Friday, June 27, 2008

feeling Minnesota

I got up feeling so down
I got off being sold out
Ive kept the movie rolling
But the storys getting old now
I just looked in the mirror
Things arent looking so good
Im looking california
And feeling minnesota
--"Outshined," Soundgarden

No, I am not watching the Keanu Reeves movie. Sorry for not posting yesterday...I am in Minneapolis for the weekend for a family reunion. Enjoy the weekend, the music video (and the 90's nostalgia):

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Change IS coming to Utah

Despite abysmal turnout, there were two four upsets last night in the GOP primaries. And not just sweakers but blow-outs for the challenger to the status quo.
"We rocked the vote here in Utah and we rocked the Republican Party," Chaffetz told about 175 supporters gathered to celebrate the victory. "I think we've been given a mandate to return the Republican Party to its core conservative principles."
With 99 percent of the votes counted, Chaffetz led Cannon by about 20 points.
Chaffetz hammered away at Cannon, running a relentless campaign targeting Congress' failure to control government spending, fix immigration and energy policies, and vowing to eliminate the federal government's role in public education.
"The Republican Party is broken and I want to fix it," said Chaffetz, as his supporters celebrated, drinking apple beer at a gathering in Springville.
Wow, I had predicted for about a year now that Rep. Cannon would face a much stiffer challenge this year than last time (as Republicans smelled blood in the water) and that the ex-BYU kicker would have the best shot at doing so. This is now Jon Huntsman's party (Chaffetz was the Governor's chief of staff), not the brothers Cannon's.

But the best result was really the drubbing that Rep. Mark Walker took by Deputy Treasurer Richard Ellis. When I heard this piece of news this morning driving into work, I laughed out loud. What a profile in courage.
Lt. Governor Gary Herbert waited until the polls closed Tuesday to announce that he would forward state treasurer candidate Richard Ellis' complaint to the Attorney General's office for investigation.
But wait that's not all. As I predicted, more incumbents fell in the GOP primaries.
With half of Weber County's House District 7 vote in, it appears that newcomer Ryan Wilcox will show four-term incumbent Glenn Donnelson the exit.
Donnelson refused to debate Wilcox and Weber County GOP Chair Matt Bell decided to host an event anyway - even after state Republican Party leaders cautioned him against the practice of having incumbents debate their intra-party challengers.
Donnelson, during his years in the Legislature, has focused heavily on illegal immigration. However, Wilcox called Donnelson out of touch with the district's voters. Wilcox surveyed voters and found that energy prices and taxes were at the top of their list, not immigration.
And one more for the road:
Challenger Becky Edwards has toppled Rep. Paul Neuenschwander in southern Davis County's District 20 GOP primary.
Edwards said Neuenschwander's support of school vouchers showed he did not represent the interest of voters in his district. She also questioned him voting for an omnibus education bill.
Neuenschwander questioned whether Edwards was a true Republican and hammered her for voting in the Democratic presidential primary in March.
Edwards is the daughter-in-law of former Brigham Young football coach LaVell Edwards.
So there you have it, high turnout in the Presidential primary in February (thanks Mitt!) but low turnout in June in the GOP primary. Yet four encumbents/establishment favorites went down (one open seat establishment favorite won) the voters of Utah want change in the status quo, whether or not LG Herbert or his buddy AG Shurtleff wants it.

P.S. Hopefully Shurtleff gets better and they get rid of that nasty infection.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

moral relativism

(Official Portrait of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, taken January 28, 1976. Courtesy of Wikipedia/Library of Congress)
"...under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard core p[0]rn[0]graphy. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that." Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197 (1964) (Stewart, J., concurring) (emphasis added).

[Ed.--As you have probably noticed, certain "o"s have been replaced with zeros {0} to avoid a negative rating and to keep this site out of unwanted search results, but the human brain will easily dor the necessary corrections]

I linked to this New York Times story on my sidebar, but it merits more examination.
In a novel approach, the defense in an obscenity trial in Florida plans to use publicly accessible Google search data to try to persuade jurors that their neighbors have broader interests than they might have thought.

In the trial of a p[0]rn[0]graphic Web site operator, the defense plans to show that residents of Pensacola are more likely to use Google to search for terms like "[0]rgy" than for "apple pie" or "watermelon." The publicly accessible data is vague in that it does not specify how many people are searching for the terms, just their relative popularity over time. But the defense lawyer, Lawrence Walters, is arguing that the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that interest in the sexual subjects exceeds that of more mainstream topics — and that by extension, the sexual material distributed by his client is not outside the norm.
Does something stop being obscene because lots of people look for it online? One of my favorite plays has a song which suggests that the true purpose of the Internet is to find the kind of material this operator provided. One could argue that the fact that such material is widely viewed means that lots of people secretly like to look at this stuff, not that they don't find it obscene. In fact, it is arguably because it is taboo that they want to find it.
“Time and time again you’ll have jurors sitting on a jury panel who will condemn material that they routinely consume in private,” said Mr. Walters, the defense lawyer. Using the Internet data, “we can show how people really think and feel and act in their own homes, which, parenthetically, is where this material was intended to be viewed,” he added.
Like hypocrisy has ever stopped people from condemning those who are no worse than them. Maybe in the near future defense attorneys will try to use jurors', prosecutors', and witnesses' web viewing habits against them. Publicity wise, I am sure Google is none too pleased to have its search engine used in this fashion.

The defense attorneys in this case are banking on the argument that the "contemporary community standards" of decency have sufficiently evolved to become more accepting of such explicit material. So is the Internet defining decency down? Or are tools like Google Trends just revealing people's true levels of decency?

Monday, June 23, 2008

the end of sprawl?

(Copywright © 2007 DWRowan)

Some might not like the Downtown Rising or City Creek Center developements taking place downtown. But don't count me among them for this reason:
Planners predicted it, but not this way - not this fast. Yet new urbanism - punctuated by a rush on downtown Salt Lake City - is sweeping a swath of northern Utah, a place long defined by suburban flight.
A new report reveals residential building permits in the south-valley boomtowns plunged 80 percent since last year. By contrast, the capital saw permits skyrocket to 194 this year from 13 in the first quarter of 2007.
Not that I have anything specifically against West Jordan, Draper et al. I just don't think it is wise to keep building little subdivisions and roads and houses etc. and then be surprised when there is smog, traffic, high property taxes, and nothing but chain box stores and McMansions in sight.

My wife and I could have bought a much bigger house in a suburb, but we chose to live in the Avenues because it is close (10 minutes) to downtown and the University. I would rather spend more time with my family in a smaller house than sit in traffic and get stressed out in a commute. And with gas above $4 a gallon with no sight of retreat, the mortgage bubble bursting, TRAX and FrontRunner, the LDS church's downtown development which will bring grocery stores, shopping, housing, and office space all close together, people don't have to live on 90 million south and 20 million west anymore.

Just drive around Salt Lake and even Sandy and you will see that condos are popping up like wildflowers all over the place. Has the culture changed such that people are more interested in Quality of Life than Quantity of Life? Have Utahns grown tired of keeping up with the Jensens (our version of the Joneses)? Only time will tell. But I am optimistic that the capital city will become a true urban space that will recast its image around the world as not just "where the Mormon church is" but as Mayor Becker called it a great American city.