Live 2012 Utah election results map/chart

Utah presidential, federal and state office election result maps can be seen here:

  • Utah presidential, federal and state office election result maps can be seen here:
  • The Changing Freshmen Experience

    I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how things have changed over the last few years and decades. It seems like only yesterday I was a freshman in college living in the dorms. Living with roommates was a new experience for all of us. We all had great times together and formed friendships that persist even to this day.

    We were almost always together in groups, sometimes small and other times large. We knew everyone on the floor by name, and even many of the people from the floors above us. Our dorm room doors were rarely closed, and we felt comfortable just walking in and out of each other’s rooms at will, which was not always ideal, but yielded close bonds (and a few embarrassing moments). It was a very friendly, accepting atmosphere.

    I struggle to figure out how we spent our time during those golden days. I didn’t have a cell phone or a computer, and many of my peers didn’t either. Facebook was just in its infancy, and blogs were far from popular. My primary access to the Internet was nearly half a mile away in the campus library. Sure, video games were played–it was a guys’ dorm after all–but this was largely a community event.

    Our jokes and fun were punctuated by late evening discussions about our dreams, frustrations, and fears, further strengthening our friendships and motivation to move on to more and better things. I owe a lot to my roommates. They helped me realize that a little silliness and laughter is necessary to smooth out the rough edges in life and that there is so more to school and education than getting good grades.

    Several months ago I came across a cell phone in the basement lab where I was working on campus. Even the best of carriers has no service deep inside the concrete, so the cell phone remained quiet for several days.

    After locking up the lab one evening, I decided I needed an adventure, or at least a change of pace. The seemingly never-ending homework, projects, and midterms were taking their toll my sanity. I needed something to break the monotony.

    I grabbed the abandoned cell phone and decided to help it find its way home. After fiddling through the phone contacts, I finally came across the owner’s phone number. Using knowledge of some lesser-known resources available, I did a reverse-lookup on the student directory and found an address. The student apparently lived in one of the guys’ dorms nearby.

    I walked around the dorm complex until I finally found the correct building and floor. I finally found the room I was looking for, but after knocking repeatedly and receiving no response, I decided to try the other rooms on the floor. Thinking back to my days as a freshman in the dorms, I figured nearly everyone on the floor would know the person I was looking for.

    I was wrong.

    I knocked on several neighboring doors. Several times the door was opened to a dimly lit room eerily lit by the blue light of a computer. After repeated negative responses–nobody seemed to know the person I was looking for–someone suggested I talk to the Elder’s Quorum President down the hall (a student leader generally charged with knowing each of the people on the floor). I was kindly directed to his room.

    The president, however, also had no idea who the person was I was looking for or even if he lived on the floor. It seemed so absurd to me. Nobody could confirm or deny whether this student lived on the floor! I ended up leaving with the cell phone still in hand.

    Oh, how things have changed! The people on the floor seemed so isolated and out of touch with their neighbors and roommates. I walked out of the dorm grateful for my experiences as a freshman, and saddened that these students won’t enjoy the atmosphere and bonds that so defined my freshman experience and changed me for the better.

    The Lost Passion of Reading

    According to a study profiled by the Daily Telegraph, "less than half of children aged nine to 14 read fiction more than once a month".

    That's sad. Not in a pathetic sense, but downright gut-wrenching.

    My wife and I recently organised our meager collection of books. Looking through them made us long for more time to read and also appreciate our parents for teaching us to love reading. There is satisfaction from finishing a good book that can't be mirrored in watching a good movie, wading through Wikipedia, or reading blogs and other articles. And yet I tragically find myself to be like the majority of youth. I love to read, yet rarely read more than a book each season. Why?

    Source: Aha! Jokes
    Part of it has to do with assigned reading in English classes in junior high and high school. Ironically, I probably read ten times the word count prior to high school than I did in and beyond. English class, while it exposed me to various genres, forced me to analyse literature. I no longer was reading for fun, but was required to find the deeper meanings in the text. It didn't help when a teacher interpreted something differently than I might. It wasn't that I couldn't understand what I read; that just wasn't my goal. Since reading was no longer chosen and performed for enjoyment, it quelled my passion for books.
    Source: Immivasion
    But for another large factor I can only blame myself. I love content absorption, and with so much quality content on how things work, on history, on language, and anything else simply a click a way on the internet, it's easy to fill my time learning. Often, though, the learning is surface deep, because the analysis is already done. I'm sure this will be even more dangerous for the generations to come, and I hope to teach my children, as my parents taught me, to love books as much I did then, thirsting for knowledge as well as wisdom and understanding. But above all, finding the lost passion of reading.
    Source: CartoonStock

    Thank You, Sterling...

    The last post was written by Sterling, a friend and guest blogger. I hope to convince him to write here again in the future, so let him know how great his article was by commenting on it!

    Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Texting, Friends, and Scholars

    I’ve written previously about the effects of texting on social behavior (Daily Universe, 10/19/2010), primarily citing an enlightening study published in a Wall Street Journal article (10/14/2010). While determining the long-term effects of texting on social behavior and norms requires more time and study—after all, texting is in its relative infancy—we can with some fidelity envision the results of certain trends.

    The marginal moments seem to be quickly occupied with texting. In the past, these moments of idleness, at least in many situations, were used to get better acquainted with those around you. Recently I was perplexed at how the people near me seemed to be ever at the beck and call of some colleagues offsite. I was relegated, albeit unknowingly and inadvertently, to second priority. What little I had to say never seemed to take precedence over digital friends. Ironically enough, my relative importance would have likely been boosted if I texted my associates.

    Observing people attempting to study has often been somewhat humorous. I recall seeing a young coed seated across from me in the library who couldn’t get through a paragraph of reading without responding to a text. This continued on for probably an hour or so. Admittedly, I was distracted by this curious behavior. I can imagine her questioning how she could do so poorly on a quiz after spending so much time reading and preparing!

    What will these behaviors yield in the long-term? It’s not hard to imagine people with large pools of shallow friendships—relationships built on a core of brief digital transactions—and fewer genuine friends. It’s also not hard to imagine lower attention spans—and consequently lower academic achievement—across the population.

    Perhaps a real premium will emerge for true friendship and true scholarship. Those willing to put in the time and effort to form deep and lasting bonds will be few and far between. Those willing to make the sacrifices necessary to become true scholars will likewise be rare. Only time will tell.

    Response to a Misrepresentation of Muslim-Americans

    I read this the first time a few years ago and again was sent it recently. Its true origin is unverified, but there are several overly-sensational points that undermine the very American principles we hold dear, not to mention logical fallacies, and I wanted to defend Muslim-Americans as the Americans they are.

    The main issues I have with the document are as follows:

    • Arabs are equated with Muslims by the author. There are plenty of Arabs that are not Muslims, and there are plenty of Muslims that are not Arabs (only 12% of Muslims in the world are Arabs, and 75% of Arab Americans are Christian). An Arab belongs to an ethnicity; a Muslim belongs to a religion.
    • The facts have been distorted to be more dramatic: one male's throat was possibly cut, not "throats of women in front of children". I mean in no way to degrade the serious nature of 9/11, but this is a clear point in which we can question the author's credibility.
    • He asks how to tell the good Muslim from the bad. You might ask the same thing to someone of my faith: "How do I tell true Mormons from those that are polygamist and/or abusive?" Or: "How do I tell the dangerous thief from the law-abiding citizen?"
    • The distinction of "our" vs. "they" infers that American rights are not applicable to Americans of a certain race or religion. But an American is an American, regardless of background or superficial classification.
    • Sadly, millions of non-Muslim Americans also don't pray for this country and respect the flag and patriots. They too should be under condemnation.
    • Muslim leaders have come together across the nation and the world condemning violence and attacks in the name of their religion. There are many terrorists who kill in the name of some cause or another. How about the IRA, or the Oklahoma City bombers?
    • Proportionally, the number of Muslims that died in the 9/11 attacks (roughly 60, or about 2%) was a bit higher than that of Muslims in the overall US population (about 1.5% using higher estimates). There are about 15000 enlisted Muslim soldiers in the military. This was a national tragedy that cut a cross-section through every community and subculture.
    • To ask for hard facts on Islam is like asking for hard facts on Christianity, or Buddhism, or Hinduism. There is no centralized leadership with Islam, and as such the schools of thought are vastly diverse (as with nearly any other religion). We only have to look to the deviant offshoots of my own religion to see how interpretations can be twisted. Spread that out to Christianity as a whole, where love and peace and tolerance are taught, and explain the many cults and fanatics that are out there.
    • Of course, every Muslim knows someone on that list of 400 persons of interest...
    • The author doesn't seem to take issue with the burning effigies or flags we perform in our own streets, or in other non-Muslim nations. Compound that with the one-sided media the general populace in some other countries receives, and of course there are misunderstandings. But wait, weren't we talking about Americans in this article?

    In the end, the author is the one who worries me. He has made up his mind that the idiomatic "innocent until proven guilty" can be disregarded should one member of a group be found guilty. Ignorance like this can only be dissolved by spending time among those we don't know and don't understand.

    As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I've been incorrectly associated with groups simply due to the coincidentally shared history our church has with the FLDS and other splinter groups, and this has helped me better understand the danger of stereotyping before learning from your own personal first-hand experience.

    I've also had the opportunity to teach and discuss among Muslims and Arabs alike, both here in the US as well as in France. I've met refugees who have left their own countries as victims of greater afflictions at the hands of terrorism, people who were overjoyed in tears with the news of an oppressor's downfall. Those that suffer most are those that share the culture and heritage of the guilty.

    I hope most Americans don't lash out like the author does. Too often, people fight over differences (and often both sides are at fault) rather than finding commonalities.

    You can read another response to the text here.

    France and the Right to Strike

    Last month, strikes nearly crippled the French economy, costing up to 400 million Euros a day. Unions vowed to continue until the bill in question, which would raise the minimum retirement age (with pension) from 60 to 62, was thrown out. Turnout peaked at an estimated 3.5 million (France has a population of 60 million), and even today strikes turned out 375,000 protestors despite the fact that the law has been passed by both chambers of parliament and simply awaits a signature from its most vocal proponent, President Sarkozy.

    Source: CartoonStock
    Now, strikes are nothing new in France. In fact, they're quite commonplace, the right being guaranteed in the current form of their Constitution. I do believe in freedom of expression, assembly, and speech. The irony in my mind is that these unions are making demands to the government by inconveniencing those that are not in charge. Shutting down transportation only hurts the common citizen, who is trying to earn his keep. What about the tourist, who is disgusted by the garbage piling up on his visit to a supposed magical adventure to France? As far as the government is concerned, other than political pressure, which becomes less and less powerful as the frequency of frivolous strikes increase, these things come and go and it's not too painful to sit it out. These days negotiation doesn't even begin until a strike is begun. In the meantime, France's credibility and attractiveness suffer.

    Source: CartoonStock
    Said Charles de Gaulle, first president of the current republic, "La France ne peut être la France sans la grandeur" (France cannot be France without greatness). It is positioned to help the world into the next great age. But it needs to live up to its potential.

    To the people of France: we know you're upset. You have two alternatives: accept the reforms that are done for the long-term benefit of France, or vote in new leadership that believes as you do.

    And, rather than biting the hand that feeds you, you could always join the private sector.

    Source: fuffernutter