Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Legislative Mutations

Good news! The Utah Evolution Bill Died!

Personally, I think it is good that the legislature and school system discussed the foundations of scientific theory. I think there needs to be an ongoing debate about the foundations of discourse and reason.

While I think the debate is good. The problem with a legislative debate is that such debates end by passing laws. Any law that the legislature passes will end up having a negative effect on the schools.

It is good that the House rejected the bill!

On the bad news side of things, the Utah Senate took out the incest exception on their parental consent bill (Tribune). Apparently the thoughts are that a father who loves his daughter so much that he has sex with her should be the one to determines what happens to her body.

I like that the Utah bill provides a strong anti-abortion sentiment. But, damn-it, we have to protect those people in our society who are in extremely bad situations. A girl who is living in terror of her family should be protected from that terror. Yes, the state should make a strong anti-abortion statement. That statement, however, should not involve things that would do great harm to the young woman.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Government Ownership

There is one problem with the Dubai Port World deal that I didn't want to get into.

DPWorld is owned by a government. There is a strong argument against allowing a foreign government to own businesses in the US (especially those related to infrastructure).

The problem with goverments is that governments tend to be rife with political motive and might use a business to try and force political decisions.

I didn't jump into this issue as most of the reports I've seen have focused on the UEA and not the government v. private investment argument.

There could be a good argument for blocking the deal based on the UAE's ownership of Dubai Ports World. Such a decision, however, should be based on a general policy against government ownership and not on the ethnic background of the country in question.

All of the blogs and news reports I've read focus primarily on the country of origin and not on the government v. private ownership issue.

An Open Society and Security

I am surprised that so many people are opposed to the Dubai World Port Deal. Conservative writer Michelle Malkin reprints and article with a popular take on the subject. Apparently, she and many people see the DB World Port's ownership of US ports as a gap in the US border and therefore a gap in US security. Perceiving DP World as a gap in security, they project onto Bush a sense that US security policies are incoherent. Perceiving the deal primarily as a security threat, people think that Bush must somehow be selling out to the rich emirs of the UAE.

I actually think something else is going on. I think there are fundamentally different ideas about security.

For most of history, security was seen as a matter of keeping "them" out. Fuedal lords saw security as a matter of building large walls and city states. A good example is the Great Wall of China and the numerous city states of Europe.

The walls were often breached, and societies still pillaged. In many cases the feudal lords inside the closed societies proved worse than the dangers outside the walls.

An open society takes a different approach to security. An open society seeks to establish security not by building walls but by building strong mutually beneficial links between their society and the outside world.

Those holding to the view of the Open Society would see the DP World deal as one that enhances security by helping build mutually beneficial links between the USA and UAE.

DPWorld is a capitalist enterprise. Like all capitalist enterprises, they want to protect their investments. The idea that a capitalist enterprise would jeopardize its equity by supporting terrorism is rather ludicrous. The management of DP World is apt to be a strong partner of the US in fighting terror.

With the Open Society view of security, the Dubai Ports World deal fits within a coherent security strategy that encourages the establishment of mutually beneficial links between the US and the Arab world, while actively confronting the enemies of the open society.

Yes, if you hold to the fuedal view of the world, DPWorld deals is incomprehensible. The United States, however, has a long tradition of taking the open soceity approach to security where we establish our security through a large number of mutually beneficial links between our country and the world at large.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Heber Valley

While I wait for my server to heal, I thought I would add a few new photos. Here are some pictures of Provo Cayon, Midway and Heber. We've had a few hot days and a substantial amount of snow melt.

The Heber Valley grew substantially after the 2002 Winter Olympics. I am not sure, however, if the growth will continue at its rapid pace. Apparently, several of the industries like Bear River foods, Back Country Store (etc) have moved to larger towns. That leaves the real estate industry and the tourist industry. Both industries react negatively to sprawl.

Midway sports some nice gothic revival architecture and a number of quaint Swiss style chalets. If they can stave off the reputation of being a sprawl city, the future for the area is bright.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Server Problems

The server hosting Community Color is getting on in age. Performance started degradating a few weeks ago. At the peak of the day, it is taking over 30 seconds to access a page. After extensive testing, we've decided that it is time to move to a new server.

So, I disabled the add link and add calendar events programs until we can complete the transfer. Sorry about the slow times and the inconvenience.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Health Care Corruption

The 2006 Global Corrumption report will have a focus on corruption in health care.

Corruption in healthcare is one of the major reasons why we should favor free market reforms of health care such as Medical Savings Accounts. A MSA takes the money that would be going into your insurance policy into a bank account. When you visit a doctor, you spend the money from your account in a 1-1 transaction between the doctor and clinic. A straight on 1-1 transaction is the best way to assure that both sides of a transaction are playing fair.

The modern insurance model uses a bizarre form of many-1 transactions. You are in a pool of many that negotiatiates with the healthcare industry. As this system evolves, economic power moves out of the hands of the patients and doctors and into the hands of the power brokers that control the big pools of resources.

As the power brokers gain more and more power, they tend to become more and more corrupt and we end with the with present day situation where, despite a large number of technological advances in delivering care, basic health care is no longer affordable for large numbers of Americans.

If MSAs were to become the norm and health care transactions were once again on 1-1 terms between doctors and patients, we would see a dramatic reversal in the both the corruption of health care and a major drop in the cost of basic health care services.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I stuck labels on another pile of pictures. The first set shows the Sand Flats Recreation Area near Moab. This recreation area is set on a ridge overlooking Moab and the Colorado River Canyon. The recreation area includes the Porcupine Rim Trail, The Slickrock Trail and several jeep trails.

The second set of pictures shows the Slick Rock Trail. The trail is a major attraction of Moab. The trail winds through several miles of sandstone mounds and fins. The trail is quite difficult.

The final set of pictures is of Mill Creek Canyon just to the south of the Sand Flats Recreation Area. The canyon entrance is a short walk from downtown Moab. The canyon includes several towering fins, swimming holes and towering sandstone cliffs. A trip that includes both Sand Flats and Mill Creek Canyon will give a vacationeer a good feel for the area.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Dewey Bridge

I finally labelled the pictures for the Dewey Bridge and Cororna Arch trail. The Dewey Bridge is the namesake for the Dewey Bridge member of the Entrada formation. The Dewey Bridge formation is on top of the Navajo Sandstone. It erodes away quickly ... which is why you often come across large areas of exposed Navajo Sandstone.

The Corona Arch Trail is a fun short (3 mile round trip) walk near Moab. The trail crosses exposed sandstone and involves a few traverses and scrambling. It is a good place to test one's legs on the slickrock. Unfortunately, the group I was with was pressed for time and turned around before we got to the killer shots of Corona arch. I guess I will have to go back.

And God said, Let there be evolution...

I lost the bet. The Utah House passed the intelligent design bill. Evolution in Utah has the current text.

The house pretty much ripped out direct mention of Intelligent Design. The bill they passed is really a I lost the bet. The Utah House passed the intelligent design bill. Evolution in Utah has the current text.

The house pretty much ripped out any suggestion of Intelligent Design. The bill they passed is really a nonsensical statement trying to emphasize that scientific theory is theory. It is unclear what the bill actually expects teachers to do.

The bill basically says that in "origin of life" classes, you must refresh your class on the nature of the scientific method.

This is stupid because there is no such thing as an origin of life class. Students have classes in chemistry, biology, anthropology, archaeology, geology, etc.. Any of these classes have elements that touch on the theory of evolution.

The dominant religion body in Utah holds that "correct archaeology" was revealed to a seer and prophet. Archeaology is a morality lesson where God continually is smiting groups. Anytime a teacher touched upon secular humanist archeaology they will need to emphasize it is a theory. A teacher could notattribute the petroglyphs and pictographs on the walls of Utah's canyons to the Fremont or Anasazi people without a lecture about how this is all theory.

Imagine trying to teach on the Navajo reservation. A student asks where they came from. A teacher is afoul Utah law if they they try to talk about the Athabaskan Migration that suggests that the Dine' migrated into the four corners area in the 1400s. The teacher would have to go through a convoluted lecture on how secular humanist archeaology is one of many creation myths. "Correct Archeaology" as revealed by the prophet says the Dine' are descendents of an evil wicked people who sinned against God and were smited so hard that they turned red!

If you take the ID bill to its logical conclusion, a teacher taking a class on a field trip in the mountains would be afoul the law if she said that the sandstone outcropping in the foreground was older than the granite mountain in the background. In the bible, the Sandstone Canyons were created at the same time as the granite cliffs.

Saying that sandstone is a sedimentary rock that was deposited over millions of years presupposes the old earth vision held by secular humanists. A teacher who dares say that the limestone cliffs were built up from coral reefs in an ancient sea would have to preceed the statement with a long lecture on the origins of life.

A Utah teacher could not suggest that DNA models could help trace genealogy because such models run counter to revelation. Any teacher wanting to talk about DNA would have to begin with a lecture about how this is all theory.

Physicists are pretty much in the same boat when trying to describe current understandings of astronomy. The whole science of measuring the distance of stars in light years is based on a secular humanist view that the universe is old.

There is not an isolated little "origin of life" class. There is a great deal of ongoing, interconnected research in geology, biology, anthropology, chemistry, physics, archeaology with seems to be broadening our understanding of our situation. Yes, it is all theory.

I actually think it is great that the legislature wants to discuss the fascinating topic of the orgins of life ... for that matter, I am really not that unhappy with the wording of their law. To understand science, students must engage the subject with a critical eye. The problem with a legislative body debating such issues is that they end up with weird mandates that force distortions in the curriculum.

Even worse, the adminstration of such a bill will end up in another layer of ugly politics in schools.

My next bet is that the Governor will veto the bill. So far I am zero for three on this issue. I never thought it get out of the Utah Senate.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Castle Valley Photos

I uploaded some pictures of Castle Valley. Castle Valley is an interesting opening on the Colorado Plateau between the La Sal Mountains and the Colorado River. Castle Valley is Northeast of Moab.

I am also adding galleries for campgrounds and hikes in the area for things like Big Bend Recreation Site.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Moon Over Arches

Here's a fun Moon Picture. I took this picture from Sevenmile Canyon. (near Moab). You can see cars on Highway 191. The red fins are in Arches National Park ... the distance cliffs would be over the Colorado River.