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Six Pack on the Dashboard

By on May 27, 2012 in News | 0 comments

Recommended reading for the week ahead. Short Fiction: Jennifer Egan serialized her upcoming short story for The New Yorker through a series of tweets. In this blog post, she explains the attraction of developing a character and writing “poetry” for Twitter. Also, manager of editorial programming for Twitterm Andrew Fitzgerald (@magicandrew) accurately spotlights the effort as a continued evolution of Twitter as a creative platform. Mountain People: Anita Thompson waxes poetic at the Owl Farm blog about the attraction for writers to live in the mountains and relatively off-the-grid. She includes an insightful excerpt from a piece Hunter wrote about Hemingway’s Idaho in 1964, in which he says the writer’s greatest frustration is trying to make sense of a world that won’t stand still long enough to make sense. Anita then throws some insight of her own into the post, talking about why Hunter loved Woody Creek: “From such a vantage point, a person tends to feel that it is not so difficult, after all, to see the world clear and as a whole.” Story: Ken Burns explains what makes a great story in this short video. Two Americas: David Simon encouraged Georgetown graduates to fix the world in a way his generation, despite great optimism, never could. His entire speech is posted on his blog here. An excerpt: “There cannot be two American experiments, one for the fortunate and another for the rest.” Ghostown+: Brands may hang a shingle in Google+ but few of them are actually investing in it, according to this very informative article from Advertising Age. Seth Says: True stories are never true. Digital parking meters are a failure of engineers who seek to recreate instead of advance. Four tipsfor completing a task. All from the wicked smart brain of Seth Godin....

Six Pack on the Dashboard: Journalism

By on Sep 26, 2011 in Journalism, Six Pack Updates | 0 comments

Free on-the-go reporting and free GIS tools. Free apps for journalists. Free yourself to fail. Plus, second-screen battles the business side of hyperlocal news sites. Here’s six articles that won’t waste your time, especially if you’re a journalist. 1. Mapping the News: Geotagging news stories is a capability I wish I knew more about and something I wish I could utilize more often. This is a nice write-up of some introductory tools that I aspire to dabble in soon. 2. Chicago Tribune Tools: List and links of open-source apps and programs developed by Chicago Tribune staffers. 3. Think Small: The problem for many start-ups, especially those with localized missions and little funding, is thinking too big. This is a nice essay about why “small ball” strategies that build on early successes are important. 4. Second Screen: Strategies for winning the “second screen,” which is whatever people use to supplement a viewing or reading experience — i.e., checking stats on the smartphone while watching a football game. 5. Hyperlocal Biz: The founder of Spot.us joins UC-Berkeley j-school staff to help their hyperlocal news sites with biz development. He about the challenges and possibilities. 6. Spotting news: 10,000 Words highlights a cool app (iOS and Android) that allows people to report news while out and about, including location, multimedia and other news reports in the area. It’s called meporter, and it’s pretty cool. Blog post is here and video is embedded...

Election 2012: Predictions

By on Nov 9, 2010 in Featured, News, Politics | 0 comments

Last week, the curtain closed on the 2010 election season. It mostly goes without saying that it’s been a a pretty wild midterm season (even though I just said it…), thanks primarily to the Tea Party insurgency. Utah wasn’t left out of the fun, either, despite becoming even more of a one-party state. Thankfully, for political junkies, that one party has a few sub-parties, most of them trying to out-conservative each other. Enough rambling, eh? After all, what I promised was predictions for 2012. A disclaimer: These are predictions made from my gut, which means I have not asked any of the politicians if they predictions pass the “sane” test. Frankly, most of them probably don’t, which makes them fun. After all, if I simply said that every incumbent is going to run for the same office, would you want to read any further? No. Okay, the predictions: U.S. Senate: Jason Chaffetz vs. Jim Matheson. This isn’t a crazy suggestion, especially with Chaffetz. He may not be committing to run against Sen. Orrin Hatch, but he is certainly not denying it. It wouldn’t surprise me if Hatch doesn’t even run, but chooses to retire rather than face the same fate as Sen. Bob Bennett. As for Matheson, I think two things happen to push him towards the Senate. First, the next two years will be tough for him in the House. He’s lost many of his Blue Dog friends and the Republicans are going to corner to “fiscal conservative” market, basically leaving Matheson in a congressional limbo. Second, redistricting Republicans could try to make Matheson’s district more conservative, or even push him into the new 4th District. His response will be to try to beat them in a statewide race, which he very well could do. Chaffetz still wins, but it’s very close. U.S. House, District 2: Morgan Philpot vs. ????. If indeed this district does get more conservative in redistricting, it would do so by having less Salt Lake County. Philpot earned his stripes among party faithful with his campaign this year, and while an open seat would bring out a dozen Republicans, Philpot will have the groundwork in place to win this seat. As for the Democrats, I’d love to say that they will have a legitimate heir for Matheson, but who? U.S. House, District 3: Gary Herbert vs. Steve Urquhart: In redistricting, this district picks up Washington County so as to carve more of Utah County and southern Salt Lake County into District 2. Chaffetz’s jump to the Senate opens this seat, and multiple Republicans will jump in. Herbert joins the fray, surprising everyone who expects him to run for another term as governor. But as with all governors, he dreams of Washington, D.C., and 2012 is his best shot. Urquhart has been chomping at the federal bit for years, and this gives him a shot. Herbert wins in a primary, which (of course) means he wins the seat. U.S. House, District 4: Peter Corroon vs. Josh Romney: I’ve said for months that Corroon’s gubernatorial bid was really a dry run for a U.S. House seat, and although he lost a lot of goodwill with his late negative tactics, he solidified his credentials as the No. 2 Donkey (Matheson being No. 1) with the Democratic base. Frankly, most Democrats were happy just to see one of their candidates actually throwing punches. Oh, and he proved he could raise serious cash. That makes him nearly a lock for the party’s nomination in the 4th District, which will be as close to a “Democrat friendly” seat as possible. Most likely, it incorporates a good chunk of eastside Salt Lake County and heads northeast, capturing Summit County and most of the Uinta Basin. As for Josh Romney, who lives in the Millcreek area, the possibility of being on a ballot headed by Mitt Romney for President would be very attractive. It would also make Josh Romney pretty much unbeatable, meaning that the Republicans would, once again, have all of the federal seats in Utah. Governor: John Valentine vs. Ralph Becker: With Herbert out, all of those would-be challengers become legitimate candidates. I think Valentine wins in a primary against a much more conservative opponent. He’s well-funded and likable, making him popular with moderate Republicans. As for Becker, well, who else? Becker at least has a recognizable name, experience at the state level, an ability to fundraise and executive experience. Plus, in 2012 he can run for governor without risking his position as mayor because he would run for re-election in SLC in 2011. Valentine would win, but at least Becker would make him work. Attorney General: Mark Shurtleff vs. Sim Gill: Shurtleff flirts with both the governor and Senate races, but in the end stays the course. Gill runs with two years under his belt as Salt Lake County District Attorney. He also runs the same campaign he ran against Lohra Miller, which is essentially one of ethical superiority. On a state level, however, it flops, and Shurtleff wins...

Elections 2010: Donkey Carnage

By on Nov 3, 2010 in News, Politics | 0 comments

An already thin herd of Democrats is further depleted in Utah on Tuesday.— Over the past couple of election cycles, Democrats have leveraged moderate goodwill and frustrations with Republicans to make modest gains in the Legislature. They had some high-profile victories, most notably Jay Seegmiller knocking out then House Speaker Greg Curtis, and they also won seats in southern Salt Lake County districts that were formerly GOP strongholds. All of those gains… gone. Although Utah Democrats work very hard to distance themselves from the national party leaders, the overall anti-Democrat, anti-incumbent mood hammered the minority party. They were hit especially hard in the House, losing two senior representatives and three others in those southern seats. And, almost as bad, no challenger even made a Republican incumbent sweat. Among those House members who lost: Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden; Rep. Jim Gowans, D-Tooele, Rep. Seegmiller, D-Sandy, Rep. Laura Black, D-Sandy, and Rep. Trisha Beck, D-Sandy. Also, Sen. Brent Goodfellow, D-West Valley, who has 25 years of legislative experience, lost. For what it’s worth, there are now 58 Republicans and 17 Democrats in the House, and in the Senate it is 22-7. But really, those numbers mean nothing. The only numbers that do matter to the minority party are 25 and 10, which would give them a voting bloc of one-third. With that, they at least can prevent a veto override and have enough of a say on floor motions to make the majority party at least talk to them. There was actually very little for Democrats to cheer about in Utah Tuesday. Along with losing important races, they didn’t have anything close to an upset brewing. In fact, the closest thing they had to a surprising candidate was in Weber County, where Betty Sawyer ran a strong campaign and at least made Stuart Reid work to hold the seat he was appointed to last year. But even there, Sawyer only had 40 percent of the vote. What can Democrats celebrate? U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, is still in Congress. But with the loss of seemingly every other Blue Dog Democrat and the Republican control of the House, Matheson has lost a lot of juice. At this point, if I were in his shoes, I would spend the next two years with an eye towards the U.S. Senate in 2012. There were also other Democrats that withstood strong Republican challenges, most notably Rep. Tim Cosgrove, D-Murray. And, finally, there was the gubernatorial race. Peter Corroon ran one hell of a campaign, and sucked up a ton of volunteer energy and campaign contributions. Yet, at the end of the day, the results were exactly as was expected. I think a lot of Democrats are scratching their heads, trying to figure out what, exactly, they can ever do to win a major...

Cody Judy Hits a Groove

By on Oct 28, 2010 in Music, News, Politics | 0 comments

As a journalist, I follow a certain code of ethics. I don’t accept gifts, for instance. I am also supposed to walk a straight line of objectivity, and most days I … well … okay, I don’t walk many straight lines. But that’s beside the point. One of the things a journalist is absolutely supposed to avoid is favoritism, be it putting a campaign sign in their yard or endorsing a specific candidate. Again, these are usually principles to which I adhere, much to the chagrin of my politically active wife. Today, however, I am setting aside that principle to endorse a candidate in the U.S. Senate race. This race has been covered well by myself and City Weekly, including two cover stories in the last year, one on the challenges from arch-conservatives to Sen. Bob Bennett and one on the Democratic candidate, Sam Granato. So my endorsement is not arrived at without a significant grounding in the issues. After a lot of study, I have decided to endorse (and write-in) Cody Judy for Senate. This really wasn’t decided until a couple of days ago, when Judy finally delivered a campaign promise I can back: If elected, he will reopen The Zephyr Club. Save. The. Zephyr. The fact is, there has been a lot of insane promises tossed out in this campaign. Mike Lee wants to cut 40 percent of the federal budget. Sam Granato thinks he can work with both sides of the aisle. Yeah, right. At least with Judy’s promise, there is a physical building standing empty, waiting for a revival of its glory days. And if he is a U.S. Senator, it seems like the least he can do is reopen a bar. Bennett was able to shut down Port O’ Call, right? So it should cut both ways. For anyone over the age of 30, the Zephyr has a lot of memories. It’s why Bill Frost does a weekly Dead Zephyr update. It was a great club that brought in great music for not much money. If Judy can bring it back, then Salt Lake City and the world, generally, will be a better place. (Personally, the band that defines the Zephyr for me is The Jackmormons, who I’ve seen there a few times. Great shows. Video embedded below, sadly not from the Zephyr, but it’s their ode to SLC.) So, there you have it. My first ever endorsement. Sorry, Sam. Sorry,...

Extreme Budgeting

By on Oct 25, 2010 in News, Politics | 0 comments

Sam Granato, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat, calls Mike Lee’s 40 percent budget cuts “irresponsible.” In a statement released yesterday, Granato responded to the blog I posted Friday, reporting that Mike Lee suggested 40 percent cuts to the federal budget. Granato, not surprisingly, characterized the 40 percent as … wait for it … “exreme.” In fact, Granato uses the “E” word multiple times in the news release. “That would destroy the economy for generations to come,” Granato said. “It’s ridiculously irresponsible.” In an article today, The Trib has their own take on the story, which involves a bit of (surprising) back-pedaling from Lee’s camp. But it’s only retreating from the number, not the concept. Granato, as I fully expected when I wrote the post Friday, uses it for some serious fear-mongering about the “total shutdown” of the federal government. Kudos to him. Lee has done a good job keeping a low profile during this campaign, avoiding the kinds of gaffes that other tea-party backed candidates have suffered. But this 40 percent is specific enough to (possibly) make some moderates realize how conservative Lee may actually be once in office. It also gives something tangible and new for Granato to latch onto in the waning days. At the same time, I feel it only fair to both parties to clarify a few things. Almost all of this is actually in my original post, so it’s simply reinforcement with “dots,” as they say in The Wire: Lee said 40 percent, and the somewhat small (and worshipful) crowd loved it. In the Trib article, Lee’s campaign manager, Boyd Matheson, says Lee could have said any number and they would have liked it. True. But he said 40 percent. And for the record, Matheson was not at the town hall. Lee was not giddy about shutting down the government, as Granato suggests. He is giddy about forcing Obama to choose between a balanced budget or a shutdown of the government, in other words, the political fight. (The Trib gets this right). To see how well this strategy has worked before, look at 1995. Lee did say “across the board” cuts would be needed, with only a couple of budgets—most notably, Social Security and defense—spared the 40 percent ax. He also didn’t suggest “starting a dialogue,” as Matheson says. He told the crowd he wanted to do it in the next budget, and he thought he might have the conservative backing to pull it off. Lee did clarify to me on Friday that the 40 percent was an estimate, but he also said it was in the range of what would be needed. And he never disputed that he said the number, or that he regretted saying it. Finally, remember that this is if Congress balanced the federal budget. So Matheson is actually right when he says it’s “to start a dialogue,” because the federal budget won’t get balanced anytime soon. At the same time, the balanced budget is one of Lee’s pet issues, and he even wants a Constitutional amendment, which would sort of make it difficult to get cute with numbers. So when he says it would take 40 percent to do it, he is putting himself in a position of either saying “Hell, yeah!” to cutting 40 percent or saying, “Uhh… maybe not” to a balanced budget. The wiggle room is that he could propose it happen over five years, like England is doing, but that would still be 40...

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