Week of 3/4/13
The way forward: off another cliff
(Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, March 2, 2013)
Our national political leaders said this day would never come.
Arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to the federal budget - defense programs, transportation projects, aid to the poor - would be just too damaging to national security, to the economy, to our ability to get around and take care of our most vulnerable. Even a Congress as divided as this one wouldn't let that happen.
Despite the passing of Friday's deadline to avoid the cuts, the sky did not fall. The impact of this incompetence will take time to arrive.
When skeptics suggest that sequestration - $84.5 billion in short-term cuts, $1.2 trillion over 10 years - is much ado about nothing, they dismiss layoff notices already sent to employees of defense contractors in Hampton Roads. They ignore the ripple effect of small businesses without customers, families without income, homes on the market or in foreclosure. They ignore the economic uncertainty that hurts everyone.
As Thomas E. Mann, a Brookings Institution senior fellow, and Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in The Washington Post: "Planning, recruiting personnel and drafting long-term contracts have become impossible in areas from cybersecurity to embassy security to medical research to homeland security, damaging not industries rife with waste, fraud and abuse but critical services."
On Friday, as House Speaker John Boehner once again rejected revenue increases to ward off cuts, Old Dominion University's Economic Forecasting Project estimated that Hampton Roads would lose 12,237 jobs. Researchers estimate that the gross regional product will decline 0.67 percent. (More)
Sequestration is here. Now what?
(The Virginian-Pilot, February 28, 2013)
So, it's Saturday. We're still here. Life goes on. But as you've probably heard, sequestration has dawned. And you might have plenty of questions about how these automatic budget cuts affect you - or your neighbors, or Hampton Roads in general. Below are some of the key things you need to know about the unfunny phenomenon with the funny name.
Q How did we get here, and who is responsible?
A The automatic, across-the-board cut was dreamed up during budget negotiations in 2011 when politicians were fighting over the debt ceiling. The sequester was never supposed to happen; it was designed to be an economic wrecking ball so ridiculous that even feuding legislators and the White House would find a way to compromise and stop it.
Obviously, it wasn't ridiculous enough, because here we are. ...
Q. I'm not in the military but live in Hampton Roads. How will I be affected?
A. Anyone working for the government or benefiting from federal government programs will eventually feel some impact, whether it's longer lines at airport security checkpoints, longer waits for trial dates or slowdowns to the defense industry that could eventually ripple through Hampton Roads' economy.
Economists at Old Dominion University on Friday predicted the region would lose more than 12,200 jobs if sequestration continues through the end of 2013, with a total economic impact of $2 billion.
According to Stateline.org, Virginia will be the state most affected by sequestration; Pentagon contracts accounted for more than 8 percent of the state's economy in 2011. (More)
ODU forecast: Hampton Roads stands to lose 12K jobs in 2013 due to automatic spending cuts
(The Washington Post/Associated Press, March 1, 2013)
The military-dependent region of Hampton Roads will lose more than 12,000 jobs this year due to automatic spending cuts in the federal budget, according to an economic forecast released by Old Dominion University on Friday.
The billions of dollars in automatic cuts begin to take effect on Friday, although many of them won't be felt for months.
The university had previously forecast that the region would gain more than 5,000 jobs this year if the cuts didn't take place. The revised forecast is based on specific details of the proposed cuts that were released by the military branches and White House in recent weeks.
The forecast doesn't estimate what the job losses will be in other parts of the state, although northern Virginia is also expected to take a significant hit. A study released by George Mason University last summer estimated that statewide, Virginia would lose more than 136,000 jobs from defense cuts alone.
The Hampton Roads region plays host to all five branches of the military and is home to the world's largest naval base. President Barack Obama used the region as a backdrop to call for avoiding the automatic spending cuts earlier this week when he spoke at Newport News Shipbuilding, the sole builder of U.S. aircraft carriers and one of two companies that produces nuclear-powered submarines.
Vinod Agarwal, director of Old Dominion University's Economic Forecasting Project, said many of the job losses would come from government contractors in construction and the ship repair industry. The Defense Department has also said it would furlough its civilian employees. While members of the military will keep their jobs and their pay, their training will be cut and maintenance on ships will be deferred, among other things. (More)
Buyers' and sellers' worst enemy? Themselves
(MSN Money, March 3, 2013)
If you have hunted for a house, you probably got a sense that real-estate purchases don't represent consumers at their most rational. Did you like a house or apartment more or less depending on whether you saw it on a sunny day? Chances are, you did.
Buying a house isn't the same as buying a stock, an air conditioner or even a car. It's not just a product with pluses and minuses - good school system versus a small kitchen, a new roof versus a longer commute. A house represents the kind of life you want to live. And given its cost, a house and the value it gains or loses represent concretely the life you could live. (Bing: Has housing hit the double dip?)
Thus, it can be disturbing - though perhaps not surprising - to realize that people's judgment about real estate is susceptible to many of the foolish forces that affect so many other consumer decisions. In some ways, it may be affected even more.
Research by Michael Seiler, a professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., has found that men and women - particularly men - are susceptible to the attractiveness of a female real-estate agent. The more attractive the agent, the more the buyer is willing to pay.
Superficial things such as a room painted an ugly color can make people less likely to buy a house, even though fixing that problem is as cheap as a couple of cans of paint. (More)
Strangers in a Strange Land
(Inside Higher Ed, March 4, 2013)
In interviews with 40 international students at four research universities, Chris R. Glass was struck by the relative absence of Americans from his subjects' stories. The interviewees, half undergraduate and half graduate students, described close relationships with their international peers, including those coming from countries other than their own. But while they frequently characterized their American classmates as friendly or helpful, only rarely did they seem to play a significant role in their lives.
"Only one student has described a significant relationship with a U.S. peer and that student was from Western Europe and that peer was her boyfriend," said Glass, an assistant professor of educational foundations and leadership at Old Dominion University. "That to me is a striking omission from the stories that they're telling."
As the number of international students at U.S. colleges continues to rise -- and as the mix of international students has shifted in favor of undergraduates -- there are increasing concerns as to how well they're being integrated into campus life. There have been periodic reports of racist incidents and - overt discrimination aside - there is the question of disconnection raised by Glass's research. Another study authored by Elisabeth Gareis, a communication studies scholar at Baruch College, found that nearly 40 percent of international students reported having no close American friends. In explanation, many of the students cited "internal factors" such as limited language proficiency or shyness, but they also described a perceived lack of interest on the part of American students in other cultures. (More)
Educators hope learning, careers STEM from event
(Martinsville Bulletin, March 3, 2013)
About 250 area high schoolers took part in activities designed to stimulate their interest in learning and careers in science, technology, engineering and math at STEM Day on Friday.
"It's fun. You can do hands-on activities," said Carson Rigney, a 10th-grader at Martinsville High School.
Rigney and other students from Martinsville, Magna Vista, Bassett, Carlisle, Patrick County and Piedmont Governor's School attended the activities at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) and learned of career possibilities in the STEM fields.
A July 2011 report for the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration said: "Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs. STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness than their non-STEM counterparts." ...
Exhibitors included PHCC, PHCC Dual Enrollment and the Virginia Motorsports Racing Car; New College Institute (NC); Army Corps of Engineers; Institute of Advanced Learning and Research (IALR's STEM Mobile Learning Lab); Old Dominion University; Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center - The Virginia Tobacco Region Scholarship; Virginia State University (Formula One Race Car); and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC). (More)
The Rise of the Monarchs - The fastest rising program in college football is just getting started
(Football Monthly, March, 2013)
Between 1940 and 2009, Old Dominion University did not play a single football game. Zero. The program that had been discontinued after the '40 season was not reinstated until a 2005 vote established the framework for a new Monarchs team that would begin play in the '09 season. Basically starting from scratch, the program would face the monumental challenge of building a team where one didn't exist.
Today, the Monarchs are headed to the Football Bowl Subdivision this fall, in only their fifth year playing Division I football. They'll transition into Conference USA in 2014. Who knows what's next for the most successful start-up program in FCS history.
It's been a meteoric rise for Old Dominion, one that exceeded even coach Bobby Wilder's high expectations. The Monarchs went 38-10 in their first four seasons in the FCS. (More)
The psychology of home buying
(The Ottawa Citizen, February 28, 2013)
You might buy a sweater on impulse, but when it comes to buying a home it's all about calm deliberation, right?
You might be surprised.
Price, square footage, location: "All that can be trumped by the visceral reaction of seeing a home," says June Cotte, who teaches marketing at Western University's Ivey Business School. "Smells, colours, sounds you can hear inside or from the outside - you might not be aware of them, but they can have an influence."
The layout may even subliminally remind you of the home of a former boyfriend, says Cotte. That can have a positive or negative emotional impact on how you perceive a home that's for sale.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research in 2002 said emotions can be twice as important as knowledge in consumer buying decisions. Subsequent research has determined that the role of emotion in buying situations varies by individual and circumstance, but there's no doubt that, overall, it's a critical factor in consumer behaviour....
We also readily become invested psychologically in a property before we've reached a rational decision, according to professor Michael J. Seiler, who specializes in behavioural real estate at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.
"You're looking at a house and suddenly start thinking of the community and the neighbours and how they'll be your friends.
"Expectations, fears, desire for status - a lot of stuff influences you," he says. "So be cautious, try to be rational." (More)
Two experts with ODU connections appear on HearSay
(WHRV, February 28, 2013)
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Segment A: Steward of the Amazon
Imagine an Indiana Jones-esq figure exploring the Amazonian jungles -- communing with shamans - in an attempt to unlock the medicinal secrets of traditional plant use. It's not a movie script, it's just another day in the life of ethnobotanist Dr. Mark Plotkin. In advance of his Thursday evening lecture at ODU, he joins host Cathy Lewis to share his experiences mapping and preserving the great Amazonian jungle and discovering the untold secrets of its indigenous people.
Guest: Dr. Mark Plotkin - Ethnobotanist, Co-Founder, Amazon Conservation Team
(Plotkin delivered the President's Lecture Series lecture at Old Dominion University on Thursday, Feb. 28) ...
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The Greening of Hampton Roads
Virginia isn't just going green, it's the greenest! The Commonwealth saw the construction of more green buildings per capita in 2012 than any other state in the nation. One of the largest sources of local green-construction is government and military instillations. Today HearSay host Cathy Lewis speaks with members of the green building community and sustainability experts from across Virginia, and the nation, about the importance of incorporating green technologies into the construction and renovation of our region's government and civilian structures.
Guests: Dale Feltes - Director of Design and Construction, Old Dominion University
(Feltes spoke about Old Dominion University's Engineering and Computational Sciences Building, the first LEED-certified building on a college campus in Virginia). (More)
Ticket sales from Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic raises more than $48k for Va food banks
(The Washington Post/Associated Press, February 28, 2013)
Gov. Bob McDonnell says ticket sales from the inaugural Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic raised more than $48,000 for Virginia's food banks.
The donation adds to the more than 100 tons of food collected for the needy during a month-long drive by the four participating schools. The schools were the University of Virginia, Old Dominion, the University of Richmond and George Mason.
McDonnell on Wednesday called the inaugural event an "impressive show of generosity."
This year's tournament on Dec. 21 at the Richmond Coliseum will feature Hampton against James Madison, and Virginia Tech against Virginia Commonwealth. (More)
Virginians Trim Lifestyles as Budget Cuts Threaten Pay
(Bloomberg Business Week, February 27, 2013)
In Newport News, Virginia, Betty Hazelwood said she's on "pins and needles" about whether her job as a submarine pipefitter will be eliminated by U.S. spending cuts. In Northern Virginia, Kate McLaughlin canceled a vacation to Costa Rica because of concern her federal contracting will end. At a suburban Washington car dealership, Infiniti of Tyson's Corner, customers aren't buying.
Virginia, which relies on U.S. government contracts more than any other state, is already seeing the effects of $85 billion in across-the-board federal spending reductions set to start on March 1. President Barack Obama traveled to the state yesterday to warn of economic damage. ...
About 90,000 defense employees could be furloughed in Virginia, resulting in $648 million in lost wages over the next seven months, according to the White House. Work on 11 ships in Norfolk may also be shelved.
That may hurt Hampton Roads, the tidewater region of shipyards and military bases from Virginia Beach to Newport News near the Atlantic Coast. James Koch, an economist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, said the region may lose 40,000 jobs over the next two years.
"We'd be talking about duplicating the effects of the Great Recession," he said. "The effects would be felt across the region really by everyone." (More)
Global Sea-Level Rise Could Occur Unevenly Across Globe
(The Green Register, February 28, 2013)
The fact sea levels could rise if the polar ice caps melt has been long established, but according to new research some regions could see greater increases than others. ...
Another recent study also suggested the ice melt could impact the east coast of North America as rising sea levels could slow the Gulf Stream reports Climate Central. This study was published in the February Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans. It noted measured acceleration of sea level rise in this area could be tied to a slowdown in the flow of the Gulf Stream.
"There have been several papers showing [sea level rise] acceleration," said lead author Tal Ezer, of Old Dominion University's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography (CCPO). "This new paper confirms the hypothesis for why it's happening."
These studies could suddenly change the value of beach front property. (More)
New Video Explains Red Light Camera Violation Process
(San Mateo (CA) Patch, February 26, 2013)
You get a red light camera ticket in the mail and it's confusing. To pay or not to pay? Many times you are obligated to pay when there is irrefutable proof. Sometimes, though, you receive what is referred to as a 'snitch ticket,' which carries no obligation.
That's where American Traffic Solutions, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, comes in. The company has released a video that covers "the careful review process every red-light running event captured by red-light safety cameras passes through before a violation is issued."
Now, this is handy when you want to feel better about paying your fine. The company claims "more than half of the events captured . . . are rejected during the review process." ...
San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer writes on the county's website: "The Red Light Photo Enforcement program allows the city to provide a higher level of enforcement at our problematic intersections without additional costs."
Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, injuring more people than any other crash type.
In a survey performed by Old Dominion University, 55.8 percent of Americans admit to running red lights, and, astoundingly, 96 percent of drivers were afraid of being hit by a red light runner. (More)
Connie Lucas: A story of survival and hope
(WTKR-TV, February 26, 2013)
Connie Lucas has experienced an unthinkable tragedy.
On the weekend of Easter 2000, Lucas and her entire family were driving back to their home in Kentucky after her daughter's equestrian competition.
"It was the most beautiful day and what can you hope for other than to live every day as a beautiful day," Lucas explained.
In an instant, everything changed. That's when a van careened across the median, crashing into the family's SUV and instantly killing six people, including Lucas' father and husband.
"We literally had no idea that was goodbye," Lucas said.
The crash was later ruled a murder-suicide: the driver of the van had apparently called his mother minutes before, telling her he no longer had the will to live.
It left Lucas in a coma and put her on a very long path to recovery. ...
What she wanted to do was check something off her bucket-list: finishing her college degree.
That brought Lucas to Old Dominion University.
However, as a poly-trauma survivor, the crash has left her with injuries that will never fully heal, so Lucas knew she'd need help in her new adventure as a college student.
That's where service dog Balboa comes into the picture. ...
Balboa is one of four service dogs on the campus of ODU this semester.
It's brought a new challenge for Kate Broderick, the faculty and community liaison in ODU's Office of Educational Accessibility.
"When I first met Connie, I first thought 'Amazing, courageous woman on a mission.' I immediately thought, 'How can I help?'" Broderick explained. (More)
Yes, Virginia, Defense Cuts Will Hurt Your Economy
(The Fiscal Times, February 27, 2013)
President Obama has labored over the past few days to make the looming $85 billion of across the board cuts tangible for the public. He has surrounded himself with first-responders and filled the front pages of local newspapers with estimates of jobs at risk in their communities. This afternoon, Obama upped his stagecraft by speaking from a southeastern Virginia shipyard - an area where any reductions would be seen on a human level.
Virginia may be for lovers, but the commonwealth is also a magnet for national security dollars.
By speaking to hundreds of shipyard workers in Newport News, the assumption was that Obama has targeted the home state of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to pressure the Republican leadership to accept additional tax increases to prevent the sequester from taking effect on Friday. The sequester threatens the layoffs and furloughs of hundreds of thousands of government and defense industry workers in Virginia and the rest of the country. ...
Newport News is nestled in the heart of Hampton Roads, a southeastern Virginia region whose economy and culture are largely defined by the tens of thousands of military contractors, personnel and veterans.
"The worm has turned here in Hampton Roads," James V. Koch, an economics professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, told The Fiscal Times on Tuesday. "Military spending was a really positive engine of growth for the region over the last year, but now military has decelerated and may even decline. So quite the opposite will occur and we will see the economy contract here." (More)
Roanoke Times analysis: Given effectiveness of belts today, at least 600 could have lived
(The Roanoke Times, February 26, 2012)
Traffic crashes kill motorists and passengers every year in almost every corner of Virginia. But rural Virginia is notably high for one type of traffic death that's among the most preventable: the unbelted fatality.
From the coalfields to rural Roanoke, from Southside to Alleghany County, traffic crashes have lethally hurled unbelted travelers through windshields, windows and sunroofs and against the insides of rolling and tumbling vehicles at the highest rates of the state.
Experts say many of those deaths could have been prevented. Of the 1,677 people who died unbuckled in Virginia during the five years that ended June 30, at least 600 of them, maybe 700, would have survived if they had been belted, given the effectiveness of seat belts found in vehicles today. The figures are from a Roanoke Times analysis of data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. ...
At least 39 communities, half rural, have been flagged by a state researcher for disproportionate death rates, in some cases higher than in urban areas where more people die in wrecks overall. One major cause is unbelted travel, said researcher Bryan Porter, an associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University.
"We have these communities which may not have as many fatalities overall, but those that are occurring are hitting the community perhaps harder," said Porter, who conducts the state's annual seat belt use survey and helps plan and evaluate road safety programs. (More)
Study compares Mets, StubHub prices
(ESPN.com, February 25, 2013)
The New York Mets began a "dynamic ticket pricing" system in 2012, in which ticket prices set by the team fluctuated as the game approached based on demand.
With the help of Mets fans who volunteered to collect data, assistant professors Stephen Shapiro of Old Dominion University and Joris Drayer of Temple University analyzed the data from 31 of 81 scheduled home dates.
Here are some findings:
A look at the average cost of low-priced seats at Mets games in 2012 purchased individually from the team and StubHub and as part of a season-ticket plan, depending on the date.
Although dynamic pricing means the asking price for a ticket changes over time, the ticket-price fluctuation varied only modestly. In fact, the team price remained within 10 percent of the original asking price. For instance, for low-priced seats, the team's dynamic asking price went on average from $30.81 in the preseason, to $30.71 fifteen days before the event, to $28.68 five days before the event, and to $27.87 a day before the event.
The average dynamically priced ticket for a Mets game in 2012 was $94.80. That was compared with $93.27 for the cheapest-offered comparable seat on StubHub and $74.19 if purchased as part of a season-ticket plan. (More)
Prince William schools may bolster science, math, tech
(The Washington Post, February 25, 2013)
Interest in science, technology and math is growing rapidly in Prince William County, especially in the school district's information technology specialty program at Forest Park High School.
School Board member Betty D. Covington (Potomac) has persuaded the school system to consider expanding the IT program to Potomac High School as soon as possible. ...
If expanding those programs is cost-effective, Mickey Mulgrew, associate superintendent for high schools, said, he wants to do so as soon as possible.
"We want to make [the specialty program] available to all taxpaying residents of Prince William County," Mulgrew said.
The trick is finding teachers certified to teach the programs, said David Eshelman, supervisor of career and technical education. He said Old Dominion University is the only four-year college in Virginia to offer a career and technical education teacher certification program. Teachers who want to be certified to teach Project Lead the Way curriculum must go to the Norfolk school for training, Eshelman said. (More)