My good neighbors down the road, down the road, Lon and Nancy Henderson, own and manage the Sunset Hill House ---
They are also building a new house down a bit on Lafayette Road.
The Hendersons just adopted a young boy (age five) and his sister (age eight) from China, and the joy in the Henderson family is one of boundless anticipation.
You may share their joy (with pictures) and read about a request for a swatch of cloth at  
Perhaps some of you can send them a swatch of cloth at the following address:

 Sunset Hill House
231 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586

The entire family's desire to love and care for these orphan children from so far away brings tears to my eyes.



The snow is about knee high on the level in my lawn, which is less than normal for this time of year. Judging from the tracks in front of my window, one huge moose walked across my yard in the night. Although deer tracks are common all winter (deer sometimes eat on my cedar trees, grrrr), it's not at all common too see moose tracks in the heart of winter, especially when temperatures are well below zero in the night. In order to conserve energy, a moose normally stands like a statue deep in the woods this time of year,

Although he looks as big as a bear in my front lawn, the picture below is that of Woody, my woodchuck, who lives under my studio beside our cottage. There's no basement under the curved-roof studio, so Woody could dig his deep hole under my desk. Actually I don't really know if this is Woody below or his wife Birch.  Their studio digs are between our house and our white barn on the other side of the trees.

Windy Mt. Washington

 Winter in Norway (slide show) --- Click Here

Forwarded by Gene and Joan

It's winter in New Hampshire

And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love New Hampshire
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave New Hampshire
Cuz my feet are frozen to the ground!

Have a great day!



Tidbits on January 27, 2009
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
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The "Free Cell Phone Tracer" only indicates that it has found the cell phone owner's name and address. Then your must pay to see that name and address.

Bob Jensen's essay on the financial crisis bailout's aftermath and an alphabet soup of appendices can be found at


Appendix A: Impending Disaster in the U.S.

Appendix B: The Trillion Dollar Bet in 1993

Appendix C: Don't Blame Fair Value Accounting Standards This includes a bull crap case based on an article by the former head of the FDIC

Appendix D: The End of Investment Banking as We Know It

Appendix E: Your Money at Work, Fixing Others’ Mistakes (includes a great NPR public radio audio module)

Appendix F: Christopher Cox Waits Until Now to Tell Us His Horse Was Lame All Along S.E.C. Concedes Oversight Flaws Fueled Collapse And This is the Man Who Wants Accounting Standards to Have Fewer Rules

Appendix G: Why the $700 Billion Bailout Proposed by Paulson, Bush, and the Guilty-Feeling Leaders in Congress Won't Work

Appendix H: Where were the auditors? The aftermath will leave the large auditing firms in a precarious state?

Appendix I: 1999 Quote from The New York Times ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Appendix J:  Will the large auditing firms survive the 2008 banking meltdown?

Appendix K:  Why not bail out everybody and everything?

Appendix L:  The trouble with crony capitalism isn't capitalism. It's the cronies.

Appendix M:  Reinventing the American Dream

Appendix N: Accounting Fraud at Fannie Mae

Appendix O: If Greenspan Caused the Subprime Real Estate Bubble, Who Caused the Second Bubble That's About to Burst?

Appendix P:  Meanwhile in the U.K., the Government Protects Reckless Bankers

Appendix Q: Bob Jensen's Primer on Derivatives (with great videos from CBS)

Appendix R:  Accounting Standard Setters Bending to Industry and Government Pressure to Hide the Value of Dogs

Appendix S: Fooling Some People All the Time

Appendix T:  Regulations Recommendations

Appendix U: Subprime: Borne of Sleaze, Bribery, and Lies

Appendix V: Implications for Educators, Colleges, and Students

Appendix W: The End

Appendix: X: How Scientists Help Cause Our Financial Crisis

Appendix Y:  The Bailout's Hidden Agenda Details

Appendix Z:  What's the rush to re-inflate the stock market?

Personal Note from Bob Jensen

On May 14, 2006 I retired from Trinity University after a long and wonderful career as an accounting professor in four universities. I was generously granted "Emeritus" status by the Trustees of Trinity University. My wife and I now live in a cottage in the White Mountains of New Hampshire ---

Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
       (Also scroll down to the table at )

Global Incident Map ---

Set up free conference calls at
Also see   

Bob Jensen's Search Helpers ---
Free Telephone Directory (you must listen to an opening advertisement) --- 800-FREE411
Free Online Telephone Directory ---    [www_public-records-now_com] 
Free online 800 telephone numbers ---
Google Free Business Phone Directory --- 800-goog411
To find names addresses from listed phone numbers, go to and read in the phone number without spaces, dashes, or parens
To find some cell phone numbers (for a fee):
The "Free Cell Phone Tracer" only indicates that it has found the cell phone owner's name and address. Then your must pay to see that name and address.

U.S. Social Security Retirement Benefit Calculators ---
After 2017 what we would really like is a choice between our full social security benefits or 18 Euros each month ---

Free Online Tutorials in Multiple Disciplines ---

Chronicle of Higher Education's 2008-2009 Almanac ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
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World Clock ---

Tips on computer and networking security ---

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---

If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops  ---

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
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Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available free on the Web. 
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---

Welcome to the White House (under new tennants) ---

Welfare for the Rich
Bailout Plan by Wanda Sykes on Jay Leno Show ---

Wipeout things (not recommended for those on Social Security) --- Click Here

Automatic Confession ---

A 10-Minute Government Lesson ---

Hulu's Large Library of Contemporary Videos ---

From MIT:  Beetle Boat Runs on Surface Tension ---

Budweiser 9/11 Commercial (aired once) ---

National Geographic: Endangered Species Photo Map ---

From CBS:  The Animal Odd Couple (following a commercial) ---

Gas Right Strips (video humor) ---

Creative License (card animation from Adobe) ---

Who Packed Your Parachute? (slide show) ---

Free music downloads ---

TheRadio (my favorite commercial-free online music site) ---
Slacker (my second-favorite commercial-free online music site) ---

Gerald Trites likes this international radio site ---
Songza:  Search for a song or band and play the selection ---
Also try Jango ---
Sometimes this old guy prefers the jukebox era (just let it play through) ---
And I listen quite often to Soldiers Radio Live ---
Also note
U.S. Army Band recordings ---

Only You (Platters slide show) ---

Adele And Angel Taylor, Recorded Live ---

Jenny Lewis: Drawn Back To Country ---

Take Me Back to the 1960s (snippets only)---

Howard University Band Bound For Inauguration ---


Photographs and Art

Pictures of Science: 700 Years of Scientific and Medical Illustration ---

The MacKinney Collection of Medieval Medical Illustrations ---

National Geographic: Endangered Species Photo Map ---

SFMOMA: Explore Modern Art ---

Natural England ---

The Art of African Exploration ---

Aluka (art history in Africa) ---

Winter in Norway (slide show) --- Click Here

Who Packed Your Parachute? (slide show) ---

Julian Beever has made pavement drawings for over ten years. He has worked all over the world --- 

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 ---

Electronic Literature Directory ---

International War Veterans' Poetry Archives ---

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Internet Resources ---
Carnegie Mellon Libraries: Digital Library Colloquium (video lectures) ---
Free Merriam Webster Online Dictionary/Thesaurus ---

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Origins of Words and Phrases ---

Shakespeare Quotations ---

Type in a word to find its rhymes, synonyms, definitions, and more ---

Accounting, Finance, and Business Glossaries ---

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Welcome to the White House ---

The joyous crowd, an estimated two million strong, did not seem ready to let President Obama speak when he took the podium; they were cheering, clapping and shouting and didn't seem to want to stop. The new president seemed prepared for this, and barreled through and on, saying "My fellow Americans" with a quieting authority. The audience settled down. But it was a real expression of the feeling of the day, the wave upon wave of cheers and chants that came from the sea of people. This is what Mr. Obama said: In a time when all wonder if our nation's best days are behind us, we need to know that the answer is no. We continue. We go on. This is not journey's end. That, I think, is what the-18 minute speech came down to. Are we in a difficult moment? Yes, it is a time of "gathering clouds and raging storms." There is "a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights." We face great challenges, but "know this, America—they will be met." How? We will meet them by being who we are. Our success depends on the American "values" of "hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism." He said, "These things are old. These things are true." Like those who've long fought in our armed forces, Americans have shown "a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves."
Peggy Noonan, "Meet President Obama:  He Begins With a Serious, Solid Inaugural Address," The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2009 ---

To believe, suspend disbelief. We have been through this before, the flags and fine speeches, the brass donkey paperweight, the glass elephant, the rise and fall of administrations, the coming and going of figures great and small. It's good to put that aside for a few days, to remove yourself from politics, partisanship and faction, to suspend your disbelief, to be grateful that the signs and symbols endure, as does the republic, and raise a toast: "To the president of the United States."
Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2009 ---

After generations of finding their voice in dissidence, some on America's left wing are adjusting not only to a new, postelection comfort with patriotic symbols, but the political reality they represent. Believing in Obama after inauguration day will mean identifying with the machinery of American power. "There's a left-wing tradition of being systematically opposed to the US government, knee-jerk reactionary--most of our presidents have made it fairly easy to do," said Jo Freeman, author of "At Berkeley in the Sixties," a memoir of her student activism. "Those who view everything the US does as automatically suspect already have a problem doing that with Obama."
Sasha Issenberg ,"Something new brews in Berkeley: patriotic pride Left wing looks to Obama," Boston Globe, January 4, 2009 --- Click Here

The stimulus bill currently steaming through Congress looks like a legislative freight train, but given last week's analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, it is more accurate to think of it as a time machine. That may be the only way to explain how spending on public works in 2011 and beyond will help the economy today. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, a mere $26 billion of the House stimulus bill's $355 billion in new spending would actually be spent in the current fiscal year, and just $110 billion would be spent by the end of 2010. This is highly embarrassing given that Congress's justification for passing this bill so urgently is to help the economy right now, if not sooner. And the red Congressional faces must be very red indeed, because CBO's analysis has since vanished into thin air after having been posted early last week on the Appropriations Committee Web site. Officially, the committee says this is because the estimates have been superseded as the legislation has moved through committee. No doubt.
David Obey, "The Stimulus Time Machine That $355 billion in spending isn't about the economy," The Wall Street Journal, January 26, 2009 ---

The House made its first down payment on President Obama's health-care plans last week, passing 289-139 a major expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The Senate is scheduled to take it up soon and pass it easily as well. These days tens of billions in new spending is a mere pittance, but Schip is also the Democratic model for a quantum jump in government health care down the line. The bill became a liberal Pequot after President Bush repeatedly vetoed it in 2007 (while supporting a modest expansion). The GOP has no hope of stopping it now, so Schip will more than double in size with $73.3 billion in new spending over the next decade -- not counting a budget gimmick that hides the true cost. The program is supposed to help children from working-poor families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but since it was created in 1997 Democrats have used it as a ratchet to grow the federal taxpayer share of health-care coverage. With the new bill, Schip will be open to everyone up to 300% of the federal poverty level, or $63,081 for a family of four. In other words, a program supposedly targeted at low-income families has an eligibility ceiling higher than the U.S. median household income, which according to the Census Bureau is $50,233. Even the 300% figure isn't really a ceiling, given that states can get a government waiver to go even higher. Tom Daschle's folks at Health and Human Services will barely read the state paperwork before rubberstamping these expansions.
"The Latest Entitlement:  Federal health care at 300% of poverty," The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2009 ---
My unfinished essay of the pending collapse of the United States ---

There is a major social and cultural message in the current economic collapse for the future retirees of America: Forget retirement. That's right. The recession is making clear what we've suspected for a long time. The concept of not working and embracing leisure for the last third of one's life isn't practical for most people.
Chris Farrell, "Why You'll Work Through Your Retirement:  The recession is only one of several trends combining to change the way Americans live out their golden years," Business Week, January 21, 2009 --- 

In a few hours, George W. Bush will walk out of the Oval Office for the last time as president. As he leaves, he carries with him the near-universal opprobrium of the permanent class that inhabits our nation's capital. Yet perhaps the most important reason for this unpopularity is the one least commented on. Here's a hint: It's not because of his failures. To the contrary, Mr. Bush's disfavor in Washington owes more to his greatest success. Simply put, there are those who will never forgive Mr. Bush for not losing a war they had all declared unwinnable.
William McGurn, "Bush's Real Sin Was Winning in Iraq," The Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
There's a lot more to pick on now that Bush will be writing his memoirs. I blame Bush for the Seniors' Medicare Drug Plan. This is an entitlement program that I benefit big time largely because my wife has so many expensive medications. But I'm benefitting at the great expense of future generations who will be paying our bills when they eventually come due ---

Forwarded by Paula

Economic Stimulus Payment Plan

This year, taxpayers will receive an Economic Stimulus Payment. This is a very exciting new program that I will explain using the Q and A format:

Q. What is an Economic Stimulus Payment?
A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

Q. Where will the government get this money?
A. From taxpayers.

Q. So the government is giving me back my own money?
A. Only a smidgen.

Q. What is the purpose of this payment?
A. The plan is that you will use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set or a new computer, thus stimulating the economy.

Q. But isn't that stimulating the economy of China?
A. Shut up.

Jensen Comment
Actually current taxpayers aren't paying a penny of the stimulus funds. Either the money is being borrowed (heavily from China) or now the Federal government is simply creating new money by printing it. It's so much fun for Congress to get over a trillion dollars without having to tax or borrow. We've become the Zimbabwe of the Western Hemisphere ---

Zimbabwe's central bank will introduce a 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar banknote, worth about $33 on the black market, to try to ease desperate cash shortages, state-run media said on Friday.
KyivPost, January 16, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
This is a direct result of raising money by simply printing it, and the U.S. should take note since this is how our Federal government has decided to pay for anticipated trillion-dollar budget deficits ---

The United States will "look like a banana republic" unless it gains control over its budget deficit and federal debt, economist Allen Sinai warned Congress on Thursday. "The deficit and debt prospects under almost any scenario are daunting," Mr. Sinai, chief global economist for Decision Economics Inc., told the Senate Budget Committee. "This territory is uncharted, with no real historical analogue to this kind of financial situation for a major global economic power." Asked by committee Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, whether the U.S. government's creditworthiness is at risk, Mr. Sinai replied, "Unequivocally yes." Richard Berner, chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, told the committee one measure of America's creditworthiness -- credit default swap spreads -- already shows some deterioration. The worse a nation's credit rating becomes, the more its CDS spread rises. U.S. sovereign CDS spreads have widened to about 0.6 percent from 0.1 percent last summer, Mr. Berner noted. "So the message is that you ignore global investors at your peril," he told the committee.
David M. Dixon
, "Congress warned about debt U.S. advised to gain control," The Washington Times, January 16, 2009 ---

Among other decisions at its annual convention, NCAA clears way for 7th graders to be considered official prospects for Division I men’s basketball.
David Moltz, "Hoop Dream or Recruiting Nightmare?" Inside Higher Ed, January 16, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
It might be nice if they waited until their voices change and they start shaving.

JPMorgan chief says worst of the crisis still to come: FT Wed Jan 14, 10:13 pm ET LONDON (AFP) – The chief executive of US bank JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, told the Financial Times on Thursday that the worst of the economic crisis still lay ahead as hard-hit consumers default on their loans. "The worst of the economic situation is not yet behind us. It looks as if it will continue to deteriorate for most of 2009," he told the business daily. "In terms of our sector, we expect consumer loans and credit cards to continue to get worse."
Yahoo News, January 14, 2009 ---;_ylt=AusZcGqq4T_PqK9lQKPv5Dt34T0D

Bank of America (BoA) has received an extra $20bn in US government funding and a guarantee back-stopping the losses on $118bn of its most toxic assets in the latest bail-out of a major US financial institution.
James Quinn, "Bank of America to receive $138bn lifeline from US," Telegraph, January 16, 2009 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
The shame is that BoA owned the mortgage brokering company, Countrywide Financial, that caused much of the mess with crappy sub-prime loans ---

Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the oil contracts in the futures markets are now held by speculative entities. Not by companies that need oil, not by the airlines, not by the oil companies. But by investors that...don't actually take delivery of the oil.
"Did Speculation Fuel Oil Price Swings? 60 Minutes: Speculation Affected Oil Price Swings More Than Supply And Demand," CBS 60 Minutes, January 11, 2009 ---

About the only economic break most Americans have gotten in the last six months has been the drastic drop in the price of oil, which has fallen even more precipitously than it rose. In a year's time, a commodity that was theoretically priced according to supply and demand doubled from $69 a barrel to nearly $150, and then, in a period of just three months, crashed along with the stock market.

So what happened? It's a complicated question, and there are lots of theories. But as correspondent Steve Kroft reports, many people believe it was a speculative bubble, not unlike the one that caused the housing crisis, and that it had more to do with traders and speculators on Wall Street than with oil company executives or sheiks in Saudi Arabia.

To understand what happened to the price of oil, you first have to understand the way it's traded. For years it has been bought and sold on something called the commodities futures market. At the New York Mercantile Exchange, it's traded alongside cotton and coffee, copper and steel by brokers who buy and sell contracts to deliver those goods at a certain price at some date in the future.

It was created so that farmers could gauge what their unharvested crops would be worth months in advance, so that factories could lock in the best price for raw materials, and airlines could manage their fuel costs. But more than a year ago those markets started to behave erratically. And when oil doubled to more than $147 a barrel, no one was more suspicious than Dan Gilligan.

As the president of the Petroleum Marketers Association, he represents more than 8,000 retail and wholesale suppliers, everyone from home heating oil companies to gas station owners.

When 60 Minutes talked to him last summer, his members were getting blamed for gouging the public, even though their costs had also gone through the roof. He told Kroft the problem was in the commodities markets, which had been invaded by a new breed of investor.

"Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the oil contracts in the futures markets are now held by speculative entities. Not by companies that need oil, not by the airlines, not by the oil companies. But by investors that are looking to make money from their speculative positions," Gilligan explained.

Gilligan said these investors don't actually take delivery of the oil. "All they do is buy the paper, and hope that they can sell it for more than they paid for it. Before they have to take delivery."

"They're trying to make money on the market for oil?" Kroft asked.

"Absolutely," Gilligan replied. "On the volatility that exists in the market. They make it going up and down."

He says his members in the home heating oil business, like Sean Cota of Bellows Falls, Vt., were the first to notice the effects a few years ago when prices seemed to disconnect from the basic fundamentals of supply and demand. Cota says there was plenty of product at the supply terminals, but the prices kept going up and up.

"We've had three price changes during the day where we pick up products, actually don't know what we paid for it and we'll go out and we'll sell that to the retail customer guessing at what the price was," Cota remembered. "The volatility is being driven by the huge amounts of money and the huge amounts of leverage that is going in to these markets."

About the same time, hedge fund manager Michael Masters reached the same conclusion. Masters' expertise is in tracking the flow of investments into and out of financial markets and he noticed huge amounts of money leaving stocks for commodities and oil futures, most of it going into index funds, betting the price of oil was going to go up.

Asked who was buying this "paper oil," Masters told Kroft, "The California pension fund. Harvard Endowment. Lots of large institutional investors. And, by the way, other investors, hedge funds, Wall Street trading desks were following right behind them, putting money - sovereign wealth funds were putting money in the futures markets as well. So you had all these investors putting money in the futures markets. And that was driving the price up."

In a five year period, Masters said the amount of money institutional investors, hedge funds, and the big Wall Street banks had placed in the commodities markets went from $13 billion to $300 billion. Last year, 27 barrels of crude were being traded every day on the New York Mercantile Exchange for every one barrel of oil that was actually being consumed in the United States.

"We talked to the largest physical trader of crude oil. And they told us that compared to the size of the investment inflows - and remember, this is the largest physical crude oil trader in the United States - they said that we are basically a flea on an elephant, that that's how big these flows were," Masters remembered.

Yet when Congress began holding hearings last summer and asked Wall Street banker Lawrence Eagles of J.P. Morgan what role excessive speculation played in rising oil prices, the answer was little to none. "We believe that high energy prices are fundamentally a result of supply and demand," he said in his testimony.

Continued in article

"Why Economics Is Important! (Mises & Keynes, Think So!)" Simolean Sense, January 22, 2009  ---

“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

“Economics must not be relegated to classrooms and statistical offices and must not be left to esoteric circles. It is the philosophy of human life and action and concerns everybody and everything. It is the pith of civilization and of man’s human existence…”

“In such vital matters blind reliance upon “experts” and uncritical acceptance of popular catchwords and prejudices is tantamount to the abandonment of self-determination and to yielding to other people’s domination.”

“Economics deals with society’s fundamental problems; it concerns everyone and belongs to all. It is the main and proper study of every citizen.”

How much to bail out the banks now? $3.5 trillion by one estimate
A federal program to guarantee or buy bad assets from the ailing U.S. bank sector could come with a $3.5 trillion price tag. That would push the accumulated costs of rescuing the financial markets over the last year through various federal loan, stock purchase, debt guarantee and other programs close to $9 trillion and counting, with practically no end in sight for the bad news battering the banking industry. That figure doesn't count the $825 billion economic stimulus plan also under consideration. "We expect massive federal intervention into the financial sector from the new administration in the coming months," says Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst Frederick Cannon, who calculated the $3.5 trillion figure, which is one-quarter of the banking sector's $14 trillion in combined assets.
Liz Moyer
, "A TARP In The Trillions?" Forbes, January 21, 2009 ---

Lesson One: What Really Lies Behind the Financial Crisis?
According to Siegel: Financial firms bought, held and insured large quantities of risky, mortgage-related assets on borrowed money. The irony is that these financial giants had little need to hold these securities; they were already making enormous profits simply from creating, bundling and selling them. 'During dot-com IPOs of the early 1990s, the firms that underwrote the stock offerings did not hold on to those stocks,' Siegel says. 'They flipped them. But in the case of mortgage-backed securities, the financial firms decided these were good assets to hold. That was their fatal flaw.'
"Lesson One: What Really Lies Behind the Financial Crisis?" Knowledge@Wharton, January 21, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
Lesson Two of what lies behind the financial crisis is that investment banks and others like AIG wrote credit derivatives on the on the CDO collateralized debt obligations that used mortgage backed securities as collateral. The companies that wrote these derivatives did not have the insurance reserves to cover the melt down of those CDOs. To avoid bankruptcy of giants such as AIG, the U.S. treasury gave billions in bailout funds to cover the credit derivatives.
See Appendix E ---
I think there was a hidden agenda with respect to why Hank Paulson's first billions in bailout funds went to cover the credit derivative obligations.
See Appendix Y ---

Given that a share of General Motors is selling for less than a cup of Starbucks coffee, it's likely our new President will be busy putting chickens in pots and Americans in jobs. That's good news for public education. The last thing American schools need is another educator-in-chief with enough time on his hands to foist misguided education policy on the nation. Unfortunately, experts and policymakers can do more than enough damage armed with rhetoric alone. They're already turning back the education philosophy clock to the 1970s, those golden years when self-esteem, the whole child, and our current state of academic bankruptcy were born. We were almost headed in the right direction for about five minutes. No Child Left Behind, with all its faults -- and its faults are legion -- properly refocused schools on academic content and fundamental skills like reading. Unfortunately, NCLB promptly plunged off the testing deep end, taking its credibility with it. Now, right on schedule, here comes the education pendulum, hurtling toward the other policy extreme.
Poor Elijah (Peter Berger), "Predicting the Past," The Irascible Professor, January 12, 2008 ---

Venezuelan predident and general all-around jerk (I can think of better descriptors, but this is a generally family-friendly blog) Hugo Chavez was a very good example of a free cash flow problem on a national scale. He was flush with cash from Venezuela's huge oil reserves, and used oil wealth to play the part of loudmouth and anti-US demnagogue. Along the way, he hammered many of the large-multinational oil companies with increased taxes, nationalization of their oil fields, and raids on their offices. Now, with oil prices dropping, the Venezuelan economy is sputtering, and Chavez is suffering from cash shortages. So, he's reaching out to the same companies he previously gave the boot to (while seizing their assets). He's offering them access to Venezuela's oil fields. But it looks like his past actions might be causing some second thoughts . . .
"Hugh Chavez and Reputation Capital," Financial Rounds, January 16, 2009 ---

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday Barack Obama had the "stench" of his predecessor as U.S. president and was at risk of being killed if he tries to change the American "empire." Most world leaders expect a new era of U.S. foreign relations when Obama, a Democrat, is sworn in as president on Tuesday after Republican George W. Bush's eight years in the White House. But Chavez said frayed ties with Washington were unlikely to improve despite the departure of Bush, who the Venezuelan leader has often called the "devil." "I hope I am wrong, but I believe Obama brings the same stench, to not say another word," Chavez said at a political rally on a historic Venezuelan battlefield. "If Obama as president of the United States does not obey the orders of the empire, they will kill him, like they killed Kennedy, like they killed Martin Luther King, or Lincoln, who freed the blacks and paid with his life."
"Venezuela's Chavez says Obama has "stench" of Bush," Reuters. January 17, 2009 --- Click Here

Say what? ACLU to sue Twin Cities charter school that caters to Muslims
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota said it will file suit today against a publicly funded charter school, alleging that it is promoting the Muslim religion and that it is leasing school space from a religious organization, the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, without following state law. The suit was to be filed this afternoon in U.S. District Court against Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, known as TIZA, and the Minnesota Department of Education, which the ACLU says is at fault for failing to uncover and stop the alleged transgressions. The suit names the department and Alice Seagren, the state education commissioner, as co-defendants. The department investigated the Twin Cities school last year, and the school said it had taken corrective actions in response to concerns about the practicing of religion in the school. TIZA officials have previously said they are in compliance with federal and state regulations.
Randy Furst and Sarah Lemagie, "The Minnesota ACLU is set to file suit against TIZA, a charter school in Inver Grove Heights and Blaine, which the suit claims is promoting the Muslim religion," by  Star Tribune, January 21. 2009 --- Click Here 

The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year. The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
Robert F. Worth, "Freed by the U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief," The New York Times, January 23, 2009 --- Click Here
Also see

California Leftists are stopping the delivery of electricity from windmills and solar farms. CA reportedly has built over 100 such "clean energy" sites. But the Lefties have spent the last five years in court blocking the construction of the power lines over which such green electricity has to be sent. Too many dangers to the environment, it seems. So the sites are ready but the Dems refuse to allow any transmission lines to be built that would "despoil the pristine environment." LOL!
Fox News, January 16, 2009 ---

As immigrant rights activists demand immigration reform from the Obama administration, it is critical to acknowledge that concrete reform cannot be achieved as long as the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is riddled with corruption and criminal abuse. Crime and corruption at the USCIS formerly the Immigration and Nationalization Services, (INS) is the dirty secret few politicians dare mention within their vaulted rhetoric calling for urgent immigration reform that never materializes. Thus far, their hollow words and legislative tinkering over the last 20 years produced few results except costing taxpayers a fortune. Story here. Worse, this U.S. $2.6 billion agency, under the Clinton and Bush administrations, grew into a dysfunctional anti-lawful immigrant bureaucracy that invites corruption. The USCIS, often the antithesis of law and order, is a ticking bomb with potential to cause severe damage to America. Tasked to protect national security by keeping terrorists out, the USCIS’s responsibilities include granting visas, residency, and citizenship to law abiding foreign-born workers while balancing economic needs, and honouring America’s tradition as a nation of immigrants. But the USCIS’s checkered history is stained with bribery indictments.
Marinka Peschmann, "Crime and Corruption at the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services," Canada Free Press, January 21, 2009 ---

The Budget. Bush represented the alleged party of small government, yet under him, federal outlays exploded. During his presidency, spending was up by 70 percent, more than double the increase under Bill Clinton. When Bush arrived, the federal government was running surpluses. Since then—not counting the horrendously expensive financial bailout—the national debt has nearly doubled. You can't blame Congress for all this: Bush was the first president in 176 years to go an entire term without vetoing a single piece of legislation.
Steve Chapman, "Where Did Bush Go Wrong? A depressing look back on eight years of arrogance, power lust, and incompetence," Reason Magazine, January 15, 2009 ---

Smith is also Michelle Obama’s interior designer and the White House paid him $100,000 (thus far) for his services
When John Thain became Merrill Lynch’s CEO in early 2008, he hired Michael S. Smith Design to revamp his office suite, spending approximately $1.22 million according to documents . . . Smith is also Michelle Obama’s interior designer and the White House paid him $100,000 for his services . . . Thain was appointed as Merrill’s CEO as the firm suffered massive losses from investments tied to the depressed real estate market under his predecessor Stan O'Neal, who was ousted in late 2007. Those losses continued through 2008, forcing Thain and his management team to sell the brokerage firm to Bank of America in mid September or face near certain liquidation as investors fearing further losses began pulling lines of credit and other financing.

"Merrill Lynch CEO Thain Spent $1.22 Million On Office," CNBC, January 22, 2009 ---  

The problem with the current bailout is that the government may be giving money to companies that don't have a long-term future: zombies. On paper, for example, the Treasury Dept. says it invests Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money only in "healthy banks—banks that are considered viable without government investment" because "they are best positioned to increase the flow of credit in their communities." That's the right idea. In practice, though, the criteria aren't so stringent. Banks like Citigroup still aren't strong enough to lend. "The bailout model is socialism," says R. Christopher Whalen, senior vice-president for consultancy Institutional Risk Analytics. He advocates selling failed institutions in pieces, as was done to resolve the savings and loan crisis in the late '80s and early '90s. In fact, Washington may be moving toward something like that with Citigroup. When a big employer runs into trouble, it's tempting to keep it going at any cost. Economists call this "lemon socialism"—the investment of public money in the worst companies rather than the best. The impulse is misguided, says Yale University economics professor Eduardo M. Engel. "You don't want to protect the jobs," he says. "What you want to protect is workers' income during the transition from one job to another."
Peter Coy, "A New Menace to the Economy:  'Zombie' Debtors Call them "zombie" companies. Many more has-been companies will be feeding off taxpayers, investors, and workers—sapping the lifeblood of healthier rivals," Business Week, January 15, 2008 ---

SNL's Tina Fey can dish out criticism, but she can't take it (video) ---

Spike Lee Renames Washington DC "Chocolate City" (video) ---

Reid snapped, “Purchase a pizza for a quarter? I don’t like pizza, and I especially don’t like Papa John’s Pizza!”
Sen. Reid on the floor of the U.S. Senate ---
Betsy Rothstein, The Hill, January 18, 2009 --- Click Here

"How to spend $350 billion in 77 days:  In two-and-a-half months, the Treasury has used up half of the money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Here's how it came and went so fast," by Jeanne Sahadi, CNN, December 19, 2008 ---

By Friday, Oct. 3, Congress had passed a 451-page bill that President Bush signed into law within hours. The law granted Treasury up to $700 billion, half of which was made available right away.

Since then, Treasury has:

That next $350B? Maybe not yet, Hank

Now, it's likely that Treasury will ask for the second tranche of $350 billion.

The Perfect (Stimulous) Storm
A new analysis shows that California would get a whopping $21.5 billion under an economic stimulus plan that's expected to be approved by the House next week, making it the biggest winner among the 50 states. That's according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which analyzed the new spending proposals offered by House leaders.
Rob Hotakainen ,
"California could reap $21.5 billion from U.S. stimulus plan,"  The Sacramento Bee, January 24, 2009 ---

The Perfect (Stimulus) Storm
An analysis by Forbes publications of where most jobs will be created singles out engineering, accounting, nursing, and information technology, along with construction managers, computer-aided drafting specialists, and project managers. Unemployment rates among most of these specialists are not high. The rebuilding of "crumbling roads, bridges, and schools" highlighted by in various speeches by President Obama is likely to make greater use of unemployed workers in the construction sector. However, such spending will be a small fraction of the total stimulus package, and it is not easy for workers who helped build residential housing to shift to building highways . . . The likelihood that such a rapid and large public spending program will be of low efficiency is compounded by political realities. Groups that have lots of political clout with Congress will get a disproportionate amount of the spending with only limited regard for the merits of the spending they advocate compared to alternative ways to spend the stimulus. The politically influential will also redefine various projects so that they can fall under the "infrastructure" rubric. A report called Ready to Go by the U.S. Conference of Mayors lists $73 billion worth of projects that they claim could be begun quickly. These projects include senior citizen centers, recreation facilities, and much other expenditure that are really private consumption items, many of dubious value, that the mayors call infrastructure spending. Recessions would be a good time to increase infrastructure spending only if these projects can mainly utilize unemployed resources. This does not seem to be the case in most of the so-called infrastructure spending proposed under various stimulus plans.
Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, The Becker-Posner Blog, January 18, 2009 ---

One objection to public-works spending as an anti-depression measure is that by the time work on the public projects actually begins, the depression will be over and all that remains will be the bill for the projects, in the form of an increased national debt, since public-works spending that is financed by taxes rather than borrowing has no effect on increasing demand for goods and services. What is given with one hand is taken away with the other. But construction projects, especially those interrupted or postponed because of the economic collapse, can be started up (or resumed) pretty quickly. Moreover, this depression (as I think it is, and not merely a recession) is likely to last at least two more years, and that should be time enough for much of the $90 billion (plus additional money allocated to construction) to be spent.
Richard Posner, The Becker-Posner Blog, January 18, 2009 ---

A Famous Economist Explains What's Wrong With Obama's Stimulus Program
But, in terms of fiscal-stimulus proposals, it would be unfortunate if the best Team Obama can offer is an unvarnished version of Keynes's 1936 "General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money." The financial crisis and possible depression do not invalidate everything we have learned about macroeconomics since 1936. Much more focus should be on incentives for people and businesses to invest, produce and work. On the tax side, we should avoid programs that throw money at people and emphasize instead reductions in marginal income-tax rates -- especially where these rates are already high and fall on capital income. Eliminating the federal corporate income tax would be brilliant. On the spending side, the main point is that we should not be considering massive public-works programs that do not pass muster from the perspective of cost-benefit analysis. Just as in the 1980s, when extreme supply-side views on tax cuts were unjustified, it is wrong now to think that added government spending is free.

Robert J. Barro, "Government Spending Is No Free Lunch:  Now the Democrats are peddling voodoo economics," The Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2009 ---
Robert Barro is an economics professor at Harvard University and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

Current U.S. budget policy is unsustainable because it violates the intertemporal budget constraint. While the resulting fiscal gap will eventually be eliminated whether we like it or not, the big issue in current budget debate is whether the ultimately unavoidable course corrections should start now or be left for later. This paper argues that concerns of generational equity, which often are relied on by those demanding a prompt course correction, do not convincingly settle the issue, given empirical uncertainties about future generations' circumstances. However, efficiency issues create powerful grounds for urging a course correction sooner rather than later, on three main grounds: to eliminate the risk of a catastrophic fiscal collapse, achieve the advantages of tax smoothing, and smooth adjustments to the consumption made possible by various government outlays. Political economy considerations suggest that the risk of a catastrophic fiscal collapse may be significant even though in principle it could easily be avoided.
Danial Shaviro, "The Long-Term Fiscal Gap: Is the Main Problem Generational Inequity?" --- Click Here
Also see Paul Caron's blog from the NYU Law School  on January 15, 2009 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on the bailout mess are at

Federal securities class action lawsuits increased 19 percent in 2008, with almost half involving firms in the financial services sector according to the annual report prepared by the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse in cooperation with Cornerstone Research ---
Especially note the Year in Review link at

Three Fatah men had their eyes put out during "interrogation" by Hamas thugs and as many as 80 Fatah members were either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for defying Hamas' house-arrest orders. "What's happening in the Gaza Strip is a new massacre that is being carried out by Hamas against Fatah," said a Fatah activist in Gaza City. "Where were these cowards when the Israeli Army was here?"
Mathew Kalman, Erica Silverman, and Helen Kenned, "Hamas makes revenge bid against Fatah members, suspected collaborators," New York Daily News, January 19, 2009 --- Click Here

The IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration has already compiled a list with 900 names of Palestinians killed during the operation, out of which 750 are believed to be Hamas operatives. The IDF estimated that two-thirds of those killed were gunmen affiliated with Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror factions. At least 500 are believed to have been members of Hamas's military wing. Hamas, defense officials said, purposely covered up the number of dead and on Sunday claimed that only 48 members of its military wing had been killed. Many bodies belonging to Hamas operatives were being stored - officials said - in the morgue in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The vast majority of the Hamas operatives killed were not wearing uniforms to disguise their affiliation, another reason for the exaggerated estimate of civilian casualties by the United Nations. The IDF's Military Intelligence has set up a team to come up with a comprehensive list including the names and affiliation of all of the Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead. The list, officials said, would be completed in the coming two weeks . . . Other Palestinians told Cremonesi of Hamas operatives donning paramedic uniforms and commandeering ambulances. A woman identified as Um Abdullah, 48, spoke of Hamas using UN buildings as launch pads for rockets. Cremonesi reported that he had difficultly gathering evidence as the local population was terrified of Hamas.
Naoimi Regan's Newsletter, "Casualty Figures in Gaza," January 22, 2009

In the Arab world, an atmosphere of skepticism about Hamas's claims of achievements on the battlefield prevailed, since, for the most part, these claims have turned out to be little more than transparent lies. The growing criticism was best expressed on the important Arabic electronic newspaper ELAPH by Abd al-Fattah Shehadeh, who wrote on January 9 that Hamas is hiding behind the civilian population instead of defending it, as it had promised. Hamas, wrote Shehadeh, dug bunkers and tunnels, instead of building shelters for the residents of Gaza. They brought catastrophe upon the Palestinians with the misguided calculation they had learned from Hizballah: "They turned houses and mosques into battlegrounds so that the people would protect them and those who trusted them now regret it."
Ehud Ya'ari, "Hamas simply abandoned the arena and fled," Jerusalem Post, January 19, 2009 ---

The Wife of a Hamas Fighter Reveals Her Preference
"Hamas Fighters Display Mix of Swagger and Fear," by Taghreed el-Khodary and Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times, January 13, 2009 ---

“It’s either victory while alive, or martyrdom,” he said. “Both ways are victory.”

His wife, in a white head scarf, agreed.

“Two days ago, he was very tired and he didn’t want to leave the house,” she said. “I told him you have to leave, you have a responsibility.”

But the sight of her brother unconscious in the hospital bed seemed to jolt the couple into an alternate reality, one where they were vulnerable and afraid. The man’s eyes glistened with tears as he asked the doctor question after question.

Back outside, the woman regained her composure.

“I prefer you as a martyr,” she said to her husband.

“What if I am injured?” he asked.

She repeated her preference for death.

He took up the accusation that Hamas fighters hid behind civilians. Fighters, in a way, are both, he argued, and are accepted by many residents as defenders. People bring them food, he said. Sometimes they oppose rockets being launched nearby, but often they do not.

. . .

Senior fighters are mostly in hiding, the fighters said. Many have not moved for days, staying in basements or bunkers. With limited access to phone networks, in part because of fear that signals will draw missile fire, some have been cut off altogether during the military operation, and sit alone.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
It would seem that "senior fighters" are not so eager to be martyrs or take possession of 72 virgins after dying fighting. They prefer to stay alive deep in hiding while encouraging the young and impressionable to become martyrs.

It's shameful and unlawful how Israel is stealing West Bank land and Water from Palestinians
Palestinians had hoped to establish their state on the West Bank, an area the size of Delaware. But Israelis have split it up with scores of settlements, and hundreds of miles of new highways that only settlers can use. Palestinians have to drive - or ride - on the older roads. When they want to travel from one town to another, they have to submit to humiliating delays at checkpoints and roadblocks. There are more than 600 of them on the West Bank. Asked why there are so many checkpoints, Dr. Barghouti said, "I think the main goal is to fragment the West Bank. Maybe a little bit of them can be justified because they say it's for security. But I think the vast majority of them are basically to block the movement of people from one place to another."
"Time Running Out For A Two-State Solution? 60 Minutes: Growing Number Of Israelis, Palestinians Say Two-State Solution Is No Longer Possible," CBS Sixty Minutes, January 25, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
Israel has been totally unfair in recent dealing on the West Bank.


From Best of the Web Today (WSJ newsletter) on January 15, 2009

Everything Seemingly Is Spinning Out of Control

 "Historic Conker Trees Dying"--headline, Daily Telegraph (London), Jan. 15
 "U.S. Military Warns 'Sudden Collapse' of Mexico Is Possible"--headline, El Paso Times, Jan. 13
 "USDA Worker Accused of Running Prostitution Ring"--headline, Associated Press, Jan. 14
 "Man Accidentally Shoots Toilet After Gun in His Pants Goes Off"--headline,, Jan. 14
 "Shelter Overflows With Dachsunds"--headline, Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), Jan. 15
 "Web Surfing Leaves Trail of Pollution"--headline, Toronto Star, Jan. 13

News You Can Use

 "Gaping Hole in Street Poses Driving Risks"--headline, Journal Star (Peoria, Ill.), Jan. 13
 "Found: Hormone That May Make Women More Likely to Commit Adultery"--headline, Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 14
 "Cows Can't Detect Earthquakes: Official"--headline,, Jan. 14
 "Key to Battling Cold: Dress Warmly, Experts Say"--headline, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 15


Learn the fundamentals of the game and stick to them. Band-aid remedies never last.
Jack Nicklaus as quoted by Mark Shapiro at

My Recent Saga With Malware
Since viruses vary in terms of how difficult they are to disinfect from your computer, some of the remedies that failed for my deep-seated infections may not fail in all instances. In my case I had to give up and rebuild the hard drive, which is tantamount to getting a new computer.

I tried a number of different software downloads (some free and some fee-based) to rid my computer of infections that kept returning even when my main computer was disconnected from any network. Some of the disinfectants worked, but they also created more problems than the malware itself.

In the end I gave up and had the hard drive cleaned and started over with the same hardware and re-installed software. I suspect the problem is that I just don't know enough fundamentals of the game when it comes to disinfecting malware from the system, although the pros tell me that some malware just cannot be disinfected without cleaning out (called rebuilding) the entire hard drive and starting over. That's like killing the patient to rid her of chronic headaches. Sometimes the bad guys win. Sigh!

In my case I think I got the infection from a site that pretends to improve computer efficiency and security. Since I can't be certain, the site will remain anonymous. I'm told the most dangerous sites to visit include gambling sites, porn sites, and computer protection sites from sources other than trusted sources. Except when a computer-protection site is recommended by a trusted magazine like PC Magazine, a trusted newspaper like the tech section of The Washington Post, or trusted friends like your employer's tech support team, don't go there and most certainly don't download anything from that site even though it promises improved computer security and efficiency. Remember that some bad guys put up Web documents claiming some downloads are safe when in fact they are not at all safe. Don't trust all Google or Yahoo hits in this regard. The bad guys have Web documents and YouTube videos that lie big time.

Google searches can be hazardous to your computer's health. Of course there's a gray zone where I think taking chances are necessary to scholarship. Be more cautious about downloading files than merely visiting a site. Also some types of download files are more dangerous than others.

Don't be led into complacency that your anti-virus shields stop all the serious bad stuff. Wikipedia has a pretty good module on computer security ---

I think my next new computer will be a Mac where computer and networking security is enormously better than PCs operating under Windows, but certainly Mac security is not perfect. The most popular Mac browser, Safari, had had some known security problems in the past. Before buying a Mac I will further investigate the current Safari risks. Fortunately Firefox makes a browser version for Mac computers. Unfortunately I will still mostly use a Windows machine since my Web servers, LAN servers, and email server are all at Trinity University. The Trinity University network service is only Windows-friendly. And I can only get Trinity's free and excellent tech support for a Windows computer.

In my case it's not the cost of a new computer that frustrates me. What frustrates me is that all the installed software must be dug out of my barn or repurchased. Training a new computer is even more frustrating than training a new puppy.

By Comparison, My Malware Problems are Rather Insignificant
Tens of millions of credit cards could be at risk of fraudulent use thanks to a serious computer-security breach at financial-transactions company Heartland Payment Systems. Earlier this week, Heartland revealed that a piece of malicious software, apparently installed inside the company's transaction-processing system last year, had compromised credit-card data as it crossed the network. The breach was announced on Tuesday--the day of the U.S. presidential inauguration--and, according to some experts, it shows that attackers are successfully defeating the financial industry's tough computer-security rules. "The potential is certainly there for this to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest breach we've seen," says Rich Mogull, founder of computer-security consulting company Securosis. "Something huge had to have gone wrong here." It's not clear precisely what kind of malicious software was used, or how many credit-card accounts were compromised. But company president Robert Baldwin has said that Heartland handles as many as 100 million transactions per month.
John Borland, "Malware Swipes Millions of Credit Cards A security breach shows failings in security rules," MIT's Technology Review, January 22, 2009 ---

Bob Jensen's helpers regarding network and computer security are at

Blackboard’s Update Plan – integrate Moodle and Sakai courses into the Blackboard interface

January 20, 2009 message from Richard Campbell [campbell@RIO.EDU]

Interesting video on Blackboard’s plans – It is interesting how they are integrating Moodle and Sakai courses into their interface. 

Richard J. Campbell
School of Business
218 N. College Ave.
University of Rio Grande
Rio Grande, OH 45674

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard and WebCT are at

What are the latest emerging technologies for teaching, learning, research, and creative expression.?

2009 Edition of the Horizon Report ---

The annual Horizon Report describes the continuing work of the New Media Consortium (NMC)’s Horizon Project, a long-running qualitative research project that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations. The 2009 Horizon Report is the sixth annual report in the series. The report is produced again in 2009 as a collaboration between the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), an EDUCAUSE program.

Each edition of the Horizon Report introduces six emerging technologies or practices that are likely to enter mainstream use in learning-focused organizations within three adoption horizons over the next one to five years. Challenges and trends that will shape the way we work in academia over the same time frame are also presented. Over the six years of the NMC’s Horizon Project, more than 200 leaders in the fields of business, industry, and education have contributed to an ongoing primary research effort that draws on a comprehensive body of published resources, current research and practice, and the expertise of the NMC and ELI communities to identify technologies and practices that are either beginning to appear on campuses, or likely to be adopted in the coming years. Through a close examination of these sources, and informed by their own distinguished perspectives, the 2009 Advisory Board has considered the broad landscape of emerging technology and its intersection with the academic world as they worked to select the six topics described in these pages. The precise research methodology is detailed in a special section following the body of the report.

The format of the Horizon Report reflects the focus of the Horizon Project, which centers on the applications of emerging technologies to teaching, learning, research, and creative expression. Each topic opens with an overview to introduce the concept or technology involved and follows with a discussion of the particular relevance of the topic to education or creativity. Examples of how the technology is being — or could be — applied to those activities are given. Each description is followed by an annotated list of additional examples and readings which expand on the discussion in the Report, as well as a link to the list of tagged resources collected by the Advisory Board and other interested parties during the process of researching the topic areas. Many of the examples under each area feature the innovative work of NMC and ELI member institutions.

The 2009 Horizon Report is
a collaboration between
The New Media Consortium
and the
EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative

© 2009, The New Media Consortium.

Permission is granted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license to replicate and distribute this report freely for noncommercial purposes provided that it is distributed only in its entirety.

"'Horizon Report' Names Top Technology Trends to Watch in Education," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, 2009 ---

More services will be running on cellphones or handheld computers, and more devices will be able to broadcast their location to others, says a new report from Educause's Learning Initiative and the New Media Consortium.

The "2009 Horizon Report," the latest edition of the annual list of technology trends to watch in education, is compiled based on news reports, research studies, and interviews with experts.

Topping the list of hot technologies are smart phones and other mobile devices. The authors noted that smart phones can now run third-party applications, which could revolutionize how such devices are used in education by consolidating numerous teaching, learning, and administrative tools into devices that fit into the palms of students' hands.

Another top trend identified in the report is cloud computing, which refers to Web-based applications and services. Such services, many of which are free, will allow campus users to access more tools and information at a lower cost—although it may make users increasingly dependent on their hosts, the report says.

The prevalence of electronics that have "geo-locators"—that is, that are capable of knowing where they are—could have important applications for field research, specifically with regard to tracking the movement of animal populations or mapping data sets to study weather, migration, or urban development patterns, the report says. Similarly, “smart” objects—which are aware not only of their locations but of themselves and their environment—are already used in some libraries for tracking and tagging materials and may have analogous applications across a number of academic disciplines.

Though the Internet has proved to be a helpful resource for many students and professors, the sheer volume of its content can make finding relevant information a tedious chore at times. According to the report, the personal Web—i.e., widgets and services that help connect individual users to the Web-based information relevant to them—will allow students, professors, and administrators to use the Web more efficiently.

In a similar vein, semantic-aware applications will emerge to allow students to use one of the Internet’s more popular features—Web search—more efficiently, the authors predict. Semantic-aware applications refer to technology designed to analyze the meaning of phrases typed into search boxes, rather than just the keywords. Beyond search technology, the report says that semantic-aware applications may eventually help researchers organize and present their findings in ways that more easily describe conceptual relationships among collected data.

"Educause Names Top Teaching with Technology Challenges for 2009," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 9, 2009 ---

Educause, the higher-education technology group, has released its list of top teaching and learning challenges of 2009.

The top five challenges were selected by a combination of focus groups, surveys of interested professionals, face-to-face brainstorming, and a final vote. The challenges are:

1. Creating learning environments that promote active learning, critical thinking, collaborative learning, and knowledge creation.
2. Developing 21st-century literacies — information, digital, and visual — among students and faculty members.
3. Reaching and engaging today’s learners.
4. Encouraging faculty members to adopt, and innovate with, new technology for teaching and learning.
5. Advancing innovation in teaching and learning with technology in an era of budget cuts.

Educause officials say they will now begin soliciting a volunteers to collaborate on solutions for each challenge using the project’s wiki.

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology are at
In particular note the link

Theory versus Practice in Engineering Studies
Engineering education needs an overhaul, and must do a better job of introducing students to the actual practice of the profession, says a new report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The report calls for programs to have “a professional spine” in which each year includes “practice-like experiences,” and for an emphasis on how concepts are used and connected. Further, the report calls for more education that shows how engineering fits into the world. These changes will require considerable new thinking about course and program structure, and who teaches, the report suggests.
Inside Higher Ed, January 16, 2009 ---

"Students Can Test Drive Their Career in Science, Engineering:  Experienced scientists and engineers mentor interns in research laboratory," Converge Magazine, January 19, 2009 ---

Aiming to reach out to students interested in science and engineering, the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) is looking for participants in a summer-long apprentice program that offers them the opportunity to test out a future career at the nation's premier research laboratory.

Sponsored by George Washington University and the Department of Defense (DoD), the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP) is an eight-week internship that enables high school and college students to apprentice in fields of their choice with experienced scientists and engineers serving as mentors.

SEAP enabled 12 of the more than 400 students who participated in the 2008 program to work at ECBC. Other students were assigned to one of 16 other DoD laboratories. Organizers are hoping this year's program, which runs from June 22 to Aug. 14, attracts an even greater number of students to ECBC.

"We are hopeful that the program will continue to expand each year," said Barbara Hawk, the Center's SEAP coordinator. "The SEAP program enables ECBC to provide students with information about the work done here at ECBC. When we get young people excited about science and engineering I believe it will ultimately help to ensure the continuous growth of our workforce."

Treated as research assistants, students collaborate with their mentors on a project that provides them an opportunity to work in a laboratory while learning how their research can benefit the Army and the civilian community.

Outside the lab, students are invited to attend lectures, tours and demonstrations aimed at educating them about various research techniques and the significance of the work done for the purpose of non-medical chemical and biological defense.

"SEAP provides an opportunity for young engineers and scientists to receive hands-on experience in an environment which closely resembles conditions in their proposed field," said ECBC Simulationist Analyst Chris Gaughan. "An apprenticeship at ECBC affords young people the chance to contribute positively to the organization while they explore career suitability."

Bob Jensen's threads on careers are at

Political Rights Theory Versus (Questioned) Practice at the University of Iowa

"U. of Iowa Staff Member Sues Law School for Discrimination," by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, 2009 --- Click Here

A staff member in the law-school writing center at the University of Iowa has sued the school and its dean, saying she was turned down for teaching positions because of her conservative political views, Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.

Teresa Wagner filed the lawsuit against the school and its dean, Carolyn Jones, on Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

In the lawsuit, she states that in 2006, she applied for an advertised job as a full-time writing instructor, and that later, she applied for a part-time adjunct position teaching writing. She was rejected for both positions, even though she had collegiate teaching experience and strong academic credentials, the lawsuit says. She argues that affiliations listed on her résumé, including stints with groups like the National Right to Life Committee, did her in with a liberal-leaning faculty.

To bolster her case, the lawsuit dissects the political affiliations of the approximately 50 faculty members who vote on law-school faculty hires; 46 of them are registered as Democrats and only one, hired 20 years ago, is a Republican, the lawsuit states. Ms. Wagner also says that a law-school associate dean suggested that she conceal her affiliation with a conservative law school and later told her not to apply for any more faculty positions.

Steve Parrott, a spokesman for the University of Iowa, says the discrimination claim is “without merit.”


A better case can probably be made in the Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences where a conservatives most likely have not been hired in years. I read that nationwide conservative anthropologists are on the endangered species list.

Not Even One Conservative for Tokenism:  Duke is for Democrats and so is the University of Iowa
The University of Iowa's history department and Duke's history department have a couple of things in common. Both have made national news because neither has a Republican faculty member. And both rejected the application of Mark Moyar, a highly qualified historian and a Republican, for a faculty appointment. Moyar graduated first in the history department at Harvard; his revised senior thesis was published as a book and sold more copies than an average history professor ever sells. After earning a Ph.D. from Cambridge University in England, he published his dissertation as "Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965" with Cambridge University Press, which has received even more attention and praise. Moyar's views of Vietnam are controversial and have garnered scorn and abuse from liberal historians, including the department chair at the University of Iowa, Colin Gordon. Moyar revealed on his resume that he is a member of the National Association of Scholars, a group generally to the right of the normal academic organization. Gordon and his colleagues at Iowa were undoubtedly aware of Moyar's conservative leaning and historical view. Moyar is undoubtedly qualified. He is unquestionably diverse; his views are antithetical to many of the Iowa professors' views. Yet the Iowa department hired someone who had neither received degrees from institutions similar to Cambridge and Harvard nor published a book despite having completed graduate school eight years earlier (history scholars are expected to publish books within approximately six years of finishing their doctorates). In the Iowa history department there are 27 Democrats and zero Republicans. The Iowa hiring guidelines mandate that search committees "assess ways the applicants will bring rich experiences, diverse backgrounds and ideology to the university community." After seeking a freedom of information disclosure, Moyar learned that the Iowa history department had, in fact, not complied with the hiring manual. It seemed that Moyar was rejected for his political and historical stands. Maybe it was an unlikely aberration. But Moyar told the Duke College Republicans earlier this fall that he is skeptical because an application of his a few years ago at Duke for a history professorship progressed in much the same way it proceeded in Iowa.
The Duke Chronicle, November 1, 2007 --- Click Here

What is most like a zoo animal on a college campus?

The University of Colorado at Boulder, a campus where political attitudes lean to the left, is looking for a conservative scholar. The Wall Street Journal reported on a fund raising drive to endow a chair in conservative thought. The move is attracting criticism not only from some liberals on campus but from David Horowitz, who has led a national campaign charging that many colleges lack ideological diversity on their faculties. While Horowitz praised Colorado for focusing on the issue of ideological diversity, he said he feared that this approach would lead the professor selected to be seen as an unusual token, like “an animal in the zoo.”
Inside Higher Ed, May 13, 2008 ---

"The Liberal Skew in Higher Education," by Richard Posner, The Becker-Posner Blog, December 30, 2007 ---

It is no secret that professors at American colleges and universities are much more liberal on average than the American people as a whole. A recent paper by two sociology professors contains a useful history of scholarship on the issue and, more important, reports the results of the most careful survey yet conducted of the ideology of American academics. See Neal Gross and Solon Simmons, “The Social and Political Views of American Professors,” Sept. 24, 2007, available at (visited Dec. 29. 2007); and for a useful summary, with comments, including some by Larry Summers, see “The Liberal (and Moderating) Professoriate,” Inside Higher Ed, Oct. 8, 2007, available at (visited Dec. 29. 2007).) More than 1,400 full-time professors at a wide variety of institutions of higher education, including community colleges, responded to the survey, representing a 51 percent response rate; and analysis of non-responders indicates that the responders were not a biased sample of the professors surveyed.

In the sample as a whole, 44 percent of professors are liberal, 46 percent moderate or centrist, and only 9 percent conservative. (These are self-descriptions.) The corresponding figures for the American population as a whole, according to public opinion polls, are 18 percent, 49 percent, and 33 percent, suggesting that professors are on average more than twice as liberal, and only half as conservative, as the average American. There are interesting differences within the professoriat, however. The most liberal disciplines are the humanities and the social sciences; only 6 percent of the social-science professors and 15 percent of the humanities professors in the survey voted for Bush in 2004. In contrast, business, medicine and other health sciences, and engineering are much less liberal, and the natural sciences somewhat less so, but they are still more liberal than the nation as a whole; only 32 percent of the business professors voted for Bush--though 52 percent of the health-sciences professors did. In the entire sample, 78 percent voted for Kerry and only 20 percent for Bush.

. . .

My last point is what might be called the institutionalization of liberal skew by virtue of affirmative action in college admissions. Affirmative action brings in its train political correctness, sensitivity training, multiculturalism, and other attitudes or practices that make a college an uncongenial environment for many conservatives.

"The Liberal Skew in Higher Education," by Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, The Becker-Posner Blog, December 30, 2007 ---

The study by Gross and Simmons discussed by Posner in part confirms what has been found in earlier studies about the greater liberalism of American professors than of the American population as a whole. Their study goes further than previous ones by having an apparently representative sample of professors in all types of colleges and universities, and by giving nuanced and detailed information about attitudes and voting of professors by field of expertise, age, gender, type of college or university, and other useful characteristics. I will try to add to Posner's valuable discussion by concentrating on the effects on academic political attitudes of events in the world, and of their fields of specialization. I also consider whether college teachers have long-lasting influences on the views of their students.

. . .

Given the indisputable evidence that professors are liberal, how much influence does that have on the long run attitudes of college students? This is especially relevant since some of the most liberal academic disciplines, like the social sciences and English, have close contact with younger undergraduates. The evidence strongly indicates that whatever the short-term effects of college teachers on the opinions of their students, the long run influence appears to be modest. For example, college graduates, like the rest of the voting population, split their voting evenly between Bush and Kerry. The influence of high incomes (college graduates earn on average much more than others), the more conservative family backgrounds of the typical college student (but less conservative for students at elite colleges), and other life experiences far dominate the mainly forgotten influence of their college teachers.

This evidence does not mean that the liberal bias of professors is of no concern, but rather that professors are much less important in influencing opinions than they like to believe, or then is apparently believed by the many critics on the right of the liberality of professors.

  • "Leveling the Playing Field:  A university is forced to treat white professors equally," The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2006 ---

    Talk about back wages due: A federal judge in Phoenix this month said that Northern Arizona University owes $1.4 million to a group of professors who have been pursuing justice through the courts since 1995. The 40 teachers, all white men, argued that they were discriminated against when the public university gave raises to minority and female faculty members in the early 1990s but not to white males. Not only that--the plaintiffs said in a Title VII civil-rights suit--the salary bumps resulted in some favored faculty members earning more than white men in comparable positions.

    The lawsuit and its outcome are yet another striking illustration of the perils of affirmative action, with its often contorted logic of redress and blame and its tendency to commit exactly the sort of discrimination that it was designed to prevent.

    The university may persuade U.S. District Court judge Robert Broomfield to lower the bill for what is effectively back pay to the professors. But the school is also facing a claim for the plaintiffs' legal expenses. Their attorney, Jess Lorona, tells us that, with more than a decade of litigating on both sides totted up, the cost to Arizona taxpayers could soar to $2.5 million.

    What happened here? The professors' victory, it should be said, is not a sweeping defeat of affirmative action, and the plaintiffs didn't ask for one. The university maintains that when it raised pay for certain faculty it was simply following a federal mandate to eliminate race or gender wage disparities. What got the school in trouble was not "catch up" payments per se but the way it made them. Even so, "the reverberations are going to be tremendous," attorney Lorona predicts. He explains that this decision "sets out case law about what needs to be done when you're trying to cure pay inequity."

    Lesson One: You should probably prove that discrimination exists rather than just infer it from dodgy statistics. In 1993, the university's then-president, Eugene M. Hughes, assumed there had been discrimination, based partly on a study he'd commissioned. The study used salaries at other schools to help determine a theoretical median wage that should prevail at Northern Arizona. A lot of white males there fell below the median, but the significant finding for President Hughes was the one that showed minorities and women under a "predicted" par.

    As Judge Broomfield noted in 2004, the initial study ignored factors such as whether people held doctorates. At any rate, the study's own figures indicated that white faculty were earning only about $87 a year more than minorities, and men were making about $751 more than women. Mr. Hughes's solution: raises of up to $3,000 for minorities and $2,400 for women. White men got nada.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at

    "Web Searches That Really Bear Fruit:  New Free Tools Aim to Make Online Results More Relevant by Tracking Your Reactions,"
    by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2009 ---

    There's nothing more frustrating than a fruitless Web search -- or one that returns results that distract you from your original goal. Search giant Google knows this all too well and realizes that there's a chance you might switch to another search engine if you get tired of poor results.

    This week I tested two free tools that attempt to make your Web searches more relevant by learning from users' reactions to search results: Google's SearchWiki and Surf Canyon Inc.'s namesake tool for Web browsers. These two don't necessarily compete against each other; in fact, they can be used in tandem. But after initially entering a search query, SearchWiki requires additional work on the part of the user that many people may not want to do. Surf Canyon works automatically as you go, sorting results according to real-time user behavior.

    But who wants to do all this work? Google says your votes don't influence the way other Google users see search results, nor do they affect your search results if you aren't logged into Google. You can see the number of votes a URL got from fellow voters, as well as comments made about the URL -- but only after you select a link at the bottom of the search-results page. If you promote a URL, you'll automatically see what other people think about this link.

    SearchWiki depends on people to rank their own search results by promoting favored URLs to the top of a screen and knocking others to the bottom. It is available to most people who are logged into a Google account, and these user preferences are remembered if the same searches are performed at other times.

    This sorting is done using elegant animation; preferred URLs float to the top of the screen when selected and unwanted results disappear in a magic-trick-like poof when removed. Comments about a link can be typed into a word bubble beside the URL and all comments are available to the public, labeled as posted by "Searcher" unless you create another nickname for yourself. People can also add preferred URLs to a search-results page if, for example, they know a better link about something than those that show up.

    But who wants to do all this work? Google says your votes don't influence the way other Google users see search results, nor do they affect your search results if you aren't logged into Google. You can see the number of votes a URL got from fellow voters, as well as comments made about the URL -- but only after you select a link at the bottom of the search-results page. If you promote a URL, you'll automatically see what other people think about this link.

    SearchWiki depends on people to rank their own search results by promoting favored URLs to the top of a screen and knocking others to the bottom. It is available to most people who are logged into a Google account, and these user preferences are remembered if the same searches are performed at other times.

    This sorting is done using elegant animation; preferred URLs float to the top of the screen when selected and unwanted results disappear in a magic-trick-like poof when removed. Comments about a link can be typed into a word bubble beside the URL and all comments are available to the public, labeled as posted by "Searcher" unless you create another nickname for yourself. People can also add preferred URLs to a search-results page if, for example, they know a better link about something than those that show up.

    For your efforts, you'll create a small collection of results that are saved in your account, sorted by date and time should you ever want to revisit them. This could come in handy in some circumstances, such as if you were researching a topic and you forgot to save Web pages as you went. Google confusingly calls these "SearchWiki notes," though they really include all of the links you voted on, as well as typed-in notes about links.

    SearchWiki is a tough sell because most of us are already trained to surf the Web quickly, skipping ahead and back through links without taking the time to rank those results or comment on them. And it only works with Google searches.

    If you like the idea of more personalized Web searches but would like to use other search engines or don't want to do extra work, you might like Surf Canyon. Once downloaded, this tool displays bull's-eyes beside certain results to show that Surf Canyon has found additional related hits. Clicking on this bull's-eye reveals those suggested links, pulled from deeper down in the search results, and these links might have bull's-eyes of their own. This cascade of data goes on and on as an algorithm studies which of the returned results you do or don't choose.

    You might be deterred from using Surf Canyon because it must be downloaded before it works on Internet Explorer or Firefox. (A version of Surf Canyon for Apple's Safari browser is due out within a month.) This tool works with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live Search and Craigslist, and just started working with LexisNexis's legal-search engine.

    Surf Canyon might not seem to be doing much at first, but it changes and reflects your preferences as you make them. For example, a search for "Obama dog" originally returned results about how the President-elect and his family are narrowing their search for a puppy. But as I opened more links related specifically to Mr. Obama's daughters, more results appeared on screen about Sasha and Malia. Each time I hit the browser's Back button to return to the original search page, Surf Canyon offered a new set of relevant URLs.

    I tried looking at for last-minute inauguration tickets, and one hit listed an inauguration-appropriate dress that someone was giving away free. The Surf Canyon bull's-eye appeared beside this result, and when I selected it, three more dress listings appeared.

    Surf Canyon recently released an option for users who want long-term personalization, found at It lets people select sources from which they prefer to receive news, shopping, research, or sports and entertainment results. Individual sites not listed on this page can also be added to a list of sources to use; likewise, sites can be added to a blacklist so results never come from them.

    Unlike Google, Surf Canyon doesn't save your history or usage profile. And if you haven't created personalized preferences using the link above, it responds solely using your as-they-happen signals, like when you choose one link over another.

    Google's SearchWiki is asking users to do extra work, which may not be practical for many users. But if you do use it, this tool's personalized, saved results could be a real boon. Surf Canyon worked well for me with multiple search engines, retrieving data from result pages I likely wouldn't have opened. Either way, your days of futile Web searching are numbered.

    Bob Jensen's search helpers are at

    "Imagining College Without Grades," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, January 22, 2009 ---

    Kathleen O’Brien, senior vice president for academic affairs at Alverno College, said she realized that it might seem like the panelists were “tilting at windmills” with their vision for moving past grades. But she said there may be an alignment of ideas taking place that could move people away from a sense that grades are inevitable. First, she noted that several of the nation’s most prestigious law schools have moved away from traditional letter grades, citing a sense that grades were squelching intellectual curiosity. This trend adds clout to the discussion and makes it more difficult for people to say that grades need to be maintained because professional schools value them. Second, she noted that the growing use of e-portfolios has dramatized the potential for tools other than grades to convey what students learn. Third, she noted that just about everyone views grade inflation as having destroyed the reliability of grades. Fourth, she said that with more students taking courses at multiple colleges — including colleges overseas — the idea of consistent and clear grading just doesn’t reflect the mobility of students. And fifth, she noted the reactions in the room, which are typical of academic groups in that most professors and students are much more likely to complain about grading than to praise its accuracy or value. This is a case of an academic practice, she noted, that is widespread even as many people doubt its utility.

    At the same time, O’Brien said that one thing holding back colleges from moving was the sense of many people that doing away with grades meant going easy on students. In fact, she said, ending grades can mean much more work for both students and faculty members. Done right, she said, eliminating grades promotes rigor.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on assessment ---

    "Assessing Assessment," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, January 23, 2009 ---

    Margaret Spellings may be secretary emerita, but the assessment and accountability movements— which of course predated her commission — are alive and well. And if colleges think they can ignore these pushes, they are seriously misguided. That was the message behind speeches and the announcement of two new national education campaigns here Thursday at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

    One effort — further along than the other — is to create the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. The institute is attempting to gather information from every college about assessment practices in place in order to produce a national picture of the state of the efforts to measure student learning. Then the institute plans to conduct research on what colleges tell the public about assessment, to study which practices are most successful, and to produce case studies of how assessment works (or doesn’t) in certain situations. The second effort — still formative — is to create the Alliance for New Leadership for Student Learning and Accountability, which would act as something of a public voice for higher education in national discussions about assessment and accountability.

    Both efforts involve to some extent some of the leading national organizations that represent colleges and are receiving backing from such prominent funders as the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Teagle Foundation.

    Explaining the efforts, backers said that colleges must get out ahead of these issues — or others will set up systems that could damage higher education. Higher education “cannot be playing defense,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education. “That is the message of the day.”

    The new institute will be led by Stanley O. Ikenberry and George Kuh — two figures with extensive experience in the politics of higher education and assessment. Ikenberry is former president of the American Council on Education and of the University of Illinois. Kuh is director of the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University at Bloomington, and is best known as the founder of the National Survey of Student Engagement.

    Ikenberry raised the question that is no doubt on the minds of those who have hoped that assessment debates might fade with the end of the Spellings era. “Why now?”

    The answer, he said, is that assessment has been the subject of debate for 25-plus years “but for a long time has seemed stuck on Page 1.” With the visibility brought to the issue by Spellings, with moves by leading college groups to create new accountability systems, and with a proliferation of testing systems, “the next three to five years present a period of significant opportunity” and the future of assessment is “likely to be shaped in important ways,” he said. Higher education needs to take the lead, he argued.

    Ikenberry also reminded audience members of something they were all talking about anyway: College budgets are being cut everywhere. Reliable, respected systems of assessment and accountability, he said, will help leaders “make wise choices.”

    Broad said that the current debates about assessment reminded her, somewhat painfully, of discussions 25 years ago about overhead costs paid by federal agencies on research grants. That seemingly arcane topic became controversial when members of Congress questioned some of the expenses universities were reimbursed for, and proposals and counter-proposals flew.

    Some in higher education resisted the discussions, saying that what universities did was “so intrinsically valuable that these bean counters in the federal government” didn’t understand the issues and weren’t worth taking seriously. The result, Broad said, was 25 years of “tremendously onerous” regulations that might have been averted had higher education engaged more successfully in the process.

    And she noted that President Obama has said, with regard to numerous issues, that “transparency is the best form of accountability,” so the new administration will care about these issues.

    Judith S. Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, also endorsed the work of the new institute. She said she hoped that better knowledge about assessment would improve the relationship between accreditors and institutions, and that a sustained commitment by higher education to accountability would preserve the principles of self-regulation for higher education.

    Both accreditors and colleges “need to take a commitment to credibility with the public further than we’ve taken it,” Eaton said. While “some folks from institutions don’t like to hear that [because] they think it’s an implied criticism,” Eaton said they need to acknowledge that “the world has changed.”

    She also said that she hoped the new effort would “strengthen the academic leadership of our colleges and universities.” Eaton said that there was considerable strength among those leaders, but that Spellings Commission members and others had encouraged “an undermining” of that leadership by suggesting that colleges are against accountability.

    Continued in article

    Controversial Advice for Potential Doctoral Students in the Humanities

    Jensen Comment
    To the extent that professors mislead prospective doctoral students about the academic job market, the following article is somewhat appropriate. However, it may make too much of the career motivation of humanities doctoral students. Many humanities doctoral students are seeking to become researchers, writers, and just plain scholars irrespective of the rather dismal (highly competitive) professorial job market for doctoral graduates in humanities. Some graduates hope to be supported by spouses while they pursue a "career" in research and writing. Some hope to pursue learning for learning sake even if they have to be under placed in terms of actually making a living such as being a literary scholar while having to teach second grade in an elementary school. I truly respect people who pursue scholarship, research, and writing passions apart from having to earn a living doing something else. May the fruits of their dedication pay off in many ways other than money, and if they also pay off in money I say congratulations!

    The biggest problem with the academic job market in humanities and social science is that it's somewhat snobbish. Given that hundreds of PhDs might apply for a given tenure track opening in the humanities or social science division, colleges sometimes are inclined to weight doctorates from prestigious universities more heavily, especially the Ivy League-level universities. In the professional schools, the most prestigious universities often trade their own doctoral graduates, but for the most part doctoral graduates from most any regionally accredited university or college generally have good shots for top jobs.

    "Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go; It's hard to tell young people that universities view their idealism and energy as an exploitable resource," by Thomas H. Benton, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 30, 2009 --- 

    Nearly six years ago, I wrote a column called "So You Want to Go to Grad School?" (The Chronicle, June 6, 2003). My purpose was to warn undergraduates away from pursuing Ph.D.'s in the humanities by telling them what I had learned about the academic labor system from personal observation and experience.

    It was a message many prospective graduate students were not getting from their professors, who were generally too eager to clone themselves. Having heard rumors about unemployed Ph.D.'s, some undergraduates would ask about job prospects in academe, only to be told, "There are always jobs for good people." If the students happened to notice the increasing numbers of well-published, highly credentialed adjuncts teaching part time with no benefits, they would be told, "Don't worry, massive retirements are coming soon, and then there will be plenty of positions available." The encouragement they received from mostly well-meaning but ill-informed professors was bolstered by the message in our culture that education always leads to opportunity.

    All these years later, I still get letters from undergraduates who stumble onto that column. They tell me about their interests and accomplishments and ask whether they should go to graduate school, somehow expecting me to encourage them. I usually write back, explaining that in this era of grade inflation (and recommendation inflation), there's an almost unlimited supply of students with perfect grades and glowing letters. Of course, some doctoral program may admit them with full financing, but that doesn't mean they are going to find work as professors when it's all over. The reality is that less than half of all doctorate holders — after nearly a decade of preparation, on average — will ever find tenure-track positions.

    The follow-up letters I receive from those prospective Ph.D.'s are often quite angry and incoherent; they've been praised their whole lives, and no one has ever told them that they may not become what they want to be, that higher education is a business that does not necessarily have their best interests at heart. Sometimes they accuse me of being threatened by their obvious talent. I assume they go on to find someone who will tell them what they want to hear: "Yes, my child, you are the one we've been waiting for all our lives." It can be painful, but it is better that undergraduates considering graduate school in the humanities should know the truth now, instead of when they are 30 and unemployed, or worse, working as adjuncts at less than the minimum wage under the misguided belief that more teaching experience and more glowing recommendations will somehow open the door to a real position.

    Most undergraduates don't realize that there is a shrinking percentage of positions in the humanities that offer job security, benefits, and a livable salary (though it is generally much lower than salaries in other fields requiring as many years of training). They don't know that you probably will have to accept living almost anywhere, and that you must also go through a six-year probationary period at the end of which you may be fired for any number of reasons and find yourself exiled from the profession. They seem to think becoming a humanities professor is a reliable prospect — a more responsible and secure choice than, say, attempting to make it as a freelance writer, or an actor, or a professional athlete — and, as a result, they don't make any fallback plans until it is too late.

    I have found that most prospective graduate students have given little thought to what will happen to them after they complete their doctorates. They assume that everyone finds a decent position somewhere, even if it's "only" at a community college (expressed with a shudder). Besides, the completion of graduate school seems impossibly far away, so their concerns are mostly focused on the present. Their motives are usually some combination of the following:


    • They are excited by some subject and believe they have a deep, sustainable interest in it. (But ask follow-up questions and you find that it is only deep in relation to their undergraduate peers — not in relation to the kind of serious dedication you need in graduate programs.)



    • They received high grades and a lot of praise from their professors, and they are not finding similar encouragement outside of an academic environment. They want to return to a context in which they feel validated.



    • They are emerging from 16 years of institutional living: a clear, step-by-step process of advancement toward a goal, with measured outcomes, constant reinforcement and support, and clearly defined hierarchies. The world outside school seems so unstructured, ambiguous, difficult to navigate, and frightening.



    • With the prospect of an unappealing, entry-level job on the horizon, life in college becomes increasingly idealized. They think graduate school will continue that romantic experience and enable them to stay in college forever as teacher-scholars.



    • They can't find a position anywhere that uses the skills on which they most prided themselves in college. They are forced to learn about new things that don't interest them nearly as much. No one is impressed by their knowledge of Jane Austen. There are no mentors to guide and protect them, and they turn to former teachers for help.



    • They think that graduate school is a good place to hide from the recession. They'll spend a few years studying literature, preferably on a fellowship, and then, if academe doesn't seem appealing or open to them, they will simply look for a job when the market has improved. And, you know, all those baby boomers have to retire someday, and when that happens, there will be jobs available in academe.


    I know I experienced all of those motivations when I was in my early 20s. The year after I graduated from college (1990) was a recession, and the best job I could find was selling memberships in a health club, part time, in a shopping mall in Philadelphia. A graduate fellowship was an escape that landed me in another city — Miami — with at least enough money to get by. I was aware that my motives for going to graduate school came from the anxieties of transitioning out of college and my difficulty finding appealing work, but I could justify it in practical terms for the last reason I mentioned: I thought I could just leave academe if something better presented itself. I mean, someone with a doctorate must be regarded as something special, right?

    Continued in article


    "The Relevance of the Humanities," by Gabriel Paquette, Inside Higher Ed, January 22, 2009 ---

    The deepening economic crisis has triggered a new wave of budget cuts and hiring freezes at America’s universities. Retrenchment is today’s watchword. For scholars in the humanities, arts and social sciences, the economic downturn will only exacerbate existing funding shortages. Even in more prosperous times, funding for such research has been scaled back and scholars besieged by questions concerning the relevance of their enterprise, whether measured by social impact, economic value or other sometimes misapplied benchmarks of utility.
    Public funding gravitates towards scientific and medical research, with its more readily appreciated and easily discerned social benefits. In Britain, the fiscal plight of the arts and humanities is so dire that the Institute of Ideas recently sponsored a debate at King’s College London that directly addressed the question, “Do the arts have to re-brand themselves as useful to justify public money?”

    In addition to decrying the rising tide of philistinism, some scholars might also be tempted to agree with Stanley Fish, who infamously asserted that humanities “cannot be justified except in relation to the pleasure they give to those who enjoy them.” Fish rejected the notion that the humanities can be validated by some standard external to them. He dismissed as wrong-headed “measures like increased economic productivity, or the fashioning of an informed citizenry, or the sharpening of moral perception, or the lessening of prejudice and discrimination.”

    Continued in article

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

    The original lawsuit against Capella University sounds a lot like fraud

    "Capella U. Settles Lawsuit Against Former Student," by David Shieh, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 15. 2009 ---

    Capella University announced today that it has settled a countersuit against a former student who sued the online university in June 2005, alleging an antidisability bias.

    The countersuit, which was filed in 2005, claims that the the student, Jeff La Marca, defamed the university and interfered with its business relationships. Mr. La Marca posted online comments and images critical of the university and its lawyers during the course of the original litigation, the university said.

    Mr. La Marca — whose original suit claimed that Capella had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by using technology that did not accommodate his learning disabilities — has issued an apology and will hand over his Web sites to Capella for removal, the university said.

    Mr. La Marca’s original suit was thrown out in November by a federal judge, who ruled that the student was not considered disabled under the Americans With Disabilities Act and that the institution had provided reasonable accommodation. As part of the settlement, Mr. La Marca has also withdrawn his appeal of that decision, the university said.

    Bob Jensen's threads on handicap access in distance education are at

    "Plagiarist Punished (severely) at Florida," by Jack Stripling, Inside Higher Ed, January 15, 2009 --- 

    James Twitchell, a University of Florida English professor, was sanctioned for plagiarism.

    A University of Florida professor who confessed this spring to committing plagiarism was suspended for five years without pay, and opted to retire shortly after the punishment was handed down, university officials confirmed Wednesday.

    The professor, James Twitchell, was a longtime faculty member who was highly regarded for his writings about consumerism and popular culture. He was frequently quoted by national media organizations, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. But when confronted with a significant body of evidence, collected by The Gainesville Sun, Twitchell admitted that he had “cheated by using pieces of descriptions written by others.”

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    The punishment runs counter to the hand slapping that is more frequent faculty punishment for plagiarism ---

    It's Rare for Universities to Fire Tenured Professors Who Plagiarize
    "Columbia U. Says It Will Fire Professor Accused of Plagiarizing a Former Colleague and Students," by  Thomas Bartlett, Chronicle of Higher Education," June 24, 2008 ---

    "President of U. of Texas-Pan American, Accused of Plagiarism, Will Retire," by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 20, 2009 ---
    Click Here

    The embattled president of the University of Texas-Pan American announced today that she would retire at the end of the month, saying the pressures of the job had taxed her health, the Associated Press reported.

    The president, Blandina Cárdenas, faced anonymous accusations last year that she had plagiarized parts of her 1974 doctoral dissertation. She has denied the accusations, which the university system had been investigating.

    David B. Prior, the system’s executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said this afternoon that the system had dropped the investigation, now that Ms. Cárdenas has announced her plans to retire.

    Ms. Cárdenas explained her decision in a written statement posted on the university’s Web site. It said, in part: “The pressures of the last several months have seriously taxed my health and well-being, and impaired my ability to lead the university with the intensity and focus I believe necessary.” She added that, after four and a half years as president, “it is time for me to move on.”

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    You would’ve thought that she would insist on completing the investigation just to clear her name and save her reputation. If she’s innocent the investigation will be all benefit and no cost to her since she resigned.

    Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at

    Bob Jensen's threads on controversies in higher education are at

    Mrs Madoff is also a book cooking fraud
    "A Madoff Cookbook Has a Secret, Too," by Alison Leigh Cowan, The New York Times, January 14, 2009 ---

    The picture comes from a 1996 cookbook called “The Great Chefs of America Cook Kosher: Over 175 Recipes From America’s Greatest Restaurants.” Mrs. Madoff and her friend, as co-authors, wrote in the book of a high-minded mission: exposing kosher palates to new sensations by collecting dishes from famous restaurant chefs that could be prepared in keeping with Jewish dietary restrictions.

    For all the book’s talk of wanting to serve the interests of a “strictly Kosher” crowd, The Daily Mail in London recently reported that Ruth’s husband, Bernard, was quite fond of pork sausages, taboo under any definition of kosher cooking.

    Karen MacNeil, a food and wine expert who was given the title of editor of the project, beneath the two executive editors — Mrs. Madoff and her friend Idee Schoenheimer — disclosed in an interview with The New York Times that she was paid to write the cookbook in its entirety. She said Mrs. Madoff “was interested in having her name on something that would allow for some sort of fun.”

    Continued in article

    Why Madoff's Hedge Fund Could Be Audited by Non-registered Auditors
    We all know that Bernie Madoff's brokerage firm was audited by an obscure 3-person accounting firm that is not registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.  This was permitted because the SEC exempted privately owned brokerage firms from the SOX requirement that firms are audited by registered accountants.  Floyd Norris reports, in today's NY Times, that the SEC has now quietly rescinded that exemption.  As a result, firms that audit broker-dealers for fiscal years that end December 2008 or later will have to be registered.  However, under another SOX provision, PCAOB is allowed to inspect only audits of publicly held companies.  NYTimes, Oversight for Auditor of Madoff.
    "Why an Obscure Accounting Firm Could Audit Madoff's Records," Securities Law Professor Blog, January 9, 2008 ---

    All Reported Trades in Madoff's Investment Fund Were Fakes for 28 Years:  How could the "auditors" not be complicit in the Ponzi fraud?
    "BERNIE'S FAKE TRADES REGULATORS: NO TRACE OF MADOFF STOCK BUYS SINCE 1960s," by James Doran, The New York Post, January 16, 2009 ---

    The mystery surrounding Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme deepened further yesterday after the securities industry's watchdog said there was no evidence that the accused swindler ever traded a single share on behalf of his clients, suggesting financial irregularities going back to the 1960s.

    Officials at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, known as FINRA, told The Post that after examining more than 40 years' worth of financial records from Madoff's now-defunct broker dealer, there are no signs that Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities ever traded shares on behalf of the investment-advisory business at the center of the scandal.

    The startling findings contradict statements that Madoff's advisory clients received showing hundreds, if not thousands of trades, completed by the broker dealer every year.

    "Our investigations of Bernard Madoff's broker dealership showed no evidence that any shares were ever traded on behalf of his investment advisory business," a FINRA spokesman said, adding that the regulator has looked at Madoff's books going back to 1960.

    Ira Lee Sorkin, a Madoff lawyer, declined to comment.

    Madoff was arrested last month after his sons said their father had confessed to them that his investment-advisory business was a Ponzi scheme that had bilked $50 billion out of wealthy friends, vulnerable charities and universities. Madoff remains free on $10 million bail.

    While his advisory business is at the center of the scandal, all signs point to Madoff's broker dealer being a legitimate business that traded shares wholesale on behalf of investment banks, mutual funds and other institutions.

    Madoff was previously vice chairman of FINRA's predecessor NASD. He was also a member of the Nasdaq stock exchange, where he served as chairman of its trading committee.

    Richard Rampell, a Florida-based certified accountant who counts as clients several of Madoff's victims, said his review of dozens of statements supports FINRA's findings.

    "Everything I saw on those statements told me that Madoff was clearing his own trades," he said. "There was no third party mentioned on any of those statements."

    Steve Harbeck, CEO of Securities Industry Protection Corp., the outfit overseeing the Madoff bankruptcy to ensure clients get some sort of compensation, said his findings are similar to FINRA's.

    "I do not have any evidence to contradict that," he said. "This is an amazing story that something like this could have gone on undetected for so long."

    Harbeck added that he believed Madoff has been defrauding clients for at least 28 years. "I have seen evidence to that end and I have nothing to contradict it," he said.

    Why Madoff's Hedge Fund Could Be Audited by Non-registered Auditors?
    We all know that Bernie Madoff's brokerage firm was audited by an obscure 3-person accounting firm that is not registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.  This was permitted because the SEC exempted privately owned brokerage firms from the SOX requirement that firms are audited by registered accountants.  Floyd Norris reports, in today's NY Times, that the SEC has now quietly rescinded that exemption.  As a result, firms that audit broker-dealers for fiscal years that end December 2008 or later will have to be registered.  However, under another SOX provision, PCAOB is allowed to inspect only audits of publicly held companies.  NYTimes, Oversight for Auditor of Madoff.
    "Why an Obscure Accounting Firm Could Audit Madoff's Records," Securities Law Professor Blog, January 9, 2008 ---

    Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates are at

    Is the history of Arthur Levitt Jr. at the SEC so pure?
    He does charge out at $900 per hour ---

    When he was Director of the SEC, Arthur Levitt and his Chief SEC Accountant gave the large auditing firms considerable trouble (unlike SEC Chairmen Harvey Pitt and Chris Cox). But to my knowledge Levitt was pretty much hands off on free-wheeling Wall Street financial institutions and is now probably given too much credence in terms of cleaning up the mess after Chris Cox was the disastrous head of the SEC --- 

    Levitt was easily duped by his close friend Bernie Madoff, probably not separating church and state when Levitt was head of the SEC and Madoff was committing fraud (for over 28 years of phony stock trades in his investment fund that Levitt, Pitt, and Cox left unregulated to the point of not even requiring audits by registered auditing firms).

    From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on January 23, 2009

    Good and Bad Ideas on How to Thwart Another Madoff
    by Kevin Rosenberg, Paul L Comstock, Eunice Bet-Mansour, Ph.D., and Porter Landreth
    The Wall Street Journal

    Jan 10, 2009
    Click here to view the full article on

    TOPICS: Auditing, Fraudulent Financial Reporting, SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission

    SUMMARY: These letters to the editor express a range of opinions on another op-ed piece by Arthur Levitt Jr., former Chairman of the SEC. In Levitt's January 5 Op-Ed piece, he stated that he "never saw an instance where credible information about misconduct was not followed up by the agency."

    CLASSROOM APPLICATION: Understanding the role of the SEC and the skill set needed to fulfill its mission are the primary uses of this article.

    1. (Introductory) Who is Arthur Levitt? Summarize his recent opinion-page piece that led to these letters in response.

    2. (Introductory) What concerns the CPA, Kevin Rosenberg, who describes the types of audit and accounting firms associated with recent financial reporting frauds and failures?

    3. (Advanced) One op-ed writer, Paul L. Comstock, argues that "the SEC can only do so much to protect without paralyzing our capital markets." But does Eunice Bet-Mansour, Ph.D., necessarily call for a greater quantity of regulatory steps to avoid another Ponzi scheme or fraud such as that committed by Mr. Madoff?

    4. (Advanced) What level of skill set does Dr. Bet-Mansour say is needed among SEC staffers? What level of education provides this analytical skill set? In your answer, consider the level of education held by Harry Markopoulos.

    Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

    How the SEC Can Prevent More Madoffs
    by Arthur Levitt, Jr.
    Jan 05, 2009
    Online Exclusive

    Bob Jensen's threads on fraud are at

    Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at

    Another Hedge Fund Ponzi Fraud
    "Police find car of missing Sarasota hedge fund manager,", January 18, 2009 ---

    Police found the car of a missing investment fund manager at the airport this week, authorities confirmed Saturday.

    Arthur G. Nadel, 75, and $350-million of investor money were believed to have vanished this week after Nadel's family reported him missing. Managers of the fund have told investors that the money is gone, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

    Police at the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport found his light green Subaru on Thursday, the Herald-Tribune reported on its Web site Saturday.

    Local authorities were working with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI in the ongoing fraud investigation.

    Investigators were interviewing investors and looking into claims that Arthur G. Nadel stole from them, said Sarasota police Capt. Bill Spitler.

    It was too soon to say how much was invested, but there were reports the hedge fund could be out $350-million. Investors had last heard that their money earned more than 8 percent as of November, despite market losses in a historic economic downturn.

    "The victims that I know of, I know some of them personally, they have no reason to lie," Spitler said.

    Nadel, who operated under the name Scoop Management in Sarasota, was last heard from on Wednesday.

    That morning, his wife, Peg Nadel, saw him getting ready for work, Sarasota Lt. Chuck Lesaltato told the Herald-Tribune.

    About 1:20 p.m., Nadel called stepson Geoff Quisenberry and told him to go home and read the note he left. After doing so, his family reported him missing.

    "It was enough to alarm the family and to show that Mr. Nadel was distraught," Lesaltato said of the note, adding that investigators are concerned about his welfare.

    The missing persons report lists his disappearance as a possible suicide, but Lesaltato was reluctant to describe the letter as a suicide note.

    Quisenberry said Saturday that the family is not yet ready to comment. "We love him. We miss him. We hope that he is safe, and we hope that he comes home," Quisenberry said.

    Art Nadel's ex-wife, Virginia Hoffman, a Sarasota artist, said she ran into her ex-husband six weeks ago. She said she immediately knew something was amiss.

    "I knew something had to be going on," Hoffman said. "I think things must have been coming down around his head, and he was holding on for dear life."

    The couple divorced in 1991 after four years of marriage, though she said they had seen each other for a decade before marrying.

    Continued in article

    "Anti-porn online law dies quietly in Supreme Court," MIT's Technology Review, January 21, 2009 ---

    A federal law intended to restrict children's access to Internet pornography died quietly Wednesday at the Supreme Court, more than 10 years after Congress overwhelmingly approved it.

    The Child Online Protection Act would have barred Web sites from making harmful content available to minors over the Internet. The law had been embroiled in challenges to its constitutionality since it passed in 1998 and never took effect.

    Also Wednesday, the court ruled unanimously in favor of a Massachusetts schoolgirl and her parents in their effort to sue a local school district under both a 1972 law against sex discrimination in education and a post-Civil War civil rights law.

    Federal courts had said that the newer law, Title IX, barring sex discrimination at schools that receive federal money, was the only avenue open to the parents.

    The high court disagreed, although several justices commented when they heard arguments in December that the family probably would lose their lawsuit, even if they won the right to pursue it.

    Their daughter was a 5-year-old kindergarten student when she told them said she was subjected to repeated harassment by a third-grade boy on their school bus.

    The Internet blocking law did not make it as far as a high court hearing. The justices rejected the government's final attempt to revive the law, turning away the appeal without comment.

    The American Civil Liberties Union led the challenge to the law on behalf of writers, artists and health educators. "For over a decade the government has been trying to thwart freedom of speech on the Internet, and for years the courts have been finding the attempts unconstitutional," said Chris Hansen, the ACLU's lead attorney on the case. "It is not the role of the government to decide what people can see and do on the Internet. Those are personal decisions that should be made by individuals and their families."

    A federal appeals court in Philadelphia earlier ruled that the law would violate the First Amendment, saying filtering technologies and other parental control tools are a less restrictive way to protect children from inappropriate content online.

    The act was passed the year after the Supreme Court ruled that another law intended to protect children from explicit material online -- the Communications Decency Act -- was unconstitutional.

    The Bush administration had fought hard to have the law take effect.

    Continued in article

    What's the difference in expected income when a finance graduates in a bull market relative to a bear market?
    Is it bad timing or is it “The End?”

    Timing may be everything in life from getting the right spouse to getting the best job opportunities,
    But for finance majors the career timing factor is huge relative to other college majors such as majors in accounting and engineering

    I estimate that a person who graduates in a bull market and goes to work in investment banking after graduation earns an additional $1.5 million to $5 million relative to what the same person would have earned if he or she had graduated during a bear market and had started his or her career in some other industy.
    Paul Oyer, Stanford University, "The Making Of A Banker: Macroeconomic Shocks, Career Choice, and Lifetime Income," as quoted in the Financial Rounds Blog on January 21, 2009 ---

    Jensen Comment
    Actually, the high flying opportunities for finance majors and MBAs hired by Wall Street firms are probably "ended" for good.
    See "The End" at

    Liars Poker II is called "The End"
    The Not-Funny Punch Line is Not Until Page 9 of This Tongue in Cheek Explanation of the Meltdown on Wall Street!

    Now I asked Gutfreund about his biggest decision. “Yes,” he said. “They—the heads of the other Wall Street firms—all said what an awful thing it was to go public (beg for a government bailout) and how could you do such a thing. But when the temptation arose, they all gave in to it.” He agreed that the main effect of turning a partnership into a corporation was to transfer the financial risk to the shareholders. “When things go wrong, it’s their problem,” he said—and obviously not theirs alone. When a Wall Street investment bank screwed up badly enough, its risks became the problem of the U.S. government. “It’s laissez-faire until you get in deep shit,” he said, with a half chuckle. He was out of the game.

    This is a must read to understand what went wrong on Wall Street --- especially the punch line!
    "The End," by Michael Lewis December 2008 Issue The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong.

    To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.

    I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.

    When I sat down to write my account of the experience in 1989—Liar’s Poker, it was called—it was in the spirit of a young man who thought he was getting out while the getting was good. I was merely scribbling down a message on my way out and stuffing it into a bottle for those who would pass through these parts in the far distant future.

    Unless some insider got all of this down on paper, I figured, no future human would believe that it happened.

    I thought I was writing a period piece about the 1980s in America. Not for a moment did I suspect that the financial 1980s would last two full decades longer or that the difference in degree between Wall Street and ordinary life would swell into a difference in kind. I expected readers of the future to be outraged that back in 1986, the C.E.O. of Salomon Brothers, John Gutfreund, was paid $3.1 million; I expected them to gape in horror when I reported that one of our traders, Howie Rubin, had moved to Merrill Lynch, where he lost $250 million; I assumed they’d be shocked to learn that a Wall Street C.E.O. had only the vaguest idea of the risks his traders were running. What I didn’t expect was that any future reader would look on my experience and say, “How quaint.”

    I had no great agenda, apart from telling what I took to be a remarkable tale, but if you got a few drinks in me and then asked what effect I thought my book would have on the world, I might have said something like, “I hope that college students trying to figure out what to do with their lives will read it and decide that it’s silly to phony it up and abandon their passions to become financiers.” I hoped that some bright kid at, say, Ohio State University who really wanted to be an oceanographer would read my book, spurn the offer from Morgan Stanley, and set out to sea.

    Somehow that message failed to come across. Six months after Liar’s Poker was published, I was knee-deep in letters from students at Ohio State who wanted to know if I had any other secrets to share about Wall Street. They’d read my book as a how-to manual.

    In the two decades since then, I had been waiting for the end of Wall Street. The outrageous bonuses, the slender returns to shareholders, the never-ending scandals, the bursting of the internet bubble, the crisis following the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management: Over and over again, the big Wall Street investment banks would be, in some narrow way, discredited. Yet they just kept on growing, along with the sums of money that they doled out to 26-year-olds to perform tasks of no obvious social utility. The rebellion by American youth against the money culture never happened. Why bother to overturn your parents’ world when you can buy it, slice it up into tranches, and sell off the pieces?

    At some point, I gave up waiting for the end. There was no scandal or reversal, I assumed, that could sink the system.

    The New Order The crash did more than wipe out money. It also reordered the power on Wall Street. What a Swell Party A pictorial timeline of some Wall Street highs and lows from 1985 to 2007. Worst of Times Most economists predict a recovery late next year. Don’t bet on it. Then came Meredith Whitney with news. Whitney was an obscure analyst of financial firms for Oppenheimer Securities who, on October 31, 2007, ceased to be obscure. On that day, she predicted that Citigroup had so mismanaged its affairs that it would need to slash its dividend or go bust. It’s never entirely clear on any given day what causes what in the stock market, but it was pretty obvious that on October 31, Meredith Whitney caused the market in financial stocks to crash. By the end of the trading day, a woman whom basically no one had ever heard of had shaved $369 billion off the value of financial firms in the market. Four days later, Citigroup’s C.E.O., Chuck Prince, resigned. In January, Citigroup slashed its dividend.

    From that moment, Whitney became E.F. Hutton: When she spoke, people listened. Her message was clear. If you want to know what these Wall Street firms are really worth, take a hard look at the crappy assets they bought with huge sums of ­borrowed money, and imagine what they’d fetch in a fire sale. The vast assemblages of highly paid people inside the firms were essentially worth nothing. For better than a year now, Whitney has responded to the claims by bankers and brokers that they had put their problems behind them with this write-down or that capital raise with a claim of her own: You’re wrong. You’re still not facing up to how badly you have mismanaged your business.

    Rivals accused Whitney of being overrated; bloggers accused her of being lucky. What she was, mainly, was right. But it’s true that she was, in part, guessing. There was no way she could have known what was going to happen to these Wall Street firms. The C.E.O.’s themselves didn’t know.

    Now, obviously, Meredith Whitney didn’t sink Wall Street. She just expressed most clearly and loudly a view that was, in retrospect, far more seditious to the financial order than, say, Eliot Spitzer’s campaign against Wall Street corruption. If mere scandal could have destroyed the big Wall Street investment banks, they’d have vanished long ago. This woman wasn’t saying that Wall Street bankers were corrupt. She was saying they were stupid. These people whose job it was to allocate capital apparently didn’t even know how to manage their own.

    At some point, I could no longer contain myself: I called Whitney. This was back in March, when Wall Street’s fate still hung in the balance. I thought, If she’s right, then this really could be the end of Wall Street as we’ve known it. I was curious to see if she made sense but also to know where this young woman who was crashing the stock market with her every utterance had come from.

    It turned out that she made a great deal of sense and that she’d arrived on Wall Street in 1993, from the Brown University history department. “I got to New York, and I didn’t even know research existed,” she says. She’d wound up at Oppenheimer and had the most incredible piece of luck: to be trained by a man who helped her establish not merely a career but a worldview. His name, she says, was Steve Eisman.

    Eisman had moved on, but they kept in touch. “After I made the Citi call,” she says, “one of the best things that happened was when Steve called and told me how proud he was of me.”

    Having never heard of Eisman, I didn’t think anything of this. But a few months later, I called Whitney again and asked her, as I was asking others, whom she knew who had anticipated the cataclysm and set themselves up to make a fortune from it. There’s a long list of people who now say they saw it coming all along but a far shorter one of people who actually did. Of those, even fewer had the nerve to bet on their vision. It’s not easy to stand apart from mass hysteria—to believe that most of what’s in the financial news is wrong or distorted, to believe that most important financial people are either lying or deluded—without actually being insane. A handful of people had been inside the black box, understood how it worked, and bet on it blowing up. Whitney rattled off a list with a half-dozen names on it. At the top was Steve Eisman.

    Steve Eisman entered finance about the time I exited it. He’d grown up in New York City and gone to a Jewish day school, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard Law School. In 1991, he was a 30-year-old corporate lawyer. “I hated it,” he says. “I hated being a lawyer. My parents worked as brokers at Oppenheimer. They managed to finagle me a job. It’s not pretty, but that’s what happened.”

    He was hired as a junior equity analyst, a helpmate who didn’t actually offer his opinions. That changed in December 1991, less than a year into his new job, when a subprime mortgage lender called Ames Financial went public and no one at Oppenheimer particularly cared to express an opinion about it. One of Oppenheimer’s investment bankers stomped around the research department looking for anyone who knew anything about the mortgage business. Recalls Eisman: “I’m a junior analyst and just trying to figure out which end is up, but I told him that as a lawyer I’d worked on a deal for the Money Store.” He was promptly appointed the lead analyst for Ames Financial. “What I didn’t tell him was that my job had been to proofread the ­documents and that I hadn’t understood a word of the fucking things.”

    Ames Financial belonged to a category of firms known as nonbank financial institutions. The category didn’t include J.P. Morgan, but it did encompass many little-known companies that one way or another were involved in the early-1990s boom in subprime mortgage lending—the lower class of American finance.

    The second company for which Eisman was given sole responsibility was Lomas Financial, which had just emerged from bankruptcy. “I put a sell rating on the thing because it was a piece of shit,” Eisman says. “I didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to put a sell rating on companies. I thought there were three boxes—buy, hold, sell—and you could pick the one you thought you should.” He was pressured generally to be a bit more upbeat, but upbeat wasn’t Steve Eisman’s style. Upbeat and Eisman didn’t occupy the same planet. A hedge fund manager who counts Eisman as a friend set out to explain him to me but quit a minute into it. After describing how Eisman exposed various important people as either liars or idiots, the hedge fund manager started to laugh. “He’s sort of a prick in a way, but he’s smart and honest and fearless.”

    “A lot of people don’t get Steve,” Whitney says. “But the people who get him love him.” Eisman stuck to his sell rating on Lomas Financial, even after the company announced that investors needn’t worry about its financial condition, as it had hedged its market risk. “The single greatest line I ever wrote as an analyst,” says Eisman, “was after Lomas said they were hedged.” He recited the line from memory: “ ‘The Lomas Financial Corp. is a perfectly hedged financial institution: It loses money in every conceivable interest-rate environment.’ I enjoyed writing that sentence more than any sentence I ever wrote.” A few months after he’d delivered that line in his report, Lomas Financial returned to bankruptcy.

    Continued in article

    Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker: Playing the Money Markets (Coronet, 1999, ISBN 0340767006)

    Lewis writes in Partnoy’s earlier whistleblower style with somewhat more intense and comic portrayals of the major players in describing the double dealing and break down of integrity on the trading floor of Salomon Brothers.

    Continued at at 

    "Director Capture," The Icahn Report, January 20, 2009 ---

    Jonathan Macey is Deputy Dean and Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance, and Securities Law at Yale Law School. He is the author most recently of Corporate Governance: Promises Made, Promises Broken (Princeton University Press, 2008) available at 

    The Icahn Report has exposed: (1) abuses in the use of golden parachute agreements; (2) many of the false premises behind the faulty assumption that corporate elections are "democratic" event that legitimize corporate boards; (3) the entrenchment effects of staggered boards of directors and, most importantly perhaps; (4) the sheer corruption of law and morality that is represented by the continued legality and adoption of poison pill defensive devices.

    In my next two blog postings I would like to bring my own, admittedly academic perspective to two topics that are, I believe, highly relevant to the agenda of this blog. The first topic is the problem of "board capture" among boards of directors of public companies. The second is the general problem with shareholder democracy caused by defects in the shareholder voting process.

    Director Capture

    In the academic world, particularly among political scientists and economists, "capture" occurs when decision-makers such as corporate directors favor certain vested interests such as incumbent management, despite the fact that they purport to be acting in the best interests of some other group, i.e. the shareholders. The problem of capture and the theories associated with the idea of capture are most closely associated with George Stigler, and the free-market Chicago School of Economic thought. Among the more interesting and important theories of Stigler and other proponents of capture theory is the idea that capture is not only possible, in many contexts it is inevitable.

    In my recent Princeton University Press book "Corporate Governance: Promises Made: Promises Broken" I apply capture theory, which is usually used to describe and model the behavior of bureaucrats in the public sector, to the directors of publicly traded companies who come to their positions through the board nominating committee.

    In my view, such directors are highly susceptible to capture… even more susceptible than bureaucrats and politicians. Capture is inevitable because management controls the machinery of the corporate election process. Management's narrow interest in having passive and supportive boards manifests itself in the appointment of docile directors who are likely to support management's initiatives and unlikely to challenge management or to demand that managers earn their compensation by maximizing value for shareholders.

    The extension of capture theory to corporate boards of directors is supported not only by foundational work in political science and economics but also by important work in social psychology. Directors participate in corporate decision-making. In doing so, these directors, as a psychological matter, come to view themselves in a very real way as the owners of the strategies and plans that the corporation pursues. And of course, these plans and strategies inevitably are proposed by incumbent management. Thus, directors inevitably risk simply becoming part of the management "team" instead of the vigorous outside monitors and evaluators that they are supposed to be. Management’s persistent support of and acquiescence in the proposals of management consistently renders directors incapable of objectively evaluating these strategies and plans later on. Of course this is not the case when the directors represent hedge funds or other large investors who have a large financial stake in making sure that the company prospers.

    Another factor leading to board capture is the fact that boards of directors have conflicting jobs. They are supposed not only to monitor management, but also to select and evaluate the performance of top management. After top managers have been selected, the boards of directors making the selection decisions are highly likely to become committed to these managers. For this reason, as board tenure lengthens, it becomes increasingly less likely that boards will remain independent.

    The theory of "escalating commitments" predicts that decision-makers such as corporate directors will come to identify strongly with management once they have endorsed the strategies and decisions made by management. Earlier board decisions supporting management, once made and defended, will affect future board decisions such that later decisions comport with earlier decisions. As the well-respected Cornell psychologist Thomas Gilovich has shown, "beliefs are like possessions" and "[w]hen someone challenges our beliefs, (for example the belief of directors that management is highly competent) it is as if someone [has] criticized our possessions."

    The cognitive bias that threatens boards of directors and other proximate monitors is a manifestation of what Daniel Kahneman and Dan Lovallo have described as the "inside view." Like parents unable to view their children objectively or in a detached manner, directors tend to reject statistical reality (such as earnings performance or stock prices) and view their firms as above average even when they are not. The first step in dealing with the problem of board capture is to recognize that the problem exists.

    Boards should be free to choose whether they wish to be trusted advisors of management or whether they want to be credible monitors of management. They can’t be both. We should stop pretending that they can.

    One policy proposal would be for companies to have two boards of directors (as they do in Germany and the Netherlands), one for monitoring and one for assisting in the management of the company. Firms that decide to retain the single board format should be required to choose whether their board should devote itself to "monitoring" (or supervising) management or to advising (or managing along with) the company’s CEO and the rest of the management team. The farce that board can do both should end.

    Boards that purport to monitor or supervise management should be held to an extremely high standard of independence. Management should not be involved in any way in the recruitment or retention of these board members. Socializing and gift-giving should be prohibited. And, of course, managers themselves should not be allowed to sit on monitoring boards. Managers should not be allowed to serve as the chairmen of monitoring boards.

    Independence standards should be relaxed for the boards of companies that elect to participate in management. Decisions that involve a conflict between the interests of shareholders and the interests of management should be subjected to close scrutiny. Such decisions include decisions about executive compensation of all kinds, particularly bonus and severance payments, as well as decisions about such things as the adoption of staggered terms for the board or the adoption of a poison pill rights plan.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at

    Bob Jensen's threads on great minds in management are at

    "Online Student's Struggles With Linux Make Her an Online Celebrity," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 16, 2009 ---

    Abbie Schubert figured it would be simple: She’d buy a laptop and take an online course to keep up with her college career while working two jobs to make ends meet. But when she accidentally bought a Dell computer loaded with the free Linux operating system instead of Windows, she encountered roadblocks that led her to cancel her class and take the semester off.

    This week her story—first reported by her local television station in Madison, Wis.—made her an online celebrity of sorts. More than 130,000 people viewed the station’s story after it was discussed on Slashdot and other popular technology blogs. That drew an immediate response from Dell—and plenty of nasty messages from Linux fans.

    I called Ms. Schubert at one of her jobs today, and she took a few minutes’ break to tell her story.

    Ms. Schubert said she had never heard of Ubuntu, a popular version of Linux, until she ordered a $1,100 laptop from Dell’s Web site last fall and accidentally chose Linux as the pre-loaded operating system. Once she realized her mistake, she called the company, and a Dell employee told her that Ubuntu would do everything she needed as a college student. So she gave it a try, hoping to take a course at Madison Area Technical College.

    But she said that she had been unable to install the proper drivers to connect to her high-speed Internet provider, because she said the drivers on the installation disk were not compatible with Linux. Because she could not connect to the Internet, she decided to cancel her online course—this was last semester—and take the term off.

    For the past few months, she said, she has been calling Dell and trying to get the company to give her Windows instead, to no avail. So she contacted her local TV station’s consumer-reports tip line.

    The story drew several angry letters from Linux users to the television station, according to the station’s Web site. Several insulted the student’s intelligence, and called the television station biased against Linux and technically inept. “Perhaps it’s for the best that the young lady doesn’t attend college,” said one of the letters to the station, “I don’t think it would be a good fit for her.”

    Ms. Schubert told The Chronicle that reading such comments has been frustrating. “I in no way intended to offend people who like the Ubuntu system, it’s just not what I wanted,” she said. “My issue is that I ordered this computer so that I could run with it, but I don’t want to spend more time and money learning how to learn a new operating system. I just think I was treated unfairly by Dell.”

    A spokesman for Dell, David Frink, said that Ubuntu is not a default option on any of the company’s laptops, and that customers must go out of their way to select it. He also said that when consumers choose Ubuntu, Dell’s Web site warns them that the product is not Windows. Mr. Frink also said that Ms. Schubert did not call Dell to complain until several months after her purchase, after the 30-day return period had lapsed.

    Today two different officials from Dell called Ms. Schubert, and she said she is now confident her issues will be resolved. She plans to take the online course this semester.

    Linux fans pointed out, and some of them in kind terms, that Ms. Schubert could indeed have connected to her Internet service provider and run the software she needed to do her college work using the free operating system. Perhaps the take-away point is that it’s not always easy to get the technology needed to take courses online, despite all the hype about how accessible online education can be.

    From the Scout Report on January 16, 2009

    MailStore Home --- 

    People who need to backup their emails with little fuss will want to give MailStore Home a whirl. The programs works with a variety of email account types (including Thunderbird and Outlook) to provide a complete backup of all email files. After the backup is created, users can leave it in the MailStore application or export it as a file. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 2000 and newer.

    Canaware NetNotes 5.0 --- 

    If you use the Web quite a bit, you'll want to take a closer look at Canaware's NetNotes application. This handy tool allows users to save various webpages into their own knowledge base for easy access. The application has some nice tools, including the ability to capture select portions of webpages, such as specific paragraphs and images. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 95 and newer.

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

    This financial dictionary dictionary looks great
    January 20, 2009 message from Financial Dictionary []

    Dear Bob Jensen,

    You have great collection of accounting, financial and online resources! I find your page  very helpful. Our site Financial Dictionary -  contains articles about the most popular and commonly used financial terms. If you find it a good resource for your visitors please, consider adding it to your list of useful web sites.

    Thank you for your time Rachel Holberg

    Bob Jensen's accounting and finance glossaries ---

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    Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

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    Occupational Safety and Health for Public Safety Employees: Assessing the Evidence and the Implications for Public Policy ---

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    SFMOMA: Explore Modern Art ---

    From the Scout Report on January 16, 2009

    Research posits that Victorian novels may have aided the cause of altruism and fairness in society Victorian novels helped us evolve into better people, say psychologists  

    Victorian novels like Pride and Prejudice teach us how to behave  

    Hierarchy in the Library: Egalitarian Dynamics in Victorian Novels --- 

    Believing in 19th century novels 

    Gruel served up to hungry public 

    Medieval Food and Cooking: Gruel Recipes

    Bob Jensen's threads on history tutorials are at
    Also see  

    Language Tutorials

    Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

    Writing Tutorials

    Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

    Updates from WebMD ---

    Seriously, You Maybe Should Get a Tattoo

    "The Glucose-Monitoring Tattoo:  A novel nanosensor could be used for skin-based glucose sensing," by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, January 26, 2009 ---

  • It's a modern medical twist on an ancient art. Scientists at Draper Laboratory, in Cambridge, MA, are developing a nanosensor that could be injected into the skin, much like tattoo dye, to monitor an individual's blood-sugar level. As the glucose level increases, the "tattoo" would fluoresce under an infrared light, telling a diabetic whether or not she needs an insulin shot following a meal. The researchers have already tested a sodium-sensing version of the device in mice, and will soon begin animal tests of the glucose-specific sensor.

    The most reliable way to measure blood sugar is by pricking the finger for a tiny blood sample and using enzyme-laden test strips to detect glucose. In an attempt to free diabetics from this time-consuming and expensive regime, a number of novel glucose-sensing technologies are under development, from implanted devices that continually monitor blood sugar and dispense insulin, to noninvasive sensors that detect glucose through the skin via infrared light.

    Heather Clark and her colleagues are developing something designed to operate in between these two extremes. The material consists of 120-nanometer polymer beads coated with a biocompatible material. Within each bead is a fluorescent dye and specialized sensor molecules, designed to detect specific chemicals, such as sodium or glucose.

    When injected into the skin, the sensor molecule pulls the target chemical--say, sodium--into the polymer from the interstitial fluid, which surrounds cells. To compensate for the newly acquired positive charge of a sodium ion, a dye molecule releases a positive ion, making the molecule fluoresce. The level of fluorescence increases with the concentration of the chemical target. Scientists can swap in different recognition molecules to measure different targets, including chloride, calcium, and glucose. The range of concentrations that the sensor can detect can be varied by altering the ratio of the components, depending on whether it is important to measure precise concentrations or more broad variability.

    The sodium sensor, which could one day be used to monitor dehydration, has shown early success in animals. When injected into rodents' skin, the beads stay put and fluoresce in response to saline injections. The researchers have developed a glucose sensor that works via a similar mechanism. It has been shown to work in a solution but has not yet been tested in animals.

    In the long term, Clark envisions a sensor that would be injected into the surface layers of the skin, shallower than tattoo inks "so that it sloughs off over time," she says. A fluorescence monitor, resembling an optical mouse, would then be used to measure the light emitted by the tattoo, and the sensor would be reinjected periodically.

    "It's unique because it doesn't have any components to be used up," says Clark. Glucose strips, for example, use an enzyme to detect glucose, which needs to be continually replaced. "Other monitors, even nanosensors, have a limited lifetime, which makes implanting them difficult," she says.

    Continued in article

  • Jensen Comment
    Think of it as a way for your partner to monitor just how sweet you really are, especially with Valentine's Day approaching.

    "A Virus That Rebuilds Damaged Nerves: Genetically engineered viruses could form a scaffold for nerve cells. by Katherine Bourzac, MIT's Technology Review, January 22, 2009 ---

    Viruses that mimic supportive nerve tissue may someday help regenerate injured spinal cords. While other tissue-engineering materials must be synthesized and shaped in the lab, genetically engineered viruses have the advantage of being self-replicating and self-assembling. They can be designed to express cell-friendly proteins on their surfaces and, with a little coaxing, be made into complex tissuelike structures. Preliminary studies show that scaffolds made using a type of virus called a bacteriophage (or phage) that infects bacteria but cannot invade animal cells can support the growth and organization of nerve cells.

    Researchers working on tissue engineering hope to eventually be able to use a patient's own cells to grow replacement tissue for damaged hearts, livers, and nerves. But mimicking the structure and function of the body's tissue has proved difficult. Matrices of supportive, fibrous proteins sustain the cells of the heart, lungs, and other tissues in the body. These scaffolds provide both structural support and chemical signals that enable an organ or nerve tissue to function properly.

    Some biological engineers are using scaffolds made of polymers to try to mimic the supportive matrix of real tissue. Seung-Wuk Lee, a bioengineer at the University of California, Berkeley, has turned to viruses instead. "Viruses are smart materials," he says. "Once you construct the genome, you can make billions of phages, and they're self-replicating materials." The phage that Lee is working with, called M13, is long and thin like the protein fibers that make up the cellular matrices inside the body.

    First, Lee and his colleague Anna Merzlyak genetically engineered M13 to display nerve-friendly proteins on their outer coats. These proteins are known to help nerve cells proliferate, adhere, and extend into long fiberlike shapes. Next, the researchers grew large numbers of the viruses in bacterial-cell hosts and dropped them into a solution containing neural-progenitor cells. These cells are more fully developed than stem cells but are still young and need coaxing to form new tissues. In the solution, the viruses align themselves like a liquid crystal, says Lee. He and Merzlyak used pipettes to inject the solution into agar, a Jell-O-like cell-culture medium, creating long, nerve-like fibers of the virus interspersed with cells. The progenitor cells then multiplied and grew the long branches characteristic of neurons. Lee says that the phage are well suited to making long, fiberlike structures such as nerve tissue but can also be made into more complex structures by varying their concentration or manipulating their position with a magnetic field.

    Lee is not the first to use a virus as an engineering material. Other researchers have used the same virus to build battery electrodes. Using the virus in this way was pioneered by Angela Belcher, now a professor of materials science and engineering and of biological engineering at MIT, and was the basis of Lee's graduate work while he was in her lab. Genetically engineered phages have already been approved as an antibacterial food preservative by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for use in lunch meats like bologna, for example. Phages are also under study as a potential treatment for chronic bacterial infections.

    MIT Institute Professor Robert Langer says that Lee's work is interesting from a materials perspective, but he cautions that its practicality must be established through in vivo studies.

    Lee says that his group plans to establish the safety of phage scaffolds in live animals next. M13 has a good safety record and is not capable of infecting people. Still, the Berkeley researchers will need to investigate how an animal's immune system responds to the viral scaffolds and prove that they encourage nerve regeneration once inside the body. Lee hopes that the viral system will eventually be used to regenerate neurons in patients with spinal-cord injuries.

    "Caffeine Can Cause Hallucinations," LiveScience, January 13, 2009 ---

    People who take in the caffeine equivalent of three cups of brewed coffee (or seven cups of instant) are more likely to hallucinate, a new study suggests.

    The researchers found that people with a caffeine intake that high, whether it came from coffee, tea, chocolate or caffeinated energy drinks or pills, had a three-times-higher tendency to hear voices and see things that were not there than those who consumed the equivalent of a half-cup of brewed coffee (or one cup of instant coffee).

    Though most people who drink loads of coffee are not known to hallucinate seriously, when these types of experiences interfere with daily functioning, they are considered to be psychotic.

    Seven cups of instant coffee contain a total of 315 milligrams of caffeine, according to data used by the researchers. That translates to about six cups of strong tea, nine colas, four Red Bulls and about one-and-a-half cups of coffee at a boutique café.

    Wide range of effects

    Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that temporarily wards off drowsiness and restores alertness. Some 90 percent of North Americans consume some of form caffeine every day. It is the world's most widely used drug, researchers say.

    Caffeine is completely absorbed by the stomach and small intestine within 45 minutes of ingestion.

    In moderation, caffeine can increase the capacity for mental or physical labor, but when used in excess, it also can be intoxicating, causing nervousness, irritability, anxiety, muscle twitching, insomnia, headaches and heart palpitations, other studies have shown.

    The researchers at Durham University say the findings will contribute to the beginnings of a better understanding of the effect of nutrition on hallucinations and other forms of psychotic behavior, such as delusions and schizophrenia. Changes in food and drink consumption, including caffeine intake, could help people cope with or prevent hallucinations, say the scientists. The results are detailed in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

    Caffeine exacerbates stress

    In the study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council, 200 non-smoking students at a United Kingdom university were asked about their typical intake of caffeine-containing products, such as coffee, tea and energy drinks, as well as chocolate bars and caffeine tablets.

    Their stress levels and their propensity to have hallucinatory experiences were also assessed. Seeing things that were not there, hearing voices, and sensing the presence of dead people were amongst the experiences reported by some of the participants.

    The explanation could be that caffeine has been found to exacerbate the physiological effects of stress. When under stress, the body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. More of this hormone is released in response to stress when people have recently had caffeine.

    This extra boost of cortisol may link caffeine intake with an increased tendency to hallucinate, said study leader Simon Jones, a graduate student at Durham's Psychology Department.

    Hallucination links

    Jones and his colleague assumed that psychotic experiences, including hallucinations, "exist on a continuum stretching into the healthy population," so they studied the relationship between caffeine and hallucinations in a healthy population, rather than a population of mental patients or those on antipsychotic medication. Previous research has highlighted a number of factors, such as childhood trauma, which may lead to clinically relevant hallucinations, Jones said.

    Many such factors are thought to be linked to hallucinations in part because of their impact on the body's reaction to stress. Given the link between food and mood, and particularly between caffeine and the body's response to stress, it seems sensible to examine what a nutritional perspective may add.

    "Hallucinations are not necessarily a sign of mental illness," Jones said. "Most people will have had brief experiences of hearing voices when there is no one there, and around three percent of people regularly hear such voices. Many of these people cope well with this and live normal lives."

    Those who cannot cope should seek professional help.

    Caffeine for coping?

    It is possible that the association between caffeine intake and hallucinations was due to the fact that people who are prone to associations tend to use caffeine to help them cope with their experiences, said Durham psychologist Charles Fernyhough, who worked with Jones on the research.

    Continued in article

    Caring for a family member is a responsibility many people bear. It can also be a source of income
    So-called "caregiver agreements" -- formal contracts under which relatives are hired to care for elderly family members -- have been around for a while. But with the economic downturn, more families may be open to entering into such arrangements, some attorneys and caregiver advocates say. Financial transfers made under a caregiver agreement generally aren't considered gifts, an important consideration if an elderly person later hopes to qualify for Medicaid, the joint federal/state program that covers nursing-home care. The contracts can also provide assurances to other family members about the cost and quality of care being delivered and reward caregivers for the long hours they put in. The agreements need to be carefully crafted, and there are tax consequences.
    Gloria E, Knight, The Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2009 ---

    From the Scout Report on January 16, 2009

    Research posits that Victorian novels may have aided the cause of altruism and fairness in society Victorian novels helped us evolve into better people, say psychologists  

    Victorian novels like Pride and Prejudice teach us how to behave  

    Hierarchy in the Library: Egalitarian Dynamics in Victorian Novels --- 

    Believing in 19th century novels 

    Gruel served up to hungry public 

    Medieval Food and Cooking: Gruel Recipes

    "The top 25 Bushisms of all time," by Jacob Weisberg, Slate, January 12, 2009 ---

    Being able to laugh at yourself is a rare quality in a leader. It's one thing George W. Bush can do that Bill Clinton couldn't. Unfortunately, as we bid farewell to Bushisms, we must conclude that the joke was mainly on us.

    1. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

    2. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family."—Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000

    3. "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"—Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000

    4. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country."—Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

    5. "Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican."—declining to answer reporters' questions at the Summit of the Americas, Quebec City, Canada, April 21, 2001

    6. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.''—Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001

    7. "I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."—Washington, D.C., April 18, 2006

    8. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."—Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

    9. "I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that."—discussing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as quoted by the Sun newspaper, June 27, 2007

    10. "And so, General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq."—meeting with Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2008

    11. "We ought to make the pie higher."—South Carolina Republican debate, Feb. 15, 2000

    12. "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."—Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

    13. "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it."—speaking on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007

    14. "We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the pacemakers."—Houston, Sept. 6, 2000

    15. "It's important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It's not only life of babies, but it's life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet."—Arlington Heights, Ill., Oct. 24, 2000

    16. "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures."—U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 3, 2000

    17. "People say, 'How can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil?' You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you."—Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002

    18. "Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness."—CNN online chat, Aug. 30, 2000

    19. "I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend."—on the prospect of visiting Denmark, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2005

    20. "I think it's really important for this great state of baseball to reach out to people of all walks of life to make sure that the sport is inclusive. The best way to do it is to convince little kids how to—the beauty of playing baseball."—Washington, D.C., Feb. 13, 2006

    21. "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."—LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000

    22. "You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war president. No president wants to be a war president, but I am one."—Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 26, 2006

    23. "There's a huge trust. I see it all the time when people come up to me and say, 'I don't want you to let me down again.' "—Boston, Oct. 3, 2000

    24. "They misunderestimated me."—Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000

    25. "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."—Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008


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    Moodle  --- 

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

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    AECM (Educators) 
    AECM is an email Listserv list which provides a forum for discussions of all hardware and software which can be useful in any way for accounting education at the college/university level. Hardware includes all platforms and peripherals. Software includes spreadsheets, practice sets, multimedia authoring and presentation packages, data base programs, tax packages, World Wide Web applications, etc

    Roles of a ListServ ---

    CPAS-L (Practitioners) 
    CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments, ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed. Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or education. Others will be denied access.
    Yahoo (Practitioners)
    This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA. This can be anything  from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
    This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and taxation.
    Business Valuation Group 
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    Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
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