After the caucus fiasco on Tuesday, it looks like there’s now a lot of support in Colorado to bring back presidential primary elections. Democrats’ turnout was too big and not everyone really got to participate, while the Republicans didn’t even bother voting on candidates. Many have pointed out that the whole process is hugely undemocratic, and primaries could help ameliorate the worst problems of caucuses.
The Republican debate at CU Boulder is happening tomorrow afternoon. Not surprisingly, it’s been quite controversial. Maybe more surprisingly is that much of the controversy has little to do with politics and much more to do with whether or not this is an appropriate use of university funds.
Last week, Boulder got a visit by the Secretary of Energy, Ernie Moniz, who gave a talk at the CU Law School on the Iran deal. While the DoE is one of the primary funding agencies for nuclear and particle physics, the general public doesn’t seem to realize what the DoE does. One of the main purposes of the DoE has always been nuclear research and security. Thus, the DoE is one of the main agencies that can evaluate the efficacy of nuclear nonproliferation agreements.
Moniz mostly gave a summary of the deal, which reportedly is much stronger than any previous such nuclear deal with any other country. I was hoping for some more technical discussion, but since this was a law school talk, it mostly dealt with the general terms and not too many technical details. Moniz did highlight the importance of the DoE and its staff in helping the US negotiation team.
Again, as this was a law school talk, time had to be spent on political reactions to the deal. Moniz obviously is pushing the position of the Obama administration, and I find his main argument to be pretty persuasive. The Iran deal as it stands now has been agreed to by all the countries involved (the so-called P5+1). Failing to pass the deal in the US does not bring the international sanctions back and the US has already had sanctions on Iran for so long that our sanctions alone can’t do much of anything. No one has offered a credible alternative (even military action isn’t particularly credible and would undermine US interests on all sorts of issues). My understanding is that building a basic nuclear weapon (similar to the ones the US built in 1945) is not actually that difficult once scientists work out how to enrich fuel, so the only long term solution to stopping someone from building a bomb is to convince them that they don’t need one. Basically, if the US hopes to achieve its foreign policy goals (and not just on this issue), approving the deal is the only realistic option. Anything else would make the US government seem like an unreliable partner in major international problems.
The past two days have been the move-in days for new students at the University of Colorado. This means that students are finally returning. It’s pretty obvious when students are around since there are a lot more people walking around.
In the latest Boulder wildlife story to inexplicably get picked up by national and even international news, a police officer encountered an owl on a road near Nederland. So, in the past couple months we’ve seen stories about bears, mountain lions, moose, and now owls.
It’s been announced that one of the Republican presidential primary debates will be hosted by none other than the University of Colorado. It’ll be at the end of October in the Coors Event Center (the basketball arena). Many people have already pointed out that Boulder is a rather odd place to have a Republican debate.
Wildlife in and around Boulder is back in the news today after a video was posted of a mountain lion trying to get a house cat somewhere outside the city. Luckily, the cat was inside a house, so the mountain lion was unable to eat it. Mountain lions aren’t as big as big cats but are still about the size of an adult human, so they are not something that you want to encounter outside.
Speaking of how to behave while in Colorado, a moose was spotted last night in downtown Boulder. Reportedly, a crowd of people surrounded it since this is an unusual occurrence. If you see a moose, DO NOT approach it, corner it, or interact with it in any way. Moose are very large and very dangerous. You do not want an angry or scared moose to charge you, even if it is just a juvenile.
After a very wet spring, the weather seems to have calmed down considerably, so a lot of trails are now free of snow and dry enough for hiking. In Boulder, basically all the trails are open again. Most of the damage from the floods in 2013 is also fixed, so you can go almost anywhere and not worry that the trail will be in bad shape.
Rocky Mountain National Park is not quite as ready yet since it’s at a much higher altitude. There’s still snow in a lot of the higher trails, and a lot of snow once you get above the treeline. The area around Bear Lake was mostly clear as of about a week ago, but the trails above the trailhead may still be snowy. Lower parts of the park should be almost totally clear. The snow will probably be diminishing quite rapidly over the next few weeks. I would guess that most of the shorter hikes are fine, but long hikes like scaling Longs Peak are probably still extremely dangerous.
Some tips if you want to hike in Colorado (and especially in the Front Range):
- Bring a lot of water: It is dry everywhere and hot at lower altitudes
- Use sunscreen: You will burn quickly without it
- Start early and end early: Sudden thunderstorms are common between around 1 and 5 pm and are quite dangerous, especially if you are over the treeline
- Avoid wildlife: There are a lot of dangerous animals. If you make noise while you’re hiking you should avoid running into things like bears and mountain lions
- Don’t start fires: Wildfires are common in such a dry climate
- Know your limits: If you’re not used to hiking at higher altitudes, be very careful. You will get tired much more quickly than at sea level
Hiking is generally very safe, but people do get seriously injured and even die every year, and many of those incidents can probably be avoided.
The Atlantic has a new article focusing on Boulder. It talks a lot about the Conference of World Affairs, which is what brought the author to town. The Conference of World Affairs is held every year at CU and just happened this past week. The article describes Boulder as a town primarily inhabited by various kinds of aging rich people, which honestly isn’t really wrong if you only look at full-time residents.