Katrina give and take

August 31st, 2005

The destruction from Katrina will bring out the best in people. And the worst.

Oklahomans are known for their giving spirit, and Attorney General Drew Edmondson is cautioning those with charitable intentions to give generously but wisely.

“Oklahomans have proven it time after time,” Edmondson said. “We saw it after the Murrah Building bombing, Sept. 11, last December’s tsunami and countless tornados, Oklahomans always step up to help. The problem comes when scam artists try to cash in on our good will.

Guide to charitable giving in HTML and PDF.

Addendum – Lady Godiva recommends, in comments, Guidestar, to help evaluate charites.

Boomin’ Bixby?

August 31st, 2005


Bixby is a part of Tulsa Vision 2025. But I guess there’s some question by the Bixby Bulletin on whether there is actual renovation going on.

As of now, a majority hadn’t noticed.

Oklahoma hopes to grow midget technology

August 31st, 2005

Oklahoma’s tiniest website has big ideas.

Oklahoma is doing cutting edge research in a number of areas of nanotechnology. We have nano companies in medical treatments, advanced materials, and energy. The federal government is investing over $1 billion in nanotechnology research this year.

Together we can work to see that more of these funds come to Oklahoma researchers and that additional collaborations can be developed beyond our state’s borders. We welcome your thoughts on making this website more effective and better for everyone.

It’s a pretty decent website, although it will take much more than a pretty website to establish a small industry presence. For one thing, Americans have already handicapped this country’s work in nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology uses a basic unit of measurement called a “nanometer”. Nanometer is a metric word derived from “nano”, the Greek word for “midget”.

And that’s the problem; the metric system is greek to most Americans. The sad part is that we knew better.

  • 1866 – The use of the metric system made legal (but not mandatory) in the United States by the (Kasson) Metric Act of 1866 (Public Law 39-183). This law also made it unlawful to refuse to trade or deal in metric quantities.
  • 1964 – The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) made the metric system its standard “except when the use of these units would obviously impair communication or reduce the usefulness of a report.”
  • 1971 – The U.S. Metric Study resulted in a Report to the Congress: A Metric America, A Decision Whose Time Has Come. The 13-volume report concluded that the U.S. should, indeed, “go metric” deliberately and carefully through a coordinated national program, and establish a target date 10 years ahead, by which time the U.S. would be predominately metric.
  • 1974 – The Education Amendments of 1974 (Public Law 92-380) encouraged educational agencies and institutions to prepare students to use the metric system of measurement as part of the regular educational program.
  • 1975 – The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-168) passed by Congress. The Metric Act established the U.S. Metric Board to coordinate and plan the increasing use and voluntary conversion to the metric system. However, the Metric Act was devoid of any target dates for metric conversion.
  • 1979 – The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) requires wine producers and importers to switch to metric bottles in seven standard [liter and milliliter] sizes.
  • 1980 – The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) requires distilled spirits (hard liquor) bottles to conform to the volume of one of six standard metric [liter and milliliter] sizes.
  • 1982 – President Ronald Reagan disbanded the U.S. Metric Board and canceled its funding. Responsibility for metric coordination was transferred to the Office of Metric Programs in the Department of Commerce.
  • 1991 – President George H. W. Bush signed Executive Order 12770, Metric Usage in Federal Government Programs directing all executive departments and federal agencies implement the use of the metric system. The Executive Order is also available as an appendix to: Interpretation of the SI for the United States and Federal Government Metric Conversion Policy
  • 2000 – This deadline that all agreements, contracts, and plans processed by individual states for federally-funded highway construction be in metric units was canceled by Congressional action, leaving metric conversion as voluntary but still recommended to comply with the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. Several State Departments of Transportation continue to use the metric system despite the deadline being rescinded. See Did You Know That for more details on this topic.

Everyone knows we should be using the metric system, but the excuse is that the American public is too stupid to adapt. Yet, most Americans understand how to count money just fine. If we had stuck with our metric conversion plans in the 1970’s, the only folks still struggling with it would be some aging baby boomers. And since medicine and Social Security checks are already based on the decimal system, even the impact on them us would be minimal.

Perhaps we should change our monetary system to some cockamamie form of measurement to show people just how much sense the decimal system of measurement makes.

Besides, I’m sick of having to use two different sets of tools to work on things.

Confidential priority

August 30th, 2005

The federal government has finally concluded itsextensive investigation into the origins of the incidence of mad cow disease in Texas last June.

The government closed its investigation into the nation’s first domestic case of mad cow disease Tuesday, saying it could not pin down how a Texas cow was infected with the brain-wasting ailment.

The Agriculture Department and FDA said the investigation indicated there was no danger to human or animal health.

So, officials aren’t sure what happened, but are sure that it was an isolated case. In addition, they agreed to let the industry police itself in tracking animals for future outbreaks.

The move was applauded by the dominant cattle ranchers’ group, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which is creating its own tracking system and hopes the department will rely on it.

“Protection of producers’ rights and confidentiality is a top priority, and the industry is best equipped to do this,” said Mike John, a Missouri cattle producer and president-elect of the group.

Shows how little I know, I would never have suspected that confidentiality would be a top priority in preventing mad cow disease. Yet, if we want to reduce reported violations, this does make some sense since USDA inspectors are busy enough as it is.

Inspectors found more than 1,000 violations of rules aimed at preventing mad cow disease from reaching humans, the Agriculture Department said Monday.[Aug. 15]

You can bet that more inspectors would only result in more unconfidential violations.

Oklahomans need only look to poultry producers to see the results of letting industry manage their own farming operations.

Lake Tenkiller, the Illinois River and the Arkansas River are all listed as “impaired” in a report released Monday by the State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

“Impaired” means the water quality has reached a point where it cannot be used for some beneficial uses and activities, depending upon the impairment.

Monty Elder, DEQ spokeswoman, explained that those beneficial uses include swimming, fishing, wading, being used for public or private water supplies, hydropower and agriculture.

If only the poultry industry could convince Oklahoma’s Attorney General that confidentiality is also a priority for them.

Defending CEO treason

August 30th, 2005

Any one who knows me will expect a rant about this report on CEO pay. But rather than belittle the treasonous bastards, I’m going to play the angel’s advocate, and defend their lust and greed.

The ratio of average CEO pay (now $11.8 million) to worker pay (now $27,460) spiked up from 301-to-1 in 2003 to 431-to-1 in 2004.

If the minimum wage had risen as fast as CEO pay since 1990, the lowest paid workers in the US would be earning $23.03 an hour today, not $5.15 an hour.

Just this fact alone is enough to crack my cockles… oh, wait, wrong stance. What’s the matter? Jealous, because your pay hasn’t sky-rocketed like theirs? And don’t be spoutin’ off about things like ethics, and “what would Jesus do?”. You know that if you had the power, you’d stick it to folks like yourself and get it while you could. If not, you wouldn’t be a good capitalist. Lust and greed is what drives superstars in American capitalism today.

Another good reason for obscene CEO compensation is the fact that there are only so many good CEO’s running U.S. companies. It usually doesn’t take long before obvious incompetence by twisted CEO’s creates heat from stockholders that forces the Board of Directors to act. Too often, a CEO will spend the most productive years of his life ruining a company into the ground, and be lucky to end up with over $100 million for his effort. This Forbes article let’s you see for yourself.

And finally, of all the most outrageous charges against CEO’s who utilize their status as a power player in corporate America, it is that sucking massive amounts of compensation from companies involved in serving our nation during a time of war is treasonous. Can you imagine? Don’t make me laugh. Young Americans are being killed and maimed for the liberty of defense contractors to grab as much money as possible from the government. You got a problem with that you commie son-of-a-bitch?

At the 34 publicly traded U.S. corporations among the 2004 top 100 defense contractors with 10 percent or more of their revenues from defense contracts — companies such as United Technologies, Textron, and General Dynamics — average CEO pay increased 200 percent from 2001 to 2004, versus 7 percent for all CEOs.

That just shows the comparative wimpiness of other CEO’s. It’s not like contractors for the war get special breaks or anything.

Now that you know the facts, aren’t you embarrassed to have questioned the rampant success of American CEO’s?

Aliens should bale hay

August 29th, 2005

Oklahoma hay farmers have to deal with a wide variety of problems when it comes to their crop. There’s always this:

UFO – Confounding crop circles show

Alberta led Canada with 34 markings, while Illinois, with 32, and
Oklahoma, with 54, were the American crop-circle heartlands.

And now this:

Workers Disappearing From Hay Fields

Mark Hughes, of Bristow, started working in the hay fields in the early 1970s while in high school. He and two of his friends would work from daylight to dark. If the barn had lights, it would often be later.

Accidents were often a concern, he said. Hay bales would fall, dust would infiltrate the lungs, snakes could even hide in the hay. Sunburn and dehydration were common and baling machines could be dangerous to life and limb.

I don’t have any proof that UFO’s are taking people from the hay fields, but it would be nice if someone could talk to these aliens and ask them to at least bale the hay before they leave us in the lurch.

The fatty truth

August 29th, 2005

I expect to see some people griping about this consumer friendly lawsuit:

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has filed a lawsuit to force top makers of potato chips and french fries to warn consumers about a potential cancer-causing chemical found in the popular snacks.

In a complaint filed on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Lockyer sought an injunction to stop restaurant chains such as McDonald’s Corp. and Wendy’s International Inc. from selling french fries without some form of warning.

What a great idea! Although, I’m not sure what type of warning they’re wanting. A verbal warning?

  • Do you want toxic fries with that?
  • Would you like to super-size that for only one dollar more and only a 30% increase in cancer risk?

Personally, I think labels are they way to go. And I’m not talking about the stodgy warning labels we’re all used to like this:

That won’t work. I’m thinking something like a universal merit badge system where icons represent the different hazards from eating or using the product. The more badges, the more danger.

But then again, we should be sensitive to the cost to business of implementing such a system, so I’m willing to settle for a more capitalistic and political friendly approach. One that would scare people from using the product, while at the same time offering an opportunity for advertising to offset the expense of the program.

This promotion could work in Oklahoma too. And would be a perfect fit for Gov. Henry.

Sign sends signal

August 28th, 2005

I notice signs. I like signs. Many of my younger years were spent in the sign business. And one of the most satisfying jobs I’ve ever had was at a small shop in Norman that built custom architectural signage. Using metals, plastics, hardwoods and neon, we produced signs that, in some cases, could only be described as art. Smart businessmen know the value of a good sign in projecting a quality image. Here’s one sign I often pass heading west into Norman on Hwy. 9.

Now, I don’t have a problem with this sign marking the short stretch of highway that the legislature designated as our state’s official high tech corridor. My complaint is just up the road.

image

The entrance to the Norman Business Park

About the lowest-tech, crappiest sign I’ve seen in a while.

Blogging ahead

August 28th, 2005

One of my early blog mentors, Becky, a Georgia girl being schooled in Canada (in rhetoric, no less), links to, and appears in, an interesting article on blogging. One topic in the article is the role of bloggers as journalists. Journalist Colby Cosh sees it this way:

“The effect is mostly to make life more difficult for the traditional reporter,” he says. “There’s this horde out there that is not only waiting for him to slip up, but also arguably driving down the market price of his work. And some of the competition he faces is not bound by the same professional rules he is.”

“In most weblogs the author-reader relationship of trust is a personal one,” says Cosh. “Even where the author is anonymous. A weblogger has an individuated track record, has ultimate responsibility for the final form of everything that appears in the main body of his site, and is individually answerable for it.

“It seems obvious to me that, given a choice, people will always place more trust in a personal relationship than an institutional one. And it’s a sound instinct.”

While the article generally puts bloggers and the future of blogging in a good light, there is one point that is may be sobering to some ambitious bloggers:

“We’re nearing a saturation point,” says MacMillan, “especially with the current event types of blogs. There are so many new ones it’s impossible to keep up with.

“This will lead to disappointment for some people. Readership won’t grow as fast as the number of blogs. It’ll be difficult to carve out a niche.”

Isn’t that when such popular pastimes become fads and begin to fade?

Cheer down

August 27th, 2005

Ya know, I really don’t mind people coming to Oklahoma, but do they all have to be so damned perky about it?

There’s Ash in Montana:

YAY!! Out of all the states that i have moved to oklahoma is the place that i wanna be the most. Montana is by far the worst place i have ever lived.

I will be getting a job and working until next school year and i will be attending OSU!!

J.O thinks his chance to come here as a manager is surreal:

The automotive remarketing industry is going to shit when they find out what we are doing. It’s never been done before, and everyone is going to want to have one of these offices once we make it a success. The sky is the limit with this project. As Barry said, we’ve got a blank piece of paper here and we can do anything we want to with it. It’s extremely exciting.

And Carol is more than just excited:

Well, I have good news!! I´m leaving in mid -September to Oklahoma!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!! I´m so freakin´ excited! 😀

Finally, Jen, being kinda cute, is just stoking the flames with her welcoming attitude and desire to party:

if anyone needs a place to stay, come on up to oklahoma and i’ll make a place for you.

If we don’t nip this stuff in the bud quick, we could end up living among a bunch of buoyant, chirpy, smiley-faced do-gooders. How annoying is that!?