Sunday, August 31, 2003

Yep, turns out that writing a Site of the Day for multiple towns is a rather boring, unprofitable way to spend a day. In towns like Moab I have fewer possible sites to review than days in the year.

For Provo, I just came across a gem ofa site: The Provo Canyon School. This is a reform school located in conservative Mormon Utah...a place with archaic beliefs toward discipline. So I wrote a review that includes both the pro and con views of Provo Canyon School.

Friday, August 22, 2003

I went to the Lollapalooza concert at the new USANA Ampitheatre.

This was my first trip to the USANA Ampitheatre. The ampitheatre was built on the largely undeveloped far west side of the Salt Lake Valley. This is one of the last areas of the Salt Lake Valley to be hit by the massive waves of development that paved the valley from the Oquirrh Mountains to the Wasatch Mountains. The grass fields in the foot hills of the Oquirrh were spared development largely because of fear of chemicals leaching from the Kennecott Mine.

I suspect USANA chose this land because it was among the least expensive large plots they could get in the valley. It also saved the organizations the hassles of fighting the NIMBY's that have managed to completely thwart development within Salt Lake proper for the last half century. NOTE, the actually population of Salt Lake City is dropping with the suburbs swell. The reason is that it is next to impossible to remove old structures int he NIMBY controlled city.

Anyway, it is a real pain to get to the theatre. My guess is that the amount of money spent on gas to drive out to the theatre each year will exceed the cost of buying the land and building the structure. It is a good example of the way developers externalize costs. The goal of a developer is to push off as much cost onto society as a whole. Power comes from your ability to force others to pay for your excesses.

Back to the concert. The show itself was quite melange of mixed messages. The The Axis of Justice had a booth that distributed literature on various cause celebre. There were also big fat gas guzzling pick ups, Hummvees and Jeeps on display each screaming about the fun of getting out into the desert and tearing up some wilderness.

Audioslave has been quite active on many issues. This makes the show more interesting. In the middle of a rather violent sounding song the pop out a peace sign. In a clearer mixed message, Jane's Addiction had three scantily clad girls dance on stage as they sang tongue in cheek about the dangers of getting mixed up with the wrong girl.

Of course, I see the whole set of mixed messages to be very disturbing. The last several years, we are seeing more and more things that are getting the way of our ability to communicate.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

I don't know why I didn't notice it before. Anyway, while at the new Salt Lake City Library I saw they had an auto check out station. It is really cool. You can check out your own books. I simply scanned in my library card, and ran the books through the scanner, and was finished.

A marvelous technology. Of course it means one less librarian job.

Monday, August 11, 2003

I finished reading Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. Being a gentile in Salt Lake, I found the book to be quite depressing. The same group think mantality that led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre and widespread coverup (involving a few thousand LDS in So. Utah) that followed.

The problems that define the local church come out clearly when looking at the polygamous cults that exist on the fringes of the city. The philosophy of the religion is simple. There is an "us" and there is a "them". The "us" are moral and righteous. The "them" are evil and corrupt.

"Truth" is revealed to the prophet, seer and relavator at the top of the hierarchy. Truth then flows through the political hierarchy. There is no independent object criteria for truth. It pretty much reduces to whatever is good for the body politic.

It is really funny how this organization that defines "truth" as relative to the body politic lambasts the scientific community for moral relativism as scientists have accepted that they do not know truth.

As there is no truth, the Mormons tend to concentrate solely on image and anecdote. (A lot of the local culture seems to revolve around this strange thing called a testemony, where people try to find an essense of revelation in personal stories.)

Back to truth, as truth is simply a matter of adherence to the body politic honesty simply reduces to the simple appearance of honesty.

In doing business, you will often find the management pulling these self destructive stunts and everyone simply turns a blind eye to the self destruction. The group think mantality simply doesn't have the ability to repair itself. For example, about a dozen people knew that Ron Lafferty intended to kill Brenda Lafferty. But everyone managed to hide the truth in their little illusions of the world and let the self destruction take place.

For example, Krakauer points to the abuse of welfare from the Mormon polygamists. The polygamists simply look at the government as the beast, welfare and tax abuse is simply a matter of bleeding the beast.

Of course, these faults don't just exists in Mormonism. For some odd reason, the people who've laid claim to a superior spirituality or morality seem to do a good job of hurting the people that have the misfortune of knowing them.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Been There. Done That.

I can now add downloading and playing an internet movie to my "been there, done that" list.

I downloaded the Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets flick from MovieLink. I used the paid service MovieLink because I happen to be one of those old fashioned drones that hold the outdated ideal that people should pay for the things they use. Anyway, the movie was 850 MB. It took 8 hours to download over DSL. The MovieLink download manager worked well. The download manager let me turn off the download when I wanted to surf the net. So the download didn't get in the way of the other stuff I was doing. I eventually just let the download run overnight.

MovieLink is a bit anal about rights, and they had annoying things flashing at me about rights. Sheeshkkk, you would think they would realize that the people using their service are the goodguys who are using their program specifically not to pirate their work, and would have cooled it on the copyright messages.

I think everyone interested in the technology, copyright, etc., should try the program. You get your first movie for half price. The list price for the HP movie was $5. I paid $2.57 for the movie. It was a fun program. Unfortunately, I am broke. So I don't know if I will use it again. Hopefully there will be other distributors in the pay for download market.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The Nova Special Fire Wars brought up an interesting observation. Toward the end of the special, they discussed the amount of green house gasses released by wild fires and the role that fires play in the various heat and energy cycles.

From about 1910 to the 1980s, the forest service engaged in total fire suppression. The result is that during these decades, there was an unusual amount of carbon sequestration in the forests. The forests became excedingly dense. The main thing that means is that todays' fires have more fuel and are stronger and hotter.

From a carbon content view, it also means that the forests were pulling substantially more carbon than they usually do.

Now, I am wondering what this means for global warming. The extra carbon sequestored during the total suppression years was basically just stored for release in this decade. This feeds the doom and gloom crowd's view that global warming with hit hard and with a vengeance in the upcoming decades.

The conservative view would use this as justification to return to total fire reduce green house gasses, and to beef up logging operations...since landfills are the great unnatural method of carbon sequestration.