The only snow we see now is on the mountain tops.

The wild turkeys seem to have survived very well this winter.

Our snow down here is gone, but everything is sort of brown and ugly this time of year.
Below are some pictures of when the brown turns to green.



Barbie at Age One in 1960 (as forwarded by Paula)

Barbie in 1979

Barbie turned 50 in 2009 (as forwarded by Paula)

In a April 12, 2009 module on CBS Sixty Minutes, Dolly Parton told a true story how, at age three on a Tennessee
farm, she crawled into where a sow was suckling piglets, shoved a piglet aside, and commenced to nurse herself.
The picture below reminded me of Dolly's story.



Tidbits on April 14, 2009, 2009
Bob Jensen

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

Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
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Global Incident Map ---

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

Free Online Textbooks, Videos, and Tutorials ---
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 ---

NOVA: Last Extinction [PBS video] ---

Smart History [iTunes video] ---

Penn State University training film on how to liberal faculty can deal with military veterans who refuse to be politically correct ---
Alternate --- Click Here
An analysis by The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto ---
Penn State issued a public apology for producing the video ---

All Time First, Keith Olbermann Critical of Obama's Expansion of Wiretapping Policy ---
This is the first time I ever heard Keith find any fault with Obama policy or action. Until now I thought that his show was produced by the Obama Campaign.

Multimedia from Stanford University (engineering, architecture)
R. Buckminster Fuller Digital Collection ---

Thinkfinity Literacy Network [iTunes video] --- 

C-SPAN Podcasts [iTunes]

After much speculation that President Obama was high during this 60 Minutes interview, we found evidence that CBS tried to cover up the President's indiscretion. This is the raw footage of Obama's interview with Steve Croft. You have to look close to discover all of the elements that were covered or removed from the televised version by the clever use of deceptive editing.
Jensen Comment
I intently watched the original broadcast and was appalled, as was Steve Croft, at how our President giggled when asked why he was giving bankers trillions and being so stingy with General Motors. I agree with him on G.M., but it's no giggling matter.

Banned Imodium Commercial ---

Free music downloads ---

Andre Rieu - Il Silenzio (Maastricht 2008 beautiful rendition of Taps by a young woman) ---

Centraal Station Antwerpen gaat uit zijn dak! ---

The Record Of Singing: Opera Across The Ages ---
Also see the opera channel at 

Archival Music from India --- Click Here

Web outfits like Pandora, Foneshow, Stitcher, and Slacker broadcast portable and mobile content that makes Sirius look overpriced and stodgy ---

From NPR
Live Concert Selections ---

From the Scout Report on April 10, 2009

iConcertCal 2.4 --- 

It can be hard out there for a diehard live music fan, especially with the myriad of upcoming summer concert tours. Using this plug-in for iTunes, users can draw on the information from their personal music collection to learn about concerts that will be making their way through their area. Visitors can also create their own concert "playlist", if they so desire. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and newer and iTunes


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

Sand Castles (2008 Competition Winners) ---
Also see

Geoff Charles: Photographs of Wales and the English border during the Second World War ---

Panorama Around Mt. Everest (GREAT) ---
(Hold the left mouse button down and move drag around)

Historical Book Arts Collection ---

The Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries ---

From the University of Washington
Fashion Plate Collection (women's fashions in history) ---

The Color of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present ---

Art Education 2.0 ---

Paris Daily Photo Calendar ---


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 ---

Amazon's Best Sellers in April 2009 ---

Books in Depth ---

The Atlantic book reviews from the 1800s ---

The Atlantic's choice of The Best Books of 2008 ---

Top 50 Economics Blogs ---
Top Blogs in General ---

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

God may have taken away George Bush, but he sent us Joe Biden.
Jay Leno, Readers Digest, May 2009, Page 117

From the St. Petersburg Times (April 5, 2009):  tidbit forwarded by Paula
Dear Mr. President,
Patriotic retirement:
There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force - Pay them $1 million apiece severance with the following stipulations:

1) They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered - Auto Industry fixed.

3) They either buy a house/pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis fixed.

It can't get any easier than that!

PS If more money is needed, have all members in Congress and your staff pay their taxes
Jensen Comment
($40 million)($1 Million) = $40,000,000,000,000 whereas the bailout cost to date is $9,000,000,000,000
Forget the early retirement deal!

After much speculation that President Obama was high on something during this 60 Minutes interview, we found evidence that CBS tried to cover up the President's indiscretion. This is the raw footage of Obama's interview with Steve Croft. You have to look close to discover all of the elements that were covered or removed from the televised version by the clever use of deceptive editing.
Jensen Comment
I intently watched the original broadcast and was appalled, as was Steve Croft, at how our President giggled when asked why he was giving bankers trillions and being so stingy with General Motors. I agree with him on G.M., but it's no giggling matter.

It all started with a question: "How much responsibility, if any, do you have for the financial crisis?" Rep. Barney Frank and a conservative Harvard law student debated over how Frank should have handled his role as the House Chairman of the Financial Services Committee. Frank was at Harvard University for a speech at the Kennedy School of Government. Frank said the student wasn't backing up his claims, invoking some laughter from the crowd, and the student told Frank he wasn't answering his question.
MyFox Boston, April 7. 2009 --- Click Here
Watch the debate video ---
Barney's Rubble ---


"Executives Took, but the Directors Gave," by Heather Landy, The New York Times, April 4, 2009 --- 

Little of the ire against outsize C.E.O. paychecks has been aimed at the people who signed off on them: corporate directors.

Instead, the anger has been concentrated on the executives themselves, particularly those running companies at the heart of the financial crisis. And boards — thrust into the limelight only rarely, as when the directors of the New York Stock Exchange were in a legal battle over the pay collected by Richard A. Grasso — have managed to stay in the background.

The exchange’s board “really took a lot of heat for that controversy,” says Sarah Anderson, an analyst on executive pay at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. “But so far, with this crisis, I don’t feel like boards have been getting as much attention as they should be.”

Last spring, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examined pay practices at Countrywide Financial, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, but those issues eventually took a back seat to broader concerns about the viability of the country’s financial system. As investors frustrated by the continuing crisis start seeking ways to avoid the next one, advocates of change in corporate governance expect boards to come under renewed scrutiny that could yield big changes.

Emboldened shareholder activists are pressing more companies to hold annual nonbinding votes on executive pay packages. They’re also pursuing, and appear increasingly likely to win, rules to make it easier for investors to nominate or replace board members.

And as more people start connecting the dots between pay incentives that boards laid out for executives and the risk-taking at the heart of the financial crisis, some lawmakers have been eager to step in, and many directors themselves are re-examining their approach to compensation.

“When you look at cases where compensation of senior management was out of line, or where people arguably were overpaid, it’s definitely the fault of the compensation committee of the board,” says Thomas Cooley, dean of the Stern School of Business at New York University and a director of Thornburg Mortgage. “Congress has gotten into the business of dictating executive pay now, and they shouldn’t be in that business. What they should be doing is turning the light on the committees.”

Activist shareholders have been criticizing executive pay practices for well over a decade, accusing directors of being too cozy with C.E.O.’s, too eager to lavish pay on them and too ambiguous about the formulas they use for setting compensation.

Improved standards for determining director independence and disclosing the procedures of board compensation committees were supposed to help solve those problems. And activist shareholders played a major role in spreading the notion of pay-for-performance, by which executives would be compensated based on their ability to meet board-devised financial targets.

But amid all the changes, a crucial piece of the equation — the unintended risks that could arise from these pay-for-performance incentives — went unnoticed, said James P. Hawley, co-director of the Elfenworks Center for the Study of Fiduciary Capitalism at St. Mary’s College of California.

“The problem isn’t just when people in a particular firm are getting rewarded in ways that take away from the shareholder. That’s been well recognized,” Mr. Hawley says. “What’s not been recognized is that the misalignment of incentives has resulted in firm, sector and systemic risks. None of the corporate governance activists ever made the connection.”

It took the disastrous results of 2008 to expose such links, and to make compensation a central issue for politicians and corporate America.

TWO factors contributed to the pay scales that now have C.E.O.’s earning more than 300 times the pay of the average American worker.

First was the advent of giant stock option grants, a form of compensation made all the more attractive by a 1993 change to the tax law that maintained corporate tax deductions for executive pay over $1 million, but only if the pay was tied to performance.

Second was the widespread practice of linking pay to the levels at companies of similar size or scope. Every time a board tries to keep an executive happy by offering above-average pay, the net effect is to raise the average that everyone else will use as a baseline.

In the absence of fraud or self-dealing, it’s hard for shareholders to make a legal argument that boards have failed at their job. State law in Delaware, where most big public entities are incorporated, simply requires companies to have boards that direct or manage their affairs, and it affords broad legal protection to board members so long as they act in good faith and in a manner “believed to be in or not opposed to the best interests of the corporation.”

That was the basis for the recent ruling of a Delaware judge who threw out most of the claims in a shareholder lawsuit seeking to hold Citigroup directors and officers liable for big losses tied to subprime mortgages. But the judge did allow the plaintiffs to pursue one of their claims, which alleged corporate waste stemming from a multimillion-dollar parting pay package that Citigroup’s board awarded Charles O. Prince III, the former C.E.O., in 2007.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two troubled companies at the heart of the nation’s mortgage market, are set to pay their employees “retention bonuses” totaling $210 million, despite calls from lawmakers to cancel the payments. The bonuses, which were made public on Friday, were defended by the companies’ federal regulator, James B. Lockhart, who said he intended to let them proceed , , , Mr. Lockhart declined to discuss his conversations with the White House, which declined to comment on Friday. “This is a de facto White House endorsement of these payments, which is a little odd considering that everyone spent days talking about how they were shocked by the bonuses given to A.I.G.,” said Karen Shaw Petrou, a managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics, a consulting firm in Washington and a longtime observer of the companies. “It’s also a tempest in a teapot. We should worry less about $210 million in bonuses, and more about the fact that these companies are sitting atop $5 trillion of risks, and if they stumble, the American economy could disappear.”
Charles Duhigg, "Big Bonuses at Fannie and Freddie Draw Fire," The New York Times, April 3, 2009 ---

Financier Warren Buffett has been lauded for his plain-spoken denunciation of the greed and foolishness behind the economic crisis. He has pushed the massive federal bailout of imploding banks as the essential response to an "economic Pearl Harbor." When Buffett speaks, people in high places listen. The famous investor is so highly regarded that in a debate last fall, both presidential candidates said they were considering him for treasury secretary. A Bee examination of regulatory records shows that Buffett, the world's second-wealthiest person, also quietly has become a top beneficiary of the banking bailout he so vigorously advocated. Just 28 companies received more than 90 percent of the funds so far disbursed to financial firms by the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Buffett's holding company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc., did not directly receive any of that aid. But Berkshire is the largest shareholder of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., which got $25 billion - 91 percent of TARP funds invested in institutions headquartered in California.
Charles Piller, "Warren Buffett big beneficiary of bank bailout funds," Sacramento Bee, April 4, 2009 ---

Top White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers received about $5.2 million over the past year in compensation from hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from major financial institutions. A financial disclosure form released by the White House Friday afternoon shows that Mr. Summers made frequent appearances before Wall Street firms including J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. He also received significant income from Harvard University and from investments, the form shows.
John D. Mckinnon and T.W. Farnam, "Hedge Fund Paid Summers $5.2 Million in Past Year," The Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2009 ---

Poor government workers who sacrifice so much just to serve President Obama:  Biding time before their book royalties eventually flow
Lawrence Summers, a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, pulled in more than $2.7 million in speaking fees paid by firms at the heart of the financial crisis, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America Corp. and the now-defunct Lehman Brothers. He pulled in another $5.2 million from D.E. Shaw, a hedge fund for which he served as managing director from October 2006 until joining the administration. Thomas E. Donilon, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, was paid $3.9 million by the power law firm O’Melveny & Myers to represent clients including two firms that received federal bailout funds: Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. He also disclosed that he’s a member of the Trilateral Commission and sits on the steering committee of the supersecret Bilderberg group. Both groups are favorite targets of conspiracy theorists. And White House Counsel Greg Craig earned $1.7 million in private practice representing an exiled Bolivian president, a Panamanian lawmaker wanted by the U.S. government for allegedly murdering a U.S. soldier and a tech billionaire accused of securities fraud and various sensational drug and sex crimes. Those are among the associations detailed in personal financial disclosure statements released Friday night by the White House.
Kenneth P. Vogel, "W.H. team discloses TARP firm ties," Politico, April 3, 2009 ---

The Unions Push Ataboy (pat on the back) Performance Reward System Not Linked to Compensation
Democrats are now pushing to freeze pay for performance across the entire federal government. That's the upshot of a letter sent by eight House Democratic barons to White House budget chief Peter Orszag asking for a halt on expansion of merit pay. "A well-designed performance management system can recognize and reward high performance without a linkage to compensation," they wrote. Gosh, why didn't the private sector think of that? . . . According to figures released by the Pentagon in February, almost all of the employees in the merit system got raises or bonuses in 2009, with the average total reward of 8.35%. That dwarfs the 2.9% to 4.8% hike that most of the federal government's General Schedule employees got for the same time period. Unions prefer a return to a universal General Schedule system, which compensates employees based on time served. This expands the union's power base but also explains why they call them bureaucrats.
"Forget About Merit Congress moves to squash pay for performance," The Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2009 --- 

Your well-spent Recovery Act dollars
Greg McNeil competed with city, county and state officials for Ohio's federal stimulus money and wound up winning $168,323 to silence train horns at a crossing near his home. McNeil's project, on behalf of his homeowners association, was one of only 149 chosen last week by the Ohio Department of Transportation from 2,222 eligible to receive $774 million in infrastructure money.
Karen Farkus, "Greg McNeil of Hudson got $168,323 in stimulus money to silence train horns at crossing near his home," Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 4, 2009 ---

Using tools provided by the federal Community Reinvestment Act, community organizers led by a self-described "banking terrorist" applied bullying tactics to secure high-risk mortgages and to shake down lending institutions for billions of dollars – actions that likely contributed to the "mortgage meltdown" that triggered the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. That's the substance of a new report by the Capital Research Center on the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America headed by Bruce Marks.
"How banks were bullied into making bad loans 'Community activists' used pressure tactics to secure high-risk mortgages," WorldNetDaily, April 5, 2009 --- 

Sounds to me like teens are given open season hunting licenses
Three teenagers have pleaded guilty in the beating death of Seattle's "Tuba Man," but none will spend more than 72 weeks in juvenile detention for their crimes. King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg announced the guilty pleas Friday and called the maximum sentences the teens face "inadequate" and "not enough punishment."
But Satterberg said the law doesn't allow stiffer sentences for juveniles in such cases . . . According to police and court records, a group of about 10 teens assaulted and robbed two North Seattle high-school students near Seattle Center before they descended on McMichael at a bus stop near Fifth Avenue North and Mercer Street. The Garfield student admitted, Satterberg said, to delivering one unprovoked punch to McMichael's head, knocking down the Tuba Man. Others in the mob kicked McMichael as he lay in the fetal position and rifled through his pockets, according to police reports. Satterberg said he believes the Garfield teen "thought he ought to do something to show off" because he was not directly involved in robbing the two North Seattle teens. The Garfield teen is an honors student with a stable home life, according to James Kelly, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. The boy is a member of the league's Urban Scholars program at Garfield. The mob ran when police arrived. Officers were able to arrest two suspects, the Cleveland students, at the scene. They later arrested the Garfield student. The three were released from King County Juvenile Detention Center in February under the conditions they wear electronic-monitoring devices.
Bob Young, "3 plead guilty in Tuba Man slaying but won't serve much time," The Seattle Times, April 3, 2009 ---

The main conclusion reached is that making it mandatory for the actuarial balance to be drawn up every year (Swedish Model) would force politicians to be a lot more careful about what they say and encourage them to avoid the use of populism in pensions. Contributors and pensioners, on the other hand, would have a reliable way of measuring to what degree the promises made to them regarding payment of their pensions are actually kept.
Carlos Vidal-Meliá and María Del Carmen Boado-Penas, "The Actuarial Balance of the Pay-as-You-Go Pension System:  'American' Model versus 'Swedish' Model ," SSRN, March 31, 2009 ---

"Examiner Editorial: Banana republic budgeting should shame Obama, Congress," Examiner Editorial, San Francisco Examiner, April 6, 2009 ---

It was surely an act of hubris for President Obama to ask Congress to approve a $3.6 trillion federal budget for 2010 that runs a trillion-dollars worth of red ink its first year and then projects half-trillion deficits every year thereafter for a decade. Congress has never before been asked to consider spending of such magnitude, not even during wartime. Obama’s budget proposal also included provisions committing the nation to far-reaching policy changes that are certain to drive federal taxes higher, send gasoline and electricity costs soaring, socialize doctors and patients by putting Washington bureaucrats in charge of health care, and make Uncle Sam the Daddy Warbucks of college tuition for everybody. The ultimate result will be a doubling of the national debt, a burden that will fall on our children and grandchildren. In short, this was a budget proposal of historic significance to every living American and for millions yet to be born. So how did Congress deal with this landmark legislation? The House of Representatives gave opponents exactly 20 minutes to present an alternative, then gaveled the Obama measure to approval. The Senate approved it after considering a handful of amendments. But note that even before the 2010 budget was approved, this Congress had approved spending more than $1.2 trillion, or $24 billion per day. That’s $1 billion every hour since the 111th Congress convened in January. Odds are that not even King Solomon – whose riches dazzled monarchs and tyrants throughout the ancient world – exhausted the fruit of the labor of his subjects and slaves at so breathtaking a pace as this president and this Congress. And they are doing it based on decisions most often made by Democratic leaders behind closed doors, who then run roughshod over the Republican minority. Is this really what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meant when they promised during the 2006 campaign “the most open and honest Congress ever”? And was Obama simply lying during the 2008 campaign when he promised a “net spending reduction” in Washington?

These actions are not going unnoticed beyond the Washington Beltway. More than 300 Tea (“Taxed Enough Already”) Party protests are planned for April 15 in cities from one end of America to the other. There have already been nearly 100 such protests since before a televised rant by CNBC reporter Rick Santelli about wasteful spending in the Obama economic stimulus package in February. Looks like change may indeed be coming, but it will be far from what Obama, Pelosi and Reid had in mind.


Sounds Like Something Written by Charles Dickens
Roman police find sewer children The children were found in sewers close to railway stations Italian police have found more than 100 immigrants, including 24 Afghan children, living in the sewer system beneath railway stations in Rome. The children range in age from 10 to 15 years and are now being looked after by the city's social services. They were found when the railway police followed up reports of children living near the city's stations. The police say they do not speak Italian and broke into the sewers by removing manhole covers.
"Roman Police Find Sewer Children," BBC News, April 4, 2009 ---

A spate of killings over five days in late January in Mexico served as a grisly reminder of the rising tide of drug-related violence just south of the U.S. border. On Jan. 20 there were three severed heads found inside a cooler in the city of Ju�rez in the state of Chihuahua. That same week private intelligence firm Stratfor tracked a string of incidents, including the deaths of a police officer and a federal agent. Then, on Jan. 23, at least 17 people were killed during a 24-hour period in Chihuahua state.
Rachael King, Business Week, February 2, 2009 ---

The Euro leaders’ adulation of The Obama didn’t translate into providing any more combat troops for Afghanistan. Some might chalk it up to commonplace continental fecklessness. But Tucker Carlson has offered a much more chilling explanation, one with ramifications extending far beyond the specific matter at hand. Appearing on Morning Joe today, Carlson flatly stated that “Europe is afraid of its own Muslim population.”
"Carlson: Euro Governments ‘Afraid Of Their Muslim Population’," FinkelBlog, April 7, 2009 ---

That was former House Speaker Jim Wright stopping by the Capitol this week to greet his former congressional colleagues. Observed Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Texas Democrat: "This is a proud day for us to welcome a distinguished Texan who rose from Weatherford, Texas, to serve here with the legendary Sam Rayburn and then to preside over this chamber." Indeed, the 86-year-old Mr. Wright served 34 years in the House and was speaker for two years until 1989, when a feisty Republican congressman from Georgia named Newt Gingrich brought ethics charges against the Democratic leader. Mr. Wright subsequently resigned his leadership post and retired.
John MaCaslin, "Happy to Serve," Newsmax, April 3, 2009 ---

In its press release announcing the nomination of the Seattle-area county executive to the No. 2 post at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the White House described Sims as a "visionary urban leader." The White House also touted Sims' "willingness to make the tough choices necessary to ensure that American tax dollars are spent wisely." But Sims' key accomplishments in the Pacific Northwest have involved illegally keeping taxpayers in the dark. Despite his long-known notoriety in Washington State as an incompetent manager and obstinate campaign finance law-breaker, President Obama trusts Sims to oversee the day-to-day operations of a federal agency with 8,500 employees, a $39 billion yearly budget, and a chronic history of corruption and cronyism.
Michelle Malkin, "Transparency Killer at HUD: Another Disastrous Obama Nominee," Townhall, April 6, 2009 ---

Alleged Penn State University training film on how to liberal faculty can deal with veterans who refuse to be politically correct ---
Alternate --- Click Here

The United States and the European Union have expressed concern over a new law issued in Afghanistan which severely restricts Shi'ite women in the country. Opponents of the new law are likening it to restrictions imposed under the Taliban regime. Under the edict, Shi'ite women cannot leave the house without so-called legitimate purposes, and cannot seek work or education without the consent of their husbands. Foreign ministers in Washington and Brussels said that given the notable progress in the status of women in Afghanistan since 2002, the new law raised serious concerns.
All Headline News, April 6, 2009 ---

Once again, the unknown miscreants vent their rage on girls' schools. Of course, had this report explained the stated goals of these "miscreants" -- the total application of sharia, including keeping females uneducated -- this story would make a bit more sense. "Miscreants blow up girls' school at Bannu," from Geo TV, April 5: BANNU: Some unidentified miscreants have blasted with explosives a girls' school in the town here.
Jihad Watch, April 5, 2009 ---

Cunningham and other Maryland administrators can follow the lead of my favorite university UNC-Greensboro (sarcasm = on). UNCG recently decided to pay a $3000 honorarium for a speech on the “Art of Kissing.” This is a clear improvement over their decision to host a speech (in 2004) on “Safe Sodomy.”
Mike Adams, Kiss Me in the Morning," Townhall, April 6, 2009 ---

Wall Street's favourite jester has fallen foul of the prophet of doom. A tense feud has broken out between the outspoken tele­vision stockpicker Jim Cramer and the notoriously gloomy economist Nouriel Roubini. Roubini, a New York University professor who famously forecast a dire world recession as far back as 2006, has taken exception to remarks on a blog by Cramer that he is "intoxicated" with his own "prescience and vision" and is refusing to see green shoots of recovery in the financial markets.
Andre Clark, "US finance pundit Cramer a 'buffoon' says leading economist," The Guardian, April 8, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
I've never been a Jim Cramer fan, and Jon Stewart certainly humiliated Cramer on Comedy Central. Having said that, Jim Cramer has had a brilliant and varied career with high investment success. Cramer could buy Jon Steward, Nouriel Roubini, and me and have enough change left over to buy CitiBank.
Jim Cramer ---
Video of Jon Stewart humiliating Jim Cramer ---

North Korea is in fantasy orbit
The US military on Sunday disputed North Korea's claim that it had launched a satellite into space, saying "the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean." "Stage one of the missile fell into the Sea of Japan," the North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command said in their brief account of the North Korean rocket launch. "The remaining stages along with the payload itself landed in the Pacific Ocean," the commands said. "No object entered orbit and no debris fell on Japan." South Korea also said the satellite which North Korea claimed to have launched Sunday did not enter orbit. "All three stages of the rocket fell into the sea. No object entered orbit," South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-Hee said. "It was a failed attempt to put a satellite into orbit." For its part, North Korea said its experimental communications satellite was "rotating normally in its orbit" and transmitting "immortal revolutionary songs" in praise of the communist state's current and former leaders.
"North Korea failed to put satellite into orbit: US military," Moon Daily, April 5, 2009 --- 

A consultant to the CIA and the Department of Defense, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has built an intricate computer model that can predict the outcomes of international conflicts with bewildering accuracy.
"Ted Talks: Using Mathematical Analysis To Predict War, Political Power Shifts, Intifada," Simoleon Sense, April 7, 2009 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
I'm dubious of this because I don't think any mathematical model can be relied upon for predicting in such non-stationary systems with constantly changing parameters.

Pakistan: Muslim men who gang-raped a 13 year-old Christian girl are declared "innocent" "[D]espite eye witness accounts and medical evidence indicating their guilt." Considering that according to sharia, Christian testimony is worth half that of Muslim testimony, obviously such eye-witness accounts must have fallen on deaf ears.
Jihad Watch, April 11, 2009 ---

Her latest husband, 76-year-old businessman George Ceasar, made every effort to sound unperturbed. 'You have to trust people,' he said. 'Life's a gamble, but if you lose trust, what have you got? So she might kill me, well, I'll take the chance.' Calvey, who has recently finished an 18-year stint for blasting a lover to death with a shotgun, declared: 'We both had lots of nerves but it was a lovely ceremony and we're looking forward to our lives together.' The couple married at St Peter and St Paul's, an 11th century church in Dymchurch, Kent, in front of 100 guests on Saturday. Wearing a cream satin dress with seven bridesmaids in attendance, the blonde bride appeared to have come a long way from her days as the East End gangsters' moll who became the inspiration for the leading character in Lynda La Plante's hit TV series Widows.
"Black widow, white wedding: I was a bag of nerves says killer bride who shot dead lover. How do you think the groom felt," Mail Online, April 6, 2009 ---

There will be a time “beyond crisis,” asserts Robert C. Merton, who delves into the dense science of derivatives — a field he has fundamentally shaped — to explain how the vast global economic collapse has come about, and how financial innovations at the heart of the collapse could also be tools for reconstruction. \Merton uses deceptively simple graphs to show how risk propagated rapidly across financial networks, bringing down financial institutions. While he admits the crisis “is very big and complicated,” Merton boils a piece of it down to the use of put options, a derivative contract that’s been around since the 17th century. This asset-value insurance contract, a guarantee of debt, is the basis for the credit default swaps widely adopted by financial giants in the last few years — now widely regarded as a primary cause of the meltdown. It turns out, says Merton, that the put “makes risky debt very complicated, and treacherous…” In these puts, if the value of assets goes down, the guarantee value goes up, so the value of the written insurance is worth more. The value of this guarantee is very sensitive to the movement of the underlying asset. When dealing with puts on the local level, this movement can be tracked and managed more easily. But when financial institutions manipulate bundles of assets (for instance, mortgage-backed securities), the increase in risk proves non-linear. Add some volatility, like the jolts posed by widespread drops in housing prices, and the difference between the decline in asset value and the value of the guarantee becomes enormous — leading to mountains of debt and felling behemoths like AIG (insurer to lenders).
"Video Robert C. Merton: Observations on the Science of Finance in the Practice of Finance," Simoleon Sense, April 6, 2009 --- Click Here
Snipped Link ---  [www_simoleonsense_com] 
Jensen Comment
Nobel Economist Robert Merton knows very well about the dense science and practice of derivatives. He was a principle loser in Long Term Capital's 1993 "Trillion Dollar Bet" that nearly brought down Wall Street ---

Pricing of gold forward rate ---
Accounting instructors having to teach IAS 39 or FAS 133 often seek illustrations about the required valuation/auditing of derivatives at fair value. Since gold fever has increased in this economic crisis, valuation of forward contracts in gold may be doubly of interest to students


"Is TIAA-CREF Safe?" by Professor Pennywise, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 13, 2009 ---

There are two dimensions to the question of whether TIAA-CREF is safe. The first is the stability of the company itself. The second is the risk and volatility of its specific products. It is important to differentiate between the two.

Let's start with the company. TIAA-CREF boasts a long track record, dating to 1918, when the Carnegie Foundation first created the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, supplemented in 1952 by the College Retirement Equities Fund. For 90 years, TIAA-CREF has provided financial services to college professors and staff members. That longevity is reassuring; it means that TIAA-CREF survived the Great Depression. (So too, of course, did General Motors, founded in 1908 and now hanging by a bailout thread.)

Congress eliminated TIAA-CREF's tax-exempt status in 1998, but the company still conceives of itself as nonprofit. It is run by a board, not private owners. Its profits are either kept by the organization — used for technological upgrades, underwriting announcements on National Public Radio, or whatever — or distributed back to insurance policyholders and retirement-plan participants. This self-conception as "nonprofit" does not mean that TIAA-CREF does not aspire to make money. Quite the contrary. Its executives are well-compensated. However, unlike the investment banks that exploded in sequence over the past two years, TIAA-CREF is not traded on Wall Street. Because it has not gone public, it has had little earnings pressure of the kind that led much of American finance into unsustainable securitization practices, causing our present mess.

In fact, TIAA-CREF has a reputation for sound, sober judgment. In journalist Roger Lowenstein's book Origins of the Crash (2004), a post-mortem of the tech and telecom bubbles, he supplies a fascinating footnote on TIAA-CREF while telling the tale of the rise and fall of Enron. For those who have forgotten, Enron was a giant Texas-based energy company whose stock shares traded as high as $90 in 2000 before revelations of its accounting skullduggery reduced it to ashes. One of the few analysts to call Enron's bluff was Kim Schnabel, a TIAA-CREF analyst. "Schnabel courageously recommended that TIAA-CREF's portfolio managers sell their Enron shares," writes Lowenstein. "TIAA-CREF was one of the few major fund organizations not to get burned."

The company ranks at 86 in the Fortune 500, making it a giant. The rest of the Fortune 500 list, however, demonstrates that bigness does not guarantee stability: GM is fourth, Citigroup eighth, AIG 13th, and so on. (The latest list was determined before the recent implosion.) Nevertheless, TIAA-CREF's revenues of $27-billion and profits of $1.4-billion make it one of the largest life-insurance firms in the country. TIAA-CREF has hundreds of billions of dollars in assets under management. It serves more than three million individual clients at more than 15,000 institutions in the academic, medical, cultural, and nonprofit fields — all loaded with high-income professionals in sectors that have held up relatively well in comparison to manufacturing or retail. The strength of this client base implies a steady revenue stream, a positive indicator for TIAA-CREF's permanence.

The four credit-ratings agencies all give TIAA-CREF their highest possible ratings: A++ from A.M. Best, AAA from Fitch, Aaa from Moody's, and AAA from Standard & Poor's. That would seem conclusive, except for the troubling fact that Moody's gave Lehman Brothers an A only a month before it collapsed. All of the rating agencies awarded triple-A grades to the collateralized debt obligations now seen as toxic. The reliability of the agencies' research has come under fire because their revenue depends on the very companies they rate.

It is as if TIAA-CREF had been given straight A's by four well-known grade inflators. Does it follow that TIAA-CREF did not deserve the grades? Of course not. In fact, very few companies receive top marks from all four ratings firms.

Ultimately, the clearest indication of the stability of TIAA-CREF may be its absence from this year's headlines and news reports. Sixteen months into the massive shakeout that has reduced many corporations to beggary, TIAA-CREF has not requested a single penny from Washington. The company vows — and its financial statements would appear to confirm — that it had minimal exposure to the subprime loans that occasioned this crisis. All indications are that TIAA-CREF is far sounder than the average American financial provider today.

Given that TIAA-CREF seems sound, you might ask, why are my TIAA-CREF balances declining? That requires that you understand your holdings. If your TIAA-CREF assets are in a university-sponsored retirement plan, they are annuities. Any money you invested in TIAA Traditional Annuity has not, in fact, declined, since that account guarantees the principal — what you put in — and provides a return to boot.

Most TIAA-CREF contributors, however, probably put at least some contributions toward variable annuities. "Variable" means fluctuating. The value of those instruments moves up and down based upon the general markets for, say, stocks or real estate. If and when a recovery materializes, look for them to rise again.

Do not, in the meantime, conflate volatility with risk. Simply because your variable accounts' value has bounced downward in this severe downturn (volatility) does not mean the whole amount you have invested is in jeopardy (risk). You will only risk a loss if you lock in the decline by selling out now, while your accounts are low. Your declines at the moment are paper declines that may be offset by paper gains later — if you have patience.

As for Pennywise, I continue to put money into my university-sponsored TIAA-CREF retirement plan. I have confidence — not certainty, for we live in uncertain times — in the staying power of TIAA-CREF. In a future column, I will try to lay out your TIAA-CREF options in plain English, as opposed to Aquitanian. Feel free to send along any specific questions you'd like clarified. Until then, I recommend that you put on some Telemann, close your eyes, and keep sipping that merlot. I risk the conjecture that doing so may reduce the volatility of your mood.

Professor Pennywise is the pseudonym of a professor in the humanities at a major public university in the Midwest who is merely a frugal academic, not a financial professional. Questions may be sent to . For an archive of his previous columns, see

Why wasn't your diversified portfolio safe?

The Market God Failed
What happened to the Theory (Law?) of Portfolio Diversification for Investment Safety?
Your investment broker, pension fund manager, and your finance/economics professor claimed that the safe investment strategy was to diversify your portfolio between bonds and stocks, between securities in diverse industries, between real estate and securities, etc. Some advocated investing in highly diverse derivative funds like the S&P Index Fund. The securities portfolio diversification theory (law?) was mathematically formulated in Nobel Prize winning legendary works of Harry Markowitz, Merton Miller, Jack Treynor, William Sharpe, John Lintner and Jan Mossin ---

Link forwarded by Jim Mahar
"Opportunities in a High Correlation World," by Geof Considine, Seeking Alpha, February 4, 2009 ---

One of the most striking features of 2008 was the fact that correlations between most asset classes went up substantially: everything declined at the same time. One of the principal motivations behind diversifying is that all of your holdings will not decline at the same time. Declines in one class will be buffered by gains in another—or at least lesser losses in others. This effect has not provided much buffer in 2008.

There are only three correlations in this matrix (not pictured here) that did not increase between 2007 and 2008—and those are marked in red. The increase in correlations is substantial: every asset class was sold off at the same time, albeit in varying degrees.

The upswing in correlations reduces the value of strategic asset allocation, because benefits of diversification decline as correlations increase. The “diversification premium” is diminished. Almost any given asset allocation will look riskier if correlations are higher. On the other hand, the increase in correlations signal that the market is treating enormous swathes of the investment landscape as less differentiated than they really are—and this provides a substantial opportunity.

How might investors deal with this environment? I see three major areas that have high potential.

1. Tactical asset allocation

At the same time that correlations have gone up, prices (obviously) have come down dramatically. The stocks of many firms are very cheap right now. The tactical side of investing (when you buy) is more important because the strategic side of investing (asset allocation) is at a low point. As Warren Buffett has famously suggested: be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy. I have personally never seen an environment in which investors are more uniformly scared than recent months.

In August of 2007, shortly before the start of the massive bear market, I showed that there had historically been a strong negative correlation between returns on major asset classes and market volatility. This means that market returns are low when volatility goes up, and vice versa. I also discussed the wide range of evidence suggesting that market risk was due for a substantial increase. This observation turned out to be quite prescient. Today, market risk is high and trending downwards—and this also has implications for returns. Declining volatility has historically been a positive sign for a range of asset classes.

I am inclined to agree with Jeremy Grantham that “high quality” stocks will deliver outsized returns over the coming years. My analysis suggests that the market has become fairly indiscriminate in separating the high quality from the low quality—and this shows up in the increase in correlations. Many investors treated almost every asset class as equally risky—so high quality stocks are available at really good prices.

The challenge of tactical strategies is that they require more active management. A position that looks attractive today may not look attractive in several months. Tactical strategies allow investors to take advantage of opportunities that may be fleeting. Similarly, the risks associated with an investment can change quickly.

2. Exploit the excessive risk aversion in the market

The higher correlations we have seen are a manifestation of excessive risk aversion: investors are trying to get out of every asset class as fast as they can. Excessive risk aversion can be judged by the prices at which options are trading—and a conservative way to exploit this is to sell options. When investors are risk averse, options prices will be high (and vice versa). Back in November of 2008, I wrote an article in which I discussed how to judge relative mis-pricing. As one example, I cited January 2010 call options on JNJ with a strike price of $65 that were selling at $5.50. My analysis suggested that these options were selling at too high a price. Today, these options are selling at $3.10. Selling options as part of a coherent strategy makes sense for the investor or advisor who understands how to value options.

3. Looking Beyond Index Investing

I have written quite a bit about the merits of investing in a portfolio of carefully selected individual stocks rather than buying into market cap weighted indexes. As correlations between the major indexes have risen, the way to exploit low correlations appears to be via a judicious combination of individual stocks. An article titled Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? [pdf file] (Campbell et al, 2001) shows that correlations between individual securities have experienced a long-term secular decline. This decline should allow for increased diversification benefits between individual securities.

Further, Fama and French (The Capital Asset Pricing Model: Theory and Evidence, 2004) [pdf file] showed that portfolios of low-Beta stocks have historically delivered consistently higher returns than the CAPM theory suggests (see Figure 2 in that article). Stocks with low correlations to one another also tend to be low Beta, and Fama and French’s results suggest that you can obtain more return with less risk than the market portfolio by building a portfolio out of low-Beta stocks. A challenge in this type of approach is to manage volatility associated with individual stocks—but this is not an insurmountable task. I have discussed this conceptual strategy previously.

The Long View

I fully expect that correlations will settle back down to historical levels, thereby providing a higher benefit to strategic asset allocation once again. The current low prices and the high implied volatilities of many stocks (as reflected in options prices) provide the ability for selective investors to lay the groundwork for a substantial boost in portfolio performance. Strategic Asset Allocation is a key part of long-term planning, but tactical opportunities appear to dominate the near term. The high correlations (which reduce the value of SAA for the time being) increase the potential for finding indiscriminate pricing of risk. When good companies are treated by the market as though they are just as risky as bad companies, there is an opportunity to pick up the good ones at low prices and/or short volatility on the good ones (by selling covered calls, for example). Further, even though correlations between indexes have increased considerably for the time being, it is still possible to find groups of stocks that exhibit low correlations to one another—thereby providing increased diversification benefits.


Jensen Comment
This once again demonstrates the difference between the physical sciences and the social sciences. Correlations in the physical sciences may have long-term, albeit sometimes not infinite, permanence to a point where the word "law" often becomes an acceptable noun. In realms other than the physical sciences, the term "law" should always be written ink that is more easily erased.

The basic problem in terms of 2008 was that securities and real estate markets themselves broke down. Causes are complex, although the most significant cause was probably that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mack, and various Wall Street investment banks and other large banks purchased (probably knowingly) many millions of fraudulent mortgages brokered on every Main Street of every town in the U.S. --- millions of mortgages that had little or no chance of repayment and loan amounts well in excess of collateral value, thereby negating recovery of loan balances in foreclosure proceedings. This, along with the re-packaging (securitization) of such investments comprise what is now called poisonous investments that threaten the survival of the firms that hold them (other than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack that will survive because they're now owned by the Zimbabwe-like U.S. Congress that turned to printing pork money it needs rather than tax or borrow).

The smart move now, in early 2009, would be for Congress to let failing banks fail, but Congress will most likely absorb the trillions in bad debts and allow the crooks  (oops I meant to say bank executives) that caused the problem to draw a measly $500,000 per year plus millions in new restricted stock awards in their revived, debt-free, banks.

Beneath those obvious surface causes was a combination of Congressional efforts to extend home ownership to poor people (read that Barney's ACORN) and greedy bankers on Wall Street and Main Street who cared more about their personal compensation than their fiduciary responsibilities to their companies and the public.

Bob Jensen's threads on the economic meltdown are at

"Mortgage Fraud at All-Time High Incidents of Mortgage Fraud Increase 26% from 2007 to 2008," SmartPros, April 7, 2009 --- 

Reported incidents of mortgage fraud in the U.S. are at an all-time high and increased by 26 percent from 2007 to 2008 according to a new report released by the Mortgage Asset Research Institute (MARI).

Rhode Island, Florida and Illinois top the list of states with highest mortgage fraud rates. The 11th Periodic Mortgage Fraud Case Report to the Mortgage Banker's Association (MBA) examines the current state of residential mortgage fraud and misrepresentation in the U.S. based on data submitted by MARI subscribers.

The report found that, for the first time, Rhode Island ranked first in the country for mortgage fraud with more than three times the expected amount of reported mortgage fraud for its origination volume. This is also Rhode Island's first appearance on the MARI report Top-Ten list, indicating a problematic and overlooked mortgage fraud problem in the state. Florida, ranked first in 2007 and 2006, dropped to second place and is followed by Illinois, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Michigan, California, Missouri and Colorado. The report was presented during MBA's annual National Fraud Issues Conference in Las Vegas. It is available on the MARI Web site at:

“With fewer loan originations today, the data suggests that the economic downturn may have created more desperation, causing more people than ever before to try to commit mortgage fraud,” said Denise James, LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group director of Residential Mortgage Solutions. “Not only are we seeing traditional fraud trends, such as application fraud, but we are also seeing new types of emerging fraud occur,” said James. “It is therefore imperative that the mortgage industry continue to share information and insights, and collaborate in the fight against mortgage fraud.”

The top fraud incident type in 2008 – representing 61% of all reported frauds – was application fraud, the fifth year in a row it topped the list. Second were frauds related to tax returns and financial statements which jumped 60% from 17% of reported frauds in 2007, to 28% of reported frauds in 2008. Additional documented fraud types included, in order of volume, frauds related to appraisals or valuations, verifications of deposit, verifications of employment, escrow or closing costs, and credit reports.

“MARI data shows that mortgage fraud is more prevalent today than it was at the height of the boom in mortgage loan originations,” said John Courson, president and chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association. “This report is essential reading for mortgage bankers who need to understand where mortgage fraud is coming from, what to watch for and how to protect our companies and communities.”

The report also found that:

After improving in 2006 and 2007, Georgia jumped from seventh to fourth place in 2008; California, ranked fourth in 2007, declined to eighth in 2008; Maryland jumped from fifteenth in 2007 to fifth in 2008; and The volume of reported frauds related to credit reports dropped from 9% to 4% between 2007 and 2008.

Bob Jensen's threads on how to prevent mortgage fraud are at


"The role fraud played in the mortgage crisis...interview with an industry insider," by Dave Gibson, Norfolk Examiner, Aprill 11, 2009 --- Click Here

After writing several articles about this country’s mortgage meltdown and the little-talked about role which illegal aliens have played in this crisis, a woman who I will call “Mary” contacted me with inside information on the crisis. What follows is a brief interview I conducted with Mary. (I am protecting her identity because she still works in the mortgage business.)

Q) What is your background and who have you worked for?

A) I am in the Mortgage Industry and personally audited thousands of sub prime loans while working as a contractor. The last company I worked for was EMC, previously owned by Bear Stearns so I thought I would share the caveat on these loans.

Q) When my wife and I bought our home, we had to provide a mountain of documentation, including federal tax returns. How have the mortgage lenders allowed illegal aliens to enter into a mortgage loan without the proper documents?

A) The Sub Prime underwriting guidelines had special requirements for, what was called, Foreign Nationals….30% down and full credit package including credit references from their country of origin and a valid Visa. To circumvent this requirement, the applications were marked that the borrower was a US citizen then, regardless if the credit profile did not support such a claim, an underwriter was not allowed to question. This along with use of stolen SS# or use of their American born child’s SS# and lax credit requirements that allowed alternative credit, helped cover the ruse. All required documentation was fraudulent and with the large use of a/k/a’s, information was hard to track.

Q) What did management do when it was discovered that a stolen Social Security number was being used by a borrower?

A) It was not uncommon to find a SS# being used by up to 23 other people or a borrower with 27 a/k/a’s. Management would often clear a loan that you tagged as fraudulent so it wouldn’t be shelved.

Q) What was the worst case you have seen?

A) One borrower stole the SS# of a retiree and took out $3.5 million in loans, turned around and did cash-out refi’s, then fled the country. The retiree was left with ruined credit, $3.5 million in loans and trouble with the IRS. Over 50% of the sub primes were for cash-out refi’s. Regardless of the loan criteria used to pull random samplings for audits, the majority of the last names were Hispanic. The loans I audited were primarily in CA, NV, AZ, FL, CO, compare those to the states with the highest number of foreclosures & illegal aliens.

Q) What is your opinion on the $750 billion bailout engineered by former Treasurer Hank Paulson and approved by Congress?

A) During the bailout, I called my Congressman and other leadership including Barney Frank and asked if there was a provision within the Bill that prohibited illegal aliens from being bailed-out…..the answer was no. I asked if there was a provision in the Bill that helped homeowners that did not take out sub primes but are faced with losing their home due to the negative impact of sub primes and was told… So in other words, those that committed crimes to obtain the loans will get a helping hand to bail them out, compliments of the US Taxpayer!

Q) Any final thoughts?

A) I cannot tell you how angry I am over this and you are right…..Congress will not talk about it. I have written to mine [Congressman] several times over the last year, yet my only response is their standard form letter. When I call and demand an answer, I have been told someone will get back with me, of course that never happens. Looks like we are picking up where we left off before the bail-out.

If Mary’s observations did not anger you, I am certain that the next bit of information will do the trick.

Of course, we all know that, on October 26, 2001, President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act. However, I would wager to say that almost no one knows that contained in section 326(b) of the USA Patriot Act is a provision that allows US banks to accept Mexican Matricula Consular cards as a valid form of ID for opening bank accounts.

It should be noted that while our President and Congress ordered American banks to recognize these Mexican-issued cards, there is not one Mexican bank which accepts their own government’s Matricula Consular card as a valid form of ID, because the bearer’s identity is basically untraceable.

The following is a list of U.S. banks (both regional and national) and mortgage insurers which are known to offer home loan programs targeted at illegal aliens:

-Bank of America


-Deutsche Bank AG

-Fifth Third Bancorp

-Genworth Financial Inc.

-J.P. Morgan Chase

-Liberty Financial

-Mortgage Guarantee Insurance Corp.

-Plaza Bank


-Wells Fargo

So there you have it. Those elected to represent we the American people, decided instead to represent the bankers and allow illegal aliens to borrow money, often using the stolen Social Security numbers of American citizens. This so-called sub-prime mortgage crisis was actually a crisis of massive fraud.

And why not?…The banks who made the loans have lost nothing, because the taxpayers have been forced to bail them out for their risky and even illegal loans.

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

Best of the Web Newsletter, by James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2009

"Barack Obama, making his first visit to a Muslim nation as president, declared Monday the United States 'is not and will never be at war with Islam,' " the Associated Press reports from Ankara, Turkey's capital:

Urging a greater partnership with the Islamic world in an address to the Turkish parliament, Obama called the country an important ally in many areas, including the fight against terrorism. He devoted much of his speech to urging a greater bond between Americans and Muslims, portraying terrorist groups such as al-Qaida as extremists who do not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

Does this sound at all familiar? Let's go to the text of Obama's speech:

I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds the United States and Turkey has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. So let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam.
In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical not just in rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, but also to strengthen opportunity for all its people.

Except for the autobiographical clause--"I know, because I am one of them"--all of this could have been said by President Bush. Here's a passage from Bush's Sept. 20, 2001, speech to a joint session of Congress:

Jensen Comment
Perhaps Islam will be more receptive to Obama's message even if it is fundamentally the same as the message of former President Bush.


"Conficker Infects More Than 700 Computers at U. of Utah," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education,  April 13, 2009 ---

The latest variant of the Conficker worm—sophisticated computer malware that uses the Internet to invade and extract data from computers running Windows operating systems—infected between 700 and 800 computers at the University of Utah, primarily ones belonging to faculty and staff members in the university’s health-sciences center.

Officials at the university are saying that computer-security personnel were able to successfully trap and kill the worm by disabling Web connections campuswide before Conficker could begin exporting sensitive data from the infected computers.

Information-technology staff members noticed Friday morning that their Internet browsers were unusually sluggish, said Phil Sahm, a spokesperson for the health-sciences center. Knowing from recent press reports that the latest variant of Conficker was afoot, they disabled the university’s Web connection and spent the weekend scrubbing infected computers of the worm.

Stephen H. Hess, chief information officer at the university, said that his staff does not believe any data stored on those computers were compromised—and that there is no doubt that personal medical data stored on the clinic computers is safe because those computers do not run the sort of operating system that Conficker preys on.

Mr. Hess said the university’s computer-security staff will continue to monitor the computers for the next few weeks to make sure the worm doesn’t reappear. Meanwhile, the university is investigating how Conficker gained entry to its network.

“I think any time you try to have a collaborative environment when it’s easy for people to get in a and out of a group of machines,” he said, “ that can be kind of an open door for these kinds of worms.”

Douglas Pearson, who watches college networks in his role as technical director of the Research and Education Networking Information Sharing and Analysis Center at Indiana University at Bloomington, said in an e-mail interview that he knows of no other widespread Conficker infections at American colleges.

Jensen Comment (just kidding)
Could it be that Conficker was initiated by the U.S. Congress to consolidate the health records of every U.S. resident?
President Obama may have decided to do this on the cheap.

"Conficker Worm Awakens, Downloads Rogue Anti-virus Software," by Brian Krebs, The Washington Post, April 10, 2009 --- Click Here

Security experts nervously watching computers infested with the prolific Conficker computer worm say they have begun seeing infected hosts downloading additional software, including a new rogue anti-virus product.

Since its debut late last year, the collection of hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of systems sick with Conficker has somewhat baffled security researchers, who are accustomed to seeing such massive networks being used for money-making criminal activities, such as relaying junk e-mail.

Today, however, that mystery evaporated, as anti-virus companies reported seeing Conficker systems being updated with SpywareProtect2009, a so-called "scareware" product that uses fake security alerts to frighten consumers into paying for bogus computer security software.

According to Kaspersky Labs, once the scareware is downloaded, the victim will see the usual warnings, "which naturally asks if you want to remove the threats it's 'detected'. Of course, this service comes at a price - $49.95." Kaspersky reports that the rogue anti-virus product is being downloaded from a Web server in Ukraine.

This development adds an interesting wrinkle. The first version of Conficker contained within its genetic makeup instructions telling infected systems to visit a site called As I noted last month, this was a site where distributors of rogue anti-virus products would go for the latest programs and links to the latest download locations. Many affiliates were making six-figure paychecks each month distributing this worthless software by various means, all of them extremely sneaky if not downright illegal.

The Clever Conficker Eye Chart for Detection of Conficker Infestations
April 14, 2009 reply from Scott Bonacker [lister@BONACKERS.COM] 

"Many readers have been wondering what the easiest way is to determine whether their computer has been infected with the Conficker worm. Previously I've pointed them to this Conficker Eye Chart -- and that recommendation still holds -- but now I want to respond to further questions about how it works.

First, some have looked at the spartan Eye Chart and have worried that it might be, at best, a sham designed to lull you into a false sense of security and, at worst, yet another delivery mechanism for the Conficker worm. It is neither. The Conficker Eye Chart is in reality a very clever way to determine if your computer is compromised, and it doesn't require you to do anything but click one link.

Here's how it works, in brief: Visit the web page linked above and you'll see six images: The three on top are for security software websites, and the three on the bottom are the logos of various open source operating system distributions. The clever part of all this is that the logos aren't actually being served from the web page linked above, but are rather drawn directly from the six different websites to which each logo belongs."

The rest of the article is available on the site.

Scott Bonacker CPA
Springfield, MO

"What Can Taxpayers Do If They Can't Pay Their Taxes?" SmartPros, April 6, 2009 --- 

Are there options for Americans who cannot pay their taxes, due to their financial difficulties resulting from the down economy?

According to Jim Keller, of Thomson Reuters, more taxpayers will face this challenge during the coming filing season. Taxpayers who fail to timely file and pay their taxes face penalties and interest charges. Not only that, says Keller, these folks can expect to come up against a more aggressive IRS. For example, the number of levies issued by the IRS increased by 1,608% from 2000 to 2007—from 220,000 levies to more than 3.75 million levies. A new factor that will play into taxpayer collections is that the IRS (as noted by IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a recent press release) has decided not to renew contracts with two private debt collection agencies but instead anticipates hiring more than 1,000 new collection personnel as IRS employees in fiscal year 2009.

Fortunately, there are some options available to help taxpayers pay their balance due. Here’s a scenario of problem solving from Thomson Reuters:

Let’s assume that Bob and Judy’s 2008 tax return shows unpaid tax of $5,000, but they don’t have the cash to pay the tax. First, they should not ignore the IRS—it will not go away. They should either file their return by the April 15 due date, or request a filing extension. Either way, the failure to pay the taxes due on April 15 will result in interest charges and a penalty for failure to pay of ½% per month on the unpaid balance (up to 25%) until the taxes are paid. But by filing or extending their return, they’ll avoid the more onerous late filing penalty of 5% per month on the unpaid balance (up to 25%) until the return is filed.

If Bob and Judy don’t do anything by April 15th, but file the return and pay their taxes three months later, they’ll owe a failure to file penalty of $750. If they extend the return and then file it and pay their taxes three months later, they’d pay a failure to pay penalty of $75— $675 less than if no extension had been filed. “This shows how important it is to file or extend by April 15th even if you don’t have the money,” says Keller.

Keller points out that getting an extension is pretty easy these days. Taxpayers no longer have to pay the balance due or sign the extension request for a valid six-month filing extension. However, the liability must be properly estimated and the amount due entered on the appropriate lines of the request, or the extension will be disallowed. “While doing so will avoid a failure to file penalty, interest and the failure to pay penalty will accrue from April 15 until the tax is paid,” he warns.

Some taxpayers can qualify for an extension to pay the tax because of undue hardship, or because of a federally declared disaster, terrorist act, or military action. This type of approach would allow Bob and Judy to avoid the failure to pay penalty but not the interest charge. “However, hardship relief is difficult to obtain,” says Keller, “because of the restricted definition of hardship, and most taxpayers do not experience a federally declared disaster, like a hurricane or flood.”

Financing the Payment

Borrow from a bank or family. “Since the failure to pay penalty and interest applies to the late payment of tax, borrowing from a family member, bank, or other lender can be less expensive than paying penalties and interest to the IRS,” says Keller, pointing out that the IRS interest rate changes quarterly. For the first quarter of 2009, the underpayment rate is 5%. Tax penalties are nondeductible, and interest expense associated with an individual’s federal tax liability, whether paid to the IRS or to a commercial lender, generally is nondeductible personal interest.

Home equity loan. If Bob and Judy can finance the tax payment with a home equity loan, the interest may be deductible for regular tax (but not AMT) purposes. A home equity loan is debt (other than acquisition debt) secured by a qualified residence. It generates deductible interest to the extent the loan doesn’t exceed the lesser of $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately), or the FMV of the residence less acquisition debt. There’s no limit on the number of qualified home equity loans a taxpayer can take out (as long as the loans collectively meet the $100,000/$50,000 or FMV limitation) and use of the debt proceeds is irrelevant unless they’re used to purchase or carry tax-exempt obligations.

Credit card. Another option is paying the tax by credit card. Applicable finance charges (according to the credit card agreement) and processing fees will apply, but if Bob or Judy has a low interest rate card, these will be kept to a minimum until the balance is paid in full. While the interest on the credit card is nondeductible personal interest, some credit cards provide low rates, airline miles, or other incentives. For more information, go to the front page of and type “paying tax by credit card” in the Search box.

Request an Installment Agreement with the IRS. A final option is to request an installment arrangement from the IRS. Form 9465 is the application to the IRS requesting an installment payment arrangement. Once submitted, the IRS will notify the taxpayer within 30 days if the request is approved or denied, or if additional information is needed. The IRS would charge Bob and Judy a $105 fee for entering into the agreement, but that fee would be reduced to $52 if the direct debit option is selected, and can be reduced to $43 for certain low-income taxpayers.

Under current administrative procedures, the IRS will approve installment agreements up to $25,000 (including tax, penalties, and interest) when the taxpayer agrees to pay the amount due in five years or less. Also, since Bob and Judy owe $25,000 or less, they can use the online payment agreement (OPA) application at to request a payment agreement. This application is available to taxpayers who meet the $25,000 requirement, have filed all required tax returns, and are current with their tax payments. The OPA application would enable Bob and Judy to obtain a short-term extension of up to 120 days to pay, or request a longer monthly payment plan.

Says Keller: The bottom line is that if you can’t pay taxes you owe on April 15, either file your return or file for an extension, and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest. You can then work on a solution to pay the unpaid balance. “Never ignore the filing deadline,” says Keller.

Bob Jensen's taxation helpers ---


Faculty Inquiry Toolkit Available Online
A new resource that supports community college faculty is now available online. The blog-based Faculty Inquiry Toolkit, from the Strengthening Pre-Collegiate Education in Community Colleges (SPECC) project, outlines a framework for faculty inquiry around which a network of faculty collaborators can build their own community of practice. The site is linked to the Windows on Learning faculty websites and provides access to community college faculty talking about the different aspects of the faculty inquiry cycle and how the inquiry process has taken shape on their campuses.
Faculty Inquiry, Carnegie Foundation for Advancement in Teaching, ---

Bob Jensen's threads on resources for new faculty are at

"U. of Richmond Creates a Wikipedia for Undergraduate Scholars," by Steve Kolowich, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 7, 2009 ---

At what point does the volume of historical scholarship get in the way of our ability to make sense of history?

At The Chronicle Technology Forum on Monday, Andrew J. Torget, director of the digital scholarship lab at the University of Richmond, argued that we have already exceeded that point. He said that if a person were to read one book a day for the rest of his life, he would not even begin to approach the number of books that Google has already scanned into its database from college libraries. There is just too much information out there.

The current model for teaching and learning is based on a relative scarcity of research and writing, not an excess. With that in mind, Mr. Torget and several others have created a Web site called History Engine to help students around the country work together on a shared tool to make sense of history documents online. Students generate brief essays on American history, and the History Engine aggregates the essays and makes them navigable by tags. Call it Wikipedia for students.

Except better. First of all, its content is moderated by professors. Second, while Wikipedia still presents information two-dimensionally, History Engine employs mapping technology to organize scholarship by time period, geographic location, and themes. “When you’ve got too much information to be able to process it all, you’re not sure how to find meaningful patterns within it,” Mr. Torget told The Chronicle. “The idea is to build a digital microscope that allows students to focus in on what’s most useful and relevant for the question they’re asking.”

Also, the essays (called “episodes”) that compose the History Engine database are short in comparison to traditional scholarly essays—typically about 500 words. “The challenge of a digital age is that that writing assignment hasn’t changed since the age of the typewriter,” Mr. Torget said. “The digital medium requires us to rethink how we make those assignments.”

While some academics might groan about the perils of reining in scholarly commentary according to the standards of reader patience established by Twitter and text messaging, Mr. Torget said that the essay-length restrictions help focus students on what is most important and relevant when writing about their research. But the larger aim of the project is to encourage students to create and view their work in context of a larger body of scholarship—one that accounts for a wide community of scholars but is organized in a way that is manageable.

So far, Mr. Torget says that professors at eight colleges have agreed to use and contribute to the History Engine in their classes. The engine is free to any who wish to join.

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at

Reminder of the Procrustes Factor Analysis you learned in your accountics doctoral program
Do you remember the Greek legend of Procrustes? ---
There is also a mathematical statistics model known as Procrustes Factor Analysis ---
Also note the links at

James Hines was a giant - a 6-foot-7, 300-pound preacher and funk musician so big that after he died in 2004, a macabre rumor began circulating in this small town that the undertaker had to cut off his legs to fit him in the coffin. This week, after years of whispers, Hines' body was exhumed, and the gruesome story appeared to be all too true. The coroner's office said only that it had found "undesirable evidence," and a criminal investigation has been opened. But Hines' widow said investigators told her that his legs had been cut off between the ankle and calf, and his feet had been placed inside the casket.
"SC man's corpse was apparently cut to fit coffin,", April 4, 2009 ---

Rumor has it that beyond those Pearly Gates, Rev. Hines and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec have become great buddies ---

Visualize the Web Trends ---
This is likely going to spread like wildfire, and it isn't even finished yet: Information Architects has released the final beta for the fourth iteration of its awesome Web Trends Map series. This is a great visualization of current Internet trends, and how companies and individuals fit into it. The picture that's embedded above doesn't do it justice in any way, so be sure to check out the full-sized image hosted on Flickr.

Update: better yet, head over to Zoomorama. The Web Trend Map is a yearly publication by iA Inc. It maps the 333 most influential Web domains and the 111 most influential internet people onto the Tokyo Metro map. Domains are carefully selected by the iA research team through dialogue with map enthusiasts. Each domain is evaluated based on traffic, revenue, age and the company that owns it. The iA design team assigns these selected domains to individual stations on the Tokyo Metro map in ways that complement the characters of each.
Robin Wauters, "Great Visualization: Web Trends Map 4 (Final Beta)." The Washington Post, April 6, 2009 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology trends are at

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
Gene Fowler

We all have encountered students who seek the easy way out of an assignment, particularly when it involves writing a term paper. However, guest commentator Felice Prager's experience with a student facing a rapidly approaching deadline for a 5,000 word paper shows just how desperate some students can become. Read Felice's amusing description of the clash between ethics and expediency in its entirety here:
"Terms," by Felice Prager, The Irascible Professor, April 9, 2009 ---

 It's so sad that Wall Street shot itself in the head rather than the foot!
With Finance Disgraced, Which Career Will Be King?

"With Finance Disgraced, Which Career Will Be King?" by Steve Lohr, The New York Times, April 11, 2009 ---

In the Depression, smart college students flocked into civil engineering to design the highway, bridge and dam-building projects of those days. In the Sputnik era, students poured into the sciences as America bet on technology to combat the cold war Communist challenge. Yes, the jobs beckoned and the pay was good. But those careers, in their day, had other perks: respect and self-esteem.

Big shifts in the flow of talent can ripple through the nation and the economy for decades with lasting effect. The engineers of the Depression built everything from inter-city roads to the Hoover Dam, while the Sputnik-inspired scientists would go on, often with research funding from the Pentagon, to create the building-block innovations behind modern computing and the Internet.

Today, the financial crisis and the economic downturn are likely to alter drastically the career paths of future years. The contours of the shift are still in flux, in part because there is so much uncertainty about the shape of the economic landscape and the job market ahead.

But choosing a career is a guess about the future in which economics is only part of the calculation. Prestige, peer expectations and the climate of public opinion also matter. And early indications suggest new career directions that are tethered less to the dream of an immediate six-figure paycheck on Wall Street than to the demands of a new public agenda to solve the nation’s problems.

The deep recession has clearly battered industries — and professions — whose economics were at risk before the downturn. Law firms are laying off lawyers as never before and questioning the industry’s traditional unit of payment, the billable hour. Journalism is reeling from the falloff in advertising and the inability of newspapers and magazines to make a living on the Web.

Still, the industry whose troubles are having the greatest impact on the rethinking of careers, especially at the nation’s elite universities, is the one at the center of the country’s economic downturn — finance. For years, the hefty paychecks and social status on Wall Street proved irresistible to many of America’s brightest young people, but the jobs, money and social respect there are much diminished today.

“In choosing careers, young people look for signals from society, and Wall Street will no longer pull the talent that it did for so many years,” said Richard Freeman, director of the labor studies program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. “We have a great experiment before us.”

What will the new map of talent flow look like? It’s early, but based on graduate school applications this spring, enrollment in undergraduate courses, preliminary job-placement results at schools, and the anecdotal accounts of students and professors, a new pattern of occupational choice seems to be emerging. Public service, government, the sciences and even teaching look to be winners, while fewer shiny, young minds are embarking on careers in finance and business consulting.

For the highest-paid business fields, the outlook is for a tempering correction instead of an all-out exodus. At Harvard, for example, about 40 percent of undergraduates in recent years went into the most lucrative corporate arenas like finance and consulting, based on surveys at the school year’s end. “That certainly won’t be the case this year,” observed Lawrence Katz, a professor and labor economist who has studied undergraduate career choices at Harvard going back to the 1960s. “We’re seeing students who would have been part of the Ivy League pipeline to Wall Street in the past considering very different career paths.”

Kedamai Fisseha, a 21-year-old senior, is one of them. An economics major, Mr. Fisseha says he always assumed he would go into finance, and his summer internship last year was at the investment bank Morgan Stanley. Yet after Wall Street’s meltdown, job prospects there have withered. Instead, he is interviewing with Teach for America, a nonprofit group that recruits college graduates to teach in hard-to-staff schools for two-year stints. (After that, only one-third stay in the classrooms, though two-thirds remain in education.)

Mr. Fisseha regards the turn of events as an opportunity to broaden his horizons. “It’s been liberating, and lucky for me,” he said. “But your situation does dictate your preferences.”

Graduate schools of government and public policy are seeing a surge of applications. In a survey of its members released last week, the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration found that 82 percent reported an increase in applications this year, and many saw the largest percentage jumps in several years, or ever. The most-cited reason was the expectation by students that government will be hiring.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
In spite of continued strong career opportunities, with some of the best opportunities for women, the above article ignores accountancy careers. I think much of this is due to Lohr's focus on high ranked MBA programs. These MBA Programs have not been major sources of public accountants in the past three decades. One reason is that to take the CPA examination most states requires more pre-requisite accounting course coverage than top MBA programs make available in the curriculum. This makes it more difficult for graduates of top MBA programs to sit for the CPA examination unless they were undergraduate accounting majors. Top ranked MBA programs like Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, and Darden generally prefer to admit students who were not undergraduate business and/or accounting majors.

Following the conflicts of interest charges and/or the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, most CPA firms sold off their consulting divisions like Andersen Consulting, Cap Gemini, PwC Consulting, and KPMG Consulting. Those divisions were more apt to hire MBA graduates who had no intention of ever taking the CPA examination. Also consulting firms have cut way back on their entry-level hiring in favor of hiring persons with technical expertise and experience.

Although faculty in state-supported universities are somewhat different from what we view as workers in the federal, state, and local bureaucracies, there will be increased hiring opportunities for faculty careers as the government pours upwards of a trillion dollars, over several years, into education opportunities for lower-income students. But with declining career opportunities as the private sector cuts back, the outlook is not particularly strong for academic careers in schools of business and accounting. It's even bleaker for undergraduate finance programs. The outlook is much better for science and medical/nursing/pharmacy faculty openings.

What I find somewhat sad in Lohr's article is the prediction that government careers are the long-term wave of the future. I've never been a fan of big public sector relative to the private sector. It's so sad that Wall Street shot itself in the head rather than the foot!

Bob Jensen's threads on careers are at

This seldom happens to me more than once each day
The error is an accident: I misspell a word like “triffle” that is detected in the spell checker and I then accidently click on an alternative like "truffle" instead of "trifle."

"Brigham Young U.'s Student Newspaper Is Pulled After Embarrassing Typo," by Beckie Supiano, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 7, 2009 --- Click Here 

The student-newspaper staff at Brigham Young University removed some 18,500 copies of the paper from the campus yesterday, and reprinted nearly the entire press run, because an embarrassing typo in a front-page photo caption appeared to offend key leaders in the Mormon hierarchy, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The caption described a photograph illustrating the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ General Conference, and it referred to the group’s “Quorum of Twelve Apostates” rather than “Apostles.”

Rich Evans, editorial manager of The Daily Universe, the student paper, told the Tribune it was “the worst possible mistake.” BYU is owned and run by the church, as the Mormon Church is formally known.

The error was an accident: A student had misspelled the word “apostle,” and the article’s editor chose the wrong word from among the options offered by spell-checking software.

The newspaper was reprinted with a correction, and its staff issued an apology to the apostles of the Mormon Church.

April 8, 2009 reply from Patricia Walters [patricia@DISCLOSUREANALYTICS.COM]

Thanks, Bob. It's early, but I think this email has made my day.

It also points out the problem of just using the spell-check. If the original student had mis-typed "apostate" for "apostle", the spell check wouldn't have even detected it and no one would have known whether the "typo" wasn intentional or not.


April 8, 2009 reply from Harry Howe, SUNY Geneseo [howeh@GENESEO.EDU]

I once had a student turn in a paper that referenced a professor who taught at Tuck, in Hangover, NH. It made me wonder whether someone at Microsoft had a chuckle over that, too.


April 9, 2009 reply from George Wright [geo@LOYOLA.EDU]

Loyola's Theology Department once submitted a request for reimbursement of "hireing" expenses when they put up a candidate at a local bed and breakfast. WordPerfect suggested that they really mean "whoring" expenses.

"The Silicosis Abdication:  A scam that deserves as much scrutiny as Lerach and Scruggs," The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2009 ---

It is going on four years since a Texas judge blew the whistle on widespread silicosis fraud, exposing a ring of doctors and lawyers who ginned up phony litigation to reap jackpot payouts. So where's the enforcement follow-up?

That's an especially apt question given news that New York's State Board for Professional Medical Conduct has finally revoked the license of Dr. Ray Harron. He was among the doctors who Texas Judge Janis Graham Jack showed had fraudulently diagnosed thousands of plaintiffs with silicosis, a rare lung disease. These doctors were later called to testify in Congress, where many, including Dr. Harron, took the Fifth Amendment.

Dr. Harron has since lost his medical licenses in California, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Mississippi. This is progress, though hardly sufficient. Among the questions Congress asked state departments of health during the silicosis hearings were why those bodies hadn't moved to shut down these doctors and their mobile X-ray vans at the time they were committing medical malpractice.

New York is belatedly joining the queue, and its order stripping Dr. Harron of his license is particularly noteworthy. After outlining his unethical actions, and citing other medical boards that had denied him a new license, it summarized: "[Dr. Harron] was part of an operation to find plaintiffs with silicosis whether or not they really had silicosis. This is perpetrating a fraud on the courts."

Precisely. The question is what anybody else is doing about it. Judge Jack's findings inspired U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York to convene a grand jury investigation into silicosis fraud. The criminal division of the Texas state attorney general also went this route. We know both juries subpoenaed doctors and documents involved in the Jack case. While these physicians bear responsibility for negligent medical practices, the Jack trial and Congressional hearings made clear that many were taking orders from the trial bar. Dr. Harron has stated in court that he "capitulated" to attorney demands that he include inaccurate language in his silicosis reports.

Yet these grand juries have yet to result in prosecutions. The feds and Texas aside, it would seem incumbent upon New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to follow up on his own state medical board's determination of fraud. A follow-up is especially important given that, prior to their silicosis escapade, these doctors made millions working for trial attorneys on asbestos. According to the Johns Manville Bankruptcy Trust, six of the doctors at the center of the silicosis fraud were also responsible for at least 140,000 asbestos-lawsuit diagnoses. Dr. Harron alone diagnosed an astonishing 51,048 people with asbestos-related disease.

The silicosis litigation machine broke down after Judge Jack's ruling, yet hundreds of thousands of phony asbestos-related diagnoses continue to clog courts. An Ohio state court in 2006 dismissed all cases that relied solely on Dr. Harron, and a federal court in Philadelphia recently did the same. But with medical boards now admitting these doctors were at the center of silicosis schemes to defraud courts, prosecutors ought to pursue their role in asbestos too.

The silicosis and asbestos scams are as corrosive to justice in their way as the cases that resulted in convictions for Bill Lerach, Dickie Scruggs and Melvyn Weiss for kickbacks or bribery. The difference is that these asbestos cases are still in court.

Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

Bob Jensen's threads on the most fraudulent class in U.S. society ---

What happened when legendary philosopher A. J. Ayer cleverly encountered prize fighter Mike Tyson?

Wonderful Video on the History and Controversies of Logical Positivism (Vienna Circle) and Philosophy of Science
Pragmatism under William James ---
Metaphysics ---
Logical Positivism under Karl Popper ---
Logical Positivism under
Sir Alfred Jules (A.J.) Ayer ---

The philosophy of leadership, management, and theory development ---

Free Book on Learning Assessment in Europe (with particular focus in computer-based assessment) ---
The Transition to Computer-Based Assessment;  New Approaches to Skills Assessment and Implications for Large-scale Testing

by Friedrich Scheuermann & Julius Björnsson (Eds.)
European Commission Joint Research Centre
Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen Contact information
Address: Unit G09, CRELL TP-361, Via Enrico Fermi, 2749; 21027 Ispra (VA), Italy
Tel.: +39-0332-78.6111
Fax: +39-0332-78.5733

Table of Contents ---

Introduction 6


Assessing and Teaching 21st Century Skills Assessment Call to Action 13
Robert Kozma

The European Coherent Framework of Indicators and Benchmarks and Implications for Computer-based Assessment 24
Oyvind Bjerkestrand

Computer-based Assessment and the Measurement of Creativity in Education 29
Ernesto Villalba



Experiences from Large-Scale Computer-Based Testing in the USA 39
Brent Bridgeman

National Tests in Denmark – CAT as a Pedagogic Tool 45
Jakob Wandall

Introducing Large-scale Computerized Assessment – Lessons Learned and Future Challenges 51
Eli Moe

Large-scale Computer-based Testing of Foreign Language Competences across Europe: Technical Requirements and Implementation 57
Jostein Ryssevik

Delivery Platforms for National and International Computer-based Surveys 63
Sam Haldane eInclusion, eAccessibility and Design-for-All Issues in the Context of European Computer-based Assessment 68 Klaus Reich & Christian Petter

Gender differences in cognitive tests: a consequence of gender dependent preferences for specific information presentation formats? 75
Romain Martin & Marilyn Binkley



Risks and Benefits of CBT versus PBT in High-Stakes Testing 83
Gerben van Lent Transformational Computer-based Testing 92 Martin Ripley 5

Reflections on Paper-and-Pencil Tests to eAssessments: Narrow and Broadband Paths to 21st Century Challenges 99
Katherina Kikis

Transition to Computer-based Assessment: Motivations and Considerations 104
René Meijer

Transitioning to Computer-Based Assessments: A Question of Costs 108
Matthieu Farcot & Thibaud Latour

Shifting from Paper-and-Pencil to Computer-based Testing: Requisites, Challenges and Consequences for Testing Outcomes - A Croatian Perspective 117
Vesna Busko  

Comparing Paper-and-Pencil and Online Assessment of Reasoning Skills: A Pilot Study for Introducing TAO in Large-scale Assessment in Hungary 120
Benő Csapó, Gyöngyvér Molnár & Krisztina R. Tóth



Computerized and Adaptive Testing in Educational Assessment 127
Nathan A. Thompson & David J. Weiss

Computerized Adaptive Testing of Arithmetic at the Entrance of Primary School Training College (WISCAT-pabo) 134
Theo J.H.M. Eggen & Gerard J.J.M. Straetmans

Issues in Computerized Ability Measurement: Getting out of the Jingle and Jangle Jungle 145
Oliver Wilhelm

New Constructs, Methods, & Directions for Computer-Based Assessment 151
Patrick C. Kyllonen

Measuring Complex Problem Solving: The MicroDYN Approach 157
Samuel Greiff & Joachim Funke

Testing for Equivalence of Test Data across Media 164
Ulrich Schroeders



Utilising the Potential of Computer Delivered Surveys in Assessing Scientific Literacy 172
Ron Martin

Are Icelandic Boys really better on Computerized Tests than Conventional ones? Interaction between Gender, Test Modality and Test Performance 178
Almar M. Halldórsson, Pippa McKelvie & Júlíus K. Björnsson

CBAS in Korea: Experiences, Results and Challenges 194
Mee-Kyeong Lee

How did Danish Students solve the PISA CBAS items? Right and Wrong Answers from a Gender Perspective 201
Helene Sørensen & Annemarie Møller Andersen

Computer Grading of Essays

Sociology professor designs SAGrader software for grading student essays
Student essays always seem to be riddled with the same sorts of flaws. So sociology professor Ed Brent decided to hand the work off to a computer. Students in Brent's Introduction to Sociology course at the University of Missouri-Columbia now submit drafts through the SAGrader software he designed. It counts the number of points he wanted his students to include and analyzes how well concepts are explained. And within seconds, students have a score. It used to be the students who looked for shortcuts, shopping for papers online or pilfering parts of an assignment with a simple Google search. Now, teachers and professors are realizing that they, too, can tap technology for a facet of academia long reserved for a teacher alone with a red pen. Software now scores everything from routine assignments in high school English classes to an essay on the GMAT, the standardized test for business school admission. (The essay section just added to the Scholastic Aptitude Test for the college-bound is graded by humans). Though Brent and his two teaching assistants still handle final papers and grades students are encouraged to use SAGrader for a better shot at an "A."
"Computers Now Grading Students' Writing," ABC News, May 8, 2005 ---
Jensen Comment:  Aside from some of the obvious advantages such as grammar checking, students should have a more difficult time protesting that the grading is subjective and unfair in terms of the teacher's alleged favored versus less-favored students.  Actually computers have been used for some time in grading essays, including the GMAT graduate admission test ---

References to computer grading of essays ---

You can read about PEG at

Applicants to medical and business schools will soon be able to leave their No. 2 pencils at home.  Both the Medical College Admission Test and the Graduate Management Admission Test are ditching their paper versions in favor of computer formats. The Association of American Medical Colleges has signed a contract with Thomson Prometric, part of the Thomson Corporation, to offer the computer-based version of the MCAT beginning in 2007.  The computerized version is being offered on a trial basis in a few locations until then.The GMAT, which has been offered both on paper and by computer since 1997, will be offered only by computer starting in January, officials of the Graduate Management Admission Council said.  The test will be developed by ACT Inc. and delivered by Pearson VUE, a part of Pearson Education Inc.The Law School Admission Council has no immediate plans to change its test, which will continue to be given on paper.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 5, 2005, Page A13

Jensen Comment:  Candidates for the CPA are now allowed to only take this examination via computer testing centers.  The GMAT has been an optional computer test since 1997.  For years the GMAT has used computerized grading of essay questions and was a pioneer in this regard. 


Bob Jensen's threads on assessment ---

"Our brains are computing value at every fraction of a second. Everything that we look at, we form an implicit preference."

"The End of Philosophy," by David Brooks, The New York Times, April 7, 2009 ---

As Steven Quartz of the California Institute of Technology said during a recent discussion of ethics sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, “Our brain is computing value at every fraction of a second. Everything that we look at, we form an implicit preference. Some of those make it into our awareness; some of them remain at the level of our unconscious, but ... what our brain is for, what our brain has evolved for, is to find what is of value in our environment.”

Think of what happens when you put a new food into your mouth. You don’t have to decide if it’s disgusting. You just know. You don’t have to decide if a landscape is beautiful. You just know.

Moral judgments are like that. They are rapid intuitive decisions and involve the emotion-processing parts of the brain. Most of us make snap moral judgments about what feels fair or not, or what feels good or not. We start doing this when we are babies, before we have language. And even as adults, we often can’t explain to ourselves why something feels wrong.

In other words, reasoning comes later and is often guided by the emotions that preceded it. Or as Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia memorably wrote, “The emotions are, in fact, in charge of the temple of morality, and ... moral reasoning is really just a servant masquerading as a high priest.”

The question then becomes: What shapes moral emotions in the first place? The answer has long been evolution, but in recent years there’s an increasing appreciation that evolution isn’t just about competition. It’s also about cooperation within groups. Like bees, humans have long lived or died based on their ability to divide labor, help each other and stand together in the face of common threats. Many of our moral emotions and intuitions reflect that history. We don’t just care about our individual rights, or even the rights of other individuals. We also care about loyalty, respect, traditions, religions. We are all the descendents of successful cooperators.

The first nice thing about this evolutionary approach to morality is that it emphasizes the social nature of moral intuition. People are not discrete units coolly formulating moral arguments. They link themselves together into communities and networks of mutual influence.

The second nice thing is that it entails a warmer view of human nature. Evolution is always about competition, but for humans, as Darwin speculated, competition among groups has turned us into pretty cooperative, empathetic and altruistic creatures — at least within our families, groups and sometimes nations.

The third nice thing is that it explains the haphazard way most of us lead our lives without destroying dignity and choice. Moral intuitions have primacy, Haidt argues, but they are not dictators. There are times, often the most important moments in our lives, when in fact we do use reason to override moral intuitions, and often those reasons — along with new intuitions — come from our friends.

The rise and now dominance of this emotional approach to morality is an epochal change. It challenges all sorts of traditions. It challenges the bookish way philosophy is conceived by most people. It challenges the Talmudic tradition, with its hyper-rational scrutiny of texts. It challenges the new atheists, who see themselves involved in a war of reason against faith and who have an unwarranted faith in the power of pure reason and in the purity of their own reasoning.

Finally, it should also challenge the very scientists who study morality. They’re good at explaining how people make judgments about harm and fairness, but they still struggle to explain the feelings of awe, transcendence, patriotism, joy and self-sacrifice, which are not ancillary to most people’s moral experiences, but central. The evolutionary approach also leads many scientists to neglect the concept of individual responsibility and makes it hard for them to appreciate that most people struggle toward goodness, not as a means, but as an end in itself.

Jensen Comment
Our brains may be computing value every second, but these brains are also re-computing value in many instances. A college course, a book, a blog, a spousal warning, or whatever may cause instant recalculation. What we've never been able to explain is why Madoff might've been a very moral person until pressured, as he states, at a point in time where he had to cover promises made to investors.

We also know that morality interacts greatly with temptation. My answer to Question 1 reads as follows at

  1. What is the main temptation of white collar criminals? 
    Why do auditors often lose professionalism?

    Jane Bryant Quinn once said something to the effect that, when corporate executives and bankers see billions of loose dollars swirling above there heads, it's just too tempting to hold up both hands and pocket a few millions.  I tell my students that it's possible to buy an "A" grade in my courses but none of them can possibly afford it.  The point is that, being human, most of us are vulnerable to some temptations in a weak moment.  Fortunately, none of you reading this have oak barrels of highly-aged whiskey in your cellars, the world's most beautiful women/men lined up outside your bedroom door, and billions of loose dollars swirling about like autumn leaves in a tornado.  Most corporate criminals that regret their actions later confess that the temptations went beyond what they could resist.  What amazes me in this era, however, is how they want to steal more and more after they already have $100 million stashed.  Why do they want more than they could possibly need?

    See Bob Jensen's "Rotten to the Core" document at
    The exact quotation from Jane Bryant Quinn at

    So who are usually the master chefs cooking the accounting books and what is their main reason?

    Answer:  The executives wanting fat bonuses

    What is the typical ploy?

    Get the fat bonus and then issue revised financial statements. Who ever heard of executives having to give back the cash bonuses received after the financial statements are revised?

    Besides Enron, look at big fat Fannie Mae
    Investigators have uncovered new evidence that senior executives of Fannie Mae, the nation's largest buyer of home mortgages, manipulated its accounting in the 1990's to meet earnings projections so that top executives could receive more than $25 million in bonuses. In a 2,600-page report that was made public today, former Senator Warren Rudman and a team of lawyers and investigators concluded after an 18-month investigation that Fannie Mae's accounting practices "in virtually all of the areas that we reviewed were not consistent with" generally accepted accounting principles.
    Stephen Labaton and Eric Dash, "
    Report on Fannie Mae Cites Manipulation to Secure Bonuses," The New York Times, February 23, 2006 --- Click Here

    Report protects the fannies of Fannie's Board of Directors: But executives are hit hard
    They said the report criticizes Timothy Howard, the company's former chief financial officer, and Leanne G. Spencer, the former controller, for their roles in setting accounting policies. They added that the report focuses less criticism on Franklin D. Raines, the former chief executive, but says the company's management didn't keep the board adequately informed about accounting problems. (See related article)
    James R. Hagerty, "
    Fannie Report On Accounting Shields Board," February 23, 2006; Page A2 ---

    Jensen Comment
    Fannie Mae fired the KPMG auditing firm and is now spending over $140 million just to restate past financial statements. Most of the troubles center on FAS 133 rules for reporting derivative financial instrument hedges.

    For a running account on Fanny Mae's accounting problems with FAS 133 see

    Examples of Book Cooking
    Enron Corp. dipped into reserve accounts to illegally pad earnings in 2000 and improperly delayed reporting large losses in a retail energy operation the following year, former accountants testified yesterday. The testimony began the fifth week in the criminal conspiracy-and-fraud trial of former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay and former President Jeffrey Skilling. The testimony provided new support for the Justice Department's accusations that the two top executives manipulated results at the company. Wesley Colwell, former accounting chief of Enron's wholesale energy unit, alleged he shifted a total of $14 million in July 2000 to create a two-cents-a-share boost to the company's second-quarter results. He testified that an Enron finance executive told him that month that Mr. Skilling was looking to "beat the Street" estimate of its second-quarter earnings. Mr. Colwell, who is testifying under a cooperation agreement with the government, paid a $500,000 fine to settle allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that he manipulated earnings. His agreement with the Justice Department requires that he testify to avoid criminal prosecution. Three previous government witnesses, all former Enron executives, pleaded guilty to crimes related to the energy giant. Mr. Colwell, who is testifying under a cooperation agreement with the government, paid a $500,000 fine to settle allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission that he manipulated earnings. His agreement with the Justice Department requires that he testify to avoid criminal prosecution. Three previous government witnesses, all former Enron executives, pleaded guilty to crimes related to the energy giant.
    Gary McWilliams and John R. Emshwiller, "Accountant Says Enron Dipped Into Reserves to Pad Earnings," The Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2006; Page C3 ---

    "Testimony Links Skilling, Lay To Alleged Effort to Hide Losses," by John R. Emshwiller and Gary McWilliams, The Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2006; Page C2 ---

    The former head of Enron Corp.'s retail-energy unit tied former President Jeffrey Skilling and former Chairman Kenneth Lay in testimony to an alleged effort to improperly hide hundreds of millions of dollars of losses in the division.

    The testimony yesterday by David Delainey, who headed Enron Energy Services, or EES, was some of the most specific yet linking Messrs. Lay and Skilling to alleged wrongdoing. The former Enron president and chairman are in the fifth week of their federal fraud and conspiracy trial. Mr. Delainey has pleaded guilty to one count of insider trading and agreed to pay nearly $8 million in penalties. Like four previous witnesses, he is testifying for the government as part of a cooperation agreement.

    Mr. Delainey took over the retail unit in early 2001 after having headed the company's profitable wholesale-energy trading operation. While Enron at the time was publicly portraying the retail unit as profitable and growing, Mr. Delainey contended yesterday that he found a problem-ridden unit burdened by hundreds of millions of dollars of losses. He said another senior executive had told him the unit's financial problems "could potentially bankrupt Enron."

    At a March 29, 2001, meeting led by Mr. Skilling, Mr. Delainey testified, a decision was made to hide some of the big EES losses. Mr. Delainey said he argued the action, which involved moving some retail operations to the profitable wholesale unit, "lacked integrity" and shouldn't be done.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's other Enron updates are at

    When trapped white collar criminals often cop a plea for some type of deal and then sit it out in Club Fed for a few months (e.g., Martha Stewart) or a few years (e.g., Andy Fastow) and then emerge to enjoy their stashed millions. In Andy Fastow's case it took slightly over two years for Enron's December 2001 collapse until Andy Fastow, in the face of overwhelming evidence, confessed on January 14, 2004.


Continued at

April 7, 2009 reply from Scott Bonacker [lister@BONACKERS.COM]

A Catholic writer has another take on it - 

There is much written in this vein by other faiths as well.

I still cannot say that morality can exist without reference to religion.

One of the (to me) more interesting concepts mentioned in this paper is that liberalism leads to authoritarianism.

Scott Bonacker CPA
Springfield, MO



A Great Network Hard Drive

"Network Hard Disk by Western Digital Offers Easy Backup," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2009 ---

Now, there's a new networkable hard disk that, in my tests, proved so simple that anyone who can plug in a cable can use it, with no setup or knowledge, provided your computers have the most current operating systems. It works concurrently and seamlessly with both Windows PCs and Macs, and can even stream music to Apple's iTunes program installed on either platform.

In addition, it can stream music, photos and videos to a TV, if you have a compatible add-on box attached, such as an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. Its contents also can be accessed over the Internet from any major Web browser.

The product is the My Book World Edition, from Western Digital. This second version of the World Edition sells for $230 for a model with a capacity of one terabyte (roughly 1,000 gigabytes) and $450 for two terabytes. It's available from various retailers, or at

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
I generally update files on an external hard drive and, thereby, make it easier to transfer files when needed to my two main computers. The most current updated files are always on the external hard drive that I normally back up at least once per week.

What's the difference between backup and "total backup?" ---

The University of Phoenix has no intention of offering distance education courses on Twitter
Chronicle of Higher Education, April 3, 2009 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
What college wants its courses to be called "Tweets?"

The Whole World is Tweetable:  Updates on Twitter and Stocktwits
Twitter ---


Top Ten Tweets to Date in Academe
Keep in mind that none of these hold a candle to such globally popular twitterers such as Britney Spears
"10 High Fliers on Twitter:  On the microblogging service, professors and administrators find work tips and new ways to monitor the world ," by Jeff Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 10, 2009 ---

1. Sarah Evans, director of public relations at Elgin Community College. Tweet: "Looking for a job in PR? Follow @PRSAjobcenter and turn on your mobile alerts. Good stuff."
Followers: 18,762. Posts: 10,509.

Many college public-relations offices have set up Twitter accounts, and communication leaders have been enthusiastic tweeters. Ms. Evans set up a feed for Elgin Community College where she posts news about the institution, but she also runs a popular personal feed where she shares her thoughts about the use of social media in public relations. She told me that she regularly pitches stories to journalists via Twitter, and she believes that watching the feeds of journalists helps her build personal relationships with them.

Microblogging can be a way to connect with students as well. "At the beginning of the school year, we had a student who tweeted to our Elgin account worried about her uniform coming in for her culinary class, and I was able to help get it to her," she said. Ms. Evans speaks frequently at public-relations conferences about the use of Facebook and Twitter in her job, and she is a guest blogger for the popular technology blog Mashable, which focuses on social media.

2. Jay Rosen, associate professor of journalism at New York University. Tweet: "'I had thought of Twitter as a broadcast tool, but it's become far more valuable to me as a listening device.' Exactly."
Followers: 13,054. Posts: 6,265.

Mr. Rosen posts about 25 times a day, mostly musing on the future of journalism and on how Twitter and other technologies are changing the profession. "It's journalism education for anyone who wants to sign up," he told me in a telephone interview. But the real value of Twitter, he says, is what he learns by watching the other messages coming in — from college students, venture capitalists, journalists, and others he follows. "The fact that they're watching the news for me, scouting the Web for me, and editing the Web in real time — that's the value of it," he said. He started using the service more than a year ago after he was encouraged to do so by his friend, the journalism blogger Jeff Jarvis. Mr. Rosen says it complements his own blog, PressThink, letting him reach new audiences and interact with more people.

3. Howard Rheingold, a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley teaching virtual communities and social media. Tweet: " multiple live video chat windows looks interesting, may try with my classes"
Followers: 8,644. Posts: 6,189.

Mr. Rheingold has been a pioneer in online communities since the 1980s (before most people knew there was such a thing), and he remains on the forefront of social media and networks. He spent most of his career as a writer (his latest book is called Smart Mobs), but he started teaching at colleges a couple of years ago. He was an early user of Twitter, and he says he often turns to it for teaching advice. "As a relatively new teacher, Twitter is really my main connection to other educators who are using Web technologies in their teaching," he told me. "I use it to find suggestions of things to do, and to bounce things off people." He also uses it to have a public conversation about trends in social media. He argues that Twitter isn't for everyone — and that users have to post regularly so that people will be reading you when you want to turn back to seek advice. "I'm not selling it — you have to see whether it works for you," he said. "If you want to share information in small bites with a group of people who share your interest, that's what it's for."

4. Amanda French, an assistant research scholar and digital-curriculum specialist at NYU. Tweet: "I'm planning to Twitter my dissertation, did I tell you? 453,546 characters including spaces & notes=only 3240 tweets."
Followers: 1,336. Posts: 3,937.

Ms. French starts each day by reading her Twitter account at the breakfast table from her cellphone, in search of what's new with the 200 people she follows. "It has really replaced the newspaper for me, I have to say," she said. She says she developed a large following on the service somewhat by accident. She called in a question to a popular technology podcast in 2007 and mentioned her Twitter name, and suddenly hundreds of people started tracking her. "It's a bit like academia — someone who's prestigious or well read cites you in their book, and that's going to increase the attention to what you've done." She mixes clever comments about her daily life with observations about technology and digital archives, and several people I talked to recommended her feed as one that is useful but also fun.

5. David Parry, an assistant professor of emerging media and communications at the University of Texas at Dallas. Tweet: "Someone just told me to look in the Sunday newspaper ... uh what's that? can I get that on my iPhone?"
Followers: 1,701. Posts: 3,891.

Mr. Parry was one of the first to try Twitter as a teaching tool — we wrote about his experiments last year (The Chronicle, February 29, 2008). He has gained many followers of his Twitter feed, where he shares his experiences using technology for teaching and research.

He led a panel about microblogging at the annual conference of the Modern Language Association in December, which he organized via Twitter. "Rather than giving the standard 15or 20-minute papers, we actually limited each speaker's paper to like five to seven minutes and had respondents in the audience ask questions, but we didn't let them ask long-winded questions that sometimes happen at conferences," he said. "The idea of Twitter is there are very strict limits, so you naturally have to converse instead of monologue."

6. Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Tweet: "It's good to finally see some interest in digital humanities at Yale:"
Followers: 849. Posts 1,484.

When I called Mr. Cohen in his office the other day, he was reading through the printed conference proceedings from an event held by the Smithsonian Institution about the impact of the Web on museums. He said he felt like he got a better record of what went on at the event by reading Twitter messages posted by people who attended. "You get conversation among the attendees and questions from people outside the conference," he said. Twitter is becoming more popular at academic conferences, where if you are sitting in a boring session, you can look at Twitter and see if anyone is raving about another session that they are in. "You can get up and leave the boring panel where someone is just reading off their paper, and go to that interesting one," he said. "A killer application of Twitter is conferences and conference reporting."

7. Paul Levinson, a professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University. Tweet: "My avatar's interview in Second Life--about the evolution of social media--full video"
Followers: 822. Posts: 1,477.

Mr. Levinson not only studies social media, he lives the digital lifestyle he studies. "I have four podcasts and three blogs and who knows what else going," he told me, adding that he has about 2,000 friends on Facebook. Oh yeah, and he's writing a book about Twitter and other social media. "I am fascinated by the evolution of media and how media in my view has been evolving for a long time into greater human expression," he said. "What Twitter does is it humanizes our existence by keeping us in touch with people who we're interested in."

8. Scott McLeod, an associate professor at Iowa State University and director of the university's Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education. Tweet: "College students are online more AND reading more?"
Followers: 1,307. Posts: 1,190.

Mr. McLeod argues that professors have been too slow to adopt Twitter. Academic discussions online often take place on closed e-mail lists, he says, when they should be happening in public forums like Twitter, so that a diverse group of outsiders can join in. "I think academics are actually missing a lot by not being involved in more of these social tools," he told me. "There are a lot of academics who think, 'If it's not coming from some other academic it's not worth a damn,' and that's not right."

He admits that some of the messages on Twitter are banal, such as people describing what they had for lunch that day, but he said such notes are part of what makes Twitter such a powerful way to feel connected to far-flung colleagues. "It's like those daily interactions you have with your neighbor — sometimes they're highbrow and sometimes they're lowbrow, but after a while you really get to know the person."

9. Michael L. Wesch, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. Tweet: "CBS Sunday Morning setting up shop in my office for an interview about YouTube"
Followers: 2,958. Posts: 257.

Several people told me I should follow Michael Wesch, who has become something of a rock star in the world of academic technology. He's best known for his creative YouTube videos. One of them, "The Machine Is Us/ing Us," has been viewed on YouTube nearly a million times, stylishly showing the promise of social networking. Mr. Wesch won a Wired magazine Rave Award in 2007, and he was recently named a professor of the year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. On Twitter, he often highlights his favorite multimedia and points to other interesting posts he has seen on the service. "I don't use it for broadcasting my daily life, but for sharing interesting links, knowledge, and ideas," he wrote me via e-mail. "This is great for studying or following events as they unfold, but it is also useful for more traditional research if you can form or tap into a good network."

10. Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University. Tweet: "Preparing for commencement tomorrow. Our graduates are full of promise and ingenuity, and we are launching them into the world just in time."
Followers: 528. Posts: 25.

The only college president we could find on Twitter was Mr. Gee, one of the nation's best-known (and best-paid) college administrators. He has only been posting for a couple of weeks, but he said he is enjoying it so far. I caught up with him by cellphone this month — he was posting a message to Twitter while on a layover at the airport. He said he joined Twitter hoping that it would help him demystify the job of college president by sharing details from his daily life. "It shows that you're not just living in a big house and begging" for money, he quipped. "You do get out and work."

He has posted about alumni events he has attended, about being eager to hear students' spring-break stories, about the university's recent commencement, and of course, cheers and best wishes for the university's basketball teams as they played in the NCAA tournament. He said he's not worried that posting about his comings and goings and thoughts will invade his privacy. "When you're president of a large university, you have no privacy anyway, so why not?" He has signed up to follow the Twitter feeds of Lance Armstrong, whom he knows personally, and some of his favorite writers, including Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas L. Friedman.

Bob Jensen's threads on listservs and blogs (including Twitter) ---

Update on the 10% Law in Texas
This law requires that anybody in the top 10% of a Texas high school be admitted to a Texas university without having to take the SAT/ACT test

Bob Jensen's threads on the 10% law are at ---

"10% Admissions -- the Full Impact," by Scott Jaschik, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 6, 2009 ---

Texas legislators may be on the verge of changing one of the most notable admissions experiments in recent years: a state law requiring that all public colleges and universities automatically admit all of those who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.

The focus of lawmakers -- particularly those advocating a change -- has been the difficulty the law places on the University of Texas at Austin. As the most competitive institution in the state, it is highly attractive to anyone eligible to earn admission, and UT leaders say that they are filling such a large share of admissions slots through the so-called 10 percent program that they have lost flexibility and, with it, the ability to admit highly talented students who don’t earn automatic admission. Defenders of the law tend to focus on its impact increasing minority enrollments

Two new studies suggest both positive and negative impacts of the law that have received relatively less attention in the debate. The studies are scheduled to be released next Friday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

One focuses on the high schools that send students to UT -- and finds that the law has led to much broader representation, effectively halting what had been a growing pattern in which a small number of wealthy high schools were increasingly dominating admissions. Not only has the overall number of high schools sending students to Austin increased since the 10 percent program, but the law appears to have shifted high school students’ decisions. At many high schools before the law took effect, those who would have almost certainly been admitted never bothered to apply -- and the law appears to have changed that, the research has found.

A second study could be used to argue against the 10 percent law -- or at least the way it has been carried out at UT-Austin. This study finds that, as the 10 percent law made it more difficult for some applicants to win admission, an increasing number of these rejected applicants used a program allowing transfer from other UT campuses. And as these transfers grew, transfers from community colleges fell. The finding is significant because so many low-income and minority students start their higher education at two-year institutions.

The authors of the studies -- noting the speed with which Texas legislators appear to be moving to change 10 percent -- released them to Inside Higher Ed in advance of their formal presentation in the hope that their findings might inform the debate.

The 10 percent law was adopted in 1997, following a federal appeals court’s ban on the consideration of race or ethnicity in admissions decisions. The law was immediately popular (with bipartisan support). Because so many Texas high schools have ethnically homogeneous student bodies (whether white, black or Latino), the law ensured that healthy numbers from all groups would be eligible to enroll at Austin. When in 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legality of affirmative action in college admissions, UT started to again consider race and ethnicity in admissions, and opposition to the law started to grow. Among the more vocal opponents have been families and legislators in wealthier parts of the state, which support high quality public schools where (these critics say) very well qualified students in the 11th percentile (or further down) are losing a shot at getting to Austin.

From High School to the Flagship

One of the papers focuses on the issue of which high schools send students to UT. Mark C. Long of the University of Washington, Victor B. Saenz of the University of Texas at Austin, and Marta Tienda of Princeton University analyzed 18 years' worth of data on which high schools sent students to UT, and they found significant shifts beyond the issues of race and ethnicity that tend to dominate discussion of 10 percent.

They start by documenting evidence from prior studies about the role of “feeder” high schools -- those that send a disproportionate share of students to Austin. One part of the research noted that in 1996, just before the law was adopted, 59 high schools accounted for half of UT’s freshman class. (There are more than 1,500 high schools in Texas.) By 2006, there were 104 high schools whose students made up half of the freshman class -- by no means an even distribution, but much more than was the case prior to 10 percent.

The total number of high schools sending at least one student to UT-Austin went up dramatically as this shift was taking place. In 1996, the study notes that UT admitted students from 674 high schools. By 2007, that figure was more than 900. The new high schools were more likely than those previously sending students to have large concentrations of minority students and low-income students (minority and white), to be in rural areas, or small towns and cities. Notably, the researchers found that once high schools experienced success in getting students admitted, they tended to continue to do so.

A key question in the debate over 10 percent is whether the more diverse student pool would continue without the law in its current form. Here, the research team offers evidence to suggest that there are key factors to the law itself -- especially its straightforward nature -- that contribute to its success. The researchers note that, prior to the 10 percent law, nearly all applicants in the top 10 percent of high school classes were admitted, but at high schools whose students have not flocked to UT until recently, very few of these students bothered to apply, pre-10 percent.

“Presumably, many seniors who ranked highly in their class failed to apply because of the opaqueness of UT's admissions policy; as is the case at most institutions, students have no way of knowing whether they qualify for admission or the likelihood of being admitted. This opaqueness would be acute for students at high schools with low sending rates to UT -- a student at such a high school would not have the experience of seeing their older peers' application results,” the draft report on the study says.

“Thus, the apparent increases in access may be due, in part, to the rendering of an opaque de facto policy that admitted nearly all top 10% students to a transparent de jure policy that clearly stipulated the criteria for automatic admission. Not only did this change in admission policy influence the number of admitted and enrolled students to UT, but it also diversified their geographic and socioeconomic origins.”

From Community Colleges to the Flagship

The paper on community colleges notes that for many students, especially low income or minority students, there has never been a great direct path to the flagship university, and transfer has long been viewed as a good option. The paper -- by Rose M. Martinez, a doctoral candidate at UT-Austin, explores what may be an "unintended consequence" of the 10 percent law: reduced transfers from community colleges.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the 10% law are at ---

Probing Questions:
What are computer viruses and where do they come from?
How do computer viruses differ from worms?

PhysOrg, July 20, 2006 ---

The history of medical viruses is outlined at

The history of computer viruses is outlined at

Worm ---
Whereas a virus attaches itself to a program, a worm is independent and self-propagating.


"Huge computer worm Conficker stirring to life," MIT''s Technology Review, April 10, 2009 ---

The dreaded Conficker computer worm is stirring. Security experts say the worm's authors appear to be trying to build a big moneymaker, but not a cyber weapon of mass destruction as many people feared.

As many as 12 million computers have been infected by Conficker. Security firm Trend Micro says some of the machines have been updated over the past few days with fake antivirus software -- the first attempt by Conficker's authors to profit from their massive "botnet."

Criminals use bogus security software to extort money. Victims are told their computers are infected, and can be fixed only by paying for a clean-up that never happens.

Conficker gets on computers through a hole Microsoft patched in October. PCs set up for automatic Windows updates should be clean.

Bob Jensen's threads on worms are at

What are some of the pop-up advertisements to avoid at all times?
What Bob Jensen found out the hard way that legitimate adware programs often fail in permanently deleting an adware Trojan virus!

"How to Stop Operating-System Attacks Ads for DriveCleaner, WinFixer, Antivirus XP, Antivirus 2009 and others pop up on PCs all the time, but the software may be fraudulent or ineffective. Also: Mac users need security updates, too.," by Andrew Brandt, PC World via The Washington Post, January 29, 2009 ---

A legitimate malware remover--one that independent testing has objectively demonstrated to be effective--should be able to deal with the immediate problem of an adware program that won't let you remove it. Check your security software to see if it will do the trick. But the real fix may be concerted government action: Late last year the Federal Trade Commission asked a federal court to stop some perpetrators of this type of scam. It may be that prison terms or massive fines are the only useful deterrents.

Bob Jensen's threads on computer and networking security are at

Top 50 Economics Blogs ---
Top Blogs in General ---

Economics Network of the Higher Education Academy ---

Fractal ---

Why do markets misbehave? How should you measure market risk? And what’s wrong with academic finance?

These are a few questions that polymath Benoit Mandelbrot addresses in the fascinating book The Misbehavior of Markets. Mandelbrot suggests all of these questions can be properly understood by rejecting the standard assumptions of academic finance and instead using a “fractal view” of risk and markets.
"The Misbehavior of Markets," Simoleon Sense, April 6, 2009 ---

Fractals are at the heart of this book. Fractal geometry is a form of mathematics developed by Mandelbrot that deals with rough but highly self-similar structures like trees, coastlines, and mountains. Fractals have helped explain a wide range of natural phenomena and revolutionized computer graphics, influencing movies like Star Wars Episode III. There is room for more applications in this early science, and fractals may help explain the jagged but predictably irrational patterns in the stock market, claims Mandelbrot.

In this book, Mandelbrot contends that fractals are the key to modeling the market. The interesting part is that Mandelbrot does not merely explain why he’s right but he goes to great length to explain why others-those using the standard theories of academic finance-are wrong. Mandelbrot offers interesting history, anecdotes, trivia, and beautiful illustrations to make his case. The stock market does not act like a random walk, he says, but rather it’s like the flight of an arrow down an infinite hallway. It sounds a bit abstract at first, but this is exactly where the book shines. There are stories and illustrations that make such abstract concepts easily understandable. I literally felt smarter after reading each chapter…

Derivatives are exempt from many of the core provisions of bankruptcy, such as the stay on enforcement of contractual rights

"Bankruptcy v. Bailouts," Posted by Andrew Tuch, co-editor, Harvard Law School Corporate Governance Forum, The Harvard Law School, Friday April 3, 2009 ---

Almost the only thing CEO’s, politicians and most commentators have agreed on during the current financial crisis is that bankruptcy cannot possibly be used to resolve the financial distress of a troubled financial institution. Indeed, the Chapter 11 filing by Lehman Brothers has been singled out by many as the primary cause of the severe economic and financial contraction that followed, and as proof that bankruptcy is disorderly and ineffective. Ad hoc rescue lending is widely viewed as a superior response.

In our article entitled “Bankruptcy or Bailouts?“, we provide a detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of the two approaches, and conclude that the preference for bailouts is not easily justified. We begin by showing that the bankruptcy laws address many of the most pressing concerns with troubled financial firms, such as the need for financing and the danger that creditors will race to grab the firm’s assets. We illustrate the effectiveness of bankruptcy both with historical case studies and with an analysis of the recent crisis. The most important historical precedent is Drexel Burnham, which filed for bankruptcy in 1990. Drexel’s bankruptcy shows that Chapter 11 can be used both for quick sales of time sensitive assets and for a more leisurely disposition of other assets. We also argue that the conventional wisdom about Lehman is deeply mistaken. The negative effects of Lehman’s financial distress were caused not by bankruptcy, but by the government’s last minute decision not to provide financial support and by the revelation that Lehman was in financial distress.

We do not claim that bankruptcy is always the best option. If a firm is suffering from a liquidity crisis and default will have serious spillover effects (such as harm to the market as a whole), a rescue loan may sometimes be preferable to bankruptcy. But rescue loans have several significant downside costs. The most obvious is that the prospect of rescue loans creates moral hazard—the incentive to engage in risky behavior is magnified if the consequences of the risktaking will be borne by the government. Although the government counteracted shareholder moral hazard by forcing the shareholders of Bear Stearns and AIG to take significant losses in connection with those bailouts, creditors were made whole in both cases– which magnified creditor moral hazard. In addition to creating moral hazard, bailouts also distort the corporate governance of the affected firms. Governance decisions are made not by the firm and its stakeholders, but by regulators, who often are influenced principally by public opinion. Bankruptcy avoids many of these distortions. Moreover, even in cases where government intervention is justified—as perhaps to guarantee the warranty obligations of General Motors—this often can be done in bankruptcy.

In the final section of the Article, we consider the treatment of derivatives in bankruptcy, which has played an important role in the recent crisis. Under current law, derivatives are exempt from many of the core provisions of bankruptcy, such as the stay on enforcement of contractual rights. Although these provisions were justified as a way to reduce the systemic consequences of a bankruptcy filing, we argue that they can sometimes have precisely the opposite effect. Bankruptcy might prove even more effective if these rules will altered by Congress.

Overall, our Article suggests that bankruptcy is a far more effective mechanism for resolving the financial distress than has been recognized.

Does anybody know where "informed" traders get their advanced information before "uninformed" investors?

Before reading this tidbit, you may want to read about the Efficient Market Hypothesis ---

From Jim Mahar's Blog on April 6, 2009 ---

******Begin Quotation
SSRN-So What Orders Do Informed Traders Use? Evidence from Quarterly Earnings Announcements by Hsiao-Fen Yang

I love when two ideas are in direct competition and are testable. For instance, suppose you have information that you want to trade on. If you trade too aggressively you will move the market (and if it is inside information get caught!). On the other hand, if you wait too long, the information is released to the public and your advantage is gone.

A new working paper by Hsiao-Fen Yang looks at this and finds evidence that seems to sugest that informed traders are sneaky at first, but as the information release date gets closer, they get more aggressive. Which is a really cool story.

Here is some from the abstract:

SSRN-So What Orders Do Informed Traders Use? Evidence from Quarterly Earnings Announcements by Hsiao-Fen Yang:
"Because informed traders expect their information advantage will disappear after the announcements, this information event provides a unique opportunity to test whether informed traders become more impatient and use more aggressive orders when the announcement is approaching. Our results show that when the information will be released soon but there is still enough time for the execution (from day -10 to day -6), informed investors use small orders and limit orders to trade stealthily and reduce price risk. Within five days right before the announcements, informed investors trade more aggressively. They start using large market orders to ensure the execution...."

Ok, so this is just an abstract, so it may or may not be a good paper, but I will take the chance given the author has done quite a bit of work in the market-microstructure field and it is a nice intuitive story. Unfortunately I have not seen the paper. I will email the author and update this link if I find a version online.

I love when two ideas are in direct competition and are testable. For instance, suppose you have information that you want to trade on. If you trade too aggressively you will move the market (and if it is inside information get caught!). On the other hand, if you wait too long, the information is released to the public and your advantage is gone.

A new working paper by Hsiao-Fen Yang looks at this and finds evidence that seems to sugest that informed traders are sneaky at first, but as the information release date gets closer, they get more aggressive. Which is a really cool story.

Here is some from the abstract:

SSRN-So What Orders Do Informed Traders Use? Evidence from Quarterly Earnings Announcements by Hsiao-Fen Yang:

"Because informed traders expect their information advantage will disappear after the announcements, this information event provides a unique opportunity to test whether informed traders become more impatient and use more aggressive orders when the announcement is approaching. Our results show that when the information will be released soon but there is still enough time for the execution (from day -10 to day -6), informed investors use small orders and limit orders to trade stealthily and reduce price risk. Within five days right before the announcements, informed investors trade more aggressively. They start using large market orders to ensure the execution...."

Ok, so this is just an abstract, so it may or may not be a good paper, but I will take the chance given the author has done quite a bit of work in the market-microstructure field and it is a nice intuitive story. Unfortunately I have not seen the paper. I will email the author and update this link if I find a version online.
******End Quotation

Jensen Comment
The SSRN link is at
The full working paper can be downloaded without a fee.

What is not clear is what makes a trader "informed" versus "uninformed." They could be informed legally versus illegally using insider information. By law, any inside information given to any outsider must be shared with the public. The following quotation is from Page 3 of the working paper:

To investigate what type of orders informed traders use, we need to identify who are in- formed traders. We assume that informed traders know the direction of the upcoming earnings announcements and trade based on their private information. That is, informed investors will submit buy (sell) orders before good (bad) news. On the contrary, noisy traders can place both buy and sell orders before good or bad news. As a result, people who trade in the correct direction can be informed or noisy traders; while people who trade in the wrong direction are only noisy traders. If a certain type of orders is more likely to have the correct direction than other types of orders, that is the one informed traders prefer. We determine the direction of the quarterly earnings announcements based on the 3-day cumulative market-adjusted return from day -1 to day 1. When the 3-day cumulative return is positive (negative), we assume the announcements conveys good (bad) news to the public.

What is not clear is that the upcoming earnings announcement direction ("movement") is obtained legally or illegally. It’s possible that these traders became "informed" from public information sources that the financial press just did not pick up on to report to investors at large.

Does anybody know where "informed" traders get their advanced information before "uninformed" investors?


Other Questions
Should you believe these many claims that the equity capital markets are inefficient and that it's worth investing the time and money to beat the market?

Answer --- Taken from
A Dartmouth College finance professor would have us conclude that in recent years the equity markets are a bit like Las Vegas. It's possible to leave Las Vegas more than a million dollars ahead if you take high risks, but the odds are decidedly in favor of the casinos. Similarly, it's possible to beat the stock index funds if you take the risks, but the odds are definitely against beating the index funds.

This we return to the age old paradox. It's rather useless to carefully conduct a financial analysis of audited accounting reports in an effort to gain superior knowledge to take advantage of more naive investors. On the other hand if a sufficiently large number of investors did not make a sufficient number of "sophisticated-knowledge" buys and sells the equity markets might be less efficient. The sophisticated investors (apart from insiders) cannot take advantage of naive investors because there are so many sophisticated investors. Of course insiders can exploit efficient markets, but the SEC spends most of its budget trying to prevent insider trading. If the SEC was not successful in this effort by and large, the equity capital markets would cease to exist.

"Can You Beat the Market? It’s a $100 Billion Question," by Mark Hulbert, The New York Times, March 9, 2008 --- Click Here

The study, “The Cost of Active Investing,” began circulating earlier this year as an academic working paper. Its author is Kenneth R. French, a finance professor at Dartmouth; he is known for his collaboration with Eugene F. Fama, a finance professor at the University of Chicago, in creating the Fama-French model that is widely used to calculate risk-adjusted performance.

In his new study, Professor French tried to make his estimate of investment costs as comprehensive as possible. He took into account the fees and expenses of domestic equity mutual funds (both open- and closed-end, including exchange-traded funds), the investment management costs paid by institutions (both public and private), the fees paid to hedge funds, and the transactions costs paid by all traders (including commissions and bid-asked spreads). If a fund or institution was only partly allocated to the domestic equity market, he counted only that portion in computing its investment costs.

Professor French then deducted what domestic equity investors collectively would have paid if they instead had simply bought and held an index fund benchmarked to the overall stock market, like the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index fund, whose retail version currently has an annual expense ratio of 0.19 percent.

The difference between those amounts, Professor French says, is what investors as a group pay to try to beat the market.

In 2006, the last year for which he has comprehensive data, this total came to $99.2 billion. Assuming that it grew in 2007 at the average rate of the last two decades, the amount for last year was more than $100 billion. Such a total is noteworthy for its sheer size and its growth over the years — in 1980, for example, the comparable total was just $7 billion, according to Professor French.

The growth occurred despite many developments that greatly reduced the cost of trading, like deeply discounted brokerage commissions, a narrowing in bid-asked spreads, and a big reduction in front-end loads, or sales charges, paid to mutual fund companies.

These factors notwithstanding, Professor French found that the portion of stocks’ aggregate market capitalization spent on trying to beat the market has stayed remarkably constant, near 0.67 percent. That means the investment industry has found new revenue sources in direct proportion to the reductions caused by these factors.

What are the investment implications of his findings? One is that a typical investor can increase his annual return by just shifting to an index fund and eliminating the expenses involved in trying to beat the market. Professor French emphasizes that this typical investor is an average of everyone aiming to outperform the market — including the supposedly best and brightest who run hedge funds.

Professor French’s study can also be used to show just how different the investment arena is from a so-called zero-sum game. In such a game, of course, any one individual’s gains must be matched by equal losses by other players, and vice versa. Investing would be a zero-sum game if no costs were associated with trying to beat the market. But with the costs of that effort totaling around $100 billion a year, active investing is a significantly negative-sum game. The very act of playing reduces the size of the pie that is divided among the various players.

Even that, however, underestimates the difficulties of beating an index fund. Professor French notes that while the total cost of trying to beat the market has grown over the years, the percentage of individuals who bear this cost has declined — precisely because of the growing popularity of index funds.

From 1986 to 2006, according to his calculations, the proportion of the aggregate market cap that is invested in index funds more than doubled, to 17.9 percent. As a result, the negative-sum game played by active investors has grown ever more negative.

The bottom line is this: The best course for the average investor is to buy and hold an index fund for the long term. Even if you think you have compelling reasons to believe a particular trade could beat the market, the odds are still probably against you.

Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory ---

In Nevada Professors Must Confidentially Disclose Outside Income?
University of Nevada administrators and faculty members are opposing state legislation that would make public the disclosure forms professors must file on their outside income, The Las Vegas Sun reported. In 2007, an investigation by the Sun found inconsistencies and some lack of reporting under the current system, in which professors must report outside income, but the university reviews the information for potential conflicts of interest, but keeps the reports confidential. Legislators backing the bill say that disclosure is the best way to assure that any conflicts of interest become public and are addressed. But the university system argues that companies will be less likely to hire professors as consultants if those arrangements become public.
Inside Higher Ed, April 8, 2009 ---
Jensen Comment
I wonder if any of them are dealing cards and raking dice in casinos?

Are there forward contract futures for seats at top athletic events like the Super Bowl and the Final Four Basketball Tournament?
Preethika Sainam of Indiana University, along with two colleagues from Chapel Hill, has an interesting paper suggesting that sports organizations shouldn’t sell tickets to big sporting events, like the finals of the Final Four, where the teams who will be playing are unknown. Instead, they say, they should sell options to buy tickets at a certain price once it’s known who’s going to be playing. This system, they say, will raise more money in ticket sales, will make fans happier, and will reduce scalping.
Felix Salmon, "Selling forwards for sporting events," Reuters Blogs, April 3, 2009 ---

April 3, 2009 message from Carolyn Kotlas []


"In higher education in the United States, teaching and research in the fields of language and literature are in a desperate condition. Laboring on the age-old axiom 'publish-or-perish,' thousands of professors, lecturers, and graduate students are busy producing dissertations, books, essays, and reviews. Over the past five decades, their collective productivity has risen from 13,000 to 72,000 publications per year. But the audience for language and literature scholarship has diminished, with unit sales for books now hovering around 300."

In the white paper "Professors on the Production Line, Students on their Own," Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University, argues that the trend for faculty to do more research and publishing translates into less time for motivating and mentoring students. The result is "less academic engagement" and a lack of balance between scholarship and instruction on the part of professors. While decrying the situation, Bauerlein presents several recommendations for improving the situation, including "creating a 'teacher track' in which doctoral students are trained and rewarded for generalist knowledge and multiple course facility rather than a highly-specialized expertise."

The paper is available online at 

The white paper is a publication of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, a "private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare." For more information, contact The American Enterprise Institute, 1150 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036 USA; tel: 202-862-5800; fax: 202-862-7177; Web:

See also:

"Unread Monographs, Uninspired Undergrads" INSIDE HIGHER ED, March 18, 2009 
Article about the paper plus readers' comments.



"In the beginning of the 21st century, we are experiencing an interesting evolution of the demand for learning both by individuals, societies and education authorities. Evidently, the acrimonious relation between the education provision and the social mandates of growth (performance) and social inclusion is becoming extremely complex. Economic globalization and the emergence of what has been identified as the Knowledge Society go, hand-in-hand, with a gradually changing set of key competences. They have been feeding in the dialogue about academic and policy implementation of what some thinkers and stakeholders already have named as the Literacies of the 21st century." -- Nikitas Kastis and Roberto Carneiro, eLearning Papers editorial

"Digital Literacy -- The Evolution of the 21st Century Literacies" is the topic of the latest issue of ELEARNING PAPERS (no. 12, February 2009). Papers include:

"Digital Literacy for the Third Age: Sustaining Identity in an Uncertain World" by Allan Martin -- digital literacy for older citizens

"A Digital Literacy Proposal in Online Higher Education: The UOC Scenario" by Montse Guitert and Teresa Romeu

"T-learning for Social Inclusion" by Chiara Sancin, Valentina Castello, Vittorio Dell'Aiuto, and Daniela Di Genova -- instruction delivered through interactive digital television (IDTV)

"Designing E-Tivities to Increase Learning-to-Learn Abilities" by Maria Elisabetta Cigognini and Maria Chiara Pettenati

"How to Strengthen Digital Literacy? Practical Example of a European Initiative 'SPreaD'" by Michelle Veugelers and Petra Newrly

The issue is available online at 

eLearning Papers [ISSN 1887-1542] is an open access journal created as part of the portal. The portal is "an initiative of the European Commission to promote the use of multimedia technologies and Internet at the service of education and training." For more information, contact: eLearning Papers, P.A.U. Education, Muntaner 262, 3rd, 08021 Barcelona, Spain; tel: +34 93 367 04 00;



In "Factors Influencing Faculty Use of Technology in Online Instruction: A Case Study" (OJDLA, vol. XII, no. 1, Spring 2009) authors Elizabeth Reed Osika, Rochelle Y. Johnson, and Rosemary Buteau report on a study they performed " to investigate faculty perceptions of the usefulness and importance of online courses, the factors that contribute to the decision of a faculty member to use the CMS [course management system] in their courses, and the barriers that exist which make the use of the CMS difficult." They found that faculty attitudes that presented barriers to adoption of online instruction included belief that:

"[T]he quality of online courses is not equivalent to traditional courses."

"[Online courses are] impersonal; no-face-to-face; no discussion; no substitute for being in class."

Their paper provides suggestions that universities can implement to overcome some of the factors that influence faculty who do not use online technology tools. The paper is available at 

The ONLINE JOURNAL OF DISTANCE LEARNING ADMINISTRATION (OJDLA) is a free, peer-reviewed quarterly electronic journal published by the Distance and Distributed Education Center, The State University of West Georgia, 1603 Maple Street, Carrollton, GA 30118 USA;
email: ;



"Recommended Reading" lists items that have been recommended to me or that Infobits readers have found particularly interesting and/or useful, including books, articles, and websites published by Infobits subscribers. Send your recommendations to for possible inclusion in this column.

"Getting Serious About Research Online" By Sara Kubik INSIDE HIGHER ED, March 20, 2009 

"[I]n 2006 the creator of Wikipedia advised us not to use the site as a source, and yet two years later he now wants to make the site more accepting to academic referencing by having "faculty-approved" sites. Also, wikis such as Scholarpedia claim to have content written by experts with a curator moderating all changes. Gray matter, it seems. If we are to use these quality online resources, while insisting on high standards for students, academics need to take seriously issues related to citing materials in media that didn’t exist a generation ago more seriously."


From the Scout Report on April 10, 2009

iConcertCal 2.4 --- 

It can be hard out there for a diehard live music fan, especially with the myriad of upcoming summer concert tours. Using this plug-in for iTunes, users can draw on the information from their personal music collection to learn about concerts that will be making their way through their area. Visitors can also create their own concert "playlist", if they so desire. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and newer and iTunes.

Driver Magician Lite 3.5 --- 

While Driver Magician Lite is quite simple in its layout, it is still an effective tool for persons looking to back up their device drivers. The application identifies all the hardware in the system, extracts their associated drivers from the hard disk, and them backs them up to any designated location. Also, Driver Magician Lite will also detect unknown devices. This version is compatible with Windows 98 and newer.

As newspapers continue to face hard times, some look back to the days of the well-known columnists who chronicled their cities Paper Cuts: Diligently plotting the decline of US newspapers 

Tweaking the Cable Model, to Avoid Newspapers' Fate 

Herb Caen and his city 

Caen on capital punishment 

Mike Royko 

For the Love of Mike 

Emmett Watson


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

Education Tutorials

Thinkfinity Literacy Network [iTunes video] --- 

Education Today: The OECD Perspective ---,3343,en_2649_33723_42440761_1_1_1_1,00.html

Mutual Funds: 10 questions to test your IQ (ten answers every investor should know by heart) ---

Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

NOVA: Last Extinction [PBS video] ---

Elements of Architecture ---

Multimedia from Stanford University (engineering, architecture)
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World Architecture Community ---

America's Favorite Architecture ---

Pennsylvania Geology ---

AlphaGalileo --- 

Galileo ---

"Galileo's Discoveries, 400 Years Later, Still Open Eyes," The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2009 ---

In the hands of Galileo, the telescope now on display at the Franklin Institute here was an instrument of revolution. Stained with use like a worn pick handle, this tool moved the planets, overturned empires of faith and forever altered our sense of place in the cosmos.

Four centuries after the Italian astronomer first turned his spyglass skyward, astronomy is honoring its origins in this deceptively simple instrument, with an International Year of Astronomy celebrated in 137 countries.

Through his arrangement of lenses -- the optical tube still bears assembly notes in his cursive scrawl -- Galileo melded technology to his sense of sight, beginning a process that progressively expanded our perceptions of the universe in ways that continue to challenge us intellectually and spiritually. "The universe got bigger and bigger until it is beyond our comprehension," says Marcia Bartusiak, author of a new history of modern cosmology called "The Day We Found the Universe."

While curators prepared the vintage telescope for its journey to Philadelphia -- the first time it has ever been shown outside Italy -- NASA last month successfully launched its $591 million Kepler orbital observatory to search for habitable planets around other stars. Next month, the European Space Agency plans to launch its $2 billion Herschel and Planck orbital observatories, which will probe our universe in spectral ranges beyond the capacity of the naked eye, seeking celestial echoes from the beginning of time and space.

"All of the astronomical research we are doing today -- observing quasars at great distances, discovering black holes at the center of super-massive galaxies, finding planets orbiting other stars, being able to catalogue the number of stars in the sky -- all of these are descendants of Galileo's work," says Derrick Pitts, the Franklin Institute's chief astronomer.

As a priceless artifact, the telescope is the centerpiece of an exhibit of 100 scientific instruments of the Italian Renaissance drawn from the collection of Istituto e Museo della Storia di Scienza in Florence and funded by Italian watchmaker Officine Panerai. Measurement, as the Franklin exhibition emphasizes, is the essence of science. Displays of lavishly decorated spiral thermometers, brass astrolabes, elaborate armillary spheres and theodolites -- even Michelangelo's compass kit -- testify to the era's appetite for precise technical information.

Inspired by the anniversary of Galileo's discoveries, astronomers are working to make a million inexpensive but high-quality copies of his telescope available world-wide, so that students and others can make for themselves the observations that so changed our world. "We saw this as an opportunity to connect people with the universe," says astronomer Lars Lindberg Christensen at the European Southern Observatory in Munich.

To match Galileo's original innovation, a team of 15 U.S. astronomers and optical engineers labored for two years to design a cheap, high-quality telescope kit. "We took as our challenge to design an inexpensive telescope that could see the rings of Saturn" -- one of Galileo's first and most perplexing observations -- says astronomer Stephen Pompea at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz., who led the design group.

Their "Galileoscope" features optics sharp enough to work well even under the glare of urban streetlights; yet is easy for anyone to quickly assemble and use. They crafted it with a child's eye in mind. "We want children to actually experience Galileo's observations," says Kaz Sekiguchi at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Tokyo. "They can have their own feelings for the universe. They can appreciate the beauty of the sky."

To be sure, Galileo did not invent the telescope. It was a toy in the Venice of his day.

No one can determine who actually deserves the credit. This much is certain, records Harvard University science historian Owen Gingerich: When a Dutch spectacle maker named Hans Lipperhey tried to patent his version of a viewing tube in 1608, the authorities of the States General of Holland rejected the claim because the device was already so well-known. Galileo, however, transformed it into a precision optical instrument that could clearly magnify objects up to 30 times their normal size.

Galileo may not have even been the first to use it as an astronomer.

An English mathematician named Thomas Harriot used a "Dutch truncke" -- as a telescope was then called -- to map the moon's craters nearly four months before Galileo made his own first lunar observations public, Oxford University historian Allan Chapman reported earlier this year in the Royal Astronomical Society's journal Astronomy & Geophysics.

Unlike Galileo, however, Mr. Harriot saw no need to publish his drawings and they had no influence on the progress of science. More than a dozen of his pen and ink lunar drawings do survive, and his first moon map -- dated 26 July 1609 -- will be displayed in Florence this summer as part of an exhibition on Galileo. A selection of his other images will be shown in July at London's Science Museum.

A mathematician and experimental physicist, Galileo, however, immediately recognized that what he could see of Venus, Jupiter and the moon through his telescope offered crucial evidence that the sun, not Earth, was the center of our solar system. The evidence of his eyes overturned 2,000 years of accepted wisdom about cosmology in which philosophers had conceived the night sky as a system of crystalline spheres.

Moreover, Galileo quickly shared his observations with scientists throughout Europe by openly publishing his data.

"He wrought a change so fundamental for science and for humanity," says Munich astronomer Pedro Russo, who is global coordinator of the International Year of Astronomy. "For the first time, we realized we were not the center of the universe."

But his insistence on contradicting traditional cosmology led to his arrest and trial by the Roman Catholic Church. He was forced to recant his views and imprisoned for life. The Vatican did not formally admit that Galileo was correct until 1992. Now Vatican authorities are planning a statue in his honor.

During his life, Galileo is known to have built at least 100 telescopes, mostly as ornate presentation gifts for his patrons -- the powerful Medici family of Florence. Only one is known to survive with its optics intact -- the humble device now on show at the Franklin Institute.

Continued in the article

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

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Top 50 Economics Blogs ---
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Economics Network of the Higher Education Academy ---

Getting Current: Recent Demographic Trends in Metropolitan America --- Click Here

U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs ---

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

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Math Tutorials

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

History Tutorials

Smart History [iTunes video] ---

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Geoff Charles: Photographs of Wales and the English border during the Second World War ---

Multimedia from Stanford University (engineering, architecture)
R. Buckminster Fuller Digital Collection ---

NOVA: Last Extinction [PBS video] ---

Archival Music from India --- Click Here

Massachusetts Historical Society: Massachusetts Maps --- 

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

Language Tutorials

Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

Music Tutorials

The Record Of Singing: Opera Across The Ages ---
Also see the opera channel at 

Archival Music from India --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on free music tutorials are at

Writing Tutorials

The Atlantic book reviews from the 1800s ---

The Atlantic's choice of The Best Books of 2008 ---

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at

Updates from WebMD ---


A simple and inexpensive method of assessing pain
A simple and inexpensive method of assessing pain, developed by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers, is better than currently used techniques for distinguishing neuropathic pain - pain caused by damage to the nervous system - from other types of chronic back pain. Being able to more precisely determine the underlying nature of the pain is essential to choosing the best treatment. The report appears in the April 7 issue of the open-access journal PLoS Medicine.
PhysOrg, April 7, 2009 ---

Forwarded by Paula



Thank goodness there's a name for this disorder.
Somehow I feel better even though I have it!!


Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. -

Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden.
As I turn on the hose in the driveway,

I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage,

I notice mail on the porch table that
I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table,

put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table,
and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back

on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think,

since I'm going to be near the mailbox
when I take out the garbage anyway,
I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table,

and see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study,
so I go inside the house to my desk where
I find the can of Pepsi I'd been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks,

but first I need to push the Pepsi aside
so that I don't accidentally knock it over.

The Pepsi is getting warm,

and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Pepsi,

a vase of flowers on the counter
catches my eye--they need water.

I put the Pepsi on the counter and

discover my reading glasses that
I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk,
but first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter,

fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote.
Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV,

I'll be looking for the remote,
but I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table,
so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs,
but first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers,

but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back on the table,

get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to

remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:

the car isn't washed
the bills aren't paid
there is a warm can of  Pepsi sitting on the counter
the flowers don't have enough water,
there is still only 1 check in my check book,
I can't find the remote,
I can't find my glasses,
and I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today,

I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day,
and I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem,

and I'll try to get some help for it,
but first I'll check my e-mail....

Forwarded by Maurine


One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names and small American flags mounted on either side of it. The six-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, 'Good morning Alex.' Good morning Pastor, he replied, still focused on the plaque. Pastor, what is this? The pastor said, Well son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service. Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally, little Alex's voice, barely audible and trembling with fear asked,

"Which service...the 8:30 or the 10:30?"

Tidbits Archives ---

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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

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         Also see
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Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

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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