Week of 1/2/13
McDonnell views inaugural GHHC as 'a good start'
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 24, 2012)
Old Dominion's 6-foot-9, 235-pound center, DeShawn Painter, jumped on the back of startled Monarchs associate coach Jim Corrigan as they walked off the Richmond Coliseum court on Saturday. Painter scored 11 and had 11 rebounds in ODU's 63-61 win over Virginia, and his satisfaction was shared by organizers of the inaugural Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic.
Earlier that day, George Mason beat the University of Richmond 67-64 on Sherrod Wright's 3-pointer at the horn. The two highly competitive games played to an audience of 6,944.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, catalyst of the doubleheader that will continue next December with four other state programs, called the event that benefited Virginia's food banks, "a good start ...We're pleased for the first year to have more than 6,000 tickets sold, and having raised over 100 tons of food for the food bank. That's what the idea was - Virginia teams playing against each other, have a little fun right before the holidays, and do something great for people in need."
The GHHC Food Drive ran from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the food banks, according to the governor's office.
The GHHC concept grew from the college version of The Times-Dispatch Invitational Tournament, which featured competing state programs at the Coliseum during holiday seasons 1976-91. As the TDIT's popularity increased through those years, so can that of the GHHC, believes Jeff Cupps, VCU's executive associate athletic director and GHHC manager. VCU was the host for Saturday's doubleheader, and will continue in that role next December. (More)
Planet's oldest fossils found in Pilbara, experts say
(The Brisbane Times (Australia), January 1, 2013)
Scientists analysing Australian rocks have discovered traces of bacteria that lived a record-breaking 3.49 billion years ago, a mere billion years after Earth formed.
If the find withstands the scrutiny that inevitably faces claims of fossils this old, it could move scientists one step closer to understanding the first chapters of life on Earth. The discovery could also spur the search for ancient life on other planets.
These traces of bacteria "are the oldest fossils ever described. Those are our oldest ancestors," said Nora Noffke, a biogeochemist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk who was part of the group that made the find and presented it last month at a meeting of the Geological Society of America.
Unlike dinosaur bones, the newly identified fossils are not petrified body parts. They're textures on the surfaces of sandstone thought to be sculpted by once-living organisms. Today, similar patterns decorate parts of Tunisia's coast, created by thick mats of bacteria that trap and glue together sand particles. Sand that is stuck to the land beneath the mats and thus protected from erosion can over time turn into rock that can long outlast the living organisms above it. (More)
ODU engineers helping to design future of solar power
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 27, 2012)
In a lab at Old Dominion University, students and professors are helping design the future of electric power.
As the world burns the fossil fuels that produce most of today's electricity, there is a growing movement toward renewable energy sources such as the sun - clean, widely accessible and inexhaustible.
The trick is figuring out how to tap it in an efficient and economical way.
That is Sylvain Marsillac's consuming passion.
The week before Christmas, Marsillac, an associate professor of engineering at ODU, watched with barely contained excitement as a crane picked up a large stainless steel assembly and placed it gingerly onto the roof of Kaufman Hall, ODU's engineering building.
It's a solar tracking system. Over the next few weeks, 24 energy-producing photovoltaic solar panels will be bolted onto the frame. The motorized system is capable of tilting the panels to any angle, allowing them to follow the sun over the course of the day for maximum efficiency.
The solar array will include three types of panels. Inside the building, Marsillac's research team will test each type to determine which produces the most electricity.
In addition, the researchers are testing new materials to develop the next generation of cheaper, more efficient panels.
It's all made possible by more than $2 million in federal grants from the Department of Energy and the Defense Department. (More)
ODU works to design future of electric power
(WVEC-TV/The Associated Press, January 1, 2013)
Students and professors at Old Dominion University are helping design the future of electric power.
Associate professor of engineering Sylvain Marsillac and his students are leading research into how to tap renewable energy such as solar power in an efficient and economical way.
The Virginian-Pilot reports that the school is installing a solar tracking system complete with 24 energy-producing solar panels bolted onto a frame on the engineering building. The motorized system will tilt the panels to any angle, allowing them to follow the sun over the course of the day for maximum efficiency.
In addition, the researchers are testing new materials to develop the next generation of cheaper, more efficient panels.
ODU hopes to land a pilot solar-generation program planned by Dominion Virginia Power, which already kicked in $50,000. (More)
PETA leader Ingrid Newkirk can still rattle cages
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 30, 2012)
Ingrid Newkirk has spent half her life trying to get in your face. She'd like to keep that up after she's dead.
The PETA founder's last will and testament, posted on the group's website, reveals just how far Newkirk is willing to go in her mission to draw attention to the treatment of animals.
She wants her "meat" publicly barbecued, her skin made into leather products and put on display - and that's just for starters.
Wing nut? If so, she's our wing nut - a 63-year-old true believer who leads the world's largest animal rights group, headquartered in an office building that overlooks the Elizabeth River. And while Newkirk's final wishes may be just another over-the-top statement from an outfit that thrives on them, the woman herself is still a surprise.
In person, she comes across as reasonable and polite, a petite Brit with a classy accent who'll drop trou in a second for publicity. She doesn't own a car, never buys new clothes and earns just $38,000 a year - half that of her second in command. She's into sumo wrestling and Formula One auto racing and does not have a pet. She runs an organization that's obsessed with animals, yet kills almost all the ones in its care. ...
Jeff Jones, a communications professor and pop culture expert at Old Dominion University, finds PETA's advertising fascinating - a game plan that shouldn't work, but somehow does.
"I can't get think of another example where the sole dedication to a cause overrides everything in its communicative message," he says.
By alienating so many, he says, "Catholics, Jews, women, fat people, Democrats, the anti-porn people," PETA has fostered a kamikaze-type image - "a name recognition that suggests they'll stop at nothing to get their point across. That's what makes people think they're crazy. And people don't want to trigger a response in the crazy. No one wants them on their trail." (More)
Officials: 2012 'a terrific year' for job creation
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 29, 2012)
More than 6,500 jobs were created or promised across the region in 2012, according to interviews with and announcements from city and business officials. The jobs range from computer analysts and engineers to freight handlers and supermarket cashiers.
In the largest single announcement, Suffolk will gain 1,500 employees in the Navy's Cyber Command, which focuses on computer security. They will move to the former headquarters of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Suffolk in September, said Kevin Hughes, the city's economic development director. ...
James Koch, an economics professor and former president at Old Dominion University, also said they doubted whether some projects, such as Waterside, would yield much job growth for Hampton Roads.
"Typically, restaurants don't attract much traffic outside the region," Koch said. When new restaurants appear, he said, they usually take customers from other restaurants, triggering job reductions there.
But Koch said the developments - which include such sectors as manufacturing, retail and technology - should be considered as a whole and should be seen as benefiting the entire region. "One city's prosperity ordinarily is the other city's prosperity as well," with people often shopping and living in cities where they don't work. (More)
Business review | Hampton Roads in 2012
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 30, 2012)
Even without the fiscal cliff, 2012 has been a momentous year in the local business world. Executives have been laid low; retail giants have risen up. And changes are jostling our transportation systems, from tunnels to the port - not to everyone's pleasure.
The Virginian-Pilot is pinpointing eight noteworthy business developments, spotlighting a participant or observer for each.
Wards Corner reborn
When Jim English passes the intersection of Little Creek Road and Granby Street in Norfolk these days, he says to himself: "Hallelujah! It's finally happening."
At the northeastern quadrant, the 66-year-old Midtown Shopping Center features a bright exterior - and a night-lit Wards Corner sign - after more than $1.2 million in renovations.
At the southeastern corner, the Suburban Park Shopping Center has been razed to rubble.
But from the debris will rise a $20 million complex, featuring a Harris Teeter supermarket and TowneBank branch.
The redevelopment on both sides of Little Creek has revived English's optimism about the future of Wards Corner.
"A vital business district helps a neighborhood be vital, and a vital neighborhood helps a business district be vital," said English, a 65-year-old Old Dominion University professor who's been president of the Wards Corner Civic League for 12 years. (More)
Negotiators delay strike, which could shut down Port of Richmond
(Richmond Times-Dispatch/Associated Press, December 30, 2012)
Longshoremen and their employers extended their negotiations Friday and delayed a strike which would, by shutting down the state's maritime terminals in Hampton Roads, effectively close the Port of Richmond too.
"Everybody's breathing a sigh of relief," said Joe Harris, spokesman for the Virginia Port Authority in Norfolk.
During the continuing labor negotiations, operations will go on as normal at the state's Hampton Roads terminals, he said.
The contract expires at midnight on Jan. 28 now that the two sides agreed to a second contract extension. Federal mediators are involved, and the White House has urged dockworkers and shipping companies to reach an agreement as quickly as possible. ...
The state's port operations account for roughly $8.4 billion of Hampton Roads' gross regional product annually, according to Old Dominion University economist James V. Koch.
"This is really a big-time kind of impact, especially on Hampton Roads and the rest of Virginia," Koch said. A port strike would reverse "all the things the governor and other people are trying to do to amp up economic growth."
"The Port of Virginia and the Port of Richmond are essential gateways that contribute to the commonwealth's extensive transportation infrastructure that connects Virginia business with the global economy," noted a spokeswoman for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. (More)
NewsChannel 3 honors ODU graduate who has Taken Action for her community
(WTKR-TV, December 18, 2012)
Ebone Taylor was all smiles Saturday morning when she received her Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Old Dominion University.
"It was exciting. Very exciting. Something that people don`t accomplish in the time period that I did," Taylor said.
Taylor completed her Master's degree in 18-months with a 3.61 grade point average.
That's made more incredible when you learn that Taylor suffers from brain damage and memory loss from a car wreck that nearly killed her.
On February 17, 2005, when Taylor was a high school junior, she was riding passenger in car that swerved off the road and struck a tree in Richmond.
"I had a traumatic brain injury. A huge gash in my head. Broke my neck. Broke my ankle. Laceration in the liver," Taylor said. "I wanted to give up but I knew there was a plan for me. I think that I survived that accident that God had a plan for me."
Part of that plan was returning to school sooner rather than later.
"They told my mom that I wouldn`t even go back to school that year. I said 'Oh no! I have to get through this school year. I will go with my neck brace and everything,'" Taylor said.
Taylor not only graduated high school on time, but also got her bachelor's degree from ODU before earning her Master's this weekend.
All this was despite learning challenges Taylor had to overcome as a result of the wreck.
"It took some learning how to deal with my comprehension being a little bit off. I had to find some methods to help myself get through," Taylor said. "I found ways to try and get acronyms in my head. To write things down over and over to get through those tests. Memorizing helped."
Taylor didn't let her challenges get in the way of Taking Action for her community at ODU through the Office of Student Activities and Leadership. (More)
Theories of Intelligence
(Letter, The New York Times, December 18, 2012)
Nicholas D. Kristof ("It's a Smart, Smart, Smart World," column, Dec. 13) cites the new book by James R. Flynn on the world's rising I.Q. scores. Serious education scholars have long abandoned the I.Q. test as a measure of intelligence. Instead, Howard Gardner, the Harvard psychologist, has pre-empted the dialogue on intelligence.
For more than 28 years, we in education have been confronted with Dr. Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. He states that there are eight intelligences, of which I.Q. constitutes but two, language and math. Others include spatial (art) and music.
Jackson Pollock and Charlie Parker transformed art and music, but they may not have done especially well on the I.Q. test.
MAURICE R. BERUBE, Norfolk, Va.
The writer is scholar emeritus at Old Dominion University and the co-author of "The End of School Reform." (More)
ODU's Heinicke wins Payton, FCS' Heisman Trophy
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 18, 2012)
Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke capped a record-breaking season in which he became the most prolific passer in the history of the Football Championship Subdivision by winning the Walter Payton Award Monday night.
Surrounded by family and friends from his hometown of Atlanta, and an entourage of ODU officials, Heinicke accepted the award at annual The Sports Network FCSbanquet.
As Heinicke strode to the podium at the Sheraton Society Hill, the theme from the movie "Rocky" blared through loudspeakers and several hundred spectators gave the quarterback a standing ovation.
Heinicke claimed 72 of 145 votes from sports information directors and journalists and 531 total points. Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonet was a distant second with 13 first-place votes and 284 points. Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein was third with 197.
"Other than the national championship, there's not a better award you could win," Heinicke said. "It's a huge honor and I'm very humbled.
"I'm speechless. I'm so happy right now. I'm so excited that it's ridiculous. I can't even put it into words what I'm feeling." (More)
New coach, 1st male at ODU, brings high profile
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 18, 2012)
Old Dominion field hockey has had three coaches since becoming a varsity team in 1974, and its last coach, Beth Anders, lasted three decades.
Andrew Griffiths faces the tall task of meeting the standards Anders set.
Griffiths accepted the Lady Monarchs' head coaching job Monday, leaving Lafayette College, where he had a 73-46 record in six years. The rebuilding project he did there culminated in a 17-3 record and an NCAA tournament berth this fall.
The former Canadian men's national team player has 15 years of college coaching experience, as well as national and international profiles as a player and coach.
"When you have experience at the highest level, you know what boundaries are and you know how to push and compete," he said. "I'm very excited about the opportunity."
Griffiths was named Division I National Coach of the Year by Synapse Sports in 2012 and has helped the USA Field Hockey under-21 and senior teams. But he understands the challenge of replacing a legend like Anders, the winningest coach in Division I history and owner of nine national titles.
I don't think I'll look to fill her shoes," he said. "It's more about trying to establish my principles and my way of doing things." (More)
Panama Canal expansion poses new challenges for ports
(Europolitics, December 14, 2012)
The deepening of the Panama Canal to allow the world's largest container ships to pass through may trigger a shake-up in maritime commerce. The canal, first completed in 1914, is undergoing a US$5.5 billion overhaul due to be finalised in 2015. At a seminar organised by the European Institute and the Portuguese Embassy in Washington DC, on 13 December, panellists explained that the canal was hoping to restore its competitiveness, after having lost some trade to the Suez Canal in recent years. But as the larger ships pass through it laden with containerised cargo, much of it coming from Far East Asia, this could pose challenges for Europe's shallower river ports like Hamburg, which may need to be deepened to be able to accommodate such traffic. On the other hand, it will provide a "new and very near" opportunity for deep-water sea ports, such as Sines in Portugal, Lidia Sequeira, president of the port's Executive of Board of Directors, told the conference. ...
Greg Edwards, director of external affairs at the Virginia Port Authority, said that a key question looking forward was whether the leading ports of today would be able to maintain their position given that some are not deep enough to allow larger ships to pass through them. Edwards suggested that the industry may see a growth in feeder ships if the bigger ships cannot enter all ports. As for the environmental impact, Professor Wayne Talley of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, noted that the larger ships tended to be more fuel-efficient than the smaller ones. (More)
After bad accident, ODU student to receive degree
(The Virginian-Pilot, December 15, 2012)
Growing up in Richmond, Ebone Taylor was always a good student. She typically brought home A grades without having to study.
That all changed on Feb. 12, 2005.
She was riding in a car with friends when it veered off the road and slammed into a tree, breaking Taylor's neck and causing brain damage.
She woke up in a hospital a week later with no memory of what had happened.
"The doctors told my mom I would be a vegetable," Taylor said in an interview Friday.
Did she ever prove them wrong.
At Old Dominion University's fall commencement exercises today, Taylor, 24 - whose first name is pronounced like "ebony" - will receive her master's degree in early childhood education with a 3.61 grade-point average.
The accident changed the trajectory of her life in multiple ways.
For one, it caused her to rethink her career goals. She had always wanted to be a pediatrician, but her extended hospital stay alongside children with profound birth defects prompted second thoughts.
"I didn't think I could take it emotionally," she said. "But I still had a passion for kids." (More)
Chilling Out with Cold Plasmas
(Scientific American, December 16, 2012)
There are two things people think about when they hear the word "plasma." The first is blood plasma, the liquid part of blood that holds blood cells in suspension. The second, if you love physics, is an ionized gas (if you love geology, you'll think of a bright green chalcedony stone), usually at fairly high temperatures. The sun shoots out plasma arcs, for example. You can find them in plasma TV displays, you can use them to create antennae, and fans of science fiction likely fantasize about shooting them firearms as a high-tech weapon. (Lightning is a form of plasma.)
There are also so-called "cold plasmas." I wrote about this topic back in 2007, both in Physics Today and at Cocktail Party Physics, focusing on their potential to kill bacteria, remove dental plaque, loosen the connections between cells that make up biological tissue, help coagulate blood and reduce bleeding following a wound, or during surgery, and perhaps even remove cancerous tumors. And an October paper in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics describes a potentially revolutionary new cold plasma device, similar to a blowtorch, for treating blood cancer leukemia.
"We have a really amazing device," lead author Mounir Laroussi (Old Dominion University) told the folks at Physics Buzz. "We can generate a beam of plasma that is around room temperature. It doesn't burn anything; it doesn't destroy or poke holes. You can touch it with your hand." Laroussi's results are pretty startling: after a mere 10 minutes' exposure to the cold plasma, more than 90% of leukemia cells in the study were destroyed. (More)
An answer at the pump
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, December 16, 2012)
By Steve Yetiv
HOW CAN WE address our enormous federal deficit, persistent national security concerns and the threat of climate change at the same time? By raising the national gas tax.
The U.S. now maintains a federal gas tax of 18.4 cents - modest compared to most industrialized nations: For example, Britain's equivalent comes out to nearly $3.50 per gallon. The American tax, started during the Great Depression, hasn't been raised since 1993.
Some will argue that Republicans will never support hiking this tax, hostile as they are to all such measures. Others will object that since Democrats have already taken middle-class income tax increases off the table, a comparatively regressive gas tax will be hard for them to stomach.
Not necessarily. If designed and packaged correctly, a gas tax can appeal to Republicans - and allay concerns about regressivity.
Some type of gas or carbon tax has been supported by prominent Republicans, including Martin Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to President Ronald Reagan, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Even General Motors CEO Dan Akerson, a Republican, supports a tax of up to $1 per gallon. ...
Steve Yetiv is a political science professor at Old Dominion University and author of "Crude Awakenings." He wrote this for the New York Daily News. www.odu.edu/~syetiv (More)
ODU students hold vigil for CT victims
(WAVY-TV, December 14, 2012)
A group of students from Old Dominion University held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Connecticut school shooting Friday night.
The 'Global Student Friendship' group gathered at Crossroads Church on Surrey Crescent. The group had originally planned to meet at the church for a Christmas gift swap for local children, but after news of the shooting broke Friday, the group considered canceling the event altogether.
Instead, organizer Kurnia Foe decided to give the gathering a greater purpose. All of the children and parents who attended the vigil lit candles and prayed together for the victims.
"We are a community who will keep sending a message of hope and caring to our loved ones here, and also with Americans," Foe said.
Like many parents, Foe could hardly wait for his children to come home from school Friday.
"I grabbed them and I hugged them in my hands," he said. "I was reminded how grateful I am, but at the same time, my heart went to the families that could not do what I did."
ODU doctoral candidate Sanghoon Son was still holding tight to his daughter at the vigil Friday night. (More)
Process Servers Say Foreclosure Crisis Puts Them in Greater Danger
(AOL.com, December 12, 2012)
Process server Michael Root says that he knows how angry foreclosure notices can make homeowners -- because one property owner almost killed him and members of his family.
As it turned out, Root wasn't even bringing a foreclosure notice when, he said, he was attacked in June by a homeowner in Wingdale, N.Y.; it was a notice about a credit card bill. But according to Root, the man didn't know that and he'd already been served notice of foreclosure on his home by another process server that day.
The man became so enraged at another legal notice, Root said, that he jumped on a nearby backhoe and drove it into Root's car. "He raised the bucket and pushed it through the back window and almost cut my kid's head off," added Root, who said that he happened to have his wife and daughter with him that day. (Root is pictured above, on the job.) ...
Indeed, borrowers are more likely to push back now, suggests research by Michael J. Seiler, chairman of Real Estate and Economic Development at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. He co-authored two studies that explore borrower sentiment in the wake of the housing collapse and they found that Wall Street bailouts, lenders' unwillingness to modify distressed loans, and overall mistrust stemming from the financial crisis have made borrowers more resistant to foreclosure. Seiler said that he could "definitely understand why" that might have an impact on process servers.
"As the economy continues to tank, unemployment remains high and the housing market fails to recover, homeowners' patience will continue to wane," said Seiler. "Mortgage default is a major psychological event for a homeowner." (More)
Va. GOP Cliffhanger: Still Bound by Norquist No-tax Pledge?
(Hispanic Business/The Daily Press, December 13, 2012)
As the nation careens toward the fiscal cliff and negotiations between Congress and the White House seem to be moving at a snail's pace, many Republican lawmakers find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
If a deal isn't reached by the end of the month, the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush will expire, and the sequestration process kicks in.
Sequestration is a set of more than $1 trillion in arbitrary federal spending cuts over 10 years -- including nearly $500 billion in defense spending -- put in place as a result of last year's deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling and an attempt to rein in a roughly $1.2 trillion budget deficit and more than $16 trillion in federal debt. ...
For those who have signed on with Norquist, agreeing to either proposal would break the pledge.
That could cause electoral problems down the road, especially in primaries where outcomes are "even more vulnerable to the influence of party bases," said Old Dominion University political science professor Jesse Richman.
For two local Republican members of Congress -- Reps. Rob Wittman of Westmoreland and Scott Rigell of Virginia Beach -- voting for revenue increases is less of a problem. (More)