Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Zionus Exitus

Like a splinter that the body eventually purges itself of, I now find myself being pulled from the index finger of this pretty, great state, with hopefully plenty of metaphorical blood and pus left behind to demonstrate that I got my hooks into things while I was here.

I told myself that I was going to wash my hands of Utah blogging when I moved, so if I choose mental health, I shall cease to dilate on the political and social goings-on in Utah. They say you have to hit rock-bottom before you realize that things have to change, so I wanna give a shout out to the Utah Lege for helping me come to that realization.

So, if anyone cares, here's some things I would like to say before I get out:

Thanks to Ethan for being the glue that holds the fledgling Utah blogosphere together.

Thanks to Alta Ski Lifts Company for givin a fellow a place to get above it all.

Thanks to the University of Utah for doing the seemingly impossible - being a beacon of reason and a cultivator of critically-thinking minds in a state bound by dogma and go-alongism.

Thanks to the City Weekly for its efforts to poison the minds of Utah's youth.

Thanks to Rocky Anderson for showing us what real values-driven leadership looks like.

And before I go, I'll humbly ask the brethren to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ more and those of Boyd K. Packer less. You've got alot of people that listen to you and I think if you allow people to follow the dictates of their own conscience more, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how perfecting the Saints begins with their own individual moral reasoning.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No Taliban comparisons here. None. Zip. Zilch.

Well, it seems that Paul Mero got some takers. Although this is an official government resolution that establishes a preference for (at the very least) a monotheistic religion and relegates women to wifery and homemaking, we should not draw any similarities between between this and the policies of the Taliban. None. We should also refrain from noting that polygamy flourished under the Taliban as it does in Southern Utah. Furthermore, if any Taliban comparisons made, we must always shoot the messenger.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"I said everything I had to say when I pulled the movie. OK? Anything else you want to know?"

Since we have to glean what Larry Miller "said," I'll take the first stab:

"Ladies and Gentlemen:

Many of you have voiced your discontent with my decision to pull Brokeback Mountain from my family-friendly theatres. My reason for this is simple: films that portray homosexuals or those with homosexual leanings as sympathetic and human figures are immoral. Many have pointed out that past features shown at my theatres have included homosexual characters and, to some degree, depictions or descriptions of homosexual acts and have used this to illustrate inconsistency or even hypocrisy in my judgment. What these people have failed to realize is that for years Hollywood could be relied upon for producing homosexual characters that are flamboyant, one-dimensional freaks created solely for the purpose of superficial entertainment. With Brokeback Mountain, it is clear that homosexual characters are now being portrayed realistically and placed in situations that causes viewers to self-reflect and to ponder new ways of attaining a heightened morality and developing compassion for their fellow man. Since I have an ardent desire to become more Christ-like, it should be obvious to everyone why I pulled Brokeback Mountain."

"Others have attempted to paint me as a moral hypocrite by pointing out that while Brokeback was cancelled, Hostel and other films that glamourize murder and other violent acts were permitted to be screened. The contention made here is fallacious. It is widely known that violent films have no effect on the actions of individuals, specifically children and teenagers. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about films involving homosexual subject matter. Upon witnessing the ridiculously giddy and glamorous ending enjoyed by the characters in Brokeback, our young men would be tempted and likely corrupted into the homosexual lifestyle. As a pillar of this community, I have an obligation to ensure that the youth of Zion never think for themselves and perish in the inevitable personal destruction that would result."

"Please soften your hearts and consider the 0% financing I have to offer on our new '07 SUV's. Innenamajesuschristamen."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

See it then comment on it

"Gay," "cowboy," "love story." All words enough to make everyone cringe. It's alot like "polygamists," "desert," and "green Jell-O." Buzzwords that are sensationalistic, demeaning, and nowhere near accurate in describing the subject matter they're ascribed to.

Thing is, the film and the short story aren't nearly so one-dimensional. Annie Proulx's grasp of rural language and behavior are reason enough to read/see Brokeback Mountain. If you grew up in the rural West, it's alot like going back home to Randolph, Elko, Duchesne, Loa or wherever. The "gay" thing, as Proulx and the movie have constructed, is simply an observation of a seemingly foreign element disrupt how things seemingly should be.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

More Utah "morality"

Here's a couple of family-friendly flicks you can catch at Jordan Commons:

Hostel. In this uplifting and enlightening film, we witness two backpackers who grow tired of the drugs and whores that Amsterdam has to offer and take off for a resort town in Slovakia that promises stronger drugs and cheaper whores. There, they are subject to the macabre enjoyment of a sadistic hostel owner of which the film doesn't skimp on in terms of graphic depictions.

The Ringer. Here, Johnny Knoxville fakes being mentally retarded (are you laughing yet?) in order to rig the Special Olympics. The mocking of those with mental and physical abilities is the primary source of knee-slapping, gut-busting laughs.

What you won't see is Brokeback Mountain. Based on a short story by rural author Annie Proulx, Brokeback is a film depicting two kids who find themselves with an "unnatural" attraction and grasp everything they can to lead normal, fulfilling, and heterosexual lives. The acting is superb, the dialogue golden, and the subject matter prone to inflict philosophical and moral rumination on its viewers.

But in Utah, we are all about morality on the surface. What good is morality if you can't use it to wag your finger in the face of others? Real morality, where you seek to become a better person based on the dictates of your own concience and ability to reason, is hard. It's just so much easier to wear certain "morals" on your sleeve rather than instill them in your heart. Just ask Larry Miller.

Friday, December 23, 2005

If only we could grow soybeans in alkili flats

For a while now, Steve Urquhart has been talking about how federally-owned land in Utah would solve all of our fiscal problems if only those greedy feds would give us "our" land back. Putting the 75% the state that is federally-owned land into private ownership would, as the logic goes, increase total property tax revenue. Unfortunately, more land on the assessor's rolls does not equal more property tax revenue.

Iowa is the state with the most amount of privately-owned land. As such, it pulls in some $3.3 billion in property tax revenue, divying it up to some $1,118.51 per corn-fed, salt-of-the-earth Iowan. Compared to Utah's $751.91 per person, it would seem that more privately-owned land does bring in more dough. However, Nevada, the state with the most federally-owned land in the lower 48, brings in somewhere near $930.88 per person. Idaho, similarly situated, does $889.62. With the vast majority of private property in Nevada being in Clark County (Las Vegas), it seems that tax performance in the West largely relies on assessments in urban areas. Furthermore, Iowa's tax receipts are what they are because it is a flat, wet, and arable state that has more (traditionally) economically productive land.

The way we make land perform in the west is getting the most value out of the scraps of habitable land that we do have. There are a myriad of ways to do this, but the most effective way is to increase density. Mr. Urquhart has identified the lack of land in places like Washington County as a need to "homestead" the federally-owned red dirt around St. George. What is more striking to me, however, is the under-performing real property in the historic heart of St. George. Density increases in Downtown SG would increase property values while hopefully giving it somewhat of a pulse. Unfortunately, with the St. George beltway proposal, it looks like we're on our way to covering the red rocks with pre-fab, ranch-style dwell-pods. And, as an added bonus, it looks like we might be using the same strategy with Legacy (but gee, federal judge, we spent all our money on the freeway already!) to compel the feds into letting us chip away at BLM land. Whatever the case, we've got to be smarter about land development and stop relying on the proven unsustainability of mindless land consumption.

Below is a graphic of federally-owned land in Alaska and the lower 48. It's kind of pretty, dont you think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bad spending = bad air

Out West we like to think that our big open spaces insulate us from the need for effective environmental protections. To some extent, that's true in a lot of places, as the 500 miles of desert and mountains between major Western cities allows us to dump our crud into the environment without alot of immediate consequences.

Unfortunately, that's not the case along the Wasatch Front. Our water ends up in a dead sea that, when embedded in an exposed lakebed, conjures up dust clouds full of mercury and other toxic shit that finds its way into our modest rivers and streams. What we put into our air is often shoved in our faces and down our lungs as the mountains around us hold our air in the valley and, as they are older and wiser than us, seemingly seek to make us immediately realize the consequences of our collectively crapping into the air.

What a coinkydink, then, in the same day the Tribune publishes one article about a medium-city's failure to comply with EPA air standards, another one shows up about Senate leadership poised to build more roads. It appears that the gentlemen in the Senate are not listening to what the mountains are telling us. More roads equals more particulates.

For those that think that clean air is just a bone-headed hippie rallying cry, chew on this: roads are more expensive and less efficient than transit. So Lyle Hillyard has a constituent that wants "freeway to drive on." Does he really feel that this "family state" should spend its money on a damn freeway - which just generates its own traffic anyway due to its inducement of land development - rather than making sure that its children/elders/health-deficient can go outdoors on certain days?

Roads are expensive and they are bad for your health. So why is a cash-strapped state government, with a modest growth rate, pedal-to-the-metaling on their construction?