Planning ahead…

February 9, 2007

Perhaps the human race can look past the present and contemplate the future. Not only that, but it can do it in a constructive way.

The Norwegian government will build the Svalbard International Seed Vault “to safeguard the world’s agriculture from future catastrophes….” The collection will be maintained by the Global Crop Diversity Trust. See the story at the BBC.


The balance of power, or my legislature can beat up your executive

February 8, 2007

Administrative rulemaking is an admittedly dry part of government. Its dryness doesn’t make it any less important. Rulemaking comes about because, among other things, the executive branch has expertise. Legislatures, especially part-time legislatures, simply don’t have the time or the expertise necessary to craft laws of requisite detail and depth; nor should they be expected to.

Yet sometimes the legislature desires to assert authority over the executive. Expertise is no substitute for being the people’s representatives. (There is a certain degree of truth to this, but I don’t want to get into a philosophical discussion of which branch amongst the three branches is the most equal; at least not right now.) In New Mexico, the state legislature is proposing an amendment to the state constitution to allow the legislature to prohibit “regulatory rules” (a redundant statement here in Utah) from taking effect until reviewed and approved by the appropriate legislative committee. The legislature would need to do this by law if it so desired (for the text of proposed amendment, see Senate Joint Resolution 14 at the New Mexico State Legislature.

New Mexico has done it right, in one sense. If the legislature is going to assert this type of control over the executive, then it must be done via a constitutional amendment. Any statutory attempt would be subject to a separation of powers attack, or so I suppose. By amending the constitution, that attack is sidestepped. The governing document of the state will allow this incursion into the executive. Is this a good thing?

When we tout the values of limited government, are we only talking about limiting the executive? I don’t think so. All branches of government must have some limits, even the legislature. But here we have a state legislature essentially doing an end run around the principle of separation of powers, around the principle of limited government, in an attempt to arrogate power. I think that this is wrong.


January 20, 2007

This is cool: An animation showing the linear pi from Wikipedia.

Salt Lake City main library

September 28, 2006

This is really kind of an interesting experience. I’m taking a little time from work this morning and hanging out at the Main Library in Salt Lake. The lobby is open; the library itself isn’t open until 9 AM. The interesting thing is the number of people sitting at the tables in the lobby waiting for the doors to open.

There are probably 25 to 30 people waiting; much like the lines that you can see at the Family History Library owned by the LDS Church. And yet very different. Those waiting here seem to be mostly male, mostly carrying lots of bags, mostly I would say homeless. The library seems to be a place for the homeless to congregate in Salt Lake.

I suppose it makes sense. The library is a public place. They can stay as long as they want as long as they behave themselves. It’s warm and sheltered. A number of inexpensive places to eat are nearby (yes, the homeless buy hamburgers at Burger King).

People are getting up from their seats and lining up in front of the door which has just now opened. A lot of people seem to be heading straight to the public computer terminals. While the homeless have no physical address, I suppose they can have a presence on the ‘Net as easily as anyone else. And games. So many games. So many ways to pass the time when there seems to be nothing else to do in life except roam the streets asking people for spare change. So many ways to lose yourself in another world and maybe forget the difficulties of this world.

What do we mean by patriotism?

September 11, 2006

What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest what we mean is a sense of national responsibility…a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.

Adlai Stevenson

Orion XT6, a waxing moon and Jupiter

August 29, 2006

So I got this telescope for my birthday; a gift from my wife and daughters. I am no astronomer, and star-hopping is a difficult skill to learn for this terrestrially-directionally-challenged old man. But tonight the moon is waxing, and though it was low in the west, it was nicely visible from our yard.

I quickly pulled the Orion XT6 outside, discovered the moon in the finder scope, and looked through the 10mm eyepiece. It was a wonderful site. The moon was setting quickly though, so I looked for something else to observe. There was a very bright object slightly north and east of the moon. I had no idea what it was, but acquired it in the finder scope, then looked through the eyepiece: there was Jupiter and four moons. My wife and daughters came out; everyone looked. All the appropriate oohs and ahhs were uttered. It was very cool.

KT McFarland, campaigns, and parenting

August 22, 2006

According to a story at NY1 News, KT McFarland is “suspending” her campaign subsequent to her youngest daughter’s arrest for shoplifting.

Political campaigns take a lot out of the candidate. In a way, I think they take even more out of the candidate’s family. Nothing is private any more; everything is made available for public consumption. A candidate needs to be very convinced of his or her desire for office and of the appropriateness of that desire for office before committing to the campaign. A candidate also needs to make sure that the family is on board with the decision.

How does the candidate decide between the campaign and the family, if ever there is a cause to have to decide between the two? My personal belief is that the family should come first. But then I’m not running for anything. Are there times when a candidate should sacrifice the family?

The man in the arena

August 21, 2006

It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

Warrantless wiretapping unconstitutional?

August 17, 2006

The article “Judge nixes warrantless surveillance” tells how U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has declared the NSA’s program of warrantless wiretapping to be unconstitutional. I haven’t read the opinion, and I haven’t read the ACLU’s original complaint, but my gut reaction to the decision is that it’s right.

I wonder about the contention the government makes, again as told by the article, that the program is within the president’s authority but proving this “would require revealing state secrets.” What might have to be revealed in order to prove scope of authority? birthday: All the best

August 17, 2006 celebrates its birthday. See Lorelle’s post and Matt’s.

WordPress is a great package. My brother, the technical one in the family, is using it to create family web sites at and What a great tool! My very best wishes to the crew at!