interesting case.  That of  one of the 
highest impact factor journals, published by the reputed
publisher Elsevier,  "Chaos, Solutions, and Fractals" (CSF). 
 
The story revolves around a mathematician and Physicist El Naschie
who was the editor-in-chief of CSF.
 
The misuse of the outlet led ultimately to the Times Higher Education
 2010-11ranking of University of Alexandria (Egypt) at number 4 right behind
Caltech, MIT, and Princeton, and AHEAD of Stanford, Harvard,
Berkeley, Chicago, Oxford, Cambridge,...
(See: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/2010-2011/top-200.html#score_CI|sort_ind|reverse_false)

 
The full story must be woven from the following:

 
http://science.slashdot.org/story/08/12/23/1831225/crackpot-scandal-in-mathematics
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Mohamed_El_Naschie
http://elnaschiewatch.blogspot.com/

 
An interesting story.

 
Jagdish

 
Jagdish S. Gangolly
Department of Informatics
College of Computing & Information
State University of New York at Albany
Harriman Campus, Building 7A, Suite 220
Albany, NY 12222
Phone:
518-956-8251, Fax: 518-956-8247

 


"Click here to find out more! Google Docs Can Now Be Exported Through Takeout," by Jon Mitchell, ReadWriteWeb, January 24, 2012 ---
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_docs_data_can_now_be_exported_through_takeo.php

Google Docs can now be exported from the Google Takeout menu, thanks to Google's Data Liberation Front. Previously, users could export and import documents in various formats, but they are now available alongside data from all other Google services in Takeout.

Google Takeout was unveiled in summer 2011. It allows Google users to export all their Google data to disk or just data from individual services. It's all thanks to the Data Liberation Front team, which builds tools to give Google users control over their data.

Continued in article

 

Tax Professor Amy Dunbar Loves Google Docs

Collaboration --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Collaboration

Social Networking --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm

Google Wave --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Wave

Google Docs --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Docs

May 31, 2010 message from Amy Dunbar [Amy.Dunbar@BUSINESS.UCONN.EDU]

I just finished the first week of a 12-week MSA online tax course at UConn. I put students in groups and I ask them to work fairly lengthy quizzes (homework) independently, putting their answers in an Excel spreadsheet, and then they meet in chats to discuss their differences. When they can’t resolve a question, they invite me into chat. This week a student introduced me to Google docs, and I was swept off my feet by the way this tool could be used in my class. I love it! I created a video on the fly on Thursday to illustrate how to create a spreadsheet and share it with other group members. I may be the last to the party on this tool, but in case some of you aren’t aware of it, I am posting the video.

http://users.business.uconn.edu/adunbar/videos/GoogleDocs/GoogleDocs.html 

If anyone wants the “quiz” that the students worked, send me an email (not AECM), and I will send you the file.

Amy

Amy Dunbar University of Connecticut School of Business Department of Accounting 2100 Hillside Road Unit 1041 Storrs, CT 06269-1041

cell 860-208-2737
amy.dunbar@business.uconn.ed 

May 31, 2010 reply from Rick Lillie [rlillie@CSUSB.EDU]

Hi Amy,

I use Google Docs and Spreadsheets with all of my courses.  It's free, includes most of the Microsoft Office features, and makes it easy for students to collaborate on team projects.  It also makes it easy to submit the final document in various formats (e.g., .pdf format).

My students use two communication tools in conjunction with Google Docs and Spreadsheets (i.e., TokBox and Skype).  To use these tools, they need a headset/microphone and webcam.

TokBox (http://www.tokbox.com) is a free, hosted video messaging service.  You can record up to a 10 minute video clip that can be shared by URL link.  TokBox also includes a video chat feature that enables multiple people to video conference.  This feature works great with study teams.

Skype (http://www.skype.com)  includes chat, audio and video-conferencing.  The chat feature works probably better than what you have been using.  With a headset/microphone, you can have up to 10+ people in a audio conference call.  Video-conferencing is 1:1 and includes a great  screen sharing feature.

You can really change the nature of team collaboration when you combine Google Docs and Spreadsheets with TokBox and/or Skype.  Following is an example of how to do this.

EXAMPLE

Students use Google Docs to create a shared workspace for writing a paper.  One student sets up the workspace and invites team members into the space through an email link.  Each team member is given editor rights.

Using a headset/microphone and webcam, students use TokBox to host a group video conference call.  This enables students to brainstorm and get a project running.

During the work process, each team member adds/changes the paper in the common workspace in Google Docs.

When it is time to pull the paper together and do final editing, students use the audio conference call feature to talk with each  other.  While all are online in Skype, each team member logs into the Google Docs paper and views it on his/her computer screen.  One or more students act as the editor.  All see changes as they are made.

When editing is finished, one student exports the final assignment document in .pdf format to his/her hard drive.  The student then submits the document for grading (e.g., student uploads the paper through the Digital Drop Box in Blackboard).

OUTCOME

By combining the features of Google Docs and Spreadsheets with communication tools like TokBox and Skype, students learn how to use technology to get things done.  Major companies pay a fortune to do what your students can  do for free.  Purchasing a headset/microphone and webcam is relatively inexpensive.  The experience students get is priceless.

I use this approach and technology tools with face-2-face, blended, and online classes.  It works great.  The approach changes the nature of how students and instructor interact in the teaching-learning experience.

Rick Lillie, MAS, Ed.D., CPA
Assistant Professor of Accounting
Coordinator, Master of Science in Accountancy
CSUSB, CBPA, Department of Accounting & Finance
5500 University Parkway, JB-547
San Bernardino, CA.  92407-2397
Email:  rlillie@csusb.edu
Telephone:  (909) 537-5726Skype (Username):  ricklillie

On the last day of class, I would love to hear my students say:

“I never thought I could work so hard. I never thought I could learn so much. I never thought I could think so deeply. And, it was actually fun.”
(Joe Hoyle)

January 25, 2012 update from Amy Dunbar

Hi Bob,

I’m now using Google Docs with my undergrad students, too. (I’m back in the classroom after 12 years online.)  No one needs instructions on how to use the tool anymore.  I particularly like the chat function in the spreadsheet.  Students generally use the Google chat feature instead of AIM. To make sure I have access to the spreadsheets, I set them up for each group and send the groups the link. Google is truly making learning collaborative. At the end of the semester, I delete them all and start over with the next class.

And a follow-up to Rick Lillie’s suggestion to read

Clark, R. C., and R. E. Mayer. 2011. E-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning Third ed. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

After reading that book, I revised all my content modules in an effort to reduce cognitive overload.  Now I use dropdown windows to provide examples, problems, comments.  My Dunbar comments are coded a different color, so they can ignore them.  ;-)  When I mapped my quizzes back to the content modules, I discovered that a lot of my material was not on point for the quizzes, and thus wasn’t essential to what I thought they should know cold when the course was over.  That extra material is now in a drop-down window titled “more,” which students can read if they want to know more.  The content on each page is now fairly straightforward (she says hopefully).  Thank you, Rick, for suggesting that book.  It changed the way I create my content modules.

Amy
UConn

 

Bob Jensen's threads on Tricks and Tools of the Trade are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

How to author books and other materials for online delivery
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

How Scholars Search the Web ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm#Scholars


CMS = LMS = Learning Management System ---
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_management_system

"A 'More Modern' LMS From Blackboard ," Chronicle of Higher Education, February 8, 2012 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/02/08/more-modern-lms-blackboard

Blackboard today unveiled a “more modern” look for its industry-leading learning management system, Blackboard Learn, which has been criticized in some quarters for being hard to use and unappealing to look at. The new interface is meant to “surface” some of the system’s features — especially its real-time assessment tools — in the hope that instructors will use them more frequently. The new design also puts an emphasis on customization: a “course entry wizard” guides instructors through the process of setting up courses “based on different pedagogical models and content models,” according to Brad Koch, director of product development. Afterward, instructors can manually rearrange items on their course pages and select from a buffet of design themes (“pizzazz,” “coral,” “mosaic,” etc.). Notably, the new interface will be capable of assuming the form of the LMS interfaces for WebCT and Angel Learning, which Blackboard bought years ago — a possible attempt to keep those clients as the company begins to stop supporting the legacy versions of the WebCT and Angel LMS products.

In recent months, competitors have attempted to cast Blackboard as aesthetically retrograde and more concerned with the needs of high-level administrators than those of individual instructors. During a demo of the new interface last week, Ray Henderson, the president of Blackboard Learn, said the company was aware of the knocks against its interface. And while he insisted that back-end integrations with campus information systems were still Blackboard’s trump card against more lightweight entrants to the LMS marketplace, “We think design and user experience [will only get] more important,” Henderson said.

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of CMS/LMS systems ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm

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

 


Affinity Fraud --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affinity_fraud

Ponzi Fraud --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme

"Fleecing the flock The big business of swindling people who trust you," The Economist, January 28, 2012 ---
http://www.economist.com/node/21543526

WITH a nudge from their pastor, the 25,000 members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church near Atlanta opened their hearts, and their wallets, to Ephren Taylor. And why not, given his glittering credentials? Mr Taylor billed himself as the youngest black chief executive of a publicly traded company in American history. He had appeared on NPR and CNN. He had given a talk on socially conscious investing at the Democratic National Convention. Snoop Dogg, a rapper, had tapped him to manage a charitable endowment.

So when Mr Taylor’s “Wealth Tour Live” seminars came to town, faithful ears opened wide. Eddie Long, the mega-church’s leader, introduced Mr Taylor at one event with the words: “[God] wants you to be a mover and shaker…to finance you well to do His will.” Mr Taylor offered “low-risk investment with high performances”, chosen with guidance from God.

Divine inspiration, alas, has given way to legal tribulation. For many investors, the 20% guaranteed returns proved illusory. Mr Taylor (whereabouts unknown) stands accused of fraud in a number of lawsuits. Bishop Long, a co-defendant, has urged Mr Taylor to “do the right thing” and cover any losses. The charges are not the first blot on the minister’s reputation: last year he settled for an estimated $15m-25m claims that he had coerced young men into oral sex.

An essential element of Mr Taylor’s approach was to make those he targeted want to invest in him personally, says Cathy Lerman, a lawyer representing some of the victims. “He was a master of creating a marketing presence. He would say: ‘If you want to check me out, just Google me.’” He had no problem convincing them that he was an ordained minister, even though he had no formal seminary training, according to court documents.

It will take time to gauge the full extent of the losses, not least because it will require untangling a web of companies, some of them shells. Victims, many of whom entrusted their life savings to Mr Taylor, are still coming forward. Some call him “the black Bernie Madoff”.

Let us prey

Mr Madoff, whose victims lost perhaps $20 billion, perpetrated the largest “affinity fraud” ever. The term refers to scams in which the perpetrator uses personal contacts to swindle a specific group, such as a church congregation, a rotary club, a professional circle or an ethnic community. Once the scammer gains their trust, his scam spreads like smallpox. Most affinity frauds are Ponzi schemes, in which money from new investors is used to repay old ones, or is siphoned off by the promoters.

The Madoff fraud fed on multiple affinity circles: wealthy Jews in Florida and Israel, country-club types and European old money, lured with help from marketers running “feeder” funds. The next-largest alleged investment fraud of recent years, the $7 billion collapse of Allen Stanford’s empire, also concerned specific groups, including the Latin American and Libyan diasporas and Southern Baptists. Mr Stanford’s trial began on January 23rd. He denies wrongdoing.

Beneath the mega-scams swirls a mass of smaller cons, spanning the world. Any close-knit community can be a target. Last August a South Korean pastor was indicted for misappropriating 2.4 billion Korean won ($2.3m) that the faithful had handed over to set up a Christian bank. In Britain, Kevin Foster’s KF Concept targeted the former coal-mining towns of South Wales, bilking more than 8,000 victims with the help of glitzy roadshows.

Continued in article

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

Affinity fraud in some respects is related to audit firm fraud and negligence. When the audit firms are the largest international accounting firms we tend to trust their names and logos, sometimes at our own peril ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud001.htm


762,000,000,000 is nearly half the projected U.S deficit in 2012
"Amazon S3 Reports Staggering Growth in 2011," by Marshall Kirkpatrick, ReadWriteWeb, January 30, 2012 ---
http://www.readwriteweb.com/cloud/2012/01/amazon-s3-says-it-tripled-in-o.php

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. Read the case study about how Intel Xeon processors and VMware helped virtualize 12 business critical database applications.

Amazon Web Services just reported jaw-dropping growth in the number of objects stored in Amazon S3 year over year.

"As of the end of 2011, there are 762 billion (762,000,000,000) objects in Amazon S3. We process over 500,000 requests per second for these objects at peak times," AWS Evangelist Jeff Bar wrote on the company's blog tonight. The company reported 262 billion objects in storage in Q4 of 2010. "This represents year-over-year growth of 192%; S3 grew faster last year than it did in any year since it launched in 2006." Independent analysts say this is indicative of the growth of the cloud in general and of Amazon's striking dominance of the market.

Continued in article


Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made. -
Immanuel Kant

Apple Outsources Most of Its Manufacturing to Foreign Factories, Some of Which Are Disgraces to Humanity
"The Cost of Doing Business: Foxconn, Apple and the Fate of the Modern Worker," by Dan Rowinski, ReadWriteWeb, January 27, 2012 ---
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_cost_of_doing_business.php

Ours is an imperfect society. The nature of our reality, our desires and our need to possess, while maintaining a façade of moral righteousness, puts us at odds with the reality that exists within the systems we have created.

In recent days, the character of our era of consumerism has been put in question. We want what is new, shiny, fashionable. We want it now. With this desire we turn our heads from the consequences it takes to produce our toys, our symbols of status. When The New York Times reports that our gadgets are made in Chinese factories where working conditions can be horrendous, we express outrage and tweet the article from our iPads. The culture we have created comes with the cost of doing business.

The Conditions at Foxconn

The conditions at Chinese factories that make our gadgets can be deplorable. Workers often live in crowded dorms, work more than 60 hours a week, are punished with physical labor and withholding of wages, according to The New York Times report on conditions at Foxconn, which makes Apple's iPhones, iPad and iPods. In a response to the article, Apple CEO Tim Cook sent an email to Apple employees and the company released a "Supplier Responsibility Report." This is not a discussion solely about Apple though. Apple is the most valuable company in the world, so it naturally faces the most scrutiny. Other device makers, such as Dell, Nokia, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard, are clients of Foxconn as well.

Apple and Foxconn are just two examples in a larger system. Companies have to weigh the cost and benefits of the manufacturing process. This is not a new dilemma but is a matter of fact within the economy created by the Industrial Revolution. Nor is this quandary solely a matter of high tech devices. Companies like Nike have been cited in the past for the conditions at their manufacturing plants in Asia. How much do you really want to know about the synthetic polymer that is the backbone of much of the world's textile industry? What about the bread you eat, the TV you watch, the socks you wear?

Framing the Utilitarian vs. Deontological Conversation

"The mere knowledge of a fact is pale; but when you come to realize your fact, it takes on color. It is all the difference between hearing of a man being stabbed in the heart, and seeing it done." - Mark Twain

Continued in article

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


Oh No! Firefox is (now was) my favorite browser on my old XP computer that is still my favorite computer
Firefox Support Ending for Windows 2000, Windows XP Pre-SP2 ---
http://www.readwriteweb.com/hack/2012/01/firefox-support-ending-for-win.php

I have a new Windows 7 machine, but mostly I use it for radio!

Do you still have to be a techie who knows how to fool with the Windows Registry to get a fixed menu bar with Internet Explorer 9?


"Temple U. Project Ditches Textbooks for Homemade Digital Alternatives," by Nick DeSantis, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 7, 2012 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/temple-project-ditches-textbooks-for-homemade-digital-alternatives/35247?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

When students groan about buying traditional textbooks, their grievances follow a familiar refrain: They’re expensive and usually boring. So this fall, a team of Temple University professors heeded those complaints and abandoned the old-fashioned texts for low-cost alternatives that they built from scratch.

The pilot project gave 11 faculty members $1,000 each to create a digital alternative to a traditional textbook. To enliven their students’ reading, the instructors pulled together primary-source documents and material culled from library archives. Steven J. Bell, the associate university librarian for research and instructional services at Temple, said the project tried to create new kinds of learning experiences while saving students money at the same time. The textbooks covered a variety of subjects, including biomechanics, writing, and marketing. The Temple program mirrors a similar effort announced at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in December.

Kristina M. Baumli, a lecturer in Temple’s English department, said she was motivated to join the project because textbook content doesn’t always meet the intellectual curiosity of students. Her students reacted “with glee” at the online book’s free price tag, she said. She used Blackboard to bring together content for the paperless text, but said that her students weren’t stuck reading in front of a screen every night. The course’s local ethnography project ensured that students could go outside and experience the material firsthand.

“It pushed them from the computer out into the real world,” Ms. Baumli said.

She acknowledged that her online text sometimes allowed students to get distracted by Facebook or other Web sites during class, but added that those same students would probably waste time sending text messages in a class using a traditional textbook anyway. By requiring students to grapple with primary sources and find their own journal articles, she said, she could teach in a way that emphasized process rather than memorization of facts in a book. One of her colleagues in the project even required students to submit assignments to be included in their marketing textbook, which was eventually used as study material for the final exam.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
One hope from such a project is that it will force commercial textbook publishers to provide better quality materials. For example, one comparative advantage of commercial publishers is is the number of video supplements that accompany their textbooks. But in accountancy, the videos themselves are low quality in most instances. In an effort to compete, perhaps these publishers will upgrade the quality of their multimedia supplements, student guides, end-of-chapter problems and cases, test banks, Excel practice sets, etc.

In some accountancy courses, I think it is asking a lot of faculty to maintain constantly-updated textbook materials. It may be much more efficient to adopt a commercial textbook and then provide supplemental materials on topics that are constantly changing.

The bottom line is that I think better use can be made of faculty time then to pay them peanuts to develop high quality textbook replacements.

Bob Jensen's threads on free textbook alternatives (which may not be updated very often if updated at all) ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks
The above page also provides links to faculty who extensively share their own course materials for free.

Free videos and course materials from prestigious universities ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI
The above page also provides links to faculty who extensively share their own course materials for free.

 


"Look, Ma, No Hands! Operating a Laptop With Eyes Only," by David Pogue, The New York Times, January 26, 2012 ---
http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/look-ma-no-hands-operating-a-laptop-with-eyes-only/

When the great history books of technology are written, the early 2000s may be remembered as the Age of Human-Computer Interface Exploration.

For nearly 40 years, we’ve had the keyboard and the mouse. Point, click. Point, click. It works, but it’s indirect. You may be too young to remember, but the mouse wasn’t always the easiest thing to learn. (I spent many years working as a personal computer tutor, paying house calls to frustrated adults who were struggling to enter the digital age.)

¶But then came the Wii. We could control a computer by waving a wireless remote in space. There was the iPhone and iPad: we could control a computer by pointing and dragging a finger on glass. There was the Microsoft Xbox Kinect: we could control a computer without touching it at all, just by moving our limbs in space. Then came Siri on the iPhone 4S, which took voice control to a much more sophisticated, fluid level.

¶Each of these breakthroughs works brilliantly in its particular niche — but we’re not done yet.

¶At the International Consumer Electronics Show a couple of weeks ago, I’d heard buzz about a company called Tobii, which was demonstrating a laptop with built-in eye-tracking software. (That’s Tobii, “with two eyes,” get it?)

¶Now eye tracking isn’t new. It is available, at huge cost, in the military, in specialized industries, for disabled people, and so on. But it’s one thing to pay millions for a heads-up display in a fighter jet, and quite another to have it on your laptop.

¶I found the company’s booth out in the deepest reaches of C.E.S.’s 37-football-fields-big exhibition halls.—.the Siberia of tiny booths from companies without a lot of money to spend. The entire booth was pretty much one laptop and one desktop PC.

¶A representative helped me through the demo on the laptop. First, the system finds and learns where your eyes are by using a 10-second calibration procedure, in which you simply look at an orange dot as it jumps to four positions around the screen. Then you’re ready.

¶The first demonstration was an Asteroids game, in which you’re supposed to blow up incoming asteroids just by looking at them. You discover that Tobii’s system works perfectly, flawlessly, exhilaratingly. Your hands are free, your body is relaxed, and you’re blowing up space rocks instantly with nothing but the awesome power of your gaze.

¶Another demonstration involved Google Maps: the software automatically focuses and zooms in wherever you seem to be focusing.

¶There was a slide show app, in which you see the thumbnails of many photos, and whenever you gaze at one in particular, it automatically blows up full screen.

¶On a PC running Windows 8, you could click toolbar buttons in Word, click tile buttons and swipe through screens, all using your eyes. In an architecture-design program, you could effortlessly move around a large blueprint with your eyes, using the mouse’s scroll wheel to zoom in at any point. (For the disabled, Tobii makes a kit that lets you “click the mouse” by blinking or staring, but the system really works best in conjunction with a regular trackpad or mouse.)

¶The demo that really rocked my world, though, was something much less glamorous: reading. Imagine a Web page or Word document on the screen before you — and the page scrolls automatically, gracefully and effortlessly as you proceed through the article. The system knows where your eyes are and how fast you are going, so it keeps your place centered on the screen, scrolling automatically as you go, even if you jump back to reread something. It feels as if this is how reading on a computer screen was always meant to be.

¶The rep said that the company was marketing this system to computer manufacturers, not individuals (although the company also sells hugely expensive add-on kits for existing computers — for disabled people, for example). And he said it would take a couple of years before you could buy it.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on helpers for disabled persons wanting to use computers ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Handicapped


From the Scout Report on January 20, 2012

Treshr --- http://treshr.com/

Sometimes you'd just like to be able to find a lightly used sofa or an old
record player without much fuss. Treshr offers users the ability to do just
that with its helpful mashup that brings listings from Freecycle and
Craigslist together with Google Maps. Visitors can search the listings for
items of interest and they can also learn more about Treshr via their "FAQ"
area. Currently, the listings are only available in New York City,
Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, but they will be
expanding over the coming months.



 


PeepNote --- http://www.peepnote.com/

Keeping track of friends and associates on Twitter can be a burdensome
affair. Fortunately, PeepNote offers some assistance with this particular
social media dilemma.  Visitors can use the application to tag and filter
their Twitter contacts as they see fit, and they can also receive a weekly
report on their Twitter activity. The application also includes a search
engine for locating associates by notes or tags. This version is compatible
with all operating systems.


The independence debate is revived in Scotland Scotland's referendum: If at first you don't succeed
http://www.economist.com/node/21542806

The independence debate in Scotland: Interviewing Alex Salmond, the man who wants to break up Britain
http://www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/2012/01/independence-debate-scotland-

The only way to save the Union is to stop throwing cash at the Scots - and
treat them as equals
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2087122/Scottish-independence-The-
way-save-Union-stop-throwing-cash-Scots.html?ito=feeds-newsxml


Europe's regions go it alone at their peril [Free Registration may be
required]
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d8955a74-4121-11e1-b521-00144feab49a.html#axzz1jkCsYaef

Scottish Parliament
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/

BBC: Scottish History
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/scottishhistory/


From the Scout Report on February 3, 2012

Joukuu --- http://www.joukuu.com/welcome/

Looking for a way to centralize all of your crucial backup files? It's worth
giving Joukuu a look. Visitors can sign up for a free account here, and they
will find that they can bring together all of their documents and other
files in the cloud. Currently, Joukuu can be used with Google Docs, Dropbox,
Huddle, and several other applications. Visitors can also sync Joukuu to
their desktops and search for files across a number of different accounts.
This version is compatible with all operating systems


Pulse News --- http://www.pulse.me/

It can be quite fun to read the news, but about what the beauty of viewing a
clutch of colorful news sites? Pulse is an "elegant news reading
application" designed for the iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices. The
application uses colorful panning story bars and populates them with content
from sources (such as CNN, the BBC, and so on) selected by the user.
Visitors can sign up for a free account, and they will also want to read
over the FAQ section on the site


After nineteen years, the last trove of secret Kennedy tapes is released
to the public
New Air Force One tapes give insight on Kennedy death
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16821363

Last of secret Kennedy tapes released
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-kennedy-tapes-20120125,0,6198450.story

Post JFK Assassination Air Force One Flight Deck Recording
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-NARA-JFK-ASSASSINATION-AUDIO/content-detail.html

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection
http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/

The National Security Archive: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: Audio Clips
(iTunes)
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/cuba_mis_cri/audio.htm

JFK 50 Years: Celebrate the past to awaken the future
http://www.jfk50.org/

 

 


From the Scout Report on January 27, 2012

Twoppy --- http://www.twoppy.com/

If you're trying to manage a get-together with friends or a business
meeting, Twoppy is worth a look. Visitors with an iPhone can use Twoppy to
add practical information about an event (such as driving directions) and
then add maps and other information about the event, such as the time and a
description. This version of Twoppy is free and compatible with iPhones
running iOS 4.1 and newer.

 


Storify --- http://storify.com/

If you're looking to create a compelling story using media from different
sections of the Web, Storify is worth a look. After signing up for a free
Storify profile, visitors can "curate" the elements of their story by
dragging and dropping status updates, photos, or videos to make their own
interactive tale. A delightful feature of Storify is that it gives users the
ability to also write headlines, introductions, and styled text to
supplement their narratives. This version is compatible with all operating
systems.


In an effort to provide healthier dining options for schoolchildren, the United States Department of Agriculture unveils new lunchroom dietary standards Students to see healthier school lunches under new USDA rules
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/25/10234671-students-to-see-healthier-school-lunches-under-new-usda-rules  

USDA To Require Healthier Meals In Schools With Updated Nutrition Standards
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/01/25/145836942/usda-to-require-healthier-meals-in-schools-with-updated-nutrition-standards 

Nation's schools could learn something from Chicago's early lunch trials
http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/stew/chi-school-lunch-standards-overhaul-presents-a-challenge-for-districts-20120125,0,3988807.story 

USDA Unveils Historic Improvements to Meals Served in America's Schools
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/01/0023.xml&contentidonly=true 

The Food Timeline: School Lunch History http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodschools.html 

Household arts and School Lunches
http://books.google.com/books?id=RNpEAAAAIAAJ&dq=school%20lunch%20menu&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=school%20lunch%20menu&f=false

 


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


Education Tutorials

Council on Undergraduate Research on the Web --- http://www.cur.org/quarterly/webedition.html

Undergraduate Research Ethics Cases ---
http://www.udel.edu/chem/white/HHMI3/EthicsCases.html

The Tinkering Studio (arts & crafts in San Francisco) ---  http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/

4Teachers: Teach with Technology --- http://www.4teachers.org/

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Lessons & Resources --- http://www.nctm.org/resources

Social Media and Peer Learning: From Mediated Pedagogy to Peeragogy ---
http://www.ischool.berkeley.edu/newsandevents/events/20120123regenstlecture

10 Pillars of Knowledge ---
http://www.success.co.il/knowledge/encyclopedia/index.html

The Intelligent Channel Launches (with Colum McCann Interview) --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/the_intelligent_channel_launches_with_colum_mccann_interview.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

There are some useful tutorials on Acrobat X pro on YouTube.

Mac Student-Teacher Edition (save money) ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyiY9e0KiTg

Collaborate Live ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQKq3qK_QrY 

Interactive Forms ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En5oMTOyFHw 

There are many more tutorials on YouTube and elsewhere

Udemy --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udemy
Udemy Home Page --- http://www.udemy.com/

"Free Courses, Elite Colleges," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 27, 2012 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/27/company-unveils-line-free-online-courses-elite-college-faculty

Robert Garland, a professor of classics at Colgate University, is not accustomed to discussing Greek religion with the lifeless lens of his MacBook’s built-in video camera. But that was how Garland spent Wednesday afternoon: in his home study, recording lectures on his laptop in 20-minute chunks.

Garland, a novice to online teaching, says it is difficult to think of these solitary sessions as lectures. “I think of them more as chats,” he says. To keep things interesting, he delivers some of them in the second person, as if instructing a time-traveling tourist in ancient Greece how to pray, how to please the gods, how to upset the gods, and so on. Garland’s gear is lo-fi: just the laptop, which he owns, and a microphone mailed to him by Udemy, the company that roped him into this. 

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/24/stanford-open-course-instructors-spin-profit-company , a company that allows anyone to create and sell courses through its online platform, has announced a new area of its site, called The Faculty Project, devoted to courses by professors at a number of top institutions, such as Colgate, Duke University, Stanford University, Northwestern University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Virginia, Dartmouth College and Vassar College. While Udemy is a for-profit enterprise, the Faculty Project courses will be free.

The goal is to “elevate the brand,” according to Gagan Biyani, Udemy’s president and co-founder. The company says it has no immediate plans to monetize the Faculty Project, and would never do so without the input and permission of its faculty contributors.

The inaugural Faculty Project courses include many humanities electives normally reserved for small classrooms of undergraduates. Among them: “Elixir: A History of Water and Humans,” “Select Classics in Russian Literature” and “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness.” Garland and the project’s other professorial recruits are developing, pro bono, mini-lecture-based versions of courses they offer on their home campuses. Udemy says it does not require the professors to relinquish ownership of the courses.

There are no caps on course enrollment. “It could be 10 people, it could be 100, it could be 1,000,” says Ben Ho, the Vassar College economics professor who is teaching the course on water and humans. But as far as interactivity, Udemy’s Faculty Project is more akin to Yale Open Courses -- where users can watch lectures and consult syllabuses for free -- than to Udacity, the venture launched this week by a team of former Stanford academics, which aspires to administer quizzes and grade its anticipated droves of students, which may number in the tens or hundreds of thousands.

“It’s certainly not a ‘course’ in the sense that people will send me essays — I hope,” says Garland. But he did say he is open to corresponding with students who take his Greek religion course, so long as it does not interfere with his on-campus duties. Ho says he might try to set up and moderate discussion groups online for students of his water course. “This is more just informational lectures,” he says, but “I will be answering questions and will encourage people to ask questions.”

Continued in article

Also see Stanford's open sharing ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/01/24/stanford-open-course-instructors-spin-profit-company

Jensen Comment
Udemy has a "Business and Professional" category ---
http://www.udemy.com/

I could not find any accounting courses posted as of yet.

However, MIT and some other prestigious universities offer free accounting courses and/or course material in open sharing sites ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

 

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


Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

Life Sciences - FREE Teaching and Learning Resources ---
http://free.ed.gov/subjects.cfm?subject_id=54&toplvl=41

Video on Monarch Butterflies --- http://www.youtube.com/v/xHkq1edcbk4?version=3

The Sourcebook for Teaching Science: Employing Scientific Methods ---
http://www.csun.edu/science/books/sourcebook/

What Do I Do Now? Laboratory Tales From Teaching Assistants ---
http://www.udel.edu/chem/white/C601/TA-Tales.pdf

Cambridge Nights: Late Night TV-Style Show Takes Deep Look at Scientific Thinking --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/cambridge_nights_late_night_tv-style_show_takes_deep_look_at_scientific_thinking.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Council on Undergraduate Research on the Web --- http://www.cur.org/quarterly/webedition.html

HyperHeart --- http://library.med.utah.edu/kw/pharm/hyper_heart1.html

TSG@MIT Physics --- http://scripts.mit.edu/~tsg/www/

Physics to go videos --- http://www.physics.org/article-interact.asp?id=59

Addressing Students' Difficulties and Misconceptions About Electrochemistry ---  http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/courses/teachers_corner/155230.html

American Chemical Society - Chemistry Education Resources  --- Click Here
http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_TRANSITIONMAIN&node_id=127&use_sec=false&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=53f90531-d56e-491c-9c8b-fae64f0e2f0c

Baldomero Olivera: Cone Snail Peptides ---
http://www.ibioseminars.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=174&Itemid=171

National Resources Inventory Map Room (Ecology, Forests)--- http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/NRI/maps/

Neuroscience & the Classroom --- http://www.learner.org/resources/series214.html

United States Forest Service: Schedule of Proposed Actions --- http://www.fs.fed.us/sopa/index.php

The Raimund McClain European Architecture Slides Collection ---
http://collections.lib.ttu.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/RMEAS

Audubon Magazine - Multimedia --- http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/multimedia/index.html

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucnredlist.org/

Supercourse: Epidemiology, the Internet, and Global Health --- http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/

Art for the Sky (Ecology, Threatened Species) --- http://www.artforthesky.com/default.htm

Global Warming: A Free Course from UChicago Explains Climate Change --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/global_warming_a_free_course_from_uchicago_explains_climate_change.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29
Bob Jensen's threads on climate change can be found by scrolling down deeply at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Science

Conjugate Fractures form in Clay [structural geology]
http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/structure04/activities/3863.html

The Landslide Handbook: A Guide to Understanding Landslides --- http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1325/ Scalable Computing Laboratory --- http://www.scl.ameslab.gov/Projects/ABC/ABC.html

Native Voices: Native People's Concepts of Health and Illness --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/

CAST (agricultural science) --- http://www.cast-science.org/

An Animated History Of Aviation: From da Vinci’s Sketches to Apollo 11 --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/an_animated_history_of_aviation_from_da_vincis_sketches_to_apollo_11.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Howard Hughes Aviation Photograph Collection --- http://digital.library.unlv.edu/hughes/

The Archaeology of an Ant Colony --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/the_archaeology_of_an_ant_colony.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

From the Scout Report on January 27, 2012

In an effort to provide healthier dining options for schoolchildren, the United States Department of Agriculture unveils new lunchroom dietary standards Students to see healthier school lunches under new USDA rules
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/25/10234671-students-to-see-healthier-school-lunches-under-new-usda-rules  

USDA To Require Healthier Meals In Schools With Updated Nutrition Standards
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/01/25/145836942/usda-to-require-healthier-meals-in-schools-with-updated-nutrition-standards 

Nation's schools could learn something from Chicago's early lunch trials
http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/stew/chi-school-lunch-standards-overhaul-presents-a-challenge-for-districts-20120125,0,3988807.story 

USDA Unveils Historic Improvements to Meals Served in America's Schools
http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2012/01/0023.xml&contentidonly=true 

The Food Timeline: School Lunch History http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodschools.html 

Household arts and School Lunches
http://books.google.com/books?id=RNpEAAAAIAAJ&dq=school%20lunch%20menu&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=school%20lunch%20menu&f=false

 

Some of the following science tutorial links might be useful resources in PhD programs and PhD preparation programs such as the prep masters degree program at BYU that won an AAA Innovation in Accounting Education Award. These links are taken from the thousands of tutorial links at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm

The Sourcebook for Teaching Science: Employing Scientific Methods ---
http://www.csun.edu/science/books/sourcebook/

Science Friday
http://www.sciencefriday.com/

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

The Scientist --- Multimedia http://the-scientist.com/category/multimedia/

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

Pathways to Science: STEM
http://www.pathwaystoscience.org

Life Sciences - FREE Teaching and Learning Resources ---
http://free.ed.gov/subjects.cfm?subject_id=54&toplvl=41

STEM Planet --- http://www.stemplanet.org/

Salvadori Center [STEM Education Resources] --- http://www.salvadori.o

New York State STEM Education Collaborative
http://www.nysstemeducation.org/index.html

Afterschool Alliance: Afterschool and STEM --- http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/STEM.cfm

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

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

What Do I Do Now? Laboratory Tales From Teaching Assistants ---
http://www.udel.edu/chem/white/C601/TA-Tales.pdf

Research Techniques Workbook Modules [biology] http://biology.hunter.cuny.edu/tech/table_of_contents.htm

What is Bioinformatics? --- http://abacus.bates.edu/bioinformatics1/

"Garage Demos": Physical models of Biological Processes
http://www.researchandteaching.bio.uci.edu/lecture_demo.html

Great Science For Girls --- http://www.greatscienceforgirls.org/

Try Engineering --- http://www.tryengineering.org

STEM Resources for Teachers and Students --- http://www.thinkfinity.org/stem

Life Sciences Education (Journal) ---  http://www.lifescied.org/

NOVA: scienceNOW: Explore Teacher's Guides ---
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/educators/subject-anth.html

Nova Video:  The Fabric of the Cosmos ---
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/fabric-of-cosmos.html#fabric-time

NOVA: Journey of the Butterflies --- http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/journey-butterflies.html

Center for Science & Technology Policy Research --- http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/

National Institute of General Medical Sciences --- http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/

The MacKinney Collection of Medieval Medical Illustrations --- http://www.lib.unc.edu/dc/mackinney/

Tough Talk: A Toolbox for Medical Educators --- http://depts.washington.edu/toolbox/

National Institutes of Health: Science Education: Research & Training --- http://www.nih.gov/science/education.htm

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

Research Techniques Workbook Modules [biology] http://biology.hunter.cuny.edu/tech/table_of_contents.htm

What is Bioinformatics? --- http://abacus.bates.edu/bioinformatics1/

"Garage Demos": Physical models of Biological Processes
http://www.researchandteaching.bio.uci.edu/lecture_demo.html

Case Studies in Primary Health Care --- http://ocw.jhsph.edu/courses/casestudiesinphc/index.cfm

Teaching Medical Physics --- http://www.nationalstemcentre.org.uk/elibrary/collection/565/teaching-medical-physics 

Physics to go videos --- http://www.physics.org/article-interact.asp?id=59 

TSG@MIT Physics --- http://scripts.mit.edu/~tsg/www/

The Richard Feynman Trilogy: The Physicist Captured in Three Films --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/the_richard_feynman_film_trilogy.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Celebrate Stephen Hawking’s 70th Birthday with Errol Morris’ Film, A Brief History of Time --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/celebrate_stephen_hawkings_70th_birthday_with_the_errol_morris_film_of_ia_brief_history_of_timei.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Decline of Scientific Research in America --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/neil_degrasse_tyson_on_the_decline_of_scientific_research_in_america.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Findings (in medical research) --- http://publications.nigms.nih.gov/findings/

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

Video course covers Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Tocqueville.
Introduction to Political Philosophy: A Free Yale Course"--- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2011/07/introduction_to_political_philosophy.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Also see the BBC's "Big Thinker" Lecture Series --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2011/07/bertrand_russell_bbc_lecture_series_.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

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

Healthy Sleep --- http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/

 

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

Thousands of links to free tutorials
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm

Free online courses, lectures, videos, and course materials from prestigious universities ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

 


Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Visualizing Economics
Comparing Income, Corporate, Capital Gains Tax Rates: 1916-2011 and Other Graphics --- Click Here
http://visualizingeconomics.com/2012/01/24/comparing-tax-rates/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+VisualizingEconomics+%28Visualizing+Economics%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government --- http://www.rockinst.org/

Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Research Working Paper Series --- http://web.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/Index.aspx

Blair House: The President's Guest House --- http://www.c-span.org/BlairHouse/

Canada's Economic Action Plan --- http://www.actionplan.gc.ca

Credo (African American Scholarship and Activism) --- http://credo.library.umass.edu/

Native Voices: Native People's Concepts of Health and Illness --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/

Chicago Examiner --- http://www.chipublib.org/images/examiner/index.php

UNESCO: Rio+20 --- http://www.unesco.org/new/en/rioplus20/

Supercourse: Epidemiology, the Internet, and Global Health --- http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/

Fostering Growth Through Innovation: Brookings Institution [economics] ---
http://www.brookings.edu/events/2012/0113_growth_innovation.aspx

Chicago Examiner --- http://www.chipublib.org/images/examiner/index.php

Chicago Newspaper Photographs
Hyde Park Herald Digital Collections --- http://www.hpherald.com/archi

How Metropolitan Areas Can Lead National Export Growth ---
http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0726_exports_istrate_rothwell_katz.aspx 

City of New York Parks & Recreation --- http://www.nycgovparks.org/

Three Proposed Initiatives for Improving Mobility, Quality of Life, and Economic Growth in the West Bank [pdf] http://www.rand.org/pubs/corporate_pubs/2010/RAND_CP610.pdf

Smart Growth America (a coalition of local, state, and national organizations to rebuild America) --- http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org

The Archaeology of an Ant Colony --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/the_archaeology_of_an_ant_colony.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

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


Law and Legal Studies

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


Math Tutorials

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Lessons & Resources --- http://www.nctm.org/resources

Mathematics and Art: The Good, The Bad, and the Pretty [iTunes] --- http://maa.org/news/092310Crannell.html

Scalable Computing Laboratory --- http://www.scl.ameslab.gov/Projects/ABC/ABC.html

Pendulum Waves --- Click Here
Thank you David Albrecht for the heads up.

Three Passions of Bertrand Russell (and a Collection of Free Texts) --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/three_passions_of_bertrand_russell.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Also see the BBC's "Big Thinker" Lecture Series --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2011/07/bertrand_russell_bbc_lecture_series_.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

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


History Tutorials

Visualizing Economics
Comparing Income, Corporate, Capital Gains Tax Rates: 1916-2011 and Other Graphics --- Click Here
http://visualizingeconomics.com/2012/01/24/comparing-tax-rates/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+VisualizingEconomics+%28Visualizing+Economics%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

A Crash Course in World History --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/a_crash_course_in_world_history.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Celebrate the 200th Birthday of Charles Dickens with Free Movies, eBooks and Audio Books --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/celebrate_the_200th_birthday_of_charles_dickens_with_free_movies_ebooks_and_audio_books.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

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

Disneyland 1957: A Little Stroll Down Memory Lane --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/disneyland_1957.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Howard Hughes Aviation Photograph Collection --- http://digital.library.unlv.edu/hughes/

An Animated History Of Aviation: From da Vinci’s Sketches to Apollo 11 --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/02/an_animated_history_of_aviation_from_da_vincis_sketches_to_apollo_11.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

National Naval Aviation Museum [Flash Player] --- http://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/

City of New York Parks & Recreation --- http://www.nycgovparks.org/

Canadian Heritage --- http://www.pch.gc.ca/index-eng.cfm

Chinese Historical Society --- http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/search/controller/collection/chinese-m1183.html  \

Credo (African American Scholarship and Activism) --- http://credo.library.umass.edu/

The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore) --- http://thewalters.org/

Beauties of America: Staffordshire Pottery --- http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Exhibitions/Ridgway/enter.htm

Sid Lapidus '59 Collection on Liberty and the American Revolution --- http://pudl.princeton.edu/collections/pudl0076

Temple University: City Parks Association Photographs ---
http://digital.library.temple.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2Fp15037coll5

Photo History of Bethlehem Steel --- http://www.technologyreview.com/article/39201/
Especially note the comments (really a debate) below the pictures

Three Passions of Bertrand Russell (and a Collection of Free Texts) --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/three_passions_of_bertrand_russell.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Leonard Cohen’s New Album, Old Ideas: Stream It for Free Online --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/leonard_cohens_new_album_old_ideas_online_stream_it_for_free_.html

Photographs of Vergennes (Vermont) http://cdi.uvm.edu/collections/getCollection.xql?pid=bixby

The Tinkering Studio (arts & crafts in San Francisco) ---  http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/

South Georgia Historic Newspapers Archive --- http://sgnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/sgnewspapers/search

Places Reflecting America's Diverse Cultures: A Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary  --- http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/cultural_diversity/

Kansas Memory --- http://www.kansasmemory.org/

Kansas Collection Photographs --- http://luna.ku.edu:8180/luna/servlet/kuvc1kcp~1~1

Chicago Public Art Group --- http://www.cpag.net/

The Raimund McClain European Architecture Slides Collection ---
http://collections.lib.ttu.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=/RMEAS

Three Passions of Bertrand Russell (and a Collection of Free Texts) --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/three_passions_of_bertrand_russell.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

Also see the BBC's "Big Thinker" Lecture Series --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2011/07/bertrand_russell_bbc_lecture_series_.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

From the Scout Report on February 3, 2012

After nineteen years, the last trove of secret Kennedy tapes is released
to the public
New Air Force One tapes give insight on Kennedy death
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16821363

Last of secret Kennedy tapes released
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-kennedy-tapes-20120125,0,6198450.story

Post JFK Assassination Air Force One Flight Deck Recording
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-NARA-JFK-ASSASSINATION-AUDIO/content-detail.html

The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection
http://www.archives.gov/research/jfk/

The National Security Archive: The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: Audio Clips
(iTunes)
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/cuba_mis_cri/audio.htm

JFK 50 Years: Celebrate the past to awaken the future
http://www.jfk50.org/

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

February 7, 2012 message from Fabiola Esposito (Madrid University)

My name is Fabiola Esposito and I am writing to you on behalf of the Spanish School of the University of Madrid .
I
have found your website (http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm) while looking for web pages for the promotion of languages and culture and  have seen your reviews on different topics which I found very interesting, specially the one that speaks about the combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods when teaching and how close one can get to the students online.

Anyhow, the aim of this email is that on the University of Madrid Spanish School we have recently finished developing our new website for offering our Spanish courses to everyone who want to come to Madrid to study the Spanish language and immerse into the Spanish culture. We also offer classes focused on Spanish literature and culture; and we offer specialized courses in Spanish on different academic areas such as arts, history, business and politics too.
 

I have reviewed with much interest your section about cross-border training and educational alternatives and would like to know if you are interested in offering our website to your visitors in case they may be interested in spending a period learning or improving their Spanish skills abroad. It may be interesting either for the student community as for the educators' community, given that we also offer courses for proficient users who want to improve or review their knowledge on Hispanic studies and everything related to them; language, culture, sociology, literature, etc.

Our Madrid University Spanish School website is www.madrid-university.es, if you think this might be a useful resource for your users you can contact me or feel free to place it between your resources.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration, and if you have any comments or questions please don't hesitate to contact me.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.


Best regards,
 
--
Fabiola Esposito

MAIL / fabiola.esposito@madrid-university.es

WEB / www.madrid-university.es MAIL / info@madrid-university.es

 

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


Music Tutorials

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

1950: The boy singing with Mario Lanza is Luciano Pavarotti! ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmJSWgWNCFQ&feature=related

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


Writing Tutorials

Writing Rules by Henry Miller, Elmore Leonard, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman & George Orwell --- Click Here
http://www.openculture.com/2012/01/writing_rules.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OpenCulture+%28Open+Culture%29

"Everybody: Singular or Plural," Grammar Girl, January 27, 2012 ---
http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/indefinite-pronouns.aspx?WT.mc_id=0

. . .

When it comes to indefinite pronouns, grammarians disagree about whether words such as everyone and somebody are singular or plural when you use a pronoun to refer to them. Several listeners have recently asked about this conundrum.

For example, Linda asks, “Is everyone and, likewise, everybody singular or plural?” And Connie from College Station, Texas, asks, “Are you hanging in there on pronoun references to singular forms such as everyone and everybody?”

Although I'll focus on the words everyone and everybody, the same rules apply to the words no one, nobody, anyone, anybody, someone, and somebody. Earlier I stated that grammarians don’t agree on the issue of indefinite pronouns. There are actually two issues concerning this topic: Are the words everyone and everybody singular or plural? And can I use a plural pronoun (such as their) to refer to these words? Grammarians actually agree that the words everyone and everybody are singular. Grammar Girl (that is I!) herself explains the answer in
her book. She says, everyone sounds like a lot of people, but in grammar land, everyone is a singular noun and takes a singular verb. For example:

It’s OK to hate subject-verb agreement, but sometimes you just have to do things you don’t want to do. I promise to pick weeds if you promise to make sure your subjects agree with your verbs. Now, if you’re in Britain, you don’t have to worry so much about everyone and everybody because sometimes they’re considered plural. In Britain, it’s standard to use everyone and everybody with a singular verb and plural pronoun (1).

Subject-Verb Agreement

That's not so in America, however. So we’re now ready to tackle the second question: whether it’s OK to use the plural pronouns their, them, and they to refer to everybody or everyone. American grammarians don't agree on this issue. Some feel that if you can't write, “Everyone are happy,” then you shouldn't be able to write, “Everyone is putting a smile on THEIR face.” These grammarians cringe when they hear the word their used this way.

The root of this problem is that English doesn't have a word to refer to a singular noun of undetermined gender. As a solution, grammarians in the past have suggested that writers use just his to refer to everyone or everybody, but most now consider this solution to be sexist. Some alternate his with her; some use the phrase his or her. But I can’t imagine most of you could comfortably utter the following sentence: “Everyone is putting a smile on his or her face.” Therefore, I don’t recommend you use this type of construction unless you want to sound like a crusty old curmudgeon.

Sticklers have to face reality, though. For example, noted grammarian Bryan Garner has this to say about writers' tendencies to use their to refer to these singular pronouns: “Disturbing though these developments may be to purists, they’re irreversible. And nothing that a grammarian says will change them (2).”

The Write-Around

Grammarians agree that there is no perfect solution to this problem. I favor the advice that Grammar Girl has given in a previous episode. One of her suggestions is to rewrite the sentence to avoid the problem. So let’s go back to the problematic sentence we saw earlier: “Everyone is putting a smile on their face.” This one is fairly easy to rewrite: you could say, “Everyone is smiling.” Let’s make up another one: “Everyone had their hands in their pockets because it was so cold.” It wouldn’t sound so bad to write, “All the people had their hands in their pockets because it was so cold.” Just make sure your rewritten sentence fits in with the other sentences around it.

If rewriting isn't possible and the people you are writing for don't have a
style guide, Grammar Girl suggested using “he or she if you want to play it safe, or using they if you feel bold and are prepared to defend yourself.”

The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier

Finally, thanks again to today's guest-writer, Bonnie Trenga, who is the author o
f The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier and who blogs at http://sentencesleuth.blogspot.com.

 

January 31, 2012 reply from Linda Kidwell

Here's a set I have had for years.  It is attributed to Rick Jones, but I
have no further source information:

1) Subject and verb always has to agree.
2) When dangling, watch your participles.
3) Prepositions are not for ending sentences with.
4) Do not use a foreign term when there is an adequate quid pro quo.
5) If you must use a foreign term, it is de rigor to spell it correctly.
6) It behooves the writer to avoid archaic expressions.
7) Mixed metaphors are a pain in the neck and should be thrown out
the window.
8) Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
9) Don't use tautological, repetitive, or redundant statements.
10) Remember to never split an infinitive.
11) The passive shouldn't be used.
12) Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it otherwise.
13) Proofread carefully to see if you have any words out.
14) Never use a large word when an infinitesimal one will do.
15) Avoid colloquial stuff.
16) No sentence fragments.
17) Remember to finish what you
18) Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

That's the original list, but I've added a few others:

19) Apostrophe's are not for plural noun's.
20) Quotation marks should be used "only" for quotations.

Richard Sansing tells us that these are from
These are from William Safire's "How not to write"

I added the above tidbits to the Writing Forum on the AAA Commons ---
http://commons.aaahq.org/posts/c5fdcaace5

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


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

January 25, 2012

January 26, 2012

January 27, 2012

January 28, 2012

January 30, 2012

January 31, 2012

February 1, 2012

February 2, 2012

February 4, 2012

February 6, 2012

February 7, 2012

February 8, 2012

February 9, 2012

February 10, 2012

February 11, 2012

February 13, 2012

 


Supercourse: Epidemiology, the Internet, and Global Health --- http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/




February 6, 2012 message from David Albrecht

Bob
A friend sent these to me.  They're pretty funny.

Dave

 
There are 3 of them, don't wanna miss any of them, they are a hoot and short (about 30 seconds each).

 
http://www.youtube.com/v/gBnvGS4u3F0?hl=en&fs=1&autoplay=1

http://www.youtube.com/v/mgCIKGIYJ1A?hl=en&fs=1&autoplay=1

http://www.youtube.com/v/LuVPnW0s3Vo?hl=en&fs=1&autoplay=1

 


Comedian John Branyan tells the story of The Three Little Pigs as it would have sounded if written by Shakespeare in this hilarious stand-up performance ---
http://biggeekdad.com/2011/11/the-three-little-pigs/

Ormie the Pig Video Cartoon --- http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=FrTbnczYAd4&feature=player_embedded


Forwarded by Gene and Joan

A group of 15-year - old boys discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View restaurant because they only had $6.00 between them and Janice Johnson, that cute girl in Social Studies, lives on that street and they might see her when they can ride their bikes there.

Ten years later, the same group of 25-year-old guys discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the beer was cheap, they had free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover and there were lots of cute girls.

Ten years later, at 35 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the booze was good, it was right near the gym and if they went late enough, there wouldn't be too many whiny little kids.

Ten years later, at 45 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the martinis were big, and the waitresses had nice boobs and wore tight pants.

Ten years later, at 55 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good and fish is good for your cholesterol.

Ten years later, at 65 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the lighting was good and they have an early bird special.

Ten years later, at 75 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food was not too spicy, and the restaurant was handicapped accessible.

Ten years later, at 85 years of age, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner. It was agreed they should meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been there before.

 




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

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?  ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#WhatWentWrong

The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most Accountants ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#DoctoralPrograms

AN ANALYSIS OF THE EVOLUTION OF RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS BY THE ACCOUNTING REVIEW: 1926-2005 ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/395wpTAR/Web/TAR395wp.htm#_msocom_1

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm

Tom Lehrer on Mathematical Models and Statistics ---
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfZWyUXn3So

Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudConclusion.htm#BadNews

 

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
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm#Textbooks

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

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.

Accounting  and Taxation News Sites ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/AccountingNews.htm

 

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
FINANCIAL REPORTING PORTAL
www.financialexecutives.org/blog

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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 ---
http://www.accounting.rutgers.edu/raw/aah/

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

History of Fraud in America --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/415wp/AmericanHistoryOfFraud.htm
Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm

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

More of Bob Jensen's Pictures and Stories
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Pictures.htm

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