Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BYU to go Independent?

According to news reports , BYU is considering going independent in football and rejoining the WAC for other sports. This seems like a questionable decision at best for a team that is hardly dominating their conference in football.
While there is no doubt that BYU is consistently able to schedule teams from BCS conferences for football, they don’t seem to beat them very consistently. Over the last 10 years BYU is a rather pedestrian 14 - 18 versus the BCS conferences and no bids to any of the major bowls. The one year they looked to be on their way as the first “BCS buster” they went 12-0, before being embarrassed at Hawaii and then losing their bowl game to end up 12-2. In contrast, the University of Utah has gone 18-11 with a Fiesta Bowl win and a Sugar Bowl win.
BYU did defeat Oklahoma at a neutral site for their opening game in 2009 with a late touchdown. They also lost at home to a bad Florida State team that finished 6-6 and TCU. In 2008, they lost to TCU in Texas, beat Washington 28-27 – Washington would finish the year 0-12 - and lost their bowl game to an Arizona squad they’d beaten earlier in the season. In 2007, they did beat Arizona to open the season, but lost to UCLA and Tulsa in consecutive weeks. In 2006, BYU had losses to Arizona and Boston College.
In just the last 4 seasons they are 4-4 versus the so-called major conferences. I would hardly call that dominating the larger schools with that record, and now BYU thinks they should get a Notre Dame exemption into the BCS if they go independent. This seems akin to Navy asking for an exemption simply because they are a service academy.
This would be understandable if BYU had in fact been dominating the Mountain West Conference and had a BCS bowl win to show for it. The fact is they have the exact same number of BCS bowl wins as Notre Dame in the last 10 years in three fewer appearances.
As a side note, I’d be the first to say that the Notre Dame exemption in the BCS bowl selection is absurd. No independent should be given consideration over a smaller conference to get into a major bowl. Certainly no team winning only 9 games, regardless of affiliation, deserves to go to a major bowl just because a non-BCS conference school was ranked in the top 12 of a poll, but that’s another argument all together. The simple fact of the matter is that everyone else has to be in a conference that has an automatic bid – another item that should be done away with – or they have to finish in the top 12 of the BCS poll.
Since the MWC came into being, BYU has won 2 football league titles outright and tied for a third. In ten years, that is not an overwhelming number. In the same time frame, the University of Utah has won 3 outright league titles and tied for a fourth in football. TCU, who joined in 2005, has won 2 conference titles. TCU also won 2 WAC titles and a Conference USA title in the years that the MWC has existed, prior to joining the conference.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

They didn't teach me this in library school...

Working in a public library has it's moments where you discover that all the education in the world didn't prepare you for the realities of working in the public sector.

Saturday, I was on the desk when a patron approached and told me that he thought another patron was having a siezure in the men's restroom. I checked the restroom to discover a man lying on his side in the handicapped stall with his legs quivering.

Being resourceful, I promptly called 911, a manager, the on-sight police officer and the front desk, in that order. Yea me! Since it was the third 911 call I've had to place in the 3 years I've been here, I'd like to think that I've got it down.

We're not sure what happened to the man in the restroom - the belief is that there was a fight - since the toilet was knocked off the wall. But my point is that library school with all it's emphasis on theory, doesn't prepare you for dealing with the general public, especially it's transient members. What makes it worse is that library school often has professors who write incredible articles about public libraries that prove they haven't set foot inside one in 20 years. In some cases these same "experts" never worked in a public library, which begs the question, what can they teach me about working in a public library when they don't have any actual experience working in one?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Business as usual in Florida

From today's Orlando Sentinel Leaders Await Mildred Fernandez replacement after her arrest. The county commissioner in question is accused of taking bribes among other felonies. Naturally that led her to claim "This is politics."
My question today is why a politician tries to hide behind an inane statement when they are accused of wrongdoing. I have no idea if this woman is guilty or not, but I strongly suggest that the claim of it being politically motivated is irrelevant. If you did the crime, do the time, to borrow an old overused cliche. Otherwise, get a lawyer and have your day in court.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Libraries and censorship

A story from the online version of Florida Today discusses libraries having R rated movies in the library. Apparently, an older patron (story says she's 69) had an issue with the movie "The Informers" due to the content (language, nudity, etc.) and is "concerned" that children under 18 will be able to access the movie.
I have multiple problems with her complaint. First of all, parents have the ultimate responsibility to know what their children are watching/renting/checking out from the library. It should not be the purview of any other patron or the library to dictate what can and cannot be accessed at the library (within reason) by any other patron. Just because patron A believes that an R rated movie is "inappropriate" does not mean that others should be prevented from seeing the movies and being allowed to judge for themselves. The only time we can dictate what material others people are exposed to are when we are the parent of said minor (i.e. under the age 18) children. Otherwise, you have no business dictating to others what is and is not "appropriate".
Problem number 2 is the argument about use of tax dollars. Libraries are the stewards of public money, but at the same time we serve the "public interest". I would no sooner be able to justify removing the genealogy databases and materials from our library -despite my personal questions about the suitability of acting as a repository for genealogy and not for other historical documents - than I can to remove/restrict access to a movie like "Saving Private Ryan" due to it's excessive and pointless (in my opinion) violence.
Problem number three, the membership of the county library advisory board. The newest member is apparently unaware that the library had R rated movies. That doesn't say much for the members of a board that is to advise the library own usage of the library. I find it odd that you would be a member of an advisory board and have so little knowledge of what the business does or offers. A library advisory board should be made up of library advocates and not career politicians looking for a stepping stone.
Finally, does the woman who filed the complaint not see the inherent arrogance of trying to dictate to the public what they can and cannot watch? Most if not all grown adults are capable of making rational decisions for themselves. We do not need the local "busybody" dictating what is and is not appropriate. If you had children you had the opportunity to be the dictator until they were 18 and judge what was and was not appropriate. If you did not have children, you missed your opportunity.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

SB6 and Teachers

By Friday April 16, Florida Governor Charlie Crist must make a decision on SB 6 - a bill passed by the Florida Legislature which would require merit based pay raises for teachers. One of the largest problems with this bill is the lack of accountability for school administration. Why should teachers who make every effort to do their job, who send disruptive children to the office for disciplanary reasons - where the kids are often rewarded for misbehaving by being given chocolate and other treats once they promise to behave - be held solely accountable for student performance when it's clear that parents, administrators and school boards are not.

My wife is a teacher and as she puts it, there are 4 kinds of students - Those who can do the work and will, those who can do the work but won't, those who cannot do the work but try and those who cannot and will not do the work - sadly many in the last category are students who were in special education when I went to elementary school and are now "mainstreamed" despite the obvious disruption they create in the classroom. The sad part is the kids who can but won't often have parents who blame the school and the teachers for their own inability to parent. Having a child in school makes it your responsibility to help them learn by assisting with homework, making sure the kid is fed and gets to bed at a reasonable hour. It is not nor should it ever be solely the teachers responsibility to ensure the child gets through school.

It seems that if the governor decides to pass this bill we have but one choice - pass an amendment to the Florida constitution that would require every pay raise for state officials to be put to a vote by the people. In fact, done correctly we could set a starting wage for Senators and House members and then based on what they do or don't accomplish in a given term vote on whether or not they deserve a pay raise. I can only imagine the outcry if suddenly every state senator had to work for the $30,000/year (or less) that teachers make and then found they couldn't just vote themselves a raise after passing poorly thought out legislation like SB 6.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inappropriateness at work

Once more I'm going to get up on my soapbox of common sense and rant about one of the typically trivial things that goes on at my work place. I work with people who like to change the desktop wallpaper on the shared computers fairly regularly. The changes range from the silly - LoLCatz pictures, Chuck Norris quotes - to serious - Picasso and Manet. Until this morning, I had never found any of these to be particularly bad or not for public consumption. Today I have been informed by a co-worker that the wallpaper of Homer Simpson holding his ubiquitous pink frosted donut with the caption MMMM... Donut.. is offensive.
I'm not sure in what way this is offensive. Do we have an issue with bald, fat cartoons who eat donuts? Do we find the Simpsons offensive? Are we just having a bad day where we thing that the only opinion that matters is our own and everyone should conform to our belief system?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Random ramblings from February
I got a disturbing email this morning. A friend from high school sent out a mass email asking us to pray for her best friend who Is recovering in the hospital today, a victim of domestic violence. The best friend is an acquaintance of mine. I would hesitate to call her a friend since I haven’t had contact with her since our 10 year high school reunion 10 years ago. Prior to that, I hadn’t seen her since we were in our junior or senior year of high school, so it would be hard to call her my friend as well. The links to the two stories are here: Rio Grande Sun KOAT Channel 7
The domestic violence thing is what bothers me. Both my wife and my sister have been victims of domestic violence. I have no doubt that there was a history, however subtle, of domestic issues for this acquaintance and I’m sorry that for whatever reason she wasn’t able to leave. My hope is this woman recovers and is able to move on with her life. I would ask that you offer prayers to a god I’m not on the best of terms with on her behalf.
On another topic, I’d like to rant a little about politics. We live in a great country that is currently being hamstrung by it’s political system. Regardless of political affiliation, it should be obvious that we have a problem and it needs to be fixed. Too many decisions are being held up for the simple reason that “the other party” introduced the idea. It’s no wonder that the world looks at us with disdain, we can’t seem to accomplish anything without subjecting it to some ridiculous political shenanigans.
Two things I would like to encourage all of you out there to do:
1) Get acquainted with the issues. Take the time to actually read both sides of the argument and fact check what you hear. Don’t waste time just listening to some talking head like Glenn Beck or Arianna Huffington, unless you’re willing to research what they are telling you and see if it’s actually factual or just their spin on it. We live in a world where this kind of fact checking is easy, take the opportunity to find out the truth instead of just drinking the Kool-Aid provided by people trying to sell themselves.
2) Get out and vote. Prove to your senators and representatives that they work for us, the people of the United States. There is no accountability in the capitol these days and it needs to change. The best change may come by getting the career politicians who will only tell you what they think you want to hear, yet don't actually do anything.