COLUMN: Quick hits and random thoughts

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

<em>“Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.”</em>

—Steven Wright

There are many subjects that I wish to cover, but only one weekly column to opine on them all. This week, I offer a profound potpourri of whatever is ruminating inside my muddled head.

• As a child of the 80s, it was not difficult to be enamored with both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. They were more than an alliance of mutual ideology. They knew how to look and how to speak. The presentation of the message was as important as its contents. Thatcher preceded Reagan to power by one year. She laid the groundwork for anti-Communism and fiscal pragmatism. Their names now live, side by side, immortalized, for the rest of history.

• I asked a good friend to critique my columns. I was told that while I make valid points that I play the “outsider” card too much when speaking about Utah. Perhaps, but so long as when I am told to leave Utah when I criticize the state for running things as a theocratic oligarchy, I most likely will be an outsider. Change does not come from conformity, it comes from dissent. Utah needs much more dissent if the typical Utahan is to breathe clean air, have a chance at a decent wage, and can look to more tourism dollars as a source of revenue to improve our schools, roads and general way of life.

• The presidents of multiple Utah county Chambers of Commerce came out with a joint statement on Tuesday stating that immigration reform needs to be a top legislative priority if business is to flourish in Utah. I want to remind these presidents that if Mexico had immigration reform in 1847 when the Mormon pioneers left the United States and came to what is now Utah, history could have been very different.

• The language used regarding people with mental illnesses and the proliferation of recent homicidal attacks makes me very nervous. It is one thing for people with a recorded history of violence from being denied the right to own a firearm. It is another much more dangerous premise to deny rights held by most Americans from anyone who suffers from a mental illness. Does being bi-polar disqualify you from owning a gun? What about seeing a psychologist? Or even if you stayed in a hospital for some time for a non-violent incident brought on by mental illness? The stigma of mental illness is very much alive in America. Using vague language to suggest any mental illness can lead to massacres is dangerously misguided.

• Speaking of insane, I really want to write a full column devoted to North Korea. The problem is that it is a very serious subject that I refuse to take seriously. Allow me to share a personal anecdote with you that might better explain how I view North Korea.

I once worked as a night time doorman for a large office building with businesses that needed reliable security. The daytime doorman used to leave the desk frequently, with the security codes left on the desk for all to see. This not only compromised the building’s safety but could have put me in danger at nights. When I made suggestions to my boss as to how to cajole, inspire or motivate the kid to do his job right, he said to me, “You can’t out think an idiot.”

That is North Korea. We are trying to apply logic to a situation where the antagonist has no sense of reason – or places any value on accountability.

• A recent survey by “Travel and Leisure Magazine” listed my hometown of Philadelphia as the fourth best city in America for pizza. When I make my list of reasons to move back to Philly or stay in Utah, food is ranked high in my plus column for moving home and a noticeable minus against staying here. Nearly every pizzeria back home is family owned and most will make your eyes roll in the back of your head in culinary bliss. Of course there are good locally owned eateries in Utah, but not nearly enough to consider this place a food mecca. Utahans are obsessed with chain restaurants. It’s embarrassing.

• Reason No. 813 to continue to fund PBS: CNN is bringing back “Crossfire”.

• Finally, I want to address my fellow Aggie fans. I am a proud alumnus of Utah State University. If asked to define myself by title, the word Aggie would rank below only two other titles: Father and American. I bleed Aggie blue.

During the 2012 college football season, I was crestfallen to see empty seats in Romney Stadium later in the season. Yes, we showed up in large numbers for the bowl game played in Boise; but at home, in a stadium that seats less than 27,000, with an exciting, winning team, there were vacancies.

Then, with our men’s basketball team suffering through a season plagued by injuries, the “sixth man” that was desperately needed was absent. The large swath of empty seats was striking. It is upsetting to know we abandoned a team that needed our support.

Now, another college football season is coming our way. We are in a better conference with a solid team and legitimate expectations for a good bowl game. We will have an impressive home schedule that features both BYU and Boise State. And to this I say the following:

If Romney Stadium is not filled to capacity, with nothing but Aggie fans, for every home game, not only are we collectively not “great” fans, but we should cease to seek the title of “big time” in the realm of college sports. And we would have earned through our apathy the title of “little brother” to BYU.

Yeah. I went there.

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