UPR Commentaries

Throughout the week UPR broadcasts insightful and entertaining commentaries from folks throughout Utah and beyond.

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Commentary
10:51 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Hobo Spiders: Be Warned

Recently I got a call from a telemarketer telling me that all my neighbors were getting together to hire her company to spray about their houses to kill hobo spiders.

I picked up the call because she didn’t phone from a 1-800 number, and she was so pleased that I was being polite that she must have run through three or four pages of script before I could say a word. She was warning me about the dangers of these homeless spiders, saying that they are more aggressive as the football season gets underway because that’s when these railroad vagabonds mate and move in with people.

When she finally did take a breath, I told her the honest truth, which is that I am a poor person, and while I feared all kinds of spiders equally, homeless or not, I could not afford her company’s services.

“How much would it cost to have one of your people drive by my house and yell, ‘Yo, spiders, get away from that house right now!’ " I asked her, using my best Rocky intonation.

That threw her off her rhythm a bit and she switched to the page you read if disturbed people say they are too poor to buy from you.

I am more afraid of spiders than anyone I know, but that is, in part, because I understand all spiders are basically tarantulas.

I do several things at nearly the same time if a tarantula gets on my person.

1. I emit a noise that sounds like several turkeys being electrocuted. Have you ever heard a siren that sounds like a turkey being electrified? Well, that was probably me.

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Commentary
11:09 am
Wed September 17, 2014

The One Percent

At the College of Humanities' Light on the Hill event in August, Associate Professor Matthew LaPlante gave a speech about being the one percent. This is his speech.


Commentary
11:52 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Oz And Suffrage: The Connection In New York

Matilda Gage was the mother-in-law of L. Frank Baum, Wizard of Oz author.
Credit The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation

Chittenango is a small village about 40 miles east of Syracuse, New York. We just got back from a trip to this little town because of Oz. Chittenango is where L. Frank Baum was born in 1856, and he is still its very favorite son. For the last 30 years, the town has held an OzFest, complete with Munchkins, musical entertainment, various guests associated with the MGM movie, an outdoor arts festival, and a great parade with floats, marching bands, and hand-waving-officials.

Thousands of people come to Chittenango every year for this celebration (last week there was an addition 20,000 souls lining the streets), and—this year— it's where the International Wizard of Oz Club decided to hold its annual meeting. Naturally, I dragged my husband across the United States to join hundreds of fellow travelers for not only a board meeting, a club convention, but also Chittenango's OzFest where, as Oz Club officials, we got to ride in the parade and were treated like royalty.

Seven miles to the west of Chittenango is another small burg: Fayetteville. It, too, is famous for its Oz connections. It is where L. Frank Baum's mother-in-law, Matilda Joslyn Gage, grew up. Like her son-in-law, Matilda would live to have a great impact on this country.


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Commentary
9:07 am
Sun June 15, 2014

Trombone Playing Father Came Up With Plan to Thwart Bully

Steve Eaton's dad, Ed Eaton, never took himself too seriously.
Credit Eaton Family

On this Father's Day, UPR special contributor and Deseret News columnist Steve Eaton reflects on life with his father, Ed.

I suppose some people would find my father’s behavior embarrassing.

I’m sure some frightened people were probably tempted, at first, to call the cops when they discovered him on their front lawn early in the morning playing happy birthday to them on his trombone. By his own admission, his old battered instrument from college never could deliver that pure sound he hoped it would. But if he was on your front lawn, it was played with such reckless abandon that it would be easy to imagine it represented 75 more trombones gathered together in a parade in your honor.

Despite his unorthodox approach to life, my father has four grown children who see such acts of off-tune love quite remarkable. To say we are proud of Dad, is an understatement. No one else had a dad who wore an umbrella hat in public.

He was a trend-setter for us. For example, my Dad taught us the sweetness of the “slow roll.” My Mom, who was always a grownup, was sharing with us something long and important at a family meeting when my Dad started to rock back and forth slowly on the floor on his back - as if he was in a giant infant rockaRoo.

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Commentary
12:02 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

So What Are We Afraid Of?

I have heard people speaking of fear a lot lately. Recently I heard a couple of new graduates express their fear of life beyond high school. A business manager recently told me about an employee who was behaving unusually toward co-workers and management. Everything about the situation suggested that the employee was frightened, lashing out one moment, retreating and defensive the next. On a larger scale, I read about war in the middle East and conflict in Ukraine, and the world watches, fearful of the possible outcomes and consequences. Closer to home, our own Tea Party rebellion in recent years seems mostly based upon fear. Several commercial radio and television programs cater to the fearful- and the rantings would be comical if not so scary.

So what are we afraid of? And what does fear do to our relationships and our economy? Must we be so afraid?
 


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Commentary
10:50 am
Tue June 3, 2014

The Things Kids Say: Science vs. Sports

I seldom take seriously what a 20-something-year old NFL draft rookie says, especially when he's got a beer in his hand and is splashing around poolside in Las Vegas over Memorial Day. But the Cleveland Browns's Johnnie Manziel's pitiful comments about his status relative to other folks, especially scientists, was something that caught my ears. And I didn't like what I heard.

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Commentary
12:57 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Marathon Man

UPR's Steve Eaton says he'll be running in a marathon next year. You can call him "Marathon Man."


Commentary
4:40 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

March Is For Melting In The Arctic

Davis Strait sea ice from 38,000 feet.
Credit Jennifer Pemberton

You're probably not thinking about the Arctic now that spring is here, but March is the month when the sea ice is at its maximum. UPR's Jennifer Pemberton flew over the Arctic this month and has this reflection on the season's melt and the more serious melt.


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Commentary
10:00 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Complicated People, Simple Relationships

We humans often do not understand each other very well. I heard a retired industrial worker recently lament, "My boss never understood me or any of his employees, and I never understood anything he did." I heard two radio news commentators recently discussing the tragedies of politics, diplomacy, and warfare continuing to unfold in the Middle East due to a lack of understanding.

It isn't surprising. People are complicated, fickle, and unpredictable. But because we live and work together, we must try to deal with it.

Individual people constitute great bundles of intellectual, emotional, behavioral, spiritual, and physical phenomena, internal contradictions, and anomalies. Social scientists tell us that societies exhibit similar complexities. It is all very complicated and difficult to understand.

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Commentary
9:51 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Morality By Law

Credit justice.gov

How many laws would it take to keep people from doing anything wrong? Call it "morality by law." Almost everyone can understand the necessity of law for an orderly and safe society. But at the extreme, where law is viewed as the only effective remedy, there are two serious problems.


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