Cole town meeting gets old

March 31st, 2005

Either the town of Wilson has a mighty nice storm shelter, or a pretty crappy gymnasium.

U.S. Representative Tom Cole visited with Wilson residents Monday during a special town hall meeting at the new community storm shelter and physical education facility.

Or perhaps their nice recreation facility makes for a crappy storm shelter. Or … Ah who cares? They’re probably all old farts anyway. Topics of the meeting included Social Security, nursing homes, and rumors about closing the Veterans Center in Ardmore.

Big crime, little jail

March 31st, 2005

Bryan County doesn’t need no fancy detective to get to the bottom of things. They have Sheriff Sturch to figure things out.

Area growth, more arrests blamed for jail overcrowding

And here I was thinking the criminals were just getting fatter.

Bush think

March 31st, 2005

Most everyone agrees that President Bush is not the brightest bulb, but he doesn’t seem too concerned about the results of this presidential commission report belittling his intelligence.

U.S. Intelligence ‘Dead Wrong’ on Iraq-Report

The commission’s bluntly written report, based on more than a year of investigations, offered a damning assessment of the intelligence that President Bush used to launch the Iraq war two years ago and warned that flaws are “still all too common” throughout spy agencies.

The commission called for a broad overhaul in the intelligence community …

Bush said he agreed that fundamental change is needed and vowed to “correct what needs to be fixed.”

Hmmm… What choice does Bush have? He’d be a fool to draw from his “intelligent” people; the very folks that got him into this mess in the first place. So…

He directed White House homeland security adviser Fran Townsend to lead a review of the findings over 90 days and oversee corrections.

I guess when the entire U.S. Intelligence community needs overhauling, one person should be enough to handle it.

Just open a window

March 30th, 2005

Everyone knows the earth’s biosphere is pretty much a closed system; meaning we’re stuck with the resources we have. They can be recycled, filtered or otherwise altered, but there’s no Milky Way Wal-Mart to replenish earth’s pantry, or a lunar landfill to haul our crap to. In light of this fact, it’s not difficult to believe this:

Humans are damaging the planet at an unprecedented rate and raising risks of abrupt collapses in nature that could spur disease, deforestation or “dead zones” in the seas, an international report said on Wednesday.

“Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted,” it said.

I’m sure, Sen. Inhofe can nitpick some conclusions in this report from 1,360 experts in 95 countries, yet the basic premise remains; we’re fouling our nest faster than it can handle.

Arguing about the degree of the problem, or in Inhofe’s case whether there is a problem at all, is sort of like debating the exact date Social Security goes broke. We know we can’t go on like this, but let’s ignore the problem since we can’t agree to the severity.

It’s this mindset of national leaders, who think the answer to pollution is equivalent to opening a window to let the fumes from our kerosene space heater out of the house, that helps perpetuate this problem. Or at best, wonder why everyone doesn’t live in all electric homes, because we all know electricity is non-polluting.

And it’s also the mindset of folks who are turned off by even discussing this stuff and leaving the decisions up to those who profit from the status quo. That way we won’t get depressed. Like so many things, we can leave that for following generations.

Don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes

March 30th, 2005

For those of you disgusted by having to wait every 15 minutes for Oklahoma’s Mesonet to transmit weather data from its 110 monitoring stations in all 77 counties, disgust no more.

Mesonet Data Now Available Every Five Minutes

Since the network’s inception, Oklahoma Mesonet stations have recorded observations every five minutes. However, technology dictated that these observations could be collected only every 15 minutes.

Well, thanks to the hard work of Mesonet personnel too numerous to mention, data is now available in its native state: in five-minute chunks. That’s right: instead of updating the 2:15 observation with the 2:30 observation, it will be updated with the 2:20 observation!

Moreover, the updates should be available within five minutes of collection time.

Web users may notice changes first: maps and meteograms seem to be updating robustly. Plug-in and WeatherScope users should see dramatic changes soon!

But I still have one gripe. The limited data collected.

Certain instruments are located at every Mesonet site to measure the standard-primary variables. These variables are as follows:

* air temperature measured at 1.5 meters above the ground,
* relative humidity measured at 1.5 meters above the ground,
* wind speed and direction measured at 10 meters above the ground,
* barometric pressure,
* rainfall,
* incoming solar radiation and
* soil temperatures at 10 centimeters below the ground under both the natural sod cover and bare soil.

Additional instruments are placed at most sites to measure standard-secondary variables. These include the following:

* air temperature at 9 meters above the ground,
* wind speed at 2 and 9 meters above the ground,
* soil moisture at 5, 25, 60 and 75 centimeters below the ground,
* soil temperatures at 5 and 30 centimeters below the ground under the natural sod cover and
* soil temperature at 5 centimeters below the bare ground.

Although I can find out the wind speed at my face level (2 meters), I have to settle for the air temperature at chest level (1.5 meters). You call that good monitoring?

Bricktown flashback

March 30th, 2005

I visited Bricktown last night for the first time since the last comedy club closed its doors there some time ago. The wife and I were always big fans of the Bricktown comedy clubs from the beginning, back when you had to step over the bums to get to you car in the dirt parking lots. Bricktown was just starting to get serious (perhaps too serious?) about developing when the struggling clubs fizzled out.

We cruised through and took a short walk along the canal. The place has cleaned up right purty. We ate at the Bourbon Street Cafe and the Black Magic (blackened catfish smothered with a shrimp and crawfish etouffee, mixed vegetables and a tasty dirt rice – $13.95) was very good, as was the service.

The Ford Center is convenient and a decent place for a concert. My music review? I like John Mellencamp more now than before I went; Donovan too. Of course, I am just now coming down from my flashback induced while listening to a long version of Hurdy Gurdy Man.

All in all, a very enjoyable evening in Bricktown. Well done OKC!

Now, how about a sense of humor to go along with all that serious development?

OSHA burdens business

March 29th, 2005

Last December, Yaffe Iron and Metal in Muskogee had a furnace explosion in which two workers died. After an investigation, OSHA cited the company for essentially not knowing what they were doing.

The company was cited for inadequate documentation for certain chemical elements and the dangers of mixing them with aluminum; failing to ensure that the company’s safety officer went through proper company safety training; and not having a material safety data sheet easily accessible to employees.

Now Yaffe owners are disputing this with OSHA hoping to reduce the less than $10,000 in fines.

This may seem petty to the normal blue collar worker who risks life and limb every day on the job, where some simple training or even an informational bulletin could save someone’s life. Yet this is the routine procedure for businesses that ignore safety laws and end up injuring and killing their own employees. It goes like this:

  1. Employer violates safety law.
  2. Tragedy occurs.
  3. OSHA investigates and issues citation.
  4. Company rebuts charges.
  5. Minimal fine is issued.
  6. News media reports fine.
  7. Company appeals citations and fines.
  8. Company renegotiates fines to trivial amount.
  9. Company lobbyists demand protection from future liabilities.
  10. Greedy politicians push for laws protecting such employers in the name of jobs.
  11. More jobs become available since more workers are routinely injured.
  12. Greedy politicians are re-elected.
  13. Everyone wonders why we need OSHA.

Suspension: If not now, when?

March 28th, 2005

Some parents in Stilwell are trying to tell school officials how to discipline a nine-year old kid for an incident that happened back on March 4th. We are talking about trained school administrative professionals, and according to Stilwell Superintendent Marion Bayles, he’s already on it.

“We’ve taken extra precautions at our elementary and increased personnel,” Bayles said. “We handle each situation on a case by case basis, but there are laws and regulations we have to abide by. Principal [Jerry] Knight contacted me when this happened and we called the school attorney, Andrea Kunkel.”

Bayles said the student was not suspended due to the regulations and constraints of federal law.

So what was the big deal that parents feel school officials should disregard federal law over?

A third grade student faces charges after holding an open knife to the throat of one student and the back of another before school.

It’s not like anyone died.

The stabbing reportedly did not draw blood.

And it’s not as if school officials didn’t notify the victims’ parents. One kid’s parents found out within four days, long before schools officials had a chance to notify them.

It was 18 days before the parents of the other victim were notified.”

There’s a lot more to this story, but the bottom line is: If our school system is this screwed up, state legislators should be discussing these secretive federal laws that contribute to unruly Oklahoma schools rather than about half the crap they do now.

Get excited!

March 28th, 2005

Governor Jack Walton just delivered his latest issue of the Oklahoma Partisan. The “big” story this issue:

Hiett asked to wear looser pants when discussing lawsuit reform
Some say speaker’s enthusiasm is too obvious

Volume 2 Issue 8 (pdf)
(See left hand column ad for login instructions.)

Sex and power in Oklahoma

March 27th, 2005

While Angelina Jolie doesn’t strike me as the most beautiful woman in the world, you won’t get an argument from me with her being one of the sexiest.

Actress and activist Angelina Jolie, 29, has been voted the sexiest woman in the world by readers of FHM, a men’s magazine. Spears, who topped the “100 Sexiest Women” list last year, did not even make the cut for 2005.

Note that Angelina was also recognized for her activism.

Only so many people can be beautiful, yet many more folks can be sexy. Brittany Spears is not very sexy to me. Brittany types are fun to look at, but it’s the clean, secure, woman-next-door type who, in addition to being attractive, harmonizes charm, wit and power that warms my cockles. (Yeah I know cockles are plants, but it sounded good.)

For this reason, I find many Oklahoma women especially sexy. They pop up everywhere! But then I got to thinkin’… OK, fantasizing; who are the sexiest women influencing Oklahoma? Let’s find out!

Okiedoke is sponsoring the Oklahoma Sexiest Power Woman Awards. But I need your help in choosing the nominees.

Recognized women who are either currently, or have been, in government office, or top positions in business, journalism, academic institutions, the arts, non-profit community work or members of the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame, are eligible.

To submit a nominee, please leave a comment with a link to a recent photograph of the nominee and a brief biography. Nominations will close April 14, 2005. Decisions for eligibility will be up to me. Beauty is not the determining factor for eligibility.

The nominees so far:

Sandy Garrett, Brenda Reneau, Mary Fallin,Vicki Miles-LaGrange

Kim Henry, Debbie Blackburn, Jeannie McDaniel, Pam Peterson, Nancy Riley

Susan Savage, Nancy Coats, Leona Mitchell, Anita Hill, Sherri Coale

After the close of nominations, a polling site will be set up to determine the winners.

Suggestions are welcomed for a suitable gift to award Oklahoma’s Sexiest Power Woman.

Addendum – The polling site is up and collecting nominations. Nominees will be added as they come in.