Winter moved in with beautiful snow. The pictures below were taken before we had an added foot or more of snow in the past two days. On Cannon Mountain there was nearly two feet of new glorious powder to add to the base made by Cannon's snow cannons. Mt. Washington shown below had even more snow, but up there much of it blows off because of the dome's winds in excess of 100 mph quite often in the winter. I have a new snow blower and have been somewhat frustrated because it snowed every day this week.  I just get everything cleared out, and before I even finished it's snowing again. But I love it!

These pictures depict a sunrise before we had the heavier snow!
These were taken at my desk inside the front porch.

I love to watch the sunrise behind the mountains.





Mt. Washington's white dome shows in the above picture. That mountain is 28 miles away.
The other mountains in the foreground have since changed to pure white.
Below you can see our front yard when the wind was gusting over 40 mph down here.

Life is beautiful.

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
Doug Larson


Tidbits on December 6, 2007
Bob Jensen

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

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

Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures ---   

Bob Jensen's Threads ---

Bob Jensen's Home Page is at

You can read about Erika's surgeries and see her pictures at
Personal pictures are at
Some personal videos are at 

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

Set up free conference calls at  

Search for a song or band and play the selection ---
I tried it for Arturo Toscanini, Stan Kenton, and Jim Reeves.
The results were absolutely amazing!

World Clock ---

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

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 ---

Tony Tinker forwarded this Video Link (it's a good animation with informative narration)
Credit squeeze explained in a video graphic ---

Rail Europe Holiday Card
Click "Choose Destination" and then choose a country ---

Loudly to my online friends (thanks Niki) ---

177 UC Berkeley Video Courses (free) ---
Other free video courses ---

New York Public Library: Webcasts ---

British Film Institute: Interviews ---

Do creative people require special management?
Video answers from Jack and Suzi Welch ---
Jensen Comment
Coaches encounter the similar problems when managing superstars like Allen Iverson, Randy Moss, Bode Miller, etc.
Of course not all superstars are difficult to manage. Examples of coaching dreams are Tom Brady and Bret Farr.
Eccentrics in academe are also difficult, especially ones who do no show up for class and snub or insult colleagues, students, and administrators. Being difficult to manage, however, is something administrators generally tolerate with tightened lips when balancing creativity with scholarship in terms of what is already known in the world. Not all superstars in academe are jerks. Some are the most humble and cooperative professionals on campus. There are professors like Tom Brady and Bret Farr in the academic world.

Wedding Dance (I think it was rehearsed) ---

From the Scout Report on November 30, 2007

Jing --- 

Trying to grab screenshots for a project can be trying with some applications, but Jing makes the process quite seamless and stress-free. Jing allows users to grab screenshots and screencasts via a yellow interface device that sits on the screen at all times. This particular version of Jing is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.

Members of the film industry, critics, and others ask: "What is animation?"

'Beowulf' vs. cartoons: Animated debate rages

Nose on the Prize, but Which Oscar to Sniff? [Free registration may be required]

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive

Animation History

Origins of American Animation, 1900-1921 [Real Player, Quick Time]

Animation World Network


Free music downloads ---

Songza --- the best free music database I've ever encountered
Search for a song or band and play the selection ---
I tried it for Arturo Toscanini, Stan Kenton, and Jim Reeves.
The results were absolutely amazing!

Handel's Messiah
From the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, WHYY and NPR present Handel's holiday masterpiece performed by the "Fabulous Philadelphians" — one of the world's great orchestras, joined by the nationally-renowned Philadelphia Singers Chorale. Acclaimed British choral master Richard Hickox conducts. Hosted by Fred Child and Melinda Whiting ---
(Parts 1, 2, and 3 from NPR) ---
If your time is limited I recommend the terrific Part 3.

Verdi's 'Aida' from the Houston Grand Opera (Act 1) ---

If My Nose Was Running Money (Aaron Wilburn Video) ---

Christmas With a Capital "C" ---

Dean Martin Variety Show (PHONE CALLS) ---

Bob Anderson America's Greatest Singing Impressionist ---
Also see

Jack Jones (Judy Garland liked him best) ---

Charlie Rich (one of my favorite sad/sexy song singer) ---

Photographs and Art

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Sketches of Northern Italy ---

Camtasia Video of NASA Photos --- Click Here 

Gift Brings Van Gogh's 'Ox-Cart' to Oregon Museum
The painting has been obscure pretty much since 1884, when it was created. There's not a sunflower in sight. Van Gogh's "The Ox-Cart" is dark as coffee grounds.---

Finger Paintings ---

Painting of Fingers and Hands (MSN Video) ---


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 ---

Latin American Pamphlet Digital Collection ---

New York Public Library: Webcasts ---

From MIT The Internet Classics Archive --- 

Great Books (Classics from the Access Foundation) --- 

Classics at the Online Literature Library --- 

Writing World --- offers thousands of free books for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast. To find the book you desire to read, start by looking through the author index --- 

From the University of Pennsylvania Online Books Page ---

Classic Literature Library --- 

The Literature Page (Classics) --- 

Poets & Writers --- 

In one century we went from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to offering remedial English in college.
Joseph Sobran as quoted by Mark Shapiro at

On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
Martin, age 10
Jensen Comment
Sounds like a good quote for online dating.

A 7-year-old-girl is being hailed as an "angel from heaven" and a hero for jumping in front of an enraged gunman, who pumped six bullets into the child as she used her body as a shield to save her mother's life. Alexis Goggins, a first-grader at Campbell Elementary School, is at Children's Hospital in Detroit recovering from gunshot wounds to the eye, left temple, chin, cheek, chest and right arm. "She is an angel from heaven," said Aisha Ford, a family friend for 15 years who also was caught up in the evening of terror.
Norman Sinclair, Santiago Esparza, and Jennifer Mrozowski, "Detroit girl, 7, takes six bullets to save mom," The Detroit News via the Houston Chronicle, December 5, 2007 --- 

“One World, One Dream" is China’s slogan for its 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing. But there is one nightmare that China shouldn’t be allowed to sweep under the rug. That nightmare is Darfur, where more than 400,000 people have been killed and more than two-and-a-half million driven from flaming villages by the Chinese-backed government of Sudan. China is pouring billions of dollars into Sudan. Beijing purchases an overwhelming part of Sudan’s oil exports and state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, an official partner of the upcoming Olympic Games, owns the largest shares in each of Sudan’s two major oil consortia. China has been indirectly funding the Sudanese government’s war effort in Darfur by massively investing in Sudan’s oil industry. Sudan’s government receives large royalties for the declared 500,000 barrels that are pumped each day, and observers believe as much as 70 percent of this cash goes to the military. The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked the Chinese-run Defra oil field in Kordofan region in October 2007, days before peace talks were scheduled to begin with the government in Sirte, Libya, warning the Chinese to Leave Sudan. Other reports indicate that the government of Sudan (GOS) uses as much as 80% of proceeds from those sales to fund its brutal Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and its allied barbaric proxy militias. It also purchases their machinery of mass destruction such as bombers, assault helicopters, armoured vehicles and all sorts of arms, most of which are Chinese manufactured. Airstrips are constructed and operated by the Chinese have been used to launch bombing campaigns on villages. China has used its Veto Power in the U.N. Security Council to repeatedly obstruct efforts by the International Community to introduce peacekeepers to curtail the slaughter.
Mahmoud A. Suleiman, "Oil for Blood," Sudan Tribune, December 5, 2007 ---

Since the start of the euro in 1999, the French economy has outperformed its German counterpart. During that period, the average annual growth rate has been over 2% west of the Rhine, but less than 1.5% east of the river. This year, Germany will likely come out ahead for the first time, growing by some 2.5% against 2.1% for France. Rather than just a blip, this signals a longer lasting inversion of fortunes. In a nutshell, weak domestic demand over the past eight years has forced German industry to seek its fortunes abroad, whereas the opposite happened in France. Why was domestic demand so weak in Germany? It basically comes down to a stark difference in the evolution of the two countries' real estate sectors. The key facts here are quite simple: In Germany, real housing prices peaked around 1995 and then declined continuously. France, on the other hand, experienced an unprecedented real estate boom over the last decade. French house prices have doubled relative to those in Germany.
Daniel Gros, "Coming Home to Roost," The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2007 ---

"It is ultimately a cruel misunderstanding of youth to believe it will find its heart's desire in freedom," says Leo Naphta, the great character of Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain" "Its deepest desire is to obey." On Sunday, voters as far apart as Caracas and Vladivostok took to the polls and put Naphta's theory to a practical test. In Russia, the result of parliamentary elections was a triumph for President Vladimir Putin: His party, United Russia, won 64% of the vote. Add that to the votes taken by the Kremlin's allies and the Putin tally reaches 80%, with the principal "democratic" opposition represented (at 11.5%) by the Communists. The vote sets up Mr. Putin, an exceptionally fit 55, to rule Russia for another four-year term, and perhaps several terms beyond that. By happy contrast, Hugo Chávez's effort to establish himself as Venezuela's president-for-life via a constitutional referendum seems to have failed by a narrow margin. Even so, an astonishing 49% of voters were prepared, according to the official count, to permanently forgo the opportunity to choose a president other than Mr. Chávez.
Bret Stephens, "The Allure of Tyranny Russians voted away their freedoms, and Venezuelans almost did. Why?" The Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2007 ---

All eyes in Venezuela were on the polls yesterday, as the electorate went to a referendum on 69 constitutional reforms. If approved, the amendments will give President Hugo Chávez dictatorial power and formalize the end of Venezuelan democracy. But further south in Bolivia, where Chávez ally President Evo Morales has been trying to consolidate power in a similar fashion, democracy took an even more direct hit last week.
Mary Anastasia O'Grady, The Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2007; Page A20
Watch the video ---

In a by-election for Hong Kong's legislature Sunday, the pro-democracy candidate, Anson Chan, beat her Communist-backed opponent, Regina Ip, by a margin of 12 percentage points. Mrs. Chan, the former head of Hong Kong's civil service, supports full democracy for Hong Kong by 2012. Mrs. Ip, also a former government official, wants a form of managed democracy where Beijing can control the pool of chief executive candidates through a "screening mechanism."
The Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2007 ---

Ethics Risk Landscape Just as Treacherous as Before Enron
Six years after high-profile corporate scandals rocked American business, there has been little if any meaningful reduction in the enterprise-wide risk of unethical behavior at U.S. companies, according to the Ethics Resource Center's 2007 National Business Ethics Survey. Interviews with almost 2,000 employees at U.S. public and private companies of all sizes for the biennial NBES show disturbing shares of workers witnessing ethical misconduct at work -- and tending not to report what they see. Conflicts of interest, abusive behavior and lying pose the most severe ethics risks to companies today. The measurable lack of progress in business ethics should signal a need for company management, boards of directors, policy-makers, investors and consumers to reassess their approach to that challenge, said ERC President Patricia Harned, Ph.D. "Despite new regulation and significant efforts to reduce misconduct and increase reporting when it does occur, the ethics risk landscape in American business is as treacherous as it was before implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002," Dr. Harned said.
SmartPros, December 3, 2007 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on proposed reforms are at
Bob Jensen's threads on "Rotten to the Core" are at
Bob Jensen's other fraud documents are linked at

Southwest airlines reported net earnings slightly below $500 million in 2005 and 2007.
Is it possible for an airline to make more from buying fuel than from selling seats?
Southwest Airlines owns long-term contracts to buy most of its fuel through 2009 for what it would cost if oil were $51 a barrel. The value of those hedges soared as oil raced above $90 a barrel, and they are now worth more than $2 billion. Those gains will mostly be realized over the next two years. Other major airlines passed on buying all but the shortest-term insurance against high fuel prices...

Jeff Bailey, "An Airline Shrugs at Oil Prices," The New York Times, November 29, 2007 --- Click Here

There's a shelf of financial bestsellers whose titles now sound absurd: Ravi Batra's The Great Depression of 1990; James Glassman's Dow 36,000; Harry Figgie's Bankruptcy 1995: The Coming Collapse of America and How to Stop It. There’s BusinessWeek’s 1979 description of "the death of equities as a near permanent condition,
Michael Lewis, "The Evolution of an Investor," Blaine-Lourd Profile, December 2007 ---
As quoted by Jim Mahar in his Finance Professor Blog at

As a group, professional money managers control more than 90 percent of the U.S. stock market. By definition, the money they invest yields returns equal to those of the market as a whole, minus whatever fees investors pay them for their services. This simple math, you might think, would lead investors to pay professional money managers less and less. Instead, they pay them more and more...Nobody knows which stock is going to go up. Nobody knows what the market as a whole is going to do, not even Warren Buffett. A handful of people with amazing track records isn’t evidence that people can game the market. Nobody knows which company will prove a good long-term investment. Even Buffett’s genius lies more in running businesses than in picking stocks. But in the investing world, that is ignored. Wall Street, with its army of brokers, analysts, and advisers funneling trillions of dollars into mutual funds, hedge funds, and private equity funds, is an elaborate fraud.
Michael Lewis, "The Evolution of an Investor," Blaine-Lourd Profile, December 2007 ---
As quoted by Jim Mahar in his Finance Professor Blog at

THE king is dead. Long live the king. For now, and for a long time to come, the future belongs to Kevin Rudd's Labor government. But we should certainly pause a moment to consider the prime ministership of John Howard. In terms of national security, defence and foreign policy, Howard is an absolute giant of Australian history. He has remade national security policy at all levels. Mostly it has been evolution rather than revolution. But there have also been dazzlingly revolutionary moments. Howard has had a consistent view of Australia's interests and its place in the world. I rank Howard at least among the top five strategic prime ministers in Australian history. The denigration and neglect of Australian history have generally meant that we are not aware of just how well we have been led strategically for most of the past 100 years. Our prime ministers have generally had a good sense of their nation's vulnerabilties and potential, and have shaped policy to that end. There are only four other prime ministers who rank with Howard on strategic issues.
Greg Sheridan, "Tribute to Howard," The Australian, November 29, 2007 ---,25197,22838146-7583,00.html

This spurious argument ignores these facts: Rising health costs currently threaten to bankrupt the U.S. Treasury, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CEOs of some of our largest businesses are saying the same thing about their companies. Public spending on health care is rising faster than GDP, so spending on other essential public needs must be reduced or taxes increased. Most health-care spending is not discretionary, but is dictated by illness and injury and by the decisions of providers and insurers who profit from a system in which price-competition cannot function as it does in other parts of our economy. Finally, as Mr. Graham acknowledges, "averages obscure many harsh realities and hide the fact that many Americans are unable to afford health care." Further, the numbers of uninsured and underinsured continue to rise as health costs increase. The health cost crisis is not a "myth."
Arnold S. Relman, M.D., Harvard Medical School Boston, The Wall Street Journal, November 26, 2007 ---

And yet the public does not seem to feel all that heatedly about the warming of the planet. In survey after survey, American voters say that they care about global warming, but the subject ranks quite low when compared with other concerns (e.g., the economy, health care, the war on terror). Even when Mr. Gore's Oscar-winning film, "An Inconvenient Truth," was at the height of its popularity, it did not increase the importance of global warming in the public mind or mobilize greater support for Mr. Gore's favored remedies--e.g., reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by government fiat. Mr. Gore may seek to make environmental protection civilization's "central organizing principle," as he puts it, but there is no constituency for such a regime. Hence even the Democratic Party's presidential candidates, in their debates, give global warming only cursory treatment, with lofty rhetoric and vague policy proposals.
"The Lowdown on Doomsday:  Why the public shrugs at global warming," The Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2007 --- 

Family-Friendly Cities
This focus--epitomized by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's risible "Cool Cities" initiative--is less successful than advertised. Cincinnati, Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark, Detroit and Memphis have danced to the tune of the hip and the cool, yet largely remain wallflowers in terms of economic and demographic growth. Instead, an analysis of migration data by my colleagues at the Praxis Strategy Group shows that the strongest job growth has consistently taken place in those regions--such as Houston, Dallas, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham--with the largest net in-migration of young, educated families ranging from their mid-20s to mid-40s. Urban centers that have been traditional favorites for young singles, such as Chicago, Boston, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have experienced below-average job and population growth since 2000. San Francisco and Chicago lost population during that period; even immigrant-rich New York City and Los Angeles County have shown barely negligible population growth in the last two years, largely due to a major out-migration of middle class families.

Joel Kotkin, "The Rise of Family-Friendly Cities It's lifestyle, not lattés, that our most productive workers want," The Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
Of course other factors are at work as well. New York/New Jersey and California have the highest taxes and real estate prices. Some growth industries like oil and banking have for a number of reasons originated (e.g., Houston) or merged into (e.g., Raleigh-Durham) corporate headquarters in "family-friendly" cities. High crime rates and traffic congestion are prevalent in family-friendly Houston as well as the other urban centers mentioned above. Some "family-friendly" downtown centers have virtually no families relative to New York and Boston, e.g., Houston Downtown versus Manhattan. Then again, does Houston even have a "downtown?" Interestingly, the so-called "family-friendly" cities have the worst urban transit systems.

Not-So-Family-Friendly City
Months after tackling the problem of rowdy street behavior, the Berkeley City Council tonight will consider a scaled-down plan to reduce yelling, urinating, littering, camping, smoking, sex and drunkenness on sidewalks and in parks.
Carolyn Jones, "Berkeley City Council to consider revised homeless initiative," San Francisco Chronicle, November 27, 2007 ---

I was distressed to read that the administration is assigning human apparatchiks to monitor Brandeis classrooms to assure linguistic conformity and political orthodoxy. Surely the administration knows that the technology of authoritarian surveillance has advanced far beyond the primitive methods employed by the likes of J. Edgar Hoover and Erich Honecker. A laptop and a webcam can do the job far more cheaply and efficiently. Just position one unit per class in the back of the room, then patch the feed into a mainframe system... This simple expedient would not only provide an accurate audio-visual record of conversational malfeasance by faculty and students, but the real-time administration would allow the administration to dispatch agents immediately into the classroom to stop the utterance of verboten words or ideas.
Thomas Doherty as quoted by UD, "UD Gives Thanks to Thomas Doherty," Inside Higher Ed, November26, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
Sounds like Big Brother is listening in on every lecture (and perhaps eventually every faculty office) to detect any violations of political correctness. This is McCarthyism in reverse, and it makes David Horowitz’s Academic Bill of Rights like academic free speech in comparison

Much is being made of the fact that, in accepting the administration's invitation, Syria apparently reversed a previous decision, coordinated with Iran, to boycott the conference. This plays into the view that Syria can be persuaded to abandon its 25-year-old ties to Iran and return to the Arab fold, thereby severing the encircling chain that links Tehran to Damascus to southern Lebanon to the Gaza Strip. High-profile ridicule of the conference by Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who called it "useless") and spokesmen for Hezbollah and Hamas add to the impression that Mr. Assad may be prepared to chart an independent course--all for the modest price of the U.S. agreeing (with Israel's consent) to put the issue of the Golan Heights on the conference's agenda. It really would be something if the Syrian delegation could find their own road to Damascus on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. But that would require something approximating good faith. The Syrians' decision to be represented at Annapolis by their deputy foreign minister--his bosses evidently having more important things to do--is one indication of the lack of it. So is the Assad regime's declaration (via an editorial in state newspaper Teshreen) that their goal at Annapolis is "to foil [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert's plan to force Arab countries to recognize Israel as a Jewish state." And lest the point hadn't been driven home forcefully enough, the Syrian information minister told Al Jazeera that Syria's attendance would have no effect on its relations with Iran or its role as host to the leadership of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups.
Bret Stephens, "Condi's Road to Damascus:  The price America will pay for her Syrian photo-op," The Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2007 ---

Think of the money that Medicare pays doctors for seeing patients as though it's a pie called the "Sustainable Growth Rate." This pie is not going to get bigger unless Congress cooks some more pies by New Years. Otherwise, when more patients join Medicare and more pieces are needed next year, we will have to cut the pieces that doctors are paid each time we see a patient into smaller and smaller pieces. I wimped out: I closed my office in 2003 because I saw the costs of the requirements for medical reporting and "privacy" coming and I figured that I could work part time for other people and make more money than I was making as a solo doc. (And I hate the business part of medicine.) I'm not sure how many others are making the same decision, but we often read about "boutique" practices and docs who won't take Medicare or new Medicare patients. Have you noticed how many doctors in your town are adding things like Botox shots, laser therapy and other cash-pay services?
"Medicare Pie Cut Thinner," Life Ethics, November 28, 2007 ---
For more information and history, read this article or watch this video
from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians.

The authors of the study, “The Immigrant University: Assessing the Dynamics of Race, Major and Socioeconomic Characteristics at the University of California,” released by Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, say their analysis is designed to show the need for a more complex method of defining “diversity,” “beyond older racial and ethnic paradigms.”
Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, November 28, 2007 ---

The organizers of stunts like Islamofascism Awareness Week are the “useful idiots” of jihadism. They are directly helping the cause of Islamic fundamentalism. Short of stealing plutonium or blowing yourself up, one of the best things you can do to help spread terrorism is to support efforts that make the United States look like the enemy of Islam. Just remember, Al Qaeda is counting on you to raise “Islamofascism Awareness.”
Scott McLemee, "Beyond Islamophobofascism," Inside Higher Ed, November 28, 2007 ---

I've had bowls of spaghetti that were more tightly structured than this argument.
Anthony Lane

An Example of Dubious Reasoning:  This Time from a Liberal Scholar Who Should Know Better
Barack Obama represents "the only hope for the US in the Muslim world," according to Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. Because Obama's father was a Muslim, he "could lead a reconciliation between the Muslim countries and the US." With any of the other candidates as president, Hersh said, "we're facing two or three decades of problems in the Mideast, with 1.2 billion Muslims."

Jon Wiener, "Obama and Islam," The Nation, November 16, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
Without finding fault with Obama or his campaign, I find this genetic father bit the most spurious argument imaginable from supposed intellectuals. Senator Obama is an active worshipper in the Trinity United Church of Christ --- . Both Hersh and Wiener play down that fact! Barack Obama's father had zero influence upon raising his son. Senator Obama's parents separated when he was two years old. His father eventually moved back to Kenya and did not communicate with his ex-wife and young son.  Obama's  mother then married an Indonesian student. The family moved to Jakarta in 1967 where Obama attended local schools from ages 6 to 10. Afterwards he lived with his maternal grandparents in the U.S. If there was any Muslim influence on Senator Obama's childhood in Indonesia it had absolutely nothing to do with his genetic father in Kenya. Basing peace hopes on Muslim genes is an unbelievable stretch among intelligent people. Perhaps Seymour Hersh is appealing to ignorant voters. Most likely Hersh is grasping at straws and trying to move the electorate with bad reasoning to choose his favored candidate. Hersh is among the most liberal of the writers in the leftist-leaning magazine called The New Yorker. Jon Wiener writes for The Nation --- whose editors are making a concerted effort to have either Obama or Edwards upend Senator Clinton's bid for the U.S. presidency. So is Seymour Hersh making such an effort to beat down Senator Clinton.

Another Example of Dubious Reasoning:  This Time From Bush Supporters
Supporters of President Bush credit his stubborn resistance to the use of human embryos for stem cell research with being the impetus that led scientists to discover how to transform skin cells into stem cells (“Behind the Stem Cell Breakthrough,” editorial, Dec. 1). Those who champion this president’s actions should recall President Lincoln telling a colleague that calling a donkey’s tail a leg does not make the donkey have five legs. Any citizen with a family member or a friend suffering a degenerative illness understands that President Bush has provided nothing to stem cell research but impediments. Perhaps this new science will allow humankind to circumvent the backward notions of this president.

James E. Chenitz, "Bush and Stem Cells," The New York Times, December 5, 2007 --- Click Here
Jensen Comment
This reminds me of when the guard delivers an attorney's bill to a convicted loser's cell with a note attached saying:  "We just can't win them all. The law is a game of chance."

What if they held a war movie, and no one came? That's the tale of woe at this year's fall box office, where Tinseltown's bleak vision of Iraq has many movie-goers taking a pass. Films from Brian De Palma's low-budget screed "Redacted" to Robert Redford's star-studded "Lions for Lambs" are playing to empty seats. Small wonder. As Hollywood sees it, the fictionalized stories worth telling about Iraq and the war on terror involve the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl by American soldiers ("Redacted"); the kidnap and torture of an innocent Egyptian ("Rendition"); the duplicity of the Army surrounding a soldier's death ("In the Valley of Elah"), and other American perfidy. "Lions for Lambs" has performed so poorly that it may not make back its $35 million investment.
"Hollywood Bombs," The Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2007; Page A22 ---

Will Hollywood add the final nails to Christianity, Jewish, and Islamic Religion Coffins?
A star-studded, big-budget fantasy film released for Christmastime features religion as the villain. Hollywood is collaborating with a militant atheist British children's book author to indoctrinate children. "The Golden Compass," which opens this week, stars Nicole Kidman and cost Time Warner's New Line Cinema $180 million to produce, is based on the first installment of Phillip Pullman's children's book trilogy "His Dark Materials." Pullman is a fire-breathing British atheist who has told the Washington Post that "I'm trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief" and remarked that "My books are about killing God." He has also noted that "I am of the Devil's party and I know it."
"Liars And Kidnappers," Investor's Business Daily, December 4, 2007 ---
Jensen Comment
Phillip Pullman seems far more dangerous to religion than Danish cartoons or the apostate Salman Rushdie, because his motives are convince the world that God is a myth. Will this theme sell this season of Christmas and Honnaka.

"The surge hasn't accomplished its goals... We're involved, still, in an intractable civil war," says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid's pronouncement puts him at odds with . . .  John Murtha, who returned from a Thanksgiving visit to Iraq and said, "The surge is working." Democrats across the country and their Old Media amplifiers are also backing away from the dire rhetoric of defeat, shifting focus to a lack of political reconciliation or U. S. domestic issues. However, Democratic Congressional leadership is mired in a quagmire of defeatism that renders it incapable of giving American troops the respect, admiration and gratitude they earned with blood and sacrifice.
Jeff Gannon, December 4, 2007 ---

It (Israel) said Iran had probably resumed the nuclear weapons program the American report said was stopped in the fall of 2003. “It is apparently true that in 2003 Iran stopped pursuing its military nuclear program for a certain period of time,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli Army Radio. “But in our estimation, since then it is apparently continuing with its program to produce a nuclear weapon.” Israel led the reaction around the world today to the new intelligence assessment released in the United States on Monday that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
Steven Erlanger and Graham Bowley, "Israel Unconvinced Iran Has Dropped Nuclear Pro," The New York Times, December 4, 2007 ---
Also see

The three authors of a National Intelligence Estimate seen as undermining the Bush administration's efforts to keep Iran from creating a nuclear weapon are all "hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials," the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday in an editorial, citing an unidentified intelligence source. "As recently as 2005, the consensus estimate of our spooks was that 'Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons' and do so 'despite its international obligations and international pressure.' This was a 'high confidence' judgment. The new NIE says Iran abandoned its nuclear program in 2003 'in response to increasing international scrutiny.' This too is a 'high confidence' conclusion. One of the two conclusions is wrong, and casts considerable doubt on the entire process by which these 'estimates' — the consensus of 16 intelligence bureaucracies — are conducted and accorded gospel status," the newspaper said. "Our own 'confidence' is not heightened by the fact that the NIE's main authors include three former State Department officials with previous reputations as 'hyper-partisan anti-Bush officials,' according to an intelligence source. They are Tom Fingar, formerly of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Vann Van Diepen, the National Intelligence Officer for WMD; and Kenneth Brill, the former U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Greg Pierce, "Hyper-partisan," Washington Times, December 6, 2007 ---

On November 15, however, the newly appointed DCI told CIA employees in a memo that "we support the Administration and its policies in our work...we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the Administration or its policies." One of the most insightful analyses of the memo came from Jon Stewart's Daily Show; correspondent Rob Corddry explained it as reflective of the Administration's desire to deal only "with intelligence that's been vetted to support decisions they've already made. They're tired of having to repeatedly misinterpret information the CIA gives them, so from now on intelligence will arrive at the White House pre-misinterpreted." In addition to heralding a likely continuation of the intelligence "stovepiping" process that reformers agree has to change, Goss's memo was a stunning and unparalleled articulation of CIA fealty to the White House. It was also tantamount to a declaration of war by Goss and his Capitol Hill cronies against career civil servants--and necessary intelligence reform--that shows a remarkable lack of judgment and competence.
Jason Vest, "Destabilizing the CIA," The Nation, December 13, 2004 ---

We wish we could be as sanguine, both about the quality of U.S. intelligence and its implications for U.S. diplomacy. For years, senior Administration officials, including Condoleezza Rice, have stressed to us how little the government knows about what goes on inside Iran. In 2005, the bipartisan Robb-Silberman report underscored that "Across the board, the Intelligence Community knows disturbingly little about the nuclear programs of many of the world's most dangerous actors." And as our liberal friends used to remind us, you can never trust the CIA. (Only later did they figure out the agency was usually on their side.)
"'High Confidence' Games:  The CIA's flip-flop on Iran is hardly reassuring," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2007 ---

As recently as 15 years ago, the academic study of human trafficking was, for all purposes, nonexistent. In a sign of how much times have changed, dozens of faculty members and legal experts packed into Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies Tuesday to discuss ways to turn recent interest in the subject into material to be woven into college curriculums.
Elia Powers, "Studying Human Trafficking," Inside Higher Ed, November 28, 2007 ---

The idea that Ivy League alumni or graduates of similar institutions run all the businesses that matter is just a myth, at least in the Silicon Valley. The San Jose Mercury News reported on a survey of the CEO’s of the 150 largest public companies in Silicon Valley — and two thirds were educated at state universities, state colleges, or other regional institutions.
Inside Higher Ed, November 29, 2007 ---

Earlier this week, campaigning in New Hampshire, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton asserted that health insurance companies spend $50 billion to avoid paying claims. "This is all part of their business model," she was quoted as saying. "This is how they make money, but it's so bad for the rest of us. I say to them, use the $50 billion to actually take care of people." Statements like these raise real questions about Sen. Clinton's grasp of the facts. But they are also part of a broader effort by the left to disparage the private-sector health insurance industry as wasteful and inefficient, meanwhile claiming that there would be great savings if the government covered more people. The health insurance industry does indeed monitor claims as they come in -- and pays the vast majority without hesitation. There is a cost to that monitoring. But there is also a cost to not monitoring those claims, and it is significantly higher . . . Then there's fraud. Last summer, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that administers the country's two largest insurance programs, announced a pilot program to investigate fraud in the medical device industry. Law enforcement officials, for example, visited 1,600 businesses in Miami that were billing Medicare for services. One-third of them didn't even exist, yet they billed Medicare for $237 million in the previous year. The government has now charged 120 people in 74 cases, and Medicare filings in the area are down by $1.4 billion from last year.
Merrill Mathhews, "Hillary's False Claims,"  The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2007; Page A12 ---
Jensen Comment
Do the nationalized health care and disaster insurance plans not monitor claims. Nations would soon go bankrupt if claims were not carefully monitored.

Speaking of Defrauding Insurance Companies
The alleged conspiracy flows from litigation after Hurricane Katrina. The Scruggs Law Firm established a tort consortium called the Scruggs Katrina Group to shake down the insurance industry for not paying enough in claims, even though most homeowner policies excluded flood damage. Not atypically, a dispute emerged between Mr. Scruggs and one of the group's attorneys, John Griffin Jones, over how to divide the $26.5 million in attorneys' loot from a mass settlement with State Farm Insurance Co. According to the indictment, after Jones v. Scruggs moved to court, Mr. Scruggs attempted to buy off presiding circuit court Judge Henry Lackey. Judge Lackey reported the bribery overture and assisted with an FBI investigation. Presumably the Judge wore a wire, since the U.S. Attorney's case so far seems based largely on evidence gathered from secret conversations.
"The Trial Bar on Trial," The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2007 ---


Jane K. Fernandes, who last year was named as the next president of Gallaudet University but was then denied the position after students protested her appointment, has a new job. The University of North Carolina at Asheville announced Friday that she will be its next provost. Fernandes served as provost at Gallaudet for six years. While she is deaf, many students questioned her commitment to the deaf rights movement and to their ideas. Since she lost the Gallaudet presidency, Fernandes has been circumspect about what happened, but in an interview with The Asheville Citizen-Times, Fernandes said that she had been a victim of deaf politics. She noted that an increasing number of deaf children these days grow up with hearing implants that lead their parents and medical professionals to see no need for them to learn sign language. Fernandes said she wanted to make Gallaudet more “inclusive” to the “diversity” of deaf people, but that protesters wanted a focus on deaf, sign-language oriented culture. Today, Fernandes said she wishes Gallaudet well, and believes that “everything works out for the best” and that she now has a “dream job.” (Most of the comments by Fernandes on Gallaudet are not in the article, but are about midway though the audio of the interview that accompanies it.)
Inside Higher Ed, December 3, 2007 ---

Is Women's History History?
It might be, if it's not rescued from the legitimate but more-abstract study of gender relations, writes Alice Kessler-Harris. Image of suffragette circa 1915 from Hulton-Deutsch Collection, Corbis.
Alice Kessler-Harris, "Do We Still Need Women's History?" Chronicle of Higher Education, December 3, 2007 --- Click Here

As the housing market continues to deteriorate, the pressure to respond is growing in Washington. A Treasury Department plan -- to work with mortgage servicers to streamline the process for modifying loans for subprime borrowers who can't afford higher monthly payments -- has been in the news the past few days. Yesterday Hillary Clinton announced a plan for a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and a five-year freeze on mortgage payments for subprime borrowers. It won't be long before demands are made -- including from Wall Street -- for a taxpayer bailout of homeowners facing foreclosure. A taxpayer bailout of distressed homeowners would be expensive, unfair to the vast majority of homeowners and renters who have made prudent financial decisions, and set a troubling precedent that would invite reckless behavior in the future. What's more, a bailout will not stop the inevitable correction in home prices, and is unlikely to prevent the associated economic repercussions.
Andy Laperriere, The Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2007; Page A21 ---

In a similar attempt to go beyond Fed easing, the head of the FDIC recently proposed that the government impose an across-the-board limit on the mortgage interest increases that are now scheduled to occur. With more than $350 billion of mortgages scheduled to adjust up in 2008, such an imposed limit could no doubt avoid many personal defaults. But arbitrarily changing the terms of mortgages now held by investors around the world would also destroy the credibility of American private debt. Who would invest in U.S. bonds or mortgages if the government could arbitrarily reduce the contracted interest payments? What's really needed is a fiscal stimulus, enacted now and triggered to take effect if the economy deteriorates substantially in 2008. There are many possible forms of stimulus, including a uniform tax rebate per taxpayer or a percentage reduction in each taxpayer's liability. There are also a variety of possible triggering events. The most suitable of these would be a three-month cumulative decline in payroll employment. The fiscal stimulus would automatically end when employment began to rise or when it reached its pre-downturn level. Enacting such a conditional stimulus would have two desirable effects. First, it would immediately boost the confidence of households and businesses since they would know that a significant slowdown would be met immediately by a substantial fiscal stimulus. Second, if there is a decline of employment (and therefore of output and incomes), a fiscal stimulus would begin without the usual delays of the legislative process.
Martin Feldstein, "How to Avert Recession," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2007; Page A25 ---
Dr. Feldstein is a Professor of Economics at Harvard University

Nursing homes are increasingly administering antipsychotics to subdue elderly patients -- whether they are psychotic or not. The growing use of the medicines has ramped up Medicaid spending and is now coming under fire . . . One reason: Nursing homes across the U.S. are giving these drugs to elderly patients to quiet symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
Lucette Lagnado, The Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2007; Page A1---

The populist who has the most radical tax plan imaginable.
"The Huckabee Contradiction," The Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2007; Page A24 ---

Some say Mr. Huckabee is the tribune of the "religious left," and that strikes us as about right. He exhibits protectionist instincts, distancing himself from Nafta and saying he would insist on penalties and barriers to countries that don't support his conception of "fair trade." He delivers populist sermons against income inequality, but in favor of farm subsidies and an expanded government role in health care. He regularly knocks Wall Street, and he borrows from the Democratic playbook with digs at "the rich."

The irony is that if he ever did win the nomination, Mr. Huckabee would be vulnerable to the same sort of attacks from the left, if not more so. The political contradiction of his economic policy is that, even as he campaigns as a populist, his signature tax proposal is the most radical reform imaginable -- the so-called "fair tax."

The fair tax has been knocking around GOP precincts for years and has been heavily promoted by Texas millionaire Leo Linbeck, among others. We've heard their pitch in our offices and admire their passion. Their concept is to junk the federal tax code -- payroll, income, corporate, Social Security, everything -- and substitute a 23% national retail sales tax on nearly all goods and services. But while proponents use that 23% figure as an easier political sell, the rate is closer to 30% when it's calculated like any other sales tax, with the levy on top of the price. State sales levies would go on top of that.

There's a lot to be said for taxing consumption over income, and the fair tax would be worth consideration if we were writing a tax code from scratch. Realistically, we're not. The plan would require repealing the Sixteenth Amendment that allowed a federal income tax, and the chances of that happening are approximately zero. The political risk, given the nature of government, is that we'd end up with both an income tax and a national sales tax. Europe, here we come.

Mr. Huckabee has latched onto the fair tax in part to show his antitax bona fides -- which is necessary given his mixed tax and spending record during his decade in Little Rock. The Club for Growth has documented that record, with prejudice. But the fair tax also fits into Mr. Huckabee's populist pitch as a way to "abolish" the hated IRS. GOP audiences love that one, and so do we.

But in the case of the fair tax this boast is also misleading. One problem with a national sales tax is that its rate would have to be very high to raise enough money to fund the government. A rate of 30%, or even 23%, is high enough to invite its own major enforcement problems, so the tax police would still be very much with us.

As a political matter, the fair tax would offer a bull's-eye for Democrats, who would love to run against a plan that would instantly make most purchases 30% more expensive. Though the fair tax includes a complicated rebate system to shield the working poor, a levy on consumption would nonetheless hit hard the young, middle-income families that Mr. Huckabee is courting. It would also tax medical services and home prices, sure to be flashpoints this election season in particular.

In 2004, Democrats came from nowhere to nearly beat South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint by pounding his support for the fair tax. His opponent said it would raise taxes on 95% of state residents, and Mr. DeMint had to disavow his support. In the American system, such a radical change as the fair tax is possible only in a crisis, and we aren't living in one now.

Mr. Huckabee nonetheless writes that "when" his reform is enacted, "it will be like waving a magic wand releasing us from pain and unfairness." That glib naivete should provide some indication of how seriously the former Governor has thought through the political and policy complications of his biggest idea -- and also explain why, until recently, Mr. Huckabee was considered an implausible candidate.

What do you know about the flat tax?
Are you for it or against it without knowing much about it?

Jensen Comment
I have to admit that I have some concerns in this regard, especially a problem we don't hear much about. At the moment wealthy and upper middle class Americans are willing to sacrifice high returns and take on higher investment risk by investing in tax-exempt (in terms of U.S. income tax) bonds/notes of American's schools, local government, and state government. These non-profit organizations thereby raise capital at considerably lower interest costs than individuals and business firms. If a truly flat tax replaces the income tax, how would these non-profit organizations such as schools and municipalities avoid having oppressive increases in costs of capital to a point where quality of education, quality of roads, quality of municipal services, etc. are severely threatened? What incentives would investors have for continuing to invest in these nonprofit organizations? Under a flat tax, it would seemingly take an astronomical amount of Federal dollars to make up the difference and adjust for risk differentials in debt of municipalities and schools. Would the Feds then have to micromanage to a point where Washington DC decides if Lone Rock, Iowa gets a new school and if so, how much will be spent on Lone Rock's new school. We might, thereby, have more people working for the Federal Government than in the entire private sector. Or do we already have that?

Damn, I love being on the cutting edge of obsolescence!
Mark Diller

Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and YouTube as Knowledge Bases on
the Spectrum of Data to Information to Knowledge

My search helpers are located at

A professor wrote to me drawing a fine line between information and knowledge. Information is just organized data that can be right or wrong or unknown in terms of been fact versus fiction. Knowledge generally is information that is more widely accepted as being "true" although academics generally hate the word "true" because it is either too demanding or too misleading in terms of being set in stone. Generally accepted "knowledge" can be proven wrong at later points in time just like Galileo purportedly proved that heavy balls fall at the same rate of speed as their lighter counterparts, thereby proving, that what was generally accepted knowledge until then was false. "Galileo Galilei is said to have dropped two cannon balls of different masses from the tower to demonstrate that their descending speed was independent of their mass. This is considered an apocryphal tale, and the only source for it comes from Galileo's secretary." Quoted from

In my opinion there is a spectrum along the lines of data to information to knowledge. Researchers attempt to add something new and creative at any point along the spectrum. Scholars learn from most any point on the spectrum and usually attempt to share their scholarship in papers, books, Websites, blogs, and online or onsite classrooms.

That professor then mentioned above then asserted that Wikipedia and YouTube were information databases but not knowledge bases. He then mentioned the problem of students knowing facts but not organizing these facts in a scholarly manner. He conjectured that this was perhaps do to increased virtual learning in their development. My December 5, 2007 reply to him was as follows (off-the-cuff so to speak).

Although I see your point about information versus knowledge, the addition of the “Discussion tab” in Wikipedia changed the name of the game. As “information” gets discussed and debated and critiqued it’s beginning to look a whole lot more like knowledge in Wikipedia. For example, note the Discussion tab at

And when UC Berkeley puts 177 science courses on YouTube (some of them in biology), it’s beginning to look a lot more like YouTube knowledge --- ---

With respect to virtual learning, my best example is Stanford’s million+ dollar virtual surgery cadaver that can do more than a real cadaver. For one thing it can have blood pressure such that a nicked artery can hemorrhage. Learning throughout time is based on models and simulations of sorts. Our models and simulations keep getting better and better to a point where the line between virtual and real world become very blurred much like pilots in virtual reality begin to think they are in reality.

Much depends on the purpose and goals of virtual learning. Sometimes edutainment is important to both motivate and make learners more attentive (like wake them up). But this also has drawbacks when it makes learning too easy. I’m a strong believer in blood, sweat, and tears learning ---
When I put it into practice it was not popular with students of this generation who want it to be easy.

You note that:  “These students have prepared but it is poorly arranged, planned, and articulated.” One thing we’ve noted in Student Managed Funds (like in Phil Cooley’s course where students actually control the investments of a million dollars or more of a Trinity University's endowment) where students must make presentations before the Board of Trustees greatly improves students “planning and articulation.” You can read more about this at the University of XXXXX (December 4) at
Note that the portfolios in these courses are not virtual portfolios. They’re the real thing with real dollars! Students adapt to higher levels of performance when the hurdles require higher ordered performance.

I prefer to think of higher order metacognition ---
For specific examples in accounting education see
One of the main ideas is to make students do their own discovery learning. Blood, sweat, and tears are the best teachers.

Much of the focus in metacognitive learning is how to examine/discover what students have learned on their own and how to control cheating when assessing discovery and concept learning ---

Higher order learning attempts to make students think more conceptually. In particular, note the following quotation from Bob Kennelly at

We studied whether instructional material that connects accounting concept discussions with sample case applications through hypertext links would enable students to better understand how concepts are to be applied to practical case situations.

Results from a laboratory experiment indicated that students who learned from such hypertext-enriched instructional material were better able to apply concepts to new accounting cases than those who learned from instructional material that contained identical content but lacked the concept-case application hyperlinks. 

Results also indicated that the learning benefits of concept-case application hyperlinks in instructional material were greater when the hyperlinks were self-generated by the students rather than inherited from instructors, but only when students had generated appropriate links. 

Along broader lines we might think of it in terms of self-organizing of atomic-level information/knowledge ---

I look forward to your writings on this subject when you get things sorted out. You’re a good writer. Scientist's aren't meant to be such good writers.

Wikipedia (heavily used by scholars in spite of authenticity risks)---

Who is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? ---
The Iranian-born author of the above article invites anybody to contact him with corrections at
It would be great to see if and how the author tries to defend himself about contentious “facts.”

Wikipedia ---

It goes without saying that Wikipedia modules are always suspect, but it is easy to make corrections for the world. I think this particular model requires registration to discourage anonymous edits.

What is often better about Wikipedia is to read the discussion and criticisms of any module. For example, some facts in dispute in this particular module are mentioned in the “Discussion” or “talk” section about the module ---

Perhaps some of the disputed facts have already been pointed out in the “Discussion” section. Of course pointing out differences of opinion about “facts” does not, in and of itself, resolve these differences. I did read the “Discussion” section on this module before suggesting the module as a supplementary link. I assumed others would also check the “Talk” section before assuming what is in dispute.

Since Wikipedia is so widely used by so many students and others like me it’s important to try to correct the record whenever possible. This can be done quite simply from your Web browser and does not require any special software. It requires registration for politically sensitive modules.

Wikipedia modules are often “corrected” by the FBI, CIA, corporations, foreign governments, professors of all persuasions, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers. This makes them fun and suspect at the same time. It’s like having a paper refereed by the world instead of a few, often biased or casual, journal referees. What I like best is that “referee comments” are made public in Wikipedia’s “Discussion” sections. You don’t often find this in scholarly research journals where referee comments are supposed to remain confidential.
Reasons for flawed journal peer reviews were recently brought to light at

The biggest danger in Wikipedia in generally for modules that are rarely sought out. For example, Bill Smith might right a deceitful module about John Doe. If nobody’s interested in John Doe, it may take forever and a day for corrections to appear. Generally modules that are of great interest to many people, however, generate a lot of “talk” in the “Discussion” sections. For example, the Discussion section for George W. Bush is at

Bob Jensen's search helpers are at



"Forget the Articles, Best Wikipedia Read Is Its Discussions," by Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2007; Page B1 ---

You already know about Wikipedia -- or think you do. It's the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, the one that by dint of its 1.9 million English-language entries has become the Internet's main information source and the 17th busiest U.S. Web site.

But that's just the half of it.

Most people are familiar with Wikipedia's collection of articles. Less well-known, unfortunately, are the discussions about these articles. You can find these at the top of a Wikipedia page under a separate tab for "Discussion."

Reading these discussion pages is a vastly rewarding, slightly addictive, experience -- so much so that it has become my habit to first check out the discussion before going to the article proper.

At Wikipedia, anyone can be an editor and all but 600 or so articles can be freely altered. The discussion pages exist so the people working on an article can talk about what they're doing to it. Part of the discussion pages, the least interesting part, involves simple housekeeping; -- editors noting how they moved around the sections of an article or eliminated duplications. And sometimes readers seek answers to homework-style questions, though that practice is discouraged.

But discussion pages are also where Wikipedians discuss and debate what an article should or shouldn't say.

This is where the fun begins. You'd be astonished at the sorts of things editors argue about, and the prolix vehemence they bring to stating their cases. The 9,500-word article "Ireland," for example, spawned a 10,000-word discussion about whether "Republic of Ireland" would be a better name for the piece. "I know full well that many Unionist editors would object completely to my stance on this subject," wrote one person.

A ferocious back and forth ensued over whether Antonio Meucci or Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. One person from the Meucci camp taunted the Bell side by saying, "'Nationalistic pride' stop you and people like you to accept the truth. Bell was a liar and thief. He invented nothing."

As for the age-old philosophical question, "What is truth," it's an issue Wikipedia editors have spent 242,000 words trying to settle, an impressive feat considering how Plato needed only 118,000 words to write "The Republic."

These debates extend to topics most people wouldn't consider remotely controversial. The article on calculus, for instance, was host to some sparring over whether the concept of "limit," central to calculus, should be better explained as an "average."

Wikipedia editors are always on the prowl for passages in articles that violate Wikipedia policy, such as its ban on bias. Editors use the discussion pages to report these sightings, and reading the back and forth makes it clear that editors take this task very seriously.

On one discussion page is the comment: "I am not sure that it does not present an entirely Eurocentric view, nor can I see that it is sourced sufficiently well so as to be reliable."

Does it address a polarizing topic from politics or religion? Hardly. The article was about kittens. The editor was objecting to the statement that most people think kittens are cute.

These debates are not the only treasures in the discussion pages. You can learn a lot of stray facts, facts that an editor didn't think were important enough for the main article. For example, in the discussion accompanying the article about diets, it's noted that potatoes, eaten raw, can be poisonous. The National Potato Council didn't believe this when asked about it last week, but later called back to say that it was true, on account of the solanine in potatoes. Of course, you'd have to eat many sackfuls of raw potatoes to be done in by them.

The discussion about "biography" included random facts from sundry biographies, including that Marshall McLuhan believed his ideas about mass media and the rest to have been inspired by the Virgin Mary. This is true, said McLuhan biographer Philip Marchand. (Mr. Marchand also said McLuhan believed that a global conspiracy of Freemasons was seeking to hinder his career.)

Remember, though, this is Wikipedia, and while it tends to get things right in the long run, it can goof up along the way. A "tomato" article contained a lyrical description of the Carolina breed, said to be "first noted by Italian monk Giacomo Tiramisunelli" and "considered a rare delicacy amongst tomato-connoisseurs."

That's all a complete fabrication, said Roger Chetelat, tomato expert at the University of California, Davis. While now gone from Wikipedia, the passage was there long enough for "Giacomo Tiramisunelli" to turn up now in search engines as a key figure in tomato history.

Wikipedia is very self-aware. It has a Wikipedia article about Wikipedia. But this meta-analysis doesn't extend to "Wikipedia discussions." No article on the topic exists. Search for "discussion," and you are sent to "debate."

But, naturally, that's controversial. The discussion page about debate includes a debate over whether "discussion" and "debate" are synonymous. Emotions run high; the inability to distinguish the two, said one participant, is "one of the problems with Western Society."

Maybe I have been reading too many Wikipedia discussion pages, but I can see the point.

Jensen Comment
This may be more educational than what we teach in class. Try it by clicking on the Discussion tab for the following"

Credit Derivative ---

Capital Asset Pricing Model ---

Socratic Method ---

Moodle ---

"Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits," by Katie Hafner, The New York Times, August 19, 2007 ---

"CIA, FBI Computers Used for Wikipedia Edits," by Randall Mikkelsen, The Washington Post, August 16, 2007 --- Click Here
"CIA and Vatican Edit Wikipedia Entries,", August 18, 2007 --- Click Here

Jensen Comment
Wikipedia installed software to trace the source of edits and new modules.

Bob Jensen's threads on tools of education technology are at

Global Warming Test:  The Issue of Milankovitch Orbital Variations

A geoscientist criticized the following link that I placed (and then removed from) the September 10 edition of Tidbits.
The Global Warming Test  ---

 A reply from this geoscientist.

I owe you a longer response, so here goes:

Much of the information on the test is correct... but facts out of context can often mislead!

I have strong issues with several questions on those grounds:

Question 3 asks what the main cause of global warming is, and gives 3 possible choices. There are two major problems here. First the question is time dependent. Second, several "main" causes aren't even listed as possibilities. Some examples:  If I ask what the main cause of the warming that has occurred over the last 18,000 years is, the answer is Milankovitch orbital variations (which include more than the "eccentricities" listed in answer b), but if I ask what the main cause of global warming was in the late Mesozoic, the answer is CO2 released by tectonic activity. If I ask what the main cause of global warming was between 1992 and 1999, the answer is the diminishing effects of the SO2 released by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. And if I ask what is the main cause of global warming has been over the past two centuries, the answer is increasing atmospheric greenhouse gasses, some of which are human produced.  Although the author discusses many of these causes on his answer page, clearly understanding relative time scales and interactions go way beyond his simplistic multiple choices.

Question 5 implies that something less than 1 degree C is negligible... but continuous changes of this magnitude in overall global averages implies that polar high temps are increasing more... since hotter equatorial regions stay relatively the same. This may be insignificant to the author, but ask a polar bear!

Question 6 implies that just because CO2 has been higher in the geologic past means we don't need to worry about current trends. This ignores two significant issues. First, solar output was much different in the past. Second, rate of change is more important for ecosystems than absolute changes. It took millions of years for CO2 to rise in the mid Mesozoic... not several centuries. Berner's data without error bars is also a bit misleading.

Question 7 has only simplistic answers. Sure, trees love CO2. But things we love can hurt us. Eat too many Twinkies and you die of clogged arteries. While forests like the CO2, individual species can't necessarily adapt to rapid climate changes. Your grandchildren won't see any Sugar Maples in New England, despite their use of CO2.

Question 9 depends on how one defines drastic. And check out the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine...

Question 10 is simplistic... all three means are important to determining how the Earth is changing. To say that high altitude temps are the only important measure is absurd. What is worse, the answer page still hawks the line that satellite data shows decreasing temperatures. This is well known error in early analyses that NASA has repudiated.

So the upshot is that there are many truths in this quiz. But that are presented along with untruths, and half truths in order to support a particular viewpoint. Whether that viewpoint is right or wrong is unimportant. Science must not seek to prove a point. That is what faith is for.

You may remember Ana Unruh, Trinity's first (and so far only) Rhodes Scholar. She is now a Senior Policy advisor for the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (she is also now Ana Unruh Cohen). She likes to point out that climate models now been shown to be very accurate over the last 10-12 years but many politicians are unwilling to accept them, but the same politicians are willing to budget based on economic models that have much less basis in theory and much worse track records for predictive capability.


Below are some tidbits I added for this edition of Tidbits

The study by the Danish National Space Center rebuts a July study by UK scientists who allege there has not been a solar-climate link in the past 20 years. The Danish researchers, Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen, contend the UK study erroneously relies on surface air temperature, which, they say, "does not respond to the solar cycle." Over the past 20 years, however, the Danes argue, the solar cycle remains fully apparent in variations both of tropospheric air temperature and of ocean sub-surface water temperature.
"Sun still main force in climate change Rebuts widely publicized study this summer by UK scientists," WorldNetDaily, October 3, 2007 ---

Google famously and charmingly admonishes itself, "Don't Be Evil." Google also cultivates the image of the ultragreen company, giving subsidies to employees to buy hybrid cards and spending millions to install 1.6 megawatts of photovoltaic panels at its Mountain View, CA, headquarters. So on the day that Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize for promulgating accurate climate science in the public interest, here's a riddle: why does Google lend its technical muscle to science-bashing and fact-distorting websites that mislead Gmail readers and other Google customers on global warming and climate change?
David Talbot, "Nobel Prizes, Climate Keywords:  Google helps organize the world's disinformation, too," MIT's Technology Review, October 12, 2007 ---
David Talbot is the Senior Editor of MIT's Technology Review ---

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ---

How do we know global warming isn't Mother Nature having a hot flash?
Maxine ---

Mr. Christy is director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a participant in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time . . . I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer. Others of us scratch our heads and try to understand the real causes behind what we see. We discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before. Sea levels rise and fall continually. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before. One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America.

John R. Christie
, "My Nobel Moment," The Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2007; Page A19 ---

"Carbon Offsets," by Richard Posner," Becker-Posner Blog, December 2, 2007 ---

The most serious drawback of the carbon-offsets movement is that it is likely to make the problem of excessive carbon emissions more rather than less serious, and this for three reasons. The first is that it creates the impression that modest reductions in the rate of annual increases in carbon emissions make a meaningful contribution to the fight against global warming. They do not. Given the limitations of the carbon-offsets movement that I have noted (its purely voluntary nature and the fact that only consumer emissions are affected), plus the fact that any reductions attributable to the movement are more than offset by continuing rapid increases in emissions by China, India, and other rapidly developing economies, the movement can at best limit only very slightly the rate of annual increase in carbon emissions, whereas the need is to reduce the level of those emissions. The reason is that, because atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans only very gradually (and the ability of the ocean to act as a "carbon sink" apparently is declining), a high annual level of carbon emissions tends to have a cumulative effect, so that even if that level were steady (rather than increasing, as it is), the atmospheric concentration would rise.

Second, the movement encourages the belief that anyone who reduces his carbon "footprint" (that is, the emissions of carbon dioxide that he causes) to zero has done his bit to combat global warming. My wife and I have two cars, two houses, and fly a certain amount, but according to TerraPass's calculation, we can reduce our carbon footprint (roughly 32 tons of carbon dioxide a year) to zero at a cost of $282 a year. Then I will feel good about myself. But if a million American families having similar carbon footprints eliminate them at this rather modest price, the result--a reduction of 32 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted per year--will be microscopic, as the worldwide hourly emission of carbon dioxide is 16 million tons. A million American families would be roughly 1 percent of the U.S. population. Suppose the carbon-offsets movement, which is recent, and is getting a boost from the increasingly ominous evidence of global warming, grows beyond my expectations, to a point at which 10 percent of the U.S. population is paying TerraPass or other carbon-offset providers to offset an average of 32 tons per family. The effect would be to reduce annual worldwide carbon emissions by 20 hours' worth, or about one-quarter of 1 percent, and the reduction would be greatly offset by the worldwide growth of emissions, currently running at about 3 percent a year.

Third, and most serious, the carbon-offset movement, combined with well-publicized projects by Google and other companies to reduce carbon emissions, creates the false impression that global warming can be tamed by voluntary efforts, just as cleaning up after dogs has been achieved by voluntary efforts, without need for legal compulsion. Global warming cannot be tamed by voluntary efforts, because the costs of significantly reducing carbon emissions in order to reduce the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (or at least stop it from increasing) are enormous. If people believe that voluntary efforts will suffice, there will be no political pressure to incur the heavy costs that will be necessary to avert the risk of catastrophic climate change.

Continued in article

"Carbon Offsets," by Nobel Laureate Gary Becker," Becker-Posner Blog, December 2, 2007 ---

The natural link between an offset system, whether compulsory or voluntary, and an emission trading system does dispose of the criticism that offsets are not desirable because they are like the indulgence system of the Middle Ages, In that system, sinners could purchase forgiveness for some of their sins without either having to repent, or having to agree not to sin anymore. Yes, an offset system does essentially involve buying the rights to pollute, but buying such rights helps get polluting into the hands of those businesses and consumers who get the most value from these rights. That is why the world has gravitated toward a cap and trade system rather than merely a cap system.

Another major problem with any carbon-offset system is that activities producing the so-called "offsets" may have happened anyway. For example, an initial and still popular type of carbon offset is to pay for the planting of trees in a reforestation project, particularly in the tropics. Forests help cool the atmosphere by storing carbon. It is quite difficult to determine whether any particular tree-planting program makes a net contribution to planting, rather than simply displacing other tree plantings that would have occurred anyway.

As one example, a country located in the tropics may have planned on a reforestation project for several reasons, including a reduction in the degree and rapidity of water runoffs during rainstorms. If a carbon-offset project began to plant trees in that forest, the country may cut back on its own efforts since these would be replaced by the tree plantings that serve as carbon offsets. TerraPass, an important company that sells carbon offsets, was accused of selling offsets in a methane recapturing project that allegedly would have happened without the TerraPass offsets (the company denied this claim; see the discussion in the Wikipedia article on "Carbon Offset").

In our complicated and interdependent global economic system, opportunities to create carbon offsets can be readily produced by both companies and governments without any significant affect on the scale of emissions. Mainly for this reason, but also because of the reluctance of most individuals to voluntarily pay significant costs for acting "green", a cap and trade system, despite its many flaws, is a far preferable direction to develop in order to cut down on carbon emissions.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's links to science tutorials are at

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is making freely available to high-school students and teachers a collection of material in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The material is available on a new Web site, an offshoot of its popular OpenCourseWare effort to put lecture notes and other information about every course online.
The Chronicle of Higher Education ---
Jensen Comment
It's a shame that the Sloan School at MIT has not yet made accounting and business materials available for high schools. The bookkeeping, clerical, and boring-drudge portrayal of accountants in the nation's high schools is viewed as one of the most serious problems of the accountancy profession. In this MIT offshoot of OCW, the Sloan School could do a lot to help Dan Deines, the AICPA, and the AAA --- See the Taylor Report summary on Page 5 of

Bob Jensen's threads on accountancy careers are at

Bob Jensen's threads on the MIT OCW/OKI project making course materials available for over 1,500 college-level courses are at

Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Could Bring a Tax Windfall to States ---

Voting Fraud
Was the Miss Universe contest rigged?

Young Chimp Beats College Students ---
This was also on ABC News on December 3, 2007

Jensen Comment
After 40 years of teaching, why don't I find this surprising?
Having watched the tasks, I'm certain the chimp could also beat me. There were six chimps in these experiments. All showed superior memory for humans for the touch screen tasks used in the experiments. These were not easy tasks and all for peanuts.

"Japan researchers unveil housework robot," PhysOrg, November 27, 2007 --- 

Japanese researchers on Tuesday unveiled a new humanoid robot designed to lend a hand with housework, particularly the rapidly growing number of elderly people in the Asian country.

The 147-centimetre (four-foot-10) robot, pure white save for blue eyes and red arm joints, put its skills on display by helping an elderly person get out of bed and preparing breakfast.

While communicating with the person, the 111-kilogramme (244-pound) robot picked up tomato sauce from the refrigerator with four fingers and carried it with a piece of bread on a plate to the dining table.

With sensors and flexible joints, the robot is able to absorb potential shocks in case it bumps into users.

The robot was developed by Tokyo's elite Waseda University and named Twendy-One, an acronym derived from Waseda Engineering Designed Symbiont.

"In our super-ageing society, both strength and delicacy are required" for robots, Professor Shigeki Sugano said in presenting the humanoid. "Twendy-One is the first robot that can meet those conditions."

The professor said his team aims to sell the robot in 2015.

Japanese are famed for longevity, with more than 30,000 people aged at least 100 years old, a trend attributed to a healthy cuisine and active lifestyle.

But the longevity is also presenting a headache as the country has one of the lowest birthrates, raising fears of a future demographic crisis as a smaller pool of workers supports a mass of elderly.


Real-life Superheroes: 10 People with Incredible Abilities [w/ pics and vids] ---

"Blind, Deaf and Dumb," by Laurence Musgrove, Inside Higher Ed, December 3, 2007 ---  

They soon learn I don’t teach speed reading. I teach slow reading. I teach slow, concentrated, finger-on-the-page reading. I read to my students in my slow Texas drawl. I crawl with them through the passages and passageways. We mosey. We copy down sentences. We write paraphrases. We imitate sentences. We read a couple of lines. We ask questions. We pause. We read those lines again. I dedicate entire classes to silent, sustained, shared reading. We call it “reading lab.”

. . .

Having a productive relationship with text is also dependent upon hearing the text. Many of my students cannot hear what they read. Perhaps it is because they were not read to as children. Whatever the cause, they often cannot hear the voice of the text. Their eyes may be working, but their ears aren’t. Nothing on the lips and tongue either. What they can’t taste, they can’t consume. That’s why I read to my students. I’m their hearing aid. Their sommelier. Given my experience with the text, I help them learn the lay of the land. I help them find the right narrative path so they can follow it page after page. I’m an English instructor who also teaches voice.

I also know that many students sometimes go blind when they see text. It’s a shameful state of cultural affairs. Poetry-blindness is particularly tragic. Poetry unsettles the eye. It can make us dizzy, all this reading back and forth, up and down the page. But students easily go blind in the face of other texts, too. Lost and wandering aimlessly, they might as well give up, shut their eyes, and fall asleep for good.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that many students should go silent in the company of text. That they are unresponsive in class. That they should go dumb after going deaf and blind. That they have no sense and sensation of what they’ve read. That they look to their professors for short cuts, quick reads, and knowledge patches.


How to be a Good Wife ---

With Pictures
In a politically correct age, they seem like outrageous anachronisms. And there is no doubt these adverts - many taken from the first half of the last century - reveal just how much women used to be caricatured as downtrodden housewives or hair-brained office girls. Now, a new book - You Mean A Woman Can Open It?: The Woman's Place In The Classic Age Of Advertising - brings together images which would surely cause a howl of protest if they were released today.
"The outrageously politically incorrect adverts from the time equality forgot," London Daily Mail, November 28, 2007 --- Click Here

Years ago, Marilyn Neimark conducted a study of the history of demeaning parts of General Motors Corporation’s six decades of annual reports ---
"The Hidden Dimensions of Annual Reports:  Sixty Years of Social Conflict at General Motors," by Marilyn K. Neimark (Marcus Weiner Publishing) ---  

I don't know if Marilyn is still doing commentaries on WBAI radio in New York City.

Men Like Their Figures
November 28, 2007 message from Linda A. Kidwell []

This is a real advertisement from The Journal of Accountancy in 1951.  I came across it looking for the earliest article on the fraud triangle.  Wow!  Have times changed!  (well maybe only the business interpretation of the ad).


Linda Kidwell

November 29, 2007 reply from Patricia Doherty [pdoherty@BU.EDU]

You know, this ad for the Comptometer really hit me - I immediately recalled my late mother (she passed away in 2004 at the age of 86) telling me when we were kids about how she operated a Comptometer at the office where she worked, I believe while my dad was away in the Pacific in WWII. Talk about a flashback, to see the ad for it now! I might just print and paste it on my office window.

Interestingly, to put a different slant on all this - such humor was at one time considered harmless. It was only when the few bad apples carried it too far, and turned it all into real harassment, that we began to "regulate" speech and behavior, and it has been a very slippery slope. It reminds me of the measures faculty take to prevent cheating. In both cases, the rules begin to take over, so that EVERYONE is restricted far beyond the original intent.

A school in this area has recently put a ban on ALL touching - that means 100%. If someone falls, don't offer a hand up. If they're distraught, better let them cry, because if you try to comfort them you can be expelled. Is this the world we want to live in? Can we once again back up just a step to the realm of reason, where sometimes, in the words of a pundit (don't remember which one), "a cigar is just a cigar?"

Sorry for the lecture - I must really be getting old!

" ... the magic of the information age is that it allows us to know less." David Brooks

... ... is that supposed to be a good thing? Doherty

Patricia A. Doherty
Department of Accounting
Boston University School of Management
595 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, MA 02215


You can read about historian Jacques Barzun at

Debbie Bowling forwarded an update on Professor Barzun in a recent column of San Antonio Express News ---

Historian and author Jacques Barzun completed 'From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life' in San Antonio, where he has lived since 1997.

Amazon's reviews of From Dawn to Decadence are at

Other reviews are at

"Finding Yourself without GPS:  Google's new technology could enable location-finding services on cell phones that lack GPS," by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, December 4, 2007 ---

As more mobile phones tap into the Internet, people increasingly turn to them for location-centric services like getting directions and finding nearby restaurants. While Global Positioning System (GPS) technology provides excellent accuracy, only a fraction of phones have this capability. What's more, GPS coverage is spotty in dense urban environments, and in-phone receivers can be slow and drain a phone's battery.

To sidestep this problem, last week Google added a new feature, called My Location, to its Web-based mapping service. My Location collects information from the nearest cell-phone tower to estimate a person's location within a distance of about 1,000 meters. This resolution is obviously not sufficient for driving directions, but it can be fine for searching for a restaurant or a store. "A common use of Google Maps is to search nearby," says Steve Lee, product manager for Google Maps, who likened the approach to searching for something within an urban zip code, but without knowing that code. "In a new city, you might not know the zip code, or even if you know it, it takes time to enter it and then to zoom in and pan around the map."

Many phones support software that is able to read the unique identification of a cell-phone tower and the coverage area that surrounds it is usually split into three regions. Lee explains that My Location uses such software to learn which tower is serving the phone--and which coverage area the cell phone is operating in. Google also uses data from cell phones in the area that do have GPS to help estimate the locations of the devices without it. In this way, Google adds geographic information to the cell-phone tower's identifiers that the company stores in a database.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
This reminds me of the guy who quit his job in order to go out an 'find himself.' The next day he returned to the office and asked for his old job back.

His employer replied:  "We thought you we're going to head out to find yourself."

"Yeah," the guy answered. "But it wasn't all that hard with GPS."

Now all he would have to do is use his cell phone and Google Maps.

See Google Maps Features ---

My Location (Beta) ---

Bob Jensen's Search Helpers ---

Does it pay to evade taxes and, if so, why don't more people do it?

"Why so Little Tax Evasion?" by Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, The Becker-Posner Blog, November 25, 2007 ---

All the rich countries are successful in raising sizable amounts of revenue from taxes with only a rather little tax evasion. Tax avoidance is the use of legal means to reduce taxes, whereas tax evasion uses illegal means. The federal government of the US raises almost 20 percent of American GDP through taxes on personal and business income, capital gains, estates, and the sale of gasoline and some other goods. The estimates from the 2001 IRS National Research Program indicate that the percent of income not reported is quite low for wages and salaries, but rises to over 50 percent for farm income, and about 40 percent for business income. Income tax payments overall are under reported by about 13 percent. What determines the degree of tax evasion?

If taxpayers responded only to the expected cost of evading taxes, evasion would be far more widespread. The reason is that only about 7 percent of all tax returns are audited (over a 7 year period), and typically the penalty on under reported income is only about 20 percent of the taxes owed. Virtually no one is sent to jail simply for evading taxes unless that evasion is on a very large scale, or involves massive fraud. If a person were to evade $1,000 in taxes, his expected gain would be 0.93x$1000 -0.07x$200 (=$1000/5) = $916. On these considerations alone, he should not hesitate to evade paying the $1,000, and presumably much more.

To be sure, the expected gain is not the right criterion since most taxpayers would be risk averse regarding audits and punishments, especially if there is some chance of much greater than the average punishment or likelihood of an audit. However, if the expected gain from evading $1,000 were $916, the degree of risk aversion would have to be huge, far higher than the risk aversion that is embodied in pricing of assets, for risk to explain why there is so little tax evasion.

This is not to say that possible punishments have no affect on the amount of tax evasion. Compliance rates are much higher when governments have independent evidence on a person's income since then the probability of audit when he under reports his income is much higher than when they do not have this information. For example, income from independent consulting to companies is better reported than tips on earnings, or than the incomes of farmers and other small business owners because employers report how much they paid to independent consultants, whereas no one reports how much they paid in tips, or how much they bought from a local store. A PhD study in progress at the University of Chicago by Oscar Vela also shows that persons in occupations where integrity is a more important determinant of success, such as law or medicine, are less likely to evade taxes. Presumably, any publicity that an individual in these occupations was convicted of tax evasion would damage his reputation and earnings.

Vela finds that considerations of reputation, along with more traditional variables in the tax evasion literature do help explain how much evasion occurs for different types of income. These variables include the likelihood of audits that varies for different classes of taxpayers, punishments for those audited, marital status (not surprisingly, married persons are less likely to evade taxes), the marginal tax rate, and the ease with which governments can match reported incomes with independent evidence on incomes, such as from 1040 and 1099 tax forms,

Note that tax avoidance as well as tax evasion tends to rise as the marginal tax rate increases. That is, with higher tax rates, individuals and businesses are both more likely not to report some of their income to the tax authorities, and also to search harder for ways to reduce how much of their income they are obligated to report. This implies, for example, that flattening the income tax structure would increase the amount of personal income reported to tax authorities because both the amount of evasion and the avoidance of the personal income tax would be reduced.

However, audits, punishments, and the other deterrence variables mentioned in the previous paragraphs do not fully explain why there is not much more tax evasion. I believe it is necessary to recognize that most people believe they have a duty, moral or otherwise, to report their taxable income more or less honestly. I intentionally say "more or less honestly" because a little cheating on taxes is usually considered to be ok, as long as it does not go too far. Individuals might not pay social security taxes on their payments to workers who clean their houses, and they might pay a mason in cash because he then gives them a lower price, but these same persons would be very reluctant to engage in large-scale tax evasion.

Similarly, most people do not believe it is moral to steal money even when there is little chance they will be found out, and they feel obligated to obey many other laws, even when that entails inconvenience and cost to themselves. There would be considerably more crime if individuals only obeyed laws when the expected cost of being caught, adjusted for risk, exceeded the benefits from disobeying these laws. To some extent, people obey many laws, including tax laws, because most other persons are doing the same. If so, their behavior might change radically if they lost confidence that others would pay their taxes and obey other laws.

Clearly, morality about obeying laws does not apply to all types of taxes, or all laws-people often cross a street when the light is red, do not stop at stop signs when riding their bikes, and do not report much of their tips. Moreover, in many countries of Latin America, Africa, and Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe, individuals do not even feel much obligation to pay ordinary income and other taxes. They evade except when they expect the chances of being caught are high, as with businesses paying value added taxes. These countries are unable to raise substantial amounts from taxes on personal incomes or businesses except when marginal tax rates are low. Instead they rely greatly on value added and other more difficult to evade taxes.

"Why so Little Tax Evasion? Richard Posner, The Becker-Posner Blog, November 25, 2007 ---

Becker presents persuasive evidence that the amount of tax evasion varies, as one would expect in a rational-choice model of taxpaying, with variance in the private costs and private benefits of evasion. I am inclined to believe that the private costs are higher than he suggests, which if true would mean that more tax compliance can be attributed to rational fear of punishment than he suggests and less to taxpayers' feeling a moral duty to pay taxes. For example, the civil penalties for tax evasion are quite severe (the fraud penalty is 100 percent of the amount of taxes evaded), and anyone charged with civil or criminal tax evasion will incur heavy legal and accounting expenses in defending against the charge. Although the audit rate is low, it is not random, but rather is higher for those taxpayers who are in the best position to evade taxes without being caught or whose tax returns raise a red flag because of unusually high deductions or other suspicious circumstances. And once one has been caught evading taxes, one can expect the rate of future audits of one's returns to be high. While it is true that underpayment of taxes is rarely prosecuted criminally, even when deliberate, criminal prosecution is likely if the tax evader takes steps to conceal the evasion, as by never filing a tax return, keeping phony books, or forging evidence of deductions. Moreover, the government does occasionally prosecute even small fry.

. . .

The general question that Becker raises of the moral costs of committing crime is a fascinating one. I would be inclined to search as hard as possible for nonmoral costs before concluding that morality is a major motivator of behavior, especially with regard to crimes, like tax evasion, that do not have an identifiable victim. In the case of many crimes, the benefits to most people of perpetrating them would be so slight (and often zero or even negative) that sanctions play only a small role in bringing about compliance; enforcement costs needn't be high in order to deter when nonenforcement benefits are low. Some examples: the demand for crack cocaine among white people (including cocaine addicts) appears to be very small. Both altruism and fear deter most people from attempting crimes of violence, quite apart from expected punishment costs. The vast majority of men do not have a sexual interest in prepubescent children. Well-to-do people often have excellent substitutes for crime: any person of means can procure legal substitutes for illegal drugs (for example, Prozac for cocaine, Valium for heroin). Fear of injury deters most people from driving recklessly or while drunk. People who have no taxable income are incapable of evading income tax. People who do have taxable income can obtain benefits from evading it, but the costs of evasion are, as I have emphasized, nonnegligible, so there is widespread compliance along with a good deal of evasion. I would therefore expect differences across countries in tax evasion to be related more to differences in penalties, collection methods, and so forth than to differences in morality. Americans may exhibit higher tax compliance than Italians, but Americans are not a more moral people than Italians.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
I inclined to think that more people evade taxes than Becker and Posner suggest, although this evasion has declined due to added reporting of revenues, particularly 1099 forms for miscellaneous and investment income. Increasingly, without formal audits, the IRS is sending out bills for underreported 1099 income. In the United States, the IRS estimated in 2007 that Americans owed $345 billion more than they paid, or about 14% of federal revenues for FY2007. But these estimates are very soft numbers based largely on intense audits of a miniscule proportion of taxpayers filing returns ---


You can learn a lot about taxation at
Also see

Bob Jensen's tax helpers are at

"Ways to prevent cheating on online exams," by Gail E. Krovitz, eCollege Newsletter, Vol 8, Issue 6 November 15, 2007 ---

  • Write every exam as if it is open book. As much as we try to convince ourselves otherwise, we need to assume that students use resources on their exams (the book, Internet search engines and so on) and write our exams accordingly. Are all of our questions asking for information that can be gathered quickly from the textbook or from a simple Internet search? Then we should re-think our questions (see following guideline). Open-book exams have the potential to test higher level thinking skills, instead of just memorizing facts. Unfortunately, scores on open-book exams are often lower, as students don’t take exam preparation as seriously when they know they can use their book, so training in open-book exam-taking skills would be helpful (Rakes).
  • Write effective multiple-choice exam questions. Because it is so easy to use prohibited materials during online exams, it is foolish to design tests that simply test factual information that is easily looked up. Although it is difficult to do, online exams are most effective when they test higher order thinking skills (application, synthesis and evaluation) and ask questions that cannot be answered by glancing at the book or a quick internet search.  See Christe, Dewey and Rohrer for more information about developing quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Set tight time limits per question. Even with open book exams (and especially for ones that are not open book), it is important to give a tight time frame for the test, so students will not have time to look up each question in the book. The time limit chosen will obviously vary depending on subject matter, type of questions asked, etc. For strict fact recall, instructors might start by giving a total time based on allowing 60- 90 seconds per question and then adjusting as necessary based on their student body. More time would need to be given for higher-level thinking questions or for those involving calculations.
  • Use large question pools to offer different, randomly-selected questions to each student. See “Tip: getting the most out of exam question pools” for a good description of using question pools in the eCollege system. The question pools must be large enough to minimize overlap of questions between tests. Rowe provides a chart comparing the average number of questions in common for two students with different question pool sizes and different numbers of questions drawn from the pool. For example, 5 questions drawn from a pool of 10 questions results in 2.5 questions in common between two students, while 5 questions drawn from a pool of 25 questions results in only 1 question in common between two students. You can consult the mathematical formula or go with common sense: a larger question pool is better for reducing the likelihood that students will get the same questions.  
  • Manually create different versions of the exam with the same general question pools, but with scrambled answers for each question. For example, in one version of the exam, the correct answer could be B, while the answer choices are scrambled in the other version so the correct answer is D. You could use the Group function to assign half of the class to one exam, and the other half the class to the other one. Cizek cites research showing that scrambling questions and answer choices does reduce cheating, while simply changing the order of the same questions does not reduce cheating.  In fact, in a study of student’s perceived effectiveness of cheating prevention strategies, having scrambled test forms was the number one factor perceived by students to prevent cheating (Cizek).
  • Assign a greater number of smaller tests instead of one or two large ones. This reduces the incentive to cheat, as each test isn’t as likely to make or break a student’s grade; the pressure of the midterm and final-only structure in some classes is a strong incentive to cheat on those exams. Also, this increases the logistical difficulties of cheating if a student is relying on someone else to help them or to take the test for them.
  • Provide a clear policy for what happens if students cheat… and enforce it! There are many important things instructors can do from this perspective, such as discussing what constitutes cheating, the importance of academic honesty, any honor codes in place, what measures will be in place to prevent and detect cheating and the punishments for cheating. If students perceive that the instructor does not care about cheating, then incidents of both spontaneous and planned cheating increase (Cizek). Students know that most cheaters don’t get caught and that punishments aren’t harsh for those who do get caught (Kleiner and Lord). Research has found that punishment for cheating is one of the main deterrents to cheating (Kleiner and Lord).
  • Set the exam Gradebook Review Date for after the exam has closed.  The Gradebook Review Date is when the students can access their graded exam in the Gradebook. If this date is set before the end of the exam, students who take the exam early could access their exam in the Gradebook (and usually the correct answers as well) and distribute the questions to students who would take the exam later.    
  • Revise tests every term.  Sooner or later exam questions are likely to get out into the student world and get distributed between students. This is especially possible when students view their graded exams in the Gradebook, as they have all the time in the world to copy or print their questions (usually with the correct answers provided). Periodic changes to the test bank can help minimize the impact of this. Minor changes such as rewording the questions and changing the order of answers (especially if different versions with scrambled answers are not used) can help extend the useful life of a test bank.
  • Use ExamGuardTM if the feature is available at your school. ExamGuard prohibits the following actions while students are taking online exams: printing, copying and pasting anything into or from the assessment, surfing the Web, opening or using other applications, using Windows system keys functions or clicking on any other area within the course. Also note that ExamGuard prohibits students from printing or copying exam materials while viewing the exam in the Gradebook.  If you are interested in learning more about ExamGuard, please contact your Account Executive or Client Services Consultant.
  • Give proctored exams in a traditional classroom. While this is not an option for many online courses, it is a route that some schools take, especially if they largely serve a local population. With proctored exams, instructors feel more in control of the testing environment and more able to combat cheating in a familiar classroom setting (or at least to have cheating levels on par with those seen in a traditional exam setting). In a study on cheating in math or fact-based courses, Trenholm concludes that proctoring is “the single greatest tool we presently have to uphold the integrity of the educational process in instruction in online MFB (math or fact based) courses” (p. 297).  Also, Cizek showed that attentive proctoring reduced cheating directly and by giving the impression that academic integrity is valued.


December 1, 2007 reply from Charles Wankel [wankelc@VERIZON.NET]

Thanks Bob for sharing.

Some of the points seem to fall back to face-to-face course ideas but others were very helpful. I found the emphasis on higher order thinking skills (application, synthesis and evaluation) to be a great one. I am going to try to work on putting synthesis into my students’ assignments and projects.

Charlie Wankel

St. John’s University,
New York

December 1, 2007 reply from David Raggay [draggay@TSTT.NET.TT]

Please be so kind as to refer me to the specific article or articles wherein I can find a discussion on “higher order thinking skills (application, synthesis and evaluation)”


David Raggay,
IFRS Consultants,
Trinidad and Tobago

December 1, 2007 reply from Bob Jensen

Hi David,

There are several tacks to take on this question. Charlie provides some key words (see above).

I prefer to think of higher order metacognition ---
For specific examples in accounting education see
One of the main ideas is to make students do their own discovery learning. Blood, sweat, and tears are the best teachers.

Much of the focus in metacognitive learning is how to examine/discover what students have learned on their own and how to control cheating when assessing discovery and concept learning --- 

Higher order learning attempts to make students think more conceptually. In particular, note the following quotation from Bob Kennelly at 

We studied whether instructional material that connects accounting concept discussions with sample case applications through hypertext links would enable students to better understand how concepts are to be applied to practical case situations.

Results from a laboratory experiment indicated that students who learned from such hypertext-enriched instructional material were better able to apply concepts to new accounting cases than those who learned from instructional material that contained identical content but lacked the concept-case application hyperlinks.

Results also indicated that the learning benefits of concept-case application hyperlinks in instructional material were greater when the hyperlinks were self-generated by the students rather than inherited from instructors, but only when students had generated appropriate links.

Along broader lines we might think of it in terms of self-organizing of atomic-level knowledge --- 

Issues are still in great dispute on the issues of over 80 suggested “learning styles” ---
Assessment and control of cheating are still huge problems.

 Bob Jensen

December 2, 2007 reply from Henry Collier []

G’day Bob … I’m not sure whether David is asking for the Bloom citation or not. I do not disagree with your post in any way, but wonder if David is looking for the ‘start’ of the art/science. I have also suggested that he may want to look at Bob Gagne’s approach to the same issues. Perhaps William Graves Perry’s 1970 book could / would also be useful.

Best regards from spring time in New South Wales where the roses in my garden are blooming and very pretty.


December 4, 2007 reply from Sanz, Mary Jo [MSANZ@BENTLEY.EDU]

Hi David

Bloom’s Taxonomy (in the Cognitive domain) speaks to the higher order thinking skills you refer to.

This website provides a good description of Bloom’s Taxonomy 

I’ve attached a Task-Oriented Question Construction Wheel based on Bloom’s Cognitive Domain.


Mary Jo Sanz, M. Ed.
Instructional Designer for Online Programs
Bentley College


New Technology for Proctoring Distance Education Examinations
"Proctor 2.0," by Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed, June 2, 2006 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on online versus onsite assessment are at

Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at

"Beyond Tests and Quizzes," Inside Higher Ed, December 5, 2007 ---

With federal and state officials, accreditors and others all talking about the importance of assessment, what’s going on in classrooms? Assessment, after all, takes place every time a professor gives a test. A new volume of essays, Beyond Tests and Quizzes: Creative Assessments in the College Classroom (Jossey-Bass) argues that assessments in the classroom could be more creative and more useful to the educational process. The editors of the volume are Richard Mezeske, chair of education at Hope College, and Barbara A. Mezeske, an associate professor of English at Hope. In an e-mail interview, they discussed the themes of their new book

. . .

Q: Could you share your definition of “creative assessment” and some of your favorite examples?

A: Creative assessment is flexible, timely, and interesting to both the instructor and to the student. When teachers shift instruction based on student feedback, then they are being flexible and creative. We do not mean that teachers should design ever more imaginative and bizarre assessment tools, or that they should ignore mandated curricular content. Rather, creative assessment, as we use the term, implies focused attention to student learning, reading the signs, engaging students, and listening to their feedback. Creative assessment often gives students opportunities to apply and deepen their superficial knowledge in their discipline.

For example, in the chapter in our book about teaching grammar, Rhoda Janzen describes an assessment that requires students to devise and play grammar games: They cannot do that without a deep mastery of the principles they are learning. In another chapter, Tom Smith describes how he grades individuals’ tests during private office appointments: He affirms correct responses, asks students to explain incomplete or erroneous answers, and both gives and gets immediate, personal feedback on a student’s ability to recall and apply concepts. In a third chapter, David Schock writes about taking media-production skills into the community, allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating public service announcements and other media products for an audience outside the classroom.

Q: How is technology (the Web, etc.) changing the potential of testing and assessment?

A: Technology is expanding the possibilities for assessment while at the same time complicating assessment. For example, checking understanding of a group and individuals during instruction is now relatively simple with electronic tools which allow students to press a button and report what they believe about concept X. The results are instantaneously displayed for an entire class to see and the instructor can adjust instruction based on that feedback. However, technology can complicate, too. How is a teacher able to guarantee student X working at a remote computer station on an assessment is actually student X, and not student Y covering for student X? Does the technology merely make the assessment tool slick without adding substance to the assessment? In other words, merely using technology does not automatically make the assessment clever, substantive, correct, or even interesting, but it can do all of those things.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on online versus onsite assessment are at

"Google's Cloud Looms Large: How might expanding Google's cloud-computing service alter the digital world?," by Kate Greene, MIT's Technology Review, December 3, 2007 --- 

To know how you'll be using computers and the Internet in the coming years, it's instructive to consider the Google employee: most of his software and data--from pictures and videos, to presentations and e-mails--reside on the Web. This makes the digital stuff that's valuable to him equally accessible from his home computer, a public Internet café, or a Web-enabled phone. It also makes damage to a hard drive less important. Recently, Sam Schillace, the engineering director in charge of collaborate Web applications at Google, needed to reformat a defunct hard drive from a computer that he used for at least six hours a day. Reformatting, which completely erases all the data from a hard drive, would cause most people to panic, but it didn't bother Schillace. "There was nothing on it I cared about" that he couldn't find stored on the Web, he says.

Schillace's digital life, for the most part, exists on the Internet; he practices what is considered by many technology experts to be cloud computing. Google already lets people port some of their personal data to the Internet and use its Web-based software. Google Calendar organizes events, Picasa stores pictures, YouTube holds videos, Gmail stores e-mails, and Google Docs houses documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. But according to a Wall Street Journal story, the company is expected to do more than offer scattered puffs of cloud computing: it will launch a service next year that will let people store the contents of entire hard drives online. Google doesn't acknowledge the existence of such a service. In an official statement, the company says, "Storage is an important component of making Web apps fit easily into consumers' and business users' lives ... We're always listening to our users and looking for ways to update and improve our Web applications, including storage options, but we don't have anything to announce right now." Even so, many people in the industry believe that Google will pull together its disparate cloud-computing offerings under a larger umbrella service, and people are eager to understand the consequences of such a project.

To be sure, Google isn't the only company invested in online storage and cloud computing. There are other services today that offer a significant amount of space and software in the cloud. Amazon's Simple Storage Service, for instance, offers unlimited and inexpensive online storage ($0.15 per gigabyte per month). AOL provides a service called Xdrive with a capacity of 50 gigabytes for $9.95 per month (the first five gigabytes are free). And Microsoft offers Windows Live SkyDrive, currently with a one-gigabyte free storage limit.

But Google is better positioned than most to push cloud computing into the mainstream, says Thomas Vander Wal, founder of Infocloud Solutions, a cloud-computing consultancy. First, millions of people already use Google's online services and store data on its servers through its software. Second, Vander Wal says that the culture at Google enables his team to more easily tie together the pieces of cloud computing that today might seem a little scattered. He notes that Yahoo, Microsoft, and Apple are also sitting atop huge stacks of people's personal information and a number of online applications, but there are barriers within each organization that could slow down the process of integrating these pieces. "It could be," says Vander Wal, "that Google pushes the edges again where everybody else has been stuck for a while."

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Google are at

Do middle-school students understand how well they actually learn?
Given national mandates to ‘leave no child behind,’ grade-school students are expected to learn an enormous amount of course material in a limited amount of time. “Students have too much to learn, so it’s important they learn efficiently,” says Dr. John Dunlosky, Kent State professor of psychology and associate editor of Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. Today, students are expected to understand and remember difficult concepts relevant to state achievement tests. However, a major challenge is the student’s ability to judge his own learning. “Students are extremely over confident about what they’re learning,” says Dunlosky. Dunlosky and his colleague, Dr. Katherine Rawson, Kent State assistant professor of psychology, study metacomprehension, or the ability to judge your own comprehension and learning of text materials. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, their research primarily focuses on fifth, seventh and eighth graders as well as college-aged students, and how improving metacomprehension can, in turn, improve students’ self-regulated learning.
PhysOrg, November 26, 2007 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at

America’s Best Churches Ranked by U.S. News: A Spoof, by Charlie Clark, Inside Higher Ed, November 30, 2007 ---

Bob Jensen's threads on ranking controversies are at

"No Excuses: a Wire-Free Way to Upload Photos Wi-Fi Device Transfers Digital Shots to PCs And Sites Automatically," by Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal, November 21, 2007; Page D8 ---

No matter how perfectly shot or emotionally meaningful your digital photos may be, if they aren't uploaded to your computer or to a Web site, no one else will ever see them as they languish in your camera. This problem has plagued the digital-photo industry for years, though the cameras themselves have improved.

Most users know how to upload photos, but don't want to hassle with USB cords and slow upload speeds when transferring images onto a computer or photo-sharing site. Camera docks and memory-card readers built into PCs have attempted to alleviate these transferring problems, but these so-called shortcuts still require a certain amount of dedication to the process.

In the past couple of years, a handful of companies have gone a step farther by introducing Wi-Fi enabled digital cameras, notably Nikon Inc. and Eastman Kodak Co. But this capability works only in certain cameras and even then requires users to walk through a number of steps to send the photos through a service created by the company instead of sending them to a computer or Web site.

Little Effort Needed

This week, I tested a refreshingly simple gadget that solves this problem and does what most technology products don't: It works in existing devices and requires next to no effort. The $100 Eye-Fi Card by Eye-Fi Inc. ( is a two-gigabyte SecureDigital memory card with a built-in wireless chip. It slips into any camera with an SD-card slot, and whenever the camera is turned on, looks for a familiar Wi-Fi network and uploads your photos to your Mac or PC and one of 17 photo-sharing sites. After a quick, one-time setup, the user does nothing more than turning on the digital camera.

I thought this thing was too good to be true and set out to find its flaws. But after using it with two digital cameras (one brand new and the other over three years old), three different computers (each with different operating systems) and five photo-sharing sites, I'm convinced that the Eye-Fi is a terrific little tool. It works quickly and is a no-brainer to get going. The only people who won't like it are those who enjoy razzing their lazy friends for forgetting to share digital photos.

Minor Inconveniences

The Eye-Fi's flaws are minor enough to dismiss. For one thing, it doesn't work on Wi-Fi networks that use log-in pages like those in Starbucks; instead, it's meant to work on home networks or other "open" networks. Secondly, there's no way to know when Eye-Fi finishes transferring photos unless you check your computer. Finally, your digital camera must stay on for the duration of the wireless transfer, which slightly taxes battery power, and slower networks and/or transferring numerous higher-resolution photos will require a bit more juice. Likewise, Eye-Fi looks for Wi-Fi networks whenever the camera is on, though the company says this only uses a minimal amount of the camera's battery power.

The Eye-Fi Card comes in a small, colorful box that reminded me of a pop-up book: Pull one side and a quick-start guide appears on the right while the left swings out a piece holding the Eye-Fi card reader and SD card. This reader is only needed for the initial setup on each computer, which only took a few minutes per system.

I tried my Eye-Fi first on a Windows XP machine, plugging the card reader and card into a USB port. The software setup walks users through clear, quick steps like testing the computer's firewall to be sure it can work through it and asking which folder should be designated to receive wirelessly transferred images. Here, I also typed in my account information for sharing images on Kodak Gallery; later I added Shutterfly, Snapfish, Picasa and Flickr. Other online destinations included blogs like Vox and TypePad, along with social-networking giant Facebook. The last step instructed me to insert the Eye-Fi SD card into my camera to snap the first test photo of myself, making sure it was working properly.

Managing Your Photos

Transferred photos are all reflected in the Eye-Fi Manager, a Web-based, password-protected site that tells which images were uploaded to photo-sharing sites and the computer. Users can opt to only upload from the Eye-Fi to one or the other or both, but only one photo-sharing site and one Mac or PC can be selected at a time. Account information for any of the 17 sharing sites can be saved within Eye-Fi, making it a cinch to switch where you want to send photos.

Around the office, within my registered Wi-Fi network, I took photos that showed up seconds later on my computer screen. At home, I entered my password-protected network's information one time and watched as captured photos transferred wirelessly from my camera to either my Mac or Windows Vista laptop.

Quick Transfers

On average, it took about 40 seconds to upload each image to a Web site and about 40 seconds more after that for a photo to transfer onto my hard drive. I got home from a friend's cocktail party and set my camera on a table with its power on. Ten minutes later, I turned on my computer to check the transfer and 12 photos from the party were uploaded to my Kodak Gallery account and my iMac's hard drive.

Images upload in JPEG formats using their original, full resolutions. Some sharing sites change the formats for photos, but this varies between sites and isn't related to Eye-Fi.

Eye-Fi won't do absolutely everything for you, so for certain photo-sharing sites, you'll still need to log on to send out emails for sharing albums with friends. But double clicking on any of the images in the Eye-Fi Manager takes you directly to wherever that image lives -- whether on Picasa, Flickr, or your own hard drive.

I swapped the Eye-Fi SD card from one camera, an older Konica-Minolta Dimage X50 that still works well, to a new Kodak EasyShare V1253, which ironically has built-in photo emailing capability that isn't nearly as easy to use as Eye-Fi. The Eye-Fi didn't miss a beat and operated the same way in both cameras.

The Eye-Fi Card is as simple as it sounds and works with most cameras that use SD cards (for a complete list of compatible cameras, see If someone you know is constantly taking pictures that are never seen again by anyone else and they use a Wi-Fi network, Eye-Fi will serve as a carefree solution that takes the aggravation out of transferring photos to share with others.

Teenage Creeps Versus Academic Creeps

"I Was a Teen Aged Creep," by Beverly C. Lucey, The Irascible Professor, November 26, 2007 ---

My father worked two jobs and had simple pleasures. Napping, television, and sitting in the sun. Keeping the hedge nicely trimmed. The Red Sox.

I went home for the weekend in late fall of my freshman year. Of course, I felt it was my job to educate my father. After all, I knew things, now. Important things.

I was taking Psyche 101 and had learned about phallic symbols and castration dreams.

I was taking English 101 and had learned that hanged men ejaculate when they die. That very word was used. Right there in class. By the professor, who was talking about Billy Budd and ...well, never mind the significance there.

I was taking Spanish I01 and flunking so we'll move along....

Biology 101. Now we're talking. We were just in the botany part, before the Hamster Happening, but I'd learned something very cool about plant life.

When I arrived home, with my Black Watch plaid zippered suitcase full of dirty laundry, my father was eating soup. He was happy to see me.

"Sit down. Come'ere. Tell me all about it. Are you having a nice time? Is it good, at college?"


"Are you getting along with your roommate?"


"Are you studying hard?"


"What do you like most?"

At that point I realized the soup he was eating was cream of mushroom. "Biology."

"Really? I would have thought the football games. Biology? Like medical?"

"Sort of. It’s really interesting. For example, we learned all about mushrooms on a field trip."

"A field trip. That’s nice you are getting out."

"Anyway. Mushrooms are really neat. Did you know they are a fungus?"

"Stop it. You don’t know what you are talking about."

"Oh, yeah, I do. They are a fungus. I can prove it if you want me to ...but just think about it. I mean, we eat fungus. And athlete's foot, like you have, is a fungus, and...."

"You shut your mouth."

"I’m not kidding, dad. Your favorite soup there is made out of FUUNNNGGGGUSSSSSS." Likely I was hissing.

"Get out. Leave me alone. Get out of the house. Go visit Arlene, or something."


"Now I can't eat."

Why was I being so mean?

Continued in the article


Jensen Confession
I had a maturity problem later in life --- after I was an assistant professor at Michigan State University and a newly-minted PhD from la tee da Stanford. I was shocked into growing up when I accidently overheard The Accounting Review Editor (1968-1970) Charlie Griffin advising the incoming editor to "stop sending Bob Jensen manuscripts to review, because Jensen never accepts anything." In those days I'd delighted in not only rejecting manuscripts but in doing so with literary flare. I also did so in my public critiques. In one instance at a Journal of Accounting Research conference at the University of Chicago I delighted in calling a paper "Mock Turtle Soup" in reference to it being from Alice in Wonderland (Jensen's "Discussion of Comparative Values and Information Structures," in Empirical Research in Accounting: Selected Studies 1969, Journal of Accounting Research Supplement, University of Chicago, 1970, 168-181.)

Since overhearing Professor Griffin's comment I've attempted to be much more tolerant of scholastic efforts and much more judicious when I conclude something must be rejected. After that moment in 1970, I'm proud to state that I most certainly do not reject everything. And I most certainly was not a fearsome guardhouse lawyer when it came to tenure evaluations in the four universities where I served over 40 years. In fact puffed up jerks in some of the hiring and tenure evaluation meetings seemed very immature to me.

I also take comfort in not having been as immature and rude as some "scholars" of my day. At one of those JAR conferences at the University of Chicago, a professor stood up to critique a manuscript from one of his own colleagues at the University of Chicago. In those days, each presentation was critiqued by two professors following each main presentation. This particular professor with initials S.B. stood up and claimed that the manuscript assigned to him was garbage and not worth discussing. He then sat down. Nearly 40 years later the accounting professor, whose manuscript S.B. refused to discuss, won a major research award in the 2007 Annual Meetings of the American Accounting Association. He's doing some of the most leading edge academic accounting research these days.

By the way, S.B. was also very insulting and rude to another assistant professor at one of Tom Burn's Ohio State University research conferences. That assistant professor went on to become the Dean of the College of Business in an Ivy League university and a member of the Board of the FASB. I never heard of what became of S.B., a psychology professor at the University of Chicago. I don't think he published much research.

I think I changed my persona along the lines discussed in the following video:
Reviewer Persona & Shadow: Insights from Jungian Psychology, by our friend Dan Stone at the University of Kentucky ---

December 5, 2007 reply from Ed Scribner [escribne@NMSU.EDU]

Bob wrote:

…I never heard of what became of S.B., a psychology professor at the University of Chicago.


I did. Middle initial O. Went on to become a common household epithet.


Reviewer Persona & Shadow: Insights from Jungian Psychology, by our friend Dan Stone at the University of Kentucky ---

The near-monopoly of course management systems since 1994 has been Blackboard (Bb) since Bb was allowed by the Government to buy out its WebCT arch competitor ---

What's next in course management since Blackboard is taking aim at its own foot with monopoly pricing?

Bob Jensen's threads on alternatives to Blackboard are at

Updates on Moodle ---

Updates on Sloodle and Second Life (virtual world learning) ---
The above link includes accounting education applications of Second Life.

In this edutainment generation of students, does virtual learning have to be fun?

"Virtual Labor Lost:  The failure of a highly anticipated game shows the academic limits of virtual worlds," by Erica Naone, MIT's Technology Review, December 5, 2007 ---

Academics are flocking to use virtual worlds and multiplayer games as ways to research everything from economics to epidemiology, and to turn these environments into educational tools. But one such highly anticipated effort--a multiplayer game about Shakespeare meant to teach people about the world of the bard while serving as a place for social-science experiments--is becoming its own tragedy.

The game, called Arden, the World of Shakespeare, was a project out of Indiana University funded with a $250,000 MacArthur Foundation grant. Its creator, Edward Castronova, an associate professor of telecommunications at the university, wanted to use the world to test economic theories: by manipulating the rules of the game, he hoped to find insights into the way that money works in the real world. Players can enter the game and explore a town called Ilminster, where they encounter characters from Shakespeare, along with many plots and quotations. They can answer trivia questions to improve their characters and play card games with other players. Coming from Castronova, a pioneer in the field, the game was expected by many to show the power of virtual-world-based research.

But Castronova says that there's a problem with the game: "It's no fun." While focusing on including references to the bard, he says, his team ended up sidelining some of the fundamental features of a game. "You need puzzles and monsters," he says, "or people won't want to play ... Since what I really need is a world with lots of players in it for me to run experiments on, I decided I needed a completely different approach."

Castronova has abandoned active development of Arden; he released it last week to the public as is, rather than starting up the experiments he had planned. Part of the problem: it costs a lot to build a new multiplayer game. While his grant was large for the field of humanities, it was a drop in the bucket compared with the roughly $75 million that he says goes into developing something on the scale of the popular game World of Warcraft. "I was talking to people like it was going to be Shakespeare: World of Warcraft, but the money you need for that is so much more," he says. Castronova also says that he was taking on too much by attempting to combine education and research. He believes that his experience should serve as a warning for other academics.

Ian Bogost, a video-game researcher and assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, agrees. "It's very, very hard to make games in the best of circumstances, and a university is never the best of circumstances," he says. "I have serious doubts about not just the potential for success but even the appropriateness of pursuing development work of this kind in the context of the university." If researchers are going to build games for the purposes of research, Bogost says, he thinks it's important to look at the process realistically, and with a scientific eye. "In most disciplines, it's okay to fess up to what worked and what didn't. In laboratory work, you do this all the time ... If this is really research and not just production, then of course there are going to be these kinds of surprises."

Updates on Sloodle and Second Life (virtual world learning) ---
The above link includes accounting education applications of Second Life.

The history of course management systems ---

Education Tutorials

New York Public Library: Webcasts ---

Global Education Digest 2007 ---

November 30, 2007 message from Carolyn Kotlas []


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

Infobits subscriber Karen Ellis, founder of the Educational CyberPlayGround (, recommends the


STUDIO THINKING: THE REAL BENEFITS OF VISUAL ARTS EDUCATION By Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veneema, and Kimberly M. Sheridan New York: Teachers College Press, 2007


ISBN 978-0-8077-4818-3

"The authors set out to tell us why arts education is important and to give art teachers a research based language they can use to describe what they teach, and what is learned. They reached their conclusions after studying a number of well-taught studio classes in two schools.

Over the course of a year, they observed what they call a 'hidden curriculum' that defines what art education is and what it does. Studio Thinking presents their findings in a cohesive model along with lesson examples and commentary. The authors say they want to 'change the conversation about the arts in this country' and that could happen if they can resurrect, or reinvigorate, some of their earlier work. Studio Thinking presents what the authors say is the right 'reason' for arts education as opposed to some other rationales, which they say, are just plain wrong."

-- Review by John Broomall, Executive director of the Pennsylvania

Alliance for Arts Education


Bob Jensen's threads on general education tutorials are at

Engineering, Science, and Medicine Tutorials

Scientific Commons ---

From the University of Minnesota
Plant Information Online ---

Physics Question of the Week ---

An action doesn’t always result in a reaction (countering Newton's Third Law) ---
"Proving an aspect of the AB effect: when Newton's Third Law doesn't work," by Miranda Marquit, PhysOrg, December 4, 2007 ---

PhysOrg Science Newsletter ---

Get Body Smart: Respiratory System Interactive Tutorials & Quizzes ---

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

Social Science and Economics Tutorials

Tony Tinker forwarded this Video Link
Credit squeeze explained ---
Bob Jensen's mortgage advice ---

Subprime Mortgages: A Primer
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are demanding answers from regulators and lenders about subprime mortgages. Many worry that rising mortgage defaults and lender failures could hurt America's overall banking system. Already, the subprime crisis has been blamed for steep declines in the stock market. But just what is a subprime loan — and why should you care? Here, a primer:
"Subprime Mortgages: A Primer," NPR, March 23, 2007 ---
Also see

The American Political Science Association ---

Seen and Heard: Reclaiming the Public Realm with Children and Young People ---

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

Math Tutorials

Algebra & Trigonometry ---

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

History Tutorials

History of the United States --- 

Presidential Library ---

Jimmy Carter Library and Museum ---

Ronald Regan Library and Museum ---

George H.W. Bush Library and Museum ---

William F. Clinton Library and Museum ---

Other presidential libraries and museums (links are included in the sites below):

George Washington · John Adams · Thomas Jefferson · James Madison · James Monroe · John Quincy Adams · Andrew Jackson · Martin Van Buren · William Henry Harrison · John Tyler · James K. Polk · Zachary Taylor · Millard Fillmore · Franklin Pierce · James Buchanan · Abraham Lincoln · Andrew Johnson · Ulysses S. Grant · Rutherford B. Hayes · James A. Garfield · Chester A. Arthur · Grover Cleveland · Benjamin Harrison · Grover Cleveland · William McKinley · Theodore Roosevelt · William Howard Taft · Woodrow Wilson · Warren G. Harding · Calvin Coolidge · Herbert Hoover · Franklin D. Roosevelt · Harry S. Truman · Dwight D. Eisenhower · John F. Kennedy · Lyndon B. Johnson · Richard Nixon · Gerald Ford · Jimmy Carter · Ronald Reagan · George H. W. Bush · Bill Clinton · George W. Bush

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

Language Tutorials

Bob Jensen's links to language tutorials are at

Writing Tutorials

New York Public Library: Webcasts ---

Bob Jensen's helpers for writers are at


"Government Drops Pursuit of Online Used-Book Buyers," by Ryan J. Foley, The Washington Post, November 28, 2007; Page D03 ---

Federal prosecutors have withdrawn a subpoena seeking the identities of some people who bought used books through, newly unsealed court records show. The withdrawal came after a judge ruled that the customers have a First Amendment right to keep their reading habits from the government.

The subpoena's "chilling effect on expressive e-commerce would frost keyboards across America," U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker wrote in a June ruling.

"Well-founded or not, rumors of an Orwellian federal criminal investigation into the reading habits of Amazon's customers could frighten countless potential customers into canceling planned online book purchases," the judge wrote in a ruling he unsealed last week.

Amazon, based in Seattle, said in court documents that it hopes Crocker's decision will make it more difficult for prosecutors to obtain records involving book purchases. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said yesterday that he doubted that the ruling would hamper legitimate investigations.

Crocker, who unsealed documents against prosecutors' wishes, said he believed prosecutors were seeking the information for a legitimate purpose. But he said First Amendment concerns were justified and outweighed the subpoena's law enforcement purpose.

"The subpoena is troubling because it permits the government to peek into the reading habits of specific individuals without their knowledge or permission," Crocker wrote. "It is an unsettling and un-American scenario to envision federal agents nosing through the reading lists of law-abiding citizens while hunting for evidence against somebody else."

Continued in article

List of Top Academic Employers Evolves
Through its surveys and reports, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) has stressed the importance of a wide variety of policies — and not just those about pay and benefits — in attracting and keeping young faculty talent. The project’s new list of “exemplary” higher education employers offers further evidence of that theme. List of Top Academic Employers Evolves Through its surveys and reports, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education has stressed the importance of a wide variety of policies — and not just those about pay and benefits — in attracting and keeping young faculty talent. The project’s new list of “exemplary” higher education employers offers further evidence of that theme. Generally, private colleges dominate the list in categories related to compensation or other categories where finances would be a major factor. But on qualities related to the clarity of procedures (a category many junior faculty members take very seriously), publics tend to do much better. The Harvard University-based collaborative — known by its acronym, COACHE — has become an influential player in discussions of how to make colleges more “family friendly” and how institutions should prepare for a generation of professors who may not accept the traditional hierarchical model of many academic departments.
Scott Jaschik, "List of Top Academic Employers Evolves," Inside Higher Ed, December 5, 2007 ---

From the Scout Report on November 30, 2007

Safari 3.0.4 --- 

This latest version of Safari contains a number of helpful additions that will come in handy. Along with such popular features as tabbed browsing and the integrated find feature, this version also comes with advanced cookie management tools and a host of new keyboard shortcuts. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4.9.

Jing --- 

Trying to grab screenshots for a project can be trying with some applications, but Jing makes the process quite seamless and stress-free. Jing allows users to grab screenshots and screencasts via a yellow interface device that sits on the screen at all times. This particular version of Jing is compatible with computers running Windows 98 and newer.

Members of the film industry, critics, and others ask: "What is animation?"

'Beowulf' vs. cartoons: Animated debate rages

Nose on the Prize, but Which Oscar to Sniff? [Free registration may be required]

ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive

Animation History

Origins of American Animation, 1900-1921 [Real Player, Quick Time]

Animation World Network


From The Washington Post on November 30, 2007

One exabyte equals how much video time?

A. 500 days
B. 5,000 hours
C. 50,000 years
D. 500,000 weeks

Jensen Comment

From The Washington Post on December 4, 2007

What is the name of the file that tells search engines to ignore parts of a Web site?

A. sitemap.index
B. search.xml
C. spider.doc
D. robots.txt

From The Washington Post on December 5, 2007

What was the top Yahoo search term for news stories in 2007?

A. Iran
B. Saddam Hussein
C. Virginia Tech
D. President Bush


Updates from WebMD ---


Liquor's dandy,
But candy's quicker!

Got sugar? Glucose affects our ability to resist temptation
New research from a lab at Florida State University reveals that self-control takes fuel — literally. When we exercise it, resisting temptations to misbehave, our fuel tank is depleted, making subsequent efforts at self-control more difficult. Florida State psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and his colleagues Kathleen D. Vohs, University of Minnesota, and Dianne M. Tice, Florida State, showed this with an experiment using the Stroop task, a famous way of testing strength of self-control. Participants in this task are shown color words that are printed in different-colored ink (like the word red printed in blue font), and are told to name the color of the ink, not the word. Baumeister found that when participants perform multiple self-control tasks like the Stroop test in a row, they do worse over time. Thus, the ability to control ourselves wanes as it is exercised. Moreover, Baumeister and colleagues found that the fuel that powers this ability turns out to be one of the same things that fuels our muscles: sugar, in the form of glucose.
PhysOrg, December 3, 2007 ---

Is your heart aging faster than you are?
Despite the increasing evidence that managing high cholesterol reduces cardiovascular events, many people do not achieve recommended lipid levels. This is due, in part, to patients’ lack of understanding about their risk factors and the potential benefits of lifestyle modifications and therapy.
PhysOrg, November 26, 2007 ---

The Longevity Pill?
Drugs much more powerful than the resveratrol found in red wine will be tested to treat diabetes. A novel group of drugs that target a gene linked to longevity could provide a way to turn back the clock on the diseases of aging. The compounds are 1,000 times more potent than resveratrol, the molecule thought to underlie the health benefits of red wine, and have shown promise in treating rodent models of obesity and diabetes. Human clinical trials to test the compounds in diabetes are slated to begin early next year, according to Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, based in Cambridge, MA, which developed the drugs. "As far as I'm aware, this is the first anti-aging molecule going into [testing in] man," says David Sinclair, a biologist at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, and cofounder of Sirtris. (See "The Enthusiast.") "From that standpoint, this is a major milestone in medicine."
Emily Singer, MIT's Technology Review, November 28, 2007 ---

Scientists: Teen Brain Still Maturing
The teenage brain, Laurence Steinberg says, is like a car with a good accelerator but a weak brake. With powerful impulses under poor control, the likely result is a crash. And, perhaps, a crime. Steinberg, a Temple University psychology professor, helped draft an American Psychological Association brief for a 2005 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the death penalty for crimes committed before age 18. That ruling relies on the most recent research on the adolescent brain, which indicates the juvenile brain is still maturing in the teen years and reasoning and judgment are developing well into the early to mid 20s. It is often cited as state lawmakers consider scaling back punitive juvenile justice laws passed during the 1990s. "As any parent knows," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the 5-4 majority, youths are more likely to show "a lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility" than adults. "These qualities often result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions." He also noted that "juveniles are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure," causing them to have less control over their environment.
Malcolm Ritter, PhysOrg, December 3, 2007 ---

Mental illness and drug addiction may co-occur due to disturbance in part of the brain
Why do mental illness and drug addiction so often go together? New research reveals that this type of dual diagnosis may stem from a common cause: developmental changes in the amygdala, a walnut-shaped part of the brain linked to fear, anxiety and other emotions. A full report on why these “comorbid” disorders may develop appears in the December Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
PhysOrg, December 3, 20074 ---

Some common treatments for sinus infections may not be effective
A comparison of common treatments for acute sinusitis that included an antibiotic and a topical steroid found neither more effective than placebo, according to a study in the December 5 issue of JAMA. Acute sinusitis (sinus infection) is a common clinical problem with symptoms similar to other illnesses, and is often diagnosed and treated without clinical confirmation. Despite the clinical uncertainty as to a bacterial cause, antibiotic prescribing rates remain as high as 92 percent in the United Kingdom and 85 percent to 98 percent in the United States, according to background information in the article. “Because there are no satisfactory studies of microbiological etiology from typical primary care patient practices, wide-scale overtreatment is likely occurring,” the authors write. Concerns about wide-spread antibacterial use include increasing antibiotic resistance in the community. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as topical steroids are also used as a treatment and may be beneficial, but there has been limited research.
PhysOrg, December 4, 2007 ---

Doctors and patients poorly informed about herpes
Family doctors and patients with herpes are poorly informed about the viral infection, indicate the results of an online survey, published ahead of print in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections . . . The results showed that doctors overestimated the ongoing emotional impact of herpes infection. Patient distress was linked to the frequency of recurrent bouts of infection and a recent diagnosis. Doctors were also much less likely to recognise that patients worry more about passing on the infection to someone else than about the outbreaks themselves. Doctors believed that three out of four of their patients took antiviral treatment for their infection, but in reality fewer than one in three (29%) patients said they were doing this. The doctors also said that they had discussed the use of treatment to suppress infection with over half (59%) of their patients. But only one in four patients remembered having had such a discussion with their doctor. More worryingly, both doctors and patients underestimated the risks of passing on the infection during periods when there are no obvious outward symptoms, but when the skin sheds infectious viral particles (viral shedding). Doctors estimated that 45% of infections are passed on when there are no symptoms, while patients thought this happened in 51% of cases. The actual figure is 70%, say the authors. Patients were also ignorant about how the virus is passed on. Although virtually all of them recognised that herpes is contracted through sex, only two thirds said that this was the sole source. Almost one in five thought that herpes could be caught from toilet seats or blood transfusions. And almost one in 10 thought shaking hands could pass it on.
PhysOrg, November 26, 2007 ---

Drinking away anxiety -- a new program finds safer ways for college students to cope
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati are reporting on a pilot program aimed at curbing alcohol abuse among college students. Early promising results from this intervention program were presented Nov. 18 at the annual conference of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in Philadelphia . . . The intervention program consisted of three sessions (one session per week, running about an hour-and-a-half) with the first session exploring the participant’s history of social anxiety and alcohol use and personal feedback on how the two could be interlinked. The second session examined social anxiety, drinking-related problems and family risk factors for both problems. The third session involved role-playing in a social situation with a research assistant, which provided the student with tools to effectively cope with anxiety while managing alcohol consumption. Follow-up meetings were conducted one month and four months after the series of three sessions.
PhysOrg, November 26, 2007 ---

Hazards of CT scans overstated
Concerns over possible radiation effects of CT scans detailed in a report yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine should not scare people away from getting medically needed CT scans, as the scans play a critical role in saving the lives of thousands of people every day, according to an official with the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).
PhysOrg, December 1, 2007 ---

But the WebMD account is a little more scary ---

I put this tidbit in the medical section of Tidbits because it is so sick!
This is almost as bad as the Texas mother of a would-be cheerleader who tried to kill off the competition ---

"A Hoax Turned Fatal Draws Anger but No Charges," by Christopher Maag, The New York Times, November 28, 2007 ---

Megan Meier died believing that somewhere in this world lived a boy named Josh Evans who hated her. He was 16, owned a pet snake, and she thought he was the cutest boyfriend she ever had.

Josh contacted Megan through her page on, the social networking Web site, said Megan’s mother, Tina Meier. They flirted for weeks, but only online — Josh said his family had no phone. On Oct. 15, 2006, Josh suddenly turned mean. He called Megan names, and later they traded insults for an hour.

The next day, in his final message, said Megan’s father, Ron Meier, Josh wrote, “The world would be a better place without you.”

Sobbing, Megan ran into her bedroom closet. Her mother found her there, hanging from a belt. She was 13.

Six weeks after Megan’s death, her parents learned that Josh Evans never existed. He was an online character created by Lori Drew, then 47, who lived four houses down the street in this rapidly growing community 35 miles northwest of St. Louis.

That an adult would plot such a cruel hoax against a 13-year-old girl has drawn outraged phone calls, e-mail messages and blog posts from around the world. Many people expressed anger because St. Charles County officials did not charge Ms. Drew with a crime.

But a St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, Lt. Craig McGuire, said that what Ms. Drew did “might’ve been rude, it might’ve been immature, but it wasn’t illegal.”

In response to the events, the local Board of Aldermen on Wednesday unanimously passed a measure making Internet harassment a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.

“Give me a break; that’s nothing,” Mayor Pam Fogarty said of the penalties. “But it’s the most we could do. People are saying to me, ‘Let’s go burn down their house.’”

St. Charles County’s prosecuting attorney, Jack Banas, said he was reviewing the case to determine whether anyone could be charged with a crime. State Representative Doug Funderburk, whose district includes Dardenne Prairie, said he was looking into the feasibility of introducing legislation to tighten restrictions against online harassment and fraud.

In seventh grade, Megan Meier had tried desperately to join the popular crowd at Fort Zumwalt West Middle School, only to be teased about her weight, her mother said. At the beginning of eighth grade last year, she transferred to Immaculate Conception, a nearby Catholic school. Within three months, Ms. Meier said, her daughter had a new group of friends, lost 20 pounds and joined the volleyball team.

At one time, Lori Drew’s daughter and Megan had been “joined at the hip,” said Megan’s great-aunt Vicki Dunn. But the two drifted apart, and when Megan changed schools she told the other girl that she no longer wanted to be friends, Ms. Meier said.

In a report filed with the Sheriff’s Department, Lori Drew said she created the MySpace profile of “Josh Evans” to win Megan’s trust and learn how Megan felt about her daughter. Reached at home, Lori’s husband, Curt Drew, said only that the family had no comment.

Because Ms. Drew had taken Megan on family vacations, she knew the girl had been prescribed antidepression medication, Ms. Meier said. She also knew that Megan had a MySpace page.

Ms. Drew had told a girl across the street about the hoax, said the girl’s mother, who requested anonymity to protect her daughter, a minor.

“Lori laughed about it,” the mother said, adding that Ms. Drew and Ms. Drew’s daughter “said they were going to mess with Megan.”

After a month of innocent flirtation between Megan and Josh, Ms. Meier said, Megan suddenly received a message from him saying, “I don’t like the way you treat your friends, and I don’t know if I want to be friends with you.”

They argued online. The next day other youngsters who had linked to Josh’s MySpace profile joined the increasingly bitter exchange and began sending profanity-laden messages to Megan, who retreated to her bedroom. No more than 15 minutes had passed, Ms. Meier recalled, when she suddenly felt something was terribly wrong. She rushed to the bedroom and found her daughter’s body hanging in the closet.

As paramedics worked to revive Megan, the neighbor who insisted on anonymity said, Lori Drew called the neighbor’s daughter and told her to “keep her mouth shut” about the MySpace page.

Six weeks later, at a meeting with the Meiers, mediated by grief counselors, the neighbor told them that “Josh” was a hoax. The Drews were not present.

“I just sat there in shock,” Mr. Meier said.

Shortly before Megan’s death, the Meiers had agreed to store a foosball table the Drews had bought as a Christmas surprise for their children. When the Meiers learned about the MySpace hoax, they attacked the table with a sledgehammer and an ax, Ms. Meier said, and threw the pieces onto the Drews’ driveway.

“I felt like such a fool,” Mr. Meier said. “I’m supposed to protect my family, and here I allowed these people to inject themselves into our lives.”

The police learned about the hoax when Ms. Drew filed a complaint about the damage to the foosball table. In the report, she stated that she felt the hoax “contributed to Megan’s suicide, but she did not feel ‘as guilty’ because at the funeral she found out Megan had tried to commit suicide before.”

Continued in article

Get Body Smart: Respiratory System Interactive Tutorials & Quizzes ---

Read All About It!
These books, taken together, present a peerless portrait of journalism's high aims and low comedy.

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday, December 1, 2007

1. "The Boys on the Bus" by Timothy Crouse (Random House, 1973).

The five books I've chosen to write about reflect my own attitudes about the craft I've practiced for 45 years now. They're a mix of the triumphs of journalism, the absurdities, the vanities and the importance of a free press in any society. For its revelations in the absurdities and vanities category, "The Boys on the Bus" has yet to be equaled. Timothy Crouse's breakthrough book about the press pack covering the 1972 presidential campaigns of Richard Nixon and George McGovern was the journalistic equivalent of Jim Bouton's locker-room view of major league baseball in "Ball Four," published two years earlier. Crouse punctured reporters' big egos and stripped away the self-righteous cover of objectivity. He also skewered the "womblike conditions" of pack journalism--operating, in this case, from the blinkered perspective of life on campaign planes and buses, in airport press conferences and at restaurants in the company of spin doctors.

2. "All the President's Men" by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Simon & Schuster, 1974).

Recently I attended a Washington dinner honoring, among others, a brave young journalist from Burma who told the audience that her determination to become a reporter began when she read about Watergate. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, backed by Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, were of course the reporters who drove the story of the Watergate burglary engineered by the Nixon White House in 1972. Even though we know how it turns out, "All the President's Men" is a suspenseful crime story in the tradition of Dashiel Hammett or Elmore Leonard. More important, it is a timeless textbook on the value of sheer doggedness to investigative reporting.

3. "Scoop" by Evelyn Waugh (Little, Brown, 1938).

"Scoop" is Evelyn Waugh's hilarious take on a mythical British press lord; his tabloid, the Daily Beast; and the fortunes of a nature writer, William Boot, who is mistakenly sent to East Africa as a war correspondent in the 1930s. It's all here--the pomposity and boorishness of publishers, the devious ways of preening, world-weary reporters, the wild improbability of many dispatches from the front. Whenever I reread "Scoop," I find myself cringing, laughing out loud and cheering on the hapless Boot. I try to keep him in mind whenever I step off a plane in, say, Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan.

4. "Murrow" by A.M. Sperber (Freundlich, 1986).

Ann Sperber's voluminous biography of Edward R. Murrow, the George Washington of broadcast journalism, is a richly detailed, if sometimes dry, study of how Murrow became a demigod not only in journalism but also in America's wider culture. His Quaker, abolitionist ancestors in North Carolina, his growing-up years in Washington state, his side-door entry to journalism (he was first an interview-wrangling "director of talks" for CBS), his heroic reporting from London during the Blitz, and his ability through language and demeanor to come into your living room as a wise and caring friend: that was the full-dress Murrow whom I worshipped as a young man. Later, I had reservations about his theatrical style--the cigarette as prop, the ascot, the "Person to Person" celebrity-interview infotainment show he hosted. But Sperber's book is a chronicle of a great man and how he came to be a national treasure.

5. "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman (Viking, 1985).

Neil Postman's polemic is at once provocative, exaggerated, insightful, myopic and instructive. Instructive because Postman does raise appropriate warning flags about relying wholly on television as a medium for serious inquiry about ideas. Myopic because he fails to acknowledge television's role as a catalyst for learning. Favorable attention for a book on television spurs many more sales than a newspaper's positive review. He is right, however, when he observes that TV's entertainment values can smother rational discourse if the two are not kept in balance. As for his claim that the medium's "form excludes content," it is an exaggerated judgment. Take the subject of global climate change. Scientific arguments are of course essential to making the case, but it would be hard to deny how much the images of shrinking ice caps, rising sea levels and parched landscapes reinforce the arguments. Nonetheless, "Amusing Ourselves to Death," a cautionary tale, should be required reading for all broadcast journalists--and perhaps for their viewers as well.

Mr. Brokaw is the former anchor and managing editor of "NBC Nightly News." His most recent book is "Boom! Voices of the Sixties" (Random House, 2007).


Bumper Stickers for the Elderly ---

Teachers' Notes in Report Cards

Forwarded by Gene and Joan

These are supposedly actual comments made on students' report cards by teachers   In the New York City public school system. All teachers were purportedly reprimanded. Who knows? But they're funny anyway. They might also have been comments on RateMyProfessor ---    

01 Since my last report, your child has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.     

02. I would not allow this student to breed.     

03. Your child has delusions of adequacy.     

04. Your son is depriving a village some where of an 'idiot'.      

05. Your son sets low personal standards, and then consistently fails to achieve them.     

06. The student has a "full six-pack" but lacks the plastic thing to hold it all together.     

07. This child has been working with glue too much.     

08. When your daughter's IQ reaches 50, she should sell.     

09. The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.   

10. If this student were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered  --- Twice a week.     

11. It's impossible to believe the sperm that created this child, beat out 1,000,000 others .  

12. The wheel is turning, but the hamster is definitely dead.  

Forwarded by Gene and Joan


A nice, calm and respectable lady went into the pharmacy, walked up to the pharmacist, looked straight into his eyes, and said, "I would like to buy some cyanide."

The pharmacist asked, "Why in the world do you need cyanide?"

The lady replied, "I need it to poison my husband."

The pharmacist's eyes got big and he exclaimed, "Lord have mercy! I can't give you cyanide to kill your husband. That's against the law! I'll lose my license! They'll throw both of us in jail! All kinds of bad things will happen. Absolutely not! You CANNOT have any cyanide!"

The lady reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her husband in bed with the pharmacist's wife.

The pharmacist looked at the picture and replied, "Well now, that's different. You didn't tell me you had a prescription."

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

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Professor Robert E. Jensen (Bob)
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