Saturday, April 29, 2006

Utah County Republican Convention

You heard it here first, or second (depending on whether or not you read Utah Conservative and whether or not they post the results) ...

County Attorney Kay Bryson goes down to Buhman and Larson places a distant third. I think everyone there still respects Larson. That's a tough thing for him. He passionately believes in what he was doing and risked much to run.
Steve White retains county commission seat A without a primary.
Parley Hellewell looses w/out a Primary.

Jerry Grover will face Gary Anderson in a primary. This will be the most interesting primary in the county.
Jim Ferron will face Steve Sandstrom in a primary with Sandstrom ahead by 2% at the convention. This will be the second most interesting primary in Utah County.
Cary McConnell will face Bryan Thompson in a primary for Clerk/Auditor

You'll notice that I spoke as if winning the county convention is like winning the general election. That's because, in Utah County, it is. Some day the Democratic Party in Utah County will get its act together and produce a viable platform grounded in democratic principles. Until that day though (which I hope happens, but I'm not the one to do it because I don't believe enough Democratic Philosophy to make it happen), Utah County is a one party County and that's too bad.

In the end though, I got to say that Utah County is one conservative place. wow. At the U of Utah I felt like a close-minded John Birch-er. In that room I felt like moderate liberal democrat.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Skull Valley is a Bad Place for Nuclear Waste

I don't really have time to write this post, I really should be working on my paper for FMCAD, but Utah Policy is putting together a blogswarm on this topic. So if I miss tenure because this paper gets swatted into the cheap seats during peer review, then I'll get both a pay raise (by switching to a non-academic research job) and a safe, friendly West Desert. A true win-win situation.

KEUR has the best visual information on where the nuclear waste storage site will be and what it will look like. There are three reasons that nuclear waste should not be stored at Skull Valley.

First, Utah's West Desert is a beautiful place. If you've ever enjoyed the mathematical perfection of a desert sunrise, or you've watched a huge harvest moon rise in the east at exactly the same instant that the sun set in the west, or you've played with your kids on hardpan in the soft diffuse light of a desert sunset then you know what I mean. People who haven't been to the West Desert just don't get that. Storing more of the nation's garbage out there will ruin it a little more and eventually it will be gone. If you look at the KUED map, you can see that the West Desert contains it's fair share of the nation's waste. Let's let someone else have a turn.

Second, the Skull Valley Goshutes information page titled "Storage Problem" clearly states that "Many US nuclear reactors will exhaust reactor storage space by 1998. Without a storage or disposal facility, the viability of many of these plants is seriously in question." Well, 1998 came and went and the US power grid is still up and humming along. So either the Goshutes are using a different calendar than I am, or the 1998 crisis wasn't as bad as we thought itwould be and we don't need Skull Valley as bad as we thought we would. Let's leave the low-level nuclear waste where it is. It's safe to transport and store right? So let's just skip the transport step and just store it.

Third, we should turn it into a giant golf course for foreign tourists. That wasn't my idea, it was Scott Carrier's. Scott's onto something there. Lots of empty space, lots of jobs for local economy. And, the half-life of a biodegradable golf-ball in the West Desert is about 144 days and that's a lot shorter than the half-life of a spent nuclear fuel rod.

There may be other reasons not to store nuclear waste there. If you can think of them, then send them to Pam Schuller over at the BLM.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's already been 20 years since Chernobyl

[ - Chernobyl�agony felt 20 years on - Apr 24, 2006] And that makes me feel old because I was on a train to Leningrad on a Junior High field trip when the Chernobyl disaster happened. We found out about the disaster the next day on the radio in an English language broadcast in Leningrad. At the end of our trip, we flew back to Luxemburg and we had to stay on the airplane until a guy with a geiger counter checked us over.

Later that day, we returned to our Junior High at Ramstein Germany and they had a kind of triage thing set up in our gymnasium. They scraped dirt from our fingernails, asked us if we ate any seaford, waved Geiger counters over our shoes etc. I think they were trying to get a picture of how much radiation ended up in Leningrad on the dates we were there. The Commies weren't saying much about what happened and we were, apparently, important test subjects to get a picture of what was going on. Turns out that we were ok.

I am profoundly grateful that for me and my family the long term lasting impact of the Chernobyl disaster is that I can tell my kids about it. Many families in the Ukraine are not so fortunate.

I see that they are having a Conference on what can be learned from the disaster. I guess the big lesson would be "don't have a multi-national enviornmental disaster inside a closed country that won't tell the rest of the world what's going on"

Friday, April 21, 2006

Democracy in action?

This little gem comes from the SL Tribune: Salt Lake Tribune - Salt Lake Tribune Home Page: "Normally pragmatic, Utah Democrats try to avoid wasting time and money on the in-party fights that lead to primary elections. But party leaders obviously didn't succeed in discouraging everyone from running against hand-picked favorites. "

So um, the Democratic party avoids that whole pesky representative democracy thing and just has a central committee hand pick their candidates for office? Nice. Sounds like a Communist Party election back in the USSR.

It's in the Tribune, so it must be true.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Senator Hatch running unaffiliated?

The world according to Bob Aagard points at that Hatch's party affiliation is left blank on his declaration of candidacy. [see The World, According To Me: Hatch = No Party Affiliation?].

Hmm. I suppose that's a strike in favor of the gentleman from Utah. While I identify more with the Republican party than I do the Democratic, I find strident conservatism in the Republican party tough to stomach sometimes. The farther Hatch is from that the better. I should add for completeness that I find strident liberalism or progressivism in the Democratic party so unappealing that I am a Republican.

In the end, I bet it is much ado about nothing. A clerical error easily fixed.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lunch with Senator Hatch

So I had lunch with Orrin Hatch this afternoon. Well, I and about 40 other state convention delegates had lunch with Orrin Hatch this afternoon but it sounds cooler if I say it the other way.

It was interesting. When I shook his hand I was surprised at rough his skin is. It was like shaking hands with a farmer. Either he's not used to the dry air in Utah anymore or the guy just works hard. I think he just works hard.

During the question and answer part I was impressed with his compassion on the DREAM act that allows states to give in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants, I was happy to see that he's a lot less strident than the average Utah County Conservative, I was impressed by how technology illiterate he sounded and I was impressed by how well he understood how to make things work in the Senate.

I did ask about digital copyright and the flow of information on the internet. His answer on digital copyright centered on protecting copyrights overseas. He didn't get back around to the flow of information on the internet, but I weaseled in another question about NSF funding which I think threw him off. He did say that I should contact his office if I thought they could help me land some NSF funding. Sweet!

Overall, I was very favorably impressed. The guy's not a technocrat but he seems to be a fine senator. Most of all, I am glad that he's not a far right wing conservative. He seems moderate, compassionate and conservative.

Pete Ashdown's giving a talk tonight at BYU. I need to go to that and get an impression of Pete's personality and where he stands on all kinds of issues.

My short political career so far has taught me that it's important to meet the candidates and get to know their personalities.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A bridge too far: The skybridge downtown

The LDS church's plans for the downtown mall rennovation project specifically include a skybridge. Rocky's thoughts about the downtown project have specifically excluded a skybridge from the beginning. Should be interesting.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Curtis Larson: running for Utah County Attorney

Now that I'm a delegate to the county and state convension, I get all this mail and stuff about the candidates.

So Curtis Larson stopped by the house today (between conference sessions, of course, a nice touch). And outlined some of the issues in the race. [ Curtis Larson for Utah County Attorney homepage]. First off, he looks a lot more distinguished and qualified in person than in the campaign pictures. The guy looks like a statesman, and that's a good start. I also noted from Curtis' biography that he could run a sub 6:00 mile well into his 40's. Wow. I ran a 6:00 minute mile once about 4 years ago and I thought I was going to die. As a distance runner, that might be just enough.

It turns out that there's been some turmoil in the family life of the current Utah County Attorney and The Daily Herald isn't a big fan of the current guy either.

The Utahania editorial board isn't ready to make a formal endorsement yet, but we are working on it...