Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Work Update

The good news first I guess...only 2 more weeks of rollouts. 4 more classes which means there's only about 28 people left on XP. After 2-weeks, everyone at the company will be on the same operating system. The bad news: the operating system is Windows Vista.

The amount of support calls we are receiving from our users has decreased substantially over the past few weeks. If you take that as a sign of improved performance you would be wrong. The users have found ways to work around the problems and, thanks to the e-mails we've been sending, have learned how to fix their own problems. Some of those problems include, but are not limited to, our Document Management System disabling itself randomly, documents being lost despite hitting save, an error if you open an e-mail to fast (back to the document management system) and just overall sluggishness. So, we're upgrading the DMS next week...which should provide an interesting challenge.

Perhaps the biggest problem today is the fact that our laptop users can't open documents on the road. This problem is related to a folder redirection that was setup by the 3rd party that is helping us. So, when a user is on the network, his My Documents is redirected to a network drive (which is good for backups and whatnot). When out of the office, that drive should be created so they can still access their desktop, document or whatever. Unfortunately, it is only working in one office which means the other 6 can't work on their machines off the network. Do you think that would be a high priority issue? Me too but I've gone 2 weeks without getting any help and, despite a multitude of testing, I can't narrow the problem down. It's going to get ugly.

We've increased our WAN capacity multiple times now but the sluggishness issues won't go away. This company assured us that WAAS devices (WAN Accelerators) would make our network issues minimal. Well, that was inccorect. So now we're going to have to bring in a network analyzer to try to determine why our WAN is so slow despite the high capacity. There's something amiss. I'm guessing our NeverFail system or replication system is setup incorrectly.

The issues are so monumental that we're not even sure where to start. My first place is the laptop issue because, well, what's the point of having a mobile workstation if you can't use it? Two more weeks and everyone will be on this system, which is a huge milestone. But I'm pretty sure the real upgrade is just beginning. Thankfully we hired a summer, maybe he'll have all the answers...or will become the scapegoat if not.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stupid Food Tricks

A few months ago someone at work said that it was impossible to eat 6 saltine crackers in 1 minutes. Obviously, being the skeptics we are, the challenge was accepted. After a day or two of planning for the event, we snagged several packages of saltines from the lounge and gathered round the table for a good ol' cracker eating time. Needless to say, the events that transpired during this contest were not exactly clean. I was shooting cracker dust at the guy across the table from me and there wasn't a whole lot he could say about it considering he had a mouthful of crackers.

What you fail to realize when you hear such a simple challenge is that you only have 1 minute and you're not allowed to drink anything. The saltines pretty much dry up your mouth instantaneously and when you're sitting around with 6 other people, it's difficult not to laugh at the predicament you have placed each other in.

Fast forward a couple months to Tuesday when someone claimed they could eat 100 freeze pops in 20 minutes. Now, there was no way but it opened the door back up to the food challenges. While unsuccessful, this human ate 20 freeze pops in 20 minutes, which is quite an accomplishment in and of itself. You can only imagine how cold it would be to hold those freeze pops. And the sugar shock if you actually accomplished would probably not be good. But when I told the people at work about this, it reopened the cracker debate. Thankfully, since then, I had heard of another challenge which they were happy to undertake: Eat 1 tablespoon of cinnamon.

Everyone likes cinnamon and a tablespoon isn't that much, right? Wrong. Having seen someone attempt this, there was no way I was partaking in such a game. But Pam was more than willing to step up to the plate. A brief preparation and in went the cinnamon. The look on her face was priceless and I nearly fell out of my chair at that moment. As she spewed cinnamon forth like smoke from a chimney, I had to leave the room. My sides were hurting so bad that I wasn't sure I would ever get right again. For the next minute she was spitting cinnamon. Out her mouth, out her nose, cinnamon was everywhere. After a glass or five of water and a brush of the teeth, she was back to work but still complaining about the taste of cinnamon.

Thankfully, Tim had missed Pam's episode so when he returned from a support call we laid the challenge down to him. Of course, it's only a tablespoon of bad can it be? So, once again we dip out the requisite amount of cinnamon and Tim gets a drink of water to get prepared. As the cinnamon reaches his mouth, it is clear that disaster is on the way. Within seconds, Tim is grabbing the trashcan and expunging brown powder. I really believed Tim was going to vomit but instead he rinsed with water for awhile and completely annihilated a perfectly good trashcan. After wiping the tears from his eyes, he agreed that eating cinnamon may be more difficult than it sounds.

While issuing the challenge to others, no one else will bite. I think we might have one more victim who would try it next week when she gets back to the office. Maybe we'll tape the next one. In the meantime, we're looking for peeps for the next challenge is eating 24 marshmallow peeps in 5-minutes. Once again, I believe that it is probably impossible considering that is eating a peep every 12-seconds for 5-minutes but someone believes they can do it and I'm more than willing to spend a few dollars on some peeps for the entertainment it provides. Immature? Perhaps. But when you have to deal with what we deal with on a daily basis, a little immaturity may be a good thing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stanley Cup

I have actually watched the first 2 games of the NHL Stanley Cup this year. I will readily admit that they are the first 2 hockey games I have watched on television in a long, long time. And the only reason I'm watching is the same reason most are watching: Sidney Crosby and the resurgence of the Pittsburgh Peguins. I'm not sure what the ratings are on the VS channel but I can't imagine they're high because, well, it's hockey.

Pittsburgh is down 2-0 already in the series but hockey "talking heads" don't think the series is over. At least they hope it isn't because they need Crosby and the Penguins to be successful to try to turn hockey into an actual sport that people watch. What they are telling everyone is how much better Detroit is than Pittsburgh. Matter of fact, I will be surprised if Detroit doesn't sweep the Pens.

The Red Wings are faster. They're bigger. They play better. They control the puck. Pittsburgh can't get anything going offensively and most of the game is spent on the wrong side of the ice. Crosby has been neutralized and even some poor officiating can't help the Penguins. The fact is that Detroit is just a far superior team. The NHL needs a young audience which is why they want Pittsburgh to be successful but disregarding the excellence of Detroit is a shame. I definitely wish Pittsburgh would win the series but, judging from what I have seen so far, that is just wishful thinking.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Who Wants To Be Vice President?

Well, maybe the question should be who wants to run for Vice President with the potential to become Vice President under John McCain. The list could be long but, really, who wants to be Vice President besides Hillary Clinton?

Mitt Romney has tried to cozy up to McCain. I'm not sure being governor of Massachusetts is a huge plus but he's known thanks to the Olympics and his unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination. Another unsuccessful candidate could be Mike Huckabee. If McCain really wants to alienate the conservative base of the Republican party, he'll pick Huckabee. Very unlikely.

Maybe another Bush? How about Jeb Bush from Florida? Talk about dividing a nation. Bush would definitely chase a bunch of people away. The Independent Joe Lieberman is out there. I doubt Joe would want to run for Vice President again and, as before, this would definitely alienate conservatives who think of Lieberman as the Vice Presidential candidate with Al Gore.

What about Condoleeza Rice or Colin Powell? Rice is a pretty strong candidate but Powell lost favor in the party when he kinda split with the Bush Administration. A Rice pick would probably be looked at as an attempt to gain a black vote...which it most certainly wouldn't.

Most likely candidates are Mark Sanford, Governor of South Carolina; John Thune, Senator from South Dakota; or Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota. All are relatively young (compared to McCain) and are rising stars in the Republican party. The question is whether any of them are willing to leave their current posts to run on a questionable ticket with McCain.

My money is on Sanford at the moment. He didn't rush to endorse McCain but he's a strong Southern Republican and his economic conservatism could win big points with the Republican base. Of course, I'm putting my guess that McCain wants to win over conservatives. With McCain's track record, he may try to get Bill or Hillary to run with him. I'm just not sure anymore...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hillary's Big Gaffe

"My husband didn’t wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June. We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just dont understand it.”

And with those words, Hillary Clinton touched off a firestorm. The Clinton campaign tried to throw some water on the issue by explaining the historical context of the words but the damage had already been done. Drudge splashed the words quickly across his site and today it made the front page of the New York Post.

Far be it for me to defend Clinton but, perhaps, she publicly stated what many have privately wondered. There remains a lot of sickos in this country and there is that fear that Obama could be the target of some heinous plot between now and election time. Quite frankly, some have opined about the ability for a few to accept a woman for president and have wondered if Hillary could/would be in danger in much the same way. Unfortunately, given the contentious nature of the race, John McCain could be in as much danger as anyone.

Fortunately, Secret Service does an amazing job quashing threats before they are able to actually be carried through. George W. Bush, if you believe the press, could be the most hated president ever and yet his life is not in any apparent danger. And you have to know the Secret Service works very hard to keep Obama, Hillary and McCain safe.

So, I believe Clinton's remarks were more along the lines of "you never know what could happen" rather than creating an atmosphere of fear around Obama. I don't believe Clinton hopes or believers for one instant that Obama would be assassinated. I believe she articulated a fear that many have without considering the fact is does touch a nerve with many and I'm sure she regrets it now. It's a shame we have reached the end of the electoral process and Hillary saves her biggest gaffe for the end. I don't believe her words were said with malice but I do believe it will cement the final meltdown of her campaign. If she is wise, she will make that difficult decision to step aside now and prevent any further damage to her already battered image.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NBA Playoffs

I think I asked this same question last year...but I'm too lazy to go back and look at the moment...but is anyone watching this? Does anyone watch the NBA anymore? I did watch the LA/San Antonio game last night, which was a very good game actually. I was mostly watching to hope Kobe would lose but, unfortunately, that didn't occur. Los Angeles overcame a 20-point deficit to win by 4. I think that should be a good series. On the other side, Boston plays Detroit tonight in Game 2. Boston leads the series 1-0. I'm pulling for Boston to win the whole thing really. I think Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the crew up there have earned a title. I'm not sure Detroit can overcome some injuries. Should be interesting...but no one is watching.

In another sport no one is watching, the Penguins will face Detroit for the Stanley Cup. I must admit that I haven't really kept up much on all. But I'm going to try to make it a point to watch this series considering it marks the resurgence of Pittsburgh hockey. The Penguins had put together quite a run several years back and it's nice to see that they're back to the top of the mountain. After threatening to leave Pittsburgh and going through some serious financial woes, this is an amazing turnaround. It doesn't hurt that they landed Sidney Crosby, of course.

And lastly, in something else no one is watching, John McCain appeared on "Ellen" today, which is hosted by none other than Ellen DeGeneres. Obviously McCain is trying to reach out to new voters but, well, I'm not sure this is going to help him. I'm starting to get the feeling that running McCain against Obama is similar to when the Republicans ran Bob Dole against Bill Clinton. Sure, Dole was a great statesman and very deserving to be president but he wasn't a serious contender. Dole was awesome, don't get me wrong, but the appeal just didn't exist. And I'm afraid McCain may be in the same boat here. Should be an interesting summer in politics.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Suing OPEC

The House passed a bill to sue OPEC on Tuesday for breaking American antitrust laws. Somehow this seems like a poor idea to me. Does anyone really believe that threatening a lawsuit against a country is going to make them produce more oil? If anything, it gives them reason to produce less. The arrogance of the house in this threat is amazing to me. If they really cared and wanted to lower gas prices, they would allow more drilling and more refineries.

The House instead would like to wait and try to cap gas prices and create a false energy crisis in America, similar to the Jimmy Carter debacle in the '70s. The threats of windfall taxes only ratchet the pressue on the American consumer, not oil producing nations. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the rest of the OPEC nations are going to make their oil money regardless of what the United States does. If we continue to rely upon them for oil, they can continue to restrict their supply and actually make more money.

America must look for energy independence and not continue to wait for the Saudis to increase production. This includes looking for alternative energy sources and investing in new energies (and not just ethanol). But this also includes looking for new oil reserves in our own backyard. Why can Cuba drill off the coast of Florida but not the United States? Why is ANWR so protected that we can't look for additional oil reserves?

The House is just thumping their chests on an election year. They know for a fact that a threatened lawsuit will not help the American consumer. Just like the "gas tax holiday" won't solve the problem facing American drivers. Real solutions aren't that easy. The House just wants us to believe they are.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Strawberry Festival Entertainment

I took time Saturday to travel down Buckhannon way for the Strawberry Festival. Only one previous time in my life had I ever been to the Strawberry Festival Parade and, well, that was because I was in it. I really didn't know what to expect but I knew it was going to be entertaining. And I wasn't disappointed. I will focus on the parade for the most part but the people who attended the parade were as great as the parade itself.

Upon arrival, we ran into some traffic issues. We had to wait in line to speak to a police officer who I would guess came directly from "Reno 911." After a brief conversation that included where we should park, we headed to a gravel parking lot and met Junior. He was...Juniorish? He directed us to the parade route and after walking for 10 minutes or so, we made it to the parade and found a good place to hang out and watch. There were thousands already with chairs setup so we just kinda found an empty spot behind chairs and took up residence.

The Classic Car Parade was up first and they were led by a bunch of tractors. Most of the tractors were rather nice, by tractor standards.

This poor guy didn't look very happy with his tractor. Perhaps it is because it was smaller than all the others? Maybe it was because that child on the left is pointing and laughing? I really don't know.

Most of the cars in the show were pretty nice.

But there were a few questionable choices.

Morgantown High School was the honor band and they sounded pretty good.

The Santiago dancers were pretty amazing. I've seen them before but I can't remember where. This is a good time to mention that it was 70-degrees but everyone in the parade looked like it was about 90. The sun was pretty warm but I didn't think the parade was that long. Not sure though...

New West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart made the trip down from Morgantown from the parade and was bombarded by autograph seekers. He may have also been harrassed by an unnamed camera man. An investigation is pending...

Betty Ireland may have been the happiest person in the parade. She was attempting to get any reaction from the crowd but most people just ignored her. I like her. And I think she was happy to get her picture taken. Her driver was too.

Our neighbors to the right were interesting. This woman had a bee on her back and was in a tizzy trying to rid herself of the visitor. Stanley took a picture of her and was busted. While she took it in good humor, her behavior considered to get more bizarre. She later "joined" the parade for a bit and her grandson called her "retarded."

The Buckhannon-Upshur Lewis County High School band was in the parade. The girl on the right is handing out water bottles to the band to keep them going. As I said before, the parade must be longer than I think because by the time everyone got to us, it looked like they had been traveling many, many miles.

The "Cat in the Hat" float was interesting. Unfortunately, it had some issues. They were able to get it back up though. The wind was pretty bad.

This band from Springdale, Maryland was arguably the best group in the parade. The music was good and they definitely knew how to march down the street. Very entertaining.

And this group was just a drum corps with dancers. They were also very good.

Ronald McDonald was having a good time in the parade until the stormtroopers came and took care of business. We won't discuss that...

Things must have been getting stale at this point since Stanley decided it was time to go out and dancewith the parade participants. I can't tell if the people watching are entertained or mortified. I do,however, know which I was. The dancer seemed entertained and didn't kill him. Which I guess is a plus.

The little bluegrass band was pretty good. They were having good fun.

And the Fairmont Senior Steel Drum Band kinda closed the parade. They were the last float, followed only by horses and the fire trucks, etc.

Speaking of the horses, here's the guy with the worst job of the entire parade.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. Didn't really hang out for the Festival itself. There were some rides and stuff but nothing that looked overly great. But the parade...well, it was definitely a parade. And the people there...well, they were interesting too. And that was the Strawberry Festival. Definitely worth the trip.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Put a Fork in Him

The faculty gathered at the Creative Arts Center for the historic meeting and voted 565 to 39 with 11 abstentions in support of a motion expressing “no confidence” in Mike Garrison and calling for him to resign or for the Board of Governors to require his resignation over the Heather Bresch scandal. *

Do I really need to say anymore than that? 565 to 39. 92% of the faculty who attend the meeting voted for Garrison to leave West Virginia University. The faculty fell short of the 50 percent needed for a quorum, but it doesn’t really matter. A large and vocal segment of the WVU faculty is speaking in a unified voice rarely heard within earshot of Woodburn Circle. And the vocal side is obviously and overwhelmingly against Garrison.

If Garrison is going to survive this, he needs a show of support from the faculty who did not attend the meeting. But it appears the only people who support Mike Garrison at this point is Governor Manchin and the WVU Board of Governors, many of which are also supported by Manchin. Garrison and Manchin and the Board of Governors have obviously lost the support of the faculty.

It's quite a mess. Garrison wasn't the faculty's choice to begin with and now they are hanging him because of the ties that got him the job to begin with. There is nothing imaginable that Garrison can do to restore confidence with the faculty and angered alumni. He could hang on, but there’s no point now. If 92% of the faculty want him gone, what can he ever to do turn those numbers?

Garrison needs to take the pressure off the university and step aside. That's an almost impossible task for him at this point but it appears there are not many choices left. And the WVU Board of Governors need to wake up and listen to the concerns of the faculty instead of turning a blind eye to the needs of the university in hopes of furthering political ties. It's an ugly mess in Morgantown and it is one that needs sorted out. Sooner than later...

*Hoppy Kerchevel put it better than I I borrowed some of his content...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Election Results

The West Virginia Primary came and went without too many surprises. Hillary showed she can still pull out some victories but easily winning the Democrat vote in the state. But it's probably for not as Obama seems to have it all but locked up. West Virginia was conceded long ago by the Obama campaign. Hillary did bring up an interesting point though by saying "no Democrat has won the White House since 1916 without winning West Virginia." And, from best I can see, there's definitely no guarantee that Obama can beat McCain in West Virginia.

Of more local interest, it appears West Virginians are sending a message to the West Virginia Supreme Court by voting out Elliott “Spike” Maynard. Maynard has come under fire for his long-standing friendship with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Pictures of Blankenship and Maynard vacationing together on the French Riveria surfaced last year while Massey cases were pending before the court. The publicity drew a great deal of criticism and forced Maynard to recuse himself from all Massey cases. On a positive note, Larry Starcher didn't run for re-election, so things even out for all.

Marion County failed to pass the school bond, but it was closer than I anticipated. The bond failed by slightly more than 800 votes. By failing the bond, the county forfeited $20 million in School Building Authority money. The bond would have touched every section of the county but building a badly needed East Fairmont Middle School, performing renovations at Fairmont Senior, North Marion and East Fairmont and performing additions at East Dale, East Park, Pleasant Valley, Watson, Jayenne, White Hall, Fairview, Blackshere, Barrackville and Monogah. Instead, the BOE will have to go back to the drawing board to figure out how to make improvements that must be made. Can you say consolidations?

I'll be anxious in more breakdowns for the county, especially over the bond issue. I'm still surprised by how close it really came to passing. But pretty disappointed that Marion County once again fails to progress. I guess when you have the I-79/Downtown Fairmont Connector being built, you don't need to invest in education. Plus, we have a waterpark on the way and a minor league baseball team. Who needs schools?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hill-Billies for Hillary

Just to add a bit to my previous post, the following picture was on Drudge under the heading "Hill-Billies for Hillary"

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Helping the West Virginia Stereotype

“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist,” said Mr Simpson, drawing on a cigarette outside the fire station in Williamson, a coalmining town of 3,400 people surrounded by lush wooded hillsides."

That's from a recent article in the Financial Times. Boy, doesn't that look nice. The last paragraph might actually be better:

Josh Fry, a 24-year-old ambulance driver from Williamson, insisted he was not racist but said he would feel more comfortable with Mr McCain, the 71-year-old Vietnam war hero, in the White House. “I want someone who is a full-blooded American as president,” he said.

It's pretty sad really. I'm sure that these are real quotes from real West Virginians but I can guarantee that you could travel to any state in this union and find people who will give you similar quotes. But media-types seek out people who will further the opinion that West Virginia folks are backwood hillbillies. I doublt Mr. Fry was attempting to say that Obama wasn't an American because he was black but that's the way it comes across. And Mr. Simpson's ignorance is just that...I'm sure they could have found better articulated people in Williamson that had real reasons to vote against Obama but it's more fun to try to show West Virginians as ignorant rather than knowledeable.

Anyway, election day tomorrow in West Virginia. Hillary will win by 20-30 points. I was in Martinsburg on Sunday and almost attended a small Obama rally just for the fun of it (and the television crew was on the way) but had to get back to Morgantown. If anyone is interested, I do have 2 Obama for President signs that I will gladly give you.

The biggest thing on the ballot tomorrow in my opinion is the Marion County Bond Proposal. I will once again encourage everyone to vote for the bond. There's no better investment than in the future and, quite frankly, education is the future. It would help the county immensely to get a new middle school for East Fairmont and there are repairs that need to be made for the other schools. But, in all honesty, I think the bond may be overreaching and I will be shocked if it passes. Very, very shocked.

Lastly, I think I'm taking the day off work for Election, just throwing that out there. I know you care...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hillary is Probably Done, But...

In case you missed the news today, the prevailing thought in the media is that Hillary Clinton is done. See the video below. And, yes, I agree that Hillary probably has zero chance to win the Democratic nomination at this point. But Hillary won't stop her campaign despite the never-ending pleas of the media and of other Democrats. And I say "good for her."

First, Tim Russert, Chris Mathews and the lot don't decide when the race is over. They may think it's over and they may want Hillary to step aside but their voice carries no more weight than any voters. They may want Hillary to quit but just because they proclaim it over doesn't make it so.

Second, it's not over until it's over. Until Hillary concedes defeat, she can hold on to some hope of winning. As unlikely as it may be, she can drag it out until the end. Obama doesn't have enough delegates yet to force her out of the race. So, mathematically, she's still alive. Probably zero chance but it's still not over.

Third, she's earned the right to say when it's over. I am not the biggest Hillary fan but, as I said previously, I have a new found respect for her tenacity over the course of this race. The fact she dragged herself out on the campaign trail day after day despite the poor odds has earned her the right to decide when to get out. She could have packed it in a long time ago but she chose to fight and nearly pulled this thing off. So I believe she has earned the right to declare it over when she feels it is and she shouldn't be forced into quitting before she is ready.

One of the reasons the super-delegates didn't flock to Obama today was out of respect for Hillary. They also know she's earned the right to decide when it's over and no one should force her to make that decision prematurely. Obviously, at some point, many of the undeclared super-delegates will probably break to Obama but I think they'll hold off as long as possible out of reverence to Hillary. And many of them probably still owe Bill favors from his time in the White House and they don't want to burn that bridge.

So, in closing, I think Hillary should be allowed to hang on as long as she chooses. As long as there is hope, she can continue to campaign. I honestly believe she has earned the right to choose her own course and can choose to step aside whenever she is ready. To try to force her out now, before she is ready to concede, is the ultimate show of disrespect for a woman who really did give all she had to this campaign. She would never, ever get my vote...but she did earn some respect. Seriously.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Garrison's Problems

When your Faculty Senate votes 77-19 in favor of your resigning or being fired from your job, you have some serious issues. And Mike Garrison has some serious issues to deal with. Obviously, the cause of these issues is the Heather Bresch degree scandal. But his problems with the West Virginia faculty goes a little farther back then that. Actually, it starts from the day he was awarded the job as President of West Virginia University.

From the moment the search began for a replacement for David Hardesty, many were calling the search fixed. While other candidates had far more educational experience, Garrison's name continued to make it through cuts until the final three candidates were revealed. Garrison, Daniel O. Bernstine, 59, president of Portland State University in Oregon, and M. Duane Nellis, 52, a former arts and sciences dean at WVU and now provost of Kansas State University.

The faculty made their choice clear that they wanted someone who was in education. And many expressed their concern about bringing in a politician over an experienced educator. But, for whatever reason, the Board of Governors chose Garrison. Whether truly a factor or not, the perception that Garrison used his political ties to land the job was overwhelming. And the feeling around West Virginia University was that the search was rigged from the beginning and that the Governor used his influence to choose Garrison.

Fast forward to more recent events. Joe Manchin's face has been all over West Virginia University in recent months. Whether real or imagined, the perception of his influence is everywhere. Whether it be on the sideline during football games or basketball games, there was a real feeling that he was pulling strings at the university. After the Heather Bresch story broke and the university retroactively awarded her an executive MBA, the feeling Manchin was really running the university was overwhelming.

While there was outcry about the retroactive award despite the lack of evidence, Garrison and WVU acted arrogantly in not explaining their decision and not truly investigating the events leading to Bresch's assertions that she earned the degree. Once again, the perception, whether real or imagined, that political pressure was running the university was overwhelming. The fact Bresch was working for Mylan, a major contributor to the university, also helped push the theory that the fix was in, so to speak.

After an independent panel released a scathing assessment of West Virginia University's decision to retroactively award an executive MBA degree Heather Bresch, Provost Gerald E. Lang and R. Stephen Sears, dean of the college of business and economics, both resigned. The report said the school's administrators used "severely flawed" judgment in awarding a degree to Bresch. WVU administrators lacked documentation to prove Bresch's claims that she'd finished her final semester with work experience credits, relying too heavily on verbal assertions and caving to political pressure -- whether real or perceived, the panel said. Obviously, that pressure would start at the top and trickle down to employees like Lang and Sears, or that would be the perception.

Regardless of what happened, the close ties between WVU and the governor's office have hurt the university, the faculty and the students. Whether Garrison truly caved to political pressure or not has become secondary to the perception that Bresch received special treatment because of her father and because of the relationship between her father and Mike Garrison. Garrison may survive the storm and keep his job but he will never be able to repair the damage done to the relationship between him and the faculty. A faculty that never wanted him to begin with.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Economy Turning?

There are some subtle hints that the economy may already be turning around. The dollar, for the first time in a long time, is beginning to show some strength and many are predicting a turn for the Euro. Jobless rates are holding steady and the latest economic factors show that the economy continued to grow despite the incessant insistence that we were in a major recession. And, despite record gas prices, Americans continue to travel and buy products without the pain you would expect. But don't expect the American press to immediately say the economy has rebounded. They still hope for long-term suffering for the news stories...but I would say that we are already rebounding from the self-imposed suffering.

Now, on to more economic stuff...let's talk about the gas tax "holiday" that is being proposed by one Hillary Clinton. First, gas prices are set by supply and demand. If you demand more gas and the supply is low, well, price goes up. If you cry about supply, you can thank your local legislators who have refused to allow more refineries to be built and refused to allow more drilling for oil. So there is a cap to the amount of gas that can be refined and demand continues to rise. Therefore, prices will rise due to low supply and high demand.

So, if we eliminate the federal gas tax over the summer, what will that really accomplish? It will save the consumer about $.20 per gallon of gas. That's nice. But it could also push up demand. Which will cause gas prices to rise due to low supply and higher demand. It will simple postpone the pain by $.20 and could postpone moves to find alternatives. And because demand will be so high over the summer, by the time the government puts the tax back on gas, you will be that extra $.20 in addition to the $.30 or $.40 that is added on due to the high summer demand.

In closing, while eliminating the gas tax over the summer sounds like a novel idea that would help the consumer, at the end of the day it will cause more harm than good. If the government really wants to help the American public, they will allow increased refinery capacity, allow more drilling and fund real research into better fuel alternatives (not ethanol).