Ziese & Associates, Ltd.

Robert J. Ziese, Esq.

Kathryn G. Ziese Financial Services

Client Newsletter - Oct. - Dec. 2002

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season & Happy New Year !

Call us for real estate, wills & trusts, tax & bankruptcy issues, business startup & litigation, matrimonial, adoption, and non-profit organization matters



                Adoption Credit

The Purple Brain

NJIT to Develop Smart Coating for U.S. Army

Despite Precautions, Net Fraud Up

Big Brother Update 

Cat Gets "Board Certified" as Psychologist 



Adoption Credit

The IRS regulations have now made the adoption expense credit for nonspecial needs adoption permanent and increased the maximum credit for years after 2001. The following changes are effective for 2002 and later:

Credit limit increased to $ 10,000       For all adoptions, up to $ 10,000 can be taken as a credit in total for all tax years for the adoption of a given child.

Special Needs Children $ 10,000 Credit in Final Adoption Year - Regardless of Qualified Expenses       For 2001, you can take a credit for qualified expenses if the adoption was finalized in that year. After Jan. 1, 2003, you get a $ 10,000 credit regardless of whether you have qualified expenses.

The Purple Brain 

The day seems to be getting uncomfortably close when computers WILL be approaching the estimated computing power of the human brain.  In fact, according to some, that day will be in 2003!
As explored in the Nov. 19 Wired News (http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,56459,00.html), the processing power of your brain is about 100 trillion calculations per second, and your brain has a memory capacity of about 100 terabytes (100,000 gigabytes).  [So why can't I remember where I put something, or a random
phone number?].
IBM has recently been awarded a $290-million contract to produce two "ASCI Purple" supercomputers.  When working together, they will operate at "500 trillion calculations per second, more than 1.5-times the combined processing power..." of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world today -- combined.  And ASCI Purple will have 50 terabytes of memory (half that of your brain.)

There are a few additional interesting comparisons:
ASCI Purple's 12,544 microprocessors will require "4.7-million megawatts
of power a day;" enough for 4,000 homes, while your brain consumes about
10 megawatts/day.
ASCI Purple will take up almost 200 refrigerator-sized cabinets weighing
one-ton each, spread across 2 basketball courts.  Your brain fits in
about 56 cubic-inches and weighs about 3 pounds.

The Harrow Technology Report



NJIT to Develop Smart Coating for U.S. Army

A team of researchers at NJIT recently signed an $838,000 contract with the U.S. Army to develop a smart coating that would enable military vehicles, if corroded or scratched, to detect and heal themselves. The vehicles could also change color on the battlefield, creating instant camouflage and rendering tanks, helicopters and military trucks virtually invisible. The research team expects an additional $1.5 million to fund the smart-coating project for the following year.


Despite Precautions, Net Fraud Up

By Joanna Glasner  

Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/holidays/0,1882,56611,00.html

On the whole, Thomas Ho's near-loss of about $500 in a Web scam last year has made him a bit more cautious about future online purchases.

Like thousands of bargain hunters, Ho was caught off guard by the demise of CyberRebate.com, a site that offered rebates of up to 100 percent for customers who bought products at marked-up prices. When the site abruptly closed in May 2001, customers were left awaiting refunds for millions of dollars' worth of purchases.

For Ho, a professor of computer science and e-commerce at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, the experience provided a valuable lesson.

"It made me a whole lot smarter about checking up on what's going on," said Ho, who has subsequently recovered his CyberRebate losses through his credit card company. Nowadays, he is more vigilant about investigating the reputation and business model of sites he patronizes.

Nonetheless, Ho says, the experience hasn't stopped him from shopping online. Although he's aware of the risks, he also believes that buying over the Internet "is probably no more dangerous than giving your credit card to the waiter in the restaurant."

So long as you're dealing with a reputable company, that is.

These days, with online shopping firmly established as a mainstream pastime, Ho's attitude is increasingly pervasive among Internet users. Although stories of credit card theft abound, such as last week's bust of what authorities called the largest identity theft ring in U.S. history, few buyers are letting fear forestall their online spending.

But while some aspects of online shopping have gotten safer, fraud experts say the overall risks -- particularly for serious crimes such as identity theft -- remain high. While merchants have gotten smarter, so have the crooks.


   Big Brother Update
1984 may be well behind us, but the threat of an Orwellian technological Big Brother, and of some seriously invasive advertising, is not just around the corner -- it's here now!

For example consider a test already taking place in two Safeway grocery stores in California:  Each shopping cart comes with its own bar code scanner and a color touch screen.  Although not required, once you swipe your "loyalty card" so that you can get the various discounts (some non-trivial), your cart knows who you are.  And more importantly, it knows your detailed shopping history (at that store or, assumedly, at any other Safeway).

You may not like this "Active Cart" idea, although if it prevents you from having to rescan everything when you checkout it may be a seductive time saver.  But there is one other issue -- the cart that knows WHO you are, also knows WHERE you are in the store.  So, for example, as you approach the steak area of the meat counter, that nice color screen might display an ad offering you a discount on the type of steak you normally buy.  Or perhaps it might try to "up-sell" you to the next higher cut or grade of meat.  And of course it can do this throughout the store, since it has a complete history of what you've bought in the past!

The Harrow Technology Report


Cat Gets "Board Certified" as Psychologist


©2002 ABA Journal

Zoe D. Katze has an impressive-looking set of credentials–Ph.D., C.Ht., DAPA. She has been board-certified by three major hypnotherapy associations and holds diplomate status in the American Psychotherapy Association.

Not bad for a 6-year-old house cat. And not even a pedigreed one at that.

But Zoe’s not just any cat. She’s Philadelphia psychologist Steve K.D. Eichel’s cat. Eichel had a point he had been wanting to make about the proliferation of bogus credentialing organizations over the past 10 or 20 years.

So he decided to credential his cat.

Zoe D. Katze

To do that, Eichel first had to get his cat some credit, which turned out to be the hardest part of the process. The credit card company’s agent initially asked for Zoe’s Social Security number, Eichel says, but cheerfully relented when Eichel told him it wasn’t readily available. Zoe was then added to Eichel’s account as an authorized user.

To get Zoe her first credential, Eichel says, he simply filled out an "application for certification" on a lay hypnosis association’s Web site and charged the fee to his credit card under Zoe’s name. Since most lay hypnosis associations have reciprocity agreements, he says, it was a snap getting Zoe board-certified by two other credentialing organizations.

Eichel then decided to go for the gold: diplomate status in the American Psychotherapy Association, which, according to its own promotional literature, "is limited to a select group of professionals who, by virtue of their extensive training and expertise, have demonstrated their outstanding abilities in regard to their specialty."

The American Psychotherapy Association is affiliated with the American College of Forensic Examiners, whose credentialing practices were critically examined in the February 2000 issue of the ABA Journal. Eichel admits that he served briefly on the APA’s executive advisory board, but says he quit in 1999 when he learned it was board-certifying people who did not have licenses or graduate degrees.

The APA, to its credit, requested a copy of Zoe’s resumé before it would issue her any credentials, Eichel says. So he made one up. And it’s a real doozy.

The name itself is the first clue as to Zoe’s true identity. In German, "Zoe Die Katze" translates to "Zoe the Cat." And Eichel didn’t stop there. He listed a previous job with the St. Felix (as in "Felix the Cat") Home for Children. And he gave her a consulting position with the Tacayllaermi Friends School, the first name of which is "I’m really a cat" spelled backwards.

That’s where it might have ended. Eichel says he had no intention of publicizing the matter further. But when his cat started getting a lot of e-mail, he felt obliged to answer. And when a reporter for a major magazine requested an interview with Zoe for a story she was doing on the use of hypnosis during childbirth, he decided it was time to let the cat out of the bag.

Rochester, N.Y., psychologist Michael A. Baer, chairman of the APA's executive advisory board, says the association has a system of checks and balances in place to prevent something like this from happening.

"I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but the truth is, this one just slipped right through the cracks," he says.

Baer says Zoe's credentials have since been revoked. And the association has taken steps to tighten its credentialing procedures.

"We don't want anything like this to ever happen again," he says.

Eichel says he suspects that Zoe’s unmasking will make some people very angry.

As a matter of fact, it already has. Eichel has just been informed that Capital One MasterCard, which issued him the credit card he used to get his cat’s credentials, is investigating a report of credit card fraud against him and Zoe. The report lists Jerome Beacham, training director of the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association, one of the three organizations that issued Zoe credentials, as the source of the complaint.

But Eichel also hopes the episode will inspire others to demand changes in the way some credentialing is done:

"Limiting a credential to Homo sapiens would be a good start."


Go To Top of Page      

Return to Home Page