Monday, October 31, 2005

What do athiests tell their kids?

Scott G. Morris, in a courageously personal op-ed piece in the trib, points out that one of the self-serving paradigms of religion is that "the religion into which I was born is the really true religion." Fair enough. So what does Mr. Morris tell his children? Were they born into "the really true" non-religion?

Mr. Morris appears to be a fan of absolute truth, and if that's the case, then all of the children born into families that possess the truth, and I think he's claiming that athiesm is that truth, are in the awkward possition of living with a self-serving paradigm.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Well, does she float?

A religious discrimination lawsuit in Sevier county is windng its way into anothe appeal. The claimant had this to say: "At trial, Jensen testified that she was raised Mormon but no longer has a religion, and said she is not a witch. ". I believe that the good people at Monty Python gave the test for witch-ness in The Search for the Holy Grail.

BYU Football must be on the rise.

Because opposing coaches are starting to play the age card. Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry says of BYU's offensive line "They're 30 years old and weigh 400 pounds. Funny how our coaches play the age card when we are loosing and opposing coaches and the media play it when we are winning.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Utah has...

The most computers per capita, but is the 5th "hungriest" state. (according to the US Census Office and the US Dept of Agriculture). So maybe we should spend less money on computers and more money on making sure everyone has enough to eat?

Snow down to 9000 feet in Orem predicted by the NWS. Nice job. The clouds have since dropped and I bet it snows down to 6000ish feet tonight.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Percentage of Population with HS Degree vs Educational Spending Per Capita

I admit it, I read Freakonomics and loved it. One more chart and I'll get back to my day job. This chart is particularly interesting because it indicates that: while Utah's educational spending is among the worst in the nation on a per capita basis, Utah has 4th highst percentage of its population with a HS degree. It would seem to me that education systems from other states should be flocking to Utah to see why it is that Utah can spend so little on education yet obtain some of the best results in the nation (see caveats below). Education spending per capita and % of HS diploma holders in the population seems to be poorly corrolated.

The graph is divided into four regions based on a comparision with Utah. States in the top left region are states that spend less per capita on education than Utah but get more graduates. There are none. States in the top right regin are states that spend more and get more graduates. Those states are, interestingly enough, Alaska, Wyoming and Minnesota. States in the bottom right region spend more on education than Utah but have a smaller percentage of HS diploma holders. This includes most of the states and includes the national average. And states in the bottom left quadrant spend less on education and have fewer HS diploma holders.

Caveat: I am not argueing for less or even the same amount of spending in Utah. I would like to see more money spent on education. The data do suggest however that we are getting the most bang for our education buck, by far. Also, the percentage of the population with a HS diploma may not be the best measure of educational success.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Poverty and Education in Utah, by County

In which we look at education and poverty data for the nation and for Utah broken down by county. I'm neither a social scientist nor a statititian, but the data clearly say "what's up with San Juan and Morgan counties?" The data on high school education rates suggest that Utah has a smaller percentage of the population with less than a high school education. The notable exceptions are San Juan and Uintah counties. San Jaun county has 30% of the population with less than a high school education and Uintah county has 20% of the population with less than a high school education. The national average is 19.8 and the Utah average is 12.30. There appears to be no correlation between population and education.

Next up, we take a look at the relationship between education and poverty. Not surprisingly, low poverty rates are well-corrolated with populations that have a low percentage people with than than a high school education at both the national and Utah levels. The outlier in the Utah data is San Juan county and the county at the low end (least poverty, least people w/out High School education) is Morgan County.

Snow down to about 10000 feet in Orem

The snow level from the last storm was 10000 feet which is about 1300 feet below the top of Timpanogos. This is not the lowest snow of the year. The lowest previous snow level was about 8000 feet and happened on the day of the primary elections if I remember correctly.

Monday, October 24, 2005

2 Utahns on Women's Skeleton Team

Lyndsie Peterson from Taylorsville and Noelle Pikus-Pace from Orem are both on the team and Tristan Gale from Salt Lake City will take Noelle's place until Noelle is ready to compete again. Way to represent the home state. We'll try to get some interviews together that focus on the Utah angle.

2 Utahns on Women's Skeleton Team

Lyndsie Peterson from Taylorsville and Noelle Pikus-Pace from Orem are both on the team and Tristan Gale from Salt Lake City will take Noelle's place until Noelle is ready to compete again. Way to represent the home state. We'll try to get some interviews together that focus on the Utah angle.

No Jinx, no jinx, byu women's volleyball still undefeated, no jinx, no jinx.

My favorite post-game quote was from the Coach (guess where his accent is, it is fascinating to listen to him on TV): "This was by far the toughest match we have had [er, um, well, ] in conference play [at least, that is]." My comments added in square brackets. I was just reading his mind as they continue to trounce the MWC.
[BYU NewsNet - V-ball beats UNLV, San Diego State]

Last weekend in Utah Football

BYU unsurprisingly lost to Notre Dame. There were two surprises in this game: first, our offense did surprisingly well (at times) and, second, our secondary is terrible. Not only does our secondary fail to turn around and look at the ball in an effort to avoid pass interference calls, but they can't seem to keep up with anyone. As they become fully invested in Bronco's program, they will get better.

Utah won a huge game at UNLV. Yes, I did just use "huge game" and "UNLV" in the same sentence. A stunned silence must have fallen on the Rebel faithful at Sam Boyd Stadium (which is smaller than my high school stadium in Montgommery Alabama) as the beleaguered Utes avoided last place in the MWC by hanging on against UNLV. Not since BYU beat Wyoming in a thriller for the 1996 WAC championship has Sam Boyd stadium seen such a huge game.

Urban Meyer: bye week.

Alex Smith: went 8-for-16 for 92 yards with an int and a fumble. Brutal. By the way, the 49ers will honor hall of famer, and BYU alum, Steve Young at the Nov 20 game against Seattle. Maybe Steve can give Alex some pointers? Alex will do fine eventually. The NFL is alot different than the mighty MWC but he'll adapt soon enough.

Luke Stahely: New to the list, but may not stay long. Luke is trying out for the Arena Football League in Utah. Luke's a quality guy I hope he does well and can avoid returning to cell phone sales in the mall. Anybody that goes from Doak Walker award winner and alround BYU celebrity to selling phones deserves a break. Go Luuuuuke!

USU: Oh, I think they lost to Boise State, but my sister can fill in the details if the Aggies were indeed playing the Broncos (she did her MS and BS at USU and is working in some kind of lab that I don't understand at BSU, so she's connected).

Wolf Mountain Rises from the Ashes

A new Wolf Mountain ski resort will soon be in place near Eden. The old Wolf Mountain is now the Canyons and used to be Park West. . I suppose that the new Wolf Mountain people are betting that the name "Wolf Mountain" wasn't the problem with the old Wolf Mountain.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Distribution of Poverty in Utah by County

It turns out that poverty in Utah is mostly found in counties with small populations but that about half of the small counties have poverty rates below the national average and the other half have poverty rates above. The most populous counties in Utah have poverty rates below the national average. The poverty line for a family of four in 2000 was an income of $18,104 or less. That works out to be $8 an hour-ish. The state-wide poverty rate is 9.7 while the national average is 12.1. But, 10 of 29 counties in Utah have poverty rates above the national average. The 10 counties are: Piute, San Juan, Grand, Iron, Sanpete, Duschene, Wayne, Carbon, Sevier and Uintah. All numbers taken from the the 2000 census.

The poverty rate in a county tends to fall as the county population increases, but the corrolation is weak both at the National and Utah state levels. The scatter plot below shows the correlation between county population and poverty rates. Note that the county population is shown using a log scale.

The 6 most populous Utah Counties (Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, Cache and Washington) have poverty rates below the national average. Piute county has the highest poverty rate at 15.3 and is the second least populous county with 1,435 people in the 2000 census. There are notable exceptions. Daggett county has 921 people (lowest in the state) but has poverty rate of only 8.1 (7th lowest in the state).

Noelle Pikus-Pace may compete after all

KSL reports that Noelle is hoping to recover in time to compete in Torino. Well that would be great and we wish her the best! I think it would be appropriate for us to pray, according the religious traditions of our choice, for her speedy and complete recovery in time for the games.

Why the Green Party is a Load of Garbage.

I recently noted Jen's Green Journal [in Utah] in my continual perusal of the web find the latest and greatest Utahania. Reading far left diatribe reminded my why I think the Green Party is a load of garbage. I'll try to be brief. The executive summary is that my first encounters with the Green Party at a young age were not entirely positive.

On August 31 1981, a car bomb exloded outside the Headquarters of the United States Air Force in Europe. Fortunately, at 7:20 am, my dad's secretary had just bent down to open a drawer and wasn't killed by the flying glass. This bombing was conducted by the Red Army Faction. "Coincidentaly," the Green Party rose to national prominance in Germany at the same time the Red Army Faction disbanded.

One morning, I remember watching a peace protest (interesting juxtaposition of ideas isn't it?) parade go by our house in Ramstein. They were Greens they didn't like Americans. I am American. The Greens spray painted their stupid peace sign and anti-American graffitti all over Ramstein (well, not everyhwere, mostly just around the base).

How can someone who is American align themselves with people like this and remain logically consistent? It seems to me that if you are a Green, then you shouldn't even want to live in the United States. So why stay?

The US military was in Europe to give the communists something to think about before they come over the wall and took over Europe too. It must have worked, because Western Europe is still Western Europe and communism has since gone away. (Lest you think I am a raving anti-communist a la Cleon Skousen, I have a great picture of me standing in a group of Russian Air Force Cadets in a town square in Smolensk taken on April 25 1986 (the date is easy to remember because it was day 1 of the Chernobyl meltdown). We had a great chat about life, being in the military etc. They appeared to be good people)

I suppose that if we had all sat back in our sunflower gardens and just thought happy thoughts about eachother and tried not to be afraid then things would have turned out the same?

Get poor Charlie off of the UTA!

The Utah Transit Authority is about levy a burdensome tax on the people of Utah in the form of a 25 cent fare increase.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Greg Ostertag: Whatever you do, don't buy a suit coat!

As you know, David Stern has imposed a bussiness casual dress code on NBA players who ride the bench during a game. Greg O. is openly defiant, says he doesn't own a suitcoat and doesn't plan on buying one. As a lukewarm Jazz fan, I can say that Greg's plan is an excellent idea. Now we need to get David Stern to hand out lifetime expulsions from the NBA for breaking the dress code...

You can't make this stuff up.

A semi-truck overturned this afternoon on I- 80 near the mouth of Parley's Canyon and spilled 42- thousand pounds of knitting yarn across the roadway. [from KSL]

Bad news for Noelle Pikus Pace

Oremonian and American Skeleton star Noelle Pikus Pace was knocked out of the Olympics today when a rookie bobsled driver failed to stop and slammed into her a 60 mph. That's one less Utahn in the Olympics. That will hurt our medal count in Italy.

I feel truly bad for Noelle. I can barely muster the discipline to train to run a half marathon slowly. I can't imagine the kind of commitment these Olympic athletes have to complete their training. And then to loose it all cause a guy couldn't stop a bobsled. That's rough. Serious condolences Noelle and get better soon. You can't come down on the bobsled driver too hard, I am sure he feels bad enough already. Sad deal.

Democrats* in SLC are web-illiterate?

SLCSPIN's commenter points out that the Salt County Democratic party has gone out and got themselves a new website [slcspin: Website For Salt Lake County Democrats]. Problem is that there website is even less functional than Senator Hatch's website. In my high-quality safari browser, the links on the SL County's democratic website don't work.

I put an asterisk in the title for Pete Ashdown. Hard to say that he's web illiterate. Someday when he has some time to waste he could teach me how the net really works.

Utah not in a housing bubble, but energy prices aren't a big threat

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that housing prices remain stable and that the biggest threat to an increased cost of living is natural gas prices if we have a cold winter. Um. Wrong. Because Questar owns half of its own natural gas, they have only requested a 13.37% rate increase and that is considerably less than the 48% increase predicted by the feds and quoted in the "well-researched" article.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Garon Thorne or Preston Griffall: Slide! Slide on to Victory!

Garon Thorne and his teammate Matthew Mortensen took an early lead in the USA luge men's doubles qualifier Tuesday at Lake Placid. Preston Griffall and his teammate are just behind Matthew and Garon for the last remaining spot. Normally, we'd cheer for both teams with Utah connections and indeed we are now, but only one will make it. So slide on and represent!

Slow news day part 4

KSL reports: Car fires more common than you think. Please, Mayor Anderson say something, anything, that will give us something else to talk about other than the frequency of car fires!

Slow news day part 3

KUTV reports: Man falls to his death while trying to save puppy (thanks to Joel for spotting this one).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Slow news day part 2

This just in: UDOT continually monitors roads for damage "the good news is that UDOT is aware of the [bad road] conditions too" and the bad news is that there's probably no money to do anything about it. (SLCSPIN got the first slow news day article: Eagle mtn residents mostly happy)

Saint George Half Marathon 2006

The Saint George half marathon will be run January 14, 2006. Registration deadline is January 9 by 6pm online at Best of all: all finishers get a medal! I wish we did Volksmarches in Utah, but we don't so half marathons will have to do. (If you are interested in organizing a Volksmarch in Utah, contact me and let's do it).

BYU Women's Volleyball team now 15-0

Not to jinx anybody or anything, but there's an undefeated season in the works in Cougartown.

Last week in Utah Football

BYU: another quality win (the nice thing about Coch Mendenhall's first year is that any win is a quality win). CSU should have known that BYU would run the ball because getting the game done before midnight would get the cougar faithful home before the Sabbath. Now if BYU can just keep it rolling with a win at, um, Notre Dame this weekend. Ok, I'll settle for not being shut out in a respectable loss. Coah Mendenhall's combination of scriptural phrases with football in the media is an interesting idea and I am curious to see if it has negative consequences in the long run

Utah: another punishing loss. Even I sort of feel bad for how far they have fallen. I think I hear the U of U football tradition calling as the Utes sink into another hapless season of mediocrity as the MWC teams line up to exact revenge for last years' lopsided Utah wins. Coach Wittingham will get this figured out, the question is whether or not the Ute faithful will give him time. If you think BYU fans are rude to their team in a loosing season (which they were) then you got to think that Utah fans will be worse.

Urban Meyer: Wow. Even I feel bad for how badly things are going at Florida. Coach Meyer is a quality guy (except for running up scores in the MWC last year, but he probably had to do it to stay high in the polls. Still.) and a wealthy guy, he just may not end up being a popular guy in Florida.

Alex Smith: I think SF must have had a bye week. But it is the NFL and I just don't care about the NFL enough to dig into it.

USU: lost to someone. Better luck next time.

Friday, October 14, 2005

New Ski Resort out by Kennecot != Alta/Snowbird/Brighton/Solitude

As you may be aware, Kennecot Land (owners of the big hole in the Oquirrhs) is revealing plans on what it might do with a 93,000 acre parcel west of SLC. The current plan includes a ski resort that tops out at 9,300 feet. The lead planner, Peter Calthorpe says: "Balancing east and west in this community might be a really healthy thing on lots of levels." Um. Peter Calthorpe must not be a skiier, or skiing was not one of the levels he was thinking of.

Here's the deal: a resort in the Oquirrhs which in on the wrong side of the lake (to get lake effect snow) and which is only 9,300 feet high will not balance all or even one of the resorts on the east side of SLC.

In 20 years I might have the following decision to make: Drive 30 minute to ski the sweet sweet powder at Alta or drive 50 minutes to ski the crud in the Oquirrhs. Hmm. I guess I'd end up at Alta, again.

Why fire alarms in the Merrill Engineering Building were always so interesting.

ABC news reported on PrimeTime that their interns could "walk unchallenged to the building that houses the nuclear reactor at the U of Utah" at 12:30 am. Well, yeah, 12:30 AM is when the engineering student body is just starting to get warmed up on their lab projects. I didn't know that you could get a tour. We just knew that when the red light was on outside the door that the reactor was doing its thing.

When I was a student in the Merrill Building, the fire alarm system experienced several false alarms each summer. it wasn't just the nuclear reactor that made fire alarms interesting. It was also the small oil refinery and small semiconductor fabrication line that made us a little more earnest than usual to get out--even though we know it was probably just another false alarm.

Shipping Nuclear Waste through Utah = Atomic bomb tests?

Paul Rolly makes most coherent arguement I've heard yet about the storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. The short version is that a DOE official's response that storing waste at Yucca Mountain is a "good idea because there are fewer people in the west" is uncomfortably similar to the testimony given in the court cases involving downwinders in Utah and Nevada in which the testers waited till the wind was blowing east because the population was smaller to the east. That was a bad deal and people are still dying because of it. Let's not do it again.

The link between Utah and floods in the Sacramento Valley (California)

The link is, paraphrasingly slightly, that settlers in Northern California (north east of Sacramento) didn't pay their rent to the Mormon landowners for a sawmill and some land that the Mormons left in haste to return to defend Salt Lake City against Johnson's army in 1857. Orson Hyde sent a scathing letter back to the tenants that said "You shall be visited of the Lord of Hosts with thunder and with earthquakes with floods..." Mark McLaughlin in Today's Sierra Sun finishes the story "His scathing indictment, dated Jan. 27, 1862, was compelling at the time. The Carson, Washoe and Sacramento Valleys were all under deep water; the result of heavy rain melting the mountain snowpack. "

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Vote for Urquhart: He Knows his Tunnels

The Des News reports that after seeing the Yucca Mountain site Steve Urquhart said: "Right now, it's just a big tunnel, a big hole, and I've seen tunnels before" If I person hasn't seen a tunnel before, then they shouldn't run for office. Yet another qualification for the new challenger. Steve is opposed to storing nuclear waste in the west, by the way. Orrin Hatch appears to support Yucca Mtn as an alternative to Skull Valley (in Utah). But his press release was too long and didn't say anything about tunnels so I didn't have the attention span to follow it on a Thursday afternoon.

Liberals like Taxes at BYU

Seen in the BYU NewsNet concatenation of titles: "I'm a liberal, Taxes do good,"

Good luck Preston and Garon!

Two Utahns including one Oremite are sliding for a spot on the US Olympic luge team. Good luck and don't die!

Utah has...

the highest number of homicides in 4 years.
the highest fertility rate, youngest median age of first marriage, highest percentage of married households
the sharpest increase in alcohol related traffic deaths but still has the lowest rate of traffic deaths involving alcohol
the top state government web site (thanks for all your hard work Phil, oh, and all the Utah state IT people too I guess).
I guess Utah is has lots of children, a good government website and the probabilities of getting murdered or killed by a drunk driver are going up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

UVSC leans left compared to Utah County?

The Trib reports that UVSC is more well known and 3/4 of Utah County residents think UVSC is becoming more liberal. No! Realy? I would guess that most organizations, especially any affiliated with higher education (maybe except BYU, but only maybe) lean left of Utah County. The other exception would be Bob Jones University.

55% of the respondants said that Michael Moore's appearance hurt the school's standing in the community. I agree with that, but I am saddened by it. I thought Moore's appearance was a brilliant idea. It got the students actively debating a political topic. With current voter apathy levels, anything (which is moral and ethical) that gets students (or alumni) talking about politics with passion is a great idea. I did watch some of his talk on TV. It was disorganized and rambly.

The president of the Faculty Senate at UVSC says:

My perception of the faculty is that we are not liberal folk. There are some, but most at this institution are very representative of the community.

I know a few faculty at UVSC and I would agree with her and I would add that UVSC is a good school now and it is only getting better.

Laura Hamblin may well be one of those "liberal folk" at UVSC. You may recall that her son Blake Donner died in a tragic caving accident on August 18. Hamblin tells the Trib:

I love the idea that Blake came out of my body when his life began and that part of him is going back into my body [as a tatoo made from his ashes] with his death, I do feel closer. And I put it on my left ankle so I would always remember to choose the left.

Choose the left? What's that supposed to mean? Choose the right is a common phrase in LDS parlance. Dr. Hamblin has most of her degrees from BYU, you'd have to assume that she's familiar with the culture. Putting in a few "liberal folk" into the conservative confines of Utah County isn't such a bad thing.

Just to bring this thing full circle, she has a few poems in an anthology I read in my Mormon Literature Class back in 1989 at BYU. I don't remember the poems, but now I am curious and I'll go look them up to see what she has to say.

SLC: Behold! Your future...

An anonymous comment on SLCSPIN's post about RSL in Sandy claims: "Sandy is nothing but another anonymous, characterless, boring, bland, sprawling suburb consisting of chain stores, strip malls, 6-lane streets, 10-acre parking lots, and cul-de-sacs full of cookie-cutter stucco homes." To which I reply: Citizens of Salt Lake City! Behold your future! Except with realy old earthquake unsafe cookie-cutter brick homes instead of cookie-cutter stucco homes.

Why Real Salt Lake Couldn't have a Stadium in SLC

Not everyone is excited about RSL's planned stadium in Sandy. It is pretty obvious why the stadium couldn't be in SLC and why the Mayor there didn't do everything he could to get the stadium there. The stadium couldn't be in SLC because if it were built in SLC, then the city council and/or Deseret News would use it for the public execution of women who attended school. Duh.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Babbitt: Grand Staircase NM "poorly executed" but a good idea.

Bruce Babbitt recently told the SLTrib (ahead of his book tour visit to SLC) that the Grand Staircase NM was a good idea but was poorly executed. Really? You may recall that the National Monument was signed in by President Clinton one morning on a nice desk strategically placed in front of the Grand Canyon (in Arizona) to create the new monument in Utah. Meanwhile, in Escalante Utah which suddenly found itself inside a hugh National Monument and it wasn't clear what that meant, President Clinton was burned in effigy (which is disrespectful and rude, but man, that's a tough spot to be in)

Lack of public input aside, I think the president ought to at least visit a place at least once before he declares it an area of unusual value or beauty. I've actually been in and through alot of monument before and after the declaration and I'll tell you why it was a success. It was a success because nothing has changed--except there's some "Welcome to Grand Staircase NM" signs next to the road and I think there's a new visitor's center.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Real Salt Lake: New Stadium for Team with 2nd Worst Record, 2nd Highest Attendance

The new stadium will be announced Wednesday. I am pulling for Sandy since it is a shorter drive for me. Given all the people in SLC who have lived in South or Central America or Europe for even a short period of time, I am not surprised that their attendance is so good. Personally, I have a hard time watching MSL in the US after having ingested a steady diet of the English Premier League while in England for a summer.

Message to Mayor Anderson from brother of first Iraq Casualty

Oblogatory Anecdotes has a message to Mayor Anderson to be read at the "Freedom Forum" this Wednesday. It reads as sincere, productive and frustrated all at the same time.

South Jordan Library is now open!

The grand opening was surprisingly well attended. We rolled in at 10:02 for the 10:00 am opening and you can imagine our surprise when the parking lot was full. A cub scout pack did the flag ceremony and those in the know say they did a great job.

Our two year olds loved the children's section. The children's librarian read them some books which they really liked. We think of the South Jordan library as an extension of our twin girls' grandmother's living room because, in reality, it is. And they love going to "Grandma's library"

It was standing room only. A few mayors spoke. While the mayors' talks were um, slow, I am extremely impressed with the vision and forsight of the South Jordan city government.

Then the library council chairperson spoke. He pointed out that all the great technology isn't the point. The point is the books, learning and ideas. I like that. The the librarian spoke, she talked about what she wanted to accomplish with the design and was very passionate about her library. Oddly, that's exactly what I would have said if I were the librarian and I had to speak (ok, she asked me what I would say if I had to talk and that's what I told her I would say :)).

Last Weekend in Utah Football

BYU: huge emotional win in New Mexico. Homecoming is this weekend against CSU. Last time we played CSU for homecoming was the Great Homecoming Massacre of 2003. My wife and I left at halftime because BYU was already down by like 21 at the half. Let's hope for better this year. We took our then 1 year old daughters to the game and didn't want to expose them to the filth that was happening on the field.

Utah: Lost a close one at CSU. You had to know that the Utes' luck at CSU would run out eventually. In 2003, they won at CSU on a flukey defensive touchdown late in the 4th quarter and needed an interception even later in the 4th quarter to seal the deal.

Alex Smith: Welcome to the NFL. I guess the NFL defenses are a little faster, stronger and smarter than the competition he faces in the mighty MWC and against Pitt. Not to worry though, I think he'll do just fine after a few games and/or years of getting pounded at SF. Ty Detmer, who did win the Heisman by the way, didn't do all that well in the NFL either.

USU: Beat SJSU. Got their first WAC win. Nice work.

The Taliban in Arizona?

It appears that the Taliban has metastized to Arizona! In today's SLTrib, it is reported that the second plantiff in the lawsuit against SLC's executive order to extend benefits to unmarried employees in committed relationships is a Christian Group in Arizona!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Bluff offered $100k to change name

KSL reports that the town of Bluff has been offered $100,000 to change its name to a gabling website's name. Naming towns of utah in exchange for rewards is not unprecedented. The town of Bicknell (near Capitol Reef NP) is named after Thomas Bicknell who promised a library to the first frontier town to take his name. Unfortunately for Blanding (near Natural Bridges NM, sort of) Utah, Bicknell's decision arrived first and Blanding is named after Bicknell's wife's maiden name. Blanding got a library too though.

Must resist temptation to lob potshot at Mayor

Yesterday, I resolved to quit lobbing potshots at the Mayor of SLC, he's really not that bad. However, SLCSPIN's article on the next Freedom Forum is sorely tempting me to break my resolve on day 1. Must resist. Must resist.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My last negative comment on Mayor Anderson and the Taliban in Utah in particular

... is that does telling a newspaper in the UK that living in SLC is somewhat Kafka-esque and like living under the Taliban (a) encourage people in England to visit or do bussiness in SLC or (b) discourage people in England from visiting or doing bussiness in SLC? If you live in SLC, then you know that the mayor isn't all that serious and SLC is a great place to live. But if you live in the UK, then it is likely that all you've heard about Utah is that it's backward and dominated by Mormons. The Mayor's comments, even if given in jest, seem to reinforce the stereotype.

Anyway, I got to quit lobbing potshots at the Mayor and spend my time on more productive things. Mayor Anderson did some good things with shopping carts and flags at crosswalks during his first term (remember when he used to actually address issues in the city?) and he's just sort of drifting this time aroundn. His treatment of the Main Street issue was first-rate.

Opening for my Mom's New Library

I'd like to invite everyone to the opening celebration for my Mom's new library in South Jordan this Saturday starting at 10 am. Fortunately, the library isn't in Salt Lake City so you don't have to fear reprisals from the Taliban if you check out the wrong stuff. The interior feels cozy like a Barnes and Noble complete with comfy chairs tucked away for quiet reading (except you don't have to feel guilty about reading the books without paying for them!). They've got bean bags all over the place and the reading areas are arranged to take optimal advantage of the natural light coming through the large windows. The Utah outdoors travel section has all the right books (and I assume the other sections do too). Even more fortunately, the county didn't spend so much on the architecture that there's no money left for books.

Folk dancers and conservative economics

Seen on the RSS feed for today's BYU newsnet: "Thanks to folk dancers, Conservatives ruin economy". I am still working on how folk dancers have caused conservatives to ruin the economy. I thought that spending money like there's end in sight is how the (apparently not-so-fiscally-conservative) conservatives ruin the economy. ... BYU's RSS feed is generated by taking the titles of the letters to the editor and seperating them with commas which makes for entertaining reading (not to mention the entertainment value of the letters themselves).

Adam Gladwell = Ammon Gladwell

Previously, I wrote about a BYU student Adam Gladwell who was killed in a car accident. Ammon's real name is Ammon not Adam and here is his obiturary. And it brings back strong memories of meeting my former teaching assistant's parents at his viewing in South Jordan. The world would be a better place if these students were still with us.


BYU is gearing for re-accreditation in 2006. If you have ever been curious about how BYU would describe itself, now is your chance to find out. The draft for review and comment is now available.

Highlights from the (6 page) executive summary include:
"BYU is located 45 miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah, on what many feel is an attractive, well-maintainted, and well-furnished 560-acre, 3319-building campus." They got that right. In all my travels to various universities in the United States and Europe, I am yet to see a campus more beautiful than BYU. Of course, Cambridge University has better architecture, but BYU has better grounds and interior space and isn't entangled in a city. Ok, our architecture is mostly terrible, but the grounds and setting are perfect.

"The university provides direct financial support for research and creative work" Got that right too. Internal money at BYU is wonderful and allows the faculty to pursue low-cost high-risk research because they don't need to follow funding trends at the national level so closely.

"Assets are more than ten times greater than liabilities" Didn't know that, but interesting.

"One need not be a member of the [LDS] church to apply or be admitted to BYU. However, approximately 98 percent of BYU students are church members. The remaining 2 percent come from more that 20 other faith traditions. Multicultural students compose 9 percent of BYU's daytime student body" No surprises there. One needn't walk for long the BYU sidewalks to figure that out.

From the table on page XIV we find that the average GPA for admitted freshmen is 3.73, the average ACT score is 27.15 and the average freshman has passed 1.4 AP exams. Well, I got admitted to BYU in 1989 on a 3.30 GPA (my senior year was not kind to my GPA) and a 29 ACT score and having passed 3 AP exams (and failed 1 :) ). I suppose I could still make it in today, whew.

"Between 1996 and 2005 BYU hired 704 permanent faculty--over one-third of the total faculty" That's a lot.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Taliban in Utah = a few members of the City Council?

Mayor Anderson took a few minutes to clarify his Taliban comments. The Taliban was really some of the members on his city council (accoding to KSL).

Fair enough, let's pursue the idea a little. How many deaths can we attribute to the SLC council? Good thing we don't have a stadium for Real Salt Lake yet because it would have been used for executions. I suppose Portland, Denver and Las Vegas are live under the Taliban too because you can't buy alcohol for visitors using city funds there either.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Orem Municipal Election Results

Election Results for 2005 Orem City Council Primary elections.

The battle for Main Street is over

It would appear that the City and Church's deal to trade land on the West Side for easements on the Main Street Plaza will hold up in court. This was one of Mayor Anderson's more brilliant moments in office. I thought he handled this issue like a true statesman.

Rocky Anderson on Utah, Kafka and the Taliban

Quoth Mayor Anderson: " 'I truly feel like we're in the middle of a Kafka novel sometimes, with a little bit of Taliban thrown in.'" Would the Taliban portion be the obnoxious street preachers or someone else? The Mayor needs to remember that his constituincy can read the papers in England just as well as they can read the papers in the US.

High-tech homes for people 55+ in Saint George. But why?

Suppose I buy a high-tech home in Saint George (when I get a little older of course). My high tech home has a web server in it cool. But what will I do with it? I will... "control lighting and entertainment system, access security systems from remote locations and be alerted by e-mail to any problems." Hmm. Sounds delighfully boring and I bet it will be broken within 6 months.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Who to vote for in Orem City Council Primary

We live in North Orem. We think traffic in Orem, and in our neighborhood is terrible. That's our main issue. We didn't worry about development anymore since our neighborhood is almost built out. We'll worry about education when our kids grow up.

Our picks for Orem City Council are: Kelvin Clayton also lives in North Orem. Also worried about traffic. Karen Mcandless. Has a real blog. Ready for 8th north to get widened and more roads on 1600 North. Supports Utopia. Makes good decisions about traffic. Shari A. Thurston.

Photo: Fin Valley in Arches NP

Taken on Eric and Mike's Unofficial Moab Half Marathon in 2003. We were unpleasantly surprised to find that the race didn't start until 10 am. That's late. So we picked up our tshirts, turned in our numbers and ran our own half marathon in Arches (we ran Devil's garden loop and sand dune (I think) arch). We were done before 10 am and it was plenty hot by then. Getting there: Get off i-70 at crescent junction. Go south toward moab. Turn left into Arches NP. Drive to the end of the park, about 17 miles. Hike or run the trail to Fin Valley. Go just after or during sunrise for best results.

Utah/Idaho Baptists give aid at Camp Williams

I wish this story would have recieved more attention. As it was, the Utah/Idaho Southern Baptist Convention aid was tucked beneath the fold, so to speak, on a piece about the LDS church declining a FEMA refund. The Baptists declined a refund too. And if I were a good Baptist (or even a mediocre Baptist) from New Orleans that had been evacuated to Salt Lake City, I would like to have seen my fellow Baptists at Camp Williams too.

The battle is brewing for the Sandy gravel pit. We lost but won our battle in Orem

Boyer co and walmart want to turn the 100 acre site into a big shopping center. Other people want to turn it into a park. The classic battle. Hell hath no furry like a home owner facing uncertainty about development.

Since I don't live in Sandy and I already have my house built, I am strict conservationalist now (just like Robert Redford with Sundance). I vote leave it as a park.

A similar battle was fought for the LDS welfare farm orchards that used to be in my backyard. The fight went something like this:

residents: we want the owner to sell it to the city and the city to make a park out of it.
city: we can't afford it. Do you have several million dollars handy to buy it?
[pause while residents look around the room at wealthier residents who also live near the orchard. No signs of check books being drawn]
residents : No. Hey, let's pass a bond!
city: it is unlikely that other people in orem will want to fund a park for you.
residents: Hey, land ownder, maybe you could donate it to the city?
land owner: we will sell it to the buyer of our choice.
residents: hmm, maybe we could rezone it to recreation land?
city: you can try, but it won't happen. it is already zoned for residential.
residents: alrighty then. Thank you for seeking our input, I guess.

And now there's a great new neighborhood being built in the orchard. And, what do you know, the new neighborhood is bringing in great families that are revitalizing our community! So we didn't just save our community by developing the orchard we made it better.

The battle is brewing over benefits for all live-in dependents in SLC

Ethan over at SLCSPIN has an enlightening discussion of the recent counter-proposal for benefits for live-in (but not married) dependents of city employees. Briefly, Mayor Anderson's proposal is for same-sex couples only and the city council includes everyone. I wonder if the city council is really trying to be equitable here or if they are trying to frame a legal fight using the wording of Utah's recently passed constitutional ammendment that defines marriage and disallows recognition of other domestic unions with similar legal effect. I am quite sure that Rocky's proposal is a careful set up for a legal battle.

On this issue, I wonder if it possible to be "homo-isotonic" (rather than homophobic or homophillic) and oppose all benefits for non-married live-in dependents?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

BYU: Adam Gladwell Killed in a Car Accident

Adam Gladwell was killed while attempting to render aid in a car accident. That makes 9 students and 1 faculty killed on the highways this week and 2 still in the hospital. Let's try to be a little more careful out there people.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

More about the USU van accident.

T.R. Grover runs an excellent USU blog up in Logan (well, USU is in Logan, I assume that TR is too) in which he writes that not all of the UHP claims are widely believed or appreciated especially up in AggieTown and there's some good arguements to cast doubt on the findings so far. But, since when has the media actually gotten a story right? So you've got the UHP making early hypotheses public and then you run it through the media filter which adds even more noise.

Tough deal. Two students I know have passed away in my short career so far. Its a difficult thing to see all that potential gone.

Home sales trends in North Orem Utah

The wife and I may or may not buy a different house in the next 3-5 years, so we are interested in house price trends. Since we are looking to buy a house more expensive than the one we have now, we hope that home prices stay flat or drop (because our present house will increase in value more slowly than a house with more value).

Here are the trends done as linear fits to the data for the last 4 years (drumroll please...):

In which the sales price trend looks remarkably flat and the number of homes sold is rising a little more quickly. I am no economist, but I would say that the data suggest that demand is rising but supply is keeping pace. Good for me!