Utah’s regulatory ‘sandbox’ is more like a black box, Robert Gehrke writes


Particulars about corporations looking for regulatory waivers are non-public, company enter is confidential and advisory committee conferences are closed.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Gehrke.

Final yr, Utah acquired nationwide consideration when it handed a first-of-its-kind “regulatory sandbox,” enabling companies with new concepts to petition for waivers from state rules which may hamper getting their improvements to market.

However critics of this system say the sandbox is extra like a black field — a flaw of this system I highlighted when the laws was signed into legislation.

To search out out what had been happening within the regulatory sandbox, two weeks in the past I filed an open-records request to the Governor’s Workplace of Financial Alternative and final week acquired a letter that information both didn’t exist or had been exempt from public disclosure.

So far, regardless of the fanfare, virtually no companies have sought to play within the sandbox.

Simply two corporations have sought waivers of state rules and neither has but been authorized, wrote Dane Ishihara, the director of the Workplace of Regulatory Aid, in response to my letter. However nothing concerning the corporations or the aid they’re looking for is accessible to the general public.

Purposes submitted by the businesses are explicitly exempt from public disclosure with a purpose to defend proprietary info and commerce secrets and techniques.

After an software is submitted, the state companies tasked with oversight are given a chance to supply suggestions on the requested waivers. These company critiques, Ishihara wrote, are additionally not accessible to the general public.

The Regulatory Aid Advisory Fee, an appointed board that critiques the departmental enter and recommends whether or not to approve or deny the request, is expressly exempt from Utah’s Open Public Conferences Act, which means agendas and minutes can’t be disclosed, in line with Ishihara.

I plan to enchantment the denial however with the present interpretation, the primary probability you or I’ll get to seek out out what rules is likely to be waived and for which corporations will probably be after Ishihara executes a written settlement with the businesses.

That doesn’t sit properly with the leaders of the Utah Land Title Affiliation, which lately despatched a letter to Gov. Spencer Cox expressing considerations a couple of waiver it says — based mostly on info from the director of GOEO, Dan Hemmert — is being thought-about for Homie Title.

Three years in the past, the Legislature brokered a deal to resolve a bitter struggle between actual property brokerages, which wished to maneuver into the title enterprise, and the title corporations who wished to guard their turf.

The settlement lets actual property companies arrange a title firm, however solely 70% of the title firm enterprise can come from the affiliated brokerage.

I do know, it’s convoluted, however the level is that now Homie is making an attempt to make use of the sandbox to get a waiver from that rule, in line with the letter from Justin Sutherland, president of the Utah Land Title Affiliation, and Cort Ashton, the group’s legislative chairman.

The affiliation contends that there’s nothing new or modern about what Homie does, that the waiver exemption would violate the deal made three years in the past and the sandbox committee is working in secret.

“We discover the shortage of accountability and entry to info surprising,” Sutherland and Ashton wrote. “It’s referred to as a ‘Sandbox,’ not a ‘Black Field.’ We will consider no state authorities sphere through which this ‘Black Field’ strategy can be tolerated.

They’re proper. As a result of whether or not or not there’s benefit to Homie’s software (and proper now there’s no method for us to know), authorities rules needs to be designed to guard and serve the general public curiosity and, due to this fact, have to be achieved with the general public in thoughts and with public enter.

There could also be an opportunity so as to add some daylight to the method. On Monday, the Home authorized Home Invoice 243, sponsored by Rep. Cory. Maloy, that may require conferences of the Regulatory Aid Advisory Fee to be public — except closing the assembly is critical to guard proprietary info.

It’s a primary step, however an essential one. As a result of if we don’t know which corporations are looking for waivers and why, there’s no method for us to know if our pursuits are nonetheless being protected or if the sandbox is being changed into a litter field for formidable firms.

A calligrapher writes with light to keep tradition alive | NOVA



Tech + EngineeringTech & Engineering

Outfitted with a lightweight and a digital camera, Karim Jabbari hopes his work can function a hyperlink between conservative conventional calligraphy and our augmented actuality.

Gentle calligraphy in Australia. Picture courtest of Karim Jabbari

Karim Jabbari nonetheless remembers how painful it was to stroll down the road together with his household as a toddler and see his neighbors flip away. “Nobody was keen to speak to us in public,” he says. Jabbari’s father was a political prisoner, an activist and “public enemy” of the dictatorship that then dominated Tunisia. His household was underneath strict police surveillance, and anybody seen speaking to them was instantly suspect as properly.

Ten-year-old Jabbari, lonely and lacking his father, seemed for different methods to fill his time. What he discovered was his father’s trove of 400-year-old non secular texts, inherited from an ancestor who had been a famend scholar of Islam. The books had been written in an outdated type of North African calligraphy referred to as Maghrebi script. “It’s an artwork type that speaks to your soul, even in case you don’t perceive the message,” he says. “I noticed the trouble of those individuals spending a lot time, writing a thousand pages by hand. I noticed the lengthy nights; I noticed my father, his smile.”

Earlier than lengthy, he was obsessed, copying what he noticed within the books time and again till the arcs and features settled into his muscle tissue. That obsession solely grew as soon as he left his hometown of Kasserine to go to boarding faculty, and his new ability attracted mates—the one factor he’d by no means had.

Right this moment, Jabbari, now 42, is a full-time artist primarily based in Canada and the U.S., utilizing murals, graffiti, and specialised expertise to carry conventional Arabic calligraphy to a world viewers. He worries {that a} craft that prizes meditative focus and prolonged coaching shall be misplaced in an period so centered on agility and velocity. His work, he hopes, can function a form of bridge, “a hyperlink between conservative conventional calligraphy and our augmented actuality.”

Karim Jabbari makes use of long-exposure images to seize phrases written with handheld lights. Picture courtesy of Karim Jabbari

Calligraphy—and calligraphers—have resisted new applied sciences for hundreds of years. For starters, Arabic and its sibling, Persian, used non-Latin alphabets that made them tough to adapt to be used in printing expertise developed within the West, says Behrooz Parhami, an engineer who has studied how Arabic and Persian scripts have advanced alongside expertise. Bodily typefaces constructed for Persian and Arabic’s related letters are extra fragile, vulnerable to chipping and cracking. And in the event that they aren’t completely made, white areas seem between letters that shouldn’t be there.

The scripts additionally included letters with components stacked on high of neighboring letters, which was unattainable to recreate utilizing the separate blocks of moveable sort. They usually various in top and width rather more than Latin characters, which means that the frequent printing apply of adjusting typefaces to make letters about the identical dimension would render phrases illegible. That “could be disastrous,” Parhami says. “It might be very tough to learn.”

It due to this fact is smart that in Persia and the Arab world, phrases merely remained handwritten for hundreds of years longer than in Europe, Parhami says. The printing press unfold shortly throughout Western Europe within the 1460s and 70s, however it will be one other 250 years earlier than the Ottomans, who dominated a lot of the Muslim world, allowed the opening of a print store. In Persia, it will be almost 400 years earlier than printing grew to become commonplace. And in modern-day Turkey, authorities finally resolved the typeface difficulty within the Twenties by altering that nation’s script from Arabic-based to Latin-based.

Karim Jabbari’s father’s books. Picture Courtesy of Karim Jabbari

Nonetheless, Parhami attributes this delay not simply to the technical challenges but additionally to the hallowed function of the written phrase in these societies. Within the Arab world, calligraphy supplied an intimate connection to God by way of handwritten copying of the Quran and different non secular texts. Within the area that now largely constitutes Iran, the associated Persian script (which differs by 4 letters) grew particularly elaborate, pushed partially by a wealthy poetry custom, making the thought of mechanization—and the modifications to writing that will include it—much less interesting. Jabbari’s personal connection to his ancestors’ books have helped him perceive this pressure, he says. Arabic calligraphy’s historic hyperlink with the Quran makes it a sacred type, he says. It was revered for hundreds of years “and when the printers come, all of that’s going to be dumped? That’s arduous.”

Though he empathizes, he’s additionally annoyed to see that very same resistance to alter in trendy Arabic calligraphy’s small, considerably insular neighborhood, which has typically been reluctant to embrace improvements like trendy fonts, computer-assisted publishing, and social media. Some conventional calligraphers have instructed him he doesn’t know the “actual craft” as a result of he was by no means capable of finding a mentor to formally train him Maghrebi script.  

“You generally is a stunning, wonderful, well-known, conventional calligraphy artist, however your artwork isn’t chatting with the youthful generations,” he says. Refusing to strive new issues or embrace new expertise leaves younger individuals out, he argues, and places your entire custom in danger. “‘Your artwork is dying with you,’ I mentioned to them. I’ve nothing however respect for you, however I’m taking calligraphy to the streets.”

Though Jabbari additionally paints murals that incorporate written components, “taking calligraphy to the streets” often means gentle portray: a mixture of long-exposure images and completely calibrated actions of a handheld gentle that captures the loops and swirls of Maghrebi Arabic in skinny air. In 2011, after Jabbari’s uncle was shot and killed together with 28 different younger males throughout the starting of the Arab Spring, he returned to Kasserine to just do such a efficiency piece. “I wished to jot down his identify in gentle portray, the identical place the place he died,” he says. After he completed honoring his uncle, he gave different households within the space the chance to do the identical, permitting them to jot down their family members’ names in house—a fleeting memorial fastened on movie.

Gentle calligraphy is a difficult medium. “You must know the bounds of the digital camera, what house it’s protecting,” he says. “You’ve got all of that house to discover, so you find yourself utilizing your physique as reference: making a line at chest degree, or one at hip degree.” In apply, that appears one thing like a mixture of dance, meditation, and craft. 

Jabbari has collaborated with dancers and musicians; he as soon as carried out within the background of a symphony orchestra in Abu Dhabi; and he builds yoga into his gentle calligraphy workshops. He just lately employed two software program builders to create a program that initiatives his actions in brief near-real-time loops onto skyscrapers, a form of ephemeral graffiti.

Gentle calligraphy by Karim Jabbari. Picture Credit score: Husam AlSayed

Since Jabbari arrived in Canada at 20 years outdated, calligraphy has turn out to be an essential method for him to carry onto his tradition and id. “I strongly consider that in case you don’t know your historical past, nobody will respect you,” he says. “How are you going to clarify to somebody who you’re, the place you come from, in case you don’t know that?”

Calligraphy has taught him that “we’re the sum of all of the information our ancestors transmitted to at least one one other,” he says. That’s how the artwork of calligraphy has been handed down—from grasp to scholar, who then turns into the following grasp—and likewise what calligraphy was for: recording historical past and knowledge to be shared with the following era.

Jabbari hopes his work will encourage the traditionalists to check out one thing new and the modernists to recollect the worth of custom, reminding them what writing could be: a type of escape, an journey in reminiscence. “The issue is, we’re not writing anymore,” he says. “It’s stunning to evolve, however in case you lose the connection along with your roots, you get misplaced.”

In 2013, Karim Jabbari and a bunch of youngsters from his hometown of Kasserine, Tunisia, labored for over a month to remodel a 750-foot-long jail wall into a large “calligraffiti” mural as a part of a mission known as In the direction of the Gentle. Picture courtesy of Karim Jabbari

A number of months after his efficiency on the web site of his uncle’s dying, Jabbari returned on the invitation of Tunisia’s newly fashioned authorities to the jail the place his father was held towards the tip of his 13-year sentence. Jabbari and a crew of younger males from the town, one of many nation’s poorest, labored for 45 days protecting its outer wall with an unlimited calligraphy mural, the longest in North Africa. The piece, which quotes a verse by the Tunisian poet Chebbi, reminds readers that “life doesn’t await those that are asleep.” It struck him as excellent for the second when so many Arab societies had been rejecting their dictators.

Throughout the Arab Spring, “I noticed the delivery of a brand new motion,” he says. In Tunisia, the revolution sparked a renewed curiosity in “calligraffiti,” which melds conventional calligraphy with a extra trendy, street-smart “graffiti” fashion. “That is one thing actually stunning,” he says. “These are people who find themselves happy with their language. They know what it means to them, as a part of their historical past and heritage, they usually’re utilizing it.”