Mormon Writers Ask for Manuscripts to be Treated on Quality of Work not Content of Biography

For the record, happily I signed the following statement:

Mormon Writers Ask for Manuscripts to be Treated on Quality of Work not Content of Biography

In response to recent events and attention in local and national media, we authors, who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feel the need to express our disagreement and disappointment with Cedar Fort in their dealings with David Powers King and Michael Jensen in regards to the manuscript, Woven. We appreciate that Cedar Fort has returned the rights to the work in question and want to note that there are many wonderful people working at Cedar Fort–staff members and authors–who strive to carry out their duties with professionalism and courtesy. Nevertheless we wish to offer our support to our fellow authors and feel compelled to speak out.

As writers, many of whom have published with Cedar Fort, we believe everyone should be treated fairly and with respect, regardless of political or religious affiliation, age, gender, or sexual orientation. We believe that degrading attacks are inappropriate in any business or personal relationship. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), we understand our church to teach respect and encourage civility–even when we have differences of opinion.

While publishers have the right to choose what they will and will not publish, we believe books should be accepted or rejected upon the merits of their content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor. If a publisher isn’t comfortable with an author’s personal choices, those concerns should be discussed clearly and respectfully upon signing a contract–not hours before the book goes to press.

We believe that all publishers should be clear and professional in their submission requirements, treat others with dignity and respect, and give all authors the right to be judged on the quality of their work, not the content of their biography.

You can find a full list of authors who have signed the statement here.

There's a story about this in the Salt Lake Tribune here.

My 2012 Election Prediction

I prefer to make election predictions the day before Election Day as both sides tend to throw in last minute shenanigans to upset the other party's apple cart. However, since I'll be nowhere near a voting booth on Tuesday and will have limited access to the Internet for the next week, I'm making it today. (And, yes, I already voted.) As per the map below I've got Romney squeaking into the Oval Office with 277 electoral votes to Obama's 262. I also predict Romney getting just above 50.1% of the vote to Obama's 49.4% with the remaining 0.5% going to wacko, third party candidates.

Also, this post isn't intended to make a political statement. Just throwing out my guess. I did guess the winner in 2008 though I underestimated the extent of Obama's election victory. No matter who wins, I hope the winning side is gracious in their victory and the losing side won't weep, wail and gnash their teeth about the world coming to an end.

Feel free to make your own guesses in the comments below though please refrain from any partisan bickering. This is all about guessing the winner not beating up the other side.

Election 2012 Prediction

Voted

Since I’ll out of town on Election Day, I voted absentee this year. It’s the first time I ever cast a ballot at somewhere other than a polling place. I’m glad I can still vote but I’m going to miss taking a couple of the kids with me into the voting booth and letting them push the buttons on the touch screen I point to.

Aside from the big national races there wasn’t much going on locally. No mayor or city council races. Not even any controversial or polarizing state ballot initiatives. I was kind of surprised how few things were to vote on this year. Underwhelmed, actually.

I did shake my head when I got to the state house and senate races and noticed there was only one major party candidate on the ballot. Even though the presence of the other major party on the ballot probably wouldn’t have changed my vote, I like the idea of at least having a choice. Instead having a single choice feel like I was living in totalitarian North Korea or the former Soviet Union. (And no, vanity-fueled, wacko, third party candidates don’t count as a choice.) Both major parties need strong opposition to keep them in check. Sadly, there isn’t much of that here in my neck of the woods. But if you’re not even going to put up some token opposition, you’re going to remain the minority party for a long, long time.

Maybe after this election the minority party will get their act together and actually field a candidate. Well, I can always hope.

 

Private Equity Is not a Bad Thing

Much is being made of Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital. The narrative goes something along the lines of Mitt making millions while thousands of ordinary people lost their jobs. (Queue evil, cackling laughter.) While this narrative may play with those who are envious of the wealth or others and have no idea how to operate a business, I owe a big debt of gratitude to those who are willing to risk their money on companies in trouble. During my professional career I’ve worked for three tech companies. Two of those companies were bought by private equity firms while I worked for them. A third tried to find some private equity investors and was unsuccessful. The results?

Both companies that were acquired by private equity firms lived on to fight another day. Yes, it meant that some employees lost their jobs after the purchase was finalized (both times I kept mine) but the end result was that the companies were given a second chance to turn things around. I was actually very relieved when one of the companies was bought because it was bleeding money very fast. If the investment hadn’t occurred, the entire company would have closed its doors in a matter of months costing ten times as many employees their jobs. Of the two companies, one was eventually sold several years later at a loss. The other become leaner and meaner and, as of now, is doing quite well.

The tech company that was unable to find investors eventually shut its doors and laid off all its employees. An injection of capital would have not only stopped the company from closing but also injected much needed leadership that could have saved it, made it profitable, and brought on even more employees.

It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback and criticize the decisions Romney or others at Bain made after buying different companies. But no one seems to be asking what would happen to those companies if Bain Capital or someone else hadn’t stepped in. Companies can only create jobs or hold on to existing ones if they’re making money. Companies that can’t make a profit eventually close their doors. This affects not the employees who worked for these companies but customers who use that product or service. (I say this as someone who drives a Saturn.)

Private equity companies do everyone a service by evaluating companies that are in trouble and deciding if they’re worth saving. Job losses often occur after any acquisition but pale in comparison to an entire company closing down. Bain Capital may have laid off employees but it seems that most of their investments have generated far more jobs than lost with many companies, like Staples, becoming phenomenally successful and employing thousands upon thousands of people.

I owe years of employment to those willing to inject capital into unprofitable or mismanaged companies. I tip my hat to the men and women willing to undertake that challenge. And I wouldn’t hesitate to vote for one as POTUS.

Adam Carolla on Occupy Wall Street

A recent (and much needed) Adam Carolla rant (below) on the Occupy Wall Street crowd reminds of me of the following untitled Hart Crane poem: A man said to the universe: "Sir I exist!" "However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation."

Enjoy the rant. (Warning: Contains graphic language. Probably not safe for work.)

Government Bureaucrats and For-Profit Schools

Driving home from work this week, I caught a story on NPR about government regulators and culinary schools. Apparently regulators are upset that students are graduating with loads of debt and entry-level jobs that can’t pay off their loans.

[Roger] Hollis says he has taken out thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for an associate degree in cooking. Despite his work experience and his expensive degree, he'll still be starting at the bottom, as a line cook. "Twelve, 15 [dollars] maybe an hour, yeah."

Many former students say that with that income, it's virtually impossible to keep up with their student loan payments. Newbies may spend years as a line cook; the average salary, according to the online industry magazine Star Chefs, is less than $29,000 a year.

Attorney Michael Louis Kelly represents California students suing the parent company of Cordon Blue, Career Education Corp. His clients say the school promised something it cannot deliver.

"The model doesn't work," Kelly says. "You can't go to school, accumulate $30- or $40- or $50,000 in debt, and then go into an industry where you're going to have to start out at $8 or $12 an hour anyway."

Why are government regulators worried only about students who attend for-profit schools? There are plenty of public and private schools who churn out graduates with loads of debt and little or no job prospects. Last year The New York Times ran a story about Cortney Munna, a former New York University student who racked up $97,000 in student loan debt majoring in religious and women’s studies. After college she found herself making $22 an hour working for a photographer. Back in January the same paper ran a similar story about law school graduates with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt who are unable to find work (or at least work as an attorney) and, as a result, can’t come close to paying back their loans. Shouldn’t government regulators be just as concerned about the cost and job prospects of private and state sponsored non-profit schools as they are about for profit schools?

The education industrial complex generally oversells the value of a degree. It’s something that public institutions do as much as for-profit universities. Kids go through the school system school hearing how a college degree will lead to great jobs and financial security. While this is statistically true in broad terms, rarely do you see these educators showing the market value of a science or engineering degree compared to, say, a liberal arts degree. I’m not saying that college degrees are worthless. It’s just that some have more market value than others.

Students looking to finance their education through student loans should be shown the cost of paying off the loan and realistic job prospects and pay upon graduation and be given some time to think about whether or not the cost is worth it. However, it’s hypocritical for Washington bureaucrats to zero in on just for-profit institutions when you have students graduating from state-sponsored institutions with loads of debt and job prospects that are no better than those who graduate from a for-profit culinary school.

Besides, a degree from any post-secondary education facility—public, private, trade, or for-profit—only goes so far toward financial or career success. In reality one’s work ethic, creativity, and ability to build relationships and adapt to a changing world are much better indicators whether or not you’re going to be successful—financially or otherwise. Instead of focusing on the value of a degree, students and post-secondary schools should teach the aforementioned concepts along with their degree-related material.  The schools and their graduates would be much better off as a result.

Steve Wozniak vs. the FCC

Steve Wozniak, the cofounder of Apple Computer, does a much better job than I ever could explaing why  the FCC's "Net Neutrality" vote will end up screwing we the people. Writes Wozniak: 

Imagine that when we started Apple we set things up so that we could charge purchasers of our computers by the number of bits they use. The personal computer revolution would have been delayed a decade or more. If I had to pay for each bit I used on my 6502 microprocessor, I would not have been able to build my own computers anyway. What if we paid for our roads per mile that we drove? It would be fair and understandable to charge more for someone who drives more. But one of the most wonderful things in our current life is getting in the car and driving anywhere we feel like at this moment, and with no accounting for cost. You just get in your car and go. This is one of the most popular themes of our life and even our popular music. It's a type of freedom from some concerns that makes us happy and not complain. The roads are already paid for. You rarely hear people complain that roads are "free." The government shines when it comes to having provided us pathways to drive around our country. We don't think of the roadways as being negative like telecommunication carriers. It's a rare breath of fresh air.

I frequently speak to different types of audiences all over the country. When I'm asked my feeling on Net Neutrality I tell the open truth. When I was first asked to "sign on" with some good people interested in Net Neutrality my initial thought was that the economic system works better with tiered pricing for various customers. On the other hand, I'm a founder of the EFF and I care a lot about individuals and their own importance. Finally, the thought hit me that every time and in every way that the telecommunications careers have had power or control, we the people wind up getting screwed. Every audience that I speak this statement and phrase to bursts into applause.

Read the entire article at The Atlantic.

Getting a Utah Driver's License is Like Getting an Anal Exam

A Sample Utah Driver's License

Big thumbs down on Utah’s more restrictive driver’s license requirements.

After going through the requisite, but metaphorical, anal exam to renew my license today, I wondering if the legislators who passed the law are more concerned with people's citizenship then keeping unsafe drivers off the road.

In the past renewing a Utah driver's license, providing you had no points or citations on your record, was easy. You filled out a form, wrote a check, and mailed it in or do the entire process online. Two weeks later you’d get a renewal sticker. Only once every 10 years did you actually have to show up in person to renew. And aside from the requisite long line to stand it, getting a new one was pretty straight forward.

Now, it seems, the Utah Department of Public Safety is more concerned with applicants' citizenship status than whether or not they can actually drive. Whether you’re renewing your driver's license or getting a new one, you have to provide proof of citizenship along with a host of other proof of residence documents. (For a full list of what’s required, click here.)

So when I showed up this morning, I came with a birth certificate, social security card, a bank and utility statement (dated within the last 60 days). All of my documents were examined twice. After the second examination, my birth certificate and social security cared were scanned into their computer. (I assume they’re now part of some Big Brother database.) Amazingly they didn’t ask for a DNA or blood sample.

Don’t misunderstand. I have no problem ensuring driver license applicants are Utah residents before issuing them a Utah driver's license. However, I’d rather see more concern for keeping unsafe drivers off the roads than non-U.S citizens from driving. I’d rather share the road with 10 non-U.S. residents who know how to drive then one citizen of this great country who can’t. (And based on my daily commute to work, there are plenty Utah residents/US Citizens who can’t.)

Instead of worrying about citizenship, a smarter way to go would be to have every non-citizen or non-Utah resident applying for a driver's license take a driving test. If you don't pass you don't get a driver's license. Apply for a State ID card instead. All the new rules will accomplish is discouraging non-U.S. citizens from applying for a driver's license.

Sadly, having safe drivers behind the wheel seems to be the last thing on the minds of the wise, all-knowing elected officials in Salt Lake and the bureaucrats at Utah Department of Public Safety.

Random Thoughts: Election Day

The nice thing about the Internet is that instead of spending 60 minutes writing on what I consider to be the pivotal issues of the election, is that I can find someone who has already written something similar but done a better job of it. I never thought I’d agree with a Democrat on important election issues, but this time I do. If you haven’t already, read What Really Matters As We Vote by Orson Scott Card

***

I took advantage of early voting last week and cast my ballot last week. I decided waiting in line for an hour was preferable to waiting in line for 2-3 hours on Election Day.

***

This is probably the first election where I’ll follow the results primarily online as opposed to TV.

***

More than anything, this election has made me extremely glad I’m not a journalist. As far as I’m concerned most media organizations have lost all their credibility over the last 12 months. Why? Read Michael Malone’s column at abcnews.com on how the media’s election coverage is playing a dangerous game with their readers, the Constitution, and their own fates.

***

I don’t think there’s going to be an Obama landslide tomorrow. My prediction: Obama receives 49% of the popular vote and 282 electoral votes. McCain gets 48% of the popular vote and 256 electoral votes. Only five states change their vote from 2004: Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, and New Mexico go for Obama. New Hampshire goes for McCain.

***

I’ll be very happy when this election is over.

How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief

My latest post is up on the OpentoHope blog. It's a brief look on how Sen. Joe Biden, at the age of 30, lost is first wife a month after being elected to the U.S. Senate, overcame his grief, and put his life back together. You can read it below or here. On November 7, 1972 a relatively unknown lawyer named Joe Biden pulled off a big political upset. By just over 3,000 votes he defeated two-term incumbent U.S. Senator J. Caleb Boggs and, at age 30, became the sixth youngest Senator in U.S. history.

Despite the amazing victory, he almost never took the oath of office. On December 18, 1972 while Biden was in Washington D.C. looking at his new office, his wife, Neilia, took their three children shopping for a Christmas tree. They were involved in a fatal automobile accident. Neilia and his infant daughter, Naomi, were killed. His two sons, Hunter and Beau, were critically injured.

His life suddenly and unexpectedly changed, Biden suddenly found himself as a 30-year-old widower and single father. He also found himself filled with anger and doubt. In his memoir Promises to Keep Biden wrote, "I began to understand how despair led people to just cash it in; how suicide wasn't just an option but a rational option ... I felt God had played a horrible trick on me, and I was angry."

A career in the U.S. Senate suddenly didn't seem that important as being there for his two sons. He considered resigning before even taking the oath of office. Beau recalled his father saying, "Delaware can get another senator, but my boys can't get another father."

Eventually other U.S. Senators like Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy convinced Biden to take the job the people of Delaware elected him to do. In January of 1973 he took the oath of office at his sons' hospital bedside. However, because he still wanted to be there for his sons, he gave up his the home he and his late wife were planning to buy in Washington D.C. and commuted by train to and from his home - a practice he still continues.

Still, life wasn't easy for the young Senator. At first he did the least amount of work required for his job. "My future was telescoped into putting one foot in front of the other ... Washington, politics, the Senate had no hold on me," Biden wrote. Senate staffers began placing bets on how long Biden would last.

No one would have blamed Biden for quitting. After all, he has lost half his family. But Biden didn't quit. Despite his grief, Biden he hung on and slowly began rebuilding his shattered life.

It wasn't until 1975, however, when Biden met Jill Jacobs that the pieces really fell into place. Falling in love again renewed Biden's interest in life and politics. "It had given me the permission to be me again," Biden wrote in his memoir. Two years later they married.

With his renewed passion, Biden continued what was to become a successful political career. He was re-elected five times to the Senate. He served as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987-1995 and currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In 2008, after a second failed attempt to become the Democrat's presidential nominee, he was asked to be Sen. Barack Obama's Vice Presidential running mate.

"Failure at some point in your life is inevitable but giving up is unforgivable," Biden said during his Vice Presidential acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

It's impossible to say what would have happened to Biden if he had decided to give up.

But he didn't.

For those who have lost a spouse, Joe Biden's story is one of hope. If you continue to put one foot in front of the other, no matter how difficult it may be, there are better days ahead. Despite the challenges and obstacles he faced as a 30-year-old widower, Biden rebuilt his life and his family.

Each day we make the decision to push forward or give up. Each day that decision will bring us closer to rebuilding our lives or falling back into darkness. Though difficult, Biden chose to live again and reaped the rewards of his efforts.

***

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to Abel's e-mail updates and be the first to learn about upcoming books, essays, and appearances.

More widower-related articles by Abel Keogh

  • Up with Grief NEW!
  • Dating and Marriage: One Regret NEW!
  • Widowers: They're Still Men! NEW!
  • 10 Dating Tips for Widows and Widowers
  • Photos of the Dead Wife
  • 5 Signs a Widower is Serious About Your Relationship
  • How Vice President Joe Biden Dealt with Grief
  • Life with a Widower
  • Dating a Widower
  • The Grief Industry
  • Suicide Survivor
  • A Letter to Elizabeth
  • Sex and Intimacy with Widowers
  • The Widowerhood Excuse
  • How to Talk to a Widower
  • Red Flags to Watch for When Dating A Widower
  • A Pit Bull with Lipstick

    As a self-described political junkie, this presidential election has been anything but boring. I watched the primetime Democratic Convention speakers last week and the primetime Republican speakers this week at the expense of finishing my novel. Now with both sides equally energized, this presidential race is going to be a nasty fight all the way to the end which will make it all the more entertaining to watch over the next two months. Now if I can just stop refreshing the Drudge Report, I’ll actually get some writing done.

    ***

    As someone who wouldn’t mind making a living as a speech writer, I have to say the best speech from either convention was delivered by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Describing herself as pit bull with lipstick was classic. And her zingers aimed at Barak Obama were good. Best of all, she showed just what a good speaker she is when the teleprompter stopped working and she had to occasionally glance at her notes. She didn’t miss a beat.

    Obama’s speech was the second. It was well delivered, well-paced, and he did a good job trying to shed his liberal background and position himself toward the center. He still needs to prove that he can be an equally eloquent and effective speaker without a teleprompter.

    McCain and Biden are tied with the most tepid speeches though McCain wins the tie breaker by at least speaking from the heart and sounding genuine – something more rhetorical and polished speakers often have a hard time doing.

    Win or lose this November, Palin has a bright political future. If Obama wins, his political career is over in four or eight years – depending on whether or not he’s re-elected. But Palin could easily be the GOP nominee in 2012 and could make a strong case to run again in 2016 as well as define the Republican party the same way Ronald Regan did in the 1980. And should the GOP win this November, watch for a resurgent Hillary Clinton in 2012 who could have the same impact on her party as Palin will in hers.

    Comments on Recent “Controversies”

    controversy

    Over the last two weeks there have been a couple of pop-culture controversies: The alleged environmentalist propaganda in WALL*E and the New Yorker cover depicting Barack Obama and his wife as leftist radicals. The first controversy has upset the political right while the second has upset the political left.

    First to WALL*E. I saw the movie Saturday with my four-year-old son. The night before we went, the family attended a neighborhood BBQ. While talking to four other guys, the discussion turned into whether or not WALL*E contained leftist environmental propaganda. Two believed that it did. The other two disagreed. I was the only one in the group who hadn’t seen the film and therefore couldn’t comment on it.

    When I went to see it the next day with my kid, my eye was open for both subtle and overt political messages in the film.

    Much to my surprise, I didn’t find one shred of environmentalist propaganda in the film.

    I say this as no big fan of the contemporary environmental movement. Most of the groups are run by a bunch of hypocrites who worship at the altar of global warming but are the first to file suit or protest the construction of wind farm because it will kill birds or ruin the view. Instead of a working towards clean environment while improving everyone’s quality of life, the look to lower it. They want gas, electricity and raw materials to be expensive as possible because they hate it that you fly across country, drive cars, and choose to live in the suburbs – I mean urban sprawl. Instead they want to force you to live they way they think you should live which is something akin to a living one bedroom apartment in the middle of Manhattan, having no more than two kids (the fewer the better), and riding public transportation for the rest of your life. The movement is increasingly sees people, technology, and freedom as the problem instead of the solution.

    But back to WALL*E. (Warning: Minor spoilers follow.)

    The film centers around a robot named WALLE who lives on Earth 700 years in the future. Humans have long abandoned the planet which has become a giant landfill. WALLE, the last robot of his kind, spends his days compacting and building large towers of trash. He falls in love with a probe named Eve and manages to hitch a ride back to her ship. WALLE discovers that humans live on a big ship where all the do is eat and even the most menial tasks are done automatically for them. As a result, they’re all a bunch of big, fat slobs who waste away their days bored and doing practically nothing.

    Just because a movie of book shows a trashed planet 700 years in the future doesn’t mean it’s going to be a preachy. Such depictions of Earth in movies and science fiction literature have been going on a long time. Some have been done for political purposes while others haven’t.

    The movie could have been preachy. The writers had every chance knock the human race for destroying the planet. They could have run everyone on a guilt drip for shopping at Wal-Mart, eating super-sized value meals, and become overweight slobs.

    But they didn’t.

    Instead they focused the story on destroyed planet or the slovenly human race the focused on the love story between WALLE and Eve.

    If there was any message in WALL*E it’s that there’s more to life than sitting on your butt all day. Instead of wasting your life live, find love, and enjoy everything that life has to offer.

    Where, exactly, is the political message in that?

    ***

    Yesterday, the much talked about issue of The New Yorker arrived in my mailbox. It wasn’t the content inside the magazine that was getting the attention but the cover. Barack Obama is depicted wearing Muslim garb while Michelle is portrayed as a leftist radical from the 60s. An American flag burns in the fireplace while over the mantle hangs a picture of Osama bin Laden.

    If you haven’t seen it, here’s an image.

    New Yorker Cover Barack and Michelle Obama

    Of course this sent the media into a tizzy to see their presidential candidate even though The New Yorker’s editor was on practically every media outlet explaining that the cover was a satire of the misperceptions that some people have about the presumptive Democratic nominee.

    The media should be given some credit. Remember when they were similarly outraged when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were portrayed on the cover of The New Yorker as the cowboys in Brokeback Mountain?

    The New Yorker Cover: Bush Cheney Brokeback Mountain

    Oh, wait. There wasn’t any controversy over that cover. I must have been talking about the time Bush was depicted as Nero – fiddling while the country burned.

    The New Yoker Cover: Bush as Nero

    Sorry. My bad. There wasn’t any media outrage over that cover either. I was thinking about the one that depicted Bush as surprised it was his fault the country was broken (drawn, by the way, by the same person who did the Obama cover.)

    The New Yorker cover: Bush clueless

    What’s that? Oh, right. There was no indignation or anger – at least in the press – over that one too.

    So why the outcry over the Obama cover?

    Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift shares a letter from an outraged reader that was also sent to The New Yorker.

    There is no journalistic freedom to justify this cartoon that could have easily been generated by the merchants of hate and fear and will certainly be used by them to justify their own moronic diatribes against this most American family.

    Clift adds her own two cents.

    The problem is not just that the cartoons themselves are racist and tasteless, but they're spreading images that are untrue and deepening a perception that Obama is not what he says he is.

    While I agree that The New Yorker’s cover is stupid and in bad taste, I’d also say the same thing about the three other covers. Yet there was no similar outrage over them. A quick search of Newsweek’s archive didn’t show any columns by Clift worried that covers of Bush or Cheney are untrue or deepens a stereotype about them held by many in the political left or “merchants of hate.”

    Makes you wonder if The New Yorker had depicted a satirical cover of John McCain, if Clift and others would have expressed similar indignation.

    Glad We Didn't Elect This Guy

    The city I live has been around for a little more than 10 years but has become known throughout the state for a lack of roads and corrupt politicians. For once it looks like our city dodged a bullet. The candidate that lost the mayoral election in November just pleaded guilty to fraud and racketeering charges.

    Former Eagle Mountain mayoral candidate Richard Culbertson and his wife, Kathleen, pleaded guilty on Thursday to fraud and racketeering charges.

    Richard Culbertson pleaded guilty to three counts of communications fraud and one count of pattern of unlawful activity, all second-degree felonies. Richard Culbertson faces from one to 15 years in prison for each count, served consecutively or concurrently. If the sentences are consecutive, he faces a maximum sentence of 30 years. He was also ordered to pay restitution and a maximum fine of $74,100.

    Kathleen Culbertson gave a tearful plea of guilty to three counts of communications fraud and one count of pattern of unlawful activity, all charges reduced to Class A misdemeanors. She faces a maximum of one year in jail for each count and $18,600 in fines, along with restitution.

    The Culbertsons were charged in a mortgage fraud case in which they allegedly used their daughter's and son-in-law's names to buy a home.

    The couple's attorney, Greg Skordas, said the plea deal is not new, and he believes the deal was worked out quickly so the Attorney General's office would be able to move forward with mortgage fraud charges in other cases. The office has developed a task force for mortgage fraud as a result of the spreading mortgage fraud cases in the state.

    You can read the rest of the article here.

    Super Tuesday

    Democrat Republican

    I’ve never voted in a presidential primary before.

    I’ve always voted in state and local primaries but never for president.

    The main reason has been that the presidential candidate has been decided long before Utah had its say. So when the time came to cast a presidential ballot it felt rather pointless.

    Not this year.

    This year it’s actually been a race for candidates from both political parties. This is good as it seems to have generated a lot of interest in the election – a good thing for the country, in my opinion.

    Instead of letting a handful of early primary states decide, it looks like the race for president could extend well beyond today for both the Democrat and Republican nominees.

    To make it even more exciting Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Mitt Romney all are solid candidates and all have a good chance at becoming our next president so interest from both Democrats and Republicans are high.

    On my way home from work this evening, I’ll be stopping by the local elementary school to vote. And even though my candidate probably won’t win Utah, it still feels good to actually partipate in an election with such high voter interest.

    Oh, and if want to see which candidate, best reflects your views, be sure to take the Electoral Compass test. It got mixed reviews from readers of this blog, but it matched me up perfectly with my candidate of choice.

    Life Imitates Fahrenheit 451

    Two quotes from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451:

    "But who has ever torn himself from the claw that encloses you when you drop a seed in a TV parlor? It grows you any shape it wishes! It is an environment as real as the world. It becomes and is the truth. Books can be beaten down with reason. But with all my knowledge and skepticism, I have never been able to argue with a one-hundred-piece symphony orchestra, full color, three dimensions, and I being in and part of those incredible parlors...."

    ***

    "It'll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and a fourth wall-TV put in? It's only two thousand dollars."

    "That's one-third of my yearly pay."

    "It's only two thousand dollars," she replied. "And I should think you'd consider me sometimes. If we had a fourth wall, why it'd be just like this room wasn't ours at all, but all kinds of exotic people's rooms. We could do without a few things."

    "We're already doing without a few things to pay for the third wall. It was put in only two months ago, remember?"

    "Is that all it was?"

    From The Independent January 8, 2008:

    Watching Match of The Day will never be the same again after the unveiling in Las Vegas yesterday of the world's biggest plasma television.

    The 150-inch (3.75m) Panasonic widescreen TV, which stands 6ft tall, will enable viewers to watch everything in life-size.

    But because of its huge size, the screen can only be comfortably watched from a distance of at least 30ft, making it too big to install in most living rooms. And with an expected price tag of £50,000 [$70,000], the giant TV will be beyond the spending power of most consumers.

    Electoral Compass

    I usually don't put much stock into online tests but with the presidential primaries coming up, I did take the Electoral Compass test just to see where my views compared to the presidential candidates. Amazingly my views were closest to the presidential candidate I plan on voting for February 5. Maybe there's something to this one.

    To see, I'm curious to others who have taken this test, if their results show them backing the presidential candidate of their choice.

    More Political Mud

    I could grouse some more about latest round of gutless, anonymous political ads that have again run in the local paper and been taped to the doors of residents in my town slamming those running for mayor and city council. But why do that when there's a great article sums it up the junior high school election atmosphere in this town or a local news broadcast can show you the clowns that want to run this town. Did I mention that I can't wait until this election is over?

    Never mind.  That won't end anything. No doubt the side that loses will have their claws out for the new mayor and city council members as soon as they take office.