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Friday, May 12, 2006
Miscellaneous Thoughts

Scattered thoughts which accumulated during a busy week -- on loan sharking, municipal broadband, science prowess, professionalism, and anti-Muslim graffiti.

Here are some miscellaneous thoughts that have accumulated during a very busy week.

Loan Sharks: It's obvious to anyone who's paying attention that the loan sharking business is booming in Utah. A veritable scourge of relatively new businesses offers payday loans, car title loans, and even check cashing for people who are desperate or math-impaired. (The latter is a growing demographic in the Alpine School District.) The interest rates and fees are almost unbelievable, frequently obscene, and essentially unregulated. Earlier in the week, there was a story all over the radio news about new attempts to regulate these modern loan sharks in Utah and to encourage conventional, regulated financial institutions to help meet the market's demand for small loans less rapaciously and more responsibly than the loan sharks do. On both counts, it's about time. (Sorry, no links. I heard about this several times on the radio, but couldn't find a link.)

Municipal Broadband Wins Again: Inc.com, an online business magazine, just named the Provo/Orem area one of the top ten midsized cities in the United States for doing business, based on sustained job growth. The article cited Provo's municipal broadband system, iProvo, as a major attraction. (Elsewhere in Utah, Ogden/Clearfield hit the same list at 18th. Among small cities nationwide, St. George ranked 2nd and Logan finished 16th. Salt Lake City was 16th among large cities.)

Alpha Science Geek: American Fork High School's Shannon Babb won the national Intel Science Talent Search recently; now she has won a handful of awards at the International competition. Will the local media even notice?

Consummate Professionals: A niece having brain surgery was the occasion for my spending parts of two days this week at the Primary Children's Medical Center (PCMC) in Salt Lake City, plus a bit of time at the University Hospital. Neither facility is new to me. I have always been quite favorably impressed by the expertise and professionalism at both. Even the food at the PCMC cafeteria was quite good.

Anti-Muslim Graffiti: I saw some anti-Muslim graffiti scratched in the paint of a restroom stall at University Hospital. I'm not sure which is more surprising: that I saw it at the U, which is so serious about diversity that they have an Associate Vice President for Diversity, or that this is the first time since 9/11/2001 that I remember seeing any anti-Muslim graffiti at all.

Leslie Dalton comments (5/16/06):

Shannon Babb has made two front-page appearances in the Citizen. One was a major article. She has also been mentioned at least once elsewhere in that paper since she won the Intel Scholarship.

I'm waiting (somewhat patiently) for your report on the Republican State Convention (assuming you attended). Still gathering my thoughts on what to say about the DemCon.

David Rodeback replies (5/19/06):

I didn't mean to suggest that the Citizen hadn't reported Ms. Babb's exploits at all, just that even when she was on the front page they gave a much less momentous story higher billing (bigger headline, above the fold, big photo).

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