Thursday, November 16, 2006

Equitable Gas sucks

This morning, the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission called me. I had recently filed a complaint against the monopolistic savages at Equitable Gas.

Equitable Gas will not turn on residential gas meters on Saturday. Monday through Friday only, bub.

What effrontery! Mail comes on Saturday. Liquor can be purchased on Sunday. But this "public utility" can't flip a switch on Saturday. Well, actually they can says the PUC but only in the most extenuating of circumstances...for something called "compliance."

"Compliance" is the polite name given to the PUC's threat of a fine. The gas company is given three days to turn your gas on. I believe this equates to three "chances." If the company fails, the PUC can compel them to turn it on during a Saturday. If Equitable does not follow through, the PUC can cite them.

On a related note, Equitable Gas wants to purchase Dominion Peoples. Company officials say if the merger is not approved, they may be forced to relocate their Pittsburgh operations to Kentucky. Shove it up your face, Equitable.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thanks for playing the Election Game, Senator...

We have some lovely parting gifts for you, Mr. Kerry.
Former U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry (background L) watches on as incoming U.S. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (C)(D-NV) walks alongside his party colleagues on Capitol Hill November 14, 2006. Reid, a moderate Nevada Democrat, was elected by colleagues on Tuesday as U.S. Senate majority leader for the 110th Congress that will convene in January. The other top positions are (2ndL-R) Vice Chair of the Conference Charles Schumer (D-NY), Secretary of the Conference Patty Murray (D-WA) and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL). REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)
We have some lovely parting gifts for you, Mr. Kerry.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Capitolman to Daingerous: That's politics, bitch!

PITTSBURGH - When Republican George Allen conceded his Virginia senate seat yesterday to Jim Webb, Darnnews' correspondent Capitolman - he of the soberest pen - could gleefully celebrate his own victory.

It was six months ago that Capitolman bet Daingerous a princely $50 that Jim Webb, a former Republican, Charlie-killin' misogynist from Jerkwater Junction would defeat Allen.

Daingerous to Capitolman: November is for closers!
Capitolman to Daingerous: That's politics, bitch!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bologna Degrees

An interesting article from a recent issue of insidehighered.com brings to light the move towards curtailing the length of time needed to obtain a bachelor's degree in Europe. Dubbed the "Bologna Process" after the venerable Italian city, home to the purported Harvard of Italy, where EU member nations agreed to begin harmonizing academic standards. Apparently it's becoming all the rage in Europe to pair down the average BA course of study to three years. The basic question presented is whether American graduate programs should admit students who apply after completing a three year degree.

Stanley O. Ikenberry, former president of the American Council on Education and the University of Illinois, moderated the sessions, and introduced the discussion by asking his American colleagues to imagine the world with “an academic Euro,” in which European diplomas matched the clout that has increasingly come to the common European currency.

Ikenberry stressed that American educators couldn’t assume that the issue wouldn’t hit them. The Bologna Process goes far beyond just ensuring comparable degrees to encouraging European students to move about. “Mobility in and of itself is being valued,” he said.

And the message from most European academics at the conference was that American graduate schools have no business thinking that a three-year degree represents any less preparation than a four-year degree awarded in the United States.


Having some experience with European higher ed, conveniently obtained while studying in Bologna, the matter seems a no-brainer. After many nights spent observing the locals in their natural habitat, namely bars and clubs, it struck me that European undergrads are a complacent bunch. More than a few manage to squeeze a four year course of study into five or six before finally obtaining their laurels. If European universities can trim the time it takes to get to a degree, without seriously impairing the quality of instruction, why not admit the resulting graduates. It seems students able to complete such an intensive course of study, in an environment fraught with distraction and devil-may-care attitude, are a particularly motivated bunch. Just the sort we want to encourage to emigrate. It takes brain power, motivation, and discipline to and keep our city on a hill racket running smoothly. Assuming the graduates of three year programs are as motivated as they appear, the least we can do is put out the welcome mat and register them with tax and revenue.