My barn is dead center in the above picture and the golf club house is to the left.
We had some thawing a couple of weeks ago --- Hated it!
Now we have deep snow --- Love not having to worry about hurricanes.

America, what is happening to you?
“One thing seems probable to me,” said Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, in September 2008....“the United States will lose its status as the superpower of the global financial system.” You don’t have to strain too hard to see the financial crisis as the death knell for a debt-ridden, overconsuming, and underproducing American empire . . .
Richard Florida, "How the Crash Will Reshape America," The Atlantic, March 2009 ---

I started saving up in the barn to buy a new snow shovel in about six years.


The government gave them 105% for their $200,000 subprime mortgage.
They then sold the house for $37,000, got married, and are escaping from California.

So are we now that we flipped the doghouse!

Governor Duval Patrick is proudly displaying the new scarlet letter that is legally  required for all
Massachusetts residents when paying cash outside their home state. Sales tax collection and
remittance treaties are being forged with the other 49 states and all international jurisdictions
Click Here
His state-owned Caddy can then be upgraded to a Lamborghini.

Sunrise, sunset (above when looking east). How swiftly go the days.
My neighbor no longer has this beautiful white mare that I miss.

Below is the golf course in a different season.

At least we don't have hurricanes. But we do have gale force winds.
Below is an ancient maple tree blew down last summer next to a
an inn down our road known as the Homestead.

Top 30 Pictures in 2008 ---
See more at

The Wooden Bowl ---

Thank You America --- Click Here

Il Divo - Amazing Grace (beautiful performance) ---

Farmer and the Lord (Jim Reeves) ---



Tidbits on February 20, 2009
Bob Jensen

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to
For earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to 

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

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

CPA Examination ---

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

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 )

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---

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 ---

How to Teach Moral Skill and Moral Will (a great Barry Schwartz Video)---
Thank you Jagdish

Video Charity Appeal:  Please Sponsor An Executive ---
Bob Jensen's supporting documentation ---
I suggest you skip Merrill Lynch (now Bank of America) executives since 696 of them just got $1 million each as a bonus for destroying shareholder value.

Lou Dobb's Video on Where the Pork is Embedded in the Stimulus Sausage ---

Science at a Distance: E-Learning Modules ---

Baby Knows Her States (video) ---
Now if she'd just unload her diapers on the blue ones.

The American Form of Government (but can it be sustained?) ---

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art ---

Victoria and Albert Museum: Medieval & Renaissance ---

BBC: Witnessing the Holocaust

Art 21 (art and war video) ---

Online Mini-Golf ---

Video ---    [chronicle_com]  or  Click Here
Watch a coed park her bike and then watch a University VP steal the bike
The video, without the text, is also at
He subsequently resigned and gave up a salary of over $400,000 per year
One of the comments at the end of the article provides a clue as to what is really sad in this instance ---

Video of an Accounting Researcher
Accounting Professor John Hughes (Ernst & Young accounting professor at UCLA)
Four Minute Video: Does Information Asymmetry Affect the Cost of Capital?
Jensen Comment
With some rather innocent sounding assumptions, Modigliani and Miller, in a famous ground breaking study, showed that the amount of leverage is cost-of-capital neutral when making decisions to issue debt versus equity. I think the current collapse of large and highly leveraged banks brings market efficiency assumptions into question. In particular the moderating effect of cash traders depends upon deep markets that often just do not exist when insiders are either bailing out big time or jumping in deep based upon information asymmetry in inefficient markets. As with all empirical model findings, the assumptions should be severely analyzed. Also in the present economic crisis cost-of-capital expectations are all messed up when and if Uncle Sam interferes in the private markets. The Treasury Department will most certainly demand less information asymmetry before deciding how much to help troubled banks.

Free music downloads ---

If My Nose (Country?) Was Running Money  ---

Bailout Rap ---

Belle of 14th Street (Barbara Streisand) ---

I Just Don't Look Good Naked Anymore ---

Not the Sharpest Tack in the Box ---

Bailout Humor and Music Videos (forwarded by David Albrecht)

Sponsor a CEO:
Where's my bailout?
Would buy weed if given bailout
Santa Claus bailout
Subprime meltdown
Bailout man song
Twelve days of bailouts
700 Billion Dollar Bailout - the Song
Wall Street Bailout Song
"Give it to me" Bailout Rap
The SubPrime Blues #2, Will Inflate Stated Income for Food
SubPrime Blues
Foreclosure Blues


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 ---

Bob Jensen listens to music free online (and no commercials) --- 

Photographs and Art

Great Photos Slide Show ---

Top 30 Pictures in 2008 ---
See more at

Rare photo of the ‘end’ of the rainbow (no pot of gold) ---
Jensen Comment
This is a type of photo that is easily faked.

Art 21 (art and war video) ---

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art ---

BBC: Witnessing the Holocaust

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Auschwitz Through the Lens of the SS ---

Victoria and Albert Museum: Medieval & Renaissance ---

First Ladies --- 

National First Ladies' Library  ---


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 ---

GreenHomeGuide ---

Mondegreen (link forwarded by Paula) ---

W.P. Davies Newspaper Columns ---

New York Review of Books ---

Electronic Literature Directory ---

How to Publish in Top Journals ---

Arts and Letters Daily ---

From the Nature Journal of Science
Archives of 19th Century Science (Free Online editions of Nature) ---

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
Free Tutorials in Various Disciplines ---
Edutainment and Learning Games ---
Open Sharing Courses ---

Porkulouse (oops I meant to say Stimulus) Package by the Numbers
SmartPros, February 15, 2009 ---
Side-by-side comparison of House vs. Senate versions ---

America, what is happening to you?
“One thing seems probable to me,” said Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, in September 2008....“the United States will lose its status as the superpower of the global financial system.” You don’t have to strain too hard to see the financial crisis as the death knell for a debt-ridden, overconsuming, and underproducing American empire . . .
Richard Florida, "How the Crash Will Reshape America," The Atlantic, March 2009 ---

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
Alexander Tyler. 1787 - Tyler was a Scottish history professor that had this to say about 2000 years after "The Fall of the Athenian Republic" and about the time our original 13 states adopted their new constitution.
As quoted at (where the debt clock in real time is a few months behind)
The National Debt Amount This Instant (Refresh your browser for updates by the second) ---

You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
Ronald Reagan
Jensen Comment
 In a desperate attempt to propose a profit plan, GM and the United Auto Workers now advocate taxpayer funding for retiring workers in GM at age 48 and over. If GM instead goes bankrupt, taxpayers may end up funding existing retirees over age 65, but the younger workers may actually have to accept lower wages in a restructuring plan for GM.  That means they would have to keep on working for a living but accept Toyota-like non-union wage rates which are less than the UAW $70 per hour average.

It is apparent that we've learned nothing from several millennia of monetary destruction. The persistent demonstration that capital, not paper, is the basis for prosperity has fallen on deaf ears. Daily, we face the sad spectacle of government officials, pundits, and even Nobel laureates (read that Paul Klugman from the Zimbabwe School of Finance) telling us that printing money is the answer to an economic downturn.
"Printing Like Mad," Mises Economic Blog, February 15, 2009 ---
For more details see

My choices early in life were either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference."
Harry Truman 

Let Wall Street get a nightmare, and the whole country has to help get them to bed again.
Will Rogers

The prudent capitalist will never adventure his capital . . . if there exists a state of uncertainty as
to whether the Government will repeal tomorrow what it has enacted today.

Former President William Henry Harrison

The US president has just four years to save the planet.
Professor James McCarthy, BBC News, February 12, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
Gosh, I thought there was a slim chance Obama might be re-elected to a second term.

If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.
Dilbert's Words of Wisdom as quoted in a recent email message from Patricia Doherty

Lou Dobb's Video on Where the Pork is Embedded in the Stimulus Sausage ---

"Putin warns US to eschew socialism," by Clarice Feldman, American Thinker, February 20, 2009 ---

Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin has said the US should take a lesson from the pages of Russian history and not exercise “excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence”.

“In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute,” Putin said during a speech at the opening ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.”[Snip.]

Sounding more like Barry Goldwater than the former head of the KGB, Putin said, “Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors, and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.”

Putin also echoed the words of conservative maverick Ron Paul when he said, “we must assess the real situation and write off all hopeless debts and ‘bad’ assets. True, this will be an extremely painful and unpleasant process. Far from everyone can accept such measures, fearing for their capitalization, bonuses, or reputation. However, we would ‘conserve’ and prolong the crisis, unless we clean up our balance sheets.”

The government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers. By adoption of these principles, the taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity.
Abraham Lincoln (I wonder why this just does not work in Zimbabwe?)

Ruth was just due to get her hair and nails done:  That's not suspicious or anything
Ruth Madoff Withdrew $15.5 Million From Madoff Brokerage Before Bust
Joe Weisenthal, The New York Times, February 11, 2009 --- Click Here

Question:     What's $2+$3,269,999,999,998?
Accountant   What would you like it to total? We strive to keep our clients happy.
Politician:     I voted for $789,000,000 but I've never been real good with big numbers having lots of commas.
Economist:   Why it's 33 Yen in terms of the anticipated foreign exchange rate ten years from now.
Congressional Budget Office:
$3,270,000,000,000 --- but please don't tell on us

All of the major news outlets are reporting that the stimulus bill voted out of conference committee last night has a meager $789 billion price tag. This number is pure fantasy. No one believes that the increased funding for programs the left loves like Head Start, Medicaid, COBRA, and the Earned Income Tax Credit is in anyway temporary. No Congress under control of the left will ever cut funding for these programs. So what is the true cost of the stimulus if these spending increases are made permanent? Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) asked the Congressional Budget Office to estimate the impact of permanently extending the 20 most popular provisions of the stimulus bill. What did the CBO find? As you can see from the table below, the true 10 year cost of the stimulus bill $2.527 trillion in in spending with another $744 billion cost in debt servicing. Total bill for the Generational Theft Act: $3.27 trillion.
"True Cost of Stimulus: $3.27 Trillion," Heritage Foundation,  February 12, 2009 ---
Also see
Jensen Comment
The above article has a pretty good summary table --- the best that I've seen to date.
The Big Spenders ---

Lou Dobb's Video on Where the Pork is Embedded in the Stimulus Sausage ---
But Lou fails to look at the long-term, multi-year entitlement links in this string of sausage.

But wait, there's $3.3 trillion more more!
Disagreeing with Roubini (about nationalizing the banks) has not been rewarding. He predicted the current economic collapse with precision long before most economists. His forecasts for the next year or so seem reasonable and are widely viewed as a good road map for what is likely to be ahead for GDP and employment. However, he may not be right with his estimate that total banks write-offs due to toxic financial instruments sold by U.S. will be about $3.3 trillion worldwide. That is well above projections by most economists and the IMF. Nationalization of U.S. banks would cause hundreds of billions of dollars of losses to the common and preferred stockholders in the firms. This, in turn, could cause the failure of some investment funds that hold those shares.
"The Case for Nationalizing the Entire Economy," Time Magazine, February 16, 2009 ---,8599,1879745,00.html
Jensen Comment
After the disaster experience in Japan, I think it's best to just let the banks fail that are going to fail. Many companies rise up after declaring bankruptcy and reorganization. This will be painful for shareholders, including investment funds that hold shares, but such is the risk of equity investing.

But many experts predict that the current crisis may trump tradition. Two large American banks are especially at risk: Citigroup, which received a $300 billion federal aid package -- mostly in the form of loan guarantees late last year -- and Bank of America, the beneficiary of a similar $120 billion program earlier this year. Many experts believe the two bailouts, despite the massive amounts of money involved, did little to take the banks away from the edge of insolvency, and the federal government can take little further action without becoming the majority stakeholder. They note that Washington is already seeking to impose strict controls without ownership, such as the limits on executive pay that Congress included in the recent economic stimulus bill.
"Has the Time Come to Nationalize Struggling Banks? Yes, but Carefully," University of Pennsylvania's knowledge@wharton, February 18, 2009 ---

Reporting from the Chicago commodity pits, my CNBC colleague Rick Santelli unleashed a torrent of criticism against this scheme. Santelli said: “Government is promoting bad behavior. . . . Do we really want to subsidize the losers’ mortgages? This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage? President Obama, are you listening? How about we all stop paying our mortgages! It’s a moral hazard.” All this took place on the air, to the cheers of traders. Santelli called for a new tea party in support of capitalism. He’s right.
Eric Eheridge, Rick Santelli:  Tea Party Time, The Opinionator, February 20, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
If there must be a program to keep people living in homes that would otherwise be foreclosed, why not lend these homeowners the funds they need to keep living in their homes. But the Federal Government should place a lien on the house title that says the emergency loan given to homeowners must be repaid if the property is sold or the owners die. That way a an unemployed homeowner cannot simply make thousands of of dollars from a quick sale to pay for a fabulous short term lifestyle (perhaps buying expensive narcotics) and then end up in public housing. This lien-plan would let homeowners remain in their homes and pay nothing on their mortgages until they have the incomes to repay the government and eventually make some profit above what is still owing on their emergency loan. Why should we reward this bad behavior by letting them sell their homes and keep all the proceeds as a reward for bad behavior when they agreed to mortgages they knew they could never pay off or ignorant behavior for signing fraudulent loans. What we are otherwise doing is building massive fraud on top of the massive fraud we have at the moment.
Update:  After his rant on the trading floor, President Obama invited Rick Santelli to the Whitehouse --- Click Here

Barney believes the tooth fairy will repay the U.S. Treasury!
While the Federal Reserve has provided $1.95 trillion to troubled banks and other financial institutions, "Almost all of that is coming back," Frank said. "I think we should make a distinction between hundreds of billions spent on the TARP [Troubled Assets Relief Program] and the hundreds and hundreds of billions spent on the war in Iraq which isn't coming back. I am struck by the selectivity with which we worry about expenditures."
Dave Cook, "Barney Frank: Happy ending possible despite economic mess," CBMonitor, February 16, 2009 ---

The Czech Republic will offer a free plane ticket and 500 euros ($649) to foreign workers who voluntarily agree to return home after losing their jobs in the economic downturn, the government said on Monday. The sweeteners are among measures to cope with security risks stemming from rising unemployment among foreign workers in the EU member country, Interior Minister Ivan Langer said.
"Czech Republic to pay unemployed foreigners to go home," Reuters, February 9, 2009 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
If the U.S. gave such a deal to go home south of the Rio Grande, recipients would be back north of the river in a week.

Gasp:  Corny Exhaust Can Be Harmful to Lungs
Switching from gasoline or corn-based biofuels to cellulosic ethanol--made from the stalks and stems of plants--could have more health and environmental benefits than previously recognized, according to a study of different types of transportation fuels. The environmental and health costs associated with cellulosic ethanol are less than half those of gasoline and of corn ethanol, the study found.
Anna Davison, MIT's Technology Review, February 17, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
I hope Al Gore gets a big whiff of this.

Indeed it might not be worth breaking a sweat if the stimulus bill was going to spend the measly $168 billion that George Bush's tax rebates threw at the economy last year. Nobody gets upset anymore if Washington wastes a hundred billion dollars. But coming after four months of the TARP's dizzying billions spent in futility, we get a president proposing to spend nearly $1,000,000,000,000 on what he calls "stimulus." Even a populace numb to its government's compulsive spending woke up to that fantastic sum.  . . . The whole congressional effort is an irrelevant sideshow; only the final spending number matters. The economics don't matter, because the real political purpose of the bill is to neutralize this issue until the economy recovers on its own. Much of its spending is a massive cash transfer to the party's union constituencies; a percentage of that cash will flow back into the 2010 congressional races. The bill in great part is a Trojan horse of Democratic policies not related to anyone's model of economic stimulus. Finally, if this bill's details are irrelevant to the presumed multiplier effect of an $800 billion Keynesian stimulus, GOP Sen. Susan Collins's good-faith participation in it looks rather foolish.
Daniel Henninger, "Exactly How Does Stimulus Work? Separating economics from theatrics," The Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2009 ---

Thain Pain:  Merrill Lynch Bonuses of Over $1 Million to Each of 696 Executives
Rewarded for making their company so profitable for shareholders? (Barf Alert!)

Merrill Lynch quietly paid out at least one million dollars bonus each to about 700 top executive even when the investment house was bleeding with losses last year, a probe has revealed. They were part of 3.6 billion dollars in the firm's bonus payments in December before the announcement of its fourth quarterly losses and takeover by Bank of America, the investigation by the New York state Attorney General's office showed. "696 individuals received bonuses of one million dollars or more," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said of the Merrill scandal in a letter to a lawmaker heading the House of Representatives financial services committee.
"Merrill bonuses made 696 millionaires: probe," Yahoo News, February 11, 2009 ---

I think the FBI may be hiring
The FBI is conducting more than 500 investigations of corporate fraud amid the financial meltdown, the bureau's deputy director told a Senate panel Wednesday. Deputy Director John Pistole also said 38 of the 530 total active corporate fraud investigations involve fraud and financial institution matters directly related to the economic crisis. Additionally, the FBI has more than 1,800 mortgage fraud investigations, more than double the number of such cases just two years ago. There are so many mortgage fraud cases, Pistole said, that the bureau is not focusing on individual purchasers, but industry professionals generating fraud schemes that could total...
"FBI Probing 530 Corporate Fraud Cases," Fox News, February 11, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
Looks like Marvene may be off the hook ---

At the Airport With $70,000 in his shoes
An American fugitive accused in a $100-million (U.S.) mortgage fraud was caught at the Canadian border after taking a taxi from Toronto with $1-million in Swiss bank certificates and $70,000 stuffed in his shoes, authorities said Wednesay. Authorities said Christopher Warren also was carrying four ounces of platinum valued at more than $1,000 an ounce when he was arrested entering the United States at Buffalo, N.Y., before midnight Tuesday. Mr. Warren is the second of three fugitives to be caught in the investigation of Loomis Wealth Solutions, an investment company based in Roseville, Calif., and several related companies. Court documents say they had defrauded investors and mortgage companies of $100-million since 2006. The deals involved 500 homes and condominiums in California, Florida, Nevada, Illinois, Colorado and Arizona, Internal Revenue Service affidavits said. Mr. Warren admits his guilt in an essay appearing online, and blames himself and his colleagues for helping to cause the U.S. financial meltdown by creating hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent mortgages that went bad.

"Fugitive financier arrested at U.S. border," The Globe and Mail (Canada), February 12, 2009 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on the sleaze of fraudulent mortgage lending ---
Read about poor Marvene ---
How you can adopt Christopher Warren --- ----

Long Time WSJ Defenders of Wall Street's Outrageous Compensation Morph Into Hypocrites
At each stage of the disaster, Mr. Black told me -- loan officers, real-estate appraisers, accountants, bond ratings agencies -- it was pay-for-performance systems that "sent them wrong." The need for new compensation rules is most urgent at failed banks. This is not merely because is would make for good PR, but because lavish executive bonuses sometimes create an incentive to hide losses, to take crazy risks, and even, according to Mr. Black, to "loot the place through seemingly normal corporate mechanisms." This is why, he continues, it is "essential to redesign and limit executive compensation when regulating failed or failing banks." Our leaders may not know it yet, but this showdown between rival populisms is in fact a battle over political legitimacy. Is Wall Street the rightful master of our economic fate? Or should we choose a broader form of sovereignty? Let the conservatives' hosannas turn to sneers. The market god has failed.
Thomas Frank, "Wall Street Bonuses Are an Outrage:  The public sees a self-serving system for what it," The Wall Street Journal, February 4, 2009 --- 
Bob Jensen's threads on outrageous compensation are at

SEC = Suckers Endup Cheated
David Albrecht, Bowling Green University"

In 2007, The Harris Poll found that fully 71% of the public who understood what the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) did rated the job it was doing positively (i.e., excellent or pretty good). A new Harris Poll finds that only 29% of all adults now give the SEC positive ratings, a huge drop of 42 points. Almost three-quarters (71%) give the SEC negative ratings.
"Positive Rating of SEC Plunges 42 Points," SmartPros, February 16, 2009 ---
Much of this fall is the fault of the worst SEC Director in History ---

At last the cause of the forest fires in Australia and California is revealed
The religious group that condemned Heath Ledger to hell for his role in Brokeback Mountain, is back – this time attacking the victims of the Victoria fires. The Westboro Baptist Church – founded by Reverend Fred Phelps in Topeka, Kansas - claims that sinning Australians are the cause of the bushfires that raged across Victoria, and plan to picket the national day of mourning on February 22. In a statement, the group says “God hates Australia” and “thank God for the fiery deaths of hundreds”. “The guilty Australians will not repent of their national sins of the flesh … even after God killed hundreds in the fires and cast them into hotter fire and brimstone in hell,” it says. The controversial church - whose core belief is that God will punish those who support homosexuality - has previously had its sights on Australia, slamming The Dark Knight star Heath Ledger for his role as a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain and protested at the late actors memorial services in the US.
Ian Rokowski, "Westboro Baptist Church attacks victims of Victoria bushfires, plans mourning day picket," Australia's ---,27574,25067362-2,00.html
Jensen Comment
But how do we explain the tornados in Kansas?

Alcalde & Fay partner Vicki Iseman has settled her $27 million defamation lawsuit against The New York Times and several of its reporters. Iseman, a Washington lobbyist, sued the Times over a story published last February during the presidential campaign season that she claimed inaccurately depicted her as having an affair with Republican candidate Sen. John McCain. Iseman says, "I am pleased that The New York Times on behalf of its reporters, editors and company has issued a retraction and clarification." Iseman’s statement continues, "The New York Times, its reporters and editors, should and must be held accountable when their investigations, reporting, and written words migrate from legitimate to illegitimate with the affect of destroying human beings based on innuendos, rumors and the reckless attributions of 'anonymous sources.'"
Marisa McQuilken, "New York Times Settles With Lobbyist Over McCain (Affair) Story," New York Lawyer, February 20, 2009 --- Click Here

You won't hear executives at MSNBC chanting "yes we can." The network that they cobbled together as a TV version of the left-wing screed Air America is in the ratings dumper. Advertising dollars that have never been easy are getting thinner. Since the inauguration of Barack Obama, Bill O'Reilly and the Fox News Channel have owned prime time. One night last week, for example, O'Reilly scored 3.5 million views compared to Olbermann's 1.4 million. Keith Olbermann may need to go back to sports. MSNBC is in big trouble without Bush to bash. Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and even Chris Matthews have filled their shows with nothing but anti-Bush hysteria for the last year. Now that their punching bag-in-chief has left Washington, they are lost. Bush hating came naturally for MSNBC; their commentators lampooned "Dubya" at every opportunity. In addition to attacking Bush, they enjoyed trumpeting bad news with the hopes that it would make President Bush look bad.
Floyd and Mary Beth Brown, "MSNBC is in Big Trouble Without Bush to Bash," Townhall, February 16, 2009 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
It's difficult to play "hard ball" and incessantly lick the boots of the Democratic Party monopoly at the same time.

The Obama Administration is expected within the next few weeks to announce an initiative of $50 billion (which Barney Frank honestly claims is not near enough) or more to help strapped homeowners. But with 1 million residences having fallen into foreclosure since 2006, and an additional 5.9 million expected over the next four years, the Obama plan—whatever its details—can't possibly do the job by itself. Lenders and investors will have to acknowledge huge losses and figure out how to keep recession-wracked borrowers making at least some monthly payments. So far the industry hasn't shown that kind of foresight. One reason foreclosures are so rampant is that banks and their advocates in Washington have delayed, diluted, and obstructed attempts to address the problem. Industry lobbyists are still at it today, working overtime to whittle down legislation backed by President Obama that would give bankruptcy courts the authority to shrink mortgage debt. Lobbyists say they will fight to restrict the types of loans the bankruptcy proposal covers and new powers granted to judges.
Brian Grow, Keith Epstein and Robert Berner, "How Banks Are Worsening the Foreclosure Crisis How the banking industry is undermining efforts to keep people in their houses," Business Week, February 12, 2009 --- 

Re-arranging the deck chairs on the USS SEC
We understand why Ms. Schapiro would want to show some love to the staff after the blistering attack it received last Wednesday on the Hill. Said liberal New York Congressman Gary Ackerman, "You have totally and thoroughly failed in your mission." Then he went negative, referring to the SEC's difficulty in finding a part of the human anatomy "with two hands with the lights on." Mr. Markopolos added that his many interactions with the agency "led me to conclude that the SEC securities' lawyers, if only through their investigative ineptitude and financial illiteracy, colluded to maintain large frauds such as the one to which Madoff later confessed." . . . If Ms. Schapiro seeks to learn from the SEC's recent history, she might start by considering the most basic lesson from the Madoff incident. Private market participants spotted the fraud, while SEC lawyers couldn't seem to grasp it. Rather than giving her staff lawyers still more autonomy, she should instead be supervising them more closely, while trying to harness the intelligence of the marketplace. Meantime, investors should remember that their own skepticism and diversified investing remain their best defenses against fraudsters.
"Just Don't Mention Bernie:  Unleashing the SEC enforcers who were already unleashed," The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2009 ---
Also see "High "Power Distance" at the SEC: Why Madoff Was Allowed to Take Investors Down with Him," by Tom Selling, The Accounting Onion, December 10, 2009 --- 

I don't think we in the U.S. are as low a power distance society as we fashion ourselves, and the redistribution of wealth that has been occurring since the 1980s may be pushing us inexorably towards Colombia. Also, it wasn't difficult for me to think of a few examples of where the SEC in particular has been exhibiting symptoms characteristic of a high power distance country:
  • When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton simply replied, "Because that's where the money is." Lately, it seems that the SEC staff (i.e., the "co-pilots,") has shied away from the big money, out of a mirror-image version of the self-interest (survival, in case of a staff member) that motivated Mr. Sutton. And that fear is not merely paranoia, as tangibly illustrated recently when a former SEC investigator was fired after pursuing evidence that John Mack, Morgan Stanley's CEO, allegedly had tipped off another investment company about a pending merger.
  • The Christopher Cox administration instituted an unprecedented policy that required the Enforcement staff to obtain a special set of approvals from the Commission in order to assess monetary penalties as punishment for securities fraud. Mary Schapiro, the new SEC chair, claims that the policy, among other deleterious effects, "discouraged staff from arguing for a penalty in a case that might deserve a penalty…" In other words, the co-pilots were "encouraged" to keep a lid on embarrassing news that reflected badly on members of the pilot class.
  • And, lest you should not labor under any illusion that enforcement of accounting rules is a level playing field, consider the case in 1992 (I think) when the SEC effectively handed out special permission to AT&T to account for its acquisition of NCR as a "pooling of interests." Quite evidently, the SEC staff could not bring the bad news to the "pilots" that the merger with NCR would not happen just because AT&T did not technically qualify for the accounting it so sorely "needed." To put it in the stark terms of today, the merger was simply "too big to fail." (And perhaps not coincidentally, acquiring NCR proved to be one of the biggest wastes of shareholder wealth in the history of AT&T.)

Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" threads are at

So our conclusion is that the net stimulus to short-term GDP will not be zero, and will be positive, but the stimulus is likely to be modest in magnitude. Some economists have assumed that every $1 billion spent by the government through the stimulus package would raise short-term GDP by $1.5 billion. Or, in economics jargon, that the multiplier is 1.5. That seems too optimistic given the nature of the spending programs being proposed. We believe a multiplier well below one seems much more likely . . . In addition, although politics play an important part in determining all government spending, political considerations are especially important in a spending package adopted quickly while the economy is reeling, and just after a popular president took office. Many Democrats saw the stimulus bill as a golden opportunity to enact spending items they've long desired. For this reason, various components of the package are unlikely to pass any reasonably stringent cost-benefit test ... Our own view is that the short-term stimulus from the legislation before Congress will be smaller per dollar spent than is expected by many others because the package tries to combine short-term stimulus with long-term benefits to the economy. Unfortunately, short-term and long-term gains are in considerable conflict with each other. Moreover, it is very hard to spend wisely large sums in short periods of time. Nor can one ever forget that spending is not free, and ultimately it has to be financed by higher taxes.
Nobel Laureate Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy, "There's No Stimulus Free Lunch:  It's hard to spend wise and spend fast," The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2009 ---

Japan has been through countless "stimulus" packages over the past 18 years, none of which has accomplished a thing apart from driving that country deeply into debt. And after years and years of government attempts to give artificial stimulus to the stock market and the real estate sector, the Japanese stock market is now about where it was in the mid-1980s, and real estate is selling, on average, for the same prices it was in 1975. The same is true of the American economy of the 1930s, the decade in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt was supposedly lifting the country out of the Great Depression. Far from restoring prosperity, Roosevelt did everything he could to interfere with the economy's adjustment from depression to health. Thus instead of letting prices and wages move freely so the economy could reallocate resources rationally, he kept wages artificially high (and workers artificially unemployable) and propped up consumer prices. More pertinent to our situation, FDR's make-work programs dwarfed even Herbert Hoover's public-works spending, which had allocated more funds for that purpose in four years than had been spent in the previous 20. Billions of dollars later, what FDR had succeeded in doing was to divert resources from a private sector starved for capital, and thereby weaken the forces of recovery. When genuine wealth generators have to compete with government for labor and resources, the productive sector is weakened at the hands of the parasitic sector. From 1933 to 1940, the unemployment rate averaged 18 percent. As the 1930s ended, FDR's Treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, wrote in his diary: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.... We have never made good on our promises.... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started...and an enormous debt to boot!"
Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse.  Read a free chapter at and visit Tom at

Consider his campaign pledges: It wasn’t too long ago that Obama promised to “tell the corporate lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.” Ah, the corporate lobbyist, every candidate’s favorite whipping boy. “They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my White House, and they will not drown out the voices of the American people when I am president,” Barack once swore to his sea of idolizing worshipers.That was then; this is now. President Obama has allowed seventeen exceptions to the no-lobbyist rule. And remember that “sunlight before signing” pledge, giving citizens enough time to read a bill — and offer their opinions on it — before it is signed into law? Well, that’s gone to the wayside, too.
Nicholas Giriglia, "Obama’s Broken Promises Were Entirely Predictable," Pajamas Media, February 14, 2009 ---

Dining on Pork
"The Return of Welfare As We Knew It:  The House stimulus bill endangers Clinton's biggest reform," The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2009 ---

Twelve years ago, President Bill Clinton signed a law that he correctly proclaimed would end "welfare as we know it." That sweeping legislation, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, eliminated the open-ended entitlement that had existed since 1965, replacing it with a finite, block grant approach called the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

TANF has been a remarkable success. Welfare caseloads nationally fell from 12.6 million in 1997 to fewer than five million in 2007. And yet despite this achievement, House Democrats are seeking to undo Mr. Clinton's reforms under the cover of the stimulus bill.

Currently, welfare recipients are limited to a total of five years of federal benefits over a lifetime. They're also required to begin working after two years of government support. States are accountable for helping their needy citizens transition from handouts to self-sufficiency. Critically, the funds provided to states are fixed appropriations by the federal government.

Through a little noticed provision of the stimulus package that has passed the House of Representatives, the bill creates a fund for TANF that is open-ended -- the same way Medicare and Social Security are.

In the section of the House bill dealing with cash assistance to low-income families, the authors inserted the bombshell phrase: "such sums as are necessary." This is a profound departure from the current statutory scheme, despite the fact that, in this particular bill, state TANF spending would be capped. The "such sums" appropriation language is deliberately obscure. It is a camel's nose provision intended to reverse Clinton-era legislation and create a new template for future TANF reauthorizations.

Most liberals have always disliked welfare reform; critics of TANF believed Mr. Clinton supported it only to get re-elected. Some asserted it was racist or intended to punish the poor. Others claimed that the funds to assist single mothers with child care, transportation and job training were never as generous as were allegedly promised. Today, the fact that disqualification from the program is based on failing to secure a job within two years seems especially harsh given this economic crisis.

There are legitimate objections to the program that are worth debating. But this is not an open debate: It is a near secret provision buried deep in a more than 600-page piece of legislation.

The TANF provisions of the stimulus bill, like the nearly $100 billion Medicaid provisions, are less about stimulating the economy, and more about the federal government absorbing the states' budget problems. State budgets may be swamped with those needing temporary relief, and a contingency fund could help. But it should be a definite amount, not a precedent-setting, open-ended amount. (If the initial TANF allocation is not sufficient, Congress could appropriate another definite amount.)

The offending language is not in yesterday's Senate version of the bill, but that provides little comfort. The attempt to undo welfare reform has not been transparent, and the conference committee provides the perfect closed-door environment for slipping in "such sums" language into the final bill without public scrutiny.

Welfare reform was arguably the most important legislative development of the mid-1990s. It is bad policy to jettison it with five words during an economic crisis.

All who are concerned about our nation's unfunded obligations should be on guard against attempts to slip "such sums" language into any conference committee bill. Welfare policy is too important to change with a stealth maneuver.

Mr. Sasse, former U.S. assistant secretary of Health and Human services, teaches policy at the University of Texas. Mr. Weems, former vice chairman of the American Health Information Community, held the position of administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services until last month.

In his remarks, every gloomy statistic on the economy becomes a harbinger of doom. As he tells it, today's economy is the worst since the Great Depression. Without his Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he says, the economy will fall back into that abyss and may never recover . . . .The latest survey pegs U.S. unemployment at 7.6%. That's more than three percentage points below the 1982 peak (10.8%) and not even a third of the peak in 1932 (25.2%). You simply can't equate 7.6% unemployment with the Great Depression . . . Mr. Obama's analogies to the Great Depression are not only historically inaccurate, they're also dangerous. Repeated warnings from the White House about a coming economic apocalypse aren't likely to raise consumer and investor expectations for the future. In fact, they have contributed to the continuing decline in consumer confidence that is restraining a spending pickup. Beyond that, fearmongering can trigger a political stampede to embrace a "recovery" package that delivers a lot less than it promises. A more cool-headed assessment of the economy's woes might produce better policies.
Bradley Schiller, "Obama's Rhetoric Is the Real 'Catastrophe' In 1932, automobile production shriveled by 90%," The Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2009 ---

"This is probably the worst bill that has been put forward since the 1930s," says Harvard University's liberal macroeconomist ---

"An interview with Robert Barro (Harvard Professor of Economics)," by Conor Clarke, The Atlantic, February 5, 2009 ---

I wanted to speak with Professor Barro after reading his piece in the Wall Street Journal about the multiplier on government spending. The piece, which argued that the multiplier has historically been much lower than the Obama administration hopes, produced a tremendous amount of response -- from Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, Greg Mankiw, Matt Yglesias, and Tyler Cowen (some of them several times). And that response was notable, in part, because it turned into a reflection on the "standards" of the stimulus debate itself. I was interested to hear what Barro thought about his critics this debate.

He was admirably patient with my questions:

Conor Clarke: What I am trying to do is sort of apply a barometer to modern macroeconomics and see where the profession is, because I am sort of confused by a lot of things.

Robert Barro: [laughs] Probably the fault of the profession.

Well, one thing I am confused by is where all of this resurgent interest and fiscal policy came from. That's very broad. But where do you think it came from? When I took macroeconomics in college there was not a lot about fiscal policy.

It came from the crisis and memories of the Great Depression and the fact that monetary policy seems to have done not a tremendous amount, and conventional stuff doesn't look like its going to work anymore. And it's about grasping at straws to try and find something else.

And I take it from the Wall Street Journal piece you wrote last week... well, the piece is just specifically about measuring multipliers, but I take it that you are fairly skeptical in general that fiscal policy will boost aggregate demand.

Right. There's a big difference between tax rate changes and things that look just like throwing money at people. Tax rate changes have actual incentive effects. And we have some experience with those actually working.

What would you say is the best empirical evidence there?

Well, you know, it worked to expand GDP for example in '63 and '64 with the Kennedy/Johnson cuts. And then Reagan twice in '81 and '83 and then in '86. And then the Bush 2003 tax-cutting program. Those all worked in the sense of promoting economic growth in a short time frame.

I'm the middle of a study where I am trying to estimate this overall, going back to 1913 -- sort of constructing some measure of the overall effect of the tax rate at the margin, at the moment. I'm just looking at that now, actually...

You're talking about the multiplier on a dollar of...

Well both things, but here I'm talking about the tax rate stuff. Get some measure of the effect of marginal tax rate that comes from the government -- federal, state, local. And then you can see what it looks like going down or going up and how the economy responds. And then, in addition to that, the government might be spending more or less money on either military stuff or not on military stuff. And we can estimate that at the same time. With the government spending stuff, the clearest evidence is in wartime. It's not that it's the most pertinent, but it's the clearest in terms of evidence because it's the dominating evidence at those times, especially during the world wars.

Do you read Paul Krugman's blog?

Just when he writes nasty individual comments that people forward.

Oh, well he wrote a series of posts saying he thought the World War II spending evidence was not good, for a variety of reasons, but I guess...

He said elsewhere that it was good and that it was what got us out of the depression. He just says whatever is convenient for his political argument. He doesn't behave like an economist. And the guy has never done any work in Keynesian macroeconomics, which I actually did. He has never even done any work on that. His work is in trade stuff. He did excellent work, but it has nothing to do with what he's writing about.

I'm not in a position to...

No, of course not.

I'm not in a position to know things like the degree to which Paul Krugman counts as a relevant expert on new Keynesian economics.

He hasn't done any work on that. Greg Mankiw has worked in that area.

And Greg Mankiw is, I guess, skeptical of spending for the same reasons that you are: he says that there's some empirical evidence -- I think he cites the Christina Romer study from 15 years ago -- that a dollar of tax cutting has a larger impact than...

The Romer evidence is very recent actually. It's an ongoing project.

I thought it's from 1993 or something like that. Maybe that's something else.

They have a current thing that's going to be presented at Brookings at the next meeting, where they have some estimates of how the economy responds to tax changes. It's not really looking at tax rates. It's looking at tax revenue, which is not the same thing. That's mostly what Greg was referring to, which is going to be presented in a few months.

I would need to go back and check. But one question, and I think Greg Mankiw raises this question as well, is, Why does this set of evidence depart from what seems like the standard Keynesian theory that a dollar of spending would have a larger multiplier than a dollar of tax cutting?

I don't think it is really confusing at all, because when you cut taxes there are two different effects. One is that you cut tax rates, and therefore give people incentives to do things like work and produce more and pay more -- maybe, depending on what kind of taxes. And then you also maybe give people more income. This income effect is the one that's related to this Keynesian multiplier argument, where it's usually argued that government spending should have a bigger effect. So that's the income effect. But the tax-rate effect, inducing people to do things like work and produce more and invest more, is a whole separate effect, and that could easily be much bigger than the multiplier thing, than the income thing.  

This might just be my confusion, but the inducement to work, is separate from the idea of boosting aggregate demand and consumption in the short run.

Oh it's exceptionally different. But the experiment is that the government is doing something by changing the tax system to lower its collections -- by, for example, a tax cut. The response of the economy to that is not going just to isolate this business of giving people money. It's also going to have these incentive effects, more than tax rebates, on economic activity. It's going to be a combination of those two things -- income effects and incentive effects. One piece looks like this sort of multiplier stuff, which is analogous to government spending -- probably because the government spending has a first-round effect where it comes in and directly affects the aggregate demand -- and then in the second round it sort of looks like a tax cut. That's why the government spending thing is bigger in textbooks: because it has this first round in addition to all these subsequent ones.

But all that is just income responses -- people having more or less income, or the government keeping the money and then that shows up as people's income.  None of that is about responses in terms of incentives -- incentives changing in response to lower or higher tax rates. And the evidence that Romer and Romer look at is combining the tax rate stuff with the income stuff. I didn't know it was possible to do that but, hey, you get different viewpoints form different people. But the study I am doing now is intended to include all these things together in one framework.

And when does this study come out?

Who knows. I mean, it's a big project, we've been working on it for a while. Part of it is just measuring, back since 1913, the effect of the tax rate that the federal government or the total government is levying on people. Measuring that was a big project. But we've sort of finished that.

I just have two more questions, quickly. One is that you've mentioned that monetary policies sort of seem to be stuck. And I guess there have been a couple of people -- Robert Lucas is one that comes to mind and maybe Greg Mankiw too -- who say there are other kinds of monetary policy that can still be pursued.

Oh I agree with that. There are things that they can still do. The sort of standard stuff. They drove the nominal rates on the usual government paper down to zero, and they drove down the federal funds rate, so they don't have any more leeway on that. But there is plenty of other stuff that they can do and that they are doing.

And what is that?

The Federal Reserve is buying up all kinds of other assets, like long-term government bonds. But they are also buying a lot of private stuff, and that will presumably have a substantial impact. I mean there's a downside to doing all this, but it should certainly have effects. So in that sense they haven't run out of ammunition. I agree with that.

The last thing is just about the stimulus bills as it stands. Two things here. One thing is what do you think about the ratio of spending to tax relief in the bill. And the second is, if you judge it by Larry Summers standard -- that stimulus be temporary, timely and targeted -- does it clear the bar?

This is probably the worst bill that has been put forward since the 1930s. I don't know what to say. I mean it's wasting a tremendous amount of money. It has some simplistic theory that I don't think will work, so I don't think the expenditure stuff is going to have the intended effect. I don't think it will expand the economy. And the tax cutting isn't really geared toward incentives. It's not really geared to lowering tax rates; it's more along the lines of throwing money at people. On both sides I think it's garbage. So in terms of balance between the two it doesn't really matter that much.

Well, presumably Larry Summers is not an idiot.

[laughs] That is another conversation. I have known him for 25 years, and I have opinions about that.

Well, presumably Christina Romer is not an idiot if you're...

They've brought in some reasonable people in terms of economic advisors. I don't know what impact they're having, and I suppose they have different views on Keynesian macroeconomics than I have. But I'm giving you my opinion about it.

I think Geithner is a good appointment. I think he's going to focus on what really matters, which is the financial system and the housing market. That's where they should be putting their efforts. That's where the problems came from.

Fixing the credit market, you mean?

That was the main problem in the Great Depression, too. Though then it was concentrated on commercial banks which were the main credit vehicle. That was the main problem in the depression and fixing that was the main thing that ended the depression.
Well since you brought it up... I have no idea what your views are on financial economics, but it seems like there's going to be another round of TARP-like bailouts. Do you have an opinion on how that should be structured?

That's a hard problem. I mean, they're basically floundering around -- the crew of the previous administration more than the current one. But I admit they're having a good effect by putting more resources into assistance. The exact way to do it is pretty tricky. It's not clear what the best thing to do is. Larry Summers did bring in Jeremy Stein, who is probably one of the best people in the area. I think he's going to have a lot of impact on that design. I hope so. That's another person they hired recently.

From Harvard?

Yeah, he's a Harvard economics department person. He's in the White House. Summers brought him in to advise particularly on the financial and housing issues, the design of the new regulations structure. That was an excellent appointment. That's the stuff that's really going to count. Not this spending thing. I mean democrats were waiting with all these ridiculous projects, and now they've got an excuse to bring it through politically.

Just one last thing. I think Joe Biden and a couple other people have said there's a fairly wide consensus among economists that fiscal stimulus in the form of a large spending bill is the way to go, and...

He said first that every economist thought that.

Well, that's Joe Biden hyperbole. But what is the lay of the land there? Presumably there are economists out there that take this seriously. And then there are economists out there who think there's a one-for-one crowding out with any government spending. And I guess, where does the profession fall on that spectrum?

Most economists haven't really been thinking about this issue, they haven't really focused on it. It's not their specialty. Most economists today, they haven't really been thinking about this kind of multiplier issue. Which goes back to that first question you asked about how come now we're so worried about this. I don't think most economists are focused on this, or that they're familiar with the empirical evidence. I don't think they've really worked on the theory. So I don't know, maybe they have some opinion that they got from graduate school or something.

I think my sense is that the sentiment has been moving against this kind of approach both within the economics profession and more broadly. I think the initial view was that "yeah, this is a terrible situation" -- which I agree with -- "and we've got to do something about this, and maybe this will work." I think there was support in that sense.

Are there any conditions under which you might think spending could have a positive effect on output or is it always going to be the case that as a relative matter that tax cuts are going to be better?

Tax cuts are bound to be better.

I think the best evidence for expanding GDP comes from the temporary military spending that usually accompanies wars -- wars that don't destroy a lot of stuff, at least in the US experience. Even there I don't think it's one for one, so if you don't value the war itself it's not a good idea. You know, attacking Iran is a shovel-ready project. But I wouldn't recommend it.

Bob Jensen's threads on the Stimulus Act mess are at

The Dollar (a Glenn Beck Video) --- '

America, what is happening to you?
Much has been made of the subprime debacle. But few seem to be willing to talk about another looming crisis: credit card debt. People like Nouriel Roubini, the professor who has predicted much of this crisis, have estimated that you could have losses of as much as $3.6 trillion, which would bankrupt the industry. What do you make of that number? And since credit card defaults are correlated to employment, what happens if unemployment goes as high as 10 percent or more? What is the highest unemployment level that you’ve used in your forecasting models? And do you have adequate reserves for your worst-case situation? If your assumptions are wrong, what happens?

Andrew Ross Sorkin, "Up Next for Bankers: A Flogging," The New York Times, February 9, 2009 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on the bailout mess are at

"General Motors to Invest $1 Billion in Brazil Operations -- Money to Come from U.S. Rescue Program," by Russ Dallen, Latin American Herald Tribune, February 9, 2009 ---

After spending over $1 billion of its stimulus gift in Brazil, GM asks for more
General Motors Corp., nearing a federally imposed deadline to present a restructuring plan, will offer the government two costly alternatives: commit billions more in bailout money to fund the company's operations, or provide financial backing as part of a bankruptcy filing, said people familiar with GM's thinking. The competing choices, which highlight GM's rapidly deteriorating operations, present a dilemma for Congress and the Obama administration. If they refuse to provide additional aid to GM on top of the $13.4 billion already committed they risk seeing an industrial icon fall into bankruptcy.
The Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2009 ---

America, what is happening to you?
“One thing seems probable to me,” said Peer Steinbrück, the German finance minister, in September 2008....“the United States will lose its status as the superpower of the global financial system.” You don’t have to strain too hard to see the financial crisis as the death knell for a debt-ridden, overconsuming, and underproducing American empire . . .
Richard Florida, "How the Crash Will Reshape America," The Atlantic, March 2009 ---

Meet Marion and Herb Sandler

Time Magazine lists 25 men and women to blame for the financial crisis along with, for some unknown reason, their physical stature. They include some familiar faces (Phil Gramm, Alan Greenspan, Hank Paulson, Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Frank Raines) and some less familiar faces (Angelo Mozilo, Joe Cassano, Ian McCarthy, Kathleen Corbet, Dick Fuld, Jimmy Cayne, David Oddsson, and Herb and Marion Sandler). For some reason Time Magazine leaves out some of the key culprits like Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Cox who forced Fannie Mae and Freddie to buy up toxic subprime mortgages issued to poor people who had no hope of even paying property taxes and utility bills on homes let alone mortgage payments. But the List of 25 is an interesting array of culprits for the blame game, especially those like the Sandlers who walked away billionaires while leaving taxpayers to clean their empty barns. Others like Mozilloo, Casano, Cayne, O'Neal, and Fuld made over $500 million but fell short of $1 billion in walk-away loot.

Especially note that CBS Sixty Minutes on February 15 did a special on Marion and Herb Sandler. This along with the Wall Street Journal piece on Mervene really highlights the lowest level of the subprime fraud chain that contributed most to the banking mess we're in today. Whereas most of the Mervene-type frauds entailed  refinancing mortgages to poor people like Mervene with loan balances sometimes more than 10 times the value of their homes that, in turn, allowed these people to spend on such things as expensive trucks, electronics, and narcotics. Those fraudulent mortgages were typically re-sold to helpless suckers like Fannie and Freddie. There were also managers in Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and other Wall Street firms that knowingly screwed their own companies just to get their added compensation for packaging toxic CDOs using toxic mortgages as collateral. This turned out to be soiled toilet paper collateral.

The Sandler case is somewhat unique. Instead of selling the toxic mortgages brokered by their World Savings Bank, they kept those mortgages in WSB until they sold the entire World Savings Bank to Wachovia for over $2.4 billion profit to them. Although Freddie and Fannie did not get stuck with WSB's toxic paper, Wachovia folded and was bought up by Wells Fargo. Since Wells Fargo is now in for a big bailout, the Federal Government will probably end up with the WSB's toxic paper even if it was not originally sold to Fannie or Freddie.

In any case, try to watch the interesting Sixty Minutes video on Marion and Herb Sander at
Boy does philanthropist Herb Sandler look sunburned.
The text version of the Sixty Minutes video is at

"Why TARP is Now a Four-Letter Word," by Elizabeth MacDonald, Emac, February 13, 2009 ---

In covering the hearing of the nine bank chief executives on Capitol Hill, it didn’t take long for me to see that Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf was having a hard time of it, valiant effort though he did make to defend his bank’s lending practices.

Because to look inside Wells Fargo, you will find the worst of the mortgage lenders housed in this bank, Wachovia, which Wells Fargo bought last fall for $15.4 bn, and housed within Wachovia is Golden West Financial, which Wachovia bought for a stupefying $25 bn, Golden West, the purveyor of some of the worst junk mortgages in the country.

Wachovia Corp.’s disastrous $25.5 bn acquisition of Golden West Financial in May 2006, two months before the peak of the housing bubble (see blog “Dumb Bubble Deals”), is a portrait of the housing crisis in miniature.

At bottom you will find a revealing–and impenetrably absurd–transcript of a presentation given by Wachovia management defending the Golden West deal at an analyst-investor conference a week after Wachovia made this disastrous acquisition in May 2006.

The transcript provides a roadmap for why this country is facing the worst housing and banking crisis since the Great Depression. And watch how obsequious Wall Street analysts behave, the smartest guys in the room who are supposed to catch the fire engine red flags. Kudos to for catching this one, the best footnote digging site in the country.

Golden West was a mom and pop shop that went berserk rubberstamping reckless loans for the worst of California’s borrowers, as the country’s biggest purveyor of the option ARM, which lets borrowers set which payments they want to make, in many cases, interest-only payments on no-doc loans.

These ARMs are the worst of the lot, and they are now adjusting to higher rates, providing an economic effect that is the equivalent of the levees breaking in New Orleans. Option ARMs, indeed, are the most radioactive of loans, and they will drag down the economy this year and next, analysts note.

Herbert and Marion Sandler, who built Golden West into a mortgage mill, made off with $2.4 bn in the deal.

Continued in article

"25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis," Time Magazine, February 23, 2009, pp. 20-25 ---,28804,1877351_1877350,00.html

You can read about the absolute absurd accounting scandal of Frank Raines at

Play the education Bailout Game (mostly interesting videos) at

Bob Jensen's threads on the Bailout mess ---

Indeed it might not be worth breaking a sweat if the stimulus bill was going to spend the measly $168 billion that George Bush's tax rebates threw at the economy last year. Nobody gets upset anymore if Washington wastes a hundred billion dollars. But coming after four months of the TARP's dizzying billions spent in futility, we get a president proposing to spend nearly $1,000,000,000,000 on what he calls "stimulus." Even a populace numb to its government's compulsive spending woke up to that fantastic sum.  . . . The whole congressional effort is an irrelevant sideshow; only the final spending number matters. The economics don't matter, because the real political purpose of the bill is to neutralize this issue until the economy recovers on its own. Much of its spending is a massive cash transfer to the party's union constituencies; a percentage of that cash will flow back into the 2010 congressional races. The bill in great part is a Trojan horse of Democratic policies not related to anyone's model of economic stimulus. Finally, if this bill's details are irrelevant to the presumed multiplier effect of an $800 billion Keynesian stimulus, GOP Sen. Susan Collins's good-faith participation in it looks rather foolish.
Daniel Henninger, "Exactly How Does Stimulus Work? Separating economics from theatrics," The Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2009 ---

A Snowball's Chance in Hell:  An Antidote for Zimbabwe Finance Infection
"Capitalism Needs a Sound-Money Foundation:  Let's give the Fed some competition. Abolish legal tender laws and see whose money people trust," by Judy Shelton, The Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2009 ---

In short, inflation undermines capitalism by destroying the rationale for dedicating a portion of today's earnings to savings. Accumulated savings provide the capital that finances projects that generate higher future returns; it's how an economy grows, how a society reaches higher levels of prosperity. But inflation makes suckers out of savers.

If capitalism is to be preserved, it can't be through the con game of diluting the value of money. People see through such tactics; they recognize the signs of impending inflation. When we see Congress getting ready to pay for 40% of 2009 federal budget expenditures with money created from thin air, there's no getting around it. Our money will lose its capacity to serve as an honest measure, a meaningful unit of account. Our paper currency cannot provide a reliable store of value.

So we must first establish a sound foundation for capitalism by permitting people to use a form of money they trust. Gold and silver have traditionally served as currencies -- and for good reason. A study by two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Arthur Rolnick and Warren Weber, concluded that gold and silver standards consistently outperform fiat standards. Analyzing data over many decades for a large sample of countries, they found that "every country in our sample experienced a higher rate of inflation in the period during which it was operating under a fiat standard than in the period during which it was operating under a commodity standard."

Given that the driving force of free-market capitalism is competition, it stands to reason that the best way to improve money is through currency competition. Individuals should be able to choose whether they wish to carry out their personal economic transactions using the paper currency offered by the government, or to conduct their affairs using voluntary private contracts linked to payment in gold or silver.

Legal tender laws currently favor government-issued money, putting private contracts in gold or silver at a distinct disadvantage. Contracts denominated in Federal Reserve notes are enforced by the courts, whereas contracts denominated in gold are not. Gold purchases are subject to taxes, both sales and capital gains. And while the Constitution specifies that only commodity standards are lawful -- "No state shall coin money, emit bills of credit, or make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts" (Art. I, Sec. 10) -- it is fiat money that enjoys legal tender status and its protections.

Now is the time to challenge the exclusive monopoly of Federal Reserve notes as currency. Buyers and sellers, by mutual consent, should have access to an alternate means for settling accounts; they should be able to do business using a monetary unit of account defined in terms of gold. The existence of parallel currencies operating side-by-side on an equal legal footing would make it clear whether people had more confidence in fiat money or money redeemable in gold. If the gold-based system is preferred, it means that people fully understand that the purpose of money is to facilitate commerce, not to camouflage fiscal mismanagement.

Private gold currencies have served as the medium of exchange throughout history -- long before kings and governments took over the franchise. The initial justification for government involvement in money was to certify the weight and fineness of private gold coins. That rulers found it all too tempting to debase the money and defraud its users testifies more to the corruptive aspects of sovereign authority than to the viability of gold-based money.

Which is why government officials should not now have the last word in determining the monetary measure, especially when they have abused the privilege.

The same values that will help America regain its economic footing and get back on the path to productive growth -- honesty, reliability, accountability -- should be reflected in our money. Economists who promote the government-knows-best approach of Keynesian economics fail to comprehend the damaging consequences of spurring economic activity through a money illusion. Fiscal "stimulus" at the expense of monetary stability may accommodate the principles of the childless British economist who famously quipped, "In the long run, we're all dead." But it shortchanges future generations by saddling them with undeserved debt obligations.

There is also the argument that gold-linked money deprives the government of needed "flexibility" and could lead to falling prices. But contrary to fears of harmful deflation, the big problem is not that nominal prices might go down as production declines, but rather that dollar prices artificially pumped up by government deficit spending merely paper over the real economic situation. When the output of goods grows faster than the stock of money, benign deflation can occur -- it happened from 1880 to 1900 while the U.S. was on a gold standard. But the total price-level decline was 10% stretched over 20 years. Meanwhile, the gross domestic product more than doubled.

At a moment when the world is questioning the virtues of democratic capitalism, our nation should provide global leadership by focusing on the need for monetary integrity. One of the most serious threats to global economic recovery -- aside from inadequate savings -- is protectionism. An important benefit of developing a parallel currency linked to gold is that other countries could likewise permit their own citizens to utilize it. To the extent they did so, a common currency area would be created not subject to the insidious protectionism of sliding exchange rates.

The fiasco of the G-20 meeting in Washington last November -- it was supposed to usher in "the next Bretton Woods" -- suggests that any move toward a new international monetary system based on gold will more likely take place through the grass-roots efforts of Americans. It may already be happening at the state level. Last month, Indiana state Sen. Greg Walker introduced a bill -- "The Indiana Honest Money Act" -- which would, if enacted, allow citizens the option of paying in or receiving back gold, silver or the equivalent electronic receipt as an alternative to Federal Reserve notes for all transactions conducted with the state of Indiana.

It may turn out to be a bellwether. Certainly, it's a sign of a growing feeling in the heartland that we need to go back to sound money. We need money that works for the legitimate producers and consumers of the world -- the savers and borrowers, the entrepreneurs. Not money that works for the chiselers.

Ms. Shelton, an economist, is author of "Money Meltdown: Restoring Order to the Global Currency System" (Free Press, 1994).

Maybe Nancy Pelosi has been correct all along when wanting to nationalize the big banks
"Roubini: Nationalizing Banks Is the Best Way to Go," by Henry Blodget, Yahoo Finance, February 12, 2009 --- Click Here
Update"  Even Alan Greenspan (who caused much of the mess) now advocates nationalization of the banks ---

From The Business Insider,, Feb. 12. 2009:

Nouriel Roubini lays out the four ways to fix insolvent banking systems. Then he explains why the first three--the ones we're using--are lousy:

There are four basic approaches to a clean-up of a banking system that is facing a systemic crisis:

1. Recapitalization together with the purchase by a government “bad bank” of the toxic assets;

2. Recapitalization together with government guarantees – after a first loss by the banks – of the toxic assets;

3. Private purchase of toxic assets with a government guarantee and/or – semi-equivalently - provision of public capital to set up a public-private bad bank where private investors participate in the purchase of such assets (something similar to the US government plan presented by Tim Geithner today for a Public-Private Investment Fund);

4. Outright government takeover (call it nationalization or “receivership" if you don’t like the dirty N-word) of insolvent banks to be cleaned after takeover and then resold to the private sector.

Of the four options the first three have serious flaws: in the bad bank model the government may overpay for the bad assets – at a high cost for the taxpayer - as the true value of them is uncertain; and if it does not overpay for the assets many banks are bust as the mark-to-market haircut they need to recognize is too large for them to bear.

Even in the guarantee (after first loss) model there are massive valuation problems and there can be very expensive risk for the tax-payer (an excessive guarantee that is not properly priced by the first loss of the bank, the fees paid and the value of equity that that the government receives for the guarantee) as the true value of the assets is as uncertain as in the purchase of bas assets model. The shady guarantee deals recently done with Citi and Bank of America were even less transparent than an outright government purchase of bad asset as the bad asset purchase model at least has the advantage of transparency of the price paid for toxic assets.

In the bad bank model the government has the additional problem of having to manage all the bad assets it purchased, something that the government does not have much expertise in. At least in the guarantee model the assets stay with the banks and the banks know better how to manage and have a greater incentive than the government to eventually work out such bad assets...

Thus all the schemes that have been so far proposed to deal with the toxic assets of the banks may be a big fudge that either does not work or works only if the government bails out shareholders and unsecured creditors of the banks.

So much for all the plans put forth so far, including Tim Geithner's latest brainstorm. Now on to the solution.

Note that Nouriel is not recommending the alternative that Geithner and Summers always invoke when someone suggests this route: permanent government ownership and operation of the banks. We all agree that would be a disaster. What Nouriel is talking about is temporary receivership and restructuring.

Thus, paradoxically nationalization may be a more market friendly solution of a banking crisis: it creates the biggest hit for common and preferred shareholders of clearly insolvent institutions and – most certainly – even the unsecured creditors in case the bank insolvency hole is too large; it provides a fair upside to the tax-payer. It can also resolve the problem of avoiding having the government manage the bad assets: if you selling back all of the assets and deposits of the bank to new private shareholders after a clean-up of the bank together with a partial government guarantee of the bad assets (as it was done in the resolution of the Indy Mac bank failure) you avoid having the government managing the bad assets. Alternatively, if the bad assets are kept by the government after a takeover of the banks and only the good ones are sold back in a re-privatization scheme, the government could outsource the job of managing and working out such assets to private asset managers if it does not want to create its own RTC bank to work out such bad assets.

Nationalization also resolves the too-big-too-fail problem of banks that are systemically important and that thus need to be rescued by the government at a high cost to the taxpayer. This too-big-to-fail problem has now become an even-bigger-to-fail problem as the current approach has lead weak banks to take over even weaker banks. Merging two zombie banks is like have two drunks trying to help each other to stand up.

The JPMorgan takeover of insolvent Bear Stearns and WaMu; the Bank of America takeover of insolvent Countrywide and Merrill Lynch; and the Wells Fargo takeover of insolvent Wachovia show that the too-big-to-fail monster has become even bigger. In the Wachovia case you had two wounded institutions (Citi and Wells Fargo) bidding for a zombie insolvent one. Why? Because they both knew that becoming even bigger-to-fail was the right strategy to extract an even larger bailout from the government. Instead, with nationalization approach the government can break-up these financial supermarket monstrosities into smaller pieces to be sold to private investors as smaller good banks.

This “nationalization” approach was the one successfully taken by Sweden while the current US and UK approach may end up looking like the zombie banks of Japan that were never properly restructured and ended up perpetuating the credit crunch and credit freeze. Japan ended up having a decade long near-depression because of its failure to clean up the banks and the bad debts. The US, the UK and other economies risk a similar near depression and stag-deflation (multi-year recession and price deflation) if they fail to appropriately tackle this most severe banking crisis.

The Federal Reserve failed in regulating investment banks. Alan Greenspan belatedly admitted that he was largely at fault.
"‘I made a mistake,’ admits Greenspan," by Alan Beattie and James Politi, Financial Times, October 23, 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on the bailout mess are at

From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on February 20, 2009

A Short History of the National Debt
by John Steele Gordon
The Wall Street Journal

Feb 17, 2009
Click here to view the full article on ---

TOPICS: Governmental Accounting

SUMMARY: "Mr. Gordon is the author of 'Hamilton's Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and times of Our National Debt' (Walker, 1997)." He discusses the budget deficit and national debt before and after passage of the stimulus package.

CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article may be used in governmental accounting courses to understand the importance of governmental accounting information to the legislative process and the running of our country. The topics focus on understanding budget deficit versus the level of debt.

1. (Introductory) What is the historical status of our government in relation to debt?

2. (Advanced) What is a budget deficit? How much is our government's budget deficit projected to be in fiscal 2009?

3. (Advanced) What is the difference between the level of national debt and a budget deficit in the current year?

4. (Advanced) The author notes that "in fiscal 2008, the national debt increased from $9 trillion to slightly over $10 trillion. Yet the budget deficit in the last fiscal year was $455 billion." What is wrong with this relationship?

5. (Advanced) Explain the following statement in terms of governmental accounting, including explaining where the information is located in the financial statements: "Just call the money borrowed from the Social Security trust fund an 'intragovernmental transfer: and exclude it from the calculation of the deficit."

6. (Introductory) Overall, how does this opinion-page piece characterize the need for unbiased financial information about governmental entities?

Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

"A Short History of the National Debt Deficits are nothing new. It's the trend that should worry us," by John Steele Gordon, The Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2009 ---

When President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law yesterday, he was adding to what is already almost guaranteed to be the largest deficit in American history. In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficit this year would be $1.2 trillion before the stimulus package. That's more than twice the deficit in fiscal 2008, more than the entire GDP of all but a handful of countries, and more, in nominal dollars, than the entire United States national debt in 1982.

But while the sum is huge, it is not in and of itself threatening to the solvency of the Republic. At 8.3% of GDP, this year's deficit is by far the largest since World War II. But the total debt is, as of now, still under 75% of GDP. It was almost 130% following World War II. (Japan's national debt right now is not far from 180% of that nation's GDP.)

Still, it's the trend that is worrisome, to put it mildly. There have always been two reasons for adding to the national debt. One is to fight wars. The second is to counteract recessions. But while the national debt in 1982 was 35% of GDP, after a quarter century of nearly uninterrupted economic growth and the end of the Cold War the debt-to-GDP ratio has more than doubled.

It is hard to escape the idea that this happened only because Democrats and Republicans alike never said no to any significant interest group. Despite a genuine economic emergency, the stimulus bill is more about dispensing goodies to Democratic interest groups than stimulating the economy. Even Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) -- no deficit hawk when his party is in the majority -- called it "porky."

It was not ever thus. Before the Great Depression, balancing the budget and paying down the debt were considered second only to the defense of the country as an obligation of the federal government. Before 1930, the government ran surpluses in two years out of three. In 1865, the vast debt run up in the Civil War amounted to about 30% of GDP; by 1916 it was less than a tenth of that.

There even was a time when the U.S. made it a deliberate policy to pay off the national debt entirely -- and succeeded in doing so. It remains to this day the only time in history a major country has been debt free. Ironically, the president who achieved this was the founder of the modern Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson.

Jackson was a Jeffersonian through and through. The smaller the federal government, the more he liked it. And, like Jefferson, he hated banks, speculation and the "money interest." Unlike Jefferson, however, he was born poor and made his own fortune. An early personal encounter with debt had taught him to fear it. When the notes of someone who had bought land from him proved worthless, he became liable for the debts he had secured with those notes, and it took him years to pay them off.

When he ran for president the first time, in 1824, Jackson called the debt a "national curse." He vowed to "pay the national debt, to prevent a monied aristocracy from growing up around our administration that must bend to its views, and ultimately destroy the liberty of our country."

"How gratifying," he wrote in 1829 as he began his presidency, "the effect of presenting to the world the sublime spectacle of a Republic of more than 12 million happy people, in the 54th year of her existence . . . free from debt and with all . . . [her] immense resources unfettered!"

When Jackson entered the White House, the national debt, which had reached $125 million at the end of the War of 1812, had already been reduced to $48 million. To get it to zero he was perfectly willing to forego what were then called "internal improvements" and are now known as infrastructure projects. One Kentucky congressman, after a trip to the White House to beg Jackson to sign one such bill, reported to his allies that "nothing less than a voice from Heaven would prevent the old man from vetoing the Bill, and [I doubt] whether that would!"

At the end of 1834, Jackson reported in the State of the Union message that the country would be debt free as of Jan. 1, 1835, with a Treasury balance of $440,000. Government revenues that year would be twice expenses.

It didn't last long, to be sure. The great prosperity of the early 1830s broke in the summer of 1836 when a bubble in land speculation, fueled by easy credit, abruptly ended. The bubble burst, ironically enough, thanks to Andrew Jackson's issuance of the "specie circular," which required that all land bought from the government, except that actually settled on, be paid for in gold or silver.

By the next spring, just as Jackson left the White House, the longest contraction in American history -- six years -- had begun. As one Wall Streeter put it, "The fortunes we have heard so much about in the days of speculation, have melted like the snows before an April sun." Federal revenues fell by half that year and the national debt was back, this time for good.

While today there is no hope of balancing the budget -- or wisdom in trying to -- until the economy substantially improves, we could make a sort of down payment on reforming Washington's porky ways by simply starting to tell the truth.

It has been widely noted that 2009 will have the first "trillion-dollar deficit" in American history. Actually it's the second. In fiscal 2008, the national debt increased from $9 trillion to slightly over $10 trillion. Yet the budget deficit in the last fiscal year was officially reported as being $455 billion. How could the national debt have increased by considerably more than twice the "deficit"? Simple. Just call the money borrowed from the Social Security trust fund an "intragovernmental transfer" and exclude it from the calculation of the deficit.

Corporate managers have gone to jail for less book cooking than that.

Mr. Gordon is the author of "Hamilton's Blessing: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt" (Walker, 1997).

Bob Jensen's threads on the National Debt are at

Free for All Your Computers and Web Browsers
"Synchronizing Your Bookmarks on All Your PCs," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2009 ---

Lots of people now have multiple computers, at home and at work, and many use more than one Web browser. That makes it hard to keep bookmarks straight. If, for instance, you bookmark a Web site as a "Favorite" on your PC at work using Microsoft's Internet Explorer, it doesn't automatically show up as a bookmark in Apple's Safari browser on your Macintosh at home.

But I've been testing a new, free program, available now, that aims to solve this problem. It synchronizes your bookmarks automatically among all your computers, Windows or Mac, and across all the main brands of Web browsers -- Internet Explorer, Safari and Mozilla's Firefox. On PCs running Windows XP or Vista, it works with Internet Explorer and Firefox. On Macs, it works with Safari and Firefox.

The program is called Foxmarks, and it's from a San Francisco company of the same name. The Foxmarks software has been around since 2006, but worked only with the Firefox browser -- hence the name. Yet Firefox isn't the dominant choice on either Windows or Mac. So the company decided to expand the product to Internet Explorer, which is the built-in browser on Windows (and thus No. 1 in the world) and Safari, which is the built-in browser on Mac.

This new version, available for download at, doesn't merely synchronize your bookmarks between copies of the same browser. It synchronizes them between different browser brands, even if some are running on Windows PCs and some on Macs.

In my tests, Foxmarks worked well, with a few minor caveats. After using it for five days, I now have exactly the same set of bookmarks (or Favorites, in Internet Explorer's parlance), arranged in the same order, on multiple computers -- Windows and Mac -- in a total of 12 different copies of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.

There's a different version of Foxmarks customized for each of the three main browsers, but each talks to the same password-protected Web account, which contains the latest version of your bookmarks. When you add, delete, rename or rearrange any bookmark in any browser on any of your computers, the Foxmarks software sends the change up to the Web account. Then, the next time any of your other browsers checks with the Web account, it receives the change.

For example, in my tests, I bookmarked a Wikipedia article in Firefox on my Dell running Windows Vista. Foxmarks then caused that same new bookmark to appear in Internet Explorer on the same Dell, and in both Firefox and Safari on my Apple Macintosh computer. And, on each machine, the new bookmark for the Wikipedia article was in the same location.

In another case, I changed the order of two bookmarks in the Bookmarks Bar in Safari on one of my Macs, and the same re-ordering was replicated on a Windows PC in the Links Toolbar of IE and in the Bookmarks Toolbar of Firefox.

If you don't want exactly the same set of bookmarks on all your machines, you can set up different profiles with different bookmarks for your work and home computers.

You can access the password-protected Web site containing your bookmarks from any PC, even if it isn't one of yours, and can view a customized version of this site via the browser on an iPhone or other smart phone. You can even set up a mobile profile that will show you just a subset of your bookmarks in your phone's Web browser, though you can't sync bookmarks to and from a phone.

From the Web, you can alter your bookmarks, and these changes will then be pushed down to the browsers on your computers. You also can share bookmarks with others via email or an RSS feed.

There are other Web-based repositories of bookmarks, notably a service called Delicious. But none that I know of automatically synchronizes bookmarks among browsers and computers, which is the main function of Foxmarks.

Foxmarks has another feature: It can also sync stored passwords for Web sites you frequently visit. But this trick works only in Firefox, and in my tests didn't work properly all the time.

The software has a few other limitations and glitches. The Internet Explorer version is still labeled a beta, or test, version because it still produces occasional syncing errors, especially in Vista. That was true in my tests, and I'd be wary of using it with Vista, though it performed solidly in Windows XP. It works reliably only with Internet Explorer 6 or 7, not the pre-release version of Internet Explorer 8, which the company isn't yet supporting.

On the Mac, Foxmarks works only with the current Leopard version of the operating system and the current version 3 of Safari. It doesn't work with the Windows version of Safari.

And syncing isn't instant. It can take as long as an hour for each computer to check with the Web site and get the changes.

The company plans to keep Foxmarks free, but is hoping to make money from future, unspecified products.

Foxmarks is a clever, well-done product that can help users of multiple computers and multiple browsers to keep their Web lives in order.

Bob Jensen's tech bookmarks are at

What's probably the best Website to visit if you are selling a piece of real estate?

"A Go-To Web Site for Home Buyers: Offers an Insider's View of Real Estate," by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2009 --- 

Dipping a toe into the real-estate market these days can feel a lot like taking your car to the mechanic: If you don't know what you're doing and don't trust the professional you hired, you may feel like someone is taking advantage of you. Thankfully, the Web's ability to demystify intimidating topics has brought what was once considered insider real-estate knowledge to the masses.

This week, I tested, a real-estate site that's geared toward helping people who are ready to buy. Trulia combines a simple approach to real estate that anyone can grasp, with enough market stats to excite number-crunching types. It also offers a community where regular users can ask 200,000 real-estate professionals questions without fear of being hounded by agents because their emails are hidden.

Trulia has been around since 2005, but started out as a site that only posted local real-estate listings in California and New York. After expanding to the national market in 2006, it added other features like pricing heat maps (color-coded to indicate prices in an area), comparable listings, an online community and automatically generated newsfeeds about specific properties and areas. Last summer, Trulia went mobile with a free iPhone app that uses GPS to find nearby open houses.

Starting Wednesday, Trulia will offer CompareIt, a tool that lets users choose five properties for sale to directly compare with one another. Before now, Trulia just generated a list of comparable properties that sold or are for sale at the bottom of a listing.

I only used Trulia for a week, and I'm not a typical buyer since I was just looking -- for now. But I got a lot out of the site, especially by browsing maps of neighborhoods that I know well (I'm picky about my preferred location) and asking questions of the Trulia community. Its iPhone app listed nearby open houses according to my search criteria and also worked on my iPod touch as long as I was in a Wi-Fi zone.

Another big plus to Trulia is Newsfeed, a list that shows up on the home page with content that's automatically generated and personalized according to your past search locations. It is updated every day and spits out stats like the number of price reductions, open houses and new listings in an area. It shows an area's average listing price, median sales price, number of foreclosures and average price per square foot, among other things. These data are a boon for people who don't have the time or inclination to look this stuff up, and it aggregates the data into one intelligible, quick snapshot.

I found some flaws in Trulia, like the way it accidentally listed a property that was sold five months earlier. Trulia said it relies on partners for accurate listings, and those partners get their data from Multiple Listing Services or local brokers and agents, therefore Trulia's data are only as good as its partners'. (At least one other real-estate site also accidentally listed the already-sold condo for sale.) Another problem occurred when I tried to use the CompareIt chart on Washington, D.C., properties; Trulia said the tool doesn't work for D.C. due to a bug that it hopes to fix. Finally, properties saved on the iPhone app won't transfer to your Trulia Web site account. The company says it hopes to fix the iPhone issue.

One of Trulia's competitors is, which displays its own price estimates for all houses in the U.S. (for sale or not) to give people an idea of the real-estate value in an area. The two sites are similar in some ways: Both show heat maps, display data about nearby schools, have mortgage calculators and use online communities to answer questions. But Zillow doesn't offer a stat-packed Newsfeed or an iPhone app like Trulia.

After browsing through Trulia, I found a variety of properties that suited my target price range and location preferences. One place had lots of big windows and a renovated kitchen, according to the photos and information listed on its detailed Trulia Web page. A shortcut on the page made it easy for me to share this place with three friends to see what they thought. I even posed a question to the Trulia community about the property: Does this unit have a private entrance, or does it share an entrance with the five other units in the building?

Ironically, this was the property that was already sold, as I found out when a real-estate agent responded to my question. It took him just 15 minutes (Trulia says this is within five minutes of the average response time) to post a response saying that he was familiar with the listing and that the place sold five months earlier. Trulia has since updated this property's status.

Other questions that I asked of the community were answered within 20 minutes. In one instance, I asked a general question about the best time of year to buy in Washington, D.C., and three real-estate agents responded almost immediately; two were from my area and offered their advice -- and their services -- but one from Florida chimed in simply to offer some encouragement. Each responder was clearly identified with a name, classification (i.e. real-estate pro) and photo. Within a couple hours, four more people responded.

These questions and answers are shared with everyone on Trulia, and I clicked on a thumbs-up icon to vote for the answer I found most helpful.

Email alerts can be set up through Trulia so you're notified if a property you like dips below a certain price, or if there are new blog posts about certain categories like financing, crime or environmentally friendly properties.

The CompareIt tool worked to see how properties (excluding those in D.C.) stacked up against one another, up to five at a time. These charts arm people with more statistics and (likely) more negotiating power.

The real-estate world can be intimidating, now more than ever. Though sites like Trulia won't solve this problem completely, they could make the weighty decision of buying a house a little bit easier.


Real estate and mortgage glossary --- 

Bob Jensen's buying and selling helpers are at

Some comparative nine-month academic year salaries recently released by the AACSB
Note that major research university salaries considerably higher than average while salaries in many private universities are much lower as are salaries in state universities that are not flagship research universities. The results for accounting and taxation new assistant professors primarily reflects the downward trend of doctoral graduates in accounting, auditing, and taxation in the past two decades ---

From the Financial Rounds Blog on February 16, 2009 ---

The Annual AACSB salary survey is the definitive source for business school faculty salaries. Here's the most important table from the report - it shows the mean salaries for new doctorates for the major business disciplines

The figures above are for 9-month salaries. At research schools, summer research support can add another 10-20% to that, and there are also opportunities to pick up additional $$ teaching over the summer. However, at teaching oriented schools, there typically isn't summer support, and summer teaching money is also much lower.

For years, Finance professors got the highest salaries across all business disciplines. That's changed in the last few years, with accounting salaries pulling ahead. The increase in accounting new-hire salaries is likely due to smaller numbers of accounting PhD's being graduated and a lot of retirements in their field. But still, $120K isn't bad.

Click here for the free executive summary (you can also get the full report, but it'll cost you).

February 20, 2009 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Jagdish,

You wrote:
"The shortage of accounting faculty is contrived by us to protect our wages."

I agree with most of what you said in your message. However, I don’t think the decline in accountancy doctoral graduates over the past two decades was contrived in any kind of conspiracy to create barriers to entry for purposes of higher salaries. The causes of accounting PhD shortages are many and complicated, but none of them were intended to make accounting professors the highest paid professors in the academy.

Part of the cause of a shortage was the increase in demand for accounting professors. When the big firms commenced adding internships to senior accounting majors, accounting became much more popular as an undergraduate major. The professorial supply just did not increase with this demand.

One of the main causes of a shortage of accountancy PhDs is the time-to-degree. A top economics undergraduate can get a PhD in economics in seven years of college. The same is possible in finance, marketing, and management. Law school typically takes three years after obtaining an undergraduate degree.

In accounting we now require 150 credits to take the CPA examination, so most of our graduates now get a masters degree with almost no courses in for academic research. If a statistics course is required it generally has a coloring book for a textbook.

In addition our doctoral programs prefer to admit candidates with work experience in accountancy. So now we’re talking six or more years before admitting a doctoral student. Then students week in mathematics, statistics, econometrics, and psychometrics take about two years of such courses. Students who manage to get admitted without much accounting, often foreign students, take about two years of undergraduate accounting. Then there’s the additional time for doctoral seminars in accounting research, financial research, and behavioral research. All told a doctoral program in accountancy takes at least five years and often six years. What is six years plus five years? That is just a minimum. Most of our accounting professors today probably did not complete their accountancy PhD degrees before they were almost 30 years old except for the oldsters who did not have to earn 150 credits to sit for the CPA examination along the way.

BYU recognized this problem and created a masters degree program for students who are pretty certain that they want to eventually be admitted to a doctoral program. The BYU masters program won an AAA Innovation in Accounting Education annual award. This masters program is intended to provide students with the research course prerequisites for doctoral studies such that the time in a doctoral program should, in theory, be reduced to three years. You can read about BYU’s award winning PhD Prep Program at 
If students has a sufficient amount of accountancy as undergraduates, that can also take the CPA examination with this masters degree.

Another barrier to entry in accountancy doctoral programs is that the accountics research professors hijacked the prestigious doctoral programs and all the other doctoral programs in North America thought that it was necessary to clone the accountancy doctoral programs at Chicago, Stanford, Rochester, Cornell, Northwestern, Illinois, Texas, USC, UCLA, and Cal-Berkeley. Hence all accountancy programs became highly mathematical social science programs in mathematics, econometrics, and psychometrics. Practicing CPAs who contemplate returning to a university for an accountancy PhD are frequently turned off by having to get a social science PhD in the name of accountancy/accountics. I’ve already written much about this problem at 

The bottom line is that I don’t think that the decline in the number of accountancy doctoral graduates in North America was contrived for purposes of keeping accounting professor salaries high. The decline was caused by lengthening the time to the CPA (150 credits), a desire for work experience for doctoral program admission, and upping the requirements for mathematics, statistics, econometrics, and psychometrics if virtually all North American doctoral programs in accountancy.

There are of course other factors to be considered. Accounting careers in CPA firms and corporations became increasingly attractive. For example, all the Big Four accounting firms now place in the top ten organizations as desirable places to work. CPA firms in particular strived to become more accommodating to parents who seek more time to care for children. In the age of networking, more and more clients can be served from work at home. Hence, many accounting workers are less frustrated on the job and are less inclined to give up five or more years of their lives in a doctoral program.

Business school graduates in non-accounting specialties often have more trouble getting jobs. Even in the Wall Street boom times, most graduates in finance could not get plumb jobs on Wall Street and had to settle for less-than-exciting local bank jobs or become stock brokers living on commission income. Those graduates were more inclined to come back to college for doctorates in economics, finance, marketing, management, and MIS. Some regretted later on that they had not been accounting majors.

It’s tough late in life to come back and take all those accounting undergraduate courses to get back on track in accounting. But Finley Graves did it after becoming a PhD in German Literature. He then took the time and trouble to earn a second PhD in Accounting and is now a terrific accounting professor.

Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen's threads on salary compression, inversion, and controversy are at

Seems that new Obama Presidential Cabinet workers are joining a tax avoidance club that's not very exclusive!

The Executive Office of President Bush, which includes the White House, had 58 employees who did not pay $319,978.

"Federal workers owe billions in unpaid taxes," by Mark Segrave,, February 2008 publication of a September 2008 item ---

From the U.S. Postal Service to the Executive Office of the President, thousands of federal workers have not paid their 2007 federal income taxes.

The Internal Revenue Service is trying to collect billions of dollars in unpaid taxes from nearly half a million federal employees. According to IRS records, 171,549 current federal workers did not voluntarily pay their federal income taxes in 2007. The same is true for 37,752 active duty military and nearly 200,000 retired civilian and military personnel.

Documents obtained by WTOP through the Freedom of Information Act show 449,531 federal employees and retirees did not pay their taxes for a total of $3,586,784,725 in taxes owed last year.

Each year the IRS tracks the voluntary compliance rate of all federal workers and retirees. The percentage of employees and retirees who are delinquent has gone up and down over the past five years, but the amount unpaid has increased each year topping $3.5 billion for the first time in 2007.

The agency with the most delinquent employees is the U.S. Postal Service. With more than 747,000 employees, the postal service is the largest employer in the federal government, but with a 4.16 percent delinquency rate, it is a full 1 percent above the average compliance rate this year.

The IRS would not provide comparable data for the general population. But a spokesperson for the IRS did supply the delinquency rate for IRS employees -- less than 1 percent. The IRS is the only federal agency where an employee can be fired for not paying his taxes.

The Executive Office of the President, which includes the White House, has 58 employees who did not pay $319,978.

The Federal Housing Finance Board comes in as the agency with the best compliance rate of all agencies with 100 or more employees. The FHFB had four of its 134 employees on the list of delinquents, three of them have now entered into voluntary payment plans with the IRS.

In fact, 152,554 of the delinquent feds have entered into payment plans. Nevertheless, $2.7 billion remains uncollected.

Other notable agencies with high delinquency rates include the Smithsonian Institution, where nearly 5.5 percent of the employees didn't pay their taxes. On Capitol Hill, more than 1,000 workers are on the list. The Government Printing Office has the highest percentage of delinquent employees with 7.23 percent.

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

Where's the kidnapping capital of the USA (second in the world only to Mexico City)?

"Kidnapping Capital of the U.S.A. Washington Too Concerned With al Qaeda Terrorists to Care, Officials Say," by Brian Ross, Richard Esposito, and Asa Eslocker, ABC News, February 11, 2009 ---

In what officials caution is now a dangerous and even deadly crime wave, Phoenix, Arizona has become the kidnapping capital of America, with more incidents than any other city in the world outside of Mexico City and over 370 cases last year alone. But local authorities say Washington, DC is too obsessed with al Qaeda terrorists to care about what is happening in their own backyard right now.

We're in the eye of the storm," Phoenix Police Chief Andy Anderson told ABC News of the violent crimes and ruthless tactics spurred by Mexico's drug cartels that have expanded business across the border. "If it doesn't stop here, if we're not able to fix it here and get it turned around, it will go across the nation," he said.

Continued in article

Link forwarded by Professor Don Van Eynde (who normally sees the glass as half full))
"15 Companies That Might Not Survive 2009," Yahoo Finance, February 6, 2006 ---

Who's next?

With consumers shutting their wallets and corporate revenues plunging, the business landscape may start to resemble a graveyard in 2009. Household names like Circuit City and Linens 'n Things have already perished. And chances are, those bankruptcies were just an early warning sign of a much broader epidemic.

Moody's Investors Service, for instance, predicts that the default rate on corporate bonds - which foretells bankruptcies - will be three times higher in 2009 than in 2008, and 15 times higher than in 2007. That could equate to 25 significant bankruptcies per month.

We examined ratings from Moody's and data from other sources to develop a short list of potential victims that ought to be familiar to most consumers. Many of these firms are in industries directly hit by the slowdown in consumer spending, such as retail, automotive, housing and entertainment.

But there are other common threads. Most of these firms have limited cash for a rainy day, and a lot of debt, with large interest payments due over the next year. In ordinary times, it might not be so hard to refinance loans, or get new ones, to help keep the cash flowing. But in an acute credit crunch it's a different story, and at companies where sales are down and going lower, skittish lenders may refuse to grant any more credit. It's a terrible time to be cash-poor.

That's why Moody's assigns most of these firms its lowest rating for short-term liquidity. And all the firms on this list have long-term debt that Moody's rates Caa or lower, which means the borrower is considered at least a "very high" credit risk.

Once a company defaults on its debt, or fails to make a payment, the next step is usually a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Some firms continue to operate while in Chapter 11, retaining many of their employees. Those firms often shed debt, restructure, and emerge from bankruptcy as healthier companies.

But it takes fresh financing to do that, and with money scarce, more bankrupt firms than usual are likely to liquidate - like Circuit City. That's why corporate failures are likely to be a major drag on the economy in 2009: In a liquidation, the entire workforce often gets axed, with little or no severance. That will only add to unemployment, which could hit 9 or even 10 percent by the end of the year.  

It's possible that none of the firms on this list will liquidate, or even declare Chapter 11. Some may come up with unexpected revenue or creative financing that helps avert bankruptcy, while others could be purchased in whole or in part by creditors or other investors. But one way or another, the following 15 firms will probably look a lot different a year from now than they do today:

Rite Aid.
(Ticker symbol: RAD; about 100,000 employees; 1-year stock-price decline: 92%). This drugstore chain tried to boost its performance by acquiring competitors Brooks and Eckerd in 2007. But there have been some nasty side effects, like a huge debt load that makes it the most leveraged drugstore chain in the U.S., according to Zacks Equity Research. That big retail investment came just as megadiscounter Wal-Mart was starting to sell prescription drugs, and consumers were starting to cut bank on spending. Management has twice lowered its outlook for 2009. Prognosis: Mounting losses, with no turnaround in sight.

Claire's Stores.
(Privately owned; about 18,000 employees.) Leon Black's once-renowned private-equity firm, the Apollo Group, paid $3.1 billion for this trendy teen-focused accessory store in 2007, when buyout funds were bulging. But cash flow has been negative for much of the past year and analysts believe Claire's is close to defaulting on its debt. A horrible retail outlook for 2009 offers no relief, suggesting Claire's could follow Linens 'n Things - another Apollo purchase - and declare Chapter 11, possibly shuttering all of its 3,000-plus stores.

(Privately owned; about 55,000 employees). It's never a good sign when management insists the company is not going out of business, which is what CEO Bob Nardelli has been doing lately. Of the three Detroit automakers, Chrysler is the most endangered, with a product portfolio that's overreliant on gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs and almost totally devoid of compelling small cars. A recent deal with Fiat seems dubious, since the Italian automaker doesn't have to pony up any money, and Chrysler desperately needs cash. The company is quickly burning through $4 billion in government bailout money, and with car sales down 40 percent from recent peaks, Chrysler may be the weakling that can't cut it in tough times.

Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
(DTG; about 7,000 employees; stock down 95%). This car-rental company is a small player compared to Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis Budget. It's also more reliant on leisure travelers, and therefore more susceptible to a downturn as consumers cut spending. Dollar Thrifty is also closely tied to Chrysler, which supplies 80 percent of its fleet. Moody's predicts that if Chrysler declares Chapter 11, Dollar Thrifty would suffer deeply as well.

Realogy Corp.
(Privately owned; about 13,000 employees). It's the biggest real-estate brokerage firm in the country, but that's a bad thing when there are double-digit declines in both sales and prices, as there were in 2009. Realogy, which includes the Coldwell Banker, ERA, and Sotheby's franchises, also carries a high debt load, dating to its purchase by the Apollo Group in 2007 - the very moment when the housing market was starting to invert from a soaring ride into a sickening nosedive. Realogy has been trying to refinance much of its debt, prompting lawsuits. One deal was denied by a judge in December, reducing the firm's already tight wiggle room.

Station Casinos.
(Privately owned, about 14,000 employees). Las Vegas has already been creamed by a biblical real-estate bust, and now it may face the loss of its home-grown gambling joints, too. Station - which runs 15 casinos off the strip that cater to locals - recently failed to make a key interest payment, which is often one of the last steps before a Chapter 11 filing. For once, the house seems likely to lose.

Loehmann's Capital Corp.
(Privately owned; about 1,500 employees). This clothing chain has the right formula for lean times, offering women's clothing at discount prices. But the consumer pullback is hitting just about every retailer, and Loehmann's has a lot less cash to ride out a drought than competitors like Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx. If Loehmann's doesn't get additional financing in 2009 - a dicey proposition, given skyrocketing unemployment and plunging spending - the chain could run out of cash.

(Privately owned; about 5,500 employees). It's not the pizza that's the problem. Many of this chain's 1,100 storefronts are in malls, which is a double whammy: Traffic is down, since consumers have put away their wallets. Sbarro can't really boost revenue by adding a breakfast or late-night menu, like other chains have done. And competitors like Domino's and Pizza Hut have less debt and stronger cash flow, which could intensify pressure on Sbarro as key debt payments come due in 2009.

Six Flags.
(SIX; about 30,000 employees; stock down 84%). This theme-park operator has been losing money for several years, and selling off properties to try to pay down debt and get back into the black. But the ride may end prematurely. Moody's expects cash flow to be negative in 2009, and if consumers aren't spending during the peak summer season, that could imperil the company's ability to pay debts coming due later this year and in 2010.

(BBI; about 60,000 employees; stock down 57%). The video-rental chain has burned cash while trying to figure out how to maximize fees without alienating customers. Its operating income has started to improve just as consumers are cutting back, even on movies. Video stores in general are under pressure as they compete with cable and Internet operators offering the same titles. A key test of Blockbuster's viability will come when two credit lines expire in August. One possible outcome, according to Valueline, is that investors take the company private and then go public again when market conditions are better.

Krispy Kreme.
(KKD; about 4,000 employees; stock down 50%). The donuts might be good, but Krispy Kreme overestimated Americans' appetite - and that's saying something. This chain overexpanded during the donut heyday of the 1990s - taking on a lot of debt - and now requires high volumes to meet expenses and interest payments. The company has cut costs and closed underperforming stores, but still hasn't earned an operating profit in three years. And now that consumers are cutting back on everything, such improvements may fail to offset top-line declines, leading Krispy Kreme to seek some kind of relief from lenders over the next year.

Landry's Restaurants.
(LNY; about 17,000 employees; stock down 66%). This restaurant chain, which operates Chart House, Rainforest Café, and other eateries, needs $400 million in new financing to finalize a buyout deal dating to last June. If lenders come through, the company should have enough cash to ride out the recession. But at least two banks have already balked, leading to downgrades of the company's debt and the prospect of a cash-flow crunch.

Sirius Satellite Radio.
(SIRI - parent company; about 1,000 employees; stock down 96%). The music rocks, but satellite radio has yet to be profitable, and huge contracts for performers like Howard Stern are looking unsustainable. Sirius is one of two satellite-radio services owned by parent company Sirius XM, which was formed when Sirius and XM merged last year. So far, the merger hasn't generated the savings needed to make the company profitable, and Moody's thinks there's a "high likelihood" that Sirius will fail to repay or refinance its debt in 2009. One outcome could be a takeover, at distressed prices, by other firms active in the satellite business.

Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings.
(TRMP; about 9,500 employees; stock down 94%). The casino company made famous by The Donald has received several extensions on interest payments, while it tries to sell at least one of its Atlantic City properties and pay down a stack of debt. But with casino buyers scarce, competition circling, and gamblers nursing their losses from the recession, Trump Entertainment may face long odds of skirting bankruptcy.

(BGPT; about 16,000 employees; stock down 21%). This Virginia-based consulting firm, spun out of KPMG in 2001, is struggling to solve its own operating problems. The firm has consistently lost money, revenue has been falling, and management stopped issuing earnings guidance in 2008. Stable government contracts generate about 30 percent of the firm's business, but the firm may sell other divisions to help pay off debt. With a key interest payment due in April, management needs to hustle - or devise its own exit strategy.

Bob Jensen's threads on the stimulus and bailout fiasco ---

"For Business Schools, the World May Not Be So Flat After All," by Katherine Mangan, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 9, 2009 ---

For years, business schools have seemed to be battling for bragging rights over which ones were the most globalized as they launched far-flung partnerships and programs around the world. But as more than 400 business deans from 35 countries gathered for a conference here last week, new questions were being raised about whether the sweeping globalization of management education amounted to more rhetoric than reality, and whether, faced with a worldwide economic meltdown, schools can afford to continue expanding overseas.

“It’s time to stop pretending that we’re doing more than we really are,” Edward A. Snyder, dean of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, told a packed audience at the annual deans' meeting of AACSB International: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. “Statements of aspiration are great, but we should avoid being overly highfalutin in our rhetoric.”

Pankaj Ghemawat, a professor of global strategy at IESE Business School, a leading international business school run by the University of Navarra, with campuses in Barcelona and Madrid, offered an even more skeptical assessment. He argued that most of the international collaborations business schools have been touting on their Web sites are limited to student and faculty exchanges, with little meaningful change in the curriculum.

“If that’s all we do, we risk becoming a specialized segment of the travel and hospitality industry,” said Mr. Ghemawat, the author of Redefining Global Strategy: Crossing Borders in a World Where Differences Still Matter (Harvard Business School Press, 2007). He also dismissed as "globaloney" the premise that global borders matter little today in solving the world's business problems. Mr. Ghemawat argued that the world is, in fact, only "semi-globalized," and that both students and businesses are misled when regional differences are ignored.

“If you’re an MBA student, what could be more seductive than being told ‘the world is one, and you’re now perfectly equipped, once you get your degree, to go out and stamp out global management problems, wherever they spring up—kind of a global SWAT team.”

The business-schools’ association, which now has 559 accredited members in 32 countries, has emphasized globalization in recent years. Despite some likely short-term retrenchment in the industry, the association’s international orientation will remain important over the long haul, said John J. Fernandes, president of the association.

“We’re not going back to the covered-wagon days,” he said in an interview. While many fear that the world's deepening economic crisis will prompt a call for more trade restrictions, “a retreat to protectionism is a short-term reaction to fear, but in the long run, a global outlook is key,” Mr. Fernandes said.

No Plan to Withdraw

Some deans whose MBA programs’ reputations are built on their strong international orientation agree. Hildy Teegen, dean of the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, said her school has a responsibility to a state that relies heavily on overseas investment in its agriculture, manufacturing, textile, and tourism industries.

"In this kind of economic environment, we'll have to be very strategic in our partnerships, but we have no intention of pulling back," said Ms. Teegen, who serves, with Mr. Ghemawat and Mr. Snyder, on the AACSB's globalization committee. "Without foreign trade and commerce, our state's economy would be devastated."

In the halls, between sessions, deans traded anecdotes about how the financial crisis has affected their jobs.

Nakiye A. Boyacigiller, management dean at Sabanci University, in Istanbul, Turkey, handed out business cards, offering to serve as host to study tours for schools that were still able to sponsor short trips abroad. She has had to cut back on foreign trips for her own executive MBA program because students can no longer afford them, or they are afraid to ask for more time off from their jobs.

Sabanci is one of thousands of business schools that have sprung up in recent years. Worldwide, about 11,800 schools offer undergraduate or graduate business degrees, according to the AACSB. More than 8,000 of those are in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America, and fewer than 2,000 each are in North America and Europe. Relatively few of the new programs have been started by leading American business schools, said Mr. Snyder, the University of Chicago dean.

“Ours is one of the most diffuse, unconcentrated industries in the world," he told the deans. "I don’t think there’s another industry on the planet that has responded the way we have to globalization, with this pattern of many, many start-ups and indigenous growth all over the world.”

Diminishing Opportunities

Given the worldwide economic meltdown, fewer MBA programs will be able to recruit students from around the world, educate them at an overseas campus, and then place them in high-level jobs, Mr. Snyder said. “The number of good jobs that will justify the cost of bringing people in will decline,” he added.

Speakers noted that business schools seeking to expand overseas already face a variety of roadblocks, including regulatory constraints, resistance from their own universities, and a reluctance to move faculty members from their home campuses.

But all was not gloom and doom for deans with expansion on their minds. Blair H. Sheppard, dean of Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, said Duke is moving ahead this summer with an expanded version of its "cross-continent MBA," in which students will do much of their work over the Internet, but also spend periods working and studying at campuses in Britain, China, India, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as on Duke's main campus in North Carolina.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Higher Education Controversies are at

Does the U.S. really want to take out Bin Laden?
I doubt it!

Osama bin Laden is most likely hiding in the city of Parachinar in Kurram, Pakistan, according to the results of a unique study undertaken by geography professors at UCLA, who used biogeographic theories in an attempt to pinpoint the terror leader's exact location. In fact, they've even gone so far as to suggest the three most likely structures where bin Laden and his entourage may be residing.
Maddy Sauer, "Osama Bin Laden's Hideout Pinpointed? Study Offers New Insights into Terror Leader's Possible Whereabouts," ABC News, February 18, 2009 ---
Paul Williams forwarded this link.

February 18, 2009 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi Paul,

It's highly likely that we've known and tracked, since the Tora Bora entrapment, where Bin Laden is holed up. In fact, a former head of a Delta Force task force now claims he had a bead on Bin Laden and was refused permission by the high command to pull the trigger. This was a most interesting module on CBS Sixty Minutes on October 5, 2008 ---

This begs the question of why people high up in the military and State Department might prefer that Bin Laden or his myth  live on even if he is already dead. One obvious reason is that Bin Laden or his myth (if he’s dead) now restrains the most dangerous  terror cells that are in place throughout the world. At the moment the most dangerous terror organization, certainly not the only one, has a chain of command probably leading to Bin Laden or his Wizard of Oz-like pretense. Purportedly Bin Laden eventually admitted that 9/11 was a devastating mistake on his part.

It's a little like a huge labor union. As long as Samuel Gompers was in charge, many wildcat strikes were quelled by the union boss himself. Without the union boss, the wildcat strikes might've been devastating, deadly, and near anarchy. Both industry and the U.S. government at the time needed Gompers. Of course Gompers was willing to bargain collectively, which is something that is not likely under Bin Laden.

Interestingly, Bin Laden's power over his fanatical followers may be due to anticipation that he will someday unleash a devastating and decisive blow, perhaps with weapons of mass destruction. This is risky, because with each passing year since 9/11 his most impatient followers may become increasing disillusioned and less controllable.

A woman medical doctor at the Stanford Medical School shortly after 9/11 had the best idea of what to do with Bin Laden. We should kidnap him, whisk him off to a Navy carrier for a sex change operation, and then return him to as a woman to live among his most fanatical followers.  

Bob Jensen

There's a booger in my burger!
The Stella Awards were inspired by Stella Liebeck. In 1992, Stella, then 79, spilled a cup of McDonald's coffee onto her lap inside a moving car, burning herself. A New Mexico jury awarded her $2.9 million in damages (later reduced on appeal).

Stella Awards ---

Revealed: The most outrageous US lawsuits:  The most outrageous lawsuits filed in the past year have been revealed at the annual Stella Awards held in the US this week," London Telegraph, February 16, 2009 ---

The awards take a light-hearted look at the civil litigation industry that now costs more than $247 billion (£172bn) a year – the equivalent of $825 (£574) per person in the US.

They are named after Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who successfully sued McDonald's for $2.86 million (£2m) in 1992 after burning herself on coffee that was "too hot".

Among the cases featured this year was the Washington lawyer who is suing the dry cleaners who lost his trousers for $65 million (£45m) on the basis of "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort" and the woman who threw her drink at her boyfriend in a Philadelphia restaurant then slipped on the spilt liquid, broke her tailbone and successfully sued for $113,500 (£79,000).

The awards, which were set up seven years ago by California publisher and columnist Randy Cassingham, also include the case of Mrs Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma, who sued Winnebago for $1.75 million (£1.21m) after she crashed her motor home at 70mph while making a sandwich.

She argued the firm failed to inform her not to leave the wheel when she set it on cruise control.

Kara Walton, of Claymont, Delaware, gained a mention after she sued the owner of a nightclub for $12,000 (£8,350) because she fell from the bathroom window she was trying to sneak in through, knocking out her two front teeth.

Jerry Williams, of Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded $14,500 (£10,000) plus medical expenses after being bitten on the bottom by his next door neighbour's beagle. The dog was on a chain and Mr Williams had hopped over a fence and repeatedly shot it with a pellet gun.

Criminals had a good year in court. Terrence Dickson of Bristol, Pennsylvania, won $500,000 (£350,000) from the insurance company of a family whose home he burgled when he was trapped inside the garage for eight days, while Carl Truman, 19, of Los Angeles, California, won $74,000 (£51,500) plus medical expenses when his neighbour ran over his hand as he tried to to steal his hubcaps.

Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas was awarded $80,000 (£55,700) plus medical costs against the owners of a store when she tripped over a running toddler and broke her ankle. The toddler was her own son.

Some lawyers are now warning that the number of frivolous lawsuits could even increase as the recession drives people to more inventive moneymaking methods.

California family law specialist Jim Fedalen warned: "When people are broke they get desperate and I have no doubt we're going to see a big increase in scams, such as people deliberately planting nasty objects in their sandwiches then trying to sue the burger joint.

"You'd be amazed at the companies who will shell out thousands, even when they suspect they're being conned, to avoid the adverse publicity of a court case. Juries tend to side with the plaintiffs and damages they sometimes award are in the realms of the ridiculous."

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

My Latest Fish Catch

"The Two Languages of Academic Freedom," by Stanley Fish, The New York Times, February 8, 2009 --- 

Last week we came to the section on academic freedom in my course on the law of higher education and I posed this hypothetical to the students: Suppose you were a member of a law firm or a mid-level executive in a corporation and you skipped meetings or came late, blew off assignments or altered them according to your whims, abused your colleagues and were habitually rude to clients. What would happen to you?

The chorus of answers cascaded immediately: “I’d be fired.” Now, I continued, imagine the same scenario and the same set of behaviors, but this time you’re a tenured professor in a North American university. What then?

I answered this one myself: “You’d be celebrated as a brave nonconformist, a tilter against orthodoxies, a pedagogical visionary and an exemplar of academic freedom.”

My assessment of the way in which some academics contrive to turn serial irresponsibility into a form of heroism under the banner of academic freedom has now been at once confirmed and challenged by events at the University of Ottawa, where the administration announced on Feb. 6 that it has “recommended to the Board of Governors the dismissal with cause of Professor Denis Rancourt from his faculty position.” Earlier, Rancourt, a tenured professor of physics, had been suspended from teaching and banned from campus. When he defied the ban he was taken away in handcuffs and charged with trespassing.

What had Rancourt done to merit such treatment? According to the Globe and Mail, Rancourt’s sin was to have informed his students on the first day of class that “he had already decided their marks : Everybody was getting an A+.”

But that, as the saying goes, is only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath it is the mass of reasons Rancourt gives for his grading policy and for many of the other actions that have infuriated his dean, distressed his colleagues (a third of whom signed a petition against him) and delighted his partisans.

Rancourt is a self-described anarchist and an advocate of “critical pedagogy,” a style of teaching derived from the assumption (these are Rancourt’s words) “that our societal structures . . . represent the most formidable instrument of oppression and exploitation ever to occupy the planet” (Activist, April 13, 2007).

Among those structures is the university in which Rancourt works and by which he is paid. But the fact of his position and compensation does not insulate the institution from his strictures and assaults; for, he insists, “schools and universities supply the obedient workers and managers and professionals that adopt and apply [the] system’s doctrine — knowingly or unknowingly.”

It is this belief that higher education as we know it is simply a delivery system for a regime of oppressors and exploiters that underlies Rancourt’s refusal to grade his students. Grading, he says, “is a tool of coercion in order to make obedient people” (, Jan. 12, 2009).

It turns out that another tool of coercion is the requirement that professors actually teach the course described in the college catalogue, the course students think they are signing up for. Rancourt battles against this form of coercion by employing a strategy he calls “squatting” – “where one openly takes an existing course and does with it something different.” That is, you take a currently unoccupied structure, move in and make it the home for whatever activities you wish to engage in. “Academic squatting is needed,” he says, “because universities are dictatorships . . . run by self-appointed executives who serve capital interests.”

Rancourt first practiced squatting when he decided that he “had to do something more than give a ‘better’ physics course.” Accordingly, he took the Physics and Environment course that had been assigned to him and transformed it into a course on political activism, not a course about political activism, but a course in which political activism is urged — “an activism course about confronting authority and hierarchical structures directly or through defiant or non-subordinate assertion in order to democratize power in the workplace, at school, and in society.”

Clearly squatting itself is just such a “defiant or non-subordinate assertion.” Rancourt does not merely preach his philosophy. He practices it.

This sounds vaguely admirable until you remember what Rancourt is, in effect, saying to those who employ him: I refuse to do what I have contracted to do, but I will do everything in my power to subvert the enterprise you administer. Besides, you’re just dictators, and it is my obligation to undermine you even as I demand that you pay me and confer on me the honorific title of professor. And, by the way, I am entitled to do so by the doctrine of academic freedom, which I define as “the ideal under which professors and students are autonomous and design their own development and interactions.”

Of course, as Rancourt recognizes, if this is how academic freedom is defined, its scope is infinite and one can’t stop with squatting: “The next step is academic hijacking, where students tell a professor that she can stay or leave but that this is what they are going to do and these are the speakers they are going to invite.” O, brave new world!

The record shows exchanges of letters between Rancourt and Dean Andre E. Lalonde and letters from each of them to Marc Jolicoeur, chairman of the Board of Governors. There is something comical about some of these exchanges when the dean asks Rancourt to tell him why he is not guilty of insubordination and Rancourt replies that insubordination is his job, and that, rather than ceasing his insubordinate activities, he plans to expand them. Lalonde complains that Rancourt “does not acknowledge any impropriety regarding his conduct.” Rancourt tells Jolicoeur that “Socrates did not give grades to students,” and boasts that everything he has done was done “with the purpose of making the University of Ottawa a better place,” a place “of greater democracy.” In other words, I am the bearer of a saving message and those who need it most will not hear it and respond by persecuting me. It is the cry of every would-be messiah.

Rancourt’s views are the opposite of those announced by a court in an Arizona case where the issue was also whether a teaching method could be the basis of dismissal. Noting that the university had concluded that the plaintiff’s “methodology was not successful,” the court declared “Academic freedom is not a doctrine to insulate a teacher from evaluation by the institution that employs him” (Carley v. Arizona, 1987).

The Arizona court thinks of academic freedom as a doctrine whose scope is defined by the purposes and protocols of the institution and its limited purposes. Rancourt thinks of academic freedom as a local instance of a global project whose goal is nothing less than the freeing of revolutionary energies, not only in the schools but everywhere.

It is the difference between being concerned with the establishing and implementing of workplace-specific procedures and being concerned with the wholesale transformation of society. It is the difference between wanting to teach a better physics course and wanting to save the world. Given such divergent views, not only is reconciliation between the parties impossible; conversation itself is impossible. The dispute can only be resolved by an essentially political decision, and in this case the narrower concept of academic freedom has won. But only till next time.

Stanley Fish is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and a professor of law at Florida International University, in Miami, and dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins and Duke University. He is the author of 10 books. His new book on higher education, "Save the World On Your Own Time," has just been published.

"An Authoritative Word on Academic Freedom," by Stanley Fish, The New York Times, November 23, 2008 ---

More than a few times in these columns I have tried to deflate the balloon of academic freedom by arguing that it was not an absolute right or a hallowed principle, but a practical and limited response to the particular nature of intellectual work.

Now, in a new book — “For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom,” to be published in 2009 — two distinguished scholars of constitutional law, Matthew W. Finkin and Robert C. Post, study the history and present shape of the concept and come to conclusions that support and deepen what I have been saying in these columns and elsewhere.

The authors’ most important conclusion is presented early on in their introduction: “We argue that the concept of Academic freedom . . . differs fundamentally from the individual First Amendment rights that present themselves so vividly to the contemporary mind.” The difference is that while free speech rights are grounded in the constitution, academic freedom rights are “grounded . . . in a substantive account of the purposes of higher education and in the special conditions necessary for faculty to fulfill those purposes.”

In short, academic freedom, rather than being a philosophical or moral imperative, is a piece of policy that makes practical sense in the context of the specific task academics are charged to perform. It follows that the scope of academic freedom is determined first by specifying what that task is and then by figuring out what degree of latitude those who are engaged in it require in order to do their jobs.

If the mission of the enterprise is, as Finkin and Post say, “to promote new knowledge and model independent thought,” the “special conditions” necessary to the realization of that mission must include protection from the forces and influences that would subvert newness and independence by either anointing or demonizing avenues of inquiry in advance. Those forces and influences would include trustees, parents, donors, legislatures and the general run of “public opinion,” and the device that provides the necessary protection is called academic freedom. (It would be better if it had a name less resonant with large significances, but I can’t think of one.)

It does not, however, protect faculty members from the censure or discipline that might follow upon the judgment of their peers that professional standards have either been ignored or violated. There is, Finkin and Post insist, “a fundamental distinction between holding faculty accountable to professional norms and holding them accountable to public opinion. The former exemplifies academic freedom: the latter undermines it.”

Holding faculty accountable to public opinion undermines academic freedom because it restricts teaching and research to what is already known or generally accepted.

Holding faculty accountable to professional norms exemplifies academic freedom because it highlights the narrow scope of that freedom, which does not include the right of faculty “to research and publish in any manner they personally see fit.”

Indeed, to emphasize the “personal” is to mistake the nature of academic freedom, which belongs, Finkin and Post declare, to the enterprise, not to the individual. If academic freedom were “reconceptualized as an individual right,” it would make no sense — why should workers in this enterprise have enlarged rights denied to others? — and support for it “would vanish” because that support, insofar as it exists, is for the project and its promise (the production of new knowledge) and not for those who labor within it. Academics do not have a general liberty, only “the liberty to practice the scholarly profession” and that liberty is hedged about by professional norms and responsibilities.

I find this all very congenial. Were Finkin and Post’s analysis internalized by all faculty members, the academic world would be a better place, if only because there would be fewer instances of irresponsible or overreaching teachers invoking academic freedom as a cover for their excesses.

I do, however, have a quarrel with the authors when they turn to the question of what teachers are free or not free to do in the classroom.

Finkin and Post are correct when they reject the neo-conservative criticism of professors who bring into a class materials from disciplines other than the ones they were trained in. The standard, they say, should be “whether material from a seemingly foreign field of study illuminates the subject matter under scrutiny.”

Just so. If I’m teaching poetry and feel that economic or mathematical models might provide a helpful perspective on a poem or body of poems, there is no good pedagogical reason for limiting me to models that belong properly to literary criticism. (I could of course be criticized for not understanding the models I imported, but that would be another issue; a challenge to my competence, not to my morality.)

But of course what the neo-conservative critics of the academy are worried about is not professors who stray from their narrowly defined areas of expertise; they are worried about professors who do so in order to sneak in their partisan preferences under the cover of providing students with supplementary materials. That, I think, is a genuine concern, and one Finkin and Post do not take seriously enough.

Responding to an expressed concern that liberal faculty too often go on about the Iraq War in a course on an entirely unrelated subject, Finkin and Post maintain that there is nothing wrong, for example, with an instructor in English history “who seeks to interest students by suggesting parallels between King George III’s conduct of the Revolutionary War and Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq.”

But we only have to imagine the class discussion generated by this parallel to see what is in fact wrong with introducing it. Bush, rather than King George, would immediately become the primary reference point of the parallel, and the effort to understand the monarch’s conduct of his war would become subsidiary to the effort to find fault with Bush’s conduct of his war. Indeed, that would be immediately seen by the students as the whole point of the exercise. Why else introduce a contemporary political figure known to be anathema to most academics if you were not inviting students to pile it on, especially in the context of the knowledge that this particular king was out of his mind?

Sure, getting students to be interested in the past is a good thing, but there are plenty of ways to do that without taking the risk (no doubt being courted) that intellectual inquiry will give way to partisan venting. Finkin and Post are right to say that “educational relevance is to be determined . . . by the heuristic purposes and consequences of a pedagogical intervention”; but this intervention has almost no chance of remaining pedagogical; its consequences are predictable, and its purposes are suspect

Still, this is the only part of the book’s argument I am unable to buy. The rest of it is right on target. And you just have to love a book — O.K., I just have to love a book — that declares that while faculty must “respect students as persons,” they are under no obligation to respect the “ideas held by students.” Way to go!


Jensen Comment
The term "political correctness" and related phrases have a long history ---
However, probably no U.S. scholar is more associated with "political correctness" since than Stanley Fish when he was at Duke University and the phrase "political correctness" with feminist language constraints and liberalism in campus politics ---

YouTube Video Lectures for Your Very Own to Keep and to Hold and to Love
Note that most of these are entire courses!

"New From YouTube: Free Downloads of College Lectures," by David Shieh, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 13, 2009 ---

YouTube began testing a new feature that lets users download videos posted to the site from partner institutions — including colleges — rather than just watching the videos in a streaming format. That means people can grab lectures from Duke and Stanford Universities and several institutions in the University of California system to watch any time, with or without an Internet connection.

YouTube partners have the option of charging users for such downloads, but all the universities have offered to make their lecture videos free instead, using Creative Commons licenses that restrict usage to non-commercial purposes and prohibit derivative work.

Some universities already allow users to download lectures through campus Web sites or through Apple’s iTunesU using Creative Commons licenses. But Obadiah Greenberg, a strategic-partner manager at YouTube, said in an interview this week that the site’s new feature would allow an even larger audience to take advantage of such content.

Scott Stocker, director of Web communications for Stanford, said the university had made audio and video content available for download through Apple’s iTunesU since 2007. But Mr. Stocker said that iTunesU and YouTube attract different audiences: Users of iTunesU generally search out content to download to their devices, while YouTube users stumble upon content through videos embedded on blogs or links shared among friends.

Mr. Stocker said Stanford had no plans to charge money for its video downloads, since the university sees giving away lectures as part of its educational mission.

Other YouTube partners participating in the test include a weekly Web show hosted by Dan Brown of Lincoln, Neb., and Khan Academy, a non-profit organization that offers video lectures on subjects like physics and finance for 99 cents per download.

"YouTube Goes Offline," YouTube News Announcement, February 12, 2009 ---

We are always looking for ways to make it easier for you to find, watch, and share videos. Many of you have told us that you wanted to take your favorite videos offline. So we've started working with a few partners who want their videos shared universally and even enjoyed away from an Internet connection.

Many video creators on YouTube want their work to be seen far and wide. They don't mind sharing their work, provided that they get the proper credit. Using
Creative Commons licenses, we're giving our partners and community more choices to make that happen. Creative Commons licenses permit people to reuse downloaded content under certain conditions.

We're also testing an option that gives video owners the ability to permit downloading of their videos from YouTube. Partners could choose to offer their video downloads for free or for a small fee paid through
Google Checkout. Partners can set prices and decide which license they want to attach to the downloaded video files (for more info on the types of licenses, take a look here).

For example, universities use YouTube to share lectures and research with an ever-expanding audience. In an effort to promote the sharing of information, we are testing free downloads of YouTube videos from
Stanford, Duke, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UCTV (broadcasting programs from throughout the UC system). YouTube users who are traveling or teachers who want to show these videos in classrooms with limited or no connectivity should find this particularly useful.

A small number of other YouTube partners, including
khanacademy, householdhacker and pogobat, are also participating in this test as an additional distribution and revenue-generating tool.

So how do these downloads work? The video watch pages of the participating partners link to the download option below the left-hand corner of the video. To help you keep track of the videos you have previously purchased, we have created a new
"My Purchases" tab under "My Videos."

If you are a partner who is interested in participating, you can find out more about the test and enter your information

Please do share your feedback with us by joining the discussion

Thai Tran
Product Manager

Bob Jensen's links to free online videos and tutorials in higher education are at

Free lecture videos, tutorials, and textbooks in accounting, finance, and statistics ---

The Top Ranked University Websites of the World

"MIT Tops Rankings of University Web Sites," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 11, 2009 ---

The Cybermetrics Lab, a research group based in Spain, has released the latest edition of its biannual Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, which seeks to measure “the performance and impact of universities through their Web presence.”

According to the group’s Web site, the rankings—which Cybermetrics began publishing in 2004—were originally conceived as a way of promoting open access to academic materials online. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose OpenCourseWare project boasts the world’s largest collection of free teaching materials, tops the list.

Stanford University, Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Cornell University round out the top five. American universities are the strongest performers: The University of Toronto, at No. 24, is the highest-ranked institution from outside the United States, and the University of Cambridge, at No. 28, registered as the highest-ranked European institution.

The Webometrics rankings score each university on four criteria, including the number of links to the institution’s Web site from other sites. These “inlinks” are ostensibly a good way of evaluating a site’s general impact on the Web community.

Bob Jensen's threads on free course materials and videos from leading universities are at

Hybrid Car Owners Encouraged to Eat Beans, Beans, Raw Vegetables, and More Beans

"Hybrids Powered by Air:  Storing energy with compressed air, rather than batteries, could cut the cost of hybrid vehicles," by Kevin Bullis, MIT's Technology Review, February 11, 2009 --- 

A new kind of hybrid vehicle being developed at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich could save almost as much fuel as today's gas-electric hybrids, but at a fraction of the cost. Swiss researchers will present the results of experiments with a test version of the new system at the Society for Automotive Engineer's Congress in April.

Conventional gas-electric hybrids use batteries to store energy recovered during braking, which would otherwise be wasted as heat. They later use that energy to drive an electric motor that assists the car's gas engine. But the high-cost of batteries, and the added cost of including two forms of propulsion--an electric motor and a gasoline engine--make such hybrids expensive. This has slowed their adoption and limited their impact on overall greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

Lino Guzzella, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Swiss Institute, is developing a hybrid that requires no battery or electric motor. Instead, it stores energy by using the engine's pistons to compress air. That air can later be released to drive the pistons and propel the vehicle along. Guzzella says that the system will add only about 20 percent to the cost of a conventional engine, whereas the extra components required in hybrid electric vehicles can add 200 percent to the cost. Computer simulations suggest that the design should reduce fuel consumption by 32 percent, which is about 80 percent of the fuel-savings of gas-electric hybrids, he says. Initial experiments have demonstrated that the design can be built.

The overall idea of air (or pneumatic) hybrids isn't new, but making them efficient has been challenging. "It's difficult to keep the [energy] losses involved in moving air around small enough that it looks attractive," says John Heywood, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT who has also worked on developing air hybrids. What's more, tanks of compressed air store far less energy than batteries, severely limiting the fuel savings in typical air-hybrid designs, says Doug Nelson, a professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. This is one of the major drawbacks of cars designed to run solely on compressed air.

Guzzella's new air-hybrid design makes use of advanced control systems to more precisely control the flow of air, improving overall efficiency. To overcome limited storage capacity, the design relies less on capturing energy from braking than other hybrids, and more on another approach to saving energy: using pneumatic power to boost the performance of smaller, more efficient gasoline engines.

Conventional vehicles use engines that can provide far more power than is needed for cruising--this excess power is used during acceleration and for sustaining very high speeds. But these engines are inefficient, especially since most of the time they operate at far lower loads than they were designed for.

Added Insights on How the CDO Scandals Worked

February 9, 2009 message from Phillip Chiu []

Dear Professor Jensen,

I am writing on behalf of a group of investors numbering several tens of thousands in Hong Kong who believe they have been duped by Lehman Brothers in purchasing what is described as ‘credit-linked’ notes (a small portion is variously described as ‘equity-linked note’ and the like).

The complexity of the products only gradually came to light after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers last September, followed by the rather irresponsible conduct manifested by the refusal of the distributor banks and the regulators (the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority) to answer queries relating to the approval and sales of such Notes.

The Notes were being sold indiscriminately to the public without any regard to suitability of the particular investor. By a rough estimate (profiles of the victimized investors have been withheld by the government), about 40% of the entire body of investors are retirees, elderly, uneducated or suffering from other handicaps.

We believe that the so-called credit-linked notes actually conceal poor quality synthetic CDO described as ‘underlying security’. Ostensibly the Notes are advertised as ‘credit-linked’ to a handful of well-known companies, but this is no more than a façade in order to obscure the all-important role played by the portfolios of credit derivatives. I attach the issue prospectus and programme prospectus of one of the many series for your ease of reference.

From your remarkable wealth of knowledge in white collar fraud, I wonder if you would be interested in having a look of the attachment and considering adding this scam in your website. Being mere amateurs in finance, we have been struggling to unravel the fraud without any assistance from the banks and the regulators. We would be most grateful for any advice from you such as similar deceptive practice (mischaracterizing highly risky derivatives as ‘security’ in order to mislead the investors in this instance), or any other aspects that you may consider we should pay attention to.

No details about the ‘underlying security’ was given in the prospectuses and Lehman sought to excuse the non-disclosure by asserting that final decision had not been made when the prospectus went to print. The intervals between each series of the Notes could be as short as one month which renders the assertion implausible. After all, some issuers of similar notes have adopted the practice of revealing an ‘expected portfolio’ and cognate details. We consider this a key aspect of intentional withholding of information. Your opinion on this would be very much appreciated.

May I thank you in advance for taking time to read our request.

Yours faithfully

Philip Chiu

Attachment 1 ---
Attachment 2 ---

Bob Jensen’s Rotten to the Core threads are at 

You can read more about CDO scandals at 

Bob Jensen's Fraud Updates are at

NCAA Says You Can Only Gamble on a Few Long Shots
On Wednesday, the NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions took the unusual step (at the instigation of Eastern Washington officials themselves) of dictating admissions policies at one of its member institutions. In punishing Eastern Washington for major violations in its football program, the NCAA panel upped the ante on a penalty the university had imposed on itself, limiting the institution to admitting no more than three academic “non-qualifiers” a year for the next three years, and prohibiting Eastern Washington outright from recruiting community college transfers who do not meet the academic eligibility standards during that time period.
Doug Lederman, "Too Many Academically Challenged Athletes," Inside Higher Ed, February 12, 2009 ---

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


"Conference: An Analysis of Academic Clustering Comparing White and Minority Players," by Jeffrey J. Fountain and Peter S. Finley, Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, 2009, 2, 1-13 --- Click Here

Yes Bohunk: It's Still Possible to Sign Up for Basket Weaving
Athletes Seek Out Professors Who Will Pass Almost Any Athlete

Watkins says it is all too common to see athletes grouped in certain departments or programs under the sheltering wings of faculty members who appear to care more about their success on the courts, rinks and fields than in the classroom. Faculty members are often the most vocal critics of favoritism for athletes (the issues at Auburn were raised by one whistle blowing sociology professor against another), he says, but it is frequently professors who are responsible for the favoritism in the first place.
Rob Capriccioso, "Tackling Favoritism for Athletes," Inside Higher Ed, July 20, 2006 ---

While accusations of widespread abuse like that alleged at Auburn are unusual, “clustering” of athletes — in which large numbers of athletes at an institution major in a particular program or department, out of proportion to other students at the college — is common. A 2002-3 analysis by USA Today found that a large percentage of football players at Auburn and Duke University (a quarter and a third of the teams, respectively) majored in sociology, while tiny fractions of all undergraduates majored in that field. At North Carolina State, the University of Michigan and University of Southern Mississippi, the most popular major among football players tended to be sports management, also far out of proportion with their peer students.

Richard M. Southall, an assistant professor of sport and leisure studies at the University of Memphis, says that his own sports and leisure area is the second most popular major for athletes, just behind those who attend the institution’s University College, an “individualized and interdisciplinary” degree program.

Continued in article

How do athletes at Auburn University find a way to ace sociology without having to go to class?

"Top Grades and No Class Time for Auburn Players," by Pete Thamal, The New York Times, July 14, 2006 --- Click Here

Professor Petee’s directed-reading classes, which nonathletes took as well, helped athletes in several sports improve their grade-point averages and preserve their athletic eligibility. A number of athletes took more than one class with Professor Petee over their careers: one athlete took seven such courses, three athletes took six, five took five and eight took four, according to records compiled by Professor Gundlach. He also found that more than a quarter of the students in Professor Petee’s directed-reading courses were athletes. (Professor Gundlach could not provide specific names because of student privacy laws.)

The Auburn football team’s performance in the N.C.A.A.’s new rankings of student athletes’ academic progress surprised many educators on and off campus. The team had the highest ranking of any Division I-A public university among college football’s six major conferences. Over all among Division I-A football programs, Auburn trailed only Stanford, Navy and Boston College, and finished just ahead of Duke.

Among those caught off guard by Auburn’s performance was Gordon Gee, the chancellor of Vanderbilt, a fellow university in the Southeastern Conference and its only private institution. Vanderbilt had an 88 percent graduation rate in 2004, compared with Auburn’s 48 percent, yet finished well behind Auburn in the new N.C.A.A. rankings.

“It was a little surprising because our graduation rates are so much higher,” Mr. Gee said. “I’m not quite certain I understood that.”

The N.C.A.A. cannot comment on specific academic cases. But when asked how much 18 players taking 97 credit hours could affect a football team’s academic standing, Thomas S. Paskus, the N.C.A.A.’s principal research scientist, said it would be likely to lift the number. He added that it would be difficult to gauge how much the classes helped the academic ranking.

In the spring of 2005, Professor Gundlach confronted Professor Petee, to whom he reported, about the proliferation of directed-reading courses. That spring, the university’s administration told Professor Petee he was carrying too many of the classes. Far fewer have been offered since.

Continued in article

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

From the Scout Project on February 6, 2009

ReadAir 0.3.1 --- 

There are a number of RSS feed readers out there, and this may be one of the best. This version of ReadAir allows users to access all of their feeds simply, and they can also search all of them by keyword and look around for shared stories. While ReadAir doesn't have the trend analysis feature that some users have come to expect from Google Reader, it's still a very valuable tool. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.3 and newer.

Google Earth 5.0 --- 

Google Earth has gone underwater with this latest iteration of their popular Earth-roaming application. Along with traveling the usual roads provided by previous versions of Google Earth, visitors can now visit the bottom of the Mariana Trench, learn about ocean observations, and even discover new places to surf and dive. On the Google Earth homepage, visitors can take a guided tour of all these new features. This version is compatible with all operating systems.

New portrait reveals the appearance of Martha Washington as a young woman Martha Washington – a hot first lady?  

Fresh Look at Martha Washington   

Rare Letter from Martha to George Washington Returns to Mount Vernon 

Gilder Lehman Institute of American History: Martha Washington to Francis B. Washington 

First Ladies --- 

National First Ladies' Library  ---

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

Education Tutorials

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

Science at a Distance: E-Learning Modules ---

Biomedical Beat ---

Forest Encyclopedia Network ---

Ecology, Art, and Technology ---

Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology --- BioPortal ---

Ocean Science ---

Radiology Education ---

Everyday Miracles: Medical Imagery in Ex-Votos

GreenHomeGuide ---

Bob Jensen's threads on free online science, engineering, and medicine tutorials are at ---

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

The Brookings Institution: World ---

The Opper Project (editorial cartoons) ---

"Will the Left Ever Learn to Communicate Across Generations?" by Maurice Isserman, Chronicle of Higher Education's The Chronicle Review, June 20, 2008 ---

Reconstructing American History --- Visitor Center Report_.pdf

The Life and Work of Edward R. Murrow ---

United Nations Diplomatic Conferences ---

JGuide (Japan) ---

GreenHomeGuide ---

Bob Jensen's threads on Economics, Anthropology, Social Sciences, and Philosophy tutorials are at

Law and Legal Studies

Bob Jensen's threads on law and legal studies are at

Math and Statistics Tutorials

Future Accountant (statistics and probability tutorials) ---

Mathematical Brooding over an Egg ---

Bob Jensen's threads on free online mathematics tutorials are at

History Tutorials

JGuide (Japan) ---

W.P. Davies Newspaper Columns ---

Florida broadsides and other ephemera, 1800-2000 ---

BBC: Witnessing the Holocaust

Art 21 (art and war video) ---

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Auschwitz Through the Lens of the SS ---

The Opper Project (editorial cartoons) ---

"Will the Left Ever Learn to Communicate Across Generations?" by Maurice Isserman, Chronicle of Higher Education's The Chronicle Review, June 20, 2008 ---

Reconstructing American History --- Visitor Center Report_.pdf

The Life and Work of Edward R. Murrow --- 

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art ---

Victoria and Albert Museum: Medieval & Renaissance ---

Humorous History of British Noblemen
The Society of Dilettanti ---

From the Scout Report on February 6, 2009

New portrait reveals the appearance of Martha Washington as a young woman Martha Washington – a hot first lady?  

Fresh Look at Martha Washington   

Rare Letter from Martha to George Washington Returns to Mount Vernon 

Gilder Lehman Institute of American History: Martha Washington to Francis B. Washington 

First Ladies --- 

National First Ladies' Library  ---


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 ---


Gasp:  Corny Exhaust Can Be Harmful to Lungs
Switching from gasoline or corn-based biofuels to cellulosic ethanol--made from the stalks and stems of plants--could have more health and environmental benefits than previously recognized, according to a study of different types of transportation fuels. The environmental and health costs associated with cellulosic ethanol are less than half those of gasoline and of corn ethanol, the study found.
Anna Davison, MIT's Technology Review, February 17, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
I hope Al Gore gets a big whiff of this.

"Vitamins Fail to Reduce Health Risks for Women," The Wall Street Journal, February 10, 2009 --- 

Taking a multivitamin didn't cut the risk of cancer, cardiovascular problems or dying among postmenopausal women, according to a study released Monday.

The study, considered the largest multivitamin study in postmenopausal women conducted to date, was published in the Feb. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Overall, it showed few differences in the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and dying from any cause between vitamin users and women who didn't take multivitamins.

Researchers, led by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, analyzed data involving 161,808 women participating in the government-funded Women's Health Initiative, ...

HIV Rapid Testing ---

"Drug Erases Fearful Memories:  A common drug can selectively target long-term memories better than other therapies," by Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, February 16, 2009 --- 

"A Laser That Heals Surgeons' Incisions Lasers and a century-old dye could supplant needles and thread," by Lauren Gravitz, MIT's Technology Review, February 11, 2009 ---

Despite medicine's inestimable progress over the past century, surgery can still leave scars that look more appropriate to Frankenstein's monster than to the beneficiary of a precise, modern operation. But in the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Irene Kochevar and Robert Redmond have developed a method that has the potential to replace the surgeon's needle and thread. Using surgical lasers and a light-activated dye, the researchers are prompting tissue to heal itself.

Laser-bonded healing is not a new idea. For years, scientists have been trying to find ways to use the heat generated by lasers to weld skin back together. But they've had a difficult time finding the right balance. Too little heat and a wound won't heal; too much and the tissue dies. Eight years ago, one of Kochevar and Redmond's colleagues was examining pathology slides of cells killed by this kind of thermal healing when it occurred to him that it might be possible to use just the light of a laser, rather than its heat.

While the idea of skin weaving itself back together may sound more like superhero lore than surgical skill, the science is startlingly simple. The team took advantage of the fact that a number of dyes are activated in the presence of light. In the case of Rose Bengal--a stain used in just about every ophthalmologist's office to detect corneal lesions--the researchers believe that light helps transfer electrons between the dye molecule and collagen, the major structural component of tissue. This produces highly reactive free radicals that cause the molecular chains of collagen to chemically bond to each other, or "cross-link." Paint two sides of a wound with Rose Benga­l, illuminate it with intense light, and the sides will knit themselves back together. "We call this nano suturing," Kochevar says, "because what you're doing is linking together the little collagen fibers. It's way beyond anything that a thread of any kind can do."

The benefits of such nano suturing are manifold. In just about every case, it appears to result in faster procedures, less scarring, and possibly fewer infections, since it seals openings completely and leaves no gap through which bacteria can penetrate. This makes it particularly well suited for closing not only superficial skin incisions but also those made in eye and nerve operations. In eye surgeries, such as corneal replacement, stitches that can cause irritation and infection must sometimes be left in place for months, which can aggravate complications. In nerve surgeries, damage from scar tissue can decrease the conduction of neural impulses. "If you put a needle through skin, it's not a big deal," says Redmon­d. "But if you put it through a nerve it's a big deal, because you're destroying part of the nerve."

Light Work The operations take place in a surgical suite of tile and stainless steel. Min Yao, a surgeon on Kochevar and Redmond's team, has carted a medical laser up from the lab downstairs. The instrument is already used for eye, ear, nose, and throat procedures, and its green light has just the right wavelength for maximum absorption by the pink Rose Bengal stain. The better the light is absorbed, the more it activates the dye and the more complete the collagen cross-linking. The box that generates the laser light is barely larger than a stere­o receiver; a thin fiber-optic cable snakes out of its side, and it gives off an appletini-green glow.

Continued in article

"Psychologists reveal the secret of successful wooing," PhysOrg, February 13, 2009 ---

A new University of Sussex study shows that,without being consciously aware, we change our judgment of a person's attractiveness based on what they do, not their physical characteristics.

Psychologist Dr Beena Khurana set up an experiment in which participants first rated the attractiveness of a set of faces presented on a computer screen. They were then asked to detect the presence of a target dot that appeared on either the left or right side of the screen. Before the target appeared, either a male or female face appeared looking either to the left or right. Participants were told to ignore the faces, but were later asked to rate faces for attractiveness again.

The results showed that faces of the opposite sex were more effective at directing participants' attention. In other words, women pay more attention to where men look and vice versa. The faces that gave accurate cues as to where the target dot appeared increased in attractiveness, but significantly more for the opposite sex.

Dr Khurana says: "The more traditional finding is that the more we find a face attractive the more we pay attention to it. Here we show that we can cause a face to become attractive as a function of the way it behaves. Note that we changed attractiveness ratings after one simple session of eye gaze cueing, so imagine what must be going on in real encounters. We think that perceived attractiveness is both dynamic and responsive to the behaviour of people."

Continued in article

"Kisses unleash chemicals that ease stress levels," by Randolph E. Schmid, PhysOrg, February 13, 2009 ---

"Chemistry look what you've done to me," Donna Summer crooned in Science of Love, and so, it seems, she was right. Just in time for Valentine's Day, a panel of scientists examined the mystery of what happens when hearts throb and lips lock. Kissing, it turns out, unleashes chemicals that ease stress hormones in both sexes and encourage bonding in men, though not so much in women.

Chemicals in the saliva may be a way to assess a mate, Wendy Hill, dean of the faculty and a professor of neuroscience at Lafayette College, told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday.

In an experiment, Hill explained, pairs of heterosexual college students who kissed for 15 minutes while listening to music experienced significant changes in their levels of the chemicals oxytocin, which affects pair bonding, and cortisol, which is associated with stress. Their blood and saliva levels of the chemicals were compared before and after the kiss.

Both men and women had a decline in cortisol after smooching, an indication their stress levels declined.

For men, oxytocin levels increased, indicating more interest in bonding, while oxytocin levels went down in women. "This was a surprise," Hill said.

In a test group that merely held hands, chemical changes were similar, but much less pronounced, she said.

The experiment was conducted in a student health center, Hill noted. She plans a repeat "in a more romantic setting."

Hill spoke at the session on the Science of Kissing, along with Helen Fisher of Rutgers University and Donald Lateiner of Ohio Wesleyan University.

Fisher noted that more than 90 percent of human societies practice kissing, which she believes has three components - the sex drive, romantic love and attachment.

The sex drive pushes individuals to assess a variety of partners, then romantic love causes them to focus on an individual, she said. Attachment then allows them to tolerate this person long enough to raise a child.

Men tend to think of kissing as a prelude to copulation, Fisher said. She noted that men prefer "sloppy" kisses, in which chemicals including testosterone can be passed on to the women in saliva. Testosterone increases the sex drive in both males and females.

"When you kiss an enormous part of your brain becomes active," she added. Romantic love can last a long time, "if you kiss the right person."

Lateiner, a classical scholar, observed that kissing appears infrequently in Greek and Roman art, but was widely practiced, despite the spread of skin disease at that time by facial kissing. And there was a potential for social faux pas by kissing the wrong person at the wrong time.

Overall, the science of kissing - philematology - is under-researcherd, Hill concluded.

Forwarded by Professor Edwards

Another oldie worth a second laugh...

These are from a book called 'Disorder in the American Courts' and are 
things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now 
published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while 

these exchanges were actually taking place. 


ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all? 
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory? 
WITNESS: I forget. 
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot? 

ATTORNEY: Now doctor isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he

                  doesn't know about it until the next morning? 
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam? 
 _________________________ ___________ 

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he? 
WITNESS: He's twenty, much like your IQ. 

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken? 
WITNESS: Are you shitting me? 

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th? 
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time? 
WITNESS: getting laid 

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right? 
ATTORNEY: How many were boys? 
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls? 
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney? 

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated? 
WITNESS: By death. 
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated? 
WITNESS: Take a guess.

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual? 
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard. 
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female? 
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I'm going with male. 

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition

         notice which I sent to your attorney? 
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work. 

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people? 
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight. 

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK?   What school did you go to? 

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.

ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished. 

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample? 
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question? 

And, the best for last: 

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse? 
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure? 
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing? 
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy? 
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor? 
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar. 
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless? 

WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Forwarded by a guy over 80 who probably tested every one of these propositions













The last tool in the list is probably the only tool your little kids know by name.


DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh sh -- '

ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

SKILL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.


OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch Wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.

UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

DAMN-IT TOOL: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'DAMN-IT' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.



Tidbits Archives ---

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

World Clock ---
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Interesting Online Clock and Calendar ---
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Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) ---
         Also see
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Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog ---
FinancialRounds Blog ---
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Gerald Trites'eBusiness and XBRL Blogs ---
AccountingWeb ---   
SmartPros ---

Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits ---
Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates ---

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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 ---

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Free Textbooks and Cases ---

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Free Education and Research Videos from Harvard University ---

VYOM eBooks Directory ---

From Princeton Online
The Incredible Art Department ---

Online Mathematics Textbooks --- 

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives ---

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.

Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

Accounting program news items for colleges are posted at
Sometimes the news items provide links to teaching resources for accounting educators.
Any college may post a news item.

Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

For an elaboration on the reasons you should join a ListServ (usually for free) go to
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 
This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM

Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) ---


Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
190 Sunset Hill Road
Sugar Hill, NH 03586
Phone:  603-823-8482