Monthly Archives: November 2005

One of the more depressing things about living and working where I do is that it seems to be a concentrated set of examples for a phenomenon that I noticed back in Corona: A good number of young men and women in their twenties are being tragically under-utilized. Over half our department is overqualified for the position that we now hold — a couple absurdly so. College degrees and years of experience are being dedicated to jobs that could be handled by inexperienced high school grads with decent grades.

This isn’t a complaint so much as an observation.

It seems odd to make this observation at a time when our school system keeps seeming to get worse and worse and we seem to have fallen behind past generations. I don’t pretend to understand it myself, really. But it seems that out here in particular, a better education system (and a family structure more conducive to a good education, I’d wager) only serves to push down the wages of the educated.

There is a rather high concentration of phone centers in the area. Long-distance companies, satellite television, ISPs, and during the last election political polls are being done in this area. Why? Because they can find more educated people willing to work for a lot less money than they have to pay less educated people in the city. There is a surplus of well-spoken, personable individuals. And where there’s a surplus in supply there is no premium placed on it.

I find myself wondering what we can do to better utilize this talent, where it exists.

But what many of us seem to have in education, we lack in attitude. Some within the department feel this job is below them and function accordingly. I think a number of my peers (the ones that went to college) expected to land straight into the middle class. I think that the expectation is higher and so the disappointment is greater and so the performance is lesser. Curiously, there doesn’t seem to be the ambition of starting your own company as there might be. Curiouser still is that those out here that do want to start up their own business seem the least mentally equipped to do so.

Unfortunately, I come from the Ironic Generation, where irony reigns over all things, including self-interest. It seems that a lot of the smarter people just double-back on themselves, aware that the path to success is littered with failures and appreciating (and exagerrating) the odds and repercussions of failure. Though I can’t speak for others in this area, I was coming up through grade school when Ronald Reagan was president and a number of my teachers had a rather dour view of the man and presented Reagan’s America as one where you can’t succeed because the game was irreversably rigged in favor of the big corporations that fund the Big Gipper.

Maybe my experience was unique. Whatever the case, the cynicism and apathy isn’t particularly helpful. I find it particularly sad when I’m one of the more ambitious people of my generation.

Category: Coffeehouse

This is a follow-up to my Plakids post and Barry’s thoughtful reply.

Somewhere in between instilling one’s values and handing a child a semi-automatic weapon is taking them on protests and rallies… but then again some might say that a July 4th rally is no better or worse than an anti-war rally (both being unquestionably correct to the person taking them to the rally)… but I view them in entirely different contexts.

It’s an interesting question, philosophically, where instilling one’s values begins and indoctrination or even brainwashing begins. Most Christians will raise their children as Christian, which some might liken to what I’m complaining about above, though I don’t find anything wrong with that as long as it has appropriate restraints. I have little patience for those that would turn out their own kids for being gay, getting pregnant, etc. On the other hand, if one believes the Bible to be the literal Truth of God and take Leviticus to view homosexuality as a sin, then it’s hard to take a squishy ‘tolerant’ view of gays.

Similarly, I don’t have a problem with taking kids to an Independence Day Parade. How different is that from an anti-war protest? Both are intuitively true to their boosters. After all, who’s “pro-war” or “Anti-America”? The answer is a lot of people, of course, and a lot of people who attend the former will view it as attempted indoctrination later in life (particularly when in college).

In some ways I think parents are somewhat duty-bound to pass on their values to the next generation. Their kids may accept or reject these values later on, but I have difficulty putting my arms around the notion that values should be determined from a blank slate from one generation to the next. Just the practical implications are horrifying. In some ways, I think, generations have been too liberal in rejecting the wisdom of their elders. It seems to me that the curse of the baby boomers has been a reluctance to acknowledge that their parents were right about some things. At war with growing up to become their parents and therefore in many cases choosing not to grow up at all.

I guess it’s somewhat the difference between passing on values and passing on worldviews. Values, such as justice, freedom, or morality, can be applied in a number of ways. Values imply questions while worldviews suppose answers. Maybe that opens up a slippery-slope back to complete moral relativism, but just as I think it’s important for children to acknowledge the wisdom of their elders, it seems to me to be important as well for them to build upon it with new ideas.

An Independence Day parade represents, to me, a celebration. Not the proclamation that America is perfect, but a day to celebrate where we are. Some years that seems harder to do than others, but it seems more important when we have a President with approval ratings in Hooverville and an opposition that’s faring little better. War protests, on the other hand, often seem less to me about building peace than going after war (and the elements that have driven us to war). The same goes for an anti-abortion protest, seeming less about celebrating life than screaming and shouting.

In both cases, I guess, the stakes are high. Thousands or tens of thousands dying in war or millions dying by abortion. But in some ways that makes it even more important to me to leave the children out of it. They will have time later to attack the weightier issues of the world. They will, hopefully or unfortunately, pick their own battles to fight. It just seems wrong to enlist them in someone else’s.

Category: Church, Statehouse

Abel is singing the praises of the TV show Lost.

I feel like a freak whenever this show comes up in conversation. I saw the first half of the first season, and though I found it a bit addicting in an oh-gosh-what-happens-next sort of way, I couldn’t find much good to say about it other than that. I dunno… it seems kinda needlessly melodramatic at points – if there is any plot that doesn’t need melodrama to be worthwhile, it’s one about being stuck on an island with monsters and freaks. The commentary also pinpointed another problem I had… they kept saying that you know everything you need to know about a character in the first bit of their introduction (Shannon painting her nails, Boone trying and failing to help, etc). I like characters that need more explanation. Only Michael seemed particularly interesting to me. I liked Locke, too, but doesn’t everybody?

Yet everyone else I know (except Clancy, who holds it in even lower esteem) seems to absolutely love it.

If it comes about that they really start answering questions later on, I will probably watch it all on DVD, but I fear it’s going the meandering, destinationless route that X-Files went.

Not to rain on anyone’s parade. I think it’s totally awesome to be completely captured by a television show.

Out of curiosity, though, Ethan mentioned one character as being a lottery-winner. Which one was it?

Category: Theater

Sometimes work is a constant search of things to listen to while you’re working. Simon has taken to the whole podcast craze. A while back he stumbled across It’s by two former members of The Brethren that have dedicated themselves to “exposing” The Church. In a testament to Simon’s intellectual honesty, he also listened to the pro-LDS Mormon Stories podcast. I actually listened to some of both as well and found it all interesting, though I’m obviously more ignorant of some of the backstory than is Simon, who was raised in The Church.

But one thing that caught my attention in the anti-LDS podcast was an episode with his daughter. He took issue with something his daughter was being taught in school about Deseret and LDS history and sent his daughter back to correct the error. I’m not going to get into what the disagreement was about, but it was a pretty minor affair. Even to the extent that he was right and the teacher wrong, it rubbed me the wrong way for him to drag his daughter in to it. He can say that the school is the one that dragged his daughter into it, and though he may be correct, it is unlikely that the lesson plan will change and if that’s his goal he should take it up with the school directly. Considering local culture, I would probably not even do that as it would likely change nothing except make my child’s life just a little more difficult as an outsider. Of course, it’s fears like that which would prevent me from raising a child in Deseret to begin with, so being that he is binded to the area I can appreciate his dilemma a little.

It reminded me a little bit of Michael Newdow, the atheist father who sued on behalf of his daughter (without the legal standing to do so) to get the pledge stripped from public schools. Honestly, I think the words “under god” ought not be in the pledge and to the extent they are, Newdow was probably technically correct. But point-of-fact he used his daughter to make a political point. It would be one thing if the daughter went home in tears and was already distraught, but that was not the case.

I feel the same way (except much more strongly) about involving kids in political events. I grouse at parents that have a little three year-old girl holding a placard supporting a position that they could not possibly understand or an eight year old who may understand it somewhat but is not aware that there is another point of view that may be equally supportable. There’s a reason that they’re not allowed to vote, because they’re not old enough to understand the issues. The children of most Republican parents will become Republicans. The same goes for Democrats. Fearly on you eye current events with the perspective you are raised to. This is true even when parents don’t talk politics. It’s not even a bad thing as it is important for parents to pass on their values to children. But the leap from “You should help your fellow man” or “You should earn what you get through work” and representing your own opinion as your child’s is not a small one – even (and especially) when they’re perfectly willing and happy to do so because they love their mommy and daddy.

Category: Church, Statehouse

Back in Colosse there is a somewhat prominant megachurch pastor and TV evangelist named Ross Garrett. His attendance was usually in the five digits and he is big enough that he has the President’s ear on matters of social policy. Though I never went to any of his services, I am told he is phenomenal and the one sermon of his I’ve heard backs that up.

The family I worked for at Wildcat was full of fundamentalist Christians. Politically, my boss Cal was pure Pat Buchanan and his son-in-law Red was more George W. Bush. During the run-up to the War in Iraq, there was a difference of opinion and a sort of rivalry broke out as they each tried to convince the rest of the gang that their cause was more just in the eyes of the Lord. Being the one with the CD burner, I was caught in the middle of this struggle.

Red gave me one of Pastor Ross’s sermons that directly addressed the coming war. Garrett declared our President a Man of the L0rd that we should follow as a good shepherd, Saddam was satan incarnate, the French are a joke, Clinton was to blame for 9/11, and those that opposed the war were analogous to the Germans that looked the other way while Jews burned. But Garrett has a way of making even the ridiculous sound sublime. It makes for interesting listening, whatever one’s opinion of the above individuals and the war might be. It was sufficiently interesting to me that I kept a copy of it until it got stolen with the rest of my CDs. It wouldn’t surprise me too much if the thief heard the sermon and begame one of Mr. Garrett’s congregation. The man is that charismatic.

But back to my copy of the CD. It was an illegal one. You see, Pastor Ross charged $3.99 for every copy of his sermons. I found this to be ethically quite interesting. First, there I was making illegal copies for some rather moralistic individuals. Second, I was making illegal copies of a sermon. Isn’t the point of a sermon to be heard? If Ross Garrett is spreading the Gospel of our Lord, shouldn’t priority A-1 be for as many people to hear it as possible? I understand that the church has to raise money and pay bills, but neverminding the extravegant mohogany doors and all that jazz, isn’t the primary goal of a church to spread the Word? Isn’t the money-raising supposed to be a means towards that end? Making copies of sermons not only doesn’t cost the church any money in absolute terms (there are opportunity costs, but see above), but it provides free advertising both for the church and the Word it professes to be in the business of spreading.

I suppose “business” is the operative word.

Category: Church

Kate the Peon takes a point-by-point on Maureen Dowd’s essay on modern relationships. So, too, will I.

I. Dating
Relationships are unfortunately a negotiation. Don’t show your hand too early and all that. With guys this is more about expressing emotions, with women it’s more physical. A guy who says “I love you” in earnest has lost a lot of leverage if he’s not satisfied with the sexual progress of the relationship. A girl who sleeps with a guy that has not had to demonstrate emotion or attachment is less likely to be able to get him to do so at a later date.

II. Money
I can’t really think of a point where this has ever been a problem in my relationships or even the relationships of my friends. I’ve never minded paying, never minded being paid for. Same goes with most guys I know. Not sure how much this is really an issue.

III. Power
This one works both ways. Are men intimidated by women with more power? Some, surely. But a lot of women are uninterested in men of a lower station and that skews the statistics. Part one is that men are willing (or desiring) to marry their secretaries in larger numbers. Part two is that women are unwilling (or desiring) to marry theirs in larger numbers. Unless one believes that it’s a bad idea to marry out of class, I’m not sure that either is right or wrong. So says the codemonkey that married the doctor.

IV. Sex
On the whole, I’d probably rather be a guy than a girl in the dating and sex world. Even if you’re expected to do most of the initiating and face rejection at every turn, at least there’s something you can do about it. A lot of being a woman is waiting for some guy to do something, cause if you do something it might be looked upon unfavorably. That’s one double-standard that most assuredly exists and, in my opinion (though others disagree) quite favors men.

Category: Coffeehouse

One of the more humorous things of living out here is that you run across articles like this one, which looks at the alarming number of restaurants offering alcohol with food. Twenty-six in a town with a population of roughly 60k and nine private club liquor licenses.

Deseret limits the proof of alcohol, making the beer out here weaker than beer elsewhere. The exception is for private clubs, which require membership. The aforementioned Deseret town has a whopping nine clubs.

On the Shoshona side of the Deseret/Shoshona border, is Buchanan. By most accounts, Buke is the liquor capital of the country. Unsurprising since it’s the closest out-of-state location for a majority of the state. U of Deseret, Deseret A&M, and Beck State U, the biggest universities in the state totalling over 70k students, are all within a couple hours drive. As is Gazalem, the state’s capital and largest city.

Simon and I actually talked about Buchanan last night. Apparently his fiance Paige has a shirt that says “Buchanan, Shoshona. Whirl in, stumble out.”

Deseret, on the other hand, has its homegrown beer, Polygamy Porter (motto: “Why have just one?”).

Category: Downtown

Clancy and I were having dinner at Pizza Hut the other day and the day before at Perkins’s Restaurant and Bakery.

  • there was a party going on while we were there. Not sure what they were celebrating, but they had a cake. The problem? They had no way to light the candles. They went around from table to table asking if anyone had a light, but no one had so much as a match. Only in Deseret…
  • My ability to tune people out surpasses Clancy’s. There was a couple of college students (I’m guessing?) sitting at the table beside us. They were quite gregarious and one suspects that they were either drunk or something else. When we left, Clancy listed off the things about their life that she really didn’t need to hear. I, meanwhile, was able to tune them out almost entirely. One wonders if there is an evolutionary reason for men to be able to tune out women, put in place for the propagation of the species…
  • I watched our waitress stand there for over five minutes without a thing to do while my full Mountain Dew glass sat there on the fountain, failing to quench my thirst. That’s one of the most frustrating things in restaurants. You ever stand at a fast food place, looking at every component of your order sitting there in the chute with all that’s required for your culinary pleasure is someone to put it together? I hate that!
  • While we were eating, I felt a bulge underneath the sleeve of the sweatshirt I was wearing. I reached in and pulled out one of Clancy’s socks. No idea how it got in there. In the past I’ve found a pair of underwear on my calf and a sock on my hamstring. No idea on those, either, but what do you do when you’re at work and you have an extra pair of underwear on your possession? I threw it out.
  • Pizza Hut should have never changed their logo. Their old one was the bomb, but their new one is sloppy. I feel the same way about the WW(F) wrestling logos. The old looked like a real league sports steal. The new one looks like a kid playing with crayons.
  • When Clancy and I ate at Perkins we each independently decided that we would forego a main dish in favor of an appetizer and a couple of sides. When the waitress took the order to the back, we heard the cook exclaim “What the heck kind of order is this?”
  • The service at Perkins was notable primarily because it wasn’t dreadful. It’s interesting how there can be two restaurants, both that probably pay their waitstaff about the same, and yet one ranges from decent to good and the other from awful to decent. Maybe I should write about HR cultures at some point.
  • I’m one of those take-your-hat-off-when-you’re-eating kind of people. It’s sad to me when a father walks in with his two daughters and he wears his hat. No manners, I tell you.

Category: Downtown