Tidbits on January 5, 2010
Bob Jensen

Erika bringing in the mail in July

Now it's Bob's job to find the mail box and bring in the mail.


One of the things I miss about San Antonio is the Riverwalk in the Holiday Season
There are a million lights on the big cypress trees and elsewhere along the river banks
Dr. Wolff forwarded the pictures below as a reminder

Auntie Bev Getting a Repair Estimate

My cousin Mark Jensen from Minnesota, an expert on farming, spent several years in Africa helping Tumaini University conduct research for higher yield grain crops under changing climate conditions --- http://www.tumainiag.com/
Thank you for sharing Mark and Teri.
The research plot photos are at http://www.tumainiag.com/farms.html


Now in Another Tidbits Document
Political Quotations on January 5, 2010
To Accompany the January 3, 2010 edition of Tidbits

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

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


Tidbits on December 23, 2009
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

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

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
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 ---

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

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

The Carol Burnett Show anticipated what happened one morning at the home of Tiger Woods ---

A Virtual Tour of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College --- Click Here

Senator Max Baucus Drunk / Intoxicated on Senate Floor - Shouts Down Wicker ---
Baucus denies he was drunk because he was able to stand through the entire mush-mouthed rant against Republicans.

Video:  Canadian Banks are Insolvent and Broke --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8woOuDjqas&feature=player_embedded

Video:  The Lord's Prayer-Mormon Choir-Andrea Bocelli ---

Video Rap:  Keynes and Hayek Rap from PBS  ---
Also see http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/keynes-and-hayek-rap-from-pbs.html

"Video: Mark-to-market accounting – Accounting rules – Post-Crisis Reform and Fair Value Accounting," by Bob Pozen, ScienceStage.com, December 2009 --- Click Here
From a Harvard Business Review article.
Also see Simoleon Sense, December 30, 2009 --- http://www.simoleonsense.com/
Bob Jensen's threads about the bull being spread about by bankers and others (like Steve Forbes) who should know better ---

Found Intact Saturday Night Live Obama-Jintao Skit.--- http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/news-forum/index?more=2415159

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

Video:  The Lord's Prayer-Mormon Choir-Andrea Bocelli ---

Video:  TAP e Aeroporto de Lisboa ao rubro! (Rock Around the Clock) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWjZX57QQDY&feature=player_embedded

Venice Baroque: Thriving On Vivaldi --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121018016

Funk On A 45: D.C. Soul Music Rediscovered --- http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122080915

The Official Dolly Parton YouTube --- http://www.youtube.com/user/dollypartonmusic?blend=1&ob=4

Music from NPR at the close of 2009


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

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

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

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

Photographs and Art

The Year 2009 in Pictures from The New York Times --- http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/weekinreview/27yip2.html?_r=1&hpw


2009 World Open Chess Tournament --- http://chesstournamentservices.com/cca/2009/07/world-open-2009-photographs/

Some Flickr Photographs --- http://www.flickr.com/photos/brizo_the_scot/collections/72157618396942289/

Art and Art History --- http://www.trinity.edu/mkearl/arthist.html 

Villa Cicogna Mozzoni (art history) --- http://www.villacicognamozzoni.it/sito/index.php 

Caribbean Art and Visual Culture --- http://scholar.library.miami.edu/caribbeanvisual/ 

Ed Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonn? --- http://www.edruscha.com/ 

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

"Why Students Don't Like Poetry," by Mark Bauerlein, Chronicle of Higher Education's Chronicle Review, April 19, 2009 ---

No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century --- http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub142/pub142.pdf

Louis Braille: His Legacy and Influence on the blind [Flash Player] http://myloc.gov/Exhibitions/braille/Pages/Default.aspx

Books in Depth --- http://www.booksindepth.com/period.html

storySouth (showcases top fiction) --- http://www.storysouth.com/

Mickle Street Review: An Electronic Journal of Whitman and American Studies [iTunes] http://micklestreet.rutgers.edu/index.htm

New York Review of Books ---

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

World Wide Words --- http://www.worldwidewords.org/nl/lfsh.htm

101 Best Websites for Writers --- http://www.writersdigest.com/101sites/2005_index.asp


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 January 5, 2010
To Accompany the January 3, 2010 edition of Tidbits

Apple Tablet Computer Due in March 2010

"The Exhaustive Guide to Apple Tablet Rumors," Gizmodo --- http://gizmodo.com/5434566/the-exhaustive-guide-to-apple-tablet-rumors
Link forwarded by Richard Campbell

Amazon claims sales of e-books surpassed sales of physical books
That's somewhat amazing since many physical books (especially popular textbooks) are not yet available as e-books

"Amazon's Kindle Reader cuts book shipping:  Book sales in the United States surged during the holiday season, but in a dramatic shift for the shipping world, retailer Amazon.com said this week sales of e-books for the first time surpassed sales of physical books," Journal of Commerce, December 2009 ---

Book sales in the United States surged during the holiday season, but in a dramatic shift for the shipping world, retailer Amazon.com said this week sales of e-books for the first time surpassed sales of physical books.

Amazon’s peak in e-book sales occurred on Christmas day as gift recipients used their new Kindle reading devices to make purchases from among the 390,000 books available in Amazon’s Kindle Store.

The Kindle electronic reader, which allows users to download books and other media from a variety of sources, was “the most gifted item ever in our history,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Overall retail spending the first of November through Dec. 24 increased 3.6 percent compared with last year, according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse survey, which tracks cash as well as credit purchases. The online portion of sales jumped 15.5 percent compared with last year to account for 10 percent of all retail sales, the survey said.

Another retailer industry watcher said online spending in the United States grew 10 percent in November over a year ago. The comScore research firm said online sales reached $12.3 billion in November, and the group said visits to the Web site of Wal-Mart grew 62 percent and visits to the Target site grew 43 percent over last year.

Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ebooks.htm

Top Scientific Breakthroughs of 2009 ---


Poor Elijah's 2010 Education Wish List. --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-01-01-10.htm

Google Chrome --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Chrome

Google Chrome Browser Blues
"Google's Chrome OS Cited as Likely Hacker Vehicle:  The HTML 5 technology intended to power Google's forthcoming computer operating system can access a PC online or off, warns security vendor McAfee," by Aaron Ricadela, Business Week, December 29, 2009 ---

Google's computer operating system, due to be released next year, may rank among software most targeted by hackers in 2010, according to a Dec. 29 report from the computer security company McAfee (MFE).

The Web-based operating system, dubbed Chrome, relies on a technology known as HTML 5 that's designed to help Web applications behave like PC software. Developers use HTML 5 language to ensure that software delivers fast response times and stores information that users can access even when they're not connected to the Internet.

Yet because sites written with HTML 5 can directly access a user's PC online or off, they may provide a rich target for cyber attacks, McAfee said in its "2010 Threat Predictions."

The popularity of Google's (GOOG) software, which includes a collaboration program, business applications that compete with Microsoft's Office suite, and other products, makes the company's Web sites alluring to hackers who hope to infect computers with malware that can spread spam or pilfer information, says Dave Marcus, director of security research at McAfee. "When a technology is widely used and adopted, the bad guys will latch onto it before the good guys do," he says. "Developers need to think about how [HTML 5] is going to be abused."

Continued in article

Facebook, Twitter to face more sophisticated attacks: McAfee ---

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

"2010: The Year of the Roth Conversion?" by Rich Arzaga, Journal of Accountancy, January 2010 ---

This year will be the Year of the Tiger, according to Chinese custom, but it also could be remembered by investors as the Year of the Roth Conversion, a decision that can have a large impact on investors’ ability to build wealth during their lifetime and preserve wealth for beneficiaries.


Prior to 2010, anyone (except married taxpayers filing separately) with an annual adjusted gross income (AGI) of no greater than $100,000 could convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The AGI cap has prevented higher-income earners, a class of savers that might have benefited most from this strategy, from participating. However, under the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (TIPRA) these previously ineligible taxpayers will be eligible to participate starting this year (including married but separate filers). In fact, there is an incentive to take action in 2010: Everyone who converts this year may defer and spread income recognition from the conversion over tax years 2011 and 2012. A conversion in 2010 thus could reduce the marginal tax rate and total taxes due on what otherwise would be a larger single-year distribution. The 10% penalty tax otherwise imposed on early or excess distributions from an IRA does not apply. A conversion could be an attractive retirement income and estate planning strategy for wealthy individuals and high-income earners who seek to reduce taxes later in life and transfer more wealth to beneficiaries tax-free. But like any other approach to income and taxes, this decision is eventually based on a set of sustainable assumptions and specific objectives of the taxpayer.



A chief advantage of a Roth IRA is that it has more flexible rules concerning distributions. Also, taxpayers who are otherwise unable to contribute to a traditional IRA can take advantage of a Roth IRA’s appreciation free from tax on gains. Other advantages of a Roth IRA include:




Some taxpayers may benefit more than others from converting to a Roth IRA. Assuming there are no cash flow issues, risk management gaps, other tax planning considerations that need to be weighed against the benefit of a conversion, advance tax issues at play, or adverse legislative changes, taxpayers who stand to benefit the most are those who:


Continued in article

Jensen Comment
In my opinion, most investors, except for very wealthy investors, should not convert to Roth IRAs. Professor Elliott Kamlet calls this a Government Ponzi Scheme.

Bob Jensen's taxation helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/BookBob1.htm#010304Taxation

"'A Race to the Bottom': Assigning Responsibility for the Financial Crisis," Knowledge@wharton,  December 9, 2009 ---

The global financial meltdown has been marked by shortages -- of oversight, due diligence, moral fortitude and common sense. Today, approximately two years after the housing bubble burst and world stock markets collapsed, possibly the only surplus left from the crisis is that of finger pointing and blame.

"The question of blame has been one that's been on a lot of people's minds," said Wharton Dean Thomas S. Robertson, introducing a panel discussion this week titled, "Responsibility and the Financial Crisis of 2008." Attempts to pinpoint who or what caused the global financial crisis usually results in a long list of suspects: The Federal Reserve, government regulators, credit rating agencies, the Securities and Exchange Commission, subprime lenders and borrowers, and even business schools have found themselves at the end of an accusing finger. "Whether they bear some responsibility or not," Robertson said, "We have an obligation to immerse ourselves in the question, 'Where do we go from here?'"

The panel of professors from Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania spread the responsibility around. The possible culprits they identified ranged from global capital imbalances to outdated regulatory structures. Some found fault with the private sector and greed on Wall Street, while others argued that the government had not been held fully accountable for its failures. Perhaps the only common ground was a belief that there are no simple solutions. Oversimplification of complex problems is dangerous, some warned, and in itself might have contributed to the crisis.

According to Wharton finance professor Franklin Allenthere hasn't been enough focus on the real causes of the financial crisis, which he traces to loose monetary policy and global capital imbalances. "The public sector has done a very successful job of pushing blame to the private sector," he said. "So for example, there's a lot of debate about consumer protection, but not the Federal Reserve.... There is little talk of reform of the global financial system.",

The immediate cause of the crisis was clearly the housing bubble, Allen said. From 1890 to 1996, real housing prices rose 27%, whereas between 1996 and 2006, they rose 92%. "That's more than three times as much. And that's the problem." The more important question is what caused the bubble. In Allen's view, subprime mortgages were not to blame, because other countries without subprime mortgages also suffered housing bubbles. Rather, the problem was that the Fed kept interest rates too low for too long, and imbalances in global capital flows allowed people to borrow large amounts at low rates. "It became a very attractive arbitrage to borrow and buy houses," Allen said.

He traces the global imbalances back to the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 and the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Since Bretton Woods smoothed financial conflict after World War II, the world's financial system has been dominated by the United States and Europe. As a result, Asia had little representation at the International Monetary Fund when its financial crisis unfolded in 1997. Unable to get the loans they needed during the crisis, Asian countries subsequently piled up safety stashes of $4 trillion in foreign reserves, money that ended up being invested in U.S. debt and contributing to the housing disaster.

Continued in article

The True Causes of the Economic Meltdown of 2008

"The 'Global Imbalances' Myth:  Different countries have always played different roles in the world economy," by Zachary Karabell, The Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2009 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703499404574563760018636586.html

As the economic crisis has eased in recent months, a questionable international consensus has emerged: The global economy needs to be rebalanced. "We cannot follow the same policies that led to such imbalanced growth," President Barack Obama said during his Asia trip last month. European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet declared in September that "imbalances have been at the roots of the present difficulties. If we don't correct them, we'll have the recipe for the next major crisis."

These global "imbalances" supposedly include excessive American consumption, too much trade flowing from Asia to the West and not enough from the U.S. to Asia, and too much saving combined with insufficient spending by Chinese consumers. But what if the whole notion of global imbalances is a myth, and that policies to reverse them only make things worse?

The blunt fact is that at no point in the past century has there been anything resembling a global economic equilibrium.

Consider the heyday of the "American century" after World War II, when Western European nations were ravaged by war, and the Soviet Union and its new satellites slowly rebuilding. In 1945, the U.S. accounted for more than 40% of global GDP and the preponderance of global manufacturing. The country was so dominant it was able to spend the equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars to regenerate the economies of Western Europe via the Marshall Plan, and also of Japan during a seven year military occupation. By the late 1950s, 43 of the world's 50 largest companies were American.

The 1970s were hardly balanced—not with the end of the gold standard, the oil shocks and the 1973 Arab oil embargo, inflation and stagflation, which spread from the U.S. through Latin America and into Europe.

The 1990s were equally unbalanced. The U.S. consumed and absorbed much of the available global capital in its red-hot equity market. And with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the economic doldrums of Germany and Japan, the American consumer assumed an ever-more central position in the world. The innovations of the New Economy also gave rise to a stock-market mania and overshadowed the debt crises of South America and the currency implosion of South Asia—all of which were aggravated by the concentration of capital in the U.S. and the paucity of it in the developing world. When the tech bubble burst in 2000, it had little to do with these global dynamics and everything to do with a glut of telecommunication equipment in the U.S., and stock-market exuberance gone wild.

When officials and economists today speak of correcting global imbalances, it is unclear what benchmark they have in mind.

So-called excessive American consumption, East-West trade flows, Chinese savings and the like were not responsible for the recent crisis. That was instead triggered by massive misplaced bets on the U.S. housing market and trillions of dollars of derivatives built upon that flimsy foundation.

Yes, many have woven a compelling narrative of how the relationship between China and the U.S.—distorted by China's fixed and nonconvertible currency on the one hand and America's debt-fueled appetites on the other—led to massive flows of capital out of the U.S. But that money flowed right back into the U.S. in the form of Chinese purchases of Treasury bonds, mortgage-backed securities and other dollar-denominated assets, which then flowed into our banking system, which then made its way back to U.S. business and to the Treasury, some of which then circulated back into China.

What some see as imbalances can also be described as a system of capital and goods in constant motion. Chinese reserves and U.S. government debt didn't trigger the meltdown, nor did U.S. consumers cause the meltdown. It wasn't even U.S. consumer debt—after all, more than 90% of Americans have remained current on their credit cards and their mortgages. The real (and much messier) cause of the meltdown was a potent brew of financial innovation, electronic and instantaneous flow of capital, greed on the part of banks and investors world-wide, against a backdrop of an economic fusion between China and the U.S. that kept interest rates low and inflation lower.

Today's consensus sounds very much like the orthodoxy of yesteryear—let each nation be its own system in equilibrium, interacting with other systems to create one mega-balanced system. Yet such balance has only existed in theory and only ever will.

Indeed, if the crisis of the past year teaches us anything it should be that forcing reality to conform to abstract theory is a sure recipe for disaster. Forced to act with expediency in the moment, the central banks and governments of the world did a surprisingly good job of triage during the economic emergency that swept the globe. The eclectic demands of a crisis outweighed models and theories, and that was a good thing.

Now that the crisis has eased, the greatest danger is that our collective belief in how the world should work drowns out the creative nimbleness of policy that adapts to the world as it is actually working. Policies that might stem from the global imbalances consensus include American government incentives to increase domestic savings. This sounds good, but not if it leads to underinvestment in innovation, education and infrastructure.

It could also lead Chinese officials to attempt to shift away from exports and state spending. Over the long term this might be beneficial, but it could wreak havoc on domestic Chinese growth and global supply chains if it is done under the erroneous belief that urgent action is required. For its part, the European Union rightly claims that it has not been a primary cause of the perceived imbalances. But its leaders have been central to pushing that thesis and urging China and the U.S. to redress them.

Thankfully, there is less risk of the Chinese government upsetting their apple cart than there is of the American government acting precipitously.

Mr. Karabell is president of River Twice Research and the author, most recently, of "Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy" (Simon & Schuster, 2009).

Replies, The Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2010 ---

Zachary Karabell rightly decries the development of a false thesis concerning the need for a "rebalancing" of global economic activity ("The 'Global Imbalances' Myth," op-ed, Dec. 21). With respect to the origins of the current downturn, however, he has joined the Obama administration in buying into the false conventional wisdom that our recent crisis was "triggered by massive misplaced bets on the U.S. housing market and trillions of dollars of [innovative] derivatives" based on such malinvestment; as well as "electronic and instantaneous" capital flows; "greed on the part of banks and investors world-wide"; and an "economic fusion between China and the U.S. that kept interest rates low and inflation lower."

Not once does Mr. Karabell mention the core root of all of these recent phenomena: the Federal Reserve's extreme monetary ease for most of this decade. Loose money for a long period falsified the term structure of interest rates, leading to distorted patterns of capital investment and resource allocation. Further, asset values became distorted across the globe, as other nations acted in concert with the Fed, multiplying global investment and trade errors and imbalances.

This continued monetary pumping also led to the development of complex hedging instruments in the form of derivative securities, as investors sought to protect themselves from asset values changing primarily due to volatility in monetary relations. Increasing amounts of credit in the banking system always generate higher leverage on corporate balance sheets, thus intensifying the eventual correction.

The inability of Mr. Karabell and President Obama to apprehend the origins of the "Great Recession" of 2008 in turn leads to convoluted policy recommendations. Mr. Karabell states, for example, that increased savings in the U.S., an unambiguously good thing, might nonetheless lead to "underinvestment in innovation, education and infrastructure." Since when did increased saving lead to underinvestment?

But Mr. Obama agrees, saying we will "spend our way out of this recession." Mr. Karabell further states that China should continue its state spending binge so as not to disrupt domestic growth in China or global supply chains; one can only wonder what he thought of the inverse relationship between state spending and economic growth in, say, Japan, post-1990.

Mark S. Wilser
Irvine, Calif.

Mr. Karabell misses an opportunity to explain the true cause of our most recent crisis: The real reason for our crisis is that the world lacks a true anchor of value. A system designed around an anchor of value features natural self-correcting mechanisms. This currently does not exist.

Mr. Karabell says, "The blunt fact is that at no point in the past century has there been anything resembling a global economic equilibrium." In fact, the U.S. current account balance spent decades hovering around zero (i.e., balanced) prior to turning sharply negative in the early 1980s.

Earlier in the century, while on the gold standard, a large current account deficit would be met with a large outflow of gold, which would act as a tightening on the banking system and would have kept unrestrained growth in credit and consumer spending in check. It would not have been possible to run the current account deficit the U.S. ran in the past 20 years if there were an anchor of value. Without the unrestrained credit growth that the U.S. experienced, the crisis would not have happened.

The values of the stock market, corporate and government debt markets, commodities and currencies fluctuate with the sentiment of market participants whose history with regards to stability is bipolar at best. The resulting high volatility in oil price, its impact on our current account, the dollar and credit markets all emanate from this unanchored system. This volatility can serve as a trigger to financial instability when the underlying imbalances get precarious enough.

To be clear, a system with a global anchor does not mean that there will not be high volatility. When we were on the gold standard we experienced many booms and busts but arguably they were kept in check since the underlying imbalances were never allowed to get so large as to threaten the whole system.

Kenneth Bauso, C.F.A.

Bob Jensen's threads on the causes of the economic meltdown are at

Jensen Comment
If I had to choose the major culprit, I would blame lousy internal controls on granting loans knowingly to borrowers who had almost no chance of repaying them. Ostensibly this was based on the trend line that real estate values on average never declined. But more importantly was the moral hazard of people willing to screw their own companies (banks and other mortgage brokering companies), their professional ethics (real estate appraisers), and Wall Street, their mandates (credit rating agencies and auditors) in order to collect their fees and dump the poison loans on third parties like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack who had, in many instances, pressures from Congress to buy up loans of poor people unlikely to repay those loans.

The above article finds blame in the other cracks in the system that exacerbated the basic problem of moral hazard in Main Street mortgage lending.

It was a moral hazard system of fees that blew up the biggest bubble in history before bursting. This was followed by the Greatest Swindle in the History of the World --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm#Bailout

My threads on this entire mess are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/2008Bailout.htm

The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another.
J. Frank Dobie as quoted by Mark Shapiro at --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-12-26-09.htm

Rethinking Tenure, Dissertations, and Scholarship --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HigherEdControversies.htm#MLA

Video:  Strong ARM of Mortgage Bubble is Building to Burst: 
"Second Financial Economic Crash Coming - Huge & Soon
," CBS Sixty Minutes --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKlBJavw_X4 

Trinity University graduate called a "Baby Buffett" ---

"Lab Tested: 22 Portable External Hard Drives," PC World Staff via The Washington Post, December 24, 2009 ---

Bob Jensen's technology bookmarks --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob4.htm

"Black Education," by Walter E. Williams (a black economics professor), Townhall, December 23, 2009 ---

Detroit's (predominantly black) public schools are the worst in the nation and it takes some doing to be worse than Washington, D.C. Only 3 percent of Detroit's fourth-graders scored proficient on the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) test, sometimes called "The Nation's Report Card." Twenty-eight percent scored basic and 69 percent below basic. "Below basic" is the NAEP category when students are unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at their grade level. It's the same story for Detroit's eighth-graders. Four percent scored proficient, 18 percent basic and 77 percent below basic.

Michael Casserly, executive director of the D.C.-based Council on Great City Schools, in an article appearing in Crain's Detroit Business, (12/8/09) titled, "Detroit's Public Schools Post Worst Scores on Record in National Assessment," said, "There is no jurisdiction of any kind, at any level, at any time in the 30-year history of NAEP that has ever registered such low numbers." The academic performance of black students in other large cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles is not much better than Detroit and Washington.

What's to be done about this tragic state of black education? The education establishment and politicians tell us that we need to spend more for higher teacher pay and smaller class size. The fact of business is higher teacher salaries and smaller class sizes mean little or nothing in terms of academic achievement. Washington, D.C., for example spends over $15,000 per student, has class sizes smaller than the nation's average, and with an average annual salary of $61,195, its teachers are the most highly paid in the nation.

What about role models? Standard psychobabble asserts a positive relationship between the race of teachers and administrators and student performance. That's nonsense. Black academic performance is the worst in the very cities where large percentages of teachers and administrators are black, and often the school superintendent is black, the mayor is black, most of the city council is black and very often the chief of police is black.

Black people have accepted hare-brained ideas that have made large percentages of black youngsters virtually useless in an increasingly technological economy. This destruction will continue until the day comes when black people are willing to turn their backs on liberals and the education establishment's agenda and confront issues that are both embarrassing and uncomfortable. To a lesser extent, this also applies to whites because the educational performance of many white kids is nothing to write home about; it's just not the disaster that black education is.

Many black students are alien and hostile to the education process. They have parents with little interest in their education. These students not only sabotage the education process, but make schools unsafe as well. These students should not be permitted to destroy the education chances of others. They should be removed or those students who want to learn should be provided with a mechanism to go to another school.

Another issue deemed too delicate to discuss is the overall quality of people teaching our children. Students who have chosen education as their major have the lowest SAT scores of any other major. Students who have an education degree earn lower scores than any other major on graduate school admission tests such as the GRE, MCAT or LSAT. Schools of education, either graduate or undergraduate, represent the academic slums of most any university. They are home to the least able students and professors. Schools of education should be shut down.

Yet another issue is the academic fraud committed by teachers and administrators. After all, what is it when a student is granted a diploma certifying a 12th grade level of achievement when in fact he can't perform at the sixth- or seventh-grade level?

Prospects for improvement in black education are not likely given the cozy relationship between black politicians, civil rights organizations and teacher unions.

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of More Liberty Means Less Government: Our Founders Knew This Well.

Bob Jensen’s threads on higher education controversies are at

If your paper was rejected for publication, call the FBI

"When authors attack"  Candace Sams's decision to report bad Amazon reviewers to the FBI is further proof why it's best not to respond publicly to your critics," by Allison Flood, The Guardian, December 23, 2009 ---

Candace Sams's decision to report bad Amazon reviewers to the FBI is further proof why it's best not to respond publicly to your critics.

This year has seen its fair share of authors kicking off about poor reviews, from Alice Hoffman, who called a Boston Globe critic a "moron" on Twitter following a negative review of her novel The Story Sisters, to Alain de Botton, who posted an excoriating comment on a reviewer's blog after a poor write-up for The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work in the New York Times. But the latest upset, played out on the pages of Amazon, is possibly the weirdest.

Not only does it centre on the dire-sounding romance novel, Electra Galaxy's Mr Interstellar Feller (product description: "When a handsome yet stuffy intergalactic cop is forced to enter the Electra Galaxy's Mr Interstellar Feller competition, and is partnered with an Earth cop as his manager and overseer, hilarity and romance ensue"), but it takes the bizarro quotient to new levels.

After Amazon reviewer LB Taylor gave the novel one star, calling it "a sad excuse for romance, mystery, and humor", she found herself attacked online by one NiteflyrOne – shortly outed by commentors as Candace Sams, author of the novel. With the discussion numbering almost 400 posts, Sams has now deleted her posts. Fortunately, they've been saved for posterity by a host of sites.

"Authors," she wrote, "rarely have full editorial control; rarely do they have even 'scant' control over their covers or the language used in dialogue or even sequencing of scenes: love scenes, kissing scenes, scenes of violence, etc. These are ultimately controlled by editorial staff…very rarely the author alone." Oh I see – blame the editor.

And later, in response to another (also negative) review: "It might behoove them to understand that all romances will not read they way they think they should; romances should 'not' be cookie-cutters of one another. This has been the biggest complaint about romance on the whole - that they all sound alike. Apparently 'some' reviewers 'want' them to sound alike. When they don't, they aren't able to handle the material."

She then tells the thread that she's reporting naysayers to the FBI.

This is wonderfully batty stuff – on a par, I'd say, with Anne Rice's 2004 outburst on Amazon when she told negative reviewers they were "interrogating this text from the wrong perspective". "Your stupid, arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander," she wrote. "You have used the site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies."

And I have to say, while I agree with Neil Gaiman's point that the Sams affair is "a horrible car crash [and] if any of you are ever tempted to respond to bad reviews or internet trolls etc, it's a salutary reminder of why some things are better written in anger and deleted in the morning", I find angry author responses strangely compelling. I like seeing flashes of the person behind the book, and while responding may do the author's reputation no good at all – turning the other cheek being the best way to deal with negative reviews - I can see why they might do it anyway. Yes, it's a car crash, but I can't stop rubber-necking

Jensen Comment
I've more suspicious of authors and/or publishers planting phony raving reviews. There's a lot of moral hazard here.

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at

The sad state of governmental accounting and accountability -
William D. Eggers is the Global Director of Deloitte's Public Sector Research Program. John O'Leary is a Research Fellow at the Ash Institute of the Harvard Kennedy School. Their new book is
If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government (Harvard Business Press, 2009).

"Why the Success of "Obama Care" Could Be Riskier Than Failure," by William D. Eggers and John O'Leary, Harvard Business School Blog, December 23, 2009 --- http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2009/12/why_the_success_of_obama_care.html?cm_mmc=npv-_-DAILY_ALERT-_-AWEBER-_-DATE

When President Obama launched his health reform effort, more than anything he wanted to avoid the mistakes of the 1993-1994 attempt at health care reform. His advisors have said repeatedly over these past months that they want something passed.

Now it appears they will get their wish. It's certainly true that one way "Obama Care" could fail — the one everybody has been worrying about — is by never being passed into law. Another way it can fail, however, is if a poorly designed bill passes and then wreaks havoc during implementation. Indeed, this sort of design and execution failure could do greater lasting damage to the goals of health care reform than mere failure to pass a bill.

The Obama administration, and all reform-minded public agencies and organizations, would do well to avoid some of the mistakes of 2004, when an all-Republican Congress and White House rammed through a Medicare prescription drug benefit. The messy, ill-considered implementation of what in essence was a massive giveaway program generated huge initial ill-will among seniors, the very group the benefit was designed to serve.

Ultimately, the GOP's Medicare prescription drug reform stands as a model for achieving short-term legislative success that creates an implementation nightmare. In more general terms, those pushing for change saw official approval as the finish line rather than, more accurately, as the starting line.

Here are some of the key risks that the 2004 Congress should have had in mind in their push to get Medicare reform done — and which should be front-of-mind for change-leaders now:

The risk of ramming it through. The process by which Medicare Part D became legislative reality wasn't pretty. It involved low-balled cost estimates, an unprecedented all-night vote, and high-pressure tactics from Republicans to sway votes that cost Tom DeLay an ethics rebuke. With all the high-stakes political gamesmanship, any actual review of the proposed policy for "implementability" was minimal to non-existent. A related lesson as the Democrats now drive health care and other reforms through Congress: political memory rarely fades. Cut-throat tactics lead inexorably to future in-kind retribution. Public leaders must stop the vicious cycle in which avenging political battle scars trumps practical lessons learned from prior missteps of execution.

Forgetting who you're designing the reform for. Seniors were totally confused by their new "benefit." "This whole program is so complicated that I've stayed awake thinking, 'How can a brain come up with anything like this?'" lamented a seventy-nine-year old, retired business manager. Americans do not normally lie awake pondering the design of a federal program. But the Medicare prescription drug program was something special. "I have a PhD, and it's too complicated to suit me," said a seventy-three-year old retired, chemist.

Giving the nation's elderly voters apoplexy was not what Republicans had intended. But lawmakers had designed the legislation primarily to curry favor with other "stakeholders" — big pharmaceutical firms, health plans, employers, rural hospitals, and senior advocates such as the AARP — instead of designing it to work in the real world for the "end consumer" of the reform, i.e. everyday senior citizens.

The number of plans the typical senior had to sort through depended on where he or she lived. In Colorado, retirees faced a choice of 55 plans from 24 companies. Residents of Pennsylvania selected from 66 plans.

"The program is so poorly designed and is creating so much confusion that it's having a negative effect on most beneficiaries," said one pharmacist. "It's making people cynical about the whole process — the new program, the government's help."

Unrealistic timeline and scale. "No company would ever launch countrywide a new product to 40 million people all at once," explained Kathleen Harrington, the Bush political appointee at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services who led the launch of Medicare Part D. "No one would ever say that you have to get all of the platforms, all of the systems developed for this and working within six months." Nobody except Congress, who in fact tried to do this, giving scant consideration to implementation challenges and the inherent difficulty in changing a well-established system.

The launch from hell. The computer system cobbled together to support the new benefit crashed the very first day coverage took effect. System errors slapped seniors with excessive charges or denied them their drugs altogether. Computer glitches generated calls to the telephone hotlines, which quickly became overloaded.

While eventually the program was turned around thanks to some heroic efforts by senior federal executives, the days and weeks following the January 2006 opening of benefit enrollment were a disaster — caused primarily by a dysfunctional design process and lack of an implementation mindset.

Lessons learned. Both Medicare Part D, as well as what we have seen of the current, huge effort toward health care reform, highlight why government has such a hard time dealing with complex problems. But the basic truth is simple: ultimately, to be successful, a health reform bill has to do two things — it has to pass through Congress, and it has to actually work in the real world.

These two considerations often work against each other. For political reasons, artificial deadlines are introduced. To appease interest groups, regulations are altered, or goodies buried in the bill. These measures are almost always taken to secure passage, but with little (or not enough) thought given to how they might hinder implementation.

Given the problems that arose in the comparatively simple launch of a new drug benefit to seniors, policymakers should be examining every risk inherent in implementing any serious overhaul of one-seventh of our economy. The legislative process needs to produce health care reform that can work in the real world or the backlash from a failed implementation will be furious.

William D. Eggers is the Global Director of Deloitte's Public Sector Research Program. John O'Leary is a Research Fellow at the Ash Institute of the Harvard Kennedy School. Their new book is If We Can Put a Man on the Moon: Getting Big Things Done in Government (Harvard Business Press, 2009).

Also see:

David Walker --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_M._Walker_(U.S._Comptroller_General)

Niall Ferguson --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niall_Ferguson

The sad state of governmental accounting and accountability ---

Bob Jensen's threads on health care are at

"Should the Government Use Its Monopsony Power to Reduce the Price of Drugs?"
by Richard Posner with a reply from Nobel Laureate Gary Becker
The Becker-Posner Blog, December 27, 2009 --- Click Here

When should you seek a second audit opinion for your college?

Probably when budgets call for dropping academic concentrations or entire programs?

"Second Opinion," by Jack Stripling, Inside Higher Ed, December 23, 2009 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/12/23/audit 

Forget “Trust, but verify.” A more apt phrase to describe the mood at some colleges today would be “Don’t trust, and challenge.”

Saying they're unconvinced by bleak financial reports produced by university business chiefs, increasingly skeptical students and faculty are outsourcing number crunching to independent auditors, often with the hope of exposing hidden pots of money in cavernous college coffers.

Administrators say we’re broke? That’s not what our accountant tells us. Such is the sentiment at the University of Maine, where a recently completed audit challenges the notion that the university is in dire straits and will have to cut positions. Drawing primarily upon audited financial statements, an Eastern Michigan University accounting professor issued a student- and faculty-commissioned report last week that found the Maine system’s unrestricted net assets grew to $84 million in 2009, up from about $50 million in 2005. The findings contradict administrators’ gloomy public statements about the fiscal situation at the system, according to Howard Bunsis, who wrote the report. The University of Southern Maine campus, which was given its own analysis in Bunsis's audit, sustained a $2.7 million budget reduction last year, prompting controversial plans to cut German studies, among other measures.

“I think that administrators simply are not telling the truth. It’s that simple,” Bunsis said. “They are grossly overestimating the financial problems of their universities, and what’s most harmful is that they are claiming these institutions are in financial trouble when they are not. I think students and faculty all over the country should be rising up against administrators who are using the economic crisis to make cuts.”

While the report’s conclusions have been challenged by system officials, faculty say it has given them ammunition in the budget debate.

Bunsis, chair of the Collective Bargaining Congress for the American Association of University Professors, has conducted a number of budget analyses in recent years. He says he will be paid $1,000 for his Maine report.

“I’m not doing this to get rich, and I’m not getting rich,” he said. “I’m doing this because I believe in higher education.”

Bunsis, who holds a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Chicago, is a non-practicing certified public accountant and lawyer. Credentialed or not, however, Maine system officials have taken issue with his work, saying he classified restricted funds as unrestricted, while glossing over years of deficits in unrestricted dollars at Southern Maine.

“What you see is an attempt to simplify what is not really simple at all, in order to suggest that you can have what you want, which is not to have your program cut or get pay raises in a difficult financial environment,” said Rebecca Wyke, vice chancellor for finance at the Maine system.

The back and forth between Wyke and Bunsis is indicative of budget debates now happening across the country, where faculty and administrators frequently look at the same numbers and see very different things. Given those differing views, it’s no surprise faculty want their own financial analysts, according to Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, which is affiliated with the National Education Association, the AAUP and Service Employees International Union.

The California Faculty Association has commissioned AAUP officials for a number of financial reports on its campuses, and recently called on the state attorney general to investigate allegations of financial mismanagement at university-supporting foundations.

“Really what this is, to be frank with you, is a symptom of the complete lack of transparency systemwide and locally on the campuses,” she said. “And a relatively recent wrinkle is the growing proliferation of funding coming from foundations that are absolutely not transparent because they are private entities.”

In an apparent response to the association’s concerns, Attorney General Jerry Brown announced this month that he planned to audit University Enterprises Inc., Sacramento State’s non-profit provider of auxiliary services.

When administrators are pressed to defend cuts even at times when they're constructing buildings or engaging in other expensive activities, they frequently note that much of the money that comes into university coffers is designated for specific purposes and can't be spent on just anything. Faculty don’t dispute that there are some funds that are truly restricted, including certain grants and donations, Taiz said. What an independent analysis often shows, however, is that funds that are designated as “restricted” by administrators have merely been earmarked for a specific priority that may or may not have the backing of faculty during a budget crisis, Taiz said.

“The more you accept [administrators’] explanations of things, you really are put in a box,” said Taiz, a history professor at California State University at Los Angeles. “You can’t debate because they’ll say ‘Oh that [money is] restricted; it’s out of our hands.’ I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that – ‘It can’t be helped’ – as if the gods were deciding.”

Matters of Trust

The very nature of faculty-commissioned audits suggests an erosion of trust during difficult economic times. But Susan Menditto, director of accounting policy for the National Association of College and University Business Officers, said she’s heard plenty of stories lately about fiscal officers working hard to translate complex financial information to the campus community.

“I think there in general is a lot of effort going on on campus to kind of defog the financial statements and relate what’s happening,” she said.

Menditto concedes that she might be less likely to hear an unpleasant story about budgetary obfuscation than one about effective transparency. On the other hand, there are potential problems with the work of outside auditors, Menditto said. While not commenting on any individual audits that she hasn’t had the opportunity to review, Menditto questioned whether outside analysts were working with the same complete set of facts chief budget officers typically employ.

“You may not get a sense of expenditures on the immediate horizon necessarily when you look at the financial statements,” she said. “You don’t necessarily have access to the five year plan. They are complex institutions.”

There is some dispute, however, about whether the nuance of budgetary matters that administrators often cite merely obscures the true fiscal picture.

“They’ll say things like ‘Well, we’ve designated that money for something else.’ That’s another one of these kind of misnomers,” said Rudy Fichtenbaum, a professor of economics at Wright State University who has conducted numerous independent audits for the AAUP. “A designation is a priority. It’s a decision they’re making, and 99 percent of the time that’s what this [auditing] is really about, a question for the university: What are your priorities? Generally speaking, in my experience, administrators don’t make a name for themselves by having their faculty be well paid. They put up buildings and start programs.”

Fitchbenbaum has contributed to audits of a number of AAUP chapters involved in collective bargaining, including Western Michigan University, the University of Toledo, the University of Akron, the University of Cincinnati and California State. During this period of economic turmoil, Fitchenbaum says he’s focused much of his work on university reserves.

“One of the points I’ve been making more recently is, well it’s a rainy day right now, let’s use some of that money instead of making these draconian cuts,” he said. “Otherwise, what’s the point in good times of socking away money?”

"Cruel Irony," Inside Higher Ed, by Jack Stripling, Inside Higher Ed, August 14, 2009 ---
Should Southern Mississippi drop its Economics Department?

Bob Jensen's threads on Our Compassless Campuses ---

Ernestine Has Got to Go Says AT&T
US telecom giant AT&T has asked US regulatory authorities to waive a requirement that it and other carriers maintain costly landline networks. AT&T, the oldest US telephone company, made the request in a filing last week with the Federal Communications Commission in which it also asked the FCC to set a "firm deadline" for phasing out wireline service. "The business model for legacy phone services is in a death spiral," AT&T said. "With an outdated product, falling revenues, and rising costs, the plain-old telephone service (POTS) business is unsustainable for the long run."
"AT&T wants out of landline business," Yahoo News, December 30, 2009 --- Click Here
Also see http://www.physorg.com/news181461484.html

Lily Tomlin's Ernestine

"The Marshmallow and the Cherry," by Edward Tenner, The Atlantic, December, 2009 ---

Earlier in the year Jonah Lehrer explained in the New Yorker how cool deferred gratification is and how we need to teach it to our kids, the younger the better. Now, in the New York Times, John Tierney suggests that it's really an insidious habit for grownups, sacrificing real enjoyment for the mirage of an even better future. Can everything good be bad for you?

Of course the respective sets of behavioral research described might be consistent. Children who master delaying pleasure become superior achievers and thus have the frequent flier balances that they are so counterproductively hoarding. The same kindergartners who in a famous experiment triumphantly resisted the urge to eat a marshmallow probably will morph into affluent adults who save bottles of vintage Champagne for occasions so special they may never take place.

One person at least long ago found the secret of combining the two ethics. The charismatic but workaholic advertising man
David Ogilvy, the subject of a recent biography, loved to tell a story of his own childhood when coaching his staff on client presentations:

When I was a boy, I always saved the cherry on my pudding for last. Then, one day, my sister stole it. From then on, I always ate the cherry first.

Jensen Common
This speaks in favor of increasing the dividend cash payout (yield) ratio --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dividend_yield

"Are Too Many Students Going to College?" Chronicle of Higher Education, November 8, 2009 ---

With student debt rising and more of those enrolled failing to graduate in four years, there is a growing sentiment that college may not be the best option for all students. At the same time, President Obama has called on every American to receive at least one year of higher education or vocational training. Behind the rhetoric lies disagreement over a series of issues: which students are most likely to succeed in college; what kind of college they should attend; whether the individual or society benefits more from postsecondary education; and whether college is worth the high cost and likely long-term debt. The Chronicle Review asked higher-education experts to weigh in.

Who should and shouldn't go to college?

Alison Wolf: Anyone who meets the entry criteria and is willing to pay the fees should be able to go. In one sense, that just passes the buck—politicians then have to decide how much subsidy they are willing to provide. But it shouldn't be up to them to decide how many people go, what they study, and why.

Charles Murray: It has been empirically demonstrated that doing well (B average or better) in a traditional college major in the arts and sciences requires levels of linguistic and logical/mathematical ability that only 10 to 15 percent of the nation's youth possess. That doesn't mean that only 10 to 15 percent should get more than a high-school education. It does mean that the four-year residential program leading to a B.A. is the wrong model for a large majority of young people.

Marty Nemko: All high-school students should receive a cost-benefit analysis of the various options suitable to their situations: four-year college, two-year degree program, short-term career-prep program, apprenticeship program, on-the-job training, self-employment, the military. Students with weak academic records should be informed that, of freshmen at "four year" colleges who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their high-school class, two-thirds won't graduate even if given eight and a half years. And that even if such students defy the odds, they will likely graduate with a low GPA and a major in low demand by employers. A college should not admit a student it believes would more wisely attend another institution or pursue a noncollege postsecondary option. Students' lives are at stake, not just enrollment targets.

Sandy Baum: Everyone should have the opportunity to continue his or her education after high school without finances' creating an insurmountable barrier. For individuals whose goal is a four-year degree, beginning at a four-year college is generally the most promising option. For others, different types of institutions may be more appropriate.

Daniel Yankelovich: In today's society and economy, virtually everyone who has the motivation and stamina should acquire some form of postsecondary education. That is a practical reality of today's economy.

Marcus A. Winters: In general, people benefit from education and should acquire as much as they can. Though there are many good reasons to do so, the best economic research suggests that the wage return for a year of college course work is more than enough to justify pursuing at least some higher education. That not all students have the skills necessary to keep up with college course work says more about the effectiveness of our K-12 education than about the cognitive ability of American students.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
I like the German system where becoming skilled in a trade (for which a college degree is not required) based upon years of study and experience leads to financial rewards and status that often exceeds what many college graduates attain.

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

Poor Elijah's 2010 Education Wish List. --- http://irascibleprofessor.com/comments-01-01-10.htm

"My Lazy American Students," by Kara Miller (Babson College), Boston Globe, December 21, 2009 --- Click Here

It was a student conference I hate.

“I’ll do better,’’ my student told me, leaning forward in his chair. “I know I’ve gotten behind this semester, but I’m going to turn things around. Would it be OK if I finished all my uncompleted work by Monday?’’

I sat silent for a moment. “Yes. But it’s important that you catch up completely this weekend, so that you’re not just perpetually behind.’’

A few weeks later, I would conduct a nearly identical conversation with two other students. And, again, there would be no tangible result: No make-up papers. No change in effort. No improvement in time management.

By the time students are in college, habits can be tough to change. If you’re used to playing video games like “Modern Warfare’’ or “Halo’’ all night, how do you fit in four hours of homework? Or rest up for class?

Teaching in college, especially one with a large international student population, has given me a stark - and unwelcome - illustration of how Americans’ work ethic often pales in comparison with their peers from overseas.

My “C,’’ “D,’’ and “F’’ students this semester are almost exclusively American, while my students from India, China, and Latin America have - despite language barriers - generally written solid papers, excelled on exams, and become valuable class participants.

One girl from Shanghai became a fixture at office hours, embraced our college writing center, and incessantly e-mailed me questions about her evolving papers. Her English is still mediocre: she frequently puts “the’’ everywhere (as in “the leader supported the feminism and the environmentalism’’) and confuses “his’’ and “her.’’ But that didn’t stop her from doing rewrite after rewrite, tirelessly trying to improve both structure and grammar.

Chinese undergraduates have consistently impressed me with their work ethic, though I have seen similar habits in students from India, Thailand, Brazil, and Venezuela. Often, they’ve done little English-language writing in their home countries, and they frequently struggle to understand my lectures. But their respect for professors - and for knowledge itself - is palpable. The students listen intently to everything I say, whether in class or during office hours, and try to engage in the conversation.

Too many 18-year-old Americans, meanwhile, text one another under their desks (certain they are sly enough to go unnoticed), check e-mail, decline to take notes, and appear tired and disengaged.

Of course, it would be wrong to suggest that all American students are the same. I’ve taught many who were hardworking, talented, and deeply impressive. They listened intently, enriched class discussions, and never shied away from rewrites. At their best, American students marry knowledge and innovation, resulting in some astoundingly creative work.

But creativity without knowledge - a common phenomenon - is just not enough.

Too many American students simply lack the basics. In 2002, a National Geographic-Roper survey found that most 18- to 24-year-olds could not find Afghanistan, Iraq, or Japan on a map, ranking them behind counterparts in Sweden, Great Britain, Canada, Italy, Japan, France, and Germany. And in 2007 the American Institutes for Research reported that eighth graders in even our best-performing states - like Massachusetts - scored below peers in Singapore, South Korea, and Japan, while students in our worst-performing states - like Mississippi - were on par with eighth graders in Slovakia, Romania, and Russia.

We’ve got a knowledge gap, spurred by a work-ethic gap.

Which brings me to another grade-challenged student, who once sprinted across campus to talk to me.

“I’m really sorry I missed office hours,’’ he said. “Do you have time to talk?’’

“I have a meeting in a couple of minutes,’’ I said. “But you can walk with me.’’

“OK,’’ he said. “I really enjoy your class, and I think I can do better. How can I improve my grade?’’

I looked at him sideways. “Well, you might start with staying awake.’’

“Yeah,’’ he grinned, looking at his shoes. “Sorry about that. There’s always stuff going on in my dorm late at night. I have to learn to be better about time management.’’

Of course, he had it exactly right. Success is all about time management, and in a globalizing economy, Americans’ inability to stay focused and work hard could prove to be a serious problem.

Nowhere, sadly, is this clearer than in the classroom.

Kara Miller teaches rhetoric and history at Babson College.


December 24, 2009 reply from Bob Jensen

I agree entirely Jagdish. Most foreign students are at the high end of their competition in the lands from whence they arrive at our shores.

The lower-end college students probably do not do well irrespective of what nation they attended high school. Also there are cultural differences such as in Japan where the tradition has been very demanding K-12 schools, tough admission standards for college, and heavy partying in college as if they arrived at the Pearly Gates just by being accepted for college.

The real problems in the U.S. are often teen male students who are slow in maturing and easily succumb to diversions ranging from booze to video games to street gangs. Many are lousy dates for same-age women who matured earlier on in their late teens. The unfortunate ones are mothers before age 18 with no responsible fathers to help with the child rearing.

In the U.S. our societal problem lies reclaiming our lost young males of all races and nationalities. Our K-12 public schools often fail in this regard, especially in the large urban areas. Students get a B grade just for attending school and are ill-equipped for colleges that actually make them study and learn or otherwise let them fail.

There’s something to be said for military service that allows teen males to mature and then ultimately provides them with free college education at a point where they are more motivated to learn. The proportion that die or are badly injured in combat is still miniscule relative to the total number who join the military and then move on to college.

Bob Jensen

December 24, 2009 reply from Jagdish Gangolly [gangolly@GMAIL.COM]

There is another point I wanted to make earlier.

The year I graduated at the University of Bombay,
about 1000 students took the degree exams in the
Faculty of Commerce. Of them only around 350
passed; THE REST, AROUND 650 FAILED and had to
repeat the year.

In the US, starting with the first grade in school, the students
are given the impression there is no such thing as failure.
Soon, the students start DEMANDING SUCCESS. This system
is no different from cheating; the students are cheated by
being informed that they deserve to be promoted to the higher class
when in fact it is not so.

I have spent nearly 40 years in the academia in the US, and can
count the number of students who were given a clear signal that
they failed. (Dropping out is not the same thing as failure;
Bill Gates dropped out, but did not fail. In the US, unfortunately,
we do not really differentiate the two).

The above automatically debases education. Negative feedback
is more important in education than positive feedback, but it should be
constructive and offered with a positive attitude to help the student improve.

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

Review of Comments
"Are American Students Lazy?" by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, January 4, 2010 ---

"Mandatory Usury in One Lesson:  How Congress dictated a 79.9% interest rate," The Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2010 ---

'You might have less-than-perfect credit and we're OK with that," read an October credit-card solicitation from South Dakota-based First Premier Bank. The interest rate, however, will strike some as usurious: 79.9%. That's a more than eightfold increase from the 9.9% the bank previously collected for a similar card.

Wait, wasn't Congress supposed to have passed legislation against predatory lending? As a matter of fact, yes. The whopping rate increase is First Premier's way of complying with the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. Among other provisions, that law prohibits fees of more than 25% above a card's credit limit. First Premier has been offering an account with a $250 limit and annual fees of $256. By law the latter figure must come down to $75. To compensate for the lost $181 in fees, the bank is raising the rate by 70% of $250, or $175, a year.

If it sounds like a rotten deal either way, it is—if you have good credit. But if you don't, the cost may be worth it to re-establish your rating. Banks that lend money to customers with poor credit histories have to charge more to cover the extra risk. If Congress makes this impossible, banks will respond by refusing to lend to such customers, so that it will be harder for them to re-establish their creditworthiness.

Banks can't be expected to give money away, even if Congress is in the habit of doing just that. Unlike lawmakers, banks and other businesses can collect revenues only by offering something of value in return.

Jensen Comment
There are no easy answers to this dilemma. Having national FICO credit scoring made it "nearly impossible" for persons with bad credit scores to borrow money from anybody other than loan sharks (who sometimes break knee caps to collect). The one exception was when borrowers and their brokers submitted falsified credit applications such as in the case of subprime home mortgages where poison loans were passed on to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack, but for those exceptions the mortgage brokers had to lie about borrower income, property values, and credit history of the borrower.

In 2005, Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act to stem the explosion of what was tantamount to a racket where some people repeatedly declared bankruptcy in what was tantamount to legalized theft ---

And now borrowers with bad FICO scores find themselves in Catch 22 situations when trying to reestablish higher credit scores. There are all sorts of unfavorable consequences such as mortgage foreclosures, divorce, sending children to foster homes, gambling, prostitution, robberies, suicides, seeking out loan sharks, etc.

The Dirty Secrets of Credit Card Companies --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/FraudReporting.htm#FICO

"Murtha’s America," by Paul Jacob, Townhall, January 3, 2010 ---

As 2009 drew to a close, the Office of Congressional Ethics ended its investigation of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and several other congressmen associated with PMA Group, a lobbying firm. The Office recommended against a full-fledged House ethics investigation.

At issue? A pattern whereby Congressman Murtha, Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), and James Moran (D-Va.), earmarked hundreds of millions of tax dollars to clients of PMA Group and then, magically, millions of dollars in campaign contributions from PMA and its clients found their way to Murtha’s campaign account, and the campaigns of others involved.

Some will fret that the ethics process is not doing its job. That’s probably true, if not in this particular case, surely in scores of other cases that have resulted in light wrist-slapping, a harshly worded letter or no punishment at all.

But let’s suppose that what Murtha and others in Congress are doing — gathering up our hard-earned tax dollars and distributing them to friends and cronies in hopes of spurring economic growth — is fully legal. Is it right? Is it good? Does it build a strong country and enhance our individual liberty?

Stop laughing.

Wonder as we may about backroom deals and hard-to-find quid pro quo corruption, what about the obvious corruption right smack dab in front of our face? You know, the kind that tends to be fully legal.

Perhaps corruption is too strong a word. But whether the action is an illegal bribe or just a smart, savvy method of parochial, self-interested pork politics — whereby an incumbent uses the public treasury to win friends and influence people — it sure seems crooked.

Murtha argues his earmarks are creating jobs, revitalizing the depressed local economy. It’s not about him; it’s about his constituents. Never mind the earmark-built and maintained John P. Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where three flights a day take off for Washington under a giant, smiling picture of the congressman.

Murtha argues his earmarks are creating jobs, revitalizing the depressed local economy. It’s not about him; it’s about his constituents. Never mind the earmark-built and maintained John P. Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where three flights a day take off for Washington under a giant, smiling picture of the congressman.

Murtha’s job creation racket doesn’t create many jobs. According to a Washington Post report, “For all the billions in federal contracts the congressman has steered to the region in the past ten years, now at a rate of $100 million a year, joblessness in his distressed district has not improved.”

Moreover, some of the jobs generated have cost a million dollars — or twice that. For example, Planning Systems, Inc. in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, created four jobs using $7 million in earmarks.

Another company to receive Murtha earmark help was Caracal, Inc., To great hoopla, Murtha delivered the ton of tax dollars to Caracal, claiming, “Today’s ribbon-cutting ceremony is yet another indication that our investment in this region’s economic revitalization is paying off.” After receiving more than $150 million in taxpayer help, the company went under. That’s zero sustainable jobs.

With Caracal out of business, the operative question might be, “‘Paying off’ for whom?”

That “whom” now seems to cover a lot of people, for our earmark culture is not limited to Congress. It’s growing. The same economic model behind Murtha’s earmark use underpins last year’s stimulus spending and a likely follow-up round this year. The idea intrinsic to earmarks and government job creation is that politicians and bureaucrats can spend our money better than we can. We just waste our money; they are the great and wise spenders. Though absurd on the face of it, the notion has much to recommend it . . . if you are on the taking end of the practice.

The earmark culture in Congress, so well represented by Congressman Murtha, the new King of Pork, isn’t merely symptomatic of the problem in Washington, it is also emblematic.



"The World's District Attorney Legendary prosecutor Robert Morgenthau on his famous cases, his brawl with Mike Bloomberg, and why he's sounding alarm about Iran," by James Freeman, The Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2009 ---

In the criminal justice system, the people of Manhattan have been represented for 35 years by New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. This is his story.

Mr. Morgenthau, who inspired the original D.A. character on the television program "Law and Order," will retire on Thursday at age 90. Much of the barely fictitious drama is set in his office in Manhattan's Criminal Courts Building. This week, amid half-filled boxes and scattered personal mementos, he sat down to discuss his life's work.

Even though he knows I'm wearing a wire—actually an audio recorder placed on the table between us—America's D.A. speaks candidly, including about his public blowups with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Morgenthau says this is the first mayor he hasn't gotten along with, and that the relationship went south when his office started investigating the city's role in the death of two of New York's bravest in an August, 2007 fire. Among other mistakes, city inspectors had failed to note that the water had been turned off at the old Deutsche Bank building opposite Ground Zero. The blaze resulted in 33 "mayday" calls from firefighters, and the D.A. is amazed that only two lost their lives.

Mr. Morgenthau soon got a call from a city lawyer telling him that "the mayor wanted me to tell you that he's surprised that you're looking at the Deutsche Bank case." Mr. Morgenthau says he told the mayor's minion, "You tell the mayor that I'm surprised that he's surprised."

Why would the mayor encourage such a call? Because, says Mr. Morgenthau, Mr. Bloomberg "thinks all lawyers work for him" and "doesn't want anybody around who doesn't kiss his ring, or other parts of his body."

The mayor has also recently gone after Mr. Morgenthau's budget, with city officials demanding that he stop sending some of the money forfeited by criminals to the state government, and instead send all of it to the city. The D.A. reports that both governments benefit handsomely from the work of his office—$300 million so far this year, with another $230 million coming soon.

These big criminal forfeitures support his $80 million budget, but they are also the product of Mr. Morgenthau's unique legacy among district attorneys: his national and global reach. Such resources have allowed him to prosecute complex international business cases. Combined with his jurisdiction in the world's financial capital, he has become in a sense the world's district attorney.

Thomas Jefferson would have liked this bastion of local power as part of a federal system, but it is not always celebrated by federal officials. "I'm sure it [annoys] the hell out of them," Mr. Morgenthau observes.

The feeling is mutual. The D.A. says that while he's had to deal with the federal bureaucracy for decades, "it has just gotten worse" and "they ought to burn it down and start all over again. It's extremely worrisome."

For example, he says, "We had a lot of trouble with the Treasury Department" in his recent case against Credit Suisse, in which the bank coughed up $536 million and admitted to aiding Iran and other rogue nations in violating economic sanctions. The feds, as they did in a similar settlement with the British bank Lloyds, wanted only civil penalties.

Mr. Morgenthau would have none of it. He says Credit Suisse had been "stonewalling us" and only struck a deal after he threatened to bring criminal charges to a grand jury. "We would have gotten an indictment," he says.

In 2006, Mr. Morgenthau's office began an investigation into New York's Alavi Foundation, which turned out to be an Iranian government front. Money from the foundation "was being used to pay Iranian agents around the world," he says. Last month the U.S. government seized $500 million of the foundation's assets, including a Fifth Avenue office tower.

Mr. Morgenthau lacked the statute to bring legal action so he referred the Alavi inquiry to the FBI, while continuing to track a larger financial web. Individuals associated with Alavi had received money from Iran's government-controlled Bank Melli, which has been sanctioned by our government, the United Nations and the European Union for its support of the regime's nuclear and missile programs. The D.A.'s investigators found a money trail leading from Melli and other Iranian state-controlled banks, through legitimate banks in London and other European cities and into correspondent banks in the United States.

Credit Suisse, Lloyds and "eight other banks that we know about," according to Mr. Morgenthau, were involved in "stripping." This means disguising that Iran is the origin of transactions routed through American banks.

What are the Iranians buying with their ill-gotten American currency? Mr. Morgenthau obtained a shopping list that includes tantalum, a hard metal used in roadside bombs. But the Iranians are thinking bigger. He reports that he showed the shopping list to an executive at Raytheon, which manufactures missiles for the American military. Mr. Morgenthau says that after reviewing Tehran's wish list, the Raytheon official was stunned at the sophistication that would be required to create it, and replied, "My hands went cold."

The Iranian finance investigation led him to evidence showing the destination of a North Korean cargo plane that was seized in Bangkok by Thai police on Dec. 12. Despite Iranian denials, Mr. Morgenthau says the massive weapons shipment was bound for Tehran.

After years of prosecuting world-wide financial cases, including bringing down the criminal enterprise known as the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, Mr. Morgenthau has assembled a formidable intelligence network. "When people trust you, you get a lot of information from all around the world."

Mr. Morgenthau says "It takes a long time to build the kind of network we have" and adds that he expects his successor, Cyrus Vance Jr., will continue to focus on international financial crimes and Iranian finance in particular. That's because these cases are effective.

Regarding Iran, the lifelong Democrat scores both parties in Washington for ignoring the gathering threat. His own concern flows in part from his experience as a newly minted ensign aboard a destroyer the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. Mr. Morgenthau later saw action in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, and was fortunate to survive one sinking when a convoy ship violated standing orders and picked him and fellow crew members out of the water. He doesn't want his country to be caught unprepared again.


'Everyone has dropped the ball on [Iran sanctions]. The president is smoking pot or something if he thinks that being nice to these guys is going to get him anywhere," Mr. Morgenthau says. He says economic sanctions can "have significant impact" because most of Iran's enablers are not terrorists, just people "trying to make a buck. . . . They don't enjoy being the focus of an investigation." The D.A. argues that more aggressive federal enforcement of existing sanctions, plus a new effort to restrict Iran's gasoline imports, could make life very difficult for a regime that is under increasing pressure from its own citizens.

"The president has to say this is a priority. We have sanctions and we ought to make them work," he says. "The boss," as he's known to Manhattan prosecutors, is particularly concerned about Iran's progress in missile development and its budding relationship with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez. While the two countries have opened banks in each other's countries, the D.A. reports that they nonetheless are transacting business in dollars through New York.

Mr. Morgenthau says his habit is to "never look back," but he obliges when pressed to revisit some of his most famous wins and losses. Boss of mob bosses John Gotti evaded the long arm of Mr. Morgenthau for years but was ultimately convicted of murder by the feds. "The [FBI] didn't turn over key evidence they had to us," he says.

Asked whether he should have indicted board members along with Tyco Corporation CEO Dennis Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz, Mr. Morgenthau responds, "probably."

Of his recent prosecution of Anthony Marshall, convicted of stealing from his mother Brooke Astor, Mr. Morgenthau makes clear that the case had a significance beyond exposing the lifestyles of the rich and famous. He notes a disturbing trend of children ripping off their parents and grandparents. The case, he says, "sent a message all over the country: You can't steal from your elders."

Mr. Morgenthau notes that his office was the first in the country to "indict the footprint," which means securing indictments before finding a defendant. This has the practical effect of removing the statute of limitations.

Mr. Morgenthau is proudest of his victories in cases widely considered unwinnable. He notes that his office was the first in the country to successfully prosecute a murder case with no body and no witness. In 2000 he won convictions against Sante and Kenneth Kimes. The mother and son killed Irene Silverman when they believed she had caught on to their plot to swindle her out of her Upper East Side mansion. The son later admitted to disposing of the body in a dumpster.

Mr. Morgenthau took on another lost cause but finally prevailed, 15 years after the disappearance of Gail Katz-Bierenbaum. Discovering flight records at New Jersey's Essex County Airport led his team to conclude and ultimately prove that her husband had pushed her body out of a Cessna over the Atlantic.

Overall, it's hard to argue with the results. While he is quick to credit the police and other city officials, Mr. Morgenthau notes that when he became district attorney in 1975, Manhattan was suffering almost 650 murders annually. Last year, there were 62. From more than 39% of the city's murders, Manhattan's share has fallen to just 12%.

Manhattan's renaissance has allowed many New Yorkers to consider not just survival, but success, and more specifically how to keep more of what they earn from the tax collector. Mr. Morgenthau has aggressively pursued those who seek to preserve their capital in other jurisdictions, but that doesn't mean he favors the current system.

"I think taxes in New York City and State are much too high," he says. "But you're never going to see them reduced unless everybody pays what they're required to pay under the law."

Mr. Morgenthau's effort to go after citizens who park their money in tax havens has led to more frustration with the Mayor. The D.A. says Mr. Bloomberg "has never been any help. I've talked to him three times about it and each time the conversation is almost identical. I tell him how much money is offshore and in the underground economy and he always says, 'I'm paying my taxes.' And I always say, 'Mike, no one is suggesting you don't, but there are a lot of other people who don't.' And then he says, 'I'm glad I'm not a lawyer.'"

Before exiting the public stage, Mr. Morgenthau also wants to set straight the record on one of the most controversial episodes in the history of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Abe Fortas was denied a Senate vote in 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson sought to elevate him to chief justice to replace the retiring Earl Warren.

The following year, Fortas resigned his seat as an associate justice after it was revealed that he received money from the foundation of Louis Wolfson, who had been convicted of crimes related to a securities case.

But Mr. Morgenthau already knew about the payments from Wolfson. As a U.S. attorney appointed by John F. Kennedy, he had been investigating Wolfson for years, against the wishes of Wolfson's friends in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. (To be fair, politicians seeking contributions were not the only defenders of Wolfson. More recently, Henry Manne has written in these pages that Wolfson invented the modern hostile tender offer, enhancing the power of shareholders and making the U.S. economy more competitive.)


In any case, Mr. Morgenthau believes that Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach was fired by LBJ in 1966 because he refused to block Mr. Morgenthau's indictment and subsequent conviction of Wolfson. At the time, Mr. Katzenbach said disputes with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover caused his resignation.

Knowing of the $20,000 per year "for life" that Wolfson's foundation was sending to Fortas, Mr. Morgenthau contacted Mr. Katzenbach's successor Ramsey Clark, told him of the deal, and suggested that he tell Chief Justice Earl Warren to consider delaying his retirement. Mr. Morgenthau says Mr. Clark never informed Warren. Wolfson had powerful friends.

Just like viewers at the end of a "Law and Order" episode, observers of the legendary D.A. are treated to one more twist in the tale.

Mr. Freeman is assistant editor of the Journal's editorial page.

"Avatar: the most expensive piece of anti-American propaganda ever made," by Nile Gardiner, London Telegraph, December 25, 2009 ---

There is no denying the breathtaking visual beauty of the $400 million 3-D sci-fi epic Avatar. It is already a global box office smash, taking in more than $200 million worldwide in its opening weekend. The special effects are simply stunning, and some of the action sequences are spectacular.

But Avatar is also a distinctly political work of art, with a strong anti-American and anti-Western message. It can be read on several levels – a critique of the Iraq War, an assault on the US-led War on Terror, a slick morality tale about the ‘evils’ of Western imperialism, a futuristic take on the conquest of America and the treatment of native Americans – the list goes on.

As I blogged earlier, director James Cameron has made it abundantly clear that the film is linked to both the war in Iraq and the War on Terror. In an interview with The Times he declared:

“We went down a path that cost several hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives. I don’t think the American people even know why it was done. So it’s all about opening your eyes.”

“We know what it feels like to launch the missiles. We don’t know what it feels like for them to land on our home soil, not in America. I think there’s a moral responsibility to understand that.”

The story is set in the year 2154, and centres on an attempt by a US conglomerate to exploit valuable mineral wealth on the planet of Pandora. In the background, earth is dying with limited resources, no doubt because a climate change deal could not be finalized at Copenhagen.

The American firm employs an army of marines to fight on its behalf against the Na’vi, who seem to be modeled loosely on native American tribes. Slogans such as “shock and awe” and “fighting terror with terror” are deployed to give the film a more contemporary feel. The US forces are portrayed in one-dimensional terms and are led by a sadistic general, while the Na’vi are spiritual, nature-loving and peaceful tribesmen at one with the earth and creation. Humanity is ultimately redeemed by a paraplegic soldier (played by Sam Worthington) who goes native and sides with the locals against his own people.

In many respects, Avatar is a highly manipulative film. When I saw the movie last night in a packed theatre, I was disturbed by the cheering from the audience towards the end when the humans – US soldiers fighting on behalf of an American corporation – were being wiped out by the Na’vi. Washington is one of the most liberal cities in America and you come to expect almost anything here – but still the roars of approval which greeted the on-screen killing of US military personnel were a shock to the system, especially at a time when the United States is engaged in a major war in Afghanistan.

Avatar is more than just a 160 minute-long cinematic thrill-ride. It is an intensely political vehicle with a distinct agenda. In fact I would describe it as one of the most left-wing films in the history of modern American cinema, and perhaps the most commercially successful political movie of our time. While the vast majority of cinemagoers will simply see it as popcorn entertainment, Avatar is at its heart a cynical and deeply unpatriotic propaganda piece, aimed squarely against American global power and the projection of US economic and military might across the world.

"The Decade in Management Ideas," by Julia Kirby, Harvard Business Review Blog, January 1, 2010 --- Click Here

Tis the season for "year's best" lists — and even, this year, for "decade's best" lists — and who are we to resist the urge? A few of us HBR editors (Gardiner Morse and Steve Prokesch helped especially) took the opportunity to look back on the past ten years of management thinking and are ready to declare our choices for the — well, why not say it — most influential management ideas of the millennium (so far).

  1. Shareholder Value as a Strategy. The notion of producing attractive returns for investors is as old as investing, but this was a decade when the pursuit of shareholder value eclipsed too much else. Increasingly sophisticated tools and metrics for value-based management pushed the consideration of stock price effects deep into operational decision-making, and made sure everything pointed toward bonus day. By 2009, even the man most known for focusing on value was saying it was a dumb idea. "Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy," Jack Welch proclaimed. "Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products."
  2. IT as a Utility. The current mania for cloud computing is the latest step in a long process by which enterprises have dispensed with their proprietary glass houses and begun buying computing capabilities as services. One impetus was the Y2K scare, which forced attention onto those onerous legacy systems as the new millennium dawned.
  3. The Customer Chorus. Through a range of technical and social developments, customers' voices grew louder (whether collectively in ratings systems like Amazon's, or individually through viral kvetches like Dave Carroll's "United Breaks Guitars") and companies found ways to listen. It's a true megatrend: the steps along the way have felt gradual and natural, but collectively they change everything.
  4. Enterprise Risk Management. Sounds crazy right now to say that the last decade was notable for risk management. But especially after 9/11, companies saw the sense of bringing the many and various pockets of it under the same umbrella. Newly empowered chief risk officers looked for trouble spots on a landscape ranging from financial hedging to pirates on the open sea.
  5. The Creative Organization. The decade saw a general revolution in the way many organizations came to view their source of competitive advantage, and a commitment to finding ways to produce creative output more reliably. Even before they embraced "design thinking," managers were encouraging collaboration, drawing on diverse perspectives, and engaging whole workforces in "ideation."
  6. Open Source. Purist geeks will be quick to point out that the term open source and some very substantial achievements came in the late 1990s, but here we pay homage to the spread of that model beyond software code. Was it only in 2001 that Wikipedia was born? And how many things have been wiki'ed since?
  7. Going Private. Cheap debt reignited the LBO scene just as post-Enron reforms created real disincentives to operate as a public company. As the decade wore on, private equity's playbook for turning around businesses was increasingly held up as best-practice management. Now, ideas like, ahem, leveraging up don't seem so wise, but private equity's devotion to strategic focus and demanding governance might endure.
  8. Behavioral Economics. Okay, by now, you're all shouting "that's definitely older than 10 years" and you're right. But talk about a set of ideas whose time has come. In the prior decade, can you remember when someone with Steven Levitt's profile had a breakout bestseller? Or when someone modifying the word economist with "rogue" (or "rock star") could keep a straight face?
  9. High Potentials. Consulting firms and other deeply knowledge-based businesses knew this all along, but in the past decade the rest of the corporate world woke up to the fact that some managers are more equal than others. Formal programs were established to identify, cultivate, and retain "hi-po's". Executive coaching, a perk often provided for the anointed, experienced explosive growth as an industry.
  10. Competing on Analytics. Decades of investment in systems capturing transactions and feedback finally yielded a toolkit for turning all that data into intelligence. Operations research types, long consigned to engineering realms like manufacturing scheduling, got involved in marketing decisions. Managers started learning from experiments that were worthy of the name.
  11. Reverse Innovation. The bigger story here is the maturation of the concept of globalization, particularly with regard to emerging economies. Most big corporations in 2000 saw them primarily as a source of natural resources and, increasingly, cheap labor. Then, as rising employment fueled the development of middle classes, cities in India and China came to represent valuable markets. Now, these non-US consumers are coming to the foreground. Firms like GE and Microsoft are doing R&D in emerging markets, optimizing on those preferences and constraints, and then bringing the results back home.
  12. Sustainability. More than anything, the first ten years of the 21st century will be remembered as the decade that businesses went green — if only in their marketing to a public highly attuned to Al Gore's inconvenient truth. We're not cynical on this point, however. The efforts we see by companies large and small to reduce their carbon footprints and other environmental impacts are sincere and effective, as far as they go. But ten years from now, as we revisit this exercise, forgive us if we declare 2010-2020 to be the decade of sustainability. "The idea was in the air before 2010," we can picture ourselves writing. "But this was the decade when it really took hold."

So there it is: our roundup of the management ideas that shaped the decade. Now, you tell us: Which ones don't belong on this list? And what did we miss?

Early respondents sent in the following replies:

You have missed out on a main idea that developed in the decade - outsourcing. It is much less about cost arbitration and much more about what CK Prahlad called 'R=g' (Resources are global) The structuring of outsourcing had undergone a complete change from merely leasing equipment and contract manufacturing within a limited geographic space into a strategic option to leverage not only cost, but also skill, time etc. I wd call that Outsourcing 2.0. But for outsourcing 2.0 many businesses cd have folded up by now.

Such a good point. Thank you, Srinin. Companies' approaches to outsourcing really have evolved quite a bit over the past ten years, and value chains seem to be getting more modular as a result. Have you read John Hagel & John Seely Brown on the topic of "productive friction"? It's an interesting way to think about what you are calling "Outsourcing 2.0"
Julia Kirby

In my opinion you forget to refer the to social web and the enterprise 2.0 also. In fact it's not completely deployed everywhere but in last years it had a great boom and will certainly be a trend for the next decade. Let's see if business can follow the evolution of the web and more important, if they can take the advantage of it! Hope they will!
João Aguiam

I agree that this was the "decade of sustainabiilty" during which most companies got it -- they realized that they needed to pay attention to their their carbon footprints and so on if they wanted to stay in the game. This coming decade, though, will be the decade of sustainability as offensive strategy. We'll see companies that use sustainability strategies to trounce competitors, not just to defend themselves from regulators, energy costs, and bad press.
Gardiner Morse

Jensen Comment
Almost completely overlooked are the innovations (and in some cases disasters)  in financial risk management such as securitizations, CDOs, credit derivatives, etc. Although many of these contracting ideas originated in the 1990s, innovative and often fraudulent applications were invented in the early 21st Century.

Also overlooked is the explosive growth of management of hedge funds used to escape government regulations.

The timeline of derivatives financial instruments applications, frauds, and accounting can be found at

Bob Jensen's threads on management theories are at

The students of great teachers are often miserable
Sometimes miserable/irritating people are the most talented, creative, and wasted in the shadows of their teachers

"The Maestro Was Miserable:  The achievements and ordeals of Richard Wagner's great champion and victim," by Norman Lebrecht, The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2009 --- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703478704574612031825771904.html#mod=djemEditorialPage

Most men who invent a profession earn lifetime esteem and a place in history. Hans von Bülow is remembered chiefly by the derision of a genius who destroyed him.

Bülow established conducting as an independent occupation in the spring of 1865 when he prepared the world premiere of "Tristan and Isolde" in Munich while its composer, Richard Wagner, was making love to Bülow's young wife. Torn between devotion to the work and despair at his private anguish, Bülow asserted a critical detachment between the creation of a musical score and its orchestral realization, a principle that maestros have lived by ever since. As Lorin Maazel, the former music director of the New York Philharmonic, has written: "Every conductor is still a pupil of Hans von Bülow."

Wagner went on from "Tristan" to build his Valhalla at Bayreuth, claiming paternity rights over Bülow's children while squandering the maintenance money that their father dutifully provided. Wagner used his celebrity status to denigrate victims, dismissing the hapless Bülow as a neurotic nuisance and consigning him to near-oblivion in musical literature. Alan Walker's ground-breaking "Hans von Bülow: A Life and Times" is the first objective biography of a major player who, for all his social ineptitude, shaped the musical world as we know it today.

The sickly child of minor nobility, Hans von Bülow was 12 years old when, in 1842, Wagner produced "Rienzi" in his hometown, Dresden, making the young man want to throw himself at the composer's feet. When Bülow gave up law studies after the 1848 revolution to follow the fugitive Wagner to Switzerland, his father told him "to freeze in the cold." He took piano lessons with Wagner's friend Franz Liszt and set off on a playing tour before winding up as a private tutor in "a herring's pond of Polish solitude," where his employer required "that the temperature inside the castle's main rooms should hover around the freezing point."

His father's curse seemed amply fulfilled until, in 1855, Bülow was appointed head of piano at Berlin's new music conservatory. Importing his mother to keep house, he suddenly had Liszt's daughters, Blandine and Cosima, imposed on him as long-term guests. Liszt, snuggled up in Weimar with Princess Carolyne von Sayn-Wittgenstein, was determined to keep his girls away from their French mother, Marie d'Agoult. It was his rotten parenting that propelled the ensuing calamity.

Six weeks after the girls arrived, Bülow conducted music from "Tannhäuser" and collapsed when booed by anti-Wagnerites. Liszt drove him home and left him in the care of Cosima, 17 years old. By morning they were engaged. On their honeymoon, the couple stayed with Wagner in Switzerland. Back in Berlin, the marriage never settled into intimacy. In her diaries, Cosima writes of giving birth to her second child alone while Bülow and his mother were occupied elsewhere in the house.

In November 1863, Wagner turned up in Berlin and, during a ride in the Tiergarten, took Cosima into his arms and, by his account, "sealed our confession to belong to one another alone." Wagner's years of vagabondage were ending. Bavaria's young King Ludwig was his besotted fan, ordering the state treasury to finance his operas. Wagner summoned the Bülows to join him in Munich—Cosima as mistress, Hans as conductor.

Bülow discovered the affair almost at once. In a 1914 court case brought by Cosima's third daughter, Isolde, to establish her heritage rights, Cosima testified that between June and October 1864 she had sexual relations only with Wagner; at one point, a housemaid saw Bülow banging pathetically at the bedroom door. Why did he put up with it? Because, Mr. Walker suggests, he was crushed by Wagner and did not want to upset Liszt.

When the ménage became public gossip, Bülow went on the road with piano recitals to support his children, playing first in Britain, then in the U.S., where, in Boston in October 1875, he gave the world premiere of Tchaikovsky's eternally popular B-flat minor concerto after it had been shunned by Russia's finest.

It was as a conductor, though, that Bülow left his mark, founding Europe's first crack ensemble in the obscure German duchy of Meingingen and making the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra a benchmark for all-round excellence, a reputation it wears—not always deservedly—to the present day.

Bülow never gave up hope of being readmitted to Wagner's inner circle with an invitation to see the "Ring" at Bayreuth. On Wagner's death in 1883 he persuaded Cosima to abandon thoughts of suicide with the plea "soeur, il faut vivre" ("sister, life goes on"). By then Bülow had married an actress half his age, telling acquaintances "that it would be 'expedient' to change his father-in-law [Liszt]," but he was unable to shake his Wagner hex: the inner war of admiration and resentment that wrecked his mortal existence.

After Bülow's death in February 1892, a pathologist found a long-embedded tumor on the brain stem. It may have caused the erratic, crabby behavior that first set his young wife in search of a greater love. Bülow never learned to control his acrid tongue and flash rages. He called Mendelssohn "a disease of infancy—like measles" and told Mahler that his music "was not music at all." Once, after conducting Beethoven's ninth symphony, he had the doors locked and performed it again because the audience had not responded properly the first time around.

Mr. Walker's authoritative account, arising from his lifelong study of Liszt, aims to rehabilitate Bülow, a man often seen as an unlikable autocrat. Bülow was indeed a rampant anti-Semite and card-carrying misanthrope, trained by the supreme racist of his day. But he also set professional standards for orchestras and, among much else, liberated Wagner's music from the composer's megalomania and allowed its humanity to find independent expression.

Mr. Lebrecht is the author of "The Life and Death of Classical Music." His second novel, "The Game of Opposites," is published by Pantheon.

Bob Jensen's threads on free music tutorials are at

Bob Jensen's threads on free online music (including a section on classical music) are at

"Unemployment taxes may double or even triple in 2010," AccountingWeb, December 17, 2009 ---

Employers should anticipate increases in their unemployment taxes in 2010 and possibly beyond, whether or not their business is in a state like Virginia, where increases are automatic if the unemployment trust fund falls below a certain level, or in states like Michigan and Texas that have complex formulas based on "experience rates," or states that decide to levy some form of deficit surtax. State unemployment trust funds have fallen to such a low level that rate increases may be required to rebuild their balances even when employment improves. States that have borrowed money from the federal government under the Federal Unemployment Trust Act (FUTA) to cover their current obligations will need to pay this money back with interest.

According to the Journal of State Taxation, at least 12 states, including Michigan, Texas, and Virginia, with depleted trust fund balances had borrowed from the federal government under FUTA provisions of by the end of the summer, and others are expected to follow suit. States that accepted interest-free loans offered under ARRA (the Stimulus Act) will need to pay interest on these loans after two years.

Rate increases in states like Washington may seem small -- the average tax rate in 2010 will be 2.38 percent, up from 1.55 percent in 2009 -- but they are based on a much higher percentage of an employee's wages. Texas, where the minimum rate will nearly triple for 2010, taxes the first $9,000 in earnings while Washington taxes the first $36,000.

The Texas minimum tax, which is paid by nearly 255,000 employers, or 67 percent of those who have been in business for at least a year, according to the Texas Workforce Commission, will triple. It will be $65 per worker, up from $23 this year. The maximum rate is based on an experience formula, and is generally paid by companies if more of their employees who were laid off received benefits. The maximum rate in Texas will increase from 6.26 percent to 8.6 percent, from $563.40 per employee to $774.

Across the board, unemployment taxes in Texas will roughly double next year, the Commission says. But the $65 per worker minimum tax bill in Texas compares favorably with $81 in Illinois, $100 in Florida and $120 in Arkansas. Commission Chairman Tom Pauken said next year's average rates in Texas are only slightly higher than those charged in 2004 and 2005, the Dallas Morning News reports.

The state already has borrowed about $1 billion from the federal government to help keep the fund afloat. Texas declined loans from the Stimulus Act because accepting the money would have required changes to the state's eligibility rules.

The Nevada Employment Security Council has decided not to increase employment taxes this year because it would be a hardship for employers suffering through a recession. Instead, Nevada Employment Security Division Administrator Cindy Jones said her agency, which has already has borrowed $60 million from the federal government to keep paying benefits this year, will continue to borrow more, likely close to $1 billion, in 2010, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

But employers in Nevada and other states that choose this option and then cannot repay their loans in the next two or three years will lose 0.3 percent of the 5.4 percent federal unemployment tax credit for every year that the loan goes unpaid. So businesses in states that can't repay the loans will end up paying more tax whether or not their rates are raised.

The FUTA tax is a flat tax on the first $7,000 of an employee's wages (6 percent plus a temporary surtax rate of 0.2 percent in 2009), but employers who file timely are eligible for a 5.4 percent credit against the gross FUTA tax to reflect state unemployment taxes, leaving a liability to the federal government of 0.8 percent. FUTA revenue supports the fund from which states borrow, among other things.

Michigan had to impose a "solvency tax" of $67.50 on 20 percent of the state's companies in order to repay federal loans in 2009, HubPages reports. The state borrowed about $1 billion in interest-free loans from the federal government under the Stimulus Act, but Michigan is not expected to be able to repay the loans in the two-year interest-free period says Lori Roberts writing for the Journal of State Taxation.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
This is not surprising, but it is a job killer in the sense that higher unemployment taxes discourages expanding work forces and encourages more outsourcing. For example, Chrysler is building a new manufacturing plant in Mexico rather than Detroit.

Bob Jensen's taxation helpers are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/BookBob1.htm#010304Taxation

Environmentalists versus Environmentalists
"Tortoises' desert home at issue in solar showdown," by Michael R. Blood, Houston Chronicle, January 1, 2010 ---

On a strip of California's Mojave Desert, two dozen rare tortoises could stand in the way of a sprawling solar-energy complex in a case that highlights mounting tensions between wilderness conservation and the nation's quest for cleaner power.

Oakland, Calif.-based BrightSource Energy has been pushing for more than two years for permission to erect 400,000 mirrors on the site to gather the sun's energy. It could become the first project of its kind on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property, leaving a footprint for others to follow on vast stretches of public land across the West.

The construction would come with a cost: Government scientists have concluded that more than 6 square miles of habitat for the federally threatened desert tortoise would be permanently lost.

The Sierra Club and others want the complex relocated to preserve what they call a near-pristine home for rare plants and wildlife, including the protected tortoise, the Western burrowing owl and bighorn sheep.

“It's actually a good project. It's just located in the wrong place,” said Ileene Anderson of the Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson, Ariz.-based group.

Far-reaching effects The dispute is likely to echo for years as more companies seek to develop solar, wind and geothermal plants on land treasured by environmentalists who also support the growth of alternative energy. In an area of stark beauty, the question will be what is worth preserving and at what cost as California pushes to generate one-third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The Bureau of Land Management has received more than 150 applications for large-scale solar projects on 1.8 million acres of federal land in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. In California alone, such projects could claim an area the size of Rhode Island, transforming the state into the world's largest solar farm.

BrightSource Energy wants permission to construct three solar power plants on the site that together would generate enough power each year for 142,000 homes, potentially generating billions of dollars of revenue over time.

The sun's power is used to heat water and make steam, which in turn drives turbines to create electricity. Built in phases, the project would include seven, 459-foot metal towers, a natural gas pipeline, water tanks, steam turbine generators, boilers and buildings for administration and maintenance. Each plant would be surrounded by 8-foot high steel fencing.

The site has virtually unbroken sunshine most of the year and is near transmission lines that can carry the power to consumers.

Plan to move tortoises In November, federal and state biologists reviewing the plan proposed that the company catch and move the tortoises and preserve 12,000 acres elsewhere, a proposal that could cost BrightSource an estimated $25 million.

John Kessler, a project manager for the California Energy Commission, said there is disagreement with BrightSource over what the company would pay for long-term maintenance for the land that would be purchased.

It will likely be months before state and federal regulators make a decision on the tortoises' fate.

From the Scout Report on December 18, 2009

Jing 2.2.9337 --- http://www.jingproject.com/download/ 
Jing is a screen capture program with a few novel differences. Like many screen capture programs it features a capture field that allows users to easily define what they wish to incorporate into each individual "capture". Visitors can also use the software to collaborate on a design project by sharing visual materials and even instruct family members on how to use different applications and programs. There is also a paid version of Jing available for $15 which gives users the ability to record directly from their webcam. This version is compatible with computers running Windows XP or Vista or Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later.

Jensen Comment
Although it's not free, I prefer Camtasia Studio --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/HelpersVideos.htm
Examples of Jensen's Camtasia Videos --- http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/acct5342/

SlimBrowser 4.12 --- http://www.flashpeak.com/sbrowser/ 
Some people have been dedicated fans of the Slim Browser for years, and others who might not be acquainted with this novel browser may be won over by its features. The user interface is a bit busy, but users can customize the program to rearrange the toolbars, and also add or remove different buttons. This version also contains a built-in internet form filler, a spell checker, and a variety of customizable skins. This version is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.  


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

Education Tutorials

My cousin Mark Jensen, an expert on farming, spent several years in Africa helping Tumaini University conduct research for higher yield grain crops under changing climate conditions --- http://www.tumainiag.com/
Thank you for sharing Mark and Teri.
The research plot photos are at http://www.tumainiag.com/farms.html

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

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

National Science Foundation: Tour of the Cell ---

National Association of Biology Teachers: Instructional Materials ---

ToxLearn: A Multi-Module Toxicology Tutorial --- http://toxlearn.nlm.nih.gov/

Genes to Cognition Online --- http://www.g2conline.org/ 

Great Site
NASA: Lessons of a Widowmaker (videos and games about flying) --- http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/aero/ 

The website opens with the sound of a jet taking off, and then proceeds to show an array of games, books, and other intriguing elements. When visitors click on the photos of the planes here, three boxes pop up that contain an "Overview" of the plane, the "Specifications" of the plane, and an "Image". But even more fun is when visitors click on the PDA that sits near the coffee cup on the desk. A larger version of the PDA screen pops up, and a menu of videos is shown. The videos range from the birth of the B-29 in 1944 to a 1966 video of a zero gravity flight facility to the 2006 roll out and takeoff of a Lockheed U-2. Visitors should definitely click on the MP3 player that sits near the lamp on the desk, and there they can learn the titles of the funky electronica music that is the soundtrack to the homepage. Additionally, clicking on the "Learning Channel", from the "Music Channel", enables visitors to hear brief lessons on various aircraft-related topics, such as "Ice and Aircraft", "Morphing Aircraft", and "Models and Testing".
Scout Report --- http://scout.wisc.edu/Reports/ScoutReport/2009/scout-091218-geninterest.php#1

My cousin Mark Jensen from Minnesota, an expert on farming, spent several years in Africa helping Tumaini University conduct research for higher yield grain crops under changing climate conditions --- http://www.tumainiag.com/
Thank you for sharing Mark and Teri.
The research plot photos are at http://www.tumainiag.com/farms.html

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

UNICEF: The Convention on the Rights of the Child --- http://www.unicef.org/rightsite/index.html

Connecting the Dots (on international crime and terror) --- http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Connecting_the_dots_-_web-2.pdf?1259947418 

Helping Each Other in Times of Need: Financial Help as a Means of Coping with the Economic Crisis ---  http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2009/RAND_OP269.pdf 

The Journal of the Polynesian Society --- http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/ 

Middle Tennessee Oral History Project [culture and language] --- http://janus.mtsu.edu/history/excerpts.htm 

National Institute of Corrections Library --- http://www.nicic.org/Features/Library/ 

Gypsies (Romanies) and Travelers --- http://www.utoledo.edu/library/carlson/exhibits/DX2009/index.html

Women's Law Initiative --- http://www.womenslaw.org/

A Daring Experiment: Harvard and Business Education for Women, 1937-1970 --- http://www.library.hbs.edu/hc/daring/

Video Lecture:  John Maynard Keynes and Hayek: Bruce Caldwell ---

Video Rap:  Keynes and Hayek Rap from PBS  ---
Also see http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/keynes-and-hayek-rap-from-pbs.html

U.S. loan relief program may have made things worse
The Obama administration’s $75 billion program to protect homeowners from foreclosure has been widely pronounced a disappointment, and some economists and real estate experts now contend it has done more harm than good. Since President Obama announced the program in February, it has lowered mortgage payments on a trial basis for hundreds of thousands of people but has largely failed to provide permanent relief. Critics increasingly argue that the program, Making Home Affordable, has raised false hopes among people who simply cannot afford their homes.
Peter S. Goodman, "U.S. loan program may have made things worse," MSNBC, January 1, 2010 ---

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

Law and Legal Studies

Women's Law Initiative --- http://www.womenslaw.org/ 

National Institute of Corrections Library --- http://www.nicic.org/Features/Library/ 

Connecting the Dots (on international crime and terror) --- http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Connecting_the_dots_-_web-2.pdf?1259947418 

Helping Each Other in Times of Need: Financial Help as a Means of Coping with the Economic Crisis ---  http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2009/RAND_OP269.pdf 

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

Gypsies (Romanies) and Travelers --- http://www.utoledo.edu/library/carlson/exhibits/DX2009/index.html 

National Institute of Corrections Library --- http://www.nicic.org/Features/Library/ 

Video Lecture:  John Maynard Keynes and Hayek: Bruce Caldwell ---

Video Rap:  Keynes and Hayek Rap from PBS  ---
Also see http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/keynes-and-hayek-rap-from-pbs.html

Middle Tennessee Oral History Project [culture and language] --- http://janus.mtsu.edu/history/excerpts.htm 

Sad Ending to a Cowboy Legend
One thing I liked about Roy Rogers is that he was an excellent rider and performed his own stunt rides on film
Roy Rogers and his trusty steed Trigger may have come to the end of their "Happy Trails" - television's most famous horse is going on the auction block, The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively. The beloved golden palomino's home, the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum, has closed - doomed by bitter family feuding, greed, mounting debts and IRS demands. Trigger - stuffed in a familiar pose, rearing majestically on hind legs - will join Dale Evans' horse Buttermilk, their beloved German shepherd Bullet and other Rogers memorabilia in bidding that's expected to reach into the multimillions of dollars.
The History of Roy Rogers and an Unbelievable Number of Films --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Rogers
Most of the films were simplistic and innocent by today's standards, but movie goers in those days were looking for much different filmography back then.
Happy Trails Roy and Dale --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyRJPoQxcwU
The Roy Rogers Show Opening (with Roy on Trigger) --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-r6A7TzvUI

Those Old Westerns --- http://oldfortyfives.com/thoseoldwesterns.htm



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


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

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/


December 23, 2009

December 24, 2009

December 29, 2009

December 30, 2009

December 31, 2009

January 1, 2010

January 2, 2010

January 4, 2010


"How to Train the Aging Brain," by Barbara Strauch, The New York Times, December 29, 2009 ---

I LOVE reading history, and the shelves in my living room are lined with fat, fact-filled books. There’s “The Hemingses of Monticello,” about the family of Thomas Jefferson’s slave mistress; there’s “House of Cards,” about the fall of Bear Stearns; there’s “Titan,” about John D. Rockefeller Sr.

The problem is, as much as I’ve enjoyed these books, I don’t really remember reading any of them. Certainly I know the main points. But didn’t I, after underlining all those interesting parts, retain anything else? It’s maddening and, sorry to say, not all that unusual for a brain at middle age: I don’t just forget whole books, but movies I just saw, breakfasts I just ate, and the names, oh, the names are awful. Who are you?

Brains in middle age, which, with increased life spans, now stretches from the 40s to late 60s, also get more easily distracted. Start boiling water for pasta, go answer the doorbell and — whoosh — all thoughts of boiling water disappear. Indeed, aging brains, even in the middle years, fall into what’s called the default mode, during which the mind wanders off and begin daydreaming.

Given all this, the question arises, can an old brain learn, and then remember what it learns? Put another way, is this a brain that should be in school?

As it happens, yes. While it’s tempting to focus on the flaws in older brains, that inducement overlooks how capable they’ve become. Over the past several years, scientists have looked deeper into how brains age and confirmed that they continue to develop through and beyond middle age.

Many longheld views, including the one that 40 percent of brain cells are lost, have been overturned. What is stuffed into your head may not have vanished but has simply been squirreled away in the folds of your neurons.

One explanation for how this occurs comes from Deborah M. Burke, a professor of psychology at Pomona College in California. Dr. Burke has done research on “tots,” those tip-of-the-tongue times when you know something but can’t quite call it to mind. Dr. Burke’s research shows that such incidents increase in part because neural connections, which receive, process and transmit information, can weaken with disuse or age.

But she also finds that if you are primed with sounds that are close to those you’re trying to remember — say someone talks about cherry pits as you try to recall Brad Pitt’s name — suddenly the lost name will pop into mind. The similarity in sounds can jump-start a limp brain connection. (It also sometimes works to silently run through the alphabet until landing on the first letter of the wayward word.)

This association often happens automatically, and goes unnoticed. Not long ago I started reading “The Prize,” a history of the oil business. When I got to the part about Rockefeller’s early days as an oil refinery owner, I realized, hey, I already know this from having read “Titan.” The material was still in my head; it just needed a little prodding to emerge.

Recently, researchers have found even more positive news. The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster than a young person can.

The trick is finding ways to keep brain connections in good condition and to grow more of them.

“The brain is plastic and continues to change, not in getting bigger but allowing for greater complexity and deeper understanding,” says Kathleen Taylor, a professor at St. Mary’s College of California, who has studied ways to teach adults effectively. “As adults we may not always learn quite as fast, but we are set up for this next developmental step.”

Educators say that, for adults, one way to nudge neurons in the right direction is to challenge the very assumptions they have worked so hard to accumulate while young. With a brain already full of well-connected pathways, adult learners should “jiggle their synapses a bit” by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own, says Dr. Taylor, who is 66.

Teaching new facts should not be the focus of adult education, she says. Instead, continued brain development and a richer form of learning may require that you “bump up against people and ideas” that are different. In a history class, that might mean reading multiple viewpoints, and then prying open brain networks by reflecting on how what was learned has changed your view of the world.

“There’s a place for information,” Dr. Taylor says. “We need to know stuff. But we need to move beyond that and challenge our perception of the world. If you always hang around with those you agree with and read things that agree with what you already know, you’re not going to wrestle with your established brain connections.”

Such stretching is exactly what scientists say best keeps a brain in tune: get out of the comfort zone to push and nourish your brain. Do anything from learning a foreign language to taking a different route to work.

“As adults we have these well-trodden paths in our synapses,” Dr. Taylor says. “We have to crack the cognitive egg and scramble it up. And if you learn something this way, when you think of it again you’ll have an overlay of complexity you didn’t have before — and help your brain keep developing as well.”

Jack Mezirow, a professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, has proposed that adults learn best if presented with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma,” or something that “helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you’ve acquired.”

Dr. Mezirow developed this concept 30 years ago after he studied women who had gone back to school. The women took this bold step only after having many conversations that helped them “challenge their own ingrained perceptions of that time when women could not do what men could do.”

Such new discovery, Dr. Mezirow says, is the “essential thing in adult learning.”

“As adults we have all those brain pathways built up, and we need to look at our insights critically,” he says. “This is the best way for adults to learn. And if we do it, we can remain sharp.”

And so I wonder, was my cognitive egg scrambled by reading that book on Thomas Jefferson? Did I, by exploring the flaws in a man I admire, create a suitably disorienting dilemma? Have I, as a result, shaken up and fed a brain cell or two?

And perhaps it doesn’t matter that I can’t, at times, recall the given name of the slave with whom Jefferson had all those children. After all, I can Google a simple name.


Barbara Strauch is The Times’s health editor; her book “The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain” will be published in April.

Jensen Comment
At my age, this NYT article hits close to home. One way I exercise my aging brain is messaging to the AECM.

One thing I most certainly note in my old brain are “tots” --- those tip-of-the-tongue times. What helps my memory is a massive Web site that lets me look up tidbits that jog my memory --- I should call it my Website for Tots --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/threads.htm

It's never too late to quit smoking and save your vision
Need a little extra incentive to kick the habit? Just in time for New Year's resolutions, a UCLA study finds that even after age 80, smoking continues to increase one's risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 65.
PhysOrg, December 31, 2009 --- http://www.physorg.com/news181457348.html

"Patient in 23-year 'coma' was conscious all along," Ananova, December 2009 ---

A car crash victim who was believed to have been in a coma for the past 23 years has been conscious the whole time.

Rom Houben was paralysed but could not let doctors know that he could hear every word they were saying, reports the Daily Mail.

"I dreamed myself away," said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegatative state.

Doctors conducted a series of coma tests before concluding that his consciousness was "extinct".

But three years ago, new hi-tech scans showed his brain was still functioning almost completely normally.

Mr Houben said: "All that time I just literally dreamed of a better life. Frustration is too small a word to describe what I felt."

His case has only just been revealed in a scientific paper released by the man who 'saved' him, top neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys.

"Medical advances caught up with him," said Dr Laureys, who believes there may be many similar cases of false comas around the world.

Mr Houben, a former martial arts enthusiast, was paralysed in 1983.

He is never likely to leave hospital, but as well as his computer he now has a special device above his bed which lets him read books while lying down.

Mr Houben said: "I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me - it was my second birth.

"I want to read, talk with my friends via the computer and enjoy my life now that people know I am not dead."


2009 Darwin Awards --- http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin2009.html

Women Winning Darwin Awards --- http://www.darwinawards.com/old/index200910.html

Forwarded by Paula

The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

The winners:

 1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
 2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
 3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
 4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
 5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
 6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
 7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
 8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
 9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by Proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n.), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by
adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

 1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

 2. Foreploy (v.): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

 3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite

 4. Giraffiti (n.): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

 5. Sarchasm (n.): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

 6. Inoculatte (v.): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

 7. Hipatitis (n.): Terminal coolness.

 8. Osteopornosis (n.): A degenerate disease.

 9. Karmageddon (n.): It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then,
 like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

10 Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12. Dopeler effect (n.): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The fra ntic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
 And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n.): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.



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/

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.

Three Finance Blogs

Jim Mahar's FinanceProfessor Blog --- http://financeprofessorblog.blogspot.com/
FinancialRounds Blog --- http://financialrounds.blogspot.com/
Karen Alpert's FinancialMusings (Australia) --- http://financemusings.blogspot.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