Page 3 – Colorado Politics

February 20, 201511min143
After more than 35 amazing years at The Colorado Statesman, I have made the difficult yet exciting decision to turn over the reins to allow me to focus on some other writings and to build on my relationships to further shape our community. These years have been filled with incredible experiences, political drama and deep […]

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February 20, 20158min1310
HUDSON: POLITICIANS & TECHNOLOGY — A MATCH MADE IN HELL

Several years ago while visiting Los Angeles, I found myself trapped on a gridlocked freeway, not an unusual predicament in America’s strip mall utopia. The car idling immediately in front of mine sported a bumper sticker that suggested, “FOR A LISTING OF ALL THE WAYS TECHNOLOGY HAS IMPROVED YOUR LIFE, PLEASE PRESS 3.” The voice on my car radio was reporting that the computer controlling local streetlights had crashed. Traffic was moving at a crawl everywhere. Time to reach an exit, crawl to a sports bar and quaff a cold beer or two or three.

Colorado’s Obamacare Health Exchange, Connect for Health, continues to struggle with its custom enrollment software. Most of the time computers have introduced efficiencies and improved productivity in public services, just as they have in the private sector. Licensing applications, zoning and property records, as well as a myriad of other citizen interactions

with government have migrated to interactive Internet databases. While these databases undoubtedly save tax dollars, reduce public payrolls and offer convenience, they have also produced many of the same consequences that social media has created in our personal lives.

Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 report fewer close friends they can talk to than they did just 10 years ago. Millenials report shrinking confidence in their social skills as well as in their personal capacity to form strong friendships or sustain romantic relationships. Loneliness threatens to become a creeping epidemic. In fact, the more time individuals spend “online” communicating with virtual friends the more constricted their actual, reality based social networks are. Recently the first 12-step program for Internet addiction opened its doors in Boulder. Technology’s great connector is proving an isolation chamber designed primarily to deliver us commercial messages. A similar sense of alienation extends to our interactions with government. Democracy no longer feels like an expression of democratic priorities, but more an insider’s game operated of, by and for “them.” (Pick your preferred malefactors.)

Of course, the estrangement between government and voters works both ways. With the exception of cops, firefighters, social workers and assorted inspectors, most government employees have few if any contacts with the people their programs are intended to serve. Regulations are frequently written in a vacuum and then promulgated to an ambushed public. Most legislators possess a slippery grasp on the capabilities of technology, presuming it capable of magical feats.

Following the Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s and the gasoline shortages it produced, the Colorado Legislature glommed on a car-pooling clearinghouse for metro Denver as a grand idea. At the time, I was working for Mountain Bell. Together with several other large employers, we testified that uniform data collection and reporting standards would be necessary if this proposed program were to prove successful. In order for workers to identify commuters living close to them who were headed to similarly close work locations would require an identification grid using agreed upon coordinates. There was no Internet at the time, and a central manager was needed to collate and coordinate these expressions of interest. Ken Kramer, then a Republican state representative from Colorado Springs and later a congressman, commented in jest that if he had to understand computer system requirements his constituents were in trouble. Of course, he was right. Legislators knew what they wanted to accomplish but hadn’t the slightest idea how to make that happen. Eventually, management of the system was located at Denver Regional Council of Governments, and a ride arranger program has operated there ever since.

All of which brings us back to Obamacare and the failure of its federal website. The custom software industry has a long history of faltering start-ups. Although there has been some improvement in recent years, a rule of thumb has been that 60 percent of software will fail, in whole or in part, upon its initial implementation, and only half of flawed systems can be salvaged. In other words, just 40 percent deliver on time, while 30 percent fail fatally and require a start over from scratch. In a world where private sector computer software appears to operate seamlessly, the failure of public systems always draws attention. The decade-long saga of CBMS, the Colorado Benefits Management System, spans three administrations, a court imposed “fix it” order, at least two “clean-up” czars, and has consumed nearly a hundred million dollars in development costs. CBMS still evidences shortcomings.

Our President claimed he expected federal health care exchanges to operate like Expedia or Travelocity. Private firms cannot afford marketplace failures so they skim the cream of the geek crop for their “in-house” IT departments. Even during the recent economic collapse, coders were the least likely to lose their jobs or experience pay cuts. If anything, they were more in demand than ever as employers searched for innovative ways to reduce costs. Alas, custom software developers know little about government, and government employees frequently fail to fully explain precisely what they are doing. It’s also common for their existing software systems to be legacy dinosaurs — patched for decades, relying on programming languages now largely extinct.

The exchanges called for in the Affordable Care Act contemplated integrating inputs from a half dozen federal databases, together with the unique requirements of state-by-state regulatory insurance regimens, no two of which are the same. What were they smoking? Most of the Coloradans signing up for insurance through Connect for Health have finalized their decisions during one-on-one discussions with Navigators, brokers and counselors at the Exchange phone bank. Duh!

Miller Hudson is a public affairs consultant. He can be reached at mnhwriter@msn.com.



February 20, 20155min83
For those too young to remember the treatment of Vietnam veterans as they returned to civilian life, a reminder is in order. There is a reason why so many veterans subscribe to the admonition that, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” whatever their opinion of the wisdom of our current conflicts. I […]

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February 20, 20156min84
Born in Pueblo in 1943, Kent Haruf has emerged as the premier chronicler of life on our eastern plains through the vehicle of his fictional creation: Holt, Colorado. Based on his years as a schoolteacher in Yuma, also Senator Cory Gardner’s hometown, Haruf published three novels that earned him critical acclaim as the Plainsong Trilogy. […]

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February 20, 201512min820

Fifty Shades of Grey

Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford; directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine Sofia Boutella; directed by Matthew Vaughn

The following contract must be signed in order for potential moviegoers to view the films Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service. Please read every section of this contract before entering any theater showing said films as failure to do so can result in eye and brain damage and false expectations. The offeror of this contract is not liable for any such damage and deflated expectations. Of course, a prospective audience member is free to enter theaters showing these films at his or her own risk, but Politi-Flix and The Colorado Statesman cannot be held liable for any pain and suffering experienced thereby. Reading and signing this contract absolves Politi-Flix and The Colorado Statesman of any liability for false advertising or failure to disclose every aspect of these films that were unexpected and/or inflicted any distress or discomfort.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Made this day February 13 of 2015 (“The Viewing Date”)

BETWEEN

Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service (“The Dominants”) and Critic Man of “The Colorado Statesman ” (“The Submissive”)

Contract

THE PARTIES AGREE AS FOLLOWS
1. The following are the terms of a binding contract between the Dominants and the Submissive.

FUNDAMENTAL TERMS

2. The fundamental purpose of this contract is to allow the Submissive to explore the limits of his endurance regarding the cinematic offerings of the Dominants (Fifty Shades of Grey and Kingsman: The Secret Service), with due regard for his well-being.

3. The Dominants and the Submissive each warrant that they are not bound to any previous depictions or statements regarding films of this genre that would prejudice the experience of watching and reviewing such entertainment. If during the Term (as defined below) or any extended term of this contract either becomes aware of any such preconceptions, he or they undertakes to inform the other immediately.

4. Adherence to the warranties, agreements and depictions herein are fundamental to this contract. Any breach shall render it void and allow each party to express themselves in any way they deem appropriate and necessary.

5. Everything in the contract must be viewed, read and interpreted in the light of fundamental entertainment quality.

DOMINANTS

6.1 The Dominants shall endeavor to take tired and well-worn cinematic genres (such as Cinderella, My Fair Lady, James Bond, Pretty Woman, Jason Bourne, Nymphomania, Blue is the Warmest Color, Mission: Impossible, Beauty and the Beast, American Psycho, etc.) and make them fresh by spicing them up to reflect the publics’ tastes and preferences in 2015.

6.2 The Dominants shall contain depictions of the infliction of pain, pleasure and suffering in ways designed to be unique as well as to titillate and shock.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

6.3 The Dominants shall depict their worlds in high-class style and elegantly suave tastes complete with tailored suits, neckties, opulent offices, private aircraft, and expensive technological gadgets.

6.4 The Dominants shall feature silky, elegant neckties as critical plot devices to help define certain characters’ identities, styles and desires.

6.5 The Dominants shall require all sorts of elaborate “tests” that must be endured, performed and passed in order for characters to evolve and the plot to advance.

6.6 The Dominants shall include an elegant, secret, private room wherein displayed in an orderly fashion are all sorts of elaborate, high-class gadgets that the characters use on each other in order to achieve pleasure and various strategic, interpersonal objectives.

6.7 The Dominants shall include elaborate technology and resources so that characters can surveil each other and track them no matter where they travel, such as desolate wintery mountaintops and Savannah, Georgia.

6.8 The Dominants shall feature the elaborate and extensive “training” of a young, naïve yet plucky, good-looking character so that they can become experienced adults and yet still needing to be mentored and tutored.

6.9 The Dominants shall include classical music on their soundtracks, in addition to selections of hip, pop music of today.

6.10 The Dominants shall have their main characters leave at certain points during their intense training sessions only to return later and “turn the tables” on those that would seek to dominate them.

6.11 The Dominants shall feature main antagonists as super-secretive control freaks who have twisted perspectives on human interactions.

SUBMISSIVE

6.12 The Submissive shall take pains to point out that the Dominants strive to distinguish themselves from predecessor cinematic genres of a suave, rich male teaching a naïve young apprentice in the ways of the world only to have that apprentice also teach him a thing or two about living, and the efforts to break out of the constraints and formulaic stuffiness of such narrative constructs through the use of humor only to realize that these are indeed still bound to the narrative constraints of the genre.

6.13 The Submissive shall point out that the depictions of pain, pleasure and suffering is actually rather tame and routine; in fact, many other films of their type are much more graphic and gruesome — but then these other films were marketed to more specialized audiences while the Dominants attempt to appeal to more mainstream, vanilla tastes.

6.14 The Submissive shall accept the Dominants’ requisite narratives that require juxtaposition between the hyper-rich and the struggling poor so that the hyper-rich can be taken down a notch while at the same time instilling a covetous desire to achieve such opulence by the underprivileged characters as well as the underprivileged viewers.

6.15 The Submissive shall endure the cinematic “tests” of patience while watching the Dominants perpetuate lengthy, obvious plots of dramatic struggles to face down those who would seek to rule over the characters and the inevitable conclusion of heroes vanquishing psychologically troubled bad guys.

6.16 The Submissive will accept the fact that all filthy rich guys must have loyal confidants that interact with the main characters and act as sounding boards and potential adversaries.

6.17 The Submissive shall be resigned that the Dominants’ naïve young main characters will find some inner strength and rise above the torment that they must endure to become well-trained, well-adjusted adults who know what they want and can stand up for themselves.

6.18 The Submissive will have to accept the fact that the main antagonists will possess over-the-top, quirky, kinky, weird, psycho personalities so as to be especially distained.

ACTIVITIES

7. The Submissive shall not participate in activities or any act that would be deemed unappreciated by the Dominants such as getting up and walking out during the Dominants’ presentations, taking out and using a smartphone, uttering loud snoring sounds, guffawing within audible levels, becoming disingenuously shocked or embarrassed, etc.

SAFEWORDS

8. The Dominants and the Submissive recognize that the Dominants may make demands on the Submissive that cannot be met without incurring physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, auditory, or other harm at the time the Submissive endures the Dominants’ presentations. In such circumstances, the Submissive may make use of Safewords. Two such Safewords will be invoked depending on the severity of the demands.

9. The Safewords “This is unendurably hackneyed and silly” will be used to bring to the attention of anyone wishing to see the Dominants’ presentations that the Submissive is close to his limit of endurance.

10. The Safewords “Where the hell’s the exit?!” will be used to bring to the attention of anyone wishing to see the Dominants’ presentations when the Submissive cannot tolerate any further demands. When these words are said, the Submissive is free to perform the action in the words and the Dominants’ actions will cease completely with immediate effect.

COMMENCEMENT AND TERM
11. This contract shall be effective for as long as the Dominants exist in theaters or in any other media venue.

CONCLUSION

12. The Dominants and the Submissive have read, watched, mildly enjoyed and somewhat understood the provisions of this contract. We freely accept the terms of this contract and have acknowledged this by our comments above. We do not plan to sign this contract as it is nonbinding and simply instrumental to our collective objectives. Have a nice day!
Doug Young is the longtime film critic for The Colorado Statesman, and his only contractual obligation is to keep producing witty, wordy film reviews.



February 20, 20152min83
Dear Editor, This bill would require taxpayers to reimburse owners of mineral rights for the property value lost where hydraulic fracking has been banned or limited. My name is on two US patents for hydraulic fracking technology. I worked as a consultant to major oil companies, DOE, DOD and major corporations. I own stock in […]

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February 20, 20152min88
Dear Editor, I am all for Vic Meyers to take over the helm of the Colorado Democratic Chairmanship position. Vic’s philosophy is working from the ground up and not the top down. Vic is a maverick and not a green horn. Our present state party leadership totally lost its bearings in the latest November election. […]

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