Monday, January 30, 2006

A Day in Phil's Life in Antartica

Phil Jacobsen is a writer from Salt Lake City for the City Weekly amung other things. My earliest memory of meeting Phil was when we met in an LDS meeting house lobby in Montgommery Alabama while he was home from BYU for a break. I think he had a pink mohawk at the time.

Anyway, my sister went on to marry Phil's brother and Phil went on the spend lots of time in Antartica. He's there now and here's the pictures to prove it...

Phil Jacobsen: Day In Photos

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Skiing off cliffs as a way to bear testimony

This Jamie Pierre guy, from SLC, is really onto something. According to the desnews, he skiied off 245 foot cliff as a way to "open up doors so I could witness my faith in Christianity" (note to Mormons: in the rest of the Christain world "witnessing" is what you might call "bearing your testimony").

Imagine how Pierre's idea could liven up the Elder's quorum meeting in your local world. Instead of collecting data about home teaching visits, the quorum president would stand up and cajole everyone into "grabbing knarly air off a bigger and bigger cliff" as a way to bear testimony. Fascinating.

Unfortuantely for Pierre, he couldn't keep his skiis under him during the 4 seconds of air time and landed upside down forming a 6 foot deep crater with his head. I laid-out off a 4 foot bank to catch a frisbee once and made about a 1 foot crater. My testimony isn't strong enough for much more.

Nice work Pierre and message recieved at Utahania.

Rocky Anderson: King of all Media?

Rocky's letter to the DesNews will appear soon in this spot. Meanwhile, I was minding my own bussiness listening to Jack FM the other Friday night when Rocky Anderson was the guest DJ or some such thing. That was a shock to the system. I liked it better when Rocky confined himself to print media and political radio. Please no more! Even worse, the Rock and I have very different tastes in music.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The farce that is mass transit within Utah County

Gary Thornock mentions that Utah county is exploring mass transit options that my not involve UTA [Gary Thornock's Weblog � Utah County exploring transit options].

How bad is it? For me to ride the bus to work, I would walk 1/2 a block to the bus stop near my house, so far so good. Catch the bus to University Mall. Transfer. Take the next bus to the Wilkenson Center and walk across campus. Assuming that all busses are running on time, that would take about 45 minutes.

I often ride my bike into work in the summer and the fastest trip so far took me 28 minutes on the bike (I am a time/pace/speed freak, so I watch these things very closely). That day I averaged 17.2 mph. The first ride of the summer is usually at around 14.0 mph and around 35 minutes).

Monday, January 16, 2006

Rival IVF clinics in Utah

The recent suspension of Dr. Larry Andrew's license has sparked up a bit of a debate about in vitro fertilization in Utah over at the Daily Heralds. The interesting wrinkle in the debate is that there are two main clinics, one in Springville and one at the U of Utah. The one in Springville is/was run by Dr. Andrew and was not board certified. The one at the U of U is. The one in Springville is two guys doing their work and the one in U of U is more like an establishment scientific facility with lots of Drs interns and journal articels. The debate is an interesting look into the world of hi-tech, high-cost and low success rate infertility treatments (mixed in with a million posts in support of Dr. Andrew)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Intelligent Design in Utah, most Utahns won't like it

In what could be the first insighful editorial I've ever read in BYU's Daily Universe, Shawn Curtis voices his support for the decision against intelligent design. Then makes this point "Mormons in Utah are often willing to allow religion to enter the public domain because we are in the majority. Remember that if we allow people like the Dover School Board to endorse religion, the beliefs portrayed will seldom be your own."

Shawn is right. Mormonism while oppresive and dominant in Utah (I'm told, it seems fine to me) is so far into the Christian religious minority in the US that some people don't even know what it is.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hoping for the best

Hopefully the Stardust SRC reentry thing won't land 111.71 miles long because if it does then it might hit my house. It looks like it will land 20-60 miles south of I-80. [see HYPERSEED: Hypervelocity reentries and deposition of organics in large meteors at NASA]

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I am boycotting Jordan Commons too and Larry's other stuff (except Miller Field at BYU)

But only because I don't go to the movies any more (twins will do that to a person and I am fundamentally cheap) and I don't do restaurants where the cliff divers are the main attraction.

Best post on the Brokebake flap was over at SLCspin. What's worse an artsy movie about gay cowboys or an insipid bad soap opera movie about LDS pioneers?

I suppose I am boycotting the car dealerships too because I am too cheap to buy a new car (unless it is a mid-range Hyundai). And I guess I am boycotting the Jazz as well because I went to a Jazz game once and the tickets cost more than my tickets for BYU. Except the Jazz players weren't as into it and the seats were high enough to see the ladder on top of the jumbotron.

Turns out that SLCspin covered that angle too. I've been in South Carolina all week. Weather was nice, but the flatness was starting to get me down after only 3 days. I didn't realize how bad the Katrina thing was until the pizza delivery guy had a strong New Orleans accent.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Jordan Commons is Utah's Moral Compass

Or at least that's the impression you might get from reading More Utah "morality" over at the Casserole Bar. That's a nice piece of generalization. Good work.

Oh that felt good.

For the first time in who knows how long, a BYU team beat a Utah team at something. Football, basketball, women's volleyball, women's soccer, you name it and Utah has beaten BYU in it over the last 2 years.

There were about 5 minutes left in the second half of today's basketball game when it occured to the Utahania editorial board (mostly just the wife and I ) that Utah might loose, to BYU, in Provo. It appeared that there were only minimal incidents between stupid BYU and Utah fans and that was nice too.

It felt so good that it makes #5 on the Utahania all-time favorite in-perseon sporting events. Some people go see the symphony, we go see sports. The list is now:

1. BYU over Wyoming for the MWC championship in overtime in Las Vegas.
2. Apollo Anton Ohno gets blocked or whatever it is to win a gold medal in short track speed skating at the SLC Olympics.
3. Every BYU men's volleyball win over UCLA, Stanford or Hawaii in the fieldhouse in the late 90's.
4. BYU and Luke Stahli beat Utah in Edwards stadium in a thriller.
**5. BYU beats Utah in the Marriott Center to break the drought in 2006.
6. US Men's national team beats some no name Central American Team at Rice-Eccles (our first and only trip to Rice-Eccles as well).
7. BYU football shuts out the vaunted Rice option offense in Provo.
8. BYU baseball player hits for a perfect cycle at Miller field.
9. Timpanogos High School Freshman football team closes out an undefeated season in a cold dark downpour in a game that came down to the final play.
10. BYU beats USU in Logan. Aggie fans proved to be amazingly classless in an embarassing loss.
dropped from list: Lots of XC skiiing, spandex, dried spit and snow at soldier hollow for the biathlon in the SLC olympics.

Best summer ever on 1600 North Orem

Because the fine city of Orem is planning to completely close portions of 1600 North for two months at a time for resurfacing, utilities and etc. Ah the quiet of a summer's evening along the North Union Canal (after the construction people are done for the day of course) will be ours this year. There is an open house January 17 at Orem Senior Friendship Bldg on 93 North 400 E from 530 to 830 pm to discuss the plans. There's a schedule for when you should go based on where you live but then it says go whenver you find it convenient, so I'd say just show up.

Visit the Orem City Transportation Forumfor more information on other projects in Orem, but not this one. Email Orem's Transportation Engineer to let them know what you think of their busy yet uninformative web page.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Why there needs to be a college football playoff

First off, because no Utah team will ever play for a national championship under the current set up.

Second off, the BCS rankings aren't that good. The BCS rankings correctly predicted the outcomes of only 8 out of 16 teams in the top 16 (I picked 16 because that would be a 4 level tournament, if we go top 8 for a three round tournament then the BCS comes in sub-500). But the BCS masters will tweak the rankings and see what happens next year. I got to say though, the national title game this year was outstanding.

1. USC lost to #2 Texas [BCS fails]
2. Texas beat #3 USC [BCS fails]
3. Penn State beat #22 FSU [BCS correct]
4. Ohio State beat Notre Dame [BCS correct]
5. Oregon lost to #23 Oklahoma [BCS fails]
6. Notre Dame lost to #4 Ohio State. [BCS correct]
7. Geogia lost to #11 West Virgina [BCS fails]
8. Miami lost to #12 LSU [BCS fails]
9. Auburn lost to Wisconson [BCS fails]
10. Virginia Tech beat #19 Louisville [BCS correct]
11. West Virginia beats #7 Georgia [BCS fails]
12. LSU beat #8 Miami [BCS fails]
13. Alabama beat #15 Texas Tech [BCS correct]
14. TCU beat Iowa State [BCS correct]
15. Texas Tech lost to #13 Alabama [BCS correct]

[ - NCF - College Football Rankings]

USATF - Utah's Running Routes - Search Results

The US Track and Field group keeps a database of running routes in the US. The routes in Utah are somewhat sparse but I hope they'll fill in as awareness grows. The database includes a line segment laid over a google map so you can get a rough idea of where the route goes. Not adequate for backcountry trail runs but even then one gets enough of an idea to find the run on a more detailed map.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Jumping into the Evoluion and Intelligent Design Fight

I've been stewing on this topic for a while and finally wrote my thoughts down as a comment on The Senate Site: Bill Text: Curriculum and policy on theories relating to the origins of life.

It took me so long to write the thing that I thought I'd better get some more milage out of it, so here it is. You should probably make comments over at the Senate Site to be part of that forum instead.

Props to Senator Buttars for proposing a bill that he feels strongly about. I like to see politicians acting on their principles. However, I think the bill is a bad idea for two reasons.

First, the biggest problem with the bill is that forced combinations of science and religion cheapen science and weaking religion. Let us resolve to teach science in science class and religion in religion classes (or even better at home!). The religious scientists that I know and have read about have a remarkable amount of personal humility which allows them live with unanswered questions about both religion and science.

Steve Urquhart has an insightful letter from a real scientist on this topic at his self-titled blog.

Second, looking more directly at the text of the bill, the problem with the bill is that the fact that not all scientists agree on a thing is not surprising. Oddly, top-flight scientists are just normal people. Like normal people, many different scientists have many different opinions on many different things. When a non-expert attempts to make judgements about the validity of a scientific theory, the non-expert is well advised to stick with the mainstream. Just because a scientist has an opinion about a topic in that scientist's area of expertise does not make that opinion correct or even accepted.

If we follow the logic of Sen. Buttars bill, then we should also teach different theories about, well, just about everything. So we should have a bill that requires teaching Stephen Jones at BYU (no less) thinks that the WTC was brought down by internal charges. Other scientists think that it was brought down by the fires caused by two large airplanes. Try reading the bill with "origins of life" replaced by "destruction of the WTC".

And we should teach Linus Pauling's ideas on vitamins as a treatment for psychological illnesses in psychology class. And we should think about teaching William Shockley's ideas on eugenics in social studies.

An appeal to pure logic doesn't work to resolve these differences of opinion because pure logic is surprisingly un-useful in answering questions about the real world. The problem is that when connecting logic to the real world it is difficult to agree on what the axioms should be. Even worse, pure logic isn't that good about reasoning about pure logic--even though the axioms are completely artificial.

I think the one redeeming quality of this bill is that a future version of the bill may drop all the origins of life language and simply require that students be taught that not all scientists agree on lots of different and important topics.

Another Reason to Live in Eagle Mountain

would be easy access to the Jordan River Parkway. I've always felt kind of smug because I live near the Orem section of the Bonneville shoreline trail and the Provo Canyon part of the Provo River trail. And those are nice trails, in the summer. But I did a 5 mile jog on the Jordan River trail yesterday and saw so many birds that I wished I were an ornithologist so I could name some fraction of them. The view to the East of the Wasatch Front was inspiring even with my high heart rate and tendonitis pain.

I saw 0 other people during my journey. I felt miserable the whole time though (except for a brief span near the end) but I think that is due to my fitness level rather than the trail.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Fun in the snow!

So the wet windy snow over the holiday weekend brought us one avalanche fatality, one stranded snow boarder from Califorina ("we waited for him for like 40 minutes man!" before leaving said his cousins). Some number of lost snow mobilers and another avalance incident in SL County. Wow. Let's try to be a little more careful out there people.

A guy I know was lost for a few days in the Uintah's in a snowmobiling incident. It is interesting to talk to him about it because the seriousness of the incident unfolded so slowly that they make bad decisions from the begining. The odd thing is that they didn't know they were in a full-on epic survival situation until they'd already made all their bad decisions (like leaving their sleds and trying to hike out, etc).