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More Dogs on Main Street

Katie Couric is going to CBS! Katie Couric is going to CBS! That was the biggest news story since the hurricanes on the TV news this week. Somehow, the idea that the perky, morning soft news personality was going to move to CBS and take over the anchor job at the CBS Evening News was more important than anything else. She made the announcement on the Today Show. By fall, she will be warming the chair once occupied by the venerable Walter Cronkite.

Couric is probably best known for her on-air colonoscopy, but is also accomplished at flipping pancakes and sitting in front of the fireplace at The Canyons during the Olympics. Cronkite is probably best known as the man who invented TV news, and was called "the most trusted man in America." I hesitate to jump to the conclusion that the dumbing-down of America is complete — we could have Paris Hilton in the anchor chair, topless, to really prove the downfall of civilization — but we are certainly moving in that direction. But as Walter used to say each night, "and that’s the way it is."

But while the nation was breathless over Katie’s move to CBS, a couple of other national news items kind of slipped through the cracks. Brian J. Doyle, the deputy press secretary of Homeland Security, was arrested in one of those Internet sex sting operations. He is charged with solicitation of an undercover agent whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl he had "met" through an Internet chat room. He had used his Homeland Security cell phone to set up the meeting with the "girl" and apparently was cruising for sex on his government computer. It’s not clear if he was doing this during office hours, or if the girl posed a threat to national security. As The Houston Chronicle put it, "His case raises doubts about the agency’s ability to ensure the security credentials of its own staff." Do you think?

In other Homeland Security news, The New York Post was complaining long and loud that the town of Dillingham, Alaska received $202,000 from Homeland Security to install 80 surveillance cameras on the salmon fishing harbor. Dillingham has about 2,400 people, so the cost was about $84 per person. The town is accessible only by sea or air — there are no roads in or out of town. The town said the cameras would "reduce certain types of criminal behavior." Fishermen will no longer relieve themselves over the dock. Apparently there is a concern that a bomb could be attached to a salmon that could swim upstream into the uninhabited interior of Alaska within days, breeding with other salmon, and over time, spreading millions of explosive salmon all over the frigid waters of the northern Pacific. Or something like that. If one of the fish exploded in Dillingham, it may take several weeks before anybody noticed.

The Post’s complaint was that New York is going to get a similar grant to buy surveillance cameras, but theirs equates to $6 per person, with most of the cost of installing cameras in the subways and ports borne by the city itself. Dillingham’s system is up and running while New York is still scraping the cash together. The Big Apple is whining that this is unfair. Among other things, they point out that a more logical priority may be to get better security around the New York Harbor and subway system first, and put Dillingham, Alaska somewhere down the list. Maybe in third or fourth place.

Anyway, we can all sleep more soundly knowing that Homeland Security is on the case.

Utah’s new marketing campaign was unveiled this week. The "Life Elevated" slogan and accompanying advertising materials show people skiing, fishing, camping, mountain biking and generally having fun in beautiful outdoor settings around Utah. The slogan is a result of months of work with focus groups and meetings all around the state. In the end, you have to admit that it’s a pretty, great slogan. The runner-up in the selection process was "Radioactive salmon." That was apparently already in use in Dillingham, Alaska.

The announcement was made at a big noontime party held on the 23rd floor of the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Salt Lake. The new coverage of the event is indicative of how things work around here. The Salt Lake Tribune mentioned that champagne was served in the first sentence of their article on the event. The Deseret News article didn’t think the champagne was worthy of mention. Maybe it was really cheap champagne. "Life Elevated" replaces an existing marketing slogan. I bet if you think really hard, you still won’t be able to remember it. But try

When it comes to state slogans, I don’t think anything can beat "Famous Potatoes." Idaho has stuck with that through thick and thin. The national potato growers lobby group is actually moving their offices from Boise to Salt Lake because they wanted to have better access to a bigger airport. I thought we might be able to get Famous Potatoes to move south with them, but Idaho wouldn’t part with it.

"Live Free or Die" has been on the New Hampshire license plates for many years. That says a lot about the state and its people. "Stars Fell on Alabama" is a fairly new slogan that I frankly don’t get, but I guess it’s stronger than "Famous Mildew." I saw a car in the resort parking lot the other day that had what has to be the worst state slogan ever on its license plate: http://www.pennsylvania.com. Now there’s an image-maker.

Utah officials have not said whether "Life Elevated" will be gracing our license plates next year. While it’s not as good as "Famous Potatoes," it works.

By the way, the old slogan was "Utah! Where Ideas Connect." Bet you didn’t know that.


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