Monday, February 18, 2008

A response to the crowded DMV

I'm here sitting grading econ papers, and I had this idea. We are talking about the good and bad that the governments can do and the book we are reading makes a point that it is necessary to have the government distribute driver's licenses because otherwise private license companies would just give licenses out to everyone who wanted one and it would make the roads less safe.

But what if we made the issuers responsible for the havoc wreaked by the people they license. They would essentially be insurance companies, and if a certain firm thinks that a person will be too expensive to insure, then that person won't be licensed. If we made it so that fines for speeding had to be paid by the licensing company, those that speed and are a menace on the road will have to pay for it. Similarly those that drink and drive.

And the infrastructure of insurance companies is already there.

I think that there are probably big problems with this line of thought, but I thought that it was an amusing idea nevertheless, and one that is based on "sound" introductory economics.

Deon Turley for Utah State Legislature

I think that this is an impressive woman!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Provo Explodes

So this evening just after 9:30, I heard a big boom from outside. I thought at first that it might be a gun shot, but my roommate have been playing a lot of James Bond recently, so I ruled that out; I'm getting pretty good at recognizing gunshots. Thunder maybe? Nope. The skies are clear and it didn't have that zingy or extended thunder sound. Dragon? No scorch marks; usually they're linked. I decided that the SWKT had probably fallen down and I continued reading.

Ten minutes later, I got a phone call from my friend around the corner asking if I had heard it as well. I told her that I had and informed her of my conclusion. We decided to go questing to see if we could find out what had happened.

We hopped into my car (which still runs fabulously) and started driving around. After about 24 seconds, we decided that we felt a little silly driving around to who knows where we weren't even sure whence the sound came.

We took a loop on campus drive along the side of the hill to see if we could see anything in the city smoking and to make sure the SWKT was still there, and we didn't see anything fishy, so we went home.

I noticed just now online that it was an explosion at some steel plant in South Provo. There's not much news yet, but I'm way impressed with this explosion. It was almost 5 miles away and it shook my windows.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Well the day has come. I'm almost officially an adult. I bought a car.

Highlights: I have a button on my key that pops the trunk. The seats move back and forth electronically (but only when I want them to). It is shiny.

That last one is the most important.

Thanks to Portia's husband (Bassanio) who once again saved the day.

Here's another one for good measure:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Deceiving appearances

I make it a point to never read a book with a boring cover. Unless I have to for a class, that is.

I just read a book for my writing class whose cover bears a striking resemblance to this:

It's called Judgments Over Time: The Interplay of Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors. Such a “fascinating” title only made it lose more points.

Upon flipping through the book, you would realize that it is in fact a collection of psychology articles about how a person changes (or doesn't change) the way they think, feel, and behave over time. Almost twenty percent of the book is reference pages. You might come across an occasional nonsensical diagram that seems to be trying to graph a person's life with a sinusoidal curve representing non-quantified high and low coherence levels. It is titled “Potential Life Niches,” and you might even sit for a moment to try and figure out what all the arrows mean before taking a deep breath and turning to the front of the book to begin a part of your life that is likely to be one of those low coherence pits in the graph you just gave up on.

You would be pleasantly surprised however. The foreword is written by some guy named George Lowenstein, and he's a bit like David Letterman in that he's pretty funny and makes you feel smart. I sort of had that sophisticated smile-and-adjust-your-bow-tie reaction when he quoted Pangloss from Voltaire's Candide and I recognized it. I also chuckled to myself when he referred to the “mild-mannered office-mate [who] entertains fantasies of murdering you.”

At this point, I may need to remind you that this book is not about the criminally insane but rather how impressions, memories, and expectations adjust over time. And I think that it was pretty well-put-together. Lowenstein's humor doesn't continue through all of the articles, but they are engaging enough to keep my attention once I realized that they could read my mind, including my violent fantasies.

In fact, they seem to know quite a bit about me. There is a whole article on defensive pessimism, a condition where people set their expectation low because it drives them to work harder and achieve more. I always think it's a little odd when I realize that my disorders have names.

In general though, I really enjoyed my little self-exploration through this book. Then again, perhaps you should ask one of the authors how much I really enjoyed it. They might just tell you that I've reconstructed my memory just because I'm happy to be done.

Friday, February 1, 2008

My Run-in with the Law

So it finally happened. My worst fears have been realized. Now I officially have a police record.

Yesterday, I went to the library to find a book for my English class. Not any book in particular. It actually could have been a great many books. With so many options, one would think that I would be able to find something suitable in less than 30 minutes. Instead it took me about two hours.

By the time that I found something that I thought might work, I had a headache and was exhausted. I trudged up the two flights of stairs and turned to head out the door.

A second later, the alarms were sounding and I scurried back through the security gate. Fortunately, the guard at the desk was my friend from choir. Unfortunately, my friend has an impressive sense of duty. I guess the library policy is that if anyone walks through the gate with a contraband library book they have to call police dispatch and do a background check.

It turns out the BYU Police already know all sorts of things about me. Now they know that I steal books.

After I had been reported and my thieving nature had been permanantly recorded, I went to circulation to mend my ways and check out the book honestly. They informed me that before I could check out any book, I had to pay a fine. To make matter worse, they made me go up the LRC to do so.

I eventually escaped with my book, but 30 minutes, two dollars, and a trip up the stairs later. Oh, yes. And one more thing. An official criminal record.

There go my chances of ever being in the FBI.