A Brief History of Utah

Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, and immediately began planting and irrigating. Under direction of the church organization, the settlers cooperated to tame the land and its natural resources. At this time, present-day Utah was in Mexican territory.

By 1850, the outlying regions of Bountiful, Farmington, Ogden, Tooele, Provo, and Manti were settled.

Two kinds of colonizing efforts took place: directed settlements and undirected settlements. In directed settlements, colonies were planned, organized, and dispatched by the Church. Companies were appointed and equipped to explore the area, people were appointed to colonize it, and a leader was appointed. The Church gave instructions on the mission of the colony, whether to raise crops, assist Indians, mine coal, or serve as a way station for groups on the trail to California.

Non-directed settlements were founded by individuals, families, and neighborhood groups without direction from the Church. Most of the Wasatch Front communities were non-directed. Although Church leaders did not commission these settlements, they encouraged them, and quickly established wards when the population was great enough to justify them.

When the Mexican War ended in February 1848, the land became part of the United States. The Mormons proposed creating the State of Deseret, but Congress would not admit them to the Union. Instead, the federal government created the Territory of Utah, with Brigham Young as the first territorial governor.

In 1857, President James Buchanan sent a military force to Utah based on false reports of a Mormon rebellion against federal authority. The Utah Expedition was led by General Albert Sidney Johnston. This was part of a conflict known as the Utah War, which ended with only limited bloodshed.

More than 60,000 Mormons had come to the territory by the time the first transcontinental railroad was completed at Promontory, Utah in May of 1869.

After the Church announced the abandonment of polygamy in 1890, Congress finally granted statehood to the people of Utah on January 4, 1896.

Sources

Brief History of Utah, Utah History to Go, by Ron Rood and Linda Thatcher
History, by S. George Ellsworth
Colonization of Utah, Utah History Encyclopedia, by Leonard J. Arrington

Perverse Incentives

In making policy, it seems that sometimes the possibility of unintended consequences is not considered. Unfortunately, whether by oversight or some other force, policies get created which create perverse incentives. Our complicated tax law has got people doing all kinds of unproductive things in order to get around paying taxes. In our welfare programs, we have some systems in place which actually make or keep people impoverished.

For example, consider a program which provides health insurance for families below the poverty line. For a family of four, this would be an income of $21,200 annually. If a job offer were extended to the father of this family for $30,000 per year, without health insurance, should he take it? It appears so, but actually, he might be worse off. If the health care benefit he is receiving is worth $12,100 per year (the average annual premium for an employer health plan covering a family of four), then in the first case, he is making practically $33,300; in the second case, he is only getting $17,900. The perverse incentive is for him to stay below the poverty line by staying underemployed.

What do you get when you extend welfare benefits to unwed mothers? Why, more unwed mothers, of course. This, in turn, creates more poverty. I’m sure the designers of our welfare programs did not intend to make more people impoverished. The fact is, when you pay for something, you get more of it.

The No Child Left Behind Act seems like a good idea, right? I mean, nobody wants to leave a child behind. The Act requires that schools show improvement in student test scores. This provides an incentive for the school to encourage low-performing students to drop out before they take the test. Oops.

Or, consider the various Digital Rights Management schemes which make it harder to copy and access music, movies, or video games. It seems like a good idea, right? But there are some fair uses of copyrighted material which DRM prevents, like saving your movies to your computer’s hard drive so you can watch them without having to bother with the discs. Since pirated content doesn’t have these restrictions, it creates a perverse incentive for people to pirate content instead of buying it, which is exactly the opposite of what the designers intended.

Instead of blindly reforming, we need to carefully consider all the implications of a policy before implementing it. There is an ecological balance, and if you adjust one side of the equation, you’ve got to deal with the other side, too.

PocketPC PowerToys

Microsoft has released a set of software tools they are calling “PowerToys,” for the Windows Mobile platform. They include such tools as:

1. A theme generator
2. An expense tracking tool
3. A remote display tool for showing your handheld’s desktop on your PC
4. A new and improved password application

Plus a few more. You can download PowerToys at Microsoft Technet.

101 Educational Uses for Your Handheld

Everyone loves lists, so you might be interested in this one: 101 Great Educational Uses for Your Handheld Computer. Some notable items include:

6.Take attendance
16.Keep an inventory of books and other instructional materials
45.Record voice notes
61.Gather data on temperature, light, voltage, pH, and more with data probes
93.Build a robot controlled by a handheld device

Check out the link if you want to find out even more ways to effectively use handheld technology in education.

Undercroft RPG

Version 1.14 of Undercroft was just released. It is available for Windows Mobile 2003 as well as Windows Mobile 5.0. There’s also a Windows XP version. Here is what they say about its features:

  • 20 hours of total play time (on the average).
  • Quest based gameplay with elaborate plot and plenty of sidequests to gather extra experience
  • 5 characters with unique skills and spells.
  • Hundreds of items, over 60 kind of enemies.
  • Enhanced interface overcoming many disadvantages of older games and keeping all the extensive functionality quickly on hand
  • Sophisticated graphics with strong fantasy atmosphere
  • Plastic level design with holes, bridges, roofed and opened areas and other features unseen in classic “dungeon” RPG before
  • Classic, but also very untraditional weaponry (e.g. chains for assassins, sabreteeth for summoners etc.)

While it might be a bit of a fun diversion, I am unimpressed with the graphics. I am even less impressed with the poor English translation. What kind of a game has a monster called Fat Dead?

Anyway, check it out at Rake in Grass Games if you’re interested. It’s $19.95, but you can download a free demo.