Tom Osborne, Beyond The Final Score: There’s More to Life Than the Game – Family, Mentoring, Leadership, Serving (a book review by Andis Kaulins)

The legendary Nebraska Cornhuskers football head coach Tom Osborne was a three-time representative in Congress from Nebraska’s 3rd congressional district. We guarantee you a smile if you look at this map of that district. Well, OK, it is not ALL of the state…. I wonder how many – or few – of Osborne’s colleagues in Congress knew that? It is one of the largest congressional districts in the nation.

Now, on to the book.

Did you know that it takes at least 5 positive comments for every 1 negative comment in a family environment for a healthy family environment to be maintained? and at least 3 positive comments to 1 negative comment to maintain a healthy work environment? and that a simple 1 to 1 balance of positive and negative comments is on the road to separation and divorce in a partnership?

That a positive balance of comments is critical would appear to be self-understood, but that the ratio must be so high is a revelation. That astonishing piece of information is cited in Beyond The Final Score, There’s More to Life Than the Game, a truly remarkable book of wisdom by the legendary football coach Tom Osborne, published by Regal Books of Gospel Light, a not-for-profit Christian ministry.

Although the book emphasizes service to God as a guiding personal light, the principles presented are universal and equally applicable to all of us. As Osborne writes:

Please don’t get the idea that I was some kind of religious nut. I was simply trying to apply principles of faith in a highly competitive arena… [My] approach to leadership and team building is related to my faith. I believe that each and every person should be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.” [emphasis added]

For Tom Osborne, that has been a fantastically successful philosophy.

The cover of my review copy of Beyond The Final Score, There’s More to Life Than the Game carries a quotation – not seen above – from Warren Buffett, probably the world’s most successful investor, stating: “Tom Osborne improves the lives of everyone he encounters.

If Osborne’s book has one definable purpose, then that is the purpose it surely serves. This book can improve your life. It has already improved mine, and I am simply reviewing the book.

It is a rare football coach who would begin the first chapter of his book with a quotation by Mark Twain, author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, and known affectionately as the “father” of American literature. Osborne quotes Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Right from the start of Beyond The Final Score, There’s More to Life Than the Game, the reader of Osborne’s book is thus aware that this is not simply a personal collection of memoirs, but rather a potentially valuable work of wisdom for everyone, written by three-time congressman Osborne, who is not only famous as the former head football coach at Nebraska but is also a respected leadership educator, who at age 72 presently serves as the Athletic Director at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

When Tom Osborne (pronounced OZ-burn) retired in 1997 as head football coach of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, “Oz” was his own legend, having won at least nine games in every coaching season and having compiled the then best winning percentage among active Division I-A coaches for a 255-49-3 won-loss record. In his last game as Husker head coach in the 1998 FedEx Orange Bowl, the Huskers won the national championship in the coaches poll, beating Tennessee and Peyton Manning, 42-17.

Indeed, Tom Osborne had gotten better as the years went by, winning 60 games and losing only 3 in his last five seasons, while winning three national championships (1994, 1995, and 1997). In fact, ESPN fans in 2006 rated his 1995 Husker team the best college football team of all time. That same Number 1 rank was assigned to the unbeaten 1995 team in 2005 by Sports Illustrated viz. CBS and Sagarin and in 2001 to the football program as a whole by scout.com. An amazing thirty-three of the players on the Husker’s 1995 roster went on to play professional or semi-pro football.

ESPN named Osborne coach of the decade in 1999 and an ESPN poll in 2007 voted Osborne the greatest college football coach of all time. Such accolades are of course always subjective, but, whether you agree or disagree, they do reflect a level of achievement that is outstanding.

But how many football or other fans know the true story of how Osborne became a Nebraska assistant coach to begin with. Osborne relates the story in his book Beyond The Final Score, There’s More to Life Than the Game (pp. 182-183):

When I asked Bob Devaney if I could join his coaching staff, he told me that he had no positions open. However, he said that if I wanted to do so, I could move into an undergraduate dorm with seven or eight players who were causing trouble. If I had success with them Bob and I would revisit the possibility of coaching. These guys had developed a kind of frontier mentality: Anyone who trespassed their territory would suffer the consequences. The dorm counselors were afraid of them, and the school’s administrators seemed at a loss for how to deal with the problem….

When I wasn’t breaking up fights, I made every effort to get to know each one of the guys. Living side by side with them, day in and day out, helped me to build relationships of trust. And that was the key, I think, in helping them turn things around.

Oz was successful and Bob Devaney was proven to be a very wise man.
Oz got the job.

(Note via LawPundit on the unexpected but close connection of academics, football and law: Bob Devaney became NU head coach through a suggestion made to then NU Chancellor Clifford Hardin (later U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) by Michigan State head coach Duffy Daugherty. I went to school with Hardin’s children. Cynthia Hardin Milligan is a J.D. and the Dean Emeritus of the Business School at the University of Nebraska, whose husband Robert S. Milligan is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Cynthia Hardin Milligan worked together with Tom Osborne at the University of Nebraska on leadership matters. Nancy Hardin Rogers is also a J.D. and is the daughter-in-law of the late former U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of State William P. Rogers. She is herself a former Attorney General of Ohio and past President of the Association of American Law Schools.)

In the same years that Tom Osborne was beginning his football coaching career, I was in my undergraduate student days at the University of Nebraska. One semester I had a very early morning weight-lifting class (7:30 a.m.) in the basement of the University of Nebraska Coliseum in Lincoln (see video), which today houses the very successful Huskers volleyball program, but then was the arena for Cornhusker basketball games.

That same Coliseum today holds the women’s sports NCAA record for the most consecutive sellouts, and I always felt good in the classic aura of that building (see video). Indeed, if I arrived early for my weight-lifting class – this was ca. 6:30 a.m. – I would go shoot baskets on the practice basketball floor prior to that class – I had my own ball.

Few people were even awake on campus at that early hour, and I was usually alone, but I did meet one other person there several times shooting baskets just like I was, very early in the morning. He was a tall (6’5″) player who had been selected as an All-State basketball player in high school and was voted the Nebraska Athlete of the Year in 1955. His name, Tom Osborne, who was – then – an assistant for the University of Nebraska football team and – today – is in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.

As we all know from Benjamin Franklin, philosophy and wisdom aside, success comes through hard work and effort, quoting ushistory.org: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” and Osborne’s day began early. I am sure Osborne does not remember me from those early morning basketball encounters, but they were significant enough for me that I can recall them well. This was BEFORE Osborne became a famous coaching name.

It is interesting to see that good habits, once made, are not easily broken, although they may have to be amended to adapt to a change of circumstances. Osborne specifically refers in his book to the gym as an “oasis from partisanship” during his years as a congressman in Washington D.C., where he “made many friends on both sides of the aisle during my evening trips to the gym … and … would often stay until it closed around 10:00 P.M. I’ve always enjoyed working out, and the friendships that I formed there made it an even better experience.” The time(s) had changed, but the good habits had remained. Note that Osborne was quite clearly not a supporter of the type of blind partisanship that often marks our vastly improvable Congress.

We were very much moved by Osborne’s discussion in his book of the values of family, mentoring, leadership and serving, especially his conviction that “leadership as service”, what Osborne calls “transformational leadership”, is the best of all leadership forms, even though it is the most difficult to attain.

Osborne tells us on this leadership topic that:

“How a person leads is greatly influenced by his or her understanding of the world … worldviews are inextricably tied to leadership.

There are so many interesting things discussed in Osborne’s book that no review can do them justice. Beyond the Final Score should be read in full.

Osborne concludes:

Is success just about winning? Acclaim? Trophies? Wealth? Our personal happiness or satisfaction? I have been blessed to experience some of these over the years, and I can answer without batting an eye: No. Accomplishments, applause, awards and fortune are rewards that often come as the result of hard work and a determined spirit, but there is something bigger. Something better. Something that will outlast the winningest season, the plushest corner office, the heftiest bonus and the loudest cheers. That something can only be found when we look beyond the final score.” – Tom Osborne, Beyond The Final Score, There’s More to Life Than the Game, p. 17

First European Prize for Literature Awarded in 2009 to Authors From 12 Countries – 23 to Follow in 2010 and 2011

The first European Prize for Literature, “[a] European Prize for emerging talents in the field of contemporary fiction“, was awarded September 28, 2009, to 12 authors from 12 European countries – with 12 more authors from 12 other European countries to be selected in 2010, and 11 more authors from the remaining 11 other European countries to be selected in 2011. The announcing press release stated:

The names of twelve European authors to receive the first ever European Union Prize for Literature were announced today by the European Commission, the European Booksellers Federation (EBF), the European Writers’ Council (EWC) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP)…. In recognition of his oeuvre and literary success Henning Mankell, the well-known and bestselling Swedish author, has accepted the role of Ambassador of the European Union Prize for Literature for this year.” [links added by this blog]

The idea, at the onset of this award, is for the prize to work as a medium of activation for European culture and to “highlight and promote the full diversity of European literature.” After each European country has been honored at least once, the award is likely to be reduced to only a few authors, but from our point of view we definitely find the current process to be far more favorable. Very few books, in spite of their literary quality, span all cultures, so that a limited award necessarily involves national prejudices as to content, style and language.

For example, a universally-acclaimed book – not eligible for this award -like the 1995 Der Vorleser (The Reader) by German law professor and judge Bernhard Schlink is very rare. It was the first German book ever to reach the top of the New York Times Best-Seller Lists and last year the book was even made into a very successful Hollywood movie – The Reader. But most fiction is limited by the audience of the nation in which the author is located

This European literary award was presented at a gala ceremony in Brussels, Belgium, attended by ca. 800 dignitaries, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

The works that received the prize are detailed at this .pdf.

Hat tip to Leigh Phillips at the EU Observer.

Results of the German National Elections, Sunday, September 27, 2009

The German national elections, held every four years, were held yesterday, Sunday, September 27, 2009.

There were some changes, but in stable Germany, such changes are seldom earth-shaking, even if the currently ruling grand coalition of the left and the right was deposed.

As written by Geir Mouslon and Kirsten Grieshaber of the Associated Press (AP) in Merkel vows quick deal on German coalition:

Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Monday to have a new center-right German government in place by the time Germany marks 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9. She said tax cuts were possible in 2011, but rejected spending cutbacks that might strangle an incipient economic recovery.

Voters on Sunday ended the conservative Merkel’s right-left “grand coalition” and gave her a comfortable center-right majority — thanks to a strong performance by her new government ally, the business-oriented Free Democrats.

Prior to this election, a compromise-necessitated grand coalition (grosse Koalition) of the right-wing Christian Democrats (CDU and CSU) and the left-wing Social Democrats formed the German government with Angela Merkel of the CDU as the German Chancellor.

However, because the grand coalition joined up Germany’s two largest political parties in the national government – even though they sometimes had diametrically opposed policies, the grand coalition was a coalition of political expediency rather than a merger of ideas. That has changed somewhat since yesterday.

In Sunday’s elections, the Christian Democrats (CDU and CSU, the right-leaning party/parties) obtained 33.8% of the vote (down 1.4% from the year 2005), the Free Democrats (FDP, the centrist liberal party, business-friendly) garnered 14.6% of the votes (up 4.7% from the year 2005), the more left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) obtained 23% of the vote (down 11.2% from the year 2005), the Left Party (die Linke) obtained 11.9% of the vote (up 3.2% from the 2005 vote) and the Green Party 10.7% of the vote (an increase of 2.6% over the 2005 elections). The voter turnout of 72% was the lowest since the establishment of the Federal Republic.

What Sunday’s vote means in practical terms is that the right-leaning Christian Democrats are able to abandon their grand coalition with the left-leaning Social Democrats and form a government with the more centrist Free Democrats (FDP).

Although their raw combined vote tally is less than 50%, Germany has a threshold level of 5% of the vote for any party to enter Parliament. When the total national vote is cleansed of parties who obtained less than the 5% barrier, then the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats in fact obtained enough votes to form a majority government, with a projected 332 to 290 seat advantage over the opposition parties.

See a video at Deutsche Welle – DW-WORLD.DE on how the German voting system works, explaining the impact of this voting system on the determination of the number of party representatives in the German Bundestag.

See also ACE – The Electoral Knowledge Network – where Michael Krennerich cogently explains the German mixed member proportional voting system:

More info on the election at:
New York Times – Merkel’s Party Claims Victory in Germany by Nicholas Kulish
New York Times – A New Star in German Politics by Nicholas Kulish and Judy Dempsey

Nonprofits including New York Law School Scramble for Cash : The Endowments of the Top-Ranked United States Universities Plummet in Financial Crisis

Stephanie Strom at the New York Times has an incisive piece titled Nonprofits Paying Price for Gamble on Finances (September 23, 2009). Go there for the full nonprofit scoop and then return here for some stats on university endowments.

We have always thought that the term “non-profit” was a misnomer because it implicitly conveys the vision of eleemosynary people and institutions working for the common good, oblivious to the greedy mammon of money and to the serendipity temptations of the omnipresent evil that accompanies financial motivation.

But, of course, the proverbial truth is far removed from the widely held Utopian vision that nonprofits lead a charitable life. Quite the contrary, many nonprofits over the years have amassed such vast quantities of cash – via United States Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)) tax-exempt income – that they wield substantial economic power and are strong players in the monetary state of the nation and the world.

A good example of the profits of the non-profits are the top U.S. universities, where the academic rank of a university tends to bear a very distinct direct correlation to the size of its “endowment” – that’s “smart speak” for the total value of an institution’s investments. The more money you have, the more you can do as an institution. Money talks.

The chart below gives the endowments of the top U.S. universities as of the year 2008, but those endowments have plummeted in the last 12 months due to the financial credit crisis. The values of Harvard, Yale and Stanford endowments are all down by about 25% from those given below.

Harvard led the 2008 endowment pack with a ca. $36+ billion in 2008, followed by Yale at $22+ billion, Stanford at $17+ billion, Princeton at $16+ billion, and the University of Texas system at $16+ billion, to round out the top 5.

MIT then followed at a fairly distant 6th at $10+ billion, followed by the University of Michigan at $7+ billion, Northwestern at $7+ billion, Columbia University at $7+ billion, the Texas A&M University System at $6+ billion, the University of Chicago at $6+ billion, the University of Pennsylvania at $6+ billion, Notre Dame at $6+ billion, the University of California system at $6+ billion, and Duke at $6+ billion, to round out the top 15, with Emory, Cornell, Washington University in St. Louis, Rice and the University of Virginia rounded out the top 20.

The following Wikipedia figures are based on original figures from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).[1][2][3][4]

Institution ↓ Endowment (2008)
billion USD ↓
Harvard University $ 36.556[4]
Yale University $ 22.870[4]
Stanford University $ 17.200[4]
Princeton University $ 16.349[4]
University of Texas System (system-wide)[5] $ 16.111[4]
Massachusetts Institute of Technology $ 10.069[4]
University of Michigan $ 7.572[4]
Northwestern University $ 7.244[4]
Columbia University $ 7.147[4]
Texas A&M University System (system-wide)[5] $ 6.659[4]
University of Chicago $ 6.632[4]
University of Pennsylvania $ 6.233[4]
University of Notre Dame $ 6.226[4]
University of California (system-wide)[5] $ 6.217[4]
Duke University $ 6.124[4]
Emory University $ 5.473[4]
Cornell University $ 5.385[4]
Washington University in St. Louis $ 5.350[4]
Rice University $ 4.610[4]
University of Virginia $ 4.573[4]
Dartmouth College $ 3.660[4]
University of Southern California $ 3.589[4]
Vanderbilt University $ 3.524[4]
University of Minnesota $ 2.751[4]
Brown University $ 2.747[4]
Johns Hopkins University $ 2.525[4]
New York University $ 2.475[4]
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill $ 2.359[4]
University of Pittsburgh $ 2.334[4]
University of Washington $ 2.262[4]
Ohio State University $ 2.076[4]
Rockefeller University $ 2.021[4]
California Institute of Technology $ 1.892[4]
Williams College $ 1.808[4]
Pomona College $ 1.794[4]
Case Western Reserve University $ 1.766[4]
Purdue University (system-wide)[5] $ 1.736[4]
University of Wisconsin-Madison
(UW Foundation only)
$ 1.735[4]
University of Rochester $ 1.731[4]
Amherst College $ 1.705[4]
University of Richmond $ 1.704[4]
Boston College $ 1.631[4]
Wellesley College $ 1.611[4]
Indiana University (system-wide)[5] $ 1.546[4]
Pennsylvania State University $ 1.545[4]
Grinnell College $ 1.472[4]
University of Illinois (system-wide)[5] $ 1.460[4]
Tufts University $ 1.446[4]
Swarthmore College $ 1.413[4]
Southern Methodist University(SMU) $ 1.368[4]
Smith College $ 1.366[4]
Yeshiva University $ 1.345[4]
Georgia Institute of Technology
(Georgia Tech Foundation only)
$ 1.344[4]
University of Delaware $ 1.340[4]
Michigan State University $ 1.282[4]
Texas Christian University $ 1.260[4]
George Washington University $ 1.256[4]
Wake Forest University $ 1.254[4]
University of Florida (UF Foundation only) $ 1.251[4]
University of Nebraska (system-wide)[5] $ 1.221[4]
University of Kansas (system-wide)[5] $ 1.218[4]
University of Oklahoma $ 1.155[4]
Boston University $ 1.145[4]
Lehigh University $ 1.127[4]
University of Cincinnati $ 1.099[4]
Baylor College of Medicine $ 1.091[4]
Carnegie Mellon University $ 1.068[4]
Baylor University $ 1.060[4]
Georgetown University $ 1.059[4]
University of California, Los Angeles
(UCLA Foundation only)
$ 1.054[4]
Tulane University $ 1.036[4]
Trinity University (Texas) $ 1.035[4]
University of Missouri (system-wide)[5] $ 1.025[4]
Berea College $ 1.023[4]
Princeton Theological Seminary $ 1.018[4]
Syracuse University $ 0.985[4]

Statement by President Barack Obama on the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh

Statement by President Barack Obama on the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh:

Michelle and I look forward to welcoming world leaders to the wonderful city of Pittsburgh on September 24th and 25th and we thank the people of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania for opening their city as a showcase to the world.

The Pittsburgh Summit is an important opportunity to continue the hard work that we have done in confronting the global economic crisis, and renewing prosperity for our people. Together, we will review the progress we have made, assess what more needs to be done, and discuss what we can do together to lay the groundwork for balanced and sustainable economic growth. Pittsburgh stands as a bold example of how to create new jobs and industries while transitioning to a 21st century economy. As a city that has transformed itself from the city of steel to a center for high-tech innovation—including green technology, education and training, and research and development—Pittsburgh will provide both a beautiful backdrop and a powerful example for our work. [emphasis added by LawPundit]

It’s important to note how far we have come in preventing a global economic catastrophe. A year ago, our economy was in a freefall. Some economists were predicting a second Great Depression. Immediate action was required to rescue the economy. In the United States, we passed an historic Recovery Act that quickly put money in the hands of working families, and is putting Americans to work all across the country—including in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. That includes companies like East Penn Manufacturing, a third-generation family business which is now building batteries for the hybrid, energy efficient vehicles of the 21st century. That includes Serious Materials manufacturing plant outside of Pittsburgh that was shuttered last year, which is now rehiring the workers who lost their jobs and giving them a new mission: producing some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world. And at medical laboratories in Pittsburgh, scientists are making advances in tissue regeneration, which will help people across the globe, including our troops wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The steps that we have taken to jumpstart growth have also been coordinated with our partners around the world. Industrial production throughout the G20 has either stabilized or is growing. Global trade is expanding. Stresses in financial markets have significantly abated and our financial institutions are raising needed capital.

But all of us must remember that our work is far from complete—not when our people are still looking for work. As the leaders of the world’s largest economies, we have a responsibility to work together on behalf of sustained growth, while putting in place the rules of the road that can prevent this kind of crisis from happening again. To avoid being trapped in the cycle of bubble and bust, we must set a path for sustainable growth while steering clear of the imbalances of the past. That will be a key part of the G20 agenda going forward and the Pittsburgh Summit can be an important milestone in our efforts.

In a place known as the city of bridges, we can come together to advance our common interest in a global recovery, while turning the page to a truly 21st century economy.

By working with our friends and partners from around the world, the U.S. is ready to help lead this effort in Pittsburgh and beyond.

Pittsburgh G-20 Summit Takes Place Today and Tomorrow (September 24 & 25, 2009)

The Pittsburgh G-20 Summit of the world’s leading economies takes place today and tomorrow (September 24 & 25, 2009) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (the G-20 – chaired in 2009 by the UK – consists of 19 nations and the European Union – i.e. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, and the EU).

The Pittsburgh G-20 Partnership (see the photos at that page):

“will welcome world leaders visiting for the Pittsburgh Summit with a diverse array of locally crafted gifts — many of them hand-made. Unveiled today at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside, the gifts represent the vitality of the Pittsburgh cultural landscape and convey the key role it plays in our region’s high quality of life.” [emphasis added]

Some eyebrows have been raised about the fact of the Obama administration choosing Pittsburgh as the venue for the summit, but it is definitely one of the most interesting cities in the United States which has made great strides in last decades, marked keenly by the Pittsburgh Steelers as reigning Super Bowl champions.

Gary Shapiro headlines at the Huffington Post that Pittsburgh Model Dramatizes Lessons for G-20 Summit and writes inter alia:

A recent article in The Economist tracks Pittsburgh’s rise from depressed steel town to innovation center. Jobs in the growing fields of bio-science, electronics and nuclear engineering have replaced manufacturing jobs so effectively that Pittsburgh’s unemployment rate is nearly two percentage points lower than the national average.

Pittsburgh’s experience offers a road map for American cities adjusting to manufacturing downturns and the new realities of the modern global economy. Pittsburgh experienced its manufacturing collapse sooner and more suddenly than the rest of the country, and has had more time to adapt to the new economic reality and thrive.” more…

As written at the Wikipedia about Pittsburgh:

In 2007, Pittsburgh was named “America’s Most Livable City” by Places Rated Almanac.[13] Furthermore, in 2009, Pittsburgh was named most livable city in the United States and 29th-most-livable city worldwide by The Economist.[14]

The characteristic shape of downtown is a triangular tract carved by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, where the Ohio River forms. The city features 151 high-rise buildings,[8] 446 bridges,[9] two inclined railways, and a pre-revolutionary fortification. Pittsburgh is known colloquially as “The City of Bridges” and “The Steel City” for its many bridges and former steel manufacturing base.

During my student days as an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska and before I went on to Stanford Law School, I spent my 1966 summer working in Pittsburgh and residing in the Pittsburgh suburb of Shadyside, so it is nice to see what was actually a “sunny” Pittsburgh neighborhood in “Shadyside” rise to the top of the world scene.

BlogWorld & New Media Expo in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Convention Center, October 15-17, 2009

The BlogWorld & New Media Expo takes place October 15-17, 2009, in Las Vegas Nevada at the Las Vegas Convention Center:

“The 2009 BlogWorld & New Media Expo will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, beginning with the exclusive “Social Media Business Summit”(TM) conference on October 15th and continuing with the BlogWorld & New Media Expo and Conference October 16th-17th. This is first and only industry-wide tradeshow, conference, and media event dedicated to promoting the dynamic industry of new media including: Blogging, Podcasting, Social Media, Online Video, Music, TV, Radio, Gaming, Entertainment and Communities. In addition to the only industry-wide new media industry exhibition, BlogWorld & New Media Expo features the largest new media conference in the world including more than 50 seminars, panel discussions and keynotes from iconic personalities on the leading-edge of online technology and internet-savvy business. If you are currently blogging, podcasting, vlogging, producing other forms of new media content, entering the new media industry, or researching ways to leverage new media for your large or small company, then you need to be at the only comprehensive new media convention–BlogWorld & New Media Expo. Located in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center at: 3150 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV 89109”

About 5000 attendees are expected, though we have no way of knowing, of course, how many will actually be there.

Register here.

Cloud Computing at the ASIDIC Association of Information and Dissemination Centers Fall Meeting October 13-15 at the Westin in Arlington, Virginia

We note at Newstex that its President, Larry Schwartz, is to lead a session on cloud computing at the (ASIDIC) Fall 2009 Meeting of ASIDIC (Association of Information and Dissemination Centers) to be held October 13-15 at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, to be joined on the panel by Michele Kimpton, Chief Business Officer of DuraSpace (repository platforms to manage, preserve, and provide access to digital content), Steve O’Keeffe, Founder and President of Meritalk – the Government IT Network (view their IT Dashboard (beta))- and George Landau, President of NewsEngin (engine for digital and print publishing).

LawPundit Referred to at the Wall Street Journal Online in the Case of the Mighty Hu, the SEC and its New Division of Risk, Strategy and Finance

The Wall Street Journal online referred to the LawPundit posting on the case of the Mighty Hu at the SEC in its new division of risk, strategy and finance. We have scanned a portion of the page here and added the red circles and red line:

The Mighty Who ? Hu ! Texas Law School Prof to Head New SEC Office of Economic Analysis and Office of Risk Assessment

Hu Gadarn, the first king of the Britons, during whose time a series of great floods occurred (probably the formation of the English Channel) was “also known as Hu the Mighty … was said to have brought the Welsh to Britain from Deffrobani (the Summer Country) … he taught them to plough, and invented the medium of song to aid memory.

Hu’s Oriental namesake, Henry Hu, Professor of Law at the University of Texas Law School, an expert in derivatives,


source of photograph: Bloomberg
has now been named the new “king” as it were to head a new SEC division in charge of risk assessment of financial products, with the goal of avoiding the kind of financial floods that have inundated the world economy in the past several years due in part to great failings by regulatory bodies.

The BLT (The Blog of Legal Times) as posted by quotes the Mighty Hu:

“The derivatives revolution, the rise of hedge funds and institutional investors, technological change, and other factors have transformed both capital markets and corporate governance,” Hu said in the SEC release announcing the new division. “I look forward to working with the Commission and to using an interdisciplinary approach that is informed by law and modern finance and economics, as well as developments in real world products and practices on Wall Street and Main Street.”

Reuters (Reporting by Karey Wutkowski; editing by Tim Dobbyn) in SEC creating new division to police market risk (update 1) writes:

The SEC is seeking increased authority over an array of financial products and sectors, such as the hedge fund industry, after the global financial crisis highlighted the mispricing of risk by investors and other market players.

According to Bloomberg in SEC Said to Pick Texas Professor Hu to Oversee Risk Analysis:

Hu, who has researched how complex securities and credit derivates pose systemic risk, will lead SEC staff members who identify areas of potential abuse and analyze the costs and benefits of regulating them…. Hu will report to Chairman Mary Schapiro….

( Joshua Gallu in Washington at jgallu@bloomberg.net; David Scheer in New York at dscheer@bloomberg.net; Jesse Westbrook in Washington at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net. )

We remain skeptical that government regulatory agencies will be able to reign in the most serious risks, simply because human greed is boundless and those seeking to take advantage of that weakness are a vast multitude. But of course we must try to do the best we can, so that this is most certainly a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, big money is seldom ruled, rather, big money rules. That is the major problem faced in governing the world economy.

Hat tip to Martha Neil at ABA Journal and her article Law Prof to Head New SEC Division Regulating Risky Financial Products.

Germany’s Top PC Mag Computer Bild Tests the Browsers : Mozilla Firefox Wins, Google Chrome 2nd, Opera 3rd, Apple Safari 4th, Internet Explorer 5th

Computer Bild, Germany’s most popular PC magazine with a biweekly circulation of close to 750,000, in its latest issue (20/2009, 14 September 2009) put the five top Internet browsers (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, Apple Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer) through 30 hours of performance tests and examined the programs from other parameters as well, coming up with the following test ratings, based upon a system in which 1 is the best score and 6 is the worst:

  • Mozilla Firefox Version 3.5.2 – Overall rating 1.87 “good” – Ranked Number 1 (Test Winner)
  • Google Chrome Version 2.0.172.39 – Overall rating 2.22 “good” – Ranked Number 2
  • Opera Version 10.00 – Overall rating 2.38 “good” – Ranked Number 3
  • Apple Safari 4.0.3 for Windows – Overall rating 2.50 “satisfactory” – Ranked Number 4
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.0.6001 – Overall rating 3.17 “satisfactory” – Ranked Number 5

The amazing thing is that in spite of its being by far the worst browser of the five top browsers examined, nearly 2/3 of Internet users in Germany (65.1%) use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, while the clearly superior Mozilla Firefox browser is used by only 28.8% of all users.

We call this the 2/3 majority rule, i.e. if two-thirds of the general – and often uninformed – populace are in the majority on any given topic, they are – objectively measured – most likely in the wrong. That is one of democracy’s greatest problems – the tyranny of uninformed majorities.

Best Little Towns in the USA : Outside Magazine Online Picks Ten : How About Boone, North Carolina : Plus Top 10 Most Popular Postings

While researching the Appalachian State college football team for this football season, we ran across a reference tothe outstanding Outside Magazine Online, which picked Boone, North Carolina, the home of the Mountaineers, as one of the top 10 Best Small Towns in America 2009, writing:

When Lance Armstrong launched his comeback to pro cycling in 1999, he was holed up in a spartan cabin in this sleepy (pop. 14,200), affordable college town (Appalachian State University).

See the other nine here. Looks like an interesting publication.

Alternative Billing Arrangements for Law Firms in the Current Economic Downturn : Attacking the Billable Hour

In their Wall Street Journal article, ‘Billable Hour’ Under Attack: In Recession, Companies Push Law Firms for Flat-Fee Contracts, Nathan Koppel and Ashby Jones write that: “With the recession crimping legal budgets, some big companies are fighting back against law firms’ longstanding practice of billing them by the hour.

Gary Levine at his blog Capitalization Matters addresses alternative billing arrangements for law firms, citing to that WSJ article and writing that “the evidence shows that there is a real shift taking place—and it may not be as temporary as the current economic downturn.
Read the rest here.

Education and Politics in the United States : The Obama Motivational Speech to American Students and the International Ranking of American Schools

Education is the most important undertaking of any country and so it is admirable of President Obama to offer a motivational speech to American students across the nation. If I were a student today – I would be honored to have the U.S. President want to talk to ME.

Those same students today can hear the well-meaning but sometimes misguided opinions of their self-important parents or local officials and gurus at any time – so give the President this one shot to reach a student where others have failed.

Any school or individual that prohibits a student from hearing a message directed to him or her by the President of the United States is practicing a form of tyrannical paternalism that would warm every tyrant’s heart. Anyone disagreeing with the content of that message is free to inform the student(s) personally of contrary opinions. That is the American way. Squelching the opportunity to hear is un-American and violates free speech guarantees. Content-chilling thuggery by parents or local or regional school officials is not democracy.

As a political centrist, it is difficult for the LawPundit to understand – as reported by the New York Times – the partisan political stir caused by U.S. President Obama’s plan to deliver a motivational speech to American students to start the school year. There is precedent for such a speech, as President George Bush made such a speech in 1991.

There is no excuse for partisan politics here.

The newest results in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) show that there is room for improvement of American education starting in elementary school. For example, let us take a look at the ranking of mathematics scores of fourth-grade students by participating country in 2007, the most recent published data (500 is the TIMSS “scale average”), where the U.S. is not even in the top 10.

1. Hong Kong SAR – 607
2. Singapore – 599
3. Chinese Taipei – 576
4. Japan – 568
5. Kazakhstan – 549
6. Russian Federation – 544
7. England – 541
8. Latvia – 537
9. Netherlands – 535
10. Lithuania – 530
11. United States – 529
12. Germany – 525
13. Denmark – 523
14. Australia – 516
15. Hungary – 510
16. Italy – 507
17. Austria – 505
18. Sweden – 503
19. Slovenia 502
20. Armenia – 500
21. Slovak Republic – 496
22. Scotland – 494
23. New Zealand – 492
24. Czech Republic – 486
25. Norway – 473
26. Ukraine – 469
27. Georgia – 438
28. Iran, Islamic Rep. of – 402
29. Algeria – 378
30. Colombia – 355
31. Morocco – 341
32. El Salvador – 330
33. Tunisia – 327
34. Kuwait – 316
35. Qatar – 296
36. Yemen – 224

Nevertheless, showing that the hearts of the elites of the country are in the right place, the United States has the best education in the world at its top universities, but the rest of the educational system is subject to improvement. You can read as much at Education in the United States at the Wikipedia. We quote Mary Faler at Suite101.com in her posting, The State of Education in the United States: Why America is Behind Other Countries:

In 2002, UNICEF compared public education in twenty four nations around the world: the US ranked 18. Forty years ago America had the highest graduation rate: now America is ranked as the 19th. US 4th grade math grades have remained the same since 1995, while other countries have improved….

American students are holding their own at the elementary level, but as they progress through the system, they fall behind their international counterparts.

To fix the problem political leaders should stand up and pay attention – getting involved goes a long way.“

Well, that is what President Obama is doing – standing up, paying attention and getting involved.

As far as university education goes, America leads the world by a massive margin, as proven by an Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) conducted objectively in Shanghai, China, where Harvard, Stanford and Cal Berkeley in the USA rank 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the world with Cambridge in the UK in 4th place, followed by MIT, Caltech, Columbia, Princeton, and Chicago in the USA 5th through 9th and finally Oxford in the UK 10th. The top 25 are rounded out by the universities at Yale, Cornell, UCLA, San Diego, Penn, Washington (Seattle), Wisconsin (Madison), San Francisco, Tokyo, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, University College of London, Kyoto, ETH Zurich and Toronto (tied). :

The Academic Ranking of World Universities [1] is compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The ranking compared 1200 higher education institutions worldwide according to a formula that took into account alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (10 percent), staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (20 percent), highly-cited researchers in 21 broad subject categories (20 percent), articles published in Nature and Science (20 percent), the Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index (20 percent) and the per capita academic performance (on the indicators above) of an institution (10 percent). The methodology is set out in an academic article by its originators, N.C. Liu and Y. Cheng[2]. Liu and Cheng explain that the original purpose of doing the ranking was to find out the gap between Chinese universities and world-class universities, particularly in terms of academic or research performance.”[3] The rankings have been conducted since 2003 and then updated annually.

There are also special lists there, by the way, for the Top 100 North & Latin American Universities, Top 100 European Universities and Top 100 Asia Pacific Universities.