Friday, December 20, 2013

Same Sex Marriage Legal in Utah!

I always believed this would happen, but I thought we would be one of the last states.  But dozens of couples have already wed and many more are even as I write this.  This has to be one of the greatest surprises I could imagine.

However, as I pondered today's ruling by a Federal judge, I wondered:

Did the state legislature actually HELP Utah become the 18th state to allow same sex marriage? I think so.  By passing Amendment 3 in 2004, the state provided a very specific target for a legal challenge.

"Message" bills are popular in Utah.  It sends a message to the base that the legislator is looking out for their MORAL concerns.  This might mean closing businesses on Sunday, or creating convoluted liquor laws.  But when they passed the Third Amendment to the Utah Constitution banning gay marriage, I'm sure they had no idea, they were setting up an ideal opportunity for a legal challenge.  And now, instead of being the 49th state to legalize same sex marriage, we are the 18th!  

Of course, the state has filed an appeal and an emergency stay has been requested.  But the defense is weak: will of the people vs constitutional rights; and procreation is the purpose of marriage.  It will play out in the courts.  Meanwhile, we will rejoice at this momentous milestone!

And as January approaches, I can't help wondering:  Lesson learned, dear legislators? I wonder if we'll see as many "message" bills in the coming legislative session.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Putting the X back in Christmas - redux

Dusting off and updating an old post.  

To many Christian complainers these days, "holiday" is a four-letter word. They want "Christ" to be in everything related to the month of December. They want all merchants to stop using secular or generic terms in advertising and to play only music that mentions Christ somewhere in the lyrics.

The more they protest, the sillier they become. People celebrate Christmas all kinds of ways and not all of it is geared to the spiritual--and I'm talking about good practicing Christians here. For example, why don't they object to Santa Claus? Talk about taking the Christ out of Christmas!

I'm always fascinated at the ones who abhor the use of X in Xmas, thinking it's a slur. For over a 1000 years, X has been used to mean Christ in religious words and symbol. Wikipedia:
The word "Christ" and its compounds, including "Christmas", have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern "Xmas" was commonly used. "Christ" was often written as "XP" or "Xt"; there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters χ and ρ), used in ancient abbreviations for Χριστος (Greek for "Christ"), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as ☧, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches. Nevertheless, some believe that the term is part of an effort to "take Christ out of Christmas" or to literally "cross out Christ"; it is seen as evidence of the secularization of Christmas, as a symptom of the commercialization of the holiday.
And that last sentence, there's the dichotomy. On the one hand, Christians bemoan the commercialization of Christmas saying businesses make it all about money and profit and forgetting the spiritual nature of the season. But then those same complainers literally promote more commercialization by insisting that businesses use the word "Christ" in every reference to anything remotely related to the holiday. Make up your minds, guys. The poor merchants are just engaging in good old American capitalism and trying to make a buck. They'll do whatever it takes to get you to spend your money, just please try to be consistent in what you ask for.

For decades we have referred to the time from Thanksgiving to New Year's as "the holidays". Indeed, quite a number of celebratory days fall into that time. Nobody ever meant anything sinister by wishing you a happy holiday. Those who say otherwise need to chill. Feel free to say Merry Christmas and decorate your Christmas tree. But if you're nose is out of joint over hearing Happy Holidays, you need help, brother!

Happy Xmas!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Turdblossom's Demise

An article just a few days before the election said: 
Karl Rove-Backed Groups Are Largest Single Outside Force In 2012 Election 
The independent group American Crossroads, a super PAC, and Crossroads GPS, a social welfare non-profit, set a goal to raise and spend $300 million on the 2012 election. When all is said and done on Nov. 6, they will, in all likelihood, have reached or come incredibly close to that once unbelievable goal.  The two groups, founded by Republican political operative Karl Rove and others in 2010, have already spent $271 million, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission and press releases.
 Formidable, right?  So what went wrong?  Why was the "Architect" of GW Bush's presidency unable to deliver a Romney victory to the billionaires who donated to his PAC?  Watch this video as a fast-talking Rove gives 19 reasons, and blames the election loss on everyone and everything but himself.

There are many reasons Romney didn't win the presidency, and Rove comes close to identifying a couple of them in the video.  But it's all in hindsight.  He didn't foresee those factors as a problem pre-election.  And quite frankly, everyone bought his bs, including himself, because he had a track record for delivering a presidency.  When it didn't happen, no-one was more in denial than the Turdblossom (GWB's pet name for Rove) himself.  You had to love his response to Megyn Kelley on Fox News when she tells him Obama won.  "Won what?!" 

Karl's efforts were a bust:
Of the 31 races in which the groups aired ads, the Republican won only nine. And, since the groups spent $137 million on the presidential race, less than 5.7 percent of their total spending went toward helping winning candidates, according to a POLITICO analysis.

Karl will continue to struggle, although there will be some pretense that he remains in good favor with his billionaire donors, and that his sterling reputation for buying . . . er, winning elections is intact.  But the truth is, Karl is speeding down a slippery slope of obsolescence and irrelevance.  I predict he'll pass Sarah Palin in both of their races to the bottom.

You see the problem with Karl is that he doesn't really BELIEVE in anything.  For him, elections are all about the game:  winning and losing.  His lack of ideology insulates him from the emotional side of a campaign and allows him to devote all his oversized brain power to scheming and trickery and winning at any cost.  Turns out Rove has spent all his tricks.  He was a one-trick pony after all, and he spent that trick on Bush.  He has no new ideas, nothing to offer, and nothing to show for the big, big bucks that he garnered.  The people who donated millions to his PACs are successful business people who expect and get good returns on their investments.

Rove failed to deliver.  He won't get that chance again.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Under Maintenance

I'm doing a little maintenance on the blog.  Please forgive things that appear out of order.  I'll try to have them fixed shortly.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mitt Romney- Outsourcing the 2002 Winter Games

UPDATE:  Even worse, the torch bearer uniforms were made in Myanmar (which the SLOC didn't even know was Burma).  
 --------------------------
I wondered at first why Romney didn't object at all to the fact that American athletes' uniforms were made in China.  Until I heard someone suggest that the uniforms for the 2002 games were made in Canada.  Really?  That sent me in search of my official beret from 2002.  And here's what I found.  Romney apparently had no problem outsourcing in 2002.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Governor Herbert does the right thing - trusting parents to make the right decisions for their kids

THANK YOU, Governor Herbert, for doing the right thing and vetoing HB363. I have already sent an email of thanks as well.

This bill would allow for sex education but only if it taught abstinence only, no contraception information, and absolutely no mention of homosexuality.  A real head-in-the-sand piece of legislation pushed by Utah's Eagle Forum.

At last someone in Utah is willing to stand up against the pressure of the Eagle Forum and instead do what what majority want. Remember, parents already can opt their kids out of sex ed, but only 10% do; 90% still want their kids to have knowledge. Ruzicka says, "We had 64 legislators vote in favor of that bill.  And one Republican who spends a couple days looking at it caves in to the pressure."

I see it differently. We had 64 legislators scared to cross Ruzicka, and one courageous governor who LISTENED to tens of thousands of voters.

Gayle Ruzicka, and by extension the Eagle Forum, have an inordinate amount of influence in the Utah legislature simply because of their organization and access.  But they represent the extreme viewpoint and not the mainstream--even in Utah.  And legislators are afraid of Gayle.  She can make or break your election with her infamous calling tree.  Don't cross her.

Yes, I know.  If we don't like Gayle's tactics, we should fight fire with fire and start our own organization.  Someone should.  But in the meantime, I sure wish legislators would be more inclined to consider ALL of their constituents and not just the noisiest ones.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Free Speech vs Paid Speech

Since advertisers started pulling their ads from the Rush Limbaugh show in droves, some other talk celebrities are getting nervous.  They are worried about ordinary people influencing advertisers to pull those ads--fearing the trend may spread.  And an interesting and diverse group they are:

Whoopi Goldberg:  "If you don't like something that somebody is saying, you have the right to protest. But to take away their livelihood, I think is not the right way to go."

Sarah Palin:  “I think the definition of hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize and retract what it is he said in exercising his first amendment rights . . ."

Bill Maher:  “I don’t like it that people are made to disappear when they say something, or people try to make them disappear when they say something you don’t like. That’s America. Sometimes you’re made to feel uncomfortable, okay?”
I could go on.  You've seen others yourself.

Some have said the threatened boycott of advertisers' products if they don't pull their ads has put a chill on our right of free speech.  FREE speech?  See there's the thing.  Rush Limbaugh's speech happens to be PAID speech.  Advertisers pay handsomely to have spots aired on his program.  In turn advertisers get to reach his audience and influence them to buy products.  If the advertising is not effective, advertisers will not pay to advertise and Rush will not get paid either.  That's a free market thing not a free speech thing.  Two totally different things. 

So if advertisers fear that sponsoring Rush's program will cause them to lose business, it's nothing more than a business decision to pull those ads.  As consumers, we vote with our pocketbooks and we have a powerful voice when we choose to use it.

Rush Limbaugh is a commodity.  He puts on a deliberately outrageous and provocative program that some like and some hate.  As his popularity grew, his ability to charge more for advertising grew, too.  But when he went too far and people said they'd had enough, his ability to get advertising changed.  These are market forces we all understand in a capitalistic system.  It didn't happen over night either.  Rush has been rude and crude for a long, long time.  But the Sandra Fluke three-day attack was the last straw and it broke him.

No-one is stopping Rush from saying what he wants to say.  He has all the rights we all have to FREE speech.  But if he wants to get paid to speak, he may just have to finally learn some manners.

I'm not predicting he will go away any time soon.  In fact, I've no doubt he will find new advertisers who appeal to his very specific demographic.  But we have sent a message to him and to all talk show personalities.  You may think you are just exercising your free speech when you blather on without a thought for the consequences, but think again.  You are working for the consuming American public, and as a group we are powerful and we will make our wishes known.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Governor Herbert's tardy response and what that proves about Gerrymandering

Last night on the news Governor Herbert made an announcement to the press in some cozy location in front of a pretty Christmas tree, warning us that more severe weather lies ahead with predictions of high winds--this time with snow--on Sunday into Monday.  And I have one question:

Where have you been for two days now, Governor?

I drove through the towns of Davis Country yesterday and destruction is everywhere.  Pick any random street and you will see property damage.  The sound of chain saws is in the air.  Neighborhoods have rallied to help neighbors cut up huge trees, repair houses, clean up.  I saw a housing construction site in Farmington that will have to be bulldozed.  I didn't take pictures as hundreds have already been posted on news channel web sites.  Some communities are still without power after three days.  Property damage is expected to exceed $20 million.

As I watched the governor last night, it occurred to me that we had heard not one word from any state official nor any state-level representative--let alone a congressman.  Not so much as a gratuitous photo-op in front of a downed tree.  No promises of help.  No offering of resources.

Maybe I missed something, but the highest officials I have seen making public announcements are the mayors of the cities affected.

And we in northern Utah are not surprised, as I'm sure our counterparts in southern Utah would not be either.  The powers that be in this state are so ensconced in Salt Lake, it's almost as if their world ends at the county boundaries.  If it didn't happen in Sandy, it didn't happen.

Well thanks for the weather report, gov.

And it got me to thinking further about this whole problem of representation and the gerrymandering fiasco recently perpetrated on us by a legislature intent on becoming a one-party state (as if it's not already that).  Our representation is not local, it's stretched over many counties with a meaningless mix of rural and urban areas.  There is no way our representatives can focus on the unique problems and issues affecting their constituents in individual communities when the district covers such diverse and expansive areas.  And so, the result is the smaller communities or the minorities in general get overlooked--are not heard.

As Utah heads further and further into the realm of single-party rule, there will be fallout.  Not just failure to act when people need help.  That's something that is easy to see and photograph.  But there will be greater corruption of public officials who will have too much power and no fear of being ousted from office.  There will be less concern about the real needs of the people of Utah and more focus on padding the bank accounts of elected officials and their families and cronies.

Because it always comes down to money.

And I don't blame the officials.  We know it's not their fault that power corrupts; that's a law of nature.  I blame the silly voters of Utah who just lazily check that "R" box because they think it's all about unborn babies and fail to see the real big picture of politics in Utah.

Cross-posted at OneUtah 

UPDATE: The gov may have read my blog. Today he activated the National Guard to help with cleanup and rolled up his own sleeves for TV reporters. But I still wonder why this didn't happen on Friday. Still tardy. http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=18352901&title=davis-county-hopes-to-beat-storm-in-clean-up-effort

Where are those old posts?

Just FYI, I took down hundreds of my old posts some time ago in a moment of sheer frustration with the blogging world.  I may at some point make some of those available again.  I have to give it some thought.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Finished with the War

Time to bring this one out again.


Finished with the War - A Soldier's Declaration

"I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

"I am a soldier, convinced that I am writing on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

"I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

"I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

"On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize."

-- S. Sassoon
July 1917
(Regeneration, Pat Barker, 1993)


A few pages later, his psychiatrist asks Sassoon, "Would you describe yourself as a pacifist?" Sassoon replies, "I don't think so. I can't possibly say 'No war is ever justified', because I haven't thought about it enough. Perhaps some wars are. Perhaps this one was when it started. I just don't think our war aims--whatever they may be--and we don't know--justify this level of slaughter."

I can't add anything to improve on this.

Credit: Pat Barker, Regeneration, 1993. Regeneration is a fictionalized portrayal of real life poet Siegfried Sassoon and historical events of World War I.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kern River Pipeline work closes freeway lanes

Kern River Pipeline company has been working on this area quite a long time.  See my earlier post, Kern River Pipeline Problems when part of the frontage road was damaged and closed last November.  This is a major natural gas pipeline that runs very near homes in my community.  Too near, if you ask me.

All I know is that Kern River had approval to increase the capacity of its pipeline.  I assume this ongoing construction work may be related to that.  But there seems to be no way of getting more details about what is going on.  Every day a highway patrolman is parked at the site with emergency lights on to warn drivers to slow down on the busy frontage road.  Sometimes a lane is closed.  I wonder what the work is they are doing, what the risks are, why it's taking so long, and who is paying for highway patrol presence. 

Today, part of the freeway was undermined and lanes again had to be closed.

KSL.com

The Utah Department of Transportation originally closed two lanes between the US-89 off-ramp and the I-215 on-ramp. Crews drilling under the interstate for a natural gas pipeline caused holes in the roadway's supporting base. So Sunday night UDOT closed the lanes to fix the problem. Crews also closed parts of Beck Street for the same reason. They have opened one lane on northbound I-15, but will keep one closed until at least 3 p.m.
 UPDATE:
An updated news story tells us that apparently tunneling under the freeway has resulted in collapses.  What kind of operation is this?   Does this inspire confidence?  So it does sound like they are replacing existing pipe with highter capacity pipe.  But it seems we should be paying attention to the poor quality of the work being performed here.  A natural gas pipeline that crosses a fault line in six places close to populations should be of great concern to our local governments.  I see little response to this comedy of errors from my community or others.  The highway department is going to suspend the permit to drill, and that's something.

By the way, note to the reporter: North Salt Lake is not Ogden, not even close -- but Salt Lakers are always pretty vague on anything north of the county line.  Come on KSL --- Ogden?

Kennecott expansion and air quality problems in the valley

A friend of mine provided the following information and asked me to share with my readers and urge you to pass it along to others as well.


Kennecott is requesting approval to expand their ore removal operation which, among other things, will result in increased pollutants in the Salt Lake valley.  A speaker at a meeting my friend attended stated that Kennecott is already responsible for 30 percent of the pollution in the valley.  If they are allowed to expand as requested, that contribution will increase accordingly, and we will either have a big increase in dirty air or will have to find other ways of reducing pollution that already reaches unacceptable levels many times during the year.  This is a matter of health for all of us and our families. 

Here’s the website for the Utah Division of Air Quality regarding the proposed approval of Kennecott’s request to expand their ore removal efforts by 25%. It explains the expected increase in pollutants.
http://www.airquality.utah.gov/Permits/DOCS/IN0105710028-11.pdf

There will be a Public Hearing at 6 :00 pm, Tuesday, February 22, 2011, Utah Air Quality Boardroom 1015, 195 North 1950 West, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Please send your written or e-mailed comments by close of business on March 8 to: Nando Meli Jr., Engineer, Phone: (801) 536-4052, e-mail: nmeli@utah.gov, or the address above. Put this number on all correspondence: DAQE-IN0105710028-11.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nothing More to Say

 There's an oldie, "This page left blank intentionally." I seem to remember it originated in the 80's, was it IBM who did it first?, and then we all jumped on the bandwagon -- just as we were also dressing for success and trying to be upwardly mobile.

When I think about those days, I just sigh and shake my head. How silly we were about things that just didn't matter. How temporary the "wisdom" of the time.

In the technical writing world, this practice has been all but abandoned.  We leave pages blank at the end of a section or the end of a document and feel no need to explain why.

This page was part of a mailing from my insurance company received just yesterday advising me of its privacy practices.  There were, in fact, two such pages in the packet.  I supposed they figured if they didn't put that statement there, I might think something was missing -- that I might not simply understand they had nothing more to say.

And I thought immediately about this blog of mine, so neglected for so long.  Perhaps I need to post one of those "intentionally blank" pages.

It's not so much that I've run out of things to say.  It's more a matter of lack of fire, lack of passion.  I have felt extremely subdued for a long time now.  A month or so ago I went back and read old posts in this blog and realized how irrelevant most had become.  I had passion then, but the topics were temporary, and my words now sound empty even to my own ears.  As a result, I took down nearly all the posts on this blog except those with videos I like and posts that still get a lot of Google hits.  By "take down" I mean I put them back into edit mode rather than delete them.  I can still see them myself but I no longer publish them publicly.


I thought when the Utah legislature convened this month I would surely feel passionate enough to start writing again.  There are plenty of idiotic things happening up on the hill this year, like every other year.  But it just keeps occurring to me how temporary all of it is.  Next year it will be something else, and the next year something else.  And suddenly I'm not sure if it's my discouragement that we never see any improvement, or simply that it just seems not worth expending personal energy and strength to write how I feel about it.  I just can't bring myself to pick a topic and write.

It feels wrong to be silent.  I feel some obligation to speak.  But without the fire that moves me to do it, anything I write is just hollow.  So for now, this page is left blank intentionally.  Until I find my old voice or a new one and a passion for the topics that belong on this page.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Would you shop at Barnes and Noble?

I like book stores and prefer them to online shopping when it makes sense.  However, today, thinking of the fast approaching Christmas, I thought I would just order some books for my grandson online.  There were 40% discounts on the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.  I ordered those and a couple more.  But when I entered my member number to get my discount, it said my membership had expired.  Sigh.  Okay, I'll run down to the store after work.

At the store they checked and said indeed my membership had expired.  So I renewed the membership and proceeded to check out a pretty good stack of books.  But the "Wimpy Kid" books were all ringing up at full price.  Wait a second, I told the cashier, aren't those 40% off?  She tells me, oh these are the hard cover, you probably want the paper backs.  As there was no helper around who could go and get them at the time, I paid for all the other books except those and returned to look for the paperbacks .

Alas.

They do not come in paperback.

I learned this when I returned to the front of the store and spoke with two other workers.  So I questioned why the books we not on sale in the store when they were online.  Forty percent is a significant difference in books that are $16 and $17.  Well!  The two workers were eager to inform me that in the store we have to pay their wages and the light bill.  They got a bit huffy.  So I thanked them and said I'd just order them online in that case.

Or so I thought.

When I again entered my member number online, it again informed me that my membership had expired.  So I called the customer service line and asked if they would help me with the order.  I was told by the nicest of people that even though I had, in fact, paid my $25 in a store to renew my membership, the computer system wouldn't be updated for 24 to 48 hours.  But . . . but . . . but . . . it's nearly Christmas and these books are for my grandson.  Oh, she assured me, the books will definitely arrive by the end of next week.

I couldn't help it, I just started laughing.  We both laughed.  I told her it's pretty hard to imagine in this day of instant everything when I can surf the internet on my phone, that it takes up to 48 hours for a store computer to update the company computer.  Boggles the mind.  I asked her if she would please submit a complaint on my behalf at this unbelievable lapse in service for their good and loyal members.  (I did not go so far as to say the word "Amazon".)

But with her assurances, I am waiting and will try again tomorrow and maybe the next day and try to order.  If I am successful, I can get three books for less than the cost of two in the store.  If I'm unsuccessful, I'll go back to the store.  But then, will the computer know that I've updated my membership?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kern River Pipeline Problem?

What's wrong with this story?
Portion of US-89 closed through Monday

NORTH SALT LAKE -- UDOT is closing a portion of Highway 89 over the weekend to work on repairs.
The closure will affect the northbound stretch of highway between the Beck Street ramp in North Salt Lake and Eagle Ridge Drive. UDOT says the closure comes after word that maintenance work on the Kern River natural gas pipeline in the area may have weakened the roadway subsurface.  UDOT expects to reopen the road by 6 a.m. Monday.  Drivers are advised to take Interstate 15 to 2600 South to avoid the closure. 
 Something tells me there's more to this story than we see here.  What maintenance?  How exactly did it undermine the road?

Let's remember what we're talking about here.  The Kern River pipeline is a natural gas pipeline that received special permission to cut through the foothills above Bountiful and run along the south end of North Salt Lake to save 20 miles on its way to California, in so doing crossing the Wasatch Fault line 6 times and coming within 50 yards of residences in North Salt Lake.  The company was granted and recently put into place an increase of delivery from 1200 psi to 1333 psi. 

Since they aren't telling us the whole story, we can only read between the lines.  Something went wrong.  Something unexpected happened.  But what?

Here in North Salt Lake, we were assured when the pipeline was originally built that it was extremely safe and not a threat to anyone.  I didn't buy it then and I don't buy it now.  Our representative at the time, Jim Hansen, was silent and refused to become involved -- I think because he thought it might stain his anti-environment/pro big oil reputation.  But that's just my thinking.  Despite huge public opposition, the pipeline easily won the government approval it needed.

The pipeline right-of-way is easily visible as a long straight scar across the mountains and foothills of Bountiful and North Salt Lake going south, and then turning west and running past the site of the defunct gravel pit currently being developed commercially.  Looking at Google maps, it appears that houses may be even closer now with more recent construction.
I'd like to know more facts about this latest incident.

Also see an update to this post here. http://slcblues.blogspot.com/2011/02/kern-river-pipeline-work-closes-freeway.html