Tidbits on August 31, 2010
Bob Jensen

The history of our cottage is rather interesting. It was the structure called the Pavilion when it was a golf clubhouse and later on Brayton Cottage on the grounds of a huge resort. In 1973, all the structures in the resort were demolished except for three summer homes on the golf course and a small power house.  The power house is now our barn, and one of the summer homes that was saved was originally named Brayton Cottage. George Foss purchased the land and Brayton Cottage.  He poured a fine basement where the hotel's dining room once stood atop a hill. Brayton Cottage was then moved over this basement. The views are spectacular. The front side overlooks the Kinsman Range (about 10 miles away), the Twin Range (about 20 miles away), and the Presidential Range (about 30 miles away) of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The backside overlooks the Green Mountains of Vermont. On a clear night we're supposedly able to look down on the lights of 27 villages, although I've never spotted all of those villages. Pictures of the history of our cottage are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbits/2008/tidbits080824.htm

I don't have many pictures of the inside of our cottage. We refinanced our cottage last week,
an the appraiser took the following pictures that might interest some of you. I still carry a relatively
large mortgage because of the tax advantages. In retirement there are not many good tax
deductions left. Of course I will not have it paid off until I'm nearly 100 years of age.
Refinancing gives me great optimism in life.

Main floor with the master bedroom facing west toward Vermong

The Master Bedroom Facing Vermont

The master bathroom I think at one time had been a bedroom
We may have the only house around that has an old brick fireplace beside the commode
I don't like the trouble and mess of wood fires
All four of our fireplaces now have Swedish propane stoves run by thermostats
However we still need a furnace in the basement as well

Every family pretty much lives in the room where the television is located
When I'm in the house and not at the computer,
the den is probably where you will find me reading or watching television

We don't use the dining room much except when we entertain

The appraiser caught us by surprise such that
We'd not put away things before these pictures were taken


Her camera seemed to focus inside and did not pick up the views outside
She also did not take a picture of my computer nest to in the left corner of this room

I took the picture below which shows more of what makes me really love this cottage

The appraiser took this picture of our elevator shaft from the basement to the main floor
We had the elevator installed after Erika's tenth spine surgery (10/12)

This is a picture of the guest room upstairs that has an odd shape difficult to photograph
Because some of our guests are very tall, these beds were made extra long

The former owner built an outdoor art studio
I lined the walls with bookshelves and made it an outdoor office
That I no longer use as my main office

This is the inside of the studio that is pretty much in a state of clutter most of the time
David Albrecht requested a picture of this
So here is the picture taken by our appraiser

We have a small barn that was used 100 years ago as a power generating building for a resort
The cement pad for the generator is on the floor and some antique wiring remains
This building once stood beside a casino and a one-lane bowling alley
The old and unused high power poles still remain beside the building
The golf course is to the south and west of this barn
I added a garage to hold an extra car and my tractor
I have to cross part of the golf course to get to our main road
We can't use these vehicles when the snow is deep

In the appraisal there were pictures of three houses within five miles that recently sold
Here are those neighboring pictures



Now in Another Tidbits Document
Political Quotations on August 31, 2010

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


Tidbits on August 31, 2010
Bob Jensen

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

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

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

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

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

CPA Examination --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cpa_examination

Cool Search Engines That Are Not Google --- http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/06/coolsearchengines

World Clock and World Facts --- http://www.poodwaddle.com/worldclock.swf

Facts Clock --- http://www.poodwaddle.com/worldclock.swf

U.S. Debt/Deficit Clock --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Free Residential and Business Telephone Directory (you must listen to an opening advertisement) --- dial 800-FREE411 or 800-373-3411
 Free Online Telephone Directory --- http://snipurl.com/411directory       [www_public-records-now_com] 
 Free online 800 telephone numbers --- http://www.tollfree.att.net/tf.html
 Google Free Business Phone Directory --- 800-goog411
To find names addresses from listed phone numbers, go to www.google.com and read in the phone number without spaces, dashes, or parens

Find a College
College Atlas --- http://www.collegeatlas.org/
Among other things the above site provides acceptance rate percentages
Online Distance Education Training and Education --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm
For-Profit Universities Operating in the Gray Zone of Fraud  (College, Inc.) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ForProfitFraud

Daily News Sites for Accountancy, Tax, Fraud, IFRS, XBRL, Accounting History, and More ---

Cool Search Engines That Are Not Google --- http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/06/coolsearchengines
Bob Jensen's search helpers --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Searchh.htm
Education Technology Search --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm
Distance Education Search --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/crossborder.htm
Microsoft's Bing --- http://www.bing.com/
Computational Search With Wolfram Alpha --- http://www.wolframalpha.com/
Search for Listservs, Blogs, and Social Networks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListservRoles.htm

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

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

149 Interesting People to Follow on Twitter (but I don't have time to follow them) ---
I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

For earlier editions of Tidbits go to http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/tidbitsdirectory.htm

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

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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/NHcottage/NHcottage.htm

Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm
       (Also scroll down to the table at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ )

Global Incident Map --- http://www.globalincidentmap.com/home.php

If you want to help our badly injured troops, please check out
Valour-IT: Voice-Activated Laptops for Our Injured Troops  --- http://www.valour-it.blogspot.com/

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

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

The Two Faces of Accountics Scientists
Accountics scientists have almost a knee jerk, broken-record reaction when confronted with case method/small sample research as evidenced by SHAHID ANSARI's review of the following book --- Click Here

ROBERT S. KAPLAN and DAVID P. NORTON , The Execution Premium: Linking Strategyto Operations for Competitive Advantage Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2008,ISBN 13: 978-1-4221-2116-0, pp. xiii, 320.

If you are an academician who believes in empirical data and rigorous statistical analysis, you will find very little of it in this book. Most of the data in this book comes from Harvard Business School teaching cases or from the consulting practice of Kaplan and Norton. From an empirical perspective, the flaws in the data are obvious. The sample is nonscientific; it comes mostly from opportunistic interventions. It is a bit paradoxical that a book which is selling a rational-scientific methodology for strategy development and execution uses cases as opposed to a matched or paired sample methodology to show that the group with tight linkage between strategy execution and operational improvement has better results than one that does not. Even the data for firms that have performed well with a balanced scorecard and other mechanisms for sound strategy execution must be taken with a grain of salt.

Bob Jensen has a knee jerk, broken-record reaction to accountics scientists who praise their own "empirical data and rigorous statistical analysis." My reaction to them is to show me the validation/replication of their  "empirical data and rigorous statistical analysis." that is replete with missing variables and assumptions of stationarity and equilibrium conditions that are often dubious at best. Most of their work is so uninteresting that even they don't bother to validate/replicate each others' research ---


Gaming for Tenure as an Accounting Professor ---
(with a reply about tenure publication point systems from Linda Kidwell)

"So you want to get a Ph.D.?" by David Wood, BYU ---

Do You Want to Teach? ---

Jensen Comment
Here are some added positives and negatives to consider, especially if you are currently a practicing accountant considering becoming a professor.

Accountancy Doctoral Program Information from Jim Hasselback ---

Why must all accounting doctoral programs be social science (particularly econometrics) "accountics" doctoral programs?

What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?



Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---


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

Video: Thomas Sowell on Dismantling America ---

"Video: Ted Talk:  Navigating The Information Glut :The beauty of data visualization," Simoleon Sense, August 23, 2010 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on data visualization ---

"Video: Ted Talk:  Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight (displaying a genuine human brain)

BBC Dimensions (ancient worlds and history) --- http://howbigreally.com/

Video forwarded by Auntie Bev
Obama at Bat (humor, sort of) --- http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/obama_at_bat.html 

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 [Flash Player] http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/matisse/splash.html

Top Ten Youtube Vidoes (as shown in the Washington Post) ---

New Communication Technology
Link forwarded by David Albrecht

Nightly Business Report (PBS Business News) --- http://www.pbs.org/nbr/ 

"Video: Entrepreneur Mark Cuban Unabashed!" Simoleon Sense, August 27, 2010 ---

Childhood Memories --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/ChildhootMemories.wmv

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

Renee Fleming Sings 'Lucrezia Borgia'---

A Shocker In Real Time: Puccini's 'Tosca' (hear the introduction) ---

Brian Wilson Takes On George Gershwin ---

Sheet Music Piracy: You Can Get Everything For Free On The Internet ---

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

Federal Government warns against travel in some parts of the United States ---

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

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

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

Not Free Music CD --- Article & Video: Leonard Bernstein and the Anatomy of Music - via Dan Colman @ Brain Pickings –
Bernstein was a master of breaking down music for lay audiences, and if you really want to watch him at work, we highly recommend revisiting his appearances on a 1950’s TV show called Omnibus. During his several visits to the program, a young Bernstein engagingly deconstructed Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (and also pieces by Bach) but then brought audiences into the world of jazz, opera, American musicals, and the conductor’s craft. Bernstein’s seven appearances, which anticipate his later Harvard lectures, have been collected in a newly released DVD collection available now on Amazon.

Photographs and Art

Over 5,000 Photographs from Duke University
Sidney D. Gamble Photographs --- http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gamble/

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 [Flash Player] http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/matisse/splash.html 

National Geographic: In the Field (Archaeology) --- http://www.nationalgeographic.com/field

WPA/TVA Archaeological Photographs --- http://diglib.lib.utk.edu/wpa/

Mordecai Gorelik Papers --- http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/index_sic_gorelik.php?CISOROOT=/sic_gorelik

Brooklyn Museum: Andy Warhol: The Last Decade --- http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/andy_warhol/index.php

Sam Houston Memorial Museum http://www.shsu.edu/~smm_www/index.html

Great Buildings Collection --- http://www.greatbuildings.com/gbc.html

Dr. Walter Lindley Scrapbooks (Los Angeles Health and Politics History) --- http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/collection.php?alias=lsc

Images from the History of Medicine --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/ihm/ 

Genthe Collection (art history) --- http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/agc/

Ask a Forensic Artist --- http://www.askaforensicartist.com/

"Adieu Saigon, Au Revoir Hanoi," Bucknell University ---

Adieu Saigon, Au Revoir Hanoi (also known as the Beaucarnot Project) is a large, collaborative project that involved several people from Bucknell University and California Lutheran University. The project ties together the diary of a young woman from 1943 French colonial Indochina, the journey she took while keeping the diary, and the journey re-traced by a team of history students and their professor in 2004. The project's web site includes a complete history and explanation of the project as well as additional supporting research.

David Del Testa, Assistant Professor of History at Bucknell University, was the driving force behind this project, and the web site is a culmination of several years of his work and efforts. A web site allows visitors to virtually take the journey outlined in the diary. A secondary component has been to create a digital archive of related images.

Further details are available on the project web site

Jensen Comment about the project Website at http://www.bucknell.edu/beaucarnot/journey.shtml
This is a relatively sophisticated Website with mapped hot spots for photographs and text. The associated commentaries add quite a lot of historical perspective. There are a lot of photographs. The site needs an index or search box.

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

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

Soon to be the largest scholarly library in the world: Google Book Search --- http://books.google.com/ 

Links to Poets and Their Online Poems --- http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/authors/ 
Poets of Old and Their Poems --- http://oldpoetry.com/oauthor/list 
My Favorite Poem Project (including a video reading by Hillary Clinton when she was the First Lady of the United States) --- http://www.favoritepoem.org/videos.html 

My Favorite Poem Project (including a video reading by Hillary Clinton when she was the First Lady of the United States) --- http://www.favoritepoem.org/videos.html

I especially liked the video reading by Nancy Nersessian
Especially note how Professor Nerseeian relates the poem to her broken brother.

The Sentence

by Anna Akhmatova

And the stone word fell
On my still-living breast.
Never mind, I was ready.
I will manage somehow.

Today I have so much to do:
I must kill memory once and for all,
I must turn my soul to stone,
I must learn to live again—

Unless . . . Summer's ardent rustling
Is like a festival outside my window.
For a long time I've foreseen this
Brilliant day, deserted house.


Poets House --- http://www.poetshouse.org/ 

Electronic Literature Directory --- http://directory.eliterature.org/


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

Now in Another Tidbits Document
Political Quotations on August 31, 2010

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

I once had a proof of mine plagiarized in a dastardly way

Jensen Comment
I can't recall adding "NP" to the bottom of anything since I retired. However, I once had a QED proof that was plagiarized by a reviewer who later published the proof as his own proof. The best I got was a belated reference to my working paper when he was called out by an angry Editor.
My still unpublished working paper is at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/127wp/127wp.htm
The proof is in Exhibits 2 and 3.
Over the years I've had an amazing number of requests for this old working paper.
When the technology became available, I finally served it up at 

"What Does 'P vs. NP' Mean for the Rest of Us?: MIT's Technology Review, August 20, 2010 ---

"Visualizing the internet’s 300,000 most popular websites (Zoomable) ---

August 27, 2010 reply from James R. Martin/http://maaw.info [jmartin@MAAW.INFO]


I am sure you are in the top 300,000 because I found my site by typing in maaw.info. But the program is looking for your favicon and your favicon is not unique, i.e., it is the same as Trinity University. I use a little M for maaw. My results are as follows:

http://maaw.info  10000 bytes in 0.00 seconds.

http://maaw.info/favicon.ico 1334 bytes in 0.00 seconds.

Online lookup: The icon is at (0.327, 30.780) and is 16 × 16 pixels.

 You are definitely in the top group of sites as far as accounting folks are concerned, without the porn.

Bob Jensen's threads on visualization of multivariate data ---

"Predicting the Death of Print:  Two years ago print was going to soldier on another 10 years. Now it's five--or fewer," MIT's Technology Review, August 23, 2010 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/mimssbits/25642/?nlid=3423

Jensen Comment
At the same time I predict that the used book prices will soar through the roof if these are the only sources of hard copy.

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of electronic books ---

Predicting the Death of Traditional Journalism Schools
"U. of Colorado at Boulder Ponders Closing Its Journalism School," Chronicle of Higher Education, August 26, 2010 ---
Read the comments that follow the article.

Jensen Comment
I don't think this is so much the failure of journalism schools to keep up with changing times. It's more likely to be a function of declining job prospects for graduates of journalism schools.

For the Good of the Economy:  Are too many young people going to college?
"Lack of skilled workers threatens recovery: Manpower," by Nick Zieminski, Yahoo Finance, August 26, 2010 ---

Workers with specialized skills like electricians, carpenters and welders are in critically short supply in many large economies, a shortfall that marks another obstacle to the global economic recovery, a research paper by Manpower Inc (NYSE:MAN - News) concludes.

"It becomes a real choke-point in future economic growth," Manpower Chief Executive Jeff Joerres said. "We believe strongly this is really an issue in the labor market."

The global staffing and employment services company says employers, governments and trade groups need to collaborate on strategic migration policies that can alleviate such worker shortages. Skilled work is usually specific to a given location: the work cannot move, so the workers have to.

The shortage of skilled workers is the No. 1 or No. 2 hiring challenge in six of the 10 biggest economies, Manpower found in a recent survey of 35,000 employers. Skilled trades were the top area of shortage in 10 of 17 European countries, according to the survey.

While the short-term way to address to shortages is to embrace migration, the long-term solution is to change attitudes toward skilled trades, Manpower argues.

Since the 1970s, parents have been told that a university degree -- and the entry it affords into the so-called knowledge economy -- was the only track to a financially secure profession. But all of the skilled trades offer a career path with an almost assured income, Joerres said, and make it possible to open one's own business.

In the United States, recession and persistent high unemployment may lead parents and young people entering the workforce to reconsider their options.


The skilled trades category also includes jobs like bricklayers, cabinet makers, plumbers and butchers, jobs that typically require a specialist's certification.

Older, experienced workers are retiring and their younger replacements often do not have the right training because their schools are out of touch with modern business needs. Also contributing to the shortage is social stigma attached to such work, Manpower argues in its paper published on Wednesday.

A poll of 15-year-olds by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found only one in 10 American teenagers see themselves in a blue-collar job at age 30. The proportion was even lower in Japan.

Education could address that stigma. Students should be reminded that blue-collar work can be lucrative: skilled plumbers can make upwards of $75,000 a year, Manpower argues.

Overall, Manpower's fifth annual talent shortage survey found 31 percent of employers worldwide are having difficulty filling positions due to the lack of suitable workers available in their markets, up one percentage point over last year.

for a link to Manpower's research papers, click on: http://www.manpower.com/research/research.cfm


Although the proportion of employers seeing shortages is still below pre-recession levels, shortages in some countries are more critical than the global average.

Majorities of those surveyed in Poland, Singapore, Argentina and Brazil reported shortages. In Japan, 76 percent had trouble finding the right workers, the highest reading among the 36 countries and territories.

Examples of successful, targeted migration include an Ohio shipbuilder that brought in experienced workers from Mexico and Croatia, and a French metal-parts maker that hired Manpower to find welders in Poland.

Obstacles to such migration include differing standards for certification in skilled trades, as well as political barriers to immigration, which remains an "emotive" subject in many countries, Manpower's CEO said. Japanese employers, for example, have difficulty attracting skilled workers.

Sweden, on the other hand, is innovative and aggressive about strategic migration, for example by removing obstacles to workers being recertified in their specialty, Joerres said.

Jensen Comment
One thing I do not believe is that the “trade professions” are for people too dumb to get into college. Having observed truly skilled trade workers (such as a top auto or airliner mechanic or computer technician) in action over the course of my life, I’m convinced that for many college graduates college was the easy way out in life.

"The Case Against College Education," by Ramesh Ponnuru, Time Magazine, February 24, 2010 ---
Thank you Ms. Huffington for the heads up.

Even in these days of partisan rancor, there is a bipartisan consensus on the high value of postsecondary education. That more people should go to college is usually taken as a given. In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama echoed the words of countless high school guidance counselors around the country: "In this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job." Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who gave the Republican response, concurred: "All Americans agree that a young person needs a world-class education to compete in the global economy."

The statistics seem to bear him out. People with college degrees make a lot more than people without them, and that difference has been growing. But does that mean that we should help more kids go to college — or that we should make it easier for people who didn't go to college to make a living? (See the 10 best college presidents.) --- http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1937938_1937934,00.html

We may be close to maxing out on the first strategy. Our high college drop-out rate — 40% of kids who enroll in college don't get a degree within six years — may be a sign that we're trying to push too many people who aren't suited for college to enroll. It has been estimated that, in 2007, most people in their 20s who had college degrees were not in jobs that required them: another sign that we are pushing kids into college who will not get much out of it but debt. 

The benefits of putting more people in college are also oversold. Part of the college wage premium is an illusion. People who go to college are, on average, smarter than people who don't. In an economy that increasingly rewards intelligence, you'd expect college grads to pull ahead of the pack even if their diplomas signified nothing but their smarts. College must make many students more productive workers. But at least some of the apparent value of a college degree, and maybe a lot of it, reflects the fact that employers can use it as a rough measure of job applicants' intelligence and willingness to work hard.

We could probably increase the number of high school seniors who are ready to go to college — and likely to make it to graduation — if we made the K-12 system more academically rigorous. But let's face it: college isn't for everyone, especially if it takes the form of four years of going to classes on a campus.
(See pictures of the college dorm's evolution.) --- http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1838306_1759869,00.html

To talk about college this way may sound élitist. It may even sound philistine, since the purpose of a liberal-arts education is to produce well-rounded citizens rather than productive workers. But perhaps it is more foolishly élitist to think that going to school until age 22 is necessary to being well-rounded, or to tell millions of kids that their future depends on performing a task that only a minority of them can actually accomplish.

The good news is that there have never been more alternatives to the traditional college. Some of these will no doubt be discussed by a panel of education experts on Feb. 26 at the National Press Club, a debate that will be aired on PBS. Online learning is more flexible and affordable than the brick-and-mortar model of higher education. Certification tests could be developed so that in many occupations employers could get more useful knowledge about a job applicant than whether he has a degree. Career and technical education could be expanded at a fraction of the cost of college subsidies. Occupational licensure rules could be relaxed to create opportunities for people without formal education.

It is absurd that people have to get college degrees to be considered for good jobs in hotel management or accounting — or journalism. It is inefficient, both because it wastes a lot of money and because it locks people who would have done good work out of some jobs. The tight connection between college degrees and economic success may be a nearly unquestioned part of our social order. Future generations may look back and shudder at the cruelty of it.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1967580,00.html?xid=huffpo-direct#ixzz0gYarvwQM

Time's Special Report on Paying for a College Education --- http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/0,28757,1838709,00.html

Jensen Comment
I think it is misleading to talk about the "value" of education in terms of the discounted present value of a degree due to career advantages. Firstly, education has many intangible values that cannot be measured such as being inspired to really enjoy some of the dead or living poets.

Secondly, even if  college graduates on average make a lot more money, this is an illustration of how to lie with statistics. A major problem is in the variance about the mean. Much depends upon where students graduate, what they majored in for their first degree, whether or not they attended graduate school, what they majored in in graduate school, where they got their graduate degree, etc. Average incomes may also be skewed upward by kurtosis and the related problem of bounds on the left tail of the distribution. Low income levels are bounded whereas high income levels may explode toward the moon for bankers, corporate executives, physician specialists, etc.

In any case telling every student to expect more than a million dollars just for getting a bachelors degree is a big lie!

Bob Jensen's threads on the "Criterion Problem" are at

The WSJ is often my best source when I look for fraud reports and fraud warnings

Although Paul Williams likes to put down the Wall Street Journal, I like to give some credit where credit is due.
The WSJ is making money at a time when most other newspapers are failing, and this allows the WSJ to afford some of the best reporters in the world, many of whom pride themselves on their independence and integrity.

Here is an old example followed by a new example.

Old Example
A dogged WSJ reporter deserves credit for the the first public arrow that eventually brought down Enron's house of cards. If the WSJ was overly concerned about the welfare of the largest corporations in the U.S., this reporter or his employer would've buried this report.
A WSJ reporter was the first to uncover Enron's secret "Related Party Transactions."  What reporter was this and what are those transactions that he/she investigated?
Answer --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudEnronQuiz.htm#22

New Example
"By pushing professional cards to consumers who otherwise wouldn't want them, card issuers can get around some of the provisions of the Card Act," says Josh Frank, a senior researcher at the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer group.
"Beware That New Credit-Card Offer," by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, The Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2010 ---

Amid all the junk mail pouring into your house in recent months, you might have noticed a solicitation or two for a "professional card," otherwise known as a small-business or corporate credit card.

If so, watch out. While Capital One Financial Corp.'s World MasterCard, Citigroup Inc.'s Citibank CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Mastercard and the others might look like typical plastic, they are anything but.

Professional cards aren't covered under the Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or Card Act for short. Among other things, the law prohibits issuers from controversial billing practices such as hair-trigger interest rate increases, shortened payment cycles and inactivity fees—but it doesn't apply to professional cards (see table).

Until recently professional cards largely had been reserved for small-business owners or corporate executives. But since the Card Act was passed in March 2009, companies have been inundating ordinary consumers with applications. In the first quarter of 2010, issuers mailed out 47 million professional offers, a 256% increase from the same period last year, according to research firm Synovate.

The Card Act's strictures have squeezed banks' profits and their ability to operate freely. By moving cardholders out of protected consumer cards and into professional cards, banks might recoup some of the revenue they have lost.

"By pushing professional cards to consumers who otherwise wouldn't want them, card issuers can get around some of the provisions of the Card Act," says Josh Frank, a senior researcher at the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer group.

Several solicitations from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. have ended up in the mailbox of John and Gloria Harrison, a retired military couple who live in Destrehan, La., outside New Orleans. Mrs. Harrison says she gets an offer for an Ink From Chase card, geared toward small businesses, almost every month. She says she finds this puzzling because her husband retired in 1986 and doesn't own a business.

Bob Jensen's threads on The Dirty Secrets of Credit Card Companies ---

Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads ---

"Checklist for an Open CourseWare Semester," by Ethan Watrall, Chronicle of Higher Education,  August 19, 2010 ---

For many of us, another semester is right around the corner. For those of us who adhere to an Open CourseWare (OCW) philosophy, it's a good time to evaluate (or re-evaluate) our personal OCW strategy. For those who are thinking about getting onboard with OCW, now is a perfect time to think about how best to go about getting in on the game. In the spirit of this, I would like to present a few items that should be on anyone's start of the semester OCW checklist—things that are best decided at the beginning of developing (or revamping) an open course. As is customary, this list is hardly exhaustive or comprehensive. It is simply the things that I think are important to think about. For a more comprehensive look at developing a personal OCW strategy (as opposed to a brief pre-semester checklist) have a look at my Developing a Personal Open Courseware Strategy post. That having been said, let's get to the checklist!

What to Put Up?

Different courses have different types of course materials (obviously). Some of the content you use in your course might not be appropriate for an open course. So, you need to make some decisions about what you are going to put up on the open course and what to leave out. There are practical considerations in play. If you want to include lecture audio on your open course, you need to make sure you have the ability (and equipment) to record and edit. You also need to make sure you record every lecture (as opposed to just recording two or three). If you want to include lecture slides, you need to make sure that they are standardized (in terms of format) and the series is complete. The bottom line is that when it comes to an open course, just make a logical (and practical) plan as to what you want to put up.

Beyond the practical considerations, there are also copyright issues in play. Many classes rely on copyrighted materials. Should you include these materials in your open course? For instance, many of my classes have videos or video clips. It's always been a challenge for me to decide whether I should digitize these and put them online. My logic is that because many of the videos are vital to the class , leaving them out of the open course website makes the class seem somewhat incomplete (and therefore less useful as an actual open course). Despite new DMCA Exemptions, putting an entire digitized video online definitely falls into the "this sure as heck isn't fair use" and "wow, I'm probably going to get in trouble for this" categories. Many (including myself) have thought that putting videos behind password protection (setting one passwords for the class or hooking in to your university's authentication system) is a perfectly logical solution to treading in the unhappy land of copyright violation. Makes sense, right? By password protecting materials, you limit their access to just your students (as opposed to broadcasting them to the world). Well, this might still not be enough. Recently, the Association for Information and Media Equipment (an educational media trade group) threatened to sue UCLA, arguing that the streaming video which was behind the university's authentication still infringed on copyright. Despite the fact that UCLA asserted that they weren't in the wrong, they suspended the practice and are seeking to settle the matter out of court. The result is that faculty who assume that putting copyrighted video material behind some sort of university authentication will protect them (and the university) from nasty takedown letters and maybe even lawsuits probably need to rethink their strategy.

Student Work, Public or Private?

One of the most challenging questions (especially if your course website is the primary platform for class assignments) is whether or not student work should be open and accessible as well. On one hand, having student work (blog posts, wiki assignments, etc.) open and accessible is a great way to add depth to the class. On the other hand, putting student material online without their express permission is a major violation of FERPA. So, what to do? My solution is to ask each student at the beginning of the class if they want their work accessible to the public. If they don't object, cool. However, if they they have an issue, I simply agree to password protect their posts. I also tell students that if there are specific assignments that they want password protect, while leaving the rest of their material open and accessible, that's cool as well. The funny thing is that after years of doing this, I've never had a student who had a problem with their written assignments (mainly blogs and wikis) being completely open and forward facing.

What is your Platform?

In all honesty, this is a bit of a no-brainer. You can't create an open course without choosing the platform that you are going to use to serve the course. However, I think it's worth saying that it is very much in your best interest to make an informed choice ahead of the game as to the platform that works best for your needs. It's far better to do some research beforehand than to find yourself in the middle of the semester with a platform that doesn't meet your open course needs. Granted, if you've already chosen what content you are going to publish on your open course (and planned ahead) switching platforms shouldn't be too much work.

Don't Forget the Creative Commons Language

One of the key aspects of an open course is that it is published with some sort of open source license—the most logical and popular being a Creative Commons license. This ensures that your content is used in the way you deem appropriate (by attribution, non-commercially, etc.). There are a bunch of ways you could do this: as a footer on every page, as a paragraph in the "About" section of the class site, or by using one of the handy-dandy Creative Commons license badges.

The Bottom Line

As I said at the opening, this checklist is hardly comprehensive. The one theme (if you can have a theme with a four item checklist) is that planning ahead is a good thing. It'll save you grief and extra work down the line, and will ultimately ensure that your open course is more valuable and useful to your audience.

Bob Jensen's threads on open courseware alternatives are at

Google Books --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Book_Search

Google's Book Search --- http://books.google.com/

"Google's Book Search: A Disaster for Scholars," by Geoffrey Nunberg, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 31, 2010 ---

Whether the Google books settlement passes muster with the U.S. District Court and the Justice Department, Google's book search is clearly on track to becoming the world's largest digital library. No less important, it is also almost certain to be the last one. Google's five-year head start and its relationships with libraries and publishers give it an effective monopoly: No competitor will be able to come after it on the same scale. Nor is technology going to lower the cost of entry. Scanning will always be an expensive, labor-intensive project. Of course, 50 or 100 years from now control of the collection may pass from Google to somebody else—Elsevier, Unesco, Wal-Mart. But it's safe to assume that the digitized books that scholars will be working with then will be the very same ones that are sitting on Google's servers today, augmented by the millions of titles published in the interim.

That realization lends a particular urgency to the concerns that people have voiced about the settlement —about pricing, access, and privacy, among other things. But for scholars, it raises another, equally basic question: What assurances do we have that Google will do this right?

Doing it right depends on what exactly "it" is. Google has been something of a shape-shifter in describing the project. The company likes to refer to Google's book search as a "library," but it generally talks about books as just another kind of information resource to be incorporated into Greater Google. As Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, puts it: "We just feel this is part of our core mission. There is fantastic information in books. Often when I do a search, what is in a book is miles ahead of what I find on a Web site."

Seen in that light, the quality of Google's book search will be measured by how well it supports the familiar activity that we have come to think of as "googling," in tribute to the company's specialty: entering in a string of keywords in an effort to locate specific information, like the dates of the Franco-Prussian War. For those purposes, we don't really care about metadata—the whos, whats, wheres, and whens provided by a library catalog. It's enough just to find a chunk of a book that answers our needs and barrel into it sideways.

But we're sometimes interested in finding a book for reasons that have nothing to do with the information it contains, and for those purposes googling is not a very efficient way to search. If you're looking for a particular edition of Leaves of Grass and simply punch in, "I contain multitudes," that's what you'll get. For those purposes, you want to be able to come in via the book's metadata, the same way you do if you're trying to assemble all the French editions of Rousseau's Social Contract published before 1800 or books of Victorian sermons that talk about profanity.

Or you may be interested in books simply as records of the language as it was used in various periods or genres. Not surprisingly, that's what gets linguists and assorted wordinistas adrenalized at the thought of all the big historical corpora that are coming online. But it also raises alluring possibilities for social, political, and intellectual historians and for all the strains of literary philology, old and new. With the vast collection of published books at hand, you can track the way happiness replaced felicity in the 17th century, quantify the rise and fall of propaganda or industrial democracy over the course of the 20th century, or pluck out all the Victorian novels that contain the phrase "gentle reader."

But to pose those questions, you need reliable metadata about dates and categories, which is why it's so disappointing that the book search's metadata are a train wreck: a mishmash wrapped in a muddle wrapped in a mess.

Start with publication dates. To take Google's word for it, 1899 was a literary annus mirabilis, which saw the publication of Raymond Chandler's Killer in the Rain, The Portable Dorothy Parker, André Malraux's La Condition Humaine, Stephen King's Christine, The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf, Raymond Williams's Culture and Society 1780-1950, and Robert Shelton's biography of Bob Dylan, to name just a few. And while there may be particular reasons why 1899 comes up so often, such misdatings are spread out across the centuries. A book on Peter F. Drucker is dated 1905, four years before the management consultant was even born; a book of Virginia Woolf's letters is dated 1900, when she would have been 8 years old. Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities is dated 1888, and an edition of Henry James's What Maisie Knew is dated 1848.

Of course, there are bound to be occasional howlers in a corpus as extensive as Google's book search, but these errors are endemic. A search on "Internet" in books published before 1950 produces 527 results; "Medicare" for the same period gets almost 1,600. Or you can simply enter the names of famous writers or public figures and restrict your search to works published before the year of their birth. "Charles Dickens" turns up 182 results for publications before 1812, the vast majority of them referring to the writer. The same type of search turns up 81 hits for Rudyard Kipling, 115 for Greta Garbo, 325 for Woody Allen, and 29 for Barack Obama. (Or maybe that was another Barack Obama.)

How frequent are such errors? A search on books published before 1920 mentioning "candy bar" turns up 66 hits, of which 46—70 percent—are misdated. I don't think that's representative of the overall proportion of metadata errors, though they are much more common in older works than for the recent titles Google received directly from publishers. But even if the proportion of misdatings is only 5 percent, the corpus is riddled with hundreds of thousands of erroneous publication dates.

Google acknowledges the incorrect dates but says they came from the providers. It's true that Google has received some groups of books that are systematically misdated, like a collection of Portuguese-language works all dated 1899. But a very large proportion of the errors are clearly Google's own doing. A lot of them arise from uneven efforts to automatically extract a publication date from a scanned text. A 1901 history of bookplates from the Harvard University Library is correctly dated in the library's catalog. Google's incorrect date of 1574 for the volume is drawn from an Elizabethan armorial bookplate displayed on the frontispiece. An 1890 guidebook called London of To-Day is correctly dated in the Harvard catalog, but Google assigns it a date of 1774, which is taken from a front-matter advertisement for a shirt-and-hosiery manufacturer that boasts it was established in that year.

Then there are the classification errors, which taken together can make for a kind of absurdist poetry. H.L. Mencken's The American Language is classified as Family & Relationships. A French edition of Hamlet and a Japanese edition of Madame Bovary are both classified as Antiques and Collectibles (a 1930 English edition of Flaubert's novel is classified under Physicians, which I suppose makes a bit more sense.) An edition of Moby Dick is labeled Computers; The Cat Lover's Book of Fascinating Facts falls under Technology & Engineering. And a catalog of copyright entries from the Library of Congress is listed under Drama (for a moment I wondered if maybe that one was just Google's little joke).

You can see how pervasive those misclassifications are when you look at all the labels assigned to a single famous work. Of the first 10 results for Tristram Shandy, four are classified as Fiction, four as Family & Relationships, one as Biography & Autobiography, and one is not classified. Other editions of the novel are classified as 'Literary Collections, History, and Music. The first 10 hits for Leaves of Grass are variously classified as Poetry, 'Juvenile Nonfiction, Fiction, Literary Criticism, Biography & Autobiography, and, mystifyingly, Counterfeits and Counterfeiting. And various editions of Jane Eyre are classified as History, Governesses, Love Stories, Architecture, and Antiques & Collectibles (as in, "Reader, I marketed him.").

Here, too, Google has blamed the errors on the libraries and publishers who provided the books. But the libraries can't be responsible for books mislabeled as Health and Fitness and Antiques and Collectibles, for the simple reason that those categories are drawn from the Book Industry Standards and Communications codes, which are used by the publishers to tell booksellers where to put books on the shelves, not from any of the classification systems used by libraries. And BISAC classifications weren't in wide use before the last decade or two, so only Google can be responsible for their misapplications on numerous books published earlier than that: the 1919 edition of Robinson Crusoe assigned to Crafts & Hobbies or the 1907 edition of Sir Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia: Urne-Buriall, which has been assigned to Gardening.

Google's fine algorithmic hand is also evident in a lot of classifications of recent works. The 2003 edition of Susan Bordo's Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body (misdated 1899) is assigned to Health & Fitness—not a labeling you could imagine coming from its publisher, the University of California Press, but one a classifier might come up with on the basis of the title, like the Religion tag that Google assigns to a 2001 biography of Mae West that's subtitled An Icon in Black and White or the Health & Fitness label on a 1962 number of the medievalist journal Speculum.

But even when it gets the BISAC categories roughly right, the more important question is why Google would want to use those headings in the first place. People from Google have told me they weren't included at the publishers' request, and it may be that someone thought they'd be helpful for ad placement. (The ad placement on Google's book search right now is often comical, as when a search for Leaves of Grass brings up ads for plant and sod retailers—though that's strictly Google's problem, and one, you'd imagine, that they're already on top of.) But it's a disastrous choice for the book search. The BISAC scheme is well-suited for a chain bookstore or a small public library, where consumers or patrons browse for books on the shelves. But it's of little use when you're flying blind in a library with several million titles, including scholarly works, foreign works, and vast quantities of books from earlier periods. For example the BISAC Juvenile Nonfiction subject heading has almost 300 subheadings, like New Baby, Skateboarding, and Deer, Moose, and Caribou. By contrast the Poetry subject heading has just 20 subheadings. That means that Bambi and Bullwinkle get a full shelf to themselves, while Leopardi, Schiller, and Verlaine have to scrunch together in the single subheading reserved for Poetry/Continental European. In short, Google has taken a group of the world's great research collections and returned them in the form of a suburban-mall bookstore.

Such examples don't exhaust Google's metadata errors by any means. In addition to the occasionally quizzical renamings of works (Moby Dick: or the White Wall), there are a number of mismatches of titles and texts. Click on the link for the 1818 Théorie de l'Univers, a work on cosmology by the Napoleonic mathematician and general Jacques Alexander François Allix, and it takes you to Barbara Taylor Bradford's 1983 novel Voice of the Heart, while the link on a misdated number of Dickens's Household Words takes you to a 1742 Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences. Numerous entries mix up the names of authors, editors, and writers of introductions, so that the "about this book" page for an edition of one French novel shows the striking attribution, "Madame Bovary By Henry James." More mysterious is the entry for a book called The Mosaic Navigator: The Essential Guide to the Internet Interface, which is dated 1939 and attributed to Sigmund Freud and Katherine Jones. The only connection I can come up with is that Jones was the translator of Freud's Moses and Monotheism, which must have somehow triggered the other sense of the word "mosaic," though the details of the process leave me baffled.

For the present, then, scholars will have to put on hold their visions of tracking the 19th-century fortunes of liberalism or quantifying the shift of "United States" from a plural to singular noun phrase over the first century of the republic: The metadata simply aren't up to it. It's true that Google is aware of a lot of these problems and they've pledged to fix them. (Indeed, since I presented some of these errors at a conference last week, Google has already rushed to correct many of them.) But it isn't clear whether they plan to go about this in the same way they're addressing the scanning errors that riddle the texts, correcting them as (and if) they're reported. That isn't adequate here: There are simply too many errors. And while Google's machine classification system will certainly improve, extracting metadata mechanically isn't sufficient for scholarly purposes. After first seeming indifferent, Google decided it did want to acquire the library records for scanned books along with the scans themselves, but as of now the company hasn't licensed them for display or use—hence, presumably, those stabs at automatically recovering publication dates from the scanned texts.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
I think the phrase "disaster for scholars" is very misleading. Google's Book Search has certainly been a delight for me. Also Google had the resources and stamina to fend off all the court challenges. In general, the major universities have been in favor of this project from get go.

 A project this massive is bound to have startup problems, but Google is adaptive and will listen to its critics. It's better to have the world's largest digital library than a bunch of decentralized smoke stacks of from the previous century.

Bob Jensen's search helpers ---

Bob Jensen's links to finding free online books

Video: Thomas Sowell on Dismantling America ---

"Video: Ted Talk:  Navigating The Information Glut :The beauty of data visualization," Simoleon Sense, August 23, 2010 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on data visualization ---

"Video: Ted Talk:  Jill Bolte Taylor's stroke of insight" (displaying a genuine human brain)

Castro Worries About Mindset of Freshmen

Inside Higher Ed, August 25, 2010 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/08/25/qt#236459
Fidel Castro has apparently taken an interest in Beloit College's annual "mindset list" designed to help professors (in a humorous way) reflect on the experiences they and their new students don't share. The college released this year's list last week. Beloit officials were surprised to learn that the list was cited in a column by the Cuban leader, who took the list quite seriously. After citing some of the items on the list, Castro writes: "I was stunned to realize to what extent education could be distorted and prostituted in a country with more than 8 000 nuclear weapons and the most powerful means of war in the whole world."

Jensen Comment
One of the problems older professors have is keeping up with the mindsets of their new young students

Beloit College Mindset List --- http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/

Beethoven 1992 Hollywood Comedy --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beethoven_(film)

"Most US students think Beethoven is a dog (remember the comedy movie with a St. Bernard named Beethoven)," Yahoo News, August 17, 2010 ---

Most young Americans entering university this year can't write in cursive, think email is too slow, that Beethoven's a dog and Michelangelo a computer virus, according to an annual list compiled by two academics at a US college.

To students who will get their bachelor's degrees in 2014, Czechoslovakia has never existed, Fergie is a pop singer, not a duchess; Clint Eastwood is a sensitive movie director, not Dirty Harry; and John McEnroe stars in TV ads, not on the tennis court, Beloit College's "Mindset" list says.

The Mindset list was first compiled in 1998, for the class of 2002, by Beloit humanities professor Tom McBride and former public affairs director Ron Nief.

It was intended as a reminder to faculty at the university that references quickly become dated, but quickly evolved to become a hugely popular annual list that gives a snapshot of how things have changed, and chronicles key cultural and political events that have shaped a generation.

In the first Mindset list, McBride and Nief found that youngsters born in 1980 had ever known only one pope - Polish-born John Paul II, who was elected to the papacy in 1978 and died in 2008.

For the class of 2003 -- born in 1981 and featured on the 1999 Mindset list -- Yugoslavia never existed and they were puzzled why Solidarity was sometimes spelled with a capital S.

Solidarity with a capital S was the first and only independent trade union in the Soviet bloc. It was created in 1980 and went on to negotiate in 1989 a peaceful end to communism in Poland, making the country the first to escape Moscow's grip.

Nief and McBride take a year to put the list together, gathering outside contributions and poring over journals, literary works, and the popular media from the year of the incoming university students' birth.

"Then we present the ideas to every 18-year-old whose attention we can get and we wait for the 'mindset moment' -- the blank stare that comes back at you that makes you realize they have no idea what you're talking about," Nief told AFP.

Those moments make it onto the list, alongside interesting historical snippets like the fact that since the class of 2004 was born in 1982, all but one national election in the United States has had a candidate in it named George Bush.

The list also chronicles geopolitical changes, and sometimes depressingly highlights how little progress has been made on key issues, such as the fight against AIDS.

The class of 2004, for instance, "never referred to Russia and China as 'the Reds'", and in the year they were born, 1982, "AIDS was found to have killed 164 people and finding a cure for the new disease was designated a 'top priority' for government-sponsored research."

The class of 2005 -- born in 1983 -- thought of Sarajevo as a war zone, not an Olympic host, and had no idea what carbon paper was.

Apartheid never existed in South Africa for the class of 2006, and for the class of 2007, "Banana Republic has always been a store, not a puppet government in Latin America."

The list is a mirror of how rapidly perceptions can change: to the class of 2013, boxer Mike Tyson was "always a felon" but to students who graduated five years earlier, Tyson was "always a contender."

The list makes some people feel old, like those who remember what Michael Jackson looked like when he was singing in the Jackson Five or recall the days when there were only a handful of channels on television.

But they're not the only ones who get the blues over the list.

"There are 25- and 26-year-olds that tell us they feel old when they read the list," Nief said.

"Just two years ago, there were some students who learned to type on a typewriter," but others in the graduating class of 2012 didn't know that IBM had ever made typewriters, said Nief.

Few students in the class of 2009 knew how to tie a tie and most thought Iran and Iraq had never been at war with each other.

And for US students who got their bachelor's degrees this year, Germany was never divided, professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics, there have always been reality shows on television and smoking has never been allowed on US airlines.

"Adieu Saigon, Au Revoir Hanoi," Bucknell University ---

Adieu Saigon, Au Revoir Hanoi (also known as the Beaucarnot Project) is a large, collaborative project that involved several people from Bucknell University and California Lutheran University. The project ties together the diary of a young woman from 1943 French colonial Indochina, the journey she took while keeping the diary, and the journey re-traced by a team of history students and their professor in 2004. The project's web site includes a complete history and explanation of the project as well as additional supporting research.

David Del Testa, Assistant Professor of History at Bucknell University, was the driving force behind this project, and the web site is a culmination of several years of his work and efforts. A web site allows visitors to virtually take the journey outlined in the diary. A secondary component has been to create a digital archive of related images.

Further details are available on the project web site

Jensen Comment about the project Website at http://www.bucknell.edu/beaucarnot/journey.shtml
This is a relatively sophisticated Website with mapped hot spots for photographs and text. The associated commentaries add quite a lot of historical perspective.The site can be navigated chronologically or geographically. There are a kit if photographs.

The site could be greatly improved with a search box.


"Capitalism's Confidence Games," by Chris Meyer & Julia Kirby, Harvard Business Review Blog, August 23, 2010 --- Click Here

Our work on the evolution of global capitalism rests on a core idea: systems with feedback and selection evolve. That's a foundational idea in evolutionary biology — it's the reason that Darwin's finches had different beaks — but we note that it is also true in political economy. In fact, socially constructed systems (like capitalism) evolve all the faster because feedback can reshape notions more readily than noses.

Yet it's also true that human cognition can prevent important feedback from being processed. In general, humans are adept at pattern recognition, but our strength at converting common observation into reasonable prediction has weaknesses. For one thing, as Chris was taught in business school in the 1970s, people in general underestimate the likelihood of the unlikely. Rarities that happen one time in a hundred (a corporate bankruptcy, say, or a flood, in a five-year period) are estimated to happen once in a thousand cases. As a result of this tendency — surprise! — we're constantly being surprised.

In a New York Times column called "Often Wrong, But Never in Doubt", University of Chicago behavioral economist Richard Thaler focuses on one unfortunate result of the persistent belief that the world is more predictable than it is: he notes that it leads to a dangerous overconfidence among executives. Citing a survey of CFOs, he remarks: "It may be neither troubling nor surprising that CFOs can't accurately predict the stock market's path ... What is troubling ... is that as a group, many of these executives apparently don't realize that they lack forecasting ability."

Thaler then turns to
papers of UCLA's Richard Roll, who has investigated the role of CEO hubris in inflating acquisition premiums. It is well established that in most cases when one company has acquired another, the returns on that investment do not wind up justifying the purchase price. Why would it be the case that the acquirer's management would tend to expect substantially higher performance than they can ultimately realize? Roll's observation is that acquirers "have typically done very well in the recent past, leading their CEOs to the mistaken belief that their success can be replicated in takeover targets once they are in charge of them."

Worst of all, Thaler concludes that such errors in interpreting feedback may be endemic to the system:

We shouldn't expect that the competition to become a top manager will weed out overconfidence. In fact, the competition may tend to select overconfident people. One route to the corner office is to combined overconfidence with luck, which can be hard to distinguish from skill.

In some ways, this reminds us of a scam described in Nasim Taleb's Fooled by Randomness: Send a spam note to a million people with a stock tip. The stock will either go up or down. If it goes up, send another tip. Repeat five times, and, assuming every stock has a 50% chance of going up, you will have 3,125 people who think you're a genius. Ask them all for money. We know, as a group, they will underestimate the possibility that you could have made those predictions at random. You can take that to the bank.

Of course, CEOs don't begin with intent to defraud their boards (for the most part). The parallel is in the mechanism that ends up misallocating funds. People, as Taleb argued, want to believe the world is less random than it is, but we set up some of our systems so that random results are misinterpreted as information.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment from

  • In retrospect between 2001 and the credit derivatives fiasco of 2008 (where Wall Street had millions of such contracts) is that Janet M. Tavakoli’s credit derivative models in 2001 looked almost perfect but ignored the Black Swan of 2008 that some might argue helped to bring down the world of finance to the extent that so many credit derivatives were used, in a failing effort, to insure against investment failures. This, of course, was a much larger specification problem than the Euclidean difference between cylinders and cones. I wonder how Ms. Tavokoli is sleeping these days. See http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#Bailout  

    Q&A: Confidence in the Bell (Gaussian)Curve --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaussian
    Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_Distribution
    Value at Risk --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Value_at_Risk
    Eugene Fama --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Fama
    Kenneth French --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_French

    Question for Fama and French ---
    It would be very enlightening if you would comment on the Nassim Nicholas Taleb ("The Black Swan") attack on the use of Gaussian (normal bell curve) mathematics as the foundation of finance. As you may know, Taleb is a fan of Mandelbrot, whose mathematics account for fat tails. He argues that the bell curve doesn't reflect reality. He is also quite critical of academics who teach modern portfolio theory because it is based on the assumption that returns are normally distributed. Doesn't all this imply that academics should start doing reality-based research?

    Answer from Gene Fama (Chicago)
    EFF: Half of my 1964 Ph.D. thesis is tests of market efficiency, and the other half is a detailed examination of the distribution of stock returns. Mandelbrot is right. The distribution is fat-tailed relative to the normal distribution. In other words, extreme returns occur much more often than would be expected if returns were normal.

    There was lots of interest in this issue for about ten years. Then academics lost interest. The reason is that most of what we do in terms of portfolio theory and models of risk and expected return works for Mandelbrot's stable distribution class, as well as for the normal distribution (which is in fact a member of the stable class). For passive investors, none of this matters, beyond being aware that outlier returns are more common than would be expected if return distributions were normal.

    For other applications, however, the difference can be critical. Risk management by financial institutions is a good example. For example, portfolio insurance, which was the rage in the early 1980s, bombed in the crash of October 1987, because this was an event that was inconceivable in their normality based return model. The normality assumption is also likely to be a serious problem in various kinds of derivatives, where lots of the price is due to the probability of extreme events. For example, news story accounts suggest that AIG blew up because its risk model for credit default swaps did not properly account for outlier events.

    Answer from Kenneth French (Dartmouth)
    KRF: I agree with Gene, but want to make another point that he is appropriately reluctant to make. Taleb is generally correct about the importance of outliers, but he gets carried away in his criticism of academic research. There are lots of academics who are well aware of this issue and consider it seriously when doing empirical research. Those of us who used Gene's textbook in our first finance course have been concerned with this fat-tail problem our whole careers. Most of the empirical studies in finance use simple and robust techniques that do not make precise distributional assumptions, and Gene can take much of the credit for this as well, whether through his feedback in seminars, suggestions on written work, comments in referee reports, or the advice he has given his many Ph.D. students over the years.

    The possibility of extreme outcomes is certainly important for things like risk management, option pricing, and many complicated "arbitrage" strategies. Investors should also recognize the potential effect of outliers when assessing the distribution of future returns on their portfolios. None of this implies, however, that the existence of outliers undermines modern portfolio theory or asset pricing theory. And the central implications of modern portfolio theory and asset pricing—the benefits of diversification and the trade-off between risk and return—remain valid under any reasonable distribution of returns.

    Who is Nassim Nicholas Taleb? --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taleb
    Many finance professors make students watch some of Taleb's videos, especially the Black Swan --- Click Here
    Black Swan Financial Collapse Black Swan --- http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x720r3_black-swan-paradigm-financial-colla_tech
    (People underestimate the probability of rare events)

    "How Dragon Kings Could Trump Black Swans: Power laws have a hidden structure that reveals why extreme events are more common than we'd thought," MIT's Technology Review, August 4, 2009 ---

    Sornette gives as an example the distribution of city sizes in France which follows a classic power law, meaning that there are many small cities and only a few large ones. On a log-log scale, this distribution gives a straight line. Except for Paris, which is an outlier, many times larger than it ought to be if it were to follow the power law.

    Paris is an outlier because it has been hugely influential in the history of France and so has benefited from various positive feedback mechanisms that have ensured its outsize growth. Apparently London occupies a similarly outlying position in the distribution of cities in the UK.

    Sornette goes on to identify a number of data sets showing power laws with outliers that he says are the result of positive feedback mechanisms that make them much larger than their peers. He calls these events dragon kings. What's interesting about them is that they are entirely unaccounted for by a current understanding of power laws, from which Nassim Nicholas Taleb built the idea of black swans.

    The special characteristic of dragon kings is that a positive feedback mechanism creates faster-than-exponential growth making them larger than expected.

    So what to make of this? Sornette makes one interesting observation. The seemingly ubiquitous existence of these dragon kings in all kinds of data sets means that extreme events are significantly more likely than power laws alone suggest.

    That's important. If you've ever wondered why we've experienced not just a single 100-year financial crises in the last couple of decades but two or three, here's your answer. It also implies that you'll experience a few more before your time is up.

    But Sornette goes further. He argues that dragon kings may have properties that make them not only identifiable in real time but also predictable. He puts it like this: "These processes provide clues that allow us to diagnose the maturation of a system towards a crisis."

    That's much more speculative. It's one thing to identify the feedback mechanisms that cause faster-than-exponential growth (and it's not clear that Sornette can do even this) but quite another to spot the event that trigger a crash.

    Sornette looks to be onto something interesting with his notion of dragon kings: outliers that exist beyond the usual realm of power laws. That could be a hugely infuential. But his contention that these outliers are in some way more easily predictable than other events smacks more of wishful thinking than good science.

    Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0907.4290: Dragon-Kings, Black Swans and the Prediction of Crises

    The second is the comment that Joan Robinson made about American Keynsians: that their theories were so flimsy that they had to put math into them. In accounting academia, the shortest path to respectability seems to be to use math (and statistics), whether meaningful or not.
    Professor Jagdish Gangolly, SUNY Albany

    I don't think it's ready for IFRS prime time with the quants, but improvements are being suggested for Black Swan fat tails.
    The quants are more desperate at Senator Spector (now a lame duck)  running to save their jobs.
    We might facetiously assert that its all for the birds.

  • Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at

    Bob Jensen's Rotten to the Core threads are at

    Lying CEOs:  Language May Hold Key To Knowing What Chiefs Have Accounting to Hide

    A Teaching Case from the Stanford Rock Center for Corporate Governance

    From The Wall Street Journal Accounting Weekly Review on August 20, 2010

    For Lying CEOs, 'Team,' Not 'I'
    by: Kyle Stock
    Aug 12, 2010
    Click here to view the full article on WSJ.com

    TOPICS: Accounting Changes and Error Corrections, Earning Announcements, Restatement

    SUMMARY: David Larcker and Anastasia Zakolyukina of Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Rock Center for Corporate Governance examined the psychological and linguistics components of investor conference calls by CEOs and CFOs of companies that later had to revise earnings results. "They fed their filter almost 30,000 transcripts of earnings conference calls from 2003 to 2007 and found that..." they could accurately predict subsequent earnings restatements about 50% to 65% of the time. The research paper is entitled "Detecting Deceptive Discussions in Conference Calls" and is available as paper #1572705 on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1572705 The paper was last updated on July 29, 2010. The authors note in the abstract that their model is significantly better at detecting subsequent earnings restatements than are models based on discretionary accruals and traditional controls, a point not noted in the WSJ article.

    CLASSROOM APPLICATION: The article is useful to introduce students to the nature of accounting research in any financial reporting class covering earnings release topics.

    1. (Advanced) What are earnings restatements? What authoritative accounting literature requires restatements? Under what circumstances are such restatements required?

    2. (Advanced) What are earnings releases? What conference calls are associated with earnings releases?

    3. (Introductory) Summarize the basic points of the accounting research reported on in this newspaper article. Who conducted this research? What did they examine?

    4. (Advanced) Why do you think it is useful to be able to predict likely earnings restatements? Why might this result in the authors of this research "hearing from some hedge funds" as the author of this WSJ article states?

    Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

    "For Lying CEOs, 'Team,' Not 'I," by: Kyle Stock, The Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2010 ---

    Conference call Q&As can be a confusing and cryptic dance. Executives try to put the most attractive case before investors, without giving away too much, of course. And in many cases, they are trying to put a good spin on bad results.

    But what if an investor could read right through all of the posturing and careful prose to recognize if they were being strung along?

    A pair of accounting professors at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Rock Center for Corporate Governance recently tried to do just that. The team built a model that tries to flush out executive, well, lies, using psychological and linguistic studies and transcripts of conference calls from companies that later restated earnings.

    They fed their filter almost 30,000 transcripts of earnings conference calls from 2003 to 2007 and found that it worked quite nicely. Executives who later had to revise their books displayed some very consistent clues.

    For one, they seldom referred to themselves or their companies in the first person; "I" and "we" were replaced by terms like "the team" and "the company." Deceitful executives passed up humdrum adjectives such as "solid" and "respectable" in favor of gushing words like "fantastic," and (not surprisingly) they seldom mentioned shareholder value.

    They also tended to buttress their points with references to general knowledge with phrases like "you know" and to make short statements with little hesitation, presumably because they had carefully scripted the untruths in advance and had no interest in lingering on them.

    Though the study doesn't call out particular companies, chiefs across a wide-range of industries raised the censor's red light 14% of the time. Those in the finance business proved slightly more honest than average, tagged for lying only 10% of the time. The study didn't specify the industry with the most dissembling.

    Finance chiefs, it appears, hold their cards a little closer to their chests. They spoke about half as much as their bosses, and, unlike chief executives, they showed no "positive emotions" via "brilliant" and "astounding" adjectives. Maybe they were busy picturing themselves in brilliant orange coveralls.

    The professors' model isn't perfect. It proved accurate enough to make predictions 50% to 65% of the time, in part because individual executives have unique ways of speaking that don't fall neatly into a pattern of deception.

    Still, big money has to like those odds. We bet that the authors of the study, David Larcker and Anastasia Zakolyukina, will be hearing from some hedge funds soon, if they haven't already.

    Bob Jensen's threads on creative accounting are at

    Bob Jensen's threads on corporate governance are at

    Paul Ekman video on how to read faces and detect lying --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA8nYZg4VnI
    This video runs for nearly one hour

    Paul Ekman --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Ekman

    Ekman's work on facial expressions had its starting point in the work of psychologist Silvan Tomkins.[Ekman showed that contrary to the belief of some anthropologists including Margaret Mead, facial expressions of emotion are not culturally determined, but universal across human cultures and thus biological in origin. Expressions he found to be universal included those indicating anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. Findings on contempt are less clear, though there is at least some preliminary evidence that this emotion and its expression are universally recognized.]

    In a research project along with Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan, called the Wizards Project (previously named the Diogenes Project), Ekman reported on facial "microexpressions" which could be used to assist in lie detection. After testing a total of 15,000 [EDIT: This value conflicts with the 20,000 figure given in the article on Microexpressions] people from all walks of life, he found only 50 people that had the ability to spot deception without any formal training. These naturals are also known as "Truth Wizards", or wizards of deception detection from demeanor.

    He developed the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to taxonomize every conceivable human facial expression. Ekman conducted and published research on a wide variety of topics in the general area of non-verbal behavior. His work on lying, for example, was not limited to the face, but also to observation of the rest of the body.

    In his profession he also uses verbal signs of lying. When interviewed about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he mentioned that he could detect that former President Bill Clinton was lying because he used distancing language.

    Ekman has contributed much to the study of social aspects of lying, why we lie, and why we are often unconcerned with detecting lies. He is currently on the Editorial Board of Greater Good magazine, published by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley. His contributions include the interpretation of scientific research into the roots of compassion, altruism, and peaceful human relationships. Ekman is also working with Computer Vision researcher Dimitris Metaxas on designing a visual lie-detector.

    Research Papers Worth Reading On Deceit, Body Language, Influence etc.. (with links to pdfs)

    Sixteen Enjoyable Emotions.(2003) Emotion Researcher, 18, 6-7. by Ekman, P

    “Become Versed in Reading Faces”. Entrepreneur, 26 March 2009. Ekman, P. (2009)
    Intoduction: Expression Of Emotion - In RJ Davidson, KR Scherer, & H.H. Goldsmith (Eds.) Handbook of Afective Sciences. Pp. 411-414.Keltner, D. & Ekman, P (2003)

    Facial Expression Of Emotion. – In M.Lewis and J Haviland-Jones (eds) Handbook of emotions, 2nd edition. Pp. 236-249. New York: Guilford Publications, Inc. Keltner, D. & Ekman, P. (2000)

    Emotional And Conversational Nonverbal Signals. – In L.Messing & R. Campbell (eds.) Gesture, Speech and Sign. Pp. 45-55. London: Oxford University Press.

    A Few Can Catch A Liar. - Psychological Science, 10, 263-266. Ekman, P., O’Sullivan, M., Frank, M. (1999)
    Deception, Lying And Demeanor.- In States of Mind: American and Post-Soviet Perspectives on Contemporary Issues in Psychology . D.F. Halpern and A.E.Voiskounsky (Eds.) Pp. 93-105. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Lying And Deception. – In N.L. Stein, P.A. Ornstein, B. Tversky & C. Brainerd (Eds.) Memory for everyday and emotional events. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 333-347.

    Lies That Fail.- In M. Lewis & C. Saarni (Eds.) Lying and deception in everyday life. Pp. 184-200. New York: Guilford Press.

    Who Can Catch A Liar. -American Psychologist, 1991, 46, 913-120.
    Hazards In Detecting Deceit. In D. Raskin, (Ed.) Psychological Methods for Investigation and Evidence. New York: Springer. 1989. (pp 297-332)

    Self-Deception And Detection Of Misinformation. In J.S. Lockhard & D. L. Paulhus (Eds.) Self-Deception: An Adaptive Mechanism?. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1988. Pp. 229- 257.

    Smiles When Lying. – Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1988, 54, 414-420.
    Felt- False- And Miserable Smiles.Ekman, P. & Friesen, W.V.

    Mistakes When Deceiving. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1981, 364, 269-278.

    Nonverbal Leakage And Clues To Deception Psychiatry, 1969, 32, 88-105.

    "You Can't Hide Your Lying Brain (or Can You?), by Tom Bartlett, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 6, 2010 ---

    Earlier this week Wired reported that a Brooklyn lawyer wanted to use fMRI brain scans to prove that his client was telling the truth. The case itself is an average employer-employee dispute, but using brains scans to tell whether someone is lying—which a few, small studies have suggested might be useful—would set a precedent for neuroscience in the courtroom. Plus, I'm pretty sure they did something like this on Star Trek once.

    But why go to all the trouble of scanning someone's brain when you can just count how many times the person blinks? A study published this month in Psychology, Crime & Law found that when people were lying they blinked significantly less than when they were telling the truth. The authors suggest that lying requires more thinking and that this increased cognitive load could account for the reduction in blinking.

    For the study, 13 participants "stole" an exam paper while 13 others did not. All 26 were questioned and the ones who had committed the mock theft blinked less when questioned about it than when questioned about other, unrelated issues. The innocent 13 didn't blink any more or less. Incidentally, the blinking was measured by electrodes, not observation.

    But the authors aren't arguing that the blink method should be used in the courtroom. In fact, they think it might not work. Because the stakes in the study were low--no one was going to get into any trouble--it's unclear whether the results would translate to, say, a murder investigation. Maybe you blink less when being questioned about a murder even if you're innocent, just because you would naturally be nervous. Or maybe you're guilty but your contacts are bothering you. Who knows?

    By the way, the lawyer's request to introduce the brain scanning evidence in court was rejected, but lawyers in another case plan to give it a shot later this month.

    (The abstract of the study, conducted by Sharon Leal and Aldert Vrij, can be found here. The company that administers the lie-detection brain scans is called Cephos and their confident slogan is "The Science Behind the Truth.")

    "The New Face of Emoticons:  Warping photos could help text-based communications become more expressive," by Duncan Graham-Rowe,  MIT's Technology Review, March 27, 2007 --- http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/18438/

    Computer scientists at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a way to make e-mails, instant messaging, and texts just a bit more personalized. Their software will allow people to use images of their own faces instead of the more traditional emoticons to communicate their mood. By automatically warping their facial features, people can use a photo to depict any one of a range of different animated emotional expressions, such as happy, sad, angry, or surprised.

    All that is needed is a single photo of the person, preferably with a neutral expression, says Xin Li, who developed the system, called Face Alive Icons. "The user can upload the image from their camera phone," he says. Then, by keying in familiar text symbols, such as ":)" for a smile, the user automatically contorts the face to reflect his or her desired expression.

    "Already, people use avatars on message boards and in other settings," says Sheryl Brahnam, an assistant professor of computer information systems at MissouriStateUniversity, in Springfield. In many respects, she says, this system bridges the gap between emoticons and avatars.

    This is not the first time that someone has tried to use photos in this way, says Li, who now works for Google in New York City. "But the traditional approach is to just send the image itself," he says. "The problem is, the size will be too big, particularly for low-bandwidth applications like PDAs and cell phones." Other approaches involve having to capture a different photo of the person for each unique emoticon, which only further increases the demand for bandwidth.

    Li's solution is not to send the picture each time it is used, but to store a profile of the face on the recipient device. This profile consists of a decomposition of the original photo. Every time the user sends an emoticon, the face is reassembled on the recipient's device in such a way as to show the appropriate expression.

    To make this possible, Li first created generic computational models for each type of expression. Working with Shi-Kuo Chang, a professor of computer science at the University of Pittsburgh, and Chieh-Chih Chang, at the Industrial Technology Research Institute, in Taiwan, Li created the models using a learning program to analyze the expressions in a database of facial expressions and extract features unique to each expression. Each of the resulting models acts like a set of instructions telling the program how to warp, or animate, a neutral face into each particular expression.

    Once the photo has been captured, the user has to click on key areas to help the program identify key features of the face. The program can then decompose the image into sets of features that change and those that will remain unaffected by the warping process.

    Finally, these "pieces" make up a profile that, although it has to be sent to each of a user's contacts, must only be sent once. This approach means that an unlimited number of expressions can be added to the system without increasing the file size or requiring any additional pictures to be taken.

    Li says that preliminary evaluations carried out on eight subjects viewing hundreds of faces showed that the warped expressions are easily identifiable. The results of the evaluations are published in the current edition of the Journal of Visual Languages and Computing.

    Continued in article

    Bob Jensen's threads on visualization are at

    Call it like it is
    "What do you tell your students?" by Joe Hoyle, Teaching Financial Accounting Blog, August 19, 2010 ---

    "Harvard Clarifies Wrongdoing by Professor," Inside Higher Ed, August 23, 2010 ---

    Harvard University announced Friday that its investigations had found eight incidents of scientific misconduct by Marc Hauser, a prominent psychology professor who recently started a leave, The Boston Globe reported. The university also indicated that sanctions had been imposed, and that Hauser would be teaching again after a year. Since the Globe reported on Hauser's leave and the inquiry into his work, many scientists have called for a statement by the university on what happened, and Friday's announcement goes much further than earlier statements. In a statement sent to colleagues on Friday, Hauser said: "I am deeply sorry for the problems this case has caused to my students, my colleagues, and my university. I acknowledge that I made some significant mistakes and I am deeply disappointed that this has led to a retraction and two corrections. I also feel terrible about the concerns regarding the other five cases."

    “There is a difference between breaking the rules and breaking the most sacred of all rules,” said Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia. The failure to have performed a reported control experiment would be “a very serious and perhaps unforgivable offense,” Dr. Haidt said.

    "Harvard Researcher May Have Fabricated Data," by Nicholas Wace, The New York Times, August 27, 2010 ---

    Harvard authorities have made available information suggesting that Marc Hauser, a star researcher who was put on leave this month, may have fabricated data in a 2002 paper.

    “Given the published design of the experiment, my conclusion is that the control condition was fabricated,” said Gerry Altmann, the editor of the journal Cognition, in which the experiment was published.

    Dr. Hauser said he expected to have a statement about the Cognition paper available soon. He issued a statement last week saying he was “deeply sorry” and acknowledged having made “significant mistakes” but did not admit to any scientific misconduct.

    Dr. Hauser is a leading expert in comparing animal and human mental processes and recently wrote a well-received book, “Moral Minds,” in which he explored the evolutionary basis of morality. An inquiry into his Harvard lab was opened in 2007 after students felt they were being pushed to reach a particular conclusion that they thought was incorrect. Though the inquiry was completed in January this year, Harvard announced only last week that Dr. Hauser had been required to retract the Cognition article, and it supplied no details about the episode.

    On Friday, Dr. Altmann said Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, had given him a summary of the part of the confidential faculty inquiry related to the 2002 experiment, a test of whether monkeys could distinguish algebraic rules.

    The summary included a description of a videotape recording the monkeys’ reaction to a test stimulus. Standard practice is to alternate a stimulus with a control condition, but no tests of the control condition are present on the videotape. Dr. Altmann, a psychologist at the University of York in England, said it seemed that the control experiments reported in the article were not performed.

    Some forms of scientific error, like poor record keeping or even mistaken results, are forgivable, but fabrication of data, if such a charge were to be proved against Dr. Hauser, is usually followed by expulsion from the scientific community.

    “There is a difference between breaking the rules and breaking the most sacred of all rules,” said Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia. The failure to have performed a reported control experiment would be “a very serious and perhaps unforgivable offense,” Dr. Haidt said.

    Dr. Hauser’s case is unusual, however, because of his substantial contributions to the fields of animal cognition and the basis of morality. Dr. Altmann held out the possibility of redemption. “If he were to give a full and frank account of the errors he made, then the process can start of repatriating him into the community in some form,” he said.

    Dr. Hauser’s fall from grace, if it occurs, could cast a shadow over several fields of research until Harvard makes clear the exact nature of the problems found in his lab. Last week, Dr. Smith, the Harvard dean, wrote in a letter to the faculty that he had found Dr. Hauser responsible for eight counts of scientific misconduct. He described these in general terms but did not specify fabrication. An oblique sentence in his letter said that the Cognition paper had been retracted because “the data produced in the published experiments did not support the published findings.”

    Scientists trying to assess Dr. Hauser’s oeuvre are likely to take into account another issue besides the eight counts of misconduct. In 1995, Dr. Hauser published that cotton-top tamarins, the monkey species he worked with, could recognize themselves in a mirror. The finding was challenged by the psychologist Gordon Gallup, who asked for the videotapes and has said that he could see no evidence in the monkey’s reactions for what Dr. Hauser had reported. Dr. Hauser later wrote in another paper that he could not repeat the finding.

    The small size of the field in which Dr. Hauser worked has contributed to the uncertainty. Only a handful of laboratories have primate colonies available for studying cognition, so few if any researchers could check Dr. Hauser’s claims.

    “Marc was the only person working on cotton-top tamarins so far as I know,” said Alison Gopnik, a psychologist who studies infant cognition at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s always a problem in science when we have to depend on one person.”

    Many of Dr. Hauser’s experiments involved taking methods used to explore what infants are thinking and applying them to monkeys. In general, he found that the monkeys could do many of the same things as infants. If a substantial part of his work is challenged or doubted, monkeys may turn out to be less smart than recently portrayed.

    But his work on morality involved humans and is therefore easier for others to repeat. And much of Dr. Hauser’s morality research has checked out just fine, Dr. Haidt said.

    “Hauser has been particularly creative in studying moral psychology in diverse populations, including small-scale societies, patients with brain damage, psychopaths and people with rare genetic disorders that affect their judgments,” he said.


    Why did Harvard take three years on this one?

    Bob Jensen's threads on this cheating scandal are at

    Bob Jensen's threads on Professors Who Cheat are at

    August 10, 2010 reply from Jagdish Gangolly [gangolly@CSC.ALBANY.EDU]


    This is a classic example that shows how difficult it is to escape accountability in science. First, when Gordon Gallup, a colleague in our Bio-Psychology in Albany questioned the results, at first Hauser tried to get away with a reply because Albany is not Harvard. But then when Hauser could not replicate the experiment he had no choice but to confess, unless he was willing to be caught some time in the future with his pants down.

    However, in a sneaky way, the confession was sent by Hauser to a different journal. But Hauser at least had the gumption to confess.

    The lesson I learn from this episode is to do something like what lawyers always do in research. They call it Shepardizing. It is important not to take any journal article at its face value, even if the thing is in a journal as well known as PNAS and by a person from a school as well known as Harvard. The other lesson is not to ignore a work or criticism even if it appears in a lesser known journal and is by an author from a lesser known school (as in Albany in this case).

    Jagdish -- J
    agdish Gangolly
    Department of Informatics College of Computing & Information
    State University of New York at Albany 7A, Harriman Campus Road, Suite 220 Albany, NY 12206

    August 10, 2010 message from Paul Williams [Paul_Williams@NCSU.EDU]

    Bob and Jagdish,
    This also illustrates the necessity of keeping records of experiments. How odd that accounting researchers cannot see the necessity of "keeping a journal!!!"

    August 21, 2010 reply from Orenstein, Edith [eorenstein@FINANCIALEXECUTIVES.ORG]

    I believe a broad lesson arises from the tale of Professor Hauser's monkey-business:

    "It is unusual for a scientist as prominent as Hauser­ - a popular professor and eloquent communicator of science whose work has often been featured on television and in newspapers ­- to be named in an investigation of scientific misconduct."

    Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion only, and I believe these lessons apply to all professions, but since this is an accounting listserv, lesson 1 with respect to accounting/auditing research is:

    1. even the most prominent, popular, and eloquent communicator professors' research, including but not limited to the field of accounting, and including for purposes of standard-setting, rule-making, et al, should not be above third party review and questioning (that may be the layman's term; the technical term I assume is 'replication'). Although it can be difficult for less prominent, popular, eloquent communicators to raise such challenges, without fear of reprisal, it is important to get as close to the 'truth' or 'truths' as may (or may not) exist. This point applies not only to formal, refereed journals, but non-refereed published research in any form as well.   


    And, from the world of accounting & auditing practice, (or any job, really), the lesson is the same:

    2. even the most prominent, popular, and eloquent communicator(s) - e.g. audit clients....should not be above third party review and questioning; once again, it can be difficult for less prominent, popular, and eloquent communicators (internal or external audit staff, whether junior or senior staff) to raise challenges in the practice of auditing in the field (which is why staffing decisions, supervision, and backbone are so important). And we have seen examples where such challenges were met with reprisal or challenge (e.g. Cynthia Cooper challenging WorldCom's accounting; HealthSouth's Richard Scrushy, the Enron - Andersen saga, etc.)

    Additionally, another lesson here, (I repeat this is my personal opinion only) is that in the field of standard-setting or rulemaking, testimony of 'prominent' experts and 'eloquent communicators' should be judged on the basis of substance vs. form, and others (i.e. those who may feel less 'prominent' or 'eloquent') should step up to the plate to offer concurring or counterarguments in verbal or written form (including comment letters) if their experience or thought process leads them to the same conclusion as the more 'prominent' or 'eloquent' speakers/writers - or in particular, if it leads them to another view.

    I wonder sometimes, particularly in public hearings, if individuals testifying believe there is implied pressure to say what one thinks the sponsor of the hearing expects or wants to hear, vs. challenging the status quo, particular proposed changes, etc., particularly if they may fear reprisal. Once again, it is important to provide the facts as one sees them, and it is about substance vs. form; sometimes difficult to achieve.

    Edith Orenstein

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

    I saw one of these clips on ABC News last night. It showed a University of Phoenix recruiter assuring a long-time, street sleeping homeless man that he was certain to get a job teaching in NY or Arizona if he took out government loans to attend the University of Phoenix.

    More Hidden Camera Findings on U. of Phoenix
    The latest entity to send undercover investigators to the University of Phoenix is ABC News, which on Thursday reported the results. They include a recording of a recruiter giving incorrect information about whether a program would enable a graduate to become a teacher, and encouragement to take out as large a student loan as possible -- even more than the fake student needed. William Pepicello, president of the University of Phoenix, appeared on camera to say that "absolutely" the university could do better in terms of the way it recruits but that the answer to whether Phoenix encourages recruiting like that shown in the segment is "absolutely not."
    Inside Higher Ed, August 20, 2010

    Bob Jensen's threads on for-profit college scandals are at

    Bringing America Up To Speed: States' Role in Expanding Broadband ---

    "Information Overload Is Nothing New From the Roman Empire to the BlackBerry jam," by Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2010 ---

    It's high summer and we're all out there seeing each other. We're not hidden away in our homes and offices as we are in winter's cold. We're part of a crowd—on the street, in the park, on the boardwalk, on the top deck of the ferry to Saltaire. And we can see in some new or clearer ways how technology is changing us.

    For one thing, it is changing our posture. People who used to walk along the avenues of New York staring alertly ahead, or looking up, now walk along with their heads down, shoulders slumped, checking their email and text messages. They're not watching where they're going, and frequently bump into each other. I'm told this is called a BlackBerry jam.

    A lot of people seem here but not here. They're pecking away on a piece of plastic; they've withdrawn from the immediate reality around them and set up temporary camp in a reality that exists in their heads. It involves their own music, their own conversation, whether written or oral. This contributes to the new obliviousness, to the young woman who steps off the curb unaware that the police car with blaring siren is barreling down the street.

    In the street café, as soon as they've ordered, people scroll down for their email. Everyone who constantly checks is looking for different things. They are looking for connection, information. They are attempting to alleviate anxiety: "If I know what's going on I can master it." They are making plans. But mostly, one way or another, I think they are looking for a love pellet. I thought of you. How are you? This will make you laugh. Don't break this chain. FYI, because you're part of the team, the endeavor, the group, my life. Meet your new nephew—here's the sonogram. You will like this YouTube clip. You will like this joke. You are alive.

    We are surrounded by screens. Much of their impact is benign, but not all. This summer I turned a number of times—every time I did, a chapter seemed to speak specifically to something on my mind—to the calm and profound "Hamlet's BlackBerry" by William Powers. It is a book whose subject is how to build a good life in the digital age.

    Mr. Powers is not against the screens around us. We use digital devices "to nurture relationships, to feed our emotional, social, and spiritual hungers, to think creatively and express ourselves." At their best they produce moments that make life worth living. "If you've written an e-mail straight from the heart, watched a video that you couldn't stop thinking about, or read an online essay that changed how you think about the world, you know this is true." But he has real reservations about what digital devices are at their worst—an addiction to distraction, a way not of connecting but disconnecting.

    In a chapter on Seneca, he finds timeless advice.

    Lucius Annaeus Seneca was born at the time of Christ in Cordoba, Spain, an outpost of the Roman Empire. His father was an official in the Roman government, and Seneca followed his footsteps, becoming a Roman senator and, later, adviser to Nero in the early (and more successful) days of his reign. Seneca was a gifted manager and bureaucrat, but he is remembered today because he was an inveterate letter writer, and his correspondence contained thoughts, insights and convictions that revealed him to be a serious philosopher.

    Seneca thought the great job of philosophy was to offer people practical advice on how to live more deeply and constructively. He came of age in a time of tumult; the Rome he lived in was being transformed by a new connectedness. An empire that stretched over millions of square miles was being connected by new roads, a civil service, an extensive postal system. And there was the rise of written communication. Writing, says Mr. Powers, was a huge part of the everyday lives of literate Romans: "Postal deliveries were important events, as urgently monitored as e-mail is today." Seneca himself wrote of his neighbors hurrying "from all directions" to meet the latest mail boats from Egypt.

    As written language began to drive things, Mr. Powers says, "the busy Roman was constantly navigating crowds—not just the physical ones that filled the streets and amphitheaters but the virtual crowd of the larger empire and the torrents of information it produced."

    Seneca, at the center of it all, struggled with the information glut, and with something else. He became acutely conscious of "the danger of allowing others—not just friends and colleagues, but the masses—to exert too much influence on one's thinking." The more connected a society becomes, the greater the chance an individual can become a creature, or even slave, of that connectedness.

    "You ask me what you should consider it particularly important to avoid," one of Seneca's letters begins. "My answer is this: a mass crowd. It is something to which you cannot entrust yourself without risk. . . . I never come back home with quite the same moral character I went out with; something or other becomes unsettled where I had achieved internal peace."

    Seneca's advice: Cultivate self-sufficiency and autonomy. Trust your own instincts and ideas. You can thrive in the crowd if you are not dependent on it.

    But this is not easy.

    Everyone Seneca knew was busy and important, rushing about with what he called "the restless energy of the hunted mind." Some traveled to flee their worries and burdens but found, as the old joke says, "No matter where I go, there I am." Stress is portable. Seneca: "The man who spends his time choosing one resort after another in a hunt for peace and quiet, will in every place he visits find something to prevent him from relaxing."

    Even in Seneca's time, Mr. Powers notes, "the busy, crowd-induced state of mind had gone mobile." "Today we ask, 'Does this hotel have Wi-Fi?'"

    And there was the way people consumed information. The empire was awash in texts. "Elite, literate Romans were discovering the great paradox of information: the more of it that's available, the harder it is to be truly knowledgeable. It was impossible to process it all in a thoughtful way." People, Seneca observed, grazed and skimmed, absorbing information "in the mere passing." But it is better to know one great thinker deeply than dozens superficially.

    Seneca, Mr. Powers observes, could have been writing in this century, "when it's hard to think of anything that isn't done in 'mere passing,' and much of life is beginning to resemble a plant that never puts down roots."

    There are two paths. One is to surrender, to allow the crowd to lead you around by the nose and your experience to become ever more shallow. The other is to step back and pare down. "Measure your life," advises Seneca, "it just does not have room for so much."

    Beware, in Mr. Powers's words, "self-created bustle." Stop checking your inbox 10 times a day, or an hour. Once will do. Concentrate on your higher, more serious purpose. Enrich your own experience. Don't be a slave to technology.

    Which is good mid-August wisdom for us all. Focus on central things, quiet the mind, unplug a little, or a lot. And watch out for those crowds, both the ones that cause BlackBerry jams and the ones that unsettle, that attempt to stampede you into going along, or following. Step back, or aside. Think what you think, not what they think. Everyone is trying to push. Don't be pushed.

    Bob Jensen's threads on the dark side of technology ---

    "Facebook Checks In to the World of Locations," by Walter S. Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal,August 19, 2010 ---

    The 800-pound gorilla of social networks, Facebook, is jumping into the location game.

    On Wednesday, it announced a new, optional service for its 500 million members called Places, which allows you to check in to various places you go, and share that information with your Facebook friends, complete with maps and comments and the Facebook thumbs-up "like" feature.

    I've been testing the new service, and found it easy to use and reliable, with mostly logical privacy controls, an issue on which Facebook has been bruised in the past.

    Companies began to build location-based social networks shortly after smartphones began to include social-networking apps and the ability to pinpoint your location.

    These services let you and your network "friends" know if you were in the same area, so you could get together. They also let merchants entice you with coupons or ads.

    Walt Mossberg and Geoff Fowler discuss Facebook's new location feature called 'Places,' including details about how it works and Walt's assessment about how it performs. All you had to do was use your smartphone to "check in" an establishment.

    These location-based networks, notably Foursquare, have grown fast. Especially in a recession, many users appreciate offers to save money. There also is money to be made by the merchants.

    But these networks are controversial. Though most have privacy controls, they are accused of eroding privacy by allowing others to know exactly where you are at any time. They also raise issues about giving such information to merchants.

    Fourquare also has turned off some potential users with a big overlay of game-like features, like earning points and badges for visiting places, and even the ability to become the "mayor" of, say, a bar you frequent.

    On the Facebook app, you initially can check in to Places only if you have Apple's iPhone, though you can use a site at touch.facebook.com via your browser on other phones and laptops that can track your location and support HTML 5 technology.

    In the past week or so, my colleague Katherine Boehret and I have used Facebook Places to check in with iPhones around our home base of Washington, D.C., at stores, bars, restaurants and even our office. I also was able to check in, or "tag," other Facebook members with me, like my visiting son and daughter-in-law. All of these tests went well, but I was surprised by one odd thing: I could check myself into nearby places even if I wasn't there.

    At each location, Places lets you see your friends and other Facebook members (even if they're not your friends), who are nearby, a feature called "People Here Now."

    Minors are excluded from seeing anyone except their friends. We couldn't test this "Here Now" feature because, in the pre-release stage, there weren't enough people with the new service to be nearby.

    These check-ins were posted on our Facebook pages (though, for this test, they could only be seen by the handful of others with pre-release access to the service), and people could comment.

    One reason Facebook has launched Places, surely, is to compete with location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla. Those services already can link up with Facebook and tap its huge member base, a potential threat to the larger social network.

    Facebook says it is adding Places merely to enrich the social experience it already provides. The company says its users already post status messages that say things like: "at Starbucks in Harvard Square with Susan and Jeff." Now, they can tap a new Places icon in the Facebook app on their iPhones and do this more easily, complete with a map. "We're just building a new way for people to share that information in an engaging way," says one Facebook official.

    Facebook says it isn't monetizing the service, at least not at first, but may consider ways for companies to make use of the data "down the line."

    Users won't receive ads or offers, at least initially. But if a merchant already has a Facebook page, some will be able to display your check-ins from the start, though visible only to your friends. Facebook says it has no plans to add game-like features to Places, though third-party developers might.

    In addition to testing Places around town, I paid close attention to its privacy features, to judge how much control Facebook is offering users over who gets to see where they are. My conclusion is that the controls are decent, but could be a bit better. You can control how public your Places information is on Facebook's privacy settings screen, in the Sharing section. The default for Places is "Friends Only," unless you expressed a preference to share things with everyone. That's a good thing, in my view. You can change this to broaden it to, say, friends of friends, or even everyone. Or, you can limit it, so that, for instance, only certain people can see your location, or certain people can't.

    Facebook also allows you to bar others from checking you in, and lets you hide yourself from others' "Here Now" listings, though you can't customize this latter setting by, say, allowing only some people to know you're nearby.

    In my tests, these settings worked fine. But I wished a couple of other settings were available. For example, you can't keep check-in notices off your Facebook page, unless you broadly block other kinds of status updates. And you can't block merchants from including your check-ins at their establishments on their Facebook pages. Also, while Places omits some annoying aspects of its competitors, like the game features, it's more stripped down and leaves out some attractive features others include. Foursquare has a feature that lets you leave suggestions about a location. And Gowalla has a "trips" feature that lets users string together places they've been into recommended tours.

    Overall, I found Places a good enhancement to Facebook and one that will likely make the booming social network even more attractive to some.

    Bob Jensen's threads on social networks are at

    Industrial Reserve Army of Labour --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industrial_reserve_army

    Reserve army of labour is a concept in Karl Marx's critique of political economy. It refers basically to the unemployed in capitalist society. It is synonymous with "industrial reserve army" or "relative surplus population", except that the unemployed can be defined as those actually looking for work and that the relative surplus population also includes people unable to work. The use of the word "army" refers to the workers being conscripted and regimented in the workplace in a hierarchy, under the command or authority of the owners of capital.

    Prior to the capitalist era in human history, structural unemployment on a mass scale rarely existed, other than that caused by natural disasters and wars. Indeed, the word "employment" is linguistically a product of the capitalist era.

    A permanent level of unemployment presupposes a working population which is to a large extent dependent on a wage or salary for a living, without having other means of livelihood, as well as the right of enterprises to hire and fire employees in accordance with commercial or economic conditions.

    Marx argued that there are no substantive laws of population that hold good for all time; instead, each specific mode of production has its own specific demographic laws. If there was "overpopulation" in capitalist society, it was overpopulation relative to the requirements of capital accumulation. Consequently, demography could not simply just count people in various ways, it also had to study the social relations between them as well. If there are enough resources on the planet to provide all people with a decent life, the argument that there are "too many people" is rather dubious.

    Continued in article

    Unproductive Workers:  A Familiar Complaint in a Communist/Socialist World vis-a-vis a Small Business World
    Officials (in Cuba) have decided that around a million people, or a fifth of the workforce, are “unproductive”. They may have to seek other jobs. Raúl said the government would make it easier for Cubans to be self-employed, and even to employ others in small businesses. An experiment begun earlier this year, in which hairdressers in state barbers’ shops have been allowed to work for themselves, is likely to be extended to other parts of the economy.

    "A ghost reappears Fidel’s return is a mixed blessing for his brother," The Economist, August 14-20, 2010, Page 29 ---

    “IT WAS a surprise. A month ago I had assumed he was dead,” said Hector, an art student in Havana. He had just watched Fidel Castro speak at Cuba’s National Assembly on August 7th. It was the first appearance by the former president on live television since he underwent intestinal surgery in 2006. Mr Castro, who turns 84 this week, had to be helped to his seat at the podium. In contrast to the endless diatribes of the past, this one lasted just 11 minutes, though he stayed for an hour of debate. His theme was his latest apocalyptic vision: that conflict between the United States and Iran could escalate into nuclear war. At times he was difficult to follow. But the message was clear enough. After four years as a near-recluse, Mr Castro is back—and at a time of unusual difficulty for the regime he created.

    The speech followed a string of cameo appearances by Fidel, such as visiting an aquarium and talking to biotechnologists. These began the day before the announcement last month that Cuba would free 52 political prisoners. They seemed designed to distract attention from this unusual gesture of weakness from the Communist government, to which it resorted to allay criticism abroad after the death of a hunger striker in February.

    In that sense Fidel’s reappearance and recovery is a boost for his younger brother, Raúl, who took over from him and was formally elevated to the presidency in 2008. But in other ways it is a complication. The charisma gene in the Castro family missed out Raúl. Even though he has instigated some timid reforms which Cubans welcome (such as allowing them to own cellphones, and legally to buy building materials), he is not a popular president. That may in part be the result of earlier efforts by the revolution’s propagandists. Since the 1960s, Cubans have been encouraged to see Fidel as the idealist, and Raúl, long the defence minister, as the dour enforcer.

    At the National Assembly the two men sat apart, and seemed to avoid eye contact. Fidel Castro, who is still the first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, made no mention of his brother, or of domestic issues. These had been the subject of Raúl’s own, longer, address to the assembly the previous week. In it he made his most withering criticism yet of the slumbering economy. Whilst making it clear he had no intention of pushing the island towards capitalism, he also said he was determined that Cuba should no longer be seen “as the only country in the world where it is not necessary to work”.

    Officials have decided that around a million people, or a fifth of the workforce, are “unproductive”. They may have to seek other jobs. Raúl said the government would make it easier for Cubans to be self-employed, and even to employ others in small businesses. An experiment begun earlier this year, in which hairdressers in state barbers’ shops have been allowed to work for themselves, is likely to be extended to other parts of the economy.

    In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union deprived Cuba of its subsidies, Fidel Castro allowed foreign investment and small businesses. But he reversed much of this opening once he found a new benefactor in Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez. Raúl Castro is more pragmatic, and as president has taken some steps to decentralise economic decision-making to state firms and regional party leaders. Several economists in Havana argue that Fidel, even while convalescent, has continued to slow the pace of change.

    The assumption is that the brothers have worked out a division of labour, in which Fidel will expound on global issues and let his brother govern. In his public appearances he has seemed fit, if doddery and occasionally forgetful. His speech to the assembly referred to the Soviet Union in the present tense.

    Fidel has long insisted that “revolutionaries never retire”. He may find it hard to resist a return to centre stage, and that would only undermine Raúl. “Our tragicomedy continues” whispered a waiter in a Havana hotel.

    August 21, 2010 reply from Paul Bjorklund [paulbjorklund@AOL.COM]

    A friend who has Cuban connections tells of a place where no one really works. The daily routine consists of standing in line for your rations, and then off to the beach for fun. An evening of drinking and dancing rounds out the day. However, don't get sick and wind up in the hospital, as conditions are deplorable. For example, stray dogs run through the corridors and wards with complete freedom. A reading of history will tell you that socialism appears to work only in the minds of dreamers, as the biggest challenge, when socialists come into power, is how to get "the workers" to voluntarily produce anything at all.

    Years ago, when I worked in international finance in Washington, I met the head of the Yugoslav version of the FASB. He described a socialistic/capitalistic structure for factories wherein the workers all had proportional shares in the surplus they created. It sounded similar to the ESOP plans that were coming into vogue the U.S. Even so, if all your basic needs are taken care of, and there really isn't anything to buy, own, or invest in, the currency or debits/credits that you accumulate in your savings account are virtually worthless. Accordingly, where is the incentive? The beach?

    Paul Bjorklund, CPA
    Bjorklund Consulting, Ltd.
    Flagstaff, Arizona


    Extortion:  Russia is Now Losing it With Respect to Small Business Because of Massive Corruption in the Russian Police Force
    Cops for hire  Reforming Russia’s violent and corrupt police will not be easy

    It is unbelievable how police corruption, extortion, and just plain meanness are combining to slow the economic growth, tourism, and love for life in the mother country of Russia.

    Brazil, Russia, India and China, (the BRICs) sometimes lumped together as BRIC to represent fast-growing developing economies, are selling off their U.S. Treasury Bond holdings. Russia announced earlier this month it will sell U.S. Treasury Bonds, while China and Brazil have announced plans to cut the amount of U.S. Treasury Bonds in their foreign currency reserves and buy bonds issued by the International Monetary Fund instead. The BRICs are also soliciting public support for a "super currency" capable of replacing what they see as the ailing U.S. dollar. The four countries account for 22 percent of the global economy, and their defection could deal a severe blow to the greenback. If the BRICs sell their U.S. Treasury Bond holdings, the price will drop and yields rise, and that could prompt the central banks of other countries to start selling their holdings to avoid losses too. A sell-off on a grand scale could trigger a collapse in the value of the dollar, ending the appeal of both dollars and bonds as safe-haven assets. The moves are a challenge to the power of the dollar in international financial markets. Goldman Sachs economist Alberto Ramos in an interview with Bloomberg News on Thursday said the decision by the BRICs to buy IMF bonds should not be seen simply as a desire to diversify their foreign currency portfolios but as a show of muscle.
    "BRICs Launch Assault on Dollar's Global Status," The Chosun IIbo, June 14, 2009 ---

    Their report, "Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050," predicted that within 40 years, the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China - the BRICs - would be larger than the US, Germany, Japan, Britain, France and Italy combined. China would overtake the US as the world's largest economy and India would be third, outpacing all other industrialised nations. 
    "Out of the shadows," Sydney Morning Herald, February 5, 2005 --- http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2005/02/04/1107476799248.html 

    Russia's corruption seems to be preventing it from economic development at this point in time.

    "Generation Exile:  Corruption is forcing Russia’s best and brightest to flee the country," by Owen Matthews, Newsweek Magazine, August 14, 2010 ---

    Yevgeny Chichvarkin once took London by storm. Bounding onto the stage at the Russian Economic Forum four years ago in red sneakers, graffiti-sprayed jeans, and a top that proclaimed that he was MADE IN MOSCOW, the 34-year-old Russian businessman told the elite gathering how he’d grown his Evroset mobile-phone company into a billion-dollar empire in just five years, and that a “new generation of young businesspeople” was “ready to integrate Russia into the world economy.”

    Now Chichvarkin is back in London, no longer a poster boy for Russian investment but instead a fugitive. Two of his business partners are in jail, his company has been sold off after a series of raids by Russian police, and his mother died under mysterious circumstances in April. Chichvarkin himself is wanted on charges of kidnapping and extortion, which he insists were cooked up by a gang of “werewolves in uniform”—bureaucrats and police who use the law to shake down and steal businesses.

    Chichvarkin has joined Russia’s Generation Exile, a tide of businessmen, lawyers, accountants, and bankers who have fled their country after being robbed and threatened by Russia’s corrupt law-enforcement officials. Transparency International, an NGO, estimates that fully one third of Russian businesses have been targeted in attempted corporate raids by police. An anti-raider hotline set up by the Moscow city hall reported a 10-fold jump in complaints, from 200 to more than 2,000, over the last year. And while it is hard to calculate exactly how many of the estimated 300,000 Russians living in London are the victims or beneficiaries of police-backed shakedowns, the number of business exiles afraid to return to their homeland for fear of arrest is certainly in the thousands. According to a survey last year by the Moscow-based Levada Center, many more may exit voluntarily: 13 percent of 1,600 respondents said they wanted to leave Russia, the same percentage as in 1992, a year after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    The economic impact of the brain drain—and the bureaucratic racketeering that drives it—is startling. In the decade since Vladimir Putin first came to power, Russia fell from 52nd to 63rd on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, despite massive oil-funded state spending and an ambitious--sounding modernization program. On property rights, Russia came 119th, right down there with Malawi and Nicaragua; on judicial independence, 116th; on reliability of police services, 112th; and on professional management, 77th. Despite steady macroeconomic growth driven by rising oil and gas prices, there are few signs that it is developing beyond oil. “Only free, independent, and enterprising people are capable of being the driving forces behind modernization, but those are exactly the people whom the state is persecuting,” says Vladimir Ryzhkov, a leader of a prominent opposition party, Another Russia. “How can Russia attract Western investors when the country’s most successful businessmen are forced to flee the country for fear of arrest?”

    At the heart of the problem is an unholy alliance between Russian law enforcement and the criminal world—a combination that over the last decade has created “an alloy of almost unbreakable force,” says lawyer Vladimir Pastukhov. Instead of enforcing the law, a large chunk of Russia’s police, secret police, and government bureaucrats spend their energies on looking out for vulnerable businesses that can be targeted for a corporate raid, Russian style. Unlike the Wall Street version, a Russian hostile takeover almost invariably involves a violent raid by armed and masked police using a warrant issued on flimsy charges, followed by the confiscation of company documents, computers, and archives with a view to stealing the business and intimidating its lawful owners. The pattern was established in 2003 when the Kremlin dismembered Russia’s biggest oil company, Yukos, and jailed its head, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and a slew of executives and lawyers based on dubious evidence. “Russian bureaucrats figured, if Putin can do it, so can we,” says a lawyer connected to Yukos who is contractually forbidden from speaking to the press.

    Pastokhov saw the fallout firsthand in 2007, after police raided one of his clients, Hermitage Capital Management, quickly reregistered its ownership to a convicted criminal, and used the companies to make a fraudulent $230 million tax rebate. When Hermitage complained to the authorities, the police retaliated with arrest warrants. Pastukhov found himself charged with malpractice for the Kafkaesque reason that he had filed complaints in the name of Hermitage and not the companies’ new, illegitimate owners. “I am a professor of law and an adviser to the chairman of the Constitutional Court, but nothing can protect you when you come into conflict with what passes for authority these days in Russia—the criminalized law-enforcement agencies,” says Pastukhov, who fled along with Hermitage’s managers and lawyers to London. Few businessmen dare appeal to Russian courts, which rarely grant bail before trial and have an overall conviction rate of 99.5 percent.

    London is a favorite refuge because British courts have a track record of rejecting Russian extradition requests and offering protection to political--commercial exiles such as media tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who fell afoul of Vladimir Putin and fled to Britain in 2001. Britain is also home to bona fide Russian criminals and purely political exiles, but most are business exiles like Chichvarkin.

    Often, Russian raids have a political twist. Having a boss linked to opposition politics is especially dangerous. Chichvarkin was taken down after he joined Right Cause, a Russian liberal--democratic political party, in late 2008. Three leading business supporters of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov have been forced to flee to Israel, London, and the U.S. “Under Putin, big business has been tortured by investigations, threats to take over their businesses, by attacks by corporate raiders,” says Nemtsov. “There is only one option left for them—to escape Russia and wait for regime change.” Even the criminals don’t feel safe. “We are seeing the outflow of the most active part of our society, both the best and the worst, the raiders and the raided,” says Pastukhov. “It is not safe to have property in Russia,” adds lawyer Alexander Dubrovinskiy, whose client Vladimir Nekrasov lost his Arbat Prestizh chain of cosmetics retailers and was jailed after refusing to sell the company in 2008 to corrupt police for a fraction of its value. That’s profoundly bad news for Russia, of course. Hermitage banker Ivan Cherkasov says that the talented young entrepreneurs who dominated the Russian business scene in the 1990s have been supplanted by bureaucrats who are “consumers of other people’s wealth.” He predicts that “soon real businessmen will be as rare as tigers in Siberia.” Even Chichvarkin, who once carpeted the floor of his Moscow office in euro notes to demonstrate his support for the Russian ruble, has lost his patriotic optimism. “I only see a tiny part of this iceberg of corruption, but it has become a significant obstacle to Russia’s development.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agrees—in theory at least. Last year after reading a report on corporate raiding, he angrily warned Russia’s bureaucrats to “stop terrorizing business” and blasted Russia’s culture of “legal nihilism.” He also recently legislated an amnesty for economic crimes. But his bold speeches against corruption are largely ignored, in a system still dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who preceded Medvedev as president and continues to call the shots in Russia. With so many exiles in London, New York, and Tel Aviv, Russia joins the ranks of countries like Iran, Cuba, Syria, and North Korea, whose best talent prefers to make a future outside their native land. Generation Exile holds a stark mirror to the reality of Russia—which for all Putin’s talk of greatness has little chance of success if it’s losing its most talented people.

    With Anna Nemtsova in Moscow

    I find over and over that helping others has its own rewards. This is from a stranger in New Zealand.


    Wonderful, thank you and fantastic, one email to you has got me on track and i cannot tell you how many weeks as a beginner I have been trying to get somewhere on my own. As a newbie to excel its been a hard slog, this stuff does not come naturally to me.

    I want to give you a hug thankyou and hug!!!
    You have made my month!!

    All trial and error from here but because of the kindness of a stanger i am at least on the right path...


    On 15 August 2010 22:53, Jensen, Robert <rjensen@trinity.edu> wrote:

    “You cannot view Microsoft Excel files in Internet Explorer from withing Microsoft Excel. But you can open it from Internet Explorer. The OPEN IN BROWSER button would not highlight if you select a Excel file but you can use this option with a html file (The option would get highlighted if you select a html file or any web page)” --- http://faqexcel.blogspot.com/2007/03/open-file-as-read-only.html

    A great deal depends on how you’ve set up your computer to read file extensions.

    Just click on the xls Excel workbook below:

    Expand the window to full screen

    Note that the macro buttons are disabled in the IE window (for security purposes)
    To view the macros you would have to save the file and then read it later in Excel

    But in the read-only window, most Excel functionality is available
    Click on the “Jensen Para 137 Tab” tab to bring up a particular spreadsheet in the workbook
    Then change a number and see how the interactive features of Excel are maintained even in the read-only mode.

    Bob Jensen

    Jagdish is looking for a book called the Encyclopedia of Ignorance
    I recommend first keying in the phrase "Encyclopedia of Ignorance" at Google's Advance Book Search ---
    I don't think that free versions are available for this book although there are Kindle versions
    Other books by Ronald Duncan --- http://www.librarything.com/author/duncanronald

    For summer reading on his 2010 vacation, President Obama purchased 
    To Kill a Mockingbird

    Bob Jensen's threads on how to obtain free electronic versions of millions of great books ---
    Also included above are links to recommended classics, far more than any ten people could read in a lifetime.

    At the top of the reading list provided below by Jagdish is
    Benoit Mandelbrot,  Misbehaviour of Markets

    From Bob Jensen’s archives at

    Fractal --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 --- http://www.simoleonsense.com/

    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…

    But an economic model of any type is limited by its missing variables
    Wall Street’s Math Wizards Forgot a Few Variables

    What wasn’t recognized was the importance of a different species of risk — liquidity risk,” Stephen Figlewski, a professor of finance at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University, told The Times. “When trust in counterparties is lost, and markets freeze up so there are no prices,” he said, it “really showed how different the real world was from our models.
    DealBook, The New York Times, September 14, 2009 ---


    Are economists worse than the Keystone Cops?
    "The Financial Crisis and the Systemic Failure of Academic Economics," 2008
    Dahlem Report on the Economic Crisis --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/temp/Dahlem_Report_EconCrisis021809.pdf

    The economics profession appears to have been unaware of the long build-up to the current worldwide financial crisis and to have significantly underestimated its dimensions once it started to unfold. In our view, this lack of understanding is due to a misallocation of research efforts in economics. We trace the deeper roots of this failure to the profession’s insistence on constructing models that, by design, disregard the key elements driving outcomes in real-world markets. The economics profession has failed in communicating the limitations, weaknesses, and even dangers of its preferred models to the public. This state of affairs makes clear the need for a major reorientation of focus in the research economists undertake, as well as for the establishment of an ethical code that would ask economists to understand and communicate the limitations and potential misuses of their models.

    The first major model of systematic risk and diversification theory was the 1959 Princeton thesis of Harry Markowitz. But the model was totally impractical since we could not and still cannot invert matrices with 500 or more rows and columns. Along came Bill Sharpe and others who tried to approximate the Markowitz model with the much more practical CAPM. With simplification a model almost always sacrifices accuracy and robustness. The CAPM has had some good applications and some disastrous applications such as the Trillion Dollar Bet disaster of Long Term Capital Management --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#LTCM

    Whenever I get news about increased interest in mathematical models (especially economics and finance) professors on Wall Street, I think back to "The Trillion Dollar Bet" in 1993 (Nova on PBS Video) a bond trader, two Nobel Laureates, and their doctoral students who very nearly brought down all of Wall Street and the U.S. banking system in the crash of a hedge fund known as Long Term Capital Management where the biggest and most prestigious firms lost an unimaginable amount of money --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTCM

    The blame for bad decisions that use models must fall on the analysts who apply the model and not on the people that merely derive the seminal model as long as the model builders point out all know limitations of their models. There are some instances of research that should perhaps be banned such as research that could put cheap and effective biological weapons of mass destruction in the hands of any teenager in the world who has a basement laboratory or effective date rape drugs that can be generated quickly, cheaply, and easily from bananas and tomatoes.

    There is also a question of enforcement of a ban on research and model building. For example, if we’d had a ban on development of nuclear fission in the U.S., what would’ve prevented Russia, Germany, and Japan from development of nuclear fission in 1940? If David Li was not allowed to invent the credit risk diversification model, who’s to say that China could not invent such a model?

    I think the limitations of Li’s model were well known to the bankers who used the disastrous model. In reality it is like the Black Swan theory that a model has a known miniscule (epsilon) chance of disaster but the rewards of using the model seemed to greatly outweigh the risks --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Swan_Theory

    The CDO bond risks became compounded when so many investment banks commenced to crumble mortgage contracts into diversified CDO bonds dictated by David Li’s model. CDO bond sellers and holders commenced to use this model that essentially leaves out the covariance terms for interactive defaults on investments. The chances that everything would blow up seemed negligible at the time.  Probably the best summary of what happens appears in “In Plato’s Cave.”
    Also see
    "In Plato's Cave:  Mathematical models are a powerful way of predicting financial markets. But they are fallible" The Economist, January 24, 2009, pp. 10-14 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#Bailout

    Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---


    Can the 2008 investment banking failure be traced to a math error?
    Recipe for Disaster:  The Formula That Killed Wall Street --- http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-03/wp_quant?currentPage=all
    Link forwarded by Jim Mahar ---

    Some highlights:

    "For five years, Li's formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels.

    His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. And it became so deeply entrenched—and was making people so much money—that warnings about its limitations were largely ignored.

    Then the model fell apart." The article goes on to show that correlations are at the heart of the problem.

    "The reason that ratings agencies and investors felt so safe with the triple-A tranches was that they believed there was no way hundreds of homeowners would all default on their loans at the same time. One person might lose his job, another might fall ill. But those are individual calamities that don't affect the mortgage pool much as a whole: Everybody else is still making their payments on time.

    But not all calamities are individual, and tranching still hadn't solved all the problems of mortgage-pool risk. Some things, like falling house prices, affect a large number of people at once. If home values in your neighborhood decline and you lose some of your equity, there's a good chance your neighbors will lose theirs as well. If, as a result, you default on your mortgage, there's a higher probability they will default, too. That's called correlation—the degree to which one variable moves in line with another—and measuring it is an important part of determining how risky mortgage bonds are."

    I would highly recommend reading the entire thing that gets much more involved with the actual formula etc.

    The “math error” might truly be have been an error or it might have simply been a gamble with what was perceived as miniscule odds of total market failure. Something similar happened in the case of the trillion-dollar disastrous 1993 collapse of Long Term Capital Management formed by Nobel Prize winning economists and their doctoral students who took similar gambles that ignored the “miniscule odds” of world market collapse -- -

    The rhetorical question is whether the failure is ignorance in model building or risk taking using the model?

    Also see
    "In Plato's Cave:  Mathematical models are a powerful way of predicting financial markets. But they are fallible" The Economist, January 24, 2009, pp. 10-14 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#Bailout

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


    From: AECM, Accounting Education using Computers and Multimedia [mailto:AECM@LISTSERV.LOYOLA.EDU] On Behalf Of Jagdish Gangolly
    Sent: Sunday, August 22, 2010 6:58 PM
    Subject: Re: Picture


    Yes, the most recent (this summer) are,

    Benoit Mandelbrot,  Misbehaviour of Markets

    Amartya Sen,  The Idea of Justice

    Edward Luce,  Inspite of the Gods

    von Tunzleman,  Indian Summer

    Anthony De Mello, Wellsprings

    John Galsworthy, Six Short Plays (re-read it after 50 years)

    Every Finance and accounting faculty member, in my opinion, must read Mandelbrot's book (he was the dissertation advisorof Fama, but Fama strayed from the work later).

     And I have been searching for the past few months for thefollowing book:
    Encyclopedia of Ignorance

    Jagdish Gangolly (gangolly@albany.edu)
    Department of Informatics
    College of Computing & Information
    State University of New York at Albany
    7A, Harriman Campus Road, Suite 220
    Albany, NY 12206
    Phone: (518) 956-8251, Fax: (518) 956-8247

    Bob Jensen's threads on how to obtain free electronic versions of millions of great books ---

    How States Hide Their Budget Deficits: 
    The SEC's charges against New Jersey for misleading investors should warn other states against sweeping the truth under the rug


    Rotten Fraud in General --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm
    Rotten Fraud in the Public Sector (The Most Criminal Class Writes the Laws) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudRotten.htm#Lawmakers


    The Sad State of Government (Governmental) Accounting and Accountability ---



    We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.


    Congress is our only native criminal class.
    Mark Twain --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain


    Why should members of Congress be allowed to profit from insider trading?
    Amid broad congressional concern about ethics scandals, some lawmakers are poised to expand the battle for reform: They want to enact legislation that would prohibit members of Congress and their aides from trading stocks based on nonpublic information gathered on Capitol Hill. Two Democrat lawmakers plan to introduce today a bill that would block trading on such inside information. Current securities law and congressional ethics rules don't prohibit lawmakers or their staff members from buying and selling securities based on information learned in the halls of Congress.
    Brody Mullins, "Bill Seeks to Ban Insider Trading By Lawmakers and Their Aides," The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2006; Page A1 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114351554851509761.html?mod=todays_us_page_one

    The Culture of Corruption Runs Deep and Wide in Both U.S. Political Parties:  Few if any are uncorrupted
    Committee members have shown no appetite for taking up all those cases and are considering an amnesty for reporting violations, although not for serious matters such as accepting a trip from a lobbyist, which House rules forbid. The data firm PoliticalMoneyLine calculates that members of Congress have received more than $18 million in travel from private organizations in the past five years, with Democrats taking 3,458 trips and Republicans taking 2,666. . . But of course, there are those who deem the American People dumb as stones and will approach this bi-partisan scandal accordingly. Enter Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi, complete with talking points for her minion, that are sure to come back and bite her .... “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) filed delinquent reports Friday for three trips she accepted from outside sponsors that were worth $8,580 and occurred as long as seven years ago, according to copies of the documents.
    Bob Parks, "Will Nancy Pelosi's Words Come Back to Bite Her?" The National Ledger, January 6, 2006 --- http://www.nationalledger.com/artman/publish/article_27262498.shtml 

    And when they aren't stealing directly, lawmakers are caving in to lobbying crooks
    Drivers can send their thank-you notes to Capitol Hill, which created the conditions for this mess last summer with its latest energy bill. That legislation contained a sop to Midwest corn farmers in the form of a huge new ethanol mandate that began this year and requires drivers to consume 7.5 billion gallons a year by 2012. At the same time, Congress refused to include liability protection for producers of MTBE, a rival oxygen fuel-additive that has become a tort lawyer target. So MTBE makers are pulling out, ethanol makers can't make up the difference quickly enough, and gas supplies are getting squeezed.
    "The Gasoline Follies," The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2006; Page A20  --- Click Here

    Once again, the power of pork to sustain incumbents gets its best demonstration in the person of John Murtha (D-PA). The acknowledged king of earmarks in the House gains the attention of the New York Times editorial board today, which notes the cozy and lucrative relationship between more than two dozen contractors in Murtha's district and the hundreds of millions of dollars in pork he provided them. It also highlights what roughly amounts to a commission on the sale of Murtha's power as an appropriator: Mr. Murtha led all House members this year, securing $162 million in district favors, according to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. ... In 1991, Mr. Murtha used a $5 million earmark to create the National Defense Center for Environmental Excellence in Johnstown to develop anti-pollution technology for the military. Since then, it has garnered more than $670 million in contracts and earmarks. Meanwhile it is managed by another contractor Mr. Murtha helped create, Concurrent Technologies, a research operation that somehow was allowed to be set up as a tax-exempt charity, according to The Washington Post. Thanks to Mr. Murtha, Concurrent has boomed; the annual salary for its top three executives averages $462,000.
    Edward Morrissey, Captain's Quarters, January 14, 2008 --- http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/016617.php

    The Sad State of Government (Governmental) Accounting and Accountability ---

    "How States Hide Their Budget Deficits:  The SEC's charges against New Jersey for misleading investors should warn other states against sweeping the truth under the rug," by Steve Malanga, The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2010 ---

    In April, the New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, issued a damning report on the Empire State's financial practices. Albany's budgets, he observed, increasingly employ "fiscal manipulations" to present a "distorted view of the State's finances." Money shuffled among accounts to hide deficits, loans made by the state to itself, and other maneuvers Mr. DiNapoli called a "fiscal shell game" are meant to "mask the true magnitude of the State's structural budget deficit."

    The comptroller's report produced yawns. Last week, however, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed fraud charges against New Jersey for misrepresenting its financial obligations, particularly its pension obligations, and misleading investors in its bonds. New York—and many other states—had better sit up and take notice.

    The Citizens Budget Commission of New York recently measured states' obligations against their economic resources. New Jersey was rated in the worst fiscal shape, but it judged other states that employ questionable budget practices, including New York, California, Illinois and Rhode Island, to be only marginally better. Closer SEC scrutiny of these states' muni offerings should be welcomed by investors, and also by taxpayers from whom legislators often try to hide the true depth of fiscal problems until they grow unmanageable.

    New Jersey is an object case in how such manipulations eventually backfire. The problems go back nearly 15 years, to when the then-relatively healthy state decided to borrow $2.8 billion and stick it in its pension funds in lieu of making contributions from tax revenues. To make the gambit seem reasonable, Trenton projected unrealistic annual investment returns—between 8% and 12% per year—on the borrowed money. The maneuver temporarily made the funds seem well-off.

    In 2001, when legislators wanted to further enhance rich pension benefits, they valued the state's plan at its richest point: 1999, when the system was flush with borrowing and the tech bubble hadn't yet burst. The scheme proved disastrous, of course, because the stock market has since gone sideways, and New Jersey has achieved nowhere near the returns it needed on that borrowed money.

    Meanwhile, New Jersey compounded its woes with other ploys. In 2004, the state broke the cardinal rule of municipal budgeting when it borrowed nearly $2 billion to close a budget deficit, which is like borrowing on your credit card to pay off your mortgage. (The state supreme court ruled this move unconstitutional but allowed it to go forward anyway because it didn't want to "disrupt" government operations.) Over time, New Jersey's combination of overspending in its budget and underfunding of its pensions resulted in a tidal wave of tax increases and spending cuts.

    Now, even if Gov. Chris Christie can solve the state's long-term, structural budget problems, New Jersey will have to find some $3 billion a year in new revenues to begin contributing again to its pensions.

    Municipal bondholders seem complacent in the face of such problems. They like to assert that they have first dibs on any tax revenues. But New Jersey has written so many "guarantees" into its constitution—whether regarding pensions or citizens' right to a "quality" education—that sorting out the competing interests in a fiscal crisis could keep the courts busy for years.

    As alarming is how Jersey-style fiscal practices have proliferated in other states.

    The manipulations date back to the late 1970s, when taxpayer revolts produced spending caps and constitutional limits on tax increases in states. Rather than hew to these restrictions, politicians found increasingly inventive ways around them.

    State officials have acknowledged such practices are growing common. During the 2002 recession, a report by the National Association of State Budget Officers admitted that states were employing "creative, innovative . . . adjustments" to budgets. They include financing current operations with debt, moving money from trust funds dedicated to specific tasks (like highway maintenance) into general funds, and pushing payments to vendors into future fiscal years.

    "The long-running use of gimmicks is part of the reason most state budgets are in crisis today," noted Eileen Norcross of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University in a recent study.

    The federal government has served as enabler. Although the special tax-free status it bestows on municipal bonds amounts to a subsidy, Washington does little to enforce responsible budgeting. In its fiscal stimulus packages of 2009 and 2010, for instance, the federal government funneled hundreds of billions of dollars to the states without regard for their fiscal practices, treating irresponsibility in New Jersey and New York the same as prudence in, say, Texas and Indiana.

    California granted its workers big pension and benefit enhancements in 1999. As in New Jersey, those benefits were based on unrealistic projections of stock-market returns over the long term. Now the costs of those pension enhancements—which have added some $4 billion annually to the state budget and hundreds of millions more to municipal costs—have deepened Sacramento's fiscal woes, which it is solving with more ploys, like pushing tax refunds and payments to vendors into future years.

    These maneuvers often don't make it into bond presentations. Like New Jersey, Illinois used extensive borrowing—including a whopping $10 billion offering in 2003—to make its pensions appear well-funded. The state then skipped contributions into the system for several years, creating additional funding problems. A recent study by Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University projects that Illinois's pension system is among a handful that, like New Jersey's, could run out of money in the next decade.

    Yet a presentation made by Illinois officials to potential investors in June mentioned the pension borrowings only briefly, then painted a rosy picture of the state's fiscal practices. "Does the state have the Will To Govern needed to address its challenges?" the presentation asked. "YES" it answered in big, bold letters. The presentation then touted modest pension reforms that the state had enacted, even though legislators are doing little to ensure the system's long-term viability.

    The SEC should demand, at the very least, that states acknowledge the unease of their own in-house experts. There is nothing in the nearly 200 pages of New York's current disclosure document for investors, for instance, that hints at the state comptroller's concerns over the direction of the state budget. In refreshingly candid language, Mr. Napoli describes in his report a growing lack of transparency, which hides the state's true fiscal condition, as a "deficit shuffle."

    If that's a new dance step, it's one that investors and taxpayers everywhere need to work harder to ban. The SEC should help.

    "SEC charges State of New Jersey for fraudulent municipal bond filings," AccountingWeb, August 19, 2010 ---

    This Week (August 20, 2010) in Securities Litigation
    Fraud in offering: In the Matter of State of New Jersey, Adm. Proc. File No. 3-14009 (Aug. 18, 2010) is the SEC’s first fraud action against a state. The Order for Proceedings alleges fraud in violation of Securities Act Section 17(a)(2) & (3) in connection with 79 municipal bond offerings from August 2001 through April 2007 for $26 billion. The cases center on the failure of the state to make certain disclosures regarding the financial condition of two large pension funds, the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund and the Public Employees’ Retirement System. Specifically, the state created the fiscal illusion, according to the SEC, that the two pension funds were being adequately funded when in fact they were severely under funded. New Jersey was aware of the underfunding, according to the Order, but took no steps to correct the misleading documents used in connection with the bond offerings. During this period, the state did not have any written policies and procedures regarding the review or update of the bond offering documents and no training was given to its employees regarding disclosure obligations. To resolve the proceeding the state consented to the entry of a cease and desist order from commencing or committing or causing any violations and any future violations of the Sections on which the Order is based

    Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at

    The Sad State of Government (Governmental) Accounting and Accountability ---

    Kaplan University --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaplan_University

    Bias in The Washington Post reporting on a for-profit kissing cousin?
    The Washington Post owns the huge Kaplan University

    "Watching a Watchdog," by Jennifer Epstein, Inside Higher Ed, August 24, 2010 ---

    Media organizations like to tout the firewalls that exist between the news and editorial pages, and the newsroom and the business staff, but when it comes to the editorial independence of The Washington Post on issues related to Kaplan, Inc., some critics are arguing that the walls aren’t strong enough.

    The concerns arise from editorial stands and direct lobbying by a leader of the legendary Graham family -- someone who would get an open door in any Congressional office -- on behalf of for-profit higher ed.

    On Sunday, policy makers, higher education watchers and ordinary readers opened their newspapers and Web browsers to an editorial endorsed by the Post’s staff board that took a stance that could’ve come right out of Kaplan’s playbook.

    After disclosing the corporate link -- noting that the paper is owned by the same company that “owns Kaplan University and other for-profit schools of higher education that, according to company officials, could be harmed by the proposed regulations” -- the editorial bashed the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed rules, voicing concerns about access for low-income and working students, and worrying more broadly about how the country could meet President Obama’s higher education goals without for-profit colleges.

    “When I first saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, this is really surprising,’ ” said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success, which has been a strong advocate for the government's toughened regulatory approach to for-profit higher education. “Not just to see the Post editorializing on this issue, but to look at what the board is saying.” Asher had several objections to the editorial, including its assertion that the proposed rules on "gainful employment" would affect only for-profit colleges -- an assertion later corrected on the Post's website and in Monday's print edition.

    Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of government and public relations at the American Council on Education, said that while he is “sure the Post believes it has constructed sufficient firewalls, you can easily understand why people would raise questions based on what the board is saying and the fact that they had this editorial in their Sunday paper, which is the one with the largest distribution.”

    While the federal government “is right to fashion reasonable regulation to discourage fraud or misleading practices,” the board wrote, “it would be wrong to impose rules that remove an option that is especially useful for poor and working students.” The editorial boards of The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times took pro-regulation stances in their editorials, published weeks ago, the latter wondering whether the rules were tough enough.

    David Hawkins, director of public policy and research for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, took issue with that, and with many of the board’s other assertions. “The rules,” he said in an e-mail message, “would not automatically remove ‘an option’ that is useful for poor and working students. Rather, the rules would eliminate only those options that do not meet basic standards for accountability; options that may, in fact, be harmful to the very students about which the Post claims to be concerned.”

    Ann L. McDaniel, senior vice president of human resources for the Washington Post Company, said the editorial speaks for itself in expressing the board’s views and revealing the paper’s link to for-profit higher education. The second-paragraph disclosure, featured as prominently as it was, “gives[s] the reader the information to evaluate our position,” she said.

    Most journalistic entities, including this one, are supported by advertising. Inside Higher Ed, for example, receives ads from all kinds of colleges and organizations (including institutions on both sides of the debate over for-profit higher education). Critics of the Post aren't attacking it for running advertising from for-profit colleges, but for owning a for-profit higher education enterprise that is increasingly subsidizing the company's operations.

    Because of the disclosure, Hartle said, “there isn’t any hidden agenda here – it’s clear as day.” The Post, he said, “has made no effort to hide or camouflage its interests here and convincingly maintain that they can write an unbiased editorial,” even if readers are likely to be suspicious of its content -- just like Lockheed Martin advocating for greater defense spending or a testing company calling for more testing.

    The editorial’s disclosure and others like it in the Post’s news coverage of for-profit colleges -- touted by the Post’s ombudsman in a column this weekend -- don’t go far enough, Asher argued. It’s one thing to acknowledge that Kaplan is owned by the same company, “it’s another to acknowledge the financial dependencies that the Post has on Kaplan, which they don’t do.” Close to 60 percent of the company’s revenues in the most recent fiscal year came from Kaplan.

    The editorial, Hawkins said, speaks to the paper’s wider “lack of attention … to the circumstances that brought about these proposed rules,” on its opinion pages and in its news reporting. “Based on the editorial, which adheres closely to the same message points repeated ad nauseum by industry lobbyists, we are left to assume that decisions about what (not) to report about this issue are being made with an eye toward the bottom line,” he said. “The adoption of such message points in a full editorial do not convey the weight of the problems at hand, and the Post’s inattention to them compromises the journalistic process.”

    How fair can the journalistic process be, Asher asked, when its ultimate survival depends upon the financial success of a business it’s expected to cover skeptically?

    The company’s chairman and CEO, Donald E. Graham, son of Katharine Graham, the late Washington grand dame of journalism, has visited several members of Congress to lobby on Kaplan’s behalf. A staffer for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, confirmed that Graham met with the senator.

    “At one level, there’s absolutely nothing unusual or surprising in learning that Don Graham is visiting people on Capitol Hill,” Hartle said. “Corporate CEOs often meet with government officials and it would be surprising if he didn’t.” But, he added, “for the first time in my memory a leading news organization is wading into a public policy debate unrelated to their primary business.”

    The only problem: The paper may be the primary source of the company’s prestige, but education has become the Washington Post Company’s primary business. “The Post is accustomed to scrutinizing public policy debates like this one, but now it’s the one that’s being scrutinized,” he said.

    McDaniel declined to talk on the record about Graham's lobbying of members of Congress.

    Today's Post features another op-ed denouncing the proposed rules on for-profit higher education. The author is the chairman and chief executive of Strayer Education Inc

    Bob Jensen's threads on for-profit university scandals are at

    Cloud Computing --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_Computing

    "Cloud computing, or cloud-cuckoo land?" Babbage Blog, August 27, 2010 ---

    ON ITS corporate website, Hewlett-Packard (HP) describes three important trends shaping the future of technology, including one that it dubs the “information explosion” (click the "Growth" tab on this page). On August 23rd the company dropped a bombshell of its own when it launched a $1.5 billion bid for 3PAR, a company that has built its business by helping firms store vast amounts of data efficiently. HP’s move triggered a heated bidding war with Dell, a big rival that had already made an offer for 3PAR. By August 27th the price tab for the company had risen to a whopping $2 billion, with HP offering to fork out the entire amount in cash.

    Why all the fuss over a firm that focuses on the seemingly humdrum business of storing data? Part of the answer is that the amount of information being generated by governments, firms and individuals is growing incredibly fast, driven by such things as online videos and file-sharing. According to one estimate, mankind generated some 150 exabytes (150 billion gigabytes) of data in 2005; this year that number could reach 1,200 exabytes. Demand for smart ways of storing and analysing this mountain of information is soaring.

    At the same time, firms such as HP and Dell are jockeying for a bigger share of the market for “cloud computing”—tech-speak for on-demand computing services delivered via the internet—which is starting to attract the attention of many large corporate customers. Their enthusiasm for this business has grown as the economic downturn has squeezed margins in their consumer-focused activities. Given that high-end storage is a crucial part of any cloud offering, it is hardly surprising that 3PAR has been on their radar screens.

    What is more surprising is the intensity of the battle for control of it. In part, this may reflect the fact that, like many other big tech firms, Dell and HP have no shortage of ammunition with which to wage war. Both have billions of dollars in their coffers waiting to be deployed and both see acquisitions as a quick way of boosting their presence in the cloud. Dell, for instance, bought another storage firm, EqualLogic, in 2007.

    It is possible that Dell timed its initial bid for 3PAR to take advantage of the fact that HP had recently lost its chief executive, Mark Hurd, who resigned amid allegations of dodgy expense claims and sexual harassment. But if so, it seems to have underestimated the desire within HP’s ranks—and, presumably, among its board members—to stop Dell from beefing up its presence in a promising market where HP already faces stiff competition from the likes of Cisco and IBM.

    The big question is whether HP can justify paying such a hefty price for 3PAR. Some analysts reckon the cost of the deal had already risen beyond the point at which HP could make a decent financial return on its investment even before its latest $2 billion offer. Dell, too, will struggle to justify paying any more. Indeed, the only folk who seem certain to win from this digital dust-up are the shareholders of 3PAR itself.

    Read on: A special report on managing information: Data, data everywhere (Feb 2010)

    "2 For-Profits Dump Basic-Skills Test Over Concerns About Loan Defaults," by Michael Sewall, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 27, 2010 ---

    As federal scrutiny of for-profit colleges tightens, two prominent proprietary institutions have decided to discontinue the practice of enrolling students who do not have a high-school diploma or a GED but who pass a basic-skills test that allows them to qualify for federal student aid.

    Corinthian Colleges Inc. announced last week that it would stop using the tests, known as "ability to benefit" tests. In doing so, company officials cited the tendency of students who qualify by passing the tests to have higher default rates on their loans than their peers who didn't take the test, as well as new federal rules that will change how colleges are held accountable for those defaults. Corinthian's decision follows a similar move by Kaplan Inc., which discontinued use of the tests last fall at some of its institutions.

    The ability-to-benefit tests aren't widely used in higher education as a whole, but a number of colleges allow students who pass them to enroll.

    In explaining Corinthian's decision, Kent Jenkins Jr., a spokesman for the institution, said students who take the ability-to-benefit test tend to default on their loans at twice the rate of other students. For-profit colleges like Corinthian and Kaplan will need to manage their default rates better, because starting in 2014, the Education Department will hold colleges accountable for defaults of student cohorts for three years after the students graduate or leave college, a year longer than under current law.

    Peter C. Waller, chief executive of Corinthian, announced the decision to drop the test last Friday. He said the shift to a three-year measurement, as well as changes in student lending that have put more responsibility on colleges for default management, left them "no choice" but to discontinue enrollment of students who do not have a high-school degree or a GED.

    "We're in a better position today to take the steps that will help us reduce risk and preserve our ability to succeed in the future," Mr. Waller said. "Current public policy on cohort default rates has the unfortunate effect of creating disincentives to serve [ability-to-benefit] students."

    About 15 percent of Corinthian's students in the last academic year used the ability-to-benefit test. The company, which operates more than 100 campuses across North America, estimates it will lose 16,000 potential students and about $120-million in the next fiscal year as a result of this decision, but it will also lose the risk of higher default rates those students would bring. The 15-percent enrollment of ability-to-benefit students was a decrease from 24 percent the previous year, credited to a greater focus on default management at Corinthian, as well as the growth of its online division, which does not enroll such students.

    For Kaplan, meanwhile, Michele Mazur, a spokeswoman, said discontinuing ability-to-benefit enrollment was neither a financial decision nor one that was based on the new three-year measure of default rates. Ms. Mazur said many of Kaplan's campuses stopped enrolling students who passed the test before the three-year window was approved by Congress. She said the systemwide decision, made in October, was mostly about Kaplan's overall concerns with ability-to-benefit, or ATB, students.

    "Although we initially began admitting ATB students several years ago as a way to serve this most-underserved student population, over time we developed serious concerns about ATB students' performance," she said.

    Ms. Mazur said the decision to stop enrolling them has benefited both Kaplan and people who would have been those students."No one gains when students do not successfully complete their programs and get a job," she said.

    Worries About Students' Success and Defaults The Education Department released data showing what institutions' cohort-default rates would be if a three-year measurement period were already in place. An analysis of that data shows that rates at 183 for-profit colleges were at least 15 percentage points higher in a three-year period than a two-year window, which is the government's current tracking period. In that same period, only 20 nonprofit colleges had increases that large.

    Deborah Cochrane, program director at the Institute for College Access and Success, a group that advocates for college affordability, said colleges have a responsibility to make sure that students can succeed after graduation, and the three-year period helps hold institutions more accountable.

    "If ability-to-benefit students are of a particular concern, I think the colleges can give them the support they need to succeed at the same level as other students," Ms. Cochrane said. "On the other hand, if they know these students aren't able to succeed at the same rate and they can't offer the support needed to help them, they shouldn't be loading up students who they know are more likely to fail."

    Continued in article

    Jensen Comment
    For fairness, perhaps the basic skills test should still be used for admission but not as a basis for loans. There could be various reasons why good students get into college this way and then fail to get jobs for other reasons such as difficulties for a single parent of six small children to land a job or prejudices against an obese person to get a job. I’m really against not giving such people some chance for training or education even if loaning them taxpayer money is a bad idea.

    Perhaps the basic skills tests should be made more rigorous.

    August 27, 2010 reply from Francine McKenna [retheauditors@GMAIL.COM]

  • Bob,
    (recruiters should consider loan repaying prospects). You've not helped someone get ahead in the world if you've saddled them with debt disproportionate with the short-to-medium term earning power. That being said, many of the students have very real other obstacles to succeeding, not the least of which is family and friends that that don't understand the process and criticize their desire to make sacrifices to "better" themselves. Where we live, my impression is the students are racially diverse, but economically and culturally equally disadvantaged. That is to say, they are of all racial backgrounds but their family and peer group history of successful avoidance of drugs, alcohol, early/multiple pregnancy, and petty crime is limited.

    Bob Jensen's threads on for-profit universities are at

    Almanac of Higher Education 2010, Chronicle of Higher Education ---

    This is only a small, small, small sample of the data provided in this Almanac
    Note that many of the comments that follow complain of kurtosis caused by the professional schools

    Average Salaries for Full-Time Faculty Members, 2009-10

      All institutions Public Private, independent Religious
      Salary 1-year change Salary 1-year change Salary 1-year change Salary 1-year change
    Note: Dollar figures are based on data from 1,231 institutions; percentage changes are based on data from 1,141 institutions that reported comparable data for both years. As a result, the percentage changes refer to a different set of dollar figures than those shown. Percentages are not adjusted for inflation. Dollar figures do not reflect all pay reductions caused by unpaid furloughs attributed to the recession. The figures cover full-time members of the instructional staff, except those in medical schools. The salaries are adjusted to a standard nine-month work year. A dash indicates that no data were reported.
    Source: American Association of University Professors
    Doctoral institutions
    Professor $125,300 1.2% $116,750 1.2% $153,332 1.1% $132,314 1.5%
    Associate professor $83,511 0.8% $80,463 0.8% $96,472 0.3% $88,859 1.3%
    Assistant professor $71,485 1.3% $68,718 1.2% $83,573 1.2% $75,538 2.7%
    Instructor $48,138 1.1% $45,805 0.8% $57,832 1.1% $61,612 2.3%
    Lecturer $54,583 $52,529 $61,860 $54,884
    No rank $63,958 $56,254 $73,100 $68,201
    All $91,060 1.2% $85,704 1.3% $111,949 0.8% $95,402 1.6%
    Master's institutions
    Professor $91,508 1.1% $89,648 1.2% $99,963 1.0% $89,365 0.5%
    Associate professor $71,857 1.0% $71,075 1.0% $75,538 1.3% $69,984 0.8%
    Assistant professor $60,381 1.2% $59,959 0.8% $63,003 2.3% $58,710 1.8%
    Instructor $48,572 1.8% $48,342 1.7% $50,848 2.1% $47,409 1.3%
    Lecturer $50,408 $49,796 $55,272 $50,610
    No rank $54,400 $52,041 $63,644 $53,945
    All $70,807 1.5% $69,555 1.4% $76,454 1.7% $69,411 1.3%
    Baccalaureate institutions
    Professor $87,013 0.2% $84,537 1.3% $98,098 0.0% $74,413 -0.1%
    Associate professor $67,077 0.6% $68,359 1.5% $72,141 0.1% $60,738 0.5%
    Assistant professor $55,495 0.6% $57,001 1.4% $58,762 0.4% $51,034 0.3%
    Instructor $45,211 1.6% $44,476 2.8% $48,766 2.3% $43,550 0.1%
    Lecturer $51,819 $50,628 $58,167 $41,781
    No rank $56,655 $44,218 $62,024 $43,379
    All $67,232 0.9% $64,804 1.9% $75,105 0.6% $60,081 0.6%
    Two-year institutions with academic ranks
    Professor $73,961 1.3% $74,103 1.3%
    Associate professor $60,571 1.2% $60,592 1.2%
    Assistant professor $53,695 0.8% $53,757 0.8%
    Instructor $45,909 0.5% $45,979 0.5%
    Lecturer $52,681 $52,681
    No rank $42,128 $42,369
    All $59,400 1.2% $59,467 1.2%
    Two-year institutions without academic ranks
    All $55,743 1.1% $55,809 1.1%
    All institutions with academic ranks
    Professor $109,843 1.0% $105,702 1.2% $128,733 0.8% $95,588 0.5%
    Associate professor $76,566 0.8% $75,678 0.8% $82,887 0.6% $71,455 1.0%
    Assistant professor $64,433 1.1% $64,008 1.0% $69,531 1.4% $58,808 1.6%
    Instructor $47,592 1.4% $46,532 1.2% $52,837 2.1% $49,100 1.7%
    Lecturer $53,112 $51,567 $60,337 $50,959
    No rank $60,782 $54,317 $69,883 $62,161
    All $80,368 1.2% $77,956 1.3% $92,873 1.0% $72,541 1.3%


    1. jhaeseler - April 12, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Is this what people are really making or what they should be making?


    2. schaffer3 - April 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    These seem really high--tens of thousands high. Who is making this much?

    3. library23 - April 12, 2010 at 01:25 pm

    I work at a Community College. My salary is looooooooower than average.

    4. eacclibrary2 - April 12, 2010 at 02:09 pm

    I believe that these salaries should be broken down into geographic regions to give a better comparison. At my community college, a $55,000 salary for faculty (no ranks) is not reached until 25 years with a doctorate. However, here in the mid-south the cost of living is a lot less than in the northeast.

    5. prof313 - April 13, 2010 at 03:38 pm

    I'm positive that the failure to differentiate between professional school salaries and the rest of us is skewing this chart upwards. If we eliminate the common six-figure salaries business and law schools dish out (even at the assistant professor rank), a more realistic picture should emerge.

    6. almaprovost - April 13, 2010 at 05:30 pm

    This would be a great example for my statistics class as to why the median is often a better measure of central tendency than the mean.

    Stickiness is sometimes the solution rather than the problem
    "Data Leakage," by Jerry Trites, The Trites E-Business Blog, August 27, 2010 ---

    Data leakage

    Panda Security "recently surveyed 10,470 small and midsize companies -- those having up to 1,000 computers -- in 20 countries. Roughly half said that their organization had been infected by malware at least once in the previous year, and in the United States, 27% said the origin was a USB device."

    Some firms routinely black the USB ports in their corporate owned PC's, some by inserting epoxy glue into them.

    Bob Jensen's threads on malware and other security matters ---

    Many Fewer Tenure Track Openings in the Political Science Department
    "Shrinkage in Political Science," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, August 24, 2010 ---

    You can add political science to the list of disciplines reporting dramatic declines in the number of openings for those starting their academic careers.

    The American Political Science Association has not historically released annual reports on jobs data in advance of its annual meeting, as many humanities and other disciplines do. But this year, Michael Brintnall, executive director of the association, did an analysis of the number of assistant professor openings that have been listed with the association in recent years. Such listings are required of departmental members. While some departments don't submit, and listings are likely less complete for community colleges, the listings are seen as broadly reflective of the state of hiring in the discipline.

    The numbers for recent years show a dramatic slide in the past two years, preceded by several years of steady growth.

    Assistant Professor Openings in Political Science

    2009-10 445
    2008-9 617
    2007-8 716
    2006-7 730
    2005-6 685
    2004-5 661

    The data are consistent with declines being reported by many other fields (either for the last year or projected for the year ahead) in the humanities and social sciences, including sociology, literature and languages, history, economics, art history and other fields.

    Within political science subfields, Brintnall said that positions focused on comparative politics, international relations and public policy appear to be experiencing smaller declines while political theory is being hit harder.

    The APSA's annual meeting will start next week and one of the sessions is called "Hard Times and Ph.D.s: The Political Science Job Market and Non-Academic Careers." While Brintnall said it was important for the association to provide such forums, he said that those who are interested in political science careers outside of academe tend to enroll in master's degree programs that prepare people to work in government, nonprofit organizations or the corporate world using political science skills. Those who opt for a Ph.D. program generally do so because they want an academic career, he said.

    At the same time, however, he said that the availability of career paths outside of academe means that new Ph.D.s in political science "are not ill-equipped to make that transition if need be."

    Continued in article

    Before the 2008-2010 Round of Budget tightening

    The number of accounting faculty declined 13.3 percent over the period 1988–2004. According to National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) data, accounting faculty (full- and part-time, in all types of postsecondary institutions) had fallen from 20,321 in 1993 to 17,610 in 2004. However, as the number of faculty has declined, student (undergraduate) enrollment has increased (12.3 percent) over the same period. The most serious loss of full-time faculty has occurred at four-year, non-doctoral-granting institutions—amounting to 31 percent of the 1993 total. The number of full-time accounting faculty at research/doctoral universities and at community colleges between 1993 and 2004 changed little, same for the total number of accounting faculty holding Ph.D.s. Accounting is roughly average (among all disciplines) in the proportion of women in tenured or tenure-track positions, as well as roughly average in the rate at which women have entered the field. However, the total number of women accounting faculty remained almost perfectly stable between 1993 and 2004, while the number of male faculty declined substantially. The number of accounting faculty over the age of 55 increased while the number of accounting faculty under the age of 40 declined by half during the 1993–2004 period. Both this study and the Plumlee (2004) study estimate that the number of retirements is likely to exceed the number of qualified replacements in the immediate future. Given the stability of Ph.D. production at about 140 per year on average, and with retirements estimated at about 500 per year, the production of new Ph.D.s appears far from sufficient to fill the demand. Further, about one-half of the Ph.D. degrees are being granted to non-U.S. citizens, many of whom may not stay to teach in U.S. schools. A sign of the demand for new accounting faculty may be seen in the apparent salary inversion observed in the 2004 data: faculty under age 41 averaged higher pay than faculty over age 41. Meanwhile, workload for accounting faculty has increased markedly, especially at research and doctoral universities, where the bulk of enrollment increases have also occurred. While the data show a rapid escalation of salary for new faculty in accounting and stable levels of job satisfaction, the field faces an immediate future of pressure on faculty to work harder and longer as its workforce turns over through retirement.

    Jim Hasselback's 2007 Accounting Faculty Updates ---

    "So you want to get a Ph.D.?" by David Wood, BYU ---

    From the Scout Report on August 6, 2010

    TitanPad --- http://titanpad.com/

    If you're looking to work with colleagues who might be located in different places, TitanPad might be just the application you require. The application can be customized for a number of different uses, but at its essence it provides a shared space for visitors to coordinate work on documents and to also discuss their work via a specialized chat window. Visitors don't need to sign up, and the site also includes a blog for information about updates and so on. This version is compatible with all operating systems.

    Designed to alleviate poverty, interest in the conditional-cash transfer program grows Brazil's Bolsa Fam?lia: How to get children out of jobs and into school http://www.economist.com/node/16690887 

    Conditional cash transfer helps Pinoys beat poverty trap

    Anti-poverty programmes: Give the poor money http://www.economist.com/node/16693323 

    Conditional Cash Transfers: A Global Perspective [pdf]

    Oxfam GB http://www.oxfam.org.uk/

    From the Scout Report on August 27, 2010

    LockMagic 6.0 --- http://www.mylivekey.net/ 

    Remembering password logins can be a tricky business, and LockMagic 6.0 provides a way to make this whole process a bit easier. Essentially, the program allows users to access and share encrypted files using email addresses. Visitors don't have to change the way they work, and they can still just use their existing information with the application. This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP and newer.


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

    Education Tutorials

    Junior Achievement Student Center --- http://studentcenter.ja.org/Pages/default.aspx

    Activities for kids: Montreal Science Centre --- http://www.montrealsciencecentre.com/kids.html

    Education Opportunities in Russia and Asia
    The School of Russian and Asian Studies: Study Resources --- http://www.sras.org/study_resources

    Nightly Business Report (PBS Business News) --- http://www.pbs.org/nbr/ 

    Find a College
    College Atlas --- http://www.collegeatlas.org/
    Among other things the above site provides acceptance rate percentages
    Online Distance Education Training and Education --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm
    For-Profit Universities Operating in the Gray Zone of Fraud  (College, Inc.) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ForProfitFraud

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

    Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

    Activities for kids: Montreal Science Centre --- http://www.montrealsciencecentre.com/kids.html

    Alliance for Aging Research --- http://www.agingresearch.org/

    Scientific American: Energy & Sustainability --- http://www.scientificamerican.com/energy-and-sustainability 

    The National Academies Present: What You Need to Know About Energy --- http://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/

    National Institute on Aging --- http://www.nia.nih.gov/

    Astro2010: The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey --- http://sites.nationalacademies.org/BPA/BPA_049810

    Aging in the Know (medicine) --- http://www.healthinaging.org/agingintheknow/

    Penn State Gerontology Center --- http://gerontology.ssri.psu.edu/

    Neuroscience Information Framework --- http://neuinfo.org/

    MedlinePlus: Diets --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/diets.html

    Center for Aging Services Technologies --- http://www.agingtech.org

    Dr. Walter Lindley Scrapbooks (Los Angeles Health and Politics History) --- http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/collection.php?alias=lsc

    Images from the History of Medicine --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/ihm/ 

    National Geographic: In the Field (Archaeology) --- http://www.nationalgeographic.com/field

    Great Buildings Collection (architecture) --- http://www.greatbuildings.com/gbc.html

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration --- http://www.education.noaa.gov/ 

    Education Opportunities in Russia and Asia
    The School of Russian and Asian Studies: Study Resources --- http://www.sras.org/study_resources

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

    Social Science and Economics Tutorials

    This Emotional Life --- http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/

    GreatNonprofits --- http://greatnonprofits.org/

    Immigration Advocates Network [iTunes] http://www.immigrationadvocates.org/ 

    National Geographic: In the Field (Archaeology) --- http://www.nationalgeographic.com/field

    WPA/TVA Archaeological Photographs --- http://diglib.lib.utk.edu/wpa/

    India Habitat Centre --- http://indiahabitat.org/main.htm

    Nightly Business Report (PBS Business News) --- http://www.pbs.org/nbr/ 

    Over 5,000 Photographs from Duke University
    Sidney D. Gamble Photographs --- http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gamble/

    Bob Jensen's threads on Economics, Anthropology, Social Sciences, and Philosophy tutorials are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob2.htm#Social

    Law and Legal Studies

    Ask a Forensic Artist --- http://www.askaforensicartist.com/

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

    Math Tutorials

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

    History Tutorials

    BBC Dimensions (ancient worlds and history) --- http://howbigreally.com/

    Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 [Flash Player] http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/matisse/splash.html

    Brooklyn Museum: Andy Warhol: The Last Decade --- http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/andy_warhol/index.php

    Genthe Collection (art history) --- http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/agc/

    Mordecai Gorelik Papers (theatre)--- http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm4/index_sic_gorelik.php?CISOROOT=/sic_gorelik

    Stage Costumes --- http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/theatre_performance/features/Costume/index.html

    Daphne Dare Collection (theatre costumes) --- http://drc.ohiolink.edu/handle/2374.OX/30999

    Sam Houston Memorial Museum http://www.shsu.edu/~smm_www/index.html

    Great Buildings Collection --- http://www.greatbuildings.com/gbc.html

    Pilgrim Hall Museum --- http://www.pilgrimhall.org/plgrmhll.htm

    Over 5,000 Photographs from Duke University
    Sidney D. Gamble Photographs --- http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/gamble/

    In the realm of Pilgrim lore, legend, and history, Provincetown makes a bid for more recognition On this rock, a myth was built http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/11/22/an_animated_history_of_the_pilgrims_voyage/ 

    At Plymouth Plantation, feasting as the Pilgrims did http://www.philly.com/philly/travel/20091122_Getting_the_Pilgrim_Experience.html

    Plymouth Rock Foundation http://www.plymrock.org/ 

    US Census Press Releases: Thanksgiving [pdf]

    Plimoth Plantation http://www.plimoth.org/ 

    First "National Day of Mourning" http://massmoments.org/moment.cfm?mid=340

    Dr. Walter Lindley Scrapbooks (Los Angeles Health and Politics History) --- http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/collection.php?alias=lsc

    Images from the History of Medicine --- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/ihm/ 

    "Adieu Saigon, Au Revoir Hanoi," Bucknell University ---

    Adieu Saigon, Au Revoir Hanoi (also known as the Beaucarnot Project) is a large, collaborative project that involved several people from Bucknell University and California Lutheran University. The project ties together the diary of a young woman from 1943 French colonial Indochina, the journey she took while keeping the diary, and the journey re-traced by a team of history students and their professor in 2004. The project's web site includes a complete history and explanation of the project as well as additional supporting research.

    David Del Testa, Assistant Professor of History at Bucknell University, was the driving force behind this project, and the web site is a culmination of several years of his work and efforts. A web site allows visitors to virtually take the journey outlined in the diary. A secondary component has been to create a digital archive of related images.

    Further details are available on the project web site

    Jensen Comment about the project Website at http://www.bucknell.edu/beaucarnot/journey.shtml
    This is a relatively sophisticated Website with mapped hot spots for photographs and text. The associated commentaries add quite a lot of historical perspective.
    The site needs an index or search box.

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

    Language Tutorials

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

    Music Tutorials

    Sheet Music Piracy: You Can Get Everything For Free On The Internet ---

    Bob Jensen's threads on free music tutorials are at

    Bob Jensen's threads on music performances ---

    Writing Tutorials

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

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

    August 21, 2010

    August 23, 2010

    August 24, 2010

    August 25, 2010

    August 26, 2010

    August 27, 2010

    August 28, 2010

    August 30, 2010

    August 31, 2010


    Alliance for Aging Research --- http://www.agingresearch.org/

    Video forwarded by Auntie Bev
    Obama at Bat (humor, sort of) --- http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/obama_at_bat.html 

    Forwarded by Paula

    A cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. 'Have you ever done anything of particular merit?' St. Peter asked.

    'Well, I can think of one thing,' the cowboy offered. ‘On a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota, I came upon a gang of bikers who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen. So, I approached the largest and most tattooed biker and smacked him in the face, kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. I yelled, 'Now, back off or I'll kick the shit out of all of you!' St. Peter was impressed, 'When did this happen?'

    'Couple of minutes ago.'

    Forwarded by Paula

    A blonde was weed-eating her yard and accidentally cut off the tail of her cat which was hiding in the grass.

    She rushed her cat, along with the tail, over to WAL-MART!

    Why WAL-MART??


    WAL-MART is the largest re-tailer in the world!!!


    Forwarded by Dick Haar

    The New Alphabet

    New Alphabet : A is for apple, and B is for boat, that used to be right, but now it won't float! Age before beauty is what we once said, but let's be a bit more realistic instead.

    Now The Alphabet:

    A's for arthritis; B's the bad back, C's the chest pains, perhaps car-di-ac?

    D is for dental decay and decline, E is for eyesight, can't read that top line! F is for fissures and fluid retention, G is for gas which I'd rather not mention.

    H high blood pressure--I'd rather it low; I for incisions with scars you can show. J is for joints, out of socket, won't mend, K is for knees that crack when they bend. L 's for libido, what happened to sex? M is for memory, I forget what comes next. N is neuralgia, in nerves way down low; O is for osteo, bones that don't grow!

    P for prescriptions, I have quite a few, just give me a pill and I'll be good as new! Qis for queasy, is it fatal or flu? R is for reflux, one meal turns to two.

    S is for sleepless nights, counting my fears, T is for Tinnitus; bells in my ears! U is for urinary; troubles with flow; V for vertigo, that's 'dizzy,' you know.

    W for worry, now what's going 'round? X is for X ray, and what might be found. Yfor another year I'm left here behind, Z is for zest I still have-- in my mind!

    I've survived all the symptoms, my body's deployed, and I'm keeping twenty-six doctors employed!



    Tidbits Archives --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm

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

    Find a College
    College Atlas --- http://www.collegeatlas.org/
    Among other things the above site provides acceptance rate percentages
    Online Distance Education Training and Education --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm
    For-Profit Universities Operating in the Gray Zone of Fraud  (College, Inc.) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#ForProfitFraud

    Shielding Against Validity Challenges in Plato's Cave ---

    What went wrong in accounting/accountics research?  ---

    The Sad State of Accountancy Doctoral Programs That Do Not Appeal to Most Accountants ---


    Bob Jensen's threads on accounting theory ---

    Tom Lehrer on Mathematical Models and Statistics ---

    Systemic problems of accountancy (especially the vegetable nutrition paradox) that probably will never be solved ---


    World Clock --- http://www.peterussell.com/Odds/WorldClock.php
    Facts about the earth in real time --- http://www.worldometers.info/

    Interesting Online Clock and Calendar --- http://home.tiscali.nl/annejan/swf/timeline.swf
    Time by Time Zones --- http://timeticker.com/
    Projected Population Growth (it's out of control) --- http://geography.about.com/od/obtainpopulationdata/a/worldpopulation.htm
             Also see http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/P/Populations.html
    Facts about population growth (video) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U
    Projected U.S. Population Growth --- http://www.carryingcapacity.org/projections75.html
    Real time meter of the U.S. cost of the war in Iraq --- http://www.costofwar.com/ 
    Enter you zip code to get Census Bureau comparisons --- http://zipskinny.com/
    Sure wish there'd be a little good news today.

    Free (updated) Basic Accounting Textbook --- search for Hoyle at

    CPA Examination --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cpa_examination
    Free CPA Examination Review Course Courtesy of Joe Hoyle --- http://cpareviewforfree.com/

    Rick Lillie's education, learning, and technology blog is at http://iaed.wordpress.com/

    Accounting News, Blogs, Listservs, and Social Networking ---

    Bob Jensen's Threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm 
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

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

    Some of Bob Jensen's Tutorials

    Accounting program news items for colleges are posted at http://www.accountingweb.com/news/college_news.html
    Sometimes the news items provide links to teaching resources for accounting educators.
    Any college may post a news item.

    Accountancy Discussion ListServs:

    For an elaboration on the reasons you should join a ListServ (usually for free) go to   http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm
    AECM (Educators)  http://pacioli.loyola.edu/aecm/ 
    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 --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListServRoles.htm

    CPAS-L (Practitioners) http://pacioli.loyola.edu/cpas-l/ 
    CPAS-L provides a forum for discussions of all aspects of the practice of accounting. It provides an unmoderated environment where issues, questions, comments, ideas, etc. related to accounting can be freely discussed. Members are welcome to take an active role by posting to CPAS-L or an inactive role by just monitoring the list. You qualify for a free subscription if you are either a CPA or a professional accountant in public accounting, private industry, government or education. Others will be denied access.
    Yahoo (Practitioners)  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/xyztalk
    This forum is for CPAs to discuss the activities of the AICPA. This can be anything  from the CPA2BIZ portal to the XYZ initiative or anything else that relates to the AICPA.
    AccountantsWorld  http://accountantsworld.com/forums/default.asp?scope=1 
    This site hosts various discussion groups on such topics as accounting software, consulting, financial planning, fixed assets, payroll, human resources, profit on the Internet, and taxation.
    Business Valuation Group BusValGroup-subscribe@topica.com 
    This discussion group is headed by Randy Schostag [RSchostag@BUSVALGROUP.COM

    Many useful accounting sites (scroll down) --- http://www.iasplus.com/links/links.htm


    Bob Jensen's Sort-of Blogs --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/JensenBlogs.htm
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called New Bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/bookurl.htm
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Tidbits --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/TidbitsDirectory.htm
    Current and past editions of my newsletter called Fraud Updates --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudUpdates.htm

    Some Accounting History Sites

    Bob Jensen's Accounting History in a Nutshell and Links --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/theory01.htm#AccountingHistory

    Accounting History Libraries at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) --- http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/accountancy/libraries.html
    The above libraries include international accounting history.
    The above libraries include film and video historical collections.

    MAAW Knowledge Portal for Management and Accounting --- http://maaw.info/

    Academy of Accounting Historians and the Accounting Historians Journal ---

    Sage Accounting History --- http://ach.sagepub.com/cgi/pdf_extract/11/3/269

    A nice timeline on the development of U.S. standards and the evolution of thinking about the income statement versus the balance sheet is provided at:
    "The Evolution of U.S. GAAP: The Political Forces Behind Professional Standards (1930-1973)," by Stephen A. Zeff, CPA Journal, January 2005 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/105/infocus/p18.htm
    Part II covering years 1974-2003 published in February 2005 --- http://www.nysscpa.org/cpajournal/2005/205/index.htm 

    A nice timeline of accounting history --- http://www.docstoc.com/docs/2187711/A-HISTORY-OF-ACCOUNTING

    From Texas A&M University
    Accounting History Outline --- http://acct.tamu.edu/giroux/history.html

    Bob Jensen's timeline of derivative financial instruments and hedge accounting ---

    History of Fraud in America --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/415wp/AmericanHistoryOfFraud.htm
    Also see http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Fraud.htm



    Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob) http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen
    190 Sunset Hill Road
    Sugar Hill, NH 03586
    Phone:  603-823-8482 
    Email:  rjensen@trinity.edu