Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Music Online: Mike's World & Pandora

These are the two best ways I know of to listen to Christmas music online.

First, for a list of Christmas music playing radio stations from around the world, there's Mike's Radio World. From North Dakota to the Netherlands, they've got a pretty good list for your listening pleasure.

Second is for when you want no commercials (ever), and have a specific artist or genre in mind. Pandora. For the uninitiated, Pandora is an online music source which picks songs that are similar to ones that you like. This way, you can create your own "stations" based on a favorite song or artist. For Christmas, I've created stations based on Christmas music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Andy Williams, and Bare Naked Ladies. You can even set it up to select from multiple stations, so you get a little of everything you like.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Okay, little brother. You got one. Good job, good game, good luck in the BCS. Here's hoping Urban Meyer doesn't give you the little brother treatment.

As for the rivalry little brother, this year hearkens back to 1988. You hadn't won in a long time, and you came out and hung a bad loss on us. But, in your euphoria this year kid bro, don't forget what happened in '89. 70 to 31, and it was 63-10 in the 4th quarter.

So enjoy it while it lasts kiddo. Cause next year's gonna hurt.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rivalry Week

Q: What's the difference between a Ute and a dollar bill?

A: You can still get 4 quarters out of a dollar bill.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Edward L. Glaeser: Want better schools? Hire better teachers

"The clearest result from decades of education research is the importance of teacher quality. My colleague Tom Kane finds that students who are lucky enough to get a teacher in the top quarter of the teacher-quality distribution jump 10 percentile points in the student achievement distribution relative to children who end up with less able teachers. Improving teacher quality has about twice the impact on student outcomes as radically reducing class size."

Monday, November 10, 2008

IBD: It's Not Taxpayers, But Tax Takers Who Aren't Doing Their Fair Share

"Since the war on terror began in 2001, Washington has sounded an intermittent drumbeat for the wealthy to make a greater "sacrifice" in the form of higher taxes. The dubious charge is that these taxpayers have been shirking a duty performed in other conflicts.

The accusation bears reviewing, and its inaccuracy needs to be refuted...

America is not undertaxed. Washington is overspent — but not as a result of the current conflict. The sacrifice truly called for is on the spending side. And it would not have to be large.

Last year's federal deficit was $161 billion. As large as it sounds in nominal terms, it was 1.2% of GDP and just 5.9% of total federal spending. Less than a 6% cut in spending would have eliminated the federal deficit.

So the next time the call for "sacrifice" comes from Washington, America's response should be: Lead by example."

Additional reading:
The Achilles Heel of a Progressive Income Tax
Tax Cuts for the Rich: 1999 vs 2007
Repeat After Me: The Poor Pay No Tax

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Coming Soon: UTA to Eagle Mountain

Eagle Mountain's Proposition One, of which I wrote about here, to bring EM and Saratoga Springs into the UTA taxing district, passed by healthy margins. 76.5% of EM and 66.8% of SS voters voted in favor of annexation.

I emailed a councilman and the mayor of Eagle Mountain before the election to express some concerns and questions I had about the proposition, but I did not receive a response. The week before the election, EM hosted a "meet the candidates" night, and as part of that meeting the mayor subbed for a UTA official to speak in support of the proposition. After all the candidates had given their 3 minute speech, each went to their assigned spot and met one on one with voters. I was able to talk to the mayor for a few minutes, and ask her the questions I had emailed before.

The mayor's view was that EM desperately needs mass transit, this is a great opportunity to get federal funding for it, and it won't mean a huge increase in local taxes. I asked her why these bus lines would cost so much money, and she didn't know. I asked her if there were any other alternatives to UTA for an express bus service, and she didn't know.

The city councilman I emailed posted his view on his website. It reads much the same as the mayor's view. Transportation is something that falls under government jurisdiction, EM really needs a bus service, and if we join now we can get $600,000 in federal grant money.

I had a few problems with this proposition.

First, I felt really uncomfortable with the fact that I seemed to be the only one asking the question, "is this the best we can do?", and perhaps even more uncomfortable with the fact that no one seemed able to answer it.

Second, I didn't like that one of its major selling points was that it came with "free" federal grant money.

Third, both the city councilman and the mayor dismissed the sales tax increase as minimal because Eagle Mountain currently doesn't have much in the way of retail sales establishments - meaning most residents shop in communities that already have the UTA tax. However, a quickly growing city of 25k+ residents will have shopping at some point. So it will cost taxpayers money.

Fourth, the bus fare is expected to be $160 a month. At a gas price peak of $4, it cost me about that much to drive my own car. With rapidly falling prices, it costs me substantially less. With a single car pool partner, my commute cost is cut in half. And I don't drive a special, expensive, gas saving vehicle - I drive a 2003 Toyota Corolla. It simply does not make financial sense to subsidize a bus system that costs me more to use than it does to simply drive myself.

It very well may be that that final point encapsulates my hesitation at this new UTA bus line. My personal commuting situation, coupled with a rise in gas prices, caused me to make changes in what I drove and how I drove. They were not drastic measures. They were simple actions taken to better manage my personal economy.

This UTA line would basically remove those incentives to change. And it costs substantially more - particularly to those not interested in riding a bus. Perhaps this thought line can be summed up best by an excerpt from a comment I received on my previous UTA post. The comment comes from Frank Staheli, a former city councilman whose city faced this same decision during his term:
Others could cut costs in similar manners, but most people don't look for alternative solutions, because government solutions make sluggards of nearly all of us.
That's the rub. This bus line was sold as a "something for nothing" proposition. We'll get $600k in federal money, pay next to nothing in sales tax ourselves, and Poof! we'll have a bus line. No one has to take personal responsibility for change, no one has to find alternative solutions of their own.