Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Not what I thought

I thought this article titled "Cosmo vs. Provo" would be about parking in Provo or some other town vs. gown issue. It wasn't. Pretty funny.

Better duck if you are Mormon? Not quite.

Doug Robinson wrote a piece in the DesNews which gave his take on the recent torrent of ignorant statements about Mormons.  It hasn't been since High School in Montgomery, Alabama that I had to deal with this kind of stuff.  It was really awkward in High School. 

This time around, it is much clearer to me that Mormons just aren't well-understood in popular American culture.  That lack of knowledge is easily converted to prejudice. 

An interesting analogy for Mormons to think about is the recent Tom Cruise Scientology video release.  If you are Mormon, it's likely that your first reaction to the video was a lot like most American's initial reaction to anything about Mormons. 

For me it was.  I don't know much about Scientologists, so it was easy for me to get creeped out by the video.  But once I slowed down and listened to the what he was saying (at least in the clips I heard on Nightside with Ethan Millard (Etahn you rock!) while remodeling the bathroom), it's really not that weird.  It's all about believing that you have some kind of power to help people and that that gives you an obligation to help.  I don't know much about Scientology, but on the surface, that's not too different from the Mormon belief that "where much is given much is required." 

Like I said, I don't know much about Scientology and comparisons between Scientologists and Mormons isn't the point.  The point is that I was willing to get creeped out by a video about Scientologists because I just don't know much about them.  My ignorance made me vulnerable to sensationalism. 

I think that for many (normal) Americans, the reaction to something Mormon is very similar.  Because they know so little, they are willing to get creeped out by something presented with just the right spin.   I think that Mormons are currently faced with a great chance to define themselves rather than letting other people do it for them. 

Duck if your are Mormon?  Not quite.  More like stand up and define yourself if you are Mormon. 

I don't mind criticism (in High School it wasn't so fun, but that's just an awkward age for everyone) but I'd prefer to be criticized for things I actually believe and do rather the for a stereotype put forth by someone else. 

Of course, there's a group of people which seem to be obsessed with attacking Mormons on pet issues over and over again in Newspaper comment pages, on CNN's Hardball and so forth.  I don't understand those people either and arguing with them seems pointless.  They've already got their mind made up (as do I). 

Monday, January 21, 2008

Rolly and I agree on Something?

Rolly nailed this one about Republicans in Utah County.  It's not often that we agree. 

However Steve Baugh picked a tough race to win against Stephen Sandstrom for three reaons.  First, Sandstrom does a great job staying close to his constituents, third, Sandstrom voted for vouchers as did just over 1/2 of the voters in his district and third, Sandstrom is a productive and engaged legislator.  The first two are going to make a "Sandstrom is out of touch" campaign very difficult.  The third makes Sandstrom a good incumbent candidate. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Macbook Air: No Regrets Here.

I finally bought a new laptop in December. I knew I could have waited for Apple's rumored new ulta-portable, but didn't and bought a Dell XPS 1330 instead. Now that the new Macbook Air is out, I am happy to say that I have no regrets.

The Air fits nicely in a manila envelope, as demonstrated by Steve Jobs in his keynote talk. Here's a picture of my Dell XPS not fitting in a manila envelope (it was close). Next to the now ruined envelope is my spare big battery. It clearly wouldn't fit. So that bad news is that if I ever have to mail my laptop, I'll have to get something bigger to put it in. The good news is that I can change my own battery, get a high capacity battery, use DVDs and plug in an ethernet cable.

The macbook air is beautiful, but I'll wait for useful and beautiful.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Memo to anonymous commenters

I've gotten a spate of anonymous comments of late.  Either lots of anonymous people are hitting my blog, or someone with a lot of time and no identity is working through the archive.  I thought I'd respond to all 4 in one post.  So here goes.

Steve Baugh anonymous #1:  I am going to assume that that was a complement.  JM Bell wasn't so gracious.  You'll need to keep an eye on him, he's not playing Mr. Happy Blogger anymore.

Steve Baugh anonymous #2: I am happy to know that you don't think I have same political views as you do. 

Orwellian Solution anonymous:  Wow! Great catch!  I first read 1984 and Brave New World at about the same time, so I get them mixed up.  Your education level, well, the fact that you can and do read, suggests that you aren't Steve Baugh Anonymous #2. 

Nice Work Robert Gherke anonymous:  Let it go.  Just let it go.  But thanks for reading and I hope my cheekiness doesn't annoy to much.  I like being cheeky in a blog format.  You got me on that one.  I am not a journalist and I do not hold myself to journalist standards.  I don't have a press pass, I am not a credentialed reporter and I didn't go to j-school. If you are this like real news, such as a newspaper, then you are going to live a life full of disappointment and sadness.  My perception is that when someone says "that's off the record" then it should not show up in print.  If real journalists have different rules of engagement, then they need to work to correct public perception (and commit fewer ethics violations in general). 

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Steven Baugh?

Maybe so. I don't think I am going to switch parties, but I'll give an ear to Steven Baugh. Sandstrom is right, a Republican will likely be elected in District 58.

But a viable Democratic Candidate in our Distract may energize moderate voters in our District (where "moderate" in our District only means "didn't join the John Birch Society in college") and move the Rebuplican party away from the far right.
THE UTAH AMICUS: Meet Steven Baugh for House District 58

Sandstrom v. Baugh in District 58

Now that's a race I'll be watching closely because I live in District 58. Baugh is running as a Democrat. Cool. I may end up voting for a Democrat in my District race. We'll have to see how it goes.

Sandstrom is having a breakfast this Sat for Precinct chairs. I'd need to find a sitter since my wife will be at Cub Scout Training, which I might just do now.

Sandstrom was, if I remember correctly, the "friend of the UEA" candidate while his opponent was the charter school developer candidate.

Sandstrom won. I voted for him, in a switch, because they other candidate sent me a postcard that seemed to suggest LDS church sponsorship of his campaign or position (can't remember).

I voted against vouchers. Sandstrom voted for. I voted against because I think that taking money out of the general fund and putting it in private education is just like taking money away from public education. Over half my district voted for as well.

Sandstrom is a great guy. I've been impressed with how he matured during his first year in office. I like having people like him in government because I think he considers issues carefully. Baugh might do the same and Baugh and I might agree more. So I may switch there too.

Good race to go along with the Presidential race. Best year in politics ever?

Salt Lake Tribune - Voucher backer inspires challenge

New Type of Boy Scout Story

The Maldives, best known for printing really colorful postage stamps , has given us a new type of Boy Scout Story, which brings us to 4 types and now two of them are good.  Type 1 is "Adult leader abuses scout", not good, type 2 is "Boy scout is injured/lost/worse", also not good.  Type 3 is "Boy scout performs heroic first aid", good, and now type 4 is " Boy Scout thrwarts assissination attempt".  Very nice. 

Provo Canyon Trailer Park Closes

I often wondered how that trailer park in Provo Canyon stays open.  It's a throwback to hippie life in the 60's.  I wouldn't have been surprised to see the Rainbow Family there.  I thought that was all fine and kind of liked having some solid Americana in the canyon.  However, it turns out that the county has caught up with the park and it's now closed due to all the usual kinds of issues that a county can throw at a business on the fringe of proper society.   Hope all the former tenants find new homes and that the land gets used for something good.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

In the future...

I rather listen to the Nighside Project on the day of New Hampshire's primary than listen to Dave Rose talk about why Wake Forest demolished the BYU basketball team.  In fact, they could have switched away from the game to the primary in the first half when the game was pretty much over. 

Friday, January 04, 2008

My coffee mug collection

Now includes a J.M. Bell - and Friends coffee mug. I put red pens in it just to be sure that (a) I didn't look too liberal and (b) my students would continue to respect the power of the red pen (just kidding).

I got the U of Utah water bottle at a PhD recruiting thing we went to at the U in November. It was great, me and another guy sat behind a desk for 3 hours while nobody came and asked us (or our neighbors or anyone else for that matter) about doing a PhD in CS at BYU. So we packed up and went for a great lunch at a Thai restaurant with my former research adviser.

The other coffee mug is from a research conference a few years ago and the lava lamp was a present from my parents when I got my first real job. It's supposed to make me look credible.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Huckabee vs. Obama?

It's an interesting proposition because it may set up a Democrat to win Utah in a Presidential election. I'd vote Obama over Huckabee at this point (though I haven't made up my mind yet).

SLCSpin � Blog Archive � I Don’t Usually Do National Topics…

Memo to Huckabee: How to be competitive in Utah (if it comes to that)

Mr. Huckabee:

Congratulations on the win in Iowa. I was glad to see that money doesn't always win. That's refreshing. I noted in a CNN article that you won 45% of the evangelical vote and they comprised 60% of caucus goers. That's an impressive bloc.

You won't have that cushion in Utah. In fact, some of your comments and campaign so far may have alienated LDS voters in our fair state. You'll need to overcome that perception.

Here's a five step plan for becoming competitive in Utah:

1. take the Al Sharpton VIP tour of Temple Square. Meet with some LDS leaders for a private consultation. Ask them tough, but sincere, questions (the "Jesus and Satan are brothers?" thing won't cut it, ya'll have been asking that for at least 17 years. I first heard it on my LDS mission in 1990).

2. go to an LDS family home evening somewhere in the valley.

3. come with me unannounced to my LDS ward on a Sunday or Wednesday night (for youth activities). Don't worry, very few people will recognize you.

4. assuming that all goes well for you, have a press conference where you say "you know what, I didn't know much about those crazy Mormons, but now I do. We have deep doctrinal differences but, you know what, they are pretty normal people trying to do what's right"

5. quit being so dumb about stuff! Get your facts straight on foreign policy. Know about the writers strike. You don't have to know everything, but your staff should. Be decisive. No more "I made an ad, I pulled the ad, I showed the ad" tricks.

CNN Political Ticker: All politics, all the time Blog Archive - Schneider: How Huckabee won � - Blogs from CNN.com

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I can relate

This lady in a Trib article bought a vacation home in Park City because... 'When you travel with three small kids, a nanny and a housekeeper, you need all the conveniences.'

Boy, don't I know that! When we travel with the twins we couldn't imagine roughing it without a nanny, a housekeeper and a grocery store.

Salt Lake Tribune - Opulent getaways a big chunk of Park City's housing market; few mortgages are involved: ""

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Good thing the SL Trib Editorial Board Doesn't Live in Georgia

Because their reaction to Gov. Perdue's prayer for rain given on the steps of the capitol would have been off the charts. (That is, if their indignation of Leavitt's early morning seminary classes in the Gov's mansion is any indication. )

Did the home teachers visit at the mansion too or did they have to go to a park or something?

There's got to be something I am missing here, but I am not sure what it is.

The trib's editorial board does good work, but I am not sure where they are coming from on this one.

Salt Lake Tribune - Leavitt's lessons: State archivist is right to keep those records open

Tough Questions from 4 Year Olds

Christmas brings difficult questions from 4 year olds (Can I have it? Why do Santa's reindeer fly?) But this year we got 2 tough questions.

First, the nature of the internet. Daddy, where did you get our game? We got it on the internet? Daddy, where's the internet? I'm thinking what do you say at this point? Well, it's a bunch of boring looking boxes with lots of wire coming out of them.

Second, we got them David Weisner's book Flotsam which includes a medium format film camera as a central story element. Daddy, what's film? Back in the old days, we used to take pictures with film now we use little cards. (Now I know what it feels like to feel old) Daddy, where do the pictures go on the little card? Do I say well, a special circuit senses light intensity in red, green or blue, converts the intensity to a number and the number is stored in memory.