June 2005 Archives

If you want to help defeat the recall against Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, you have an opportunity to make good use of two hours' time this Saturday morning. They need your help to get their message out to the voters of their districts. The shadowy pro-recall group, Citizens for Reprehensible Government, will have a lot of money for a last-minute smear campaign, and your efforts this Saturday will help immunize the voters against their attacks. You'll find the details on the Tulsans for Election Integrity blog.

While I feel sure that most people who have looked at the issues closely realize that there is no good reason to recall these councilors, I'm also sure that a lot of folks haven't thought about it enough to make a decision, and they could tip the result one way or another. We need to make sure these folks hear our message.

If you can't help Saturday, you can help with a donation. Contributions are needed to cover the cost of getting the message out. You can also contact TFEI and see how else you might be able to help.

On a related note, Steve Roemerman is in trouble with his constituents, too. Go wish him a happy birthday and good luck.

Penitent Blogger has an update on the complaint (noted here a few days ago) by a liberal Episcopal (Episcopal Church, USA) parish's rector about a nearby conservative, continuing Episcopal (United Episcopal Church of North America) parish referring to itself as Episcopal. The liberal rector, Lowell Grisham of St. Paul's Episcopal Church (ECUSA) in Fayetteville, Arkansas, replied to Fr. Leo Michael of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church (UECNA) in Springdale, and said that St. Gabriel's use of the name "Episcopal" was no different than St. Paul's calling itself "Catholic":

Your argument is the same one I might make should I say that the Roman Catholic Church violated the "truth once delivered to the saints" with its pope and other accretions, and that my church is the true Catholic church. So, from now on, I would advertise my church as St. Paul's Catholic Church or even St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church. How false and confusing that would be to Catholics moving into NW Arkansas. It would be dishonest of me.

That would be dishonest, but some might call it even more dishonest for a denomination like the ECUSA to continue to call itself Episcopal when it rejects Anglicanism's doctrinal standards and traditions and seems bound to reinvent itself as Unitarianism with nicer vestments.

You can read Fr. Leo's gracious reply on his blog here.

(Also, I enjoyed Penitent Blogger's ideas for updating notations in the hymnal to encourage livelier singing. Examples include "Twice as fast as you think appropriate," "Not using your inside voice," and "In the voice of Elmer Fudd.")

Got a call tonight from the Tarrance Group, a national polling firm headed by native Oklahoman Ed Goeas. It was a long survey asking about Tulsa politics. Here, roughly, are the questions that were asked:

  • City going in the right direction or the wrong direction? Strongly or somewhat?
  • Favorable or unfavorable opinion of Dewey Bartlett, Jr.? Strongly or somewhat?
  • Favorable or unfavorable opinion of Bill LaFortune? Strongly or somewhat?
  • Approve or disapprove of the way Bill LaFortune is handling his job as Mayor?
  • Does LaFortune deserve to be reelected, or is it time to give someone else a chance?
  • If the 2006 Republican primary election were today, would you vote for Dewey Bartlett, Jr., or Bill LaFortune? Definitely or probably?
  • What's your age?
  • Do you consider yourself very liberal, liberal, conservative, very conservative?
  • Pro-life, pro-choice? Strongly or somewhat?
  • Employed outside the home, homemaker, or retired?
  • For verification purposes, what is your name?
  • Is this phone number listed?

It would appear that Republican former City Councilor Dewey Bartlett, Jr., who fell short in his race for State Senate last fall and made an unsuccessful run for Mayor in the 1992 special election (others in the race, including former Mayor Dick Crawford, split the GOP vote), is looking at a primary challenge to Mayor LaFortune. Had it been LaFortune testing his own re-electability, the questionnaire would have included names of other potential rivals.

Just got back from four very pleasant days in Arkansas' capital city visiting family and friends. My wife's uncle and aunt raise German Shepherds on a farm north of town -- while I worked Monday, she and the kids spent most of the day there, being gang-tackled by about a dozen 10-week old pups. (There are some great photos, which I hope to get posted soon.) In Little Rock, the family restores historic homes in the Quapaw Quarter district, and we stayed with them in their latest project, a lovely and spacious home built in 1913. It was interesting to hear about some of the obstacles they and other homeowners faced over the last 25 years, often facing indifference and hostility from City Hall. Nowadays, Little Rock seems quite committed to preserving and appreciating its historic neighborhoods.

We also got to spend time with our friends Jeff and Jan and their daughter Olivia. We got to know them through our church when they lived in Tulsa. We and several other couples were part of a wonderful small group Bible study -- the rare kind that actually stay together beyond the short term. Most of us married relatively late, and we all started having kids about the same time. We've scattered to the four winds, but we still keep in touch. The wonderful thing about long-time friends is being able to pick up the conversation as if you'd just left off. They were kind enough to have us over to dinner one evening and to keep the kids the next evening.

And the reason we needed someone to watch the kids last night was the official reason we were in town. My mother-in-law was being honored as one of several recipients of a Community Service Award for her work in establishing, administering, and raising funds for the Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Benton County. (In 2002, she received a Presidential Point of Light award.)

During our visit, we went to the local children's museum (fun, but terribly PC in places), had lunch and looked around the River Market and downtown, drove past the Clinton Library, and admired the beautiful homes in our family's neighborhood. Mikki got to join her mom at a luncheon at the Governor's Mansion, hosted by Arkansas' First Lady, Janet Huckabee. (Mikki overheard a local media personality say how nice it was that folks with real class were living in the mansion, unlike the '80s.) I maintained a fairly normal work schedule on Monday and Tuesday, taking advantage of local eateries with Wi-Fi to do so. More about all that over the course of rest of the week, I hope.

More encouraging news: Tulsa State Rep. Mark Liotta, a Republican, issued the following statement last Thursday in response to the U. S. Supreme Court's ruling in the eminent domain abuse case Kelo v. New London:

OKLAHOMA CITY – A U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing governments to seize private property to benefit developers sets a dangerous precedent that must be fought, a state lawmaker said Thursday.

“When I first read the story, I could not believe it could happen in this country. said Rep. Mark Liotta R-Tulsa The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that governments may seize individuals’ homes and businesses to benefit private economic development if the new development will generate new tax revenue to the government.

“This ruling is outrageous and undermines the foundation of the American dream – the right to truly own your home,” said Liotta, “It’s a direct slap in the face of property owners. Eminent domain can be used for the public good, but the court has stretched that definition way beyond reason by saying ‘the public good’ now includes the personal financial gain of private developers, if it translates to increased revenue to the local government. Every homeowner and potential homeowner should be outraged.”

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor warned in her dissent that the beneficiaries of the court ruling “are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.”

Liotta agreed, saying the decision opened the door for wealthy individuals to run roughshod over middle-class families. “This decision opens the door for massive corruption at all levels of government,” Liotta said. “Every community is now open to the possibility of hidden deals between unscrupulous developers and their cronies on city councils or state legislatures to take property for private gain.”

Liotta warned “I intend to study current state statutes to see if there is any possibility of further protecting Oklahoma property owners during the next legislative session. We simply cannot sit by and wait until it’s your home or my home they come after. This fight is not over.”

He's right -- no home, no business, no church is safe under this ruling and under Oklahoma's current laws. I'm very happy to see that the Republicans in our state legislature are taking this issue seriously and looking for ways to protect property owners.

Von, a commenter and diarist on RedState.org, is visiting Tulsa in July on business and has some questions about things to do, places to eat, and how to get around town. You Tulsa folks, drop by and give him some advice.

It appears that the problems with BlogRolling's recently-updated feature have been corrected, as about half of my blogroll is now showing a reasonable last-updated time.

UPDATE: Here's what BlogRolling has to say:

We had a temporary issue with the blogrolling database. It seems the table had been abused and resulted in it beeing a little battered. We have made repairs to the table and things are back up to speed.

Also please be advised that we are experiencing difficulties in regards to some blogs not receiving proper updates and notification of these blogs are not been displayed within your blogrolls. We are currently implementing a better way to keep a hold on updated blogs.


My earlier entries on BlogRolling's problems (and a workaround) are here and here.

This makes me want to stand up and cheer:

Oklahoma State Senate Communications Division State Capitol Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release: June 27, 2005

Senator Brian Crain

Sen. Crain Says Legislation Needed to Prevent Abuse of Eminent Domain

Sen. Brian Crain is planning to introduce legislation limiting the circumstances local governments can use for taking personal property. He said last week’s Supreme Court decision was a serious blow to the rights of individual property owners.

“I support the use of eminent domain for roads, bridges and other kinds of infrastructure projects that clearly benefit the public. But I do not support selling eminent domain powers to the highest bidder. That’s what I’m afraid this Supreme Court ruling could do,” said Crain, R-Tulsa.

Crain said he was very surprised by the ruling but said it was indicative of the kind of judicial activism that has raised concerns throughout the nation by legislators and private citizens alike.

“I believe the Constitution is very clear as to what circumstances justify the use of eminent domain. I plan on introducing legislation that will preserve the power of local governments to use it for projects that truly are for the public good but I think the idea of allowing local government to seize property for the city’s financial benefit opens up the door for cronyism and corruption,” Crain said. “That should simply not be allowed to happen.”

Sen. Crain said more than just home ownership could be at risk because of the court decision.

“I fear that this decision could extend to water rights, mineral rights and any other rights involving real property. We need to protect the property rights of all Oklahomans by limiting the use of eminent domain to its traditional purposes.

For more information contact:
Senate Communications Office - (405) 521-5774

Brian Crain is a freshman Republican state senator from Tulsa, an attorney with a background in real estate law. It's encouraging to see that our new Republican legislators are focused on putting their principles into practice. That was evident in this past legislative session, with the passage of landmark pro-life legislation, a road bill that reallocated existing resources to make road rehabilitation a priority without raising taxes, and the achievement of workers compensation reform.

As I noted yesterday, some see a political opportunity for Democrats in the aftermath of Kelo v. New London, but if Republicans stick to their principles, we'll see the GOP leading the charge for limits on the use of eminent domain. There are certainly those Republicans in name only who are comfortable with abusing government power to reward their cronies, but it's my observation that Brian Crain is far more typical of the Republican caucus in the Oklahoma legislature.

A friend e-mailed asking for comment on the Supreme Court's rulings on the two Ten Commandments cases before it.

Very well.

Were you really expecting coherent jurisprudence on religious expression in the public realm from this Court?

City Comforts comment on Kelo


David Sucher of City Comforts has posted a number of interesting thoughts about the Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v. New London. His initial reaction -- you don't need eminent domain to promote economic development:

The central planning notion put forward by New London, Connecticut -- that it needs to assemble large tracts to encourage development -- is simply a lie. There is no basis to demonstrate that such assemblages even work. Economic growth -- just take a look at Seattle - does not come from government intervention in the land assembly process but from the energy and enterprise of individuals trying to something crass like make a buck.

He asks a question of those who applaud the Kelo decision -- "Why do you need the ability of being able to condemn one piece of private property and sell it to another private owner?" -- and challenges them to cite a project that would not have happened without condemnation to transfer property from one owner to another.

Sucher seems to think the Kelo decision offers an opportunity for political realignment in favor of the Democrats, if they can get away from "the expected statist/big government response." I agree it's an opportunity for realignment, but more at the local level and not necessarily around national partisan labels. What may happen is what has started to happen in Tulsa, where opponents of crony capitalism on both left and right work together to oppose eminent domain abuse, injustices in land use regulation, and other situations where the wealthy and well-connected pull strings to get their way at the expense of the rest of us.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist sent out the following response last Friday to the Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v. New London:

As you may have heard...

The United States Supreme Court issued an opinion yesterday that has raised great concern among private property owners across America.

Understandably so.

In this case, known as Kelo vs. New London, the Court held that local governments can seize private property and give it to private developers -- if it is determined that those development projects also serve a public purpose.

The concern here -- as voiced by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in her dissent -- is that "under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner."

Indeed, I share that concern.

The U.S. Constitution -- as provided under the Fifth Amendment -- gives government the right to take private property for public use after paying the property owner just compensation (eminent domain).

And, make no mistake, without this power it would be very difficult to build the roads, schools, and parks we all need and use.

Yet there are many important questions that we need to consider...

How can we be sure that a public purpose is served, when government transfers property from one private owner to another?

Does this decision give governments too much power over private property owners?

What assurances do Americans have -- those who work so hard to buy their own homes -- that government will not take those homes away?

Will this decision give undue advantages to politically connected developers and wealthy individuals?

Private property has long been a cornerstone of the Constitution and our American society. Indeed, our economy is based on the principle of private ownership of property.

It was John Adams who said:

"Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty."

Any infringement on that right cannot be undertaken lightly.

We should give careful consideration to these questions and explore the practical implications of this decision.

Bill Frist

(Hat tip to David Rollo for sending that along.)

I'm pleased to see that the Senate Majority Leader is concerned, even though his conclusion is comically vague. I hope his concern means that he will see to it that the next justice appointed to the Supreme Court is a strict constructionist -- someone who understands that "public use" means just that, not "public benefit" or "public purpose." And by "see to it" I mean break through a filibuster if necessary for a strict constructionist nominee and block any nominee from the White House that has a record of not reading the Constitution as written.

Assuming that that probably won't happen, what can be done to protect private property from being seized for political reasons? Here are some steps that Congress could take:

  • Eliminate the Federal tax exemption for local government bonds issued to finance condemnation except for public infrastructure.
  • Ban the use of Community Development Block Grant money (or other Federal funds) for condemnation except for public infrastructure.

The Oklahoma state legislature could do even more, since Oklahoma's counties and municipalities are creatures of the state:

  • Tighten the statutory definition of blight to be restricted to real dilapidation. At the moment, your property could be considered blighted if it suffers from "arrested economic development," "inadequate parcel size," "predominance of defective or inadequate street layouts," or "diversity of ownership."
  • Restrict the condemnation power of cities, counties, and public trusts, with a strict standard for "public use" and some sort of automatic independent review of whether the proposed use meets that standard.

At the local level, the matter is in the hands of the voters:

  • Amend the city charter to restrict the scope of condemnation.
  • Elect local officials -- mayor, city councilors, county commissioners -- who reject the use of condemnation except for public infrastructure.

Disservice announcement


Posts will be few and far between over the next few days. Sorry for any inconvenience.

The rector of St. Gabriel's United Episcopal Church in Springdale, Arkansas, which is running a widely-supported and effective relief effort for those in southern India affected by last fall's tsunami, has been asked by the rector of St. Paul's, the largest Episcopal Church USA parish in nearby Fayetteville, to stop calling St. Gabriel's an Episcopal church. After a bit of buttering up, he writes:

I have one request, however. When you identify your churches in public venues (signs, newspapers, etc.), would it be possible for you to be attentive to identifying your denominational affiliation with the United Episcopal Church of North America. It can be a source of confusion if you call yourself "St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church." I've had a couple of parishioners mention the confusion to me.

Matt of Overtaken by Events, a parishoner of St. Gabriel's, notes that the e-mail arrived a couple of days after the leadership of St. Paul's announced plans to move ahead toward performing blessings of same-sex relationships. Matt asks, "Is there unrest in the pews of St Paul's?" I'll bet the rector of the liberal congregation is concerned that his older, more conservative parishoners will leave and take their money with them if they know that there is another Episcopal Church in the area, one that is faithful to the truth.

Fr. Leo Michael, the rector of St. Gabriel's, has posted the e-mail and his reply on his blog.

Penitent Blogger, another St. Gabriel's parishoner, has more about the liberal parish's process of dialogue on same-sex blessings, which is set up to lead inevitably to approval. Her description of how the process works is spot on, especially this bit: "It's just a matter of time before this so-called 'vestry-led congregational process' leads to the actual approval of same-sex blessings, and the term used to inform the community of this inevitable decision will neccessarily contain flowery, politically-correct, multi-syllabic words in excess of ten per sentence, instead of just coming out and saying 'screw you, we did it anyway.'" She thinks St. Paul's should change its name to "Saul's Sociopalian Entity, proudly undermining 2,000 years of Scripture, history and tradition, whether you like it or not."

It's great to see that Penitent Blogger is back to blogging after a month or so of working on other projects. In her previous entry, she takes apart St. Paul's rector Rev. Lowell Grisham's recent op-ed attempt to expound a biblical justification for abortion. I love her concluding remark: "Fortunately, I'm not inclined to take seriously the opinions of a priest who hosts labyrinth walks in celebration of the full moon at what is supposed to be a Christian church."

One more word of praise -- Overtaken by Events and Penitent Blogger are among the few blogs on my blogroll which are directly pinging BlogRolling.com so they show up as "recently updated" when they've recently updated. That means that more people will notice that they have new content and will go to read it. If you're a Movable Type user, it's an easy thing to fix, and if you use Blogger, there's a simple manual procedure. Click here for more information on the problem and the workaround.

Tulsa Christian therapist Bowden McElroy mentions that he's off to Dallas for the Smart Marriages conference. One of the conference speakers is Bill Doherty, who was featured in a story in Wednesday's USA Today. This week Doherty is launching the National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists. The purpose of the registry is so that couples who are seeking help to save their marriages can find a counselor who shares their commitment to the sanctity of marriage and who actually has the skills and training to help them.

"The registry is about training and competence and about values, because most couples assume the therapist is pro-marriage, but many therapists feel they have to be neutral," he says. "The values thing comes into play when there seems to be a discrepancy between somebody's personal happiness and their commitment to the marriage."

A Christian couple in trouble knows that it would be wrong, however tempting, to abandon their vows and just walk away, but they may need help so that staying together isn't just a matter of grim endurance. They may need help clearing away years of accumulated grievances so that something resembling joy can return to the relationship. They need encouragement, suggestions for getting around obstacles, and the occasional kick in the seat of the pants. Such a couple isn't going to be helped if the therapist they hire turns out to be open to divorce as a possible solution, or if the therapist believes personal happiness and individual autonomy are the highest aims in life. I suspect some couples delay seeking help for fear of getting a therapist who will lead them down the wrong path.

In any kind of therapy, for that matter, you'd want a therapist who shares your values and world-view, not someone who will work to undermine it. You'd also like to know something about the therapist's credentials and experience.

Doherty's registry seems like a very sensible and helpful idea, but of course there are objectors who seem to feel that the name of the registry is too judgmental:

Some therapists question the need for an additional service. The fact that Doherty is calling his list "marriage-friendly" irks others, who say it suggests some therapists are biased in favor of divorce. Still others are concerned about what they see as an underlying conservative message with the name and the values statement.

"I don't know of any body of research that suggests therapists who sign a values statement are going to be better at keeping couples together than those who don't sign a values statement," says Alan Hovestadt, a professor of family therapy at Western Michigan University and AAMFT president.

And David Schnarch, who directs the Marriage & Family Health Center in Evergreen, Colo., disagrees with Doherty's assessment of his peers. "Certainly, there was a period in the '60s and '70s where there was tremendous focus on individual growth at the expense of relationships," he says. "But to position marital therapists as doing that is completely inaccurate."

We're still dealing with the fallout of that "tremendous focus on individual growth."

The registry will be available for free to prospective clients looking for a therapist. There probably aren't many listings yet, but the website has some articles that look interesting:

  • What to Look For in a Marriage Therapist
  • Divided Loyalties: The Challenge of Stepfamily Life
  • How Therapists Harm Marriages and What We Can Do About It

A tip of the hat and best wishes to Bill Doherty and the National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists.

A commenter on an earlier entry about eminent domain abuse and Kelo v. New London writes:

Hey, the same thing is fixin' to happen in Sand Springs courtesy of Vision 2025. And nobody is even complaining. Dozens of homes, 3 churches, 1 school and several businesses. Buldozed for a BIG BOX store.

That's the section on the south side of the Keystone Expressway (US 64, OK 51), opposite downtown Sand Springs. Once on the "other side of the tracks" when the MK&T railroad ran through town, the neighborhood was home to Sand Springs' black community. For its chunk of Vision 2025 money, Sand Springs wanted funds to acquire and clear the area for retail development, which will undoubtedly bring in more property and sales tax for the city than what is there currently. (That doesn't make it right, of course.)

I wrote about this way back in August 2003, in an entry about a Sand Springs history contest:

Here's a free idea; a good one, too, I think. I don't have time to pursue it -- perhaps someone else will. Contact Marques Haynes, the Basketball Hall of Famer and Harlem Globetrotter legend. He lives in Dallas, I think; he's in his 70s now. If he's willing, interview him about places he remembers from his childhood in Sand Springs -- his neighborhood, where he lived, went to school, went to church, the stores where his family traded, where he first played basketball, where he went to play with his friends. Ask him to relate memories of everyday life in his childhood -- good and bad alike. He went to segregated schools and grew up in a segregated neighborhood -- what was that like? Then work with the local historical society to determine the locations and find period photos of the places he remembers. Take pictures of those places as they are today. Then put it all together as a photo exhibit, designed to give 21st Century Sandites a sense of everyday life in Sand Springs before World War II, as seen through the eyes of a Sand Springs kid who went on to become world-famous. ...

I've been told that the Keystone Corridor redevelopment project in Proposition 4 of the sales tax vote includes demolition of Marques Haynes' old neighborhood, just across the Keystone Expressway (and across the old MK&T tracks) from downtown Sand Springs. If someone wants to pursue this idea, you'll need to hurry.

I haven't been by there in a while, but I suspect you'll need to hurry even faster if you want to document that neighborhood before it's gone forever. And if you do want to undertake that project, be sure to get in touch with the good folks at the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum, in the art deco Charles Page Library in downtown Sand Springs.

The proponents of these clearance projects are usually very vague and euphemistic in the way they describe the area concerned, e.g., "Keystone Corridor" rather than specific streets or neighborhood names, so that when the people affected finally realize what's going to happen to their neighborhood, it's too late to do anything.

I've got a lot more to say on this topic, but I'll spread it out over the next few days.

Despite fears of yet another delay, the Tulsa City Council actually passed an ethics ordinance tonight, unanimously. Steve Roemerman has the scoop.

Excellent post by Mary Katherine Ham on Townhall.com's C-Log on the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday in Kelo v. New London:

I own a 2-bedroom, 1,500 sq-ft house.

No you don't. Because someone wants to put a 5-bedroom, 4,000 sq-ft house on your lot. It will bring in more property taxes.

I own a 5-bedroom, 4,000 sq-ft house.

No you don't. Because a local BBQ-purveyor wants to turn your lot into a restaurant, which will turn a profit and produce more taxes than your home.

And so on up the chain.

Maybe we could get a "My Home is My Castle" Amendment going? Are you allowed to amend the Constitution to say what it already said?

That's the problem. When we propose countering an overreaching judiciary by passing new laws and constitutional amendments, what's to say those judges won't just ignore the new laws or deconstruct them into oblivion? I'd say impeach justices that ignore the Constitution, but I'm not sure they wouldn't rule the impeachment unconstitutional.

Security through obscurity


Phil Zimmermann, hero developer who made secure public-key encryption available to the masses with the program Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) -- and endured much tribulation because of it -- has figured out a way to make his phone number available without too much difficulty to those who need it without making it too obvious for those who don't:

To reach me by phone, please read the following:

(1) Some people tell me that it is not a good idea to put my home phone number on my web page. (6) They say that I will be swamped with phone calls from everyone who has a question about how to use PGP. (5) Experience has shown that they are right. (0) I would rather that people who have questions about how to use PGP read the fine manual, or failing that, contact PGP Corporation to ask those questions, or, failing that, ask any other randomly chosen private citizen who knows how to use PGP. (3) But I want to make it possible for some people to reach me directly; journalists, for example, or prospective clients for my consulting business, or sales inquiries from corporate customers who want to buy more than a few copies of PGP, or any other business contacts.

Interesting way to number his points, isn't it? If you really need his phone number, you really will have to read the whole thing.

The U. S. Supreme Court issued its ruling today in the case of Kelo v. New London, a test of the limits of government power to use eminent domain. The Court, by a 5-4 majority, ruled in effect that there are no limits, that government may use the threat of force to take private property for the purpose of giving it to another private party, as long as they can make some claim to public benefit, such as increased tax revenues.

If I lived in the neighborhood between I-44 and Promenade Mall, I'd be very nervous right now. That'd be a great place for new retail, what with the freeway access, and the city sure could use the increased sales tax revenues.

The coalition concerned about eminent domain abuse is a broad one, extending across the political spectrum. This outcome will disappoint conservatives who believe in limited government, strict construction of the constitution, and the sanctity of private property. This outcome will disappoint liberals who hate to see government use its power on behalf of big business to pick on the little guy.

To my liberal friends who are disappointed in this result: Please note that the Court's four strict constructionists dissented in this case. The five justices who voted to uphold a city's right to practice crony capitalism:

John Paul Stevens -- appointed by Gerald Ford, a liberal on social issues.

Stephen Breyer -- appointed by Bill Clinton, a liberal on social issues.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg -- appointed by Bill Clinton, a liberal on social issues.

Anthony Kennedy -- appointed by Ronald Reagan after Robert Bork was rejected by the U. S. Senate for being a strict constructionist. Reagan settled on someone with a mushy moderate reputation as the best he could do with a majority of Democrats in the Senate. (If Robert Bork were on the Court instead of Anthony Kennedy, the outcome today would have been very different.)

David Souter -- the stealth justice appointed by George H. W. Bush. Souter's views on contentious issues were unknown, and the Bush administration wanted a nominee with no "paper trail" that could be used by Senate Democrats to "bork" him. Now we know that if there had been a paper trail, Senate Democrats would have embraced Souter enthusiastically.

So we have three justices appointed by social liberals, and two justices appointed at a time when social liberals controlled the confirmation process in the U. S. Senate.

These five justices have discovered previously unknown "rights" in the Constitution, such as the right to sexual expression. Sometimes they ignore the Constitution entirely and find the material for their rulings in European law. For a group so quick to see things that aren't there in the Constitution, it's strange that they can't see a limitation on the power of government that clearly is there.

To my liberal friends: Having a Supreme Court majority willing to interpret the Constitution creatively has gotten you some changes you wanted, changes you would have waited a long time to achieve through the legislative process, but your victories have come at a price. That same Supreme Court majority is unwilling to uphold the plain meaning of the Constitution when it limits government power.

I understand why liberals dislike strict construction, because it means that the societal advances liberals seek will take an excruciatingly long time to accomplish, as they try persuade a majority of the public to support their views, but our liberties are most secure when the Constitution is honored as it was written. Using the Supreme Court to blaze a shortcut by legislating from the bench is tempting, but dangerous.

I'm reminded of something from the play "A Man for All Seasons":

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

You don't like the laws -- use the legislative process to change them. You don't like the Constitution -- there's a process to amend it. It's not easy, but it isn't supposed to be easy. Can't we all, left and right, agree that, if making change easy means putting every liberty at risk, it isn't worth it? We need judges who understand that, too.

I hope my liberal friends will keep that in mind when the next Supreme Court appointment is before the Senate.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has a round-up of opinion and analysis on the decision.

Tulsa District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino is holding a town hall meeting next Wednesday, June 29, at 7 p.m. at Martin East Regional Library, near 26th and Garnett. Jim will be talking about district matters as well as the recall election on July 12 -- he's one of the two targets. If you support Jim, show up to show your support. If you're wondering what to believe, show up, ask questions of him, and judge for yourself. You'll find a man who is passionate about encouraging quality growth and development in his district, and someone who knows his district inside and out. He's a good man, and we're blessed to have him on the City Council.

Be sure to keep Jim and his family and Chris Medlock and his family in your prayers as the well-financed barrage of attack ads hits over the next three weeks.

Series-ous blogging


Got in late tonight from a work-related day trip and am in no shape for heavy posting, so I'll highlight three blogs from the blogroll which feature several posts in a series on the same topic:

David Sucher of City Comforts has been wondering why the Council on New Urbanism gave an award for urban design to starchitect Frank Gehry, whose work is notoriously pedestrian-unfriendly. Was it just a cheap ploy to get him to show up at a reception?

Jan the Happy Homemaker has great photos of the elaborate decorations she created for her church's Vacation Bible School, of prom costumes made entirely with duct tape, of some of her fab '70s fashions, and of some shoes that remind me of that Steve Martin short story. It's all in her June archive.

Dennis Schenkel has been blogging about his summer at language school in Guatemala -- here are his May and June archives. Lots of great pictures and cross-cultural observations!

Adyos, Cardinal Sin


Via Manuel L. Quezon III, I learned of the passing of Jaime Cardinal Sin, the retired Archbishop of Manila, who died early Tuesday morning.

Cardinal Sin was the de facto leader of the opposition in the Philippines during the autocratic rule of Ferdinand Marcos, who declared martial law in 1973 and remained in power until forced from office and the country in 1986. Under Sin's leadership, the Catholic Church in the Philippines was a safe haven for those working for democracy and in opposition to human rights abuses.

Following [Benigno] Aquino's assassination [in August 1983], Cardinal Jaime Sin, archbishop of Manila and a leader of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, gradually shifted the hierarchy's stance from one of "critical collaboration" to one of open opposition [to the Marcos regime].

A prominent Catholic layman, José Concepcion, played a major role in reviving the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) with church support in 1983 in order to monitor the 1984 National Assembly elections. Both in the 1984 balloting and the February 7, 1986, presidential election, NAMFREL played a major role in preventing, or at least reporting, regime-instigated irregularities. The backbone of its organization was formed by parish priests and nuns in virtually every part of the country.

That's an excerpt from a web article called "From Aquino's Assassination to People's Power." The article goes on to mention Sin's behind-the-scenes role in uniting the opposition to fight Marcos's February 1986 "snap election":

Cardinal Sin, an astute negotiator described by one diplomat as "one of the best politicians in the Philippines," arranged a political alliance of convenience between Corazon Aquino and Salvador Laurel, who had announced his own candidacy but agreed to run as Aquino's vice-presidential candidate. Aquino had immense popular support and Laurel brought his superior organizational skills to the campaign. Their agreement to run together was arranged just in time for the deadline for submission of candidacies in early December. The church hierarchy gave its moral support to the opposition ticket. Cardinal Sin, realizing that poor people would not refuse money offered for votes and that the ethic of utang na loob would oblige them to vote for the briber, admonished the voters that an immoral contract was not binding and that they should vote according to their consciences.

After massive voter fraud was uncovered, pressure mounted for Marcos to step aside. When Marcos's Minister of Defense and the head of the national police force called for his resignation and garrisoned themselves near Manila, Cardinal Sin used a Catholic-run radio station to call on Filipinos to support the rebel officers and obstruct any effort by Marcos to attack them. Within a few days, the Marcoses had left the country, and Corazon Aquino took her rightful place as president.

Sin's leadership illustrates a key difference between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. In an authoritarian country like the Philippines under Marcos, strong, independent institutions are still permitted to exist and to operate with a free hand. Under totalitarian rule, such institutions are decimated and brought under control of the regime if not abolished outright. Under the right kind of leadership, an independent institution can provide protection for dissidents and can engage in some degree of direct criticism. Jaime Cardinal Sin was the right kind of leader.

During my summer in the Philippines (1983), the archbishop's name was fodder for many bad puns, and it didn't help that the hit movie of the summer was a locally-produced "bold" film called "Mortal Sin." (The Cardinal's brother, perhaps?) Through his leadership in the People Power Revolution of 1986, his name became associated in my mind with courage rather than comedy.

Some may criticize the Cardinal for using his position of spiritual leadership to wield political influence, but he used it sparingly and wisely to defeat injustice and oppression. I imagine he saw that God had placed him, like Esther, in that position "for such a time as this," to help his people, despite the risk -- how could he refuse to act?

Ave atque vale.

UPDATE: MLQ3 has links to coverage of Sin's death in the Philippine press.

P.O.V. on CPB


After reading in USA Today about the premiere tonight of the PBS documentary series P.O.V., I made a note to tune in:

High-schooler Shelby Knox — who pledges celibacy until marriage — spearheads a campaign for comprehensive sex education.

Unfortunately, the sound was out on the local PBS affiliate, and efforts to notify someone about the problem failed.

The gist of the USA Today story was about liberal bias in public broadcasting amidst plans for cutting Federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). I was curious to see if a bias toward left-wing views of sexual morality was evident in tonight's documentary. Now I'll have to find out second-hand.

CPB mainly funds program development -- the operation of your local public broadcasting outlet is paid for by listeners, local sponsors, and state and local government.

Actor Robert Redford isn't happy about the proposed CPB cuts:

The United States "was built on a foundation of diversity and of protecting the rights of all people," Redford said. "When I see any attempts by one group to take all absolute power to corrupt our democratic principles that might be narrow or ideologically driven, then I know we're in trouble. PBS belongs to the public."

How does cutting funding to CPB "corrupt our democratic principles"? Is there a fundamental right to have the propagation of your opinions funded by the government? And if PBS belongs to the public, shouldn't it cater to majority tastes? Somehow I don't think that's what Redford has in mind. PBS doesn't need to cater to majority tastes because the market handles that quite efficiently. The market even does a pretty good job of "narrowcasting" to smaller but substantial minority interests, thanks to cable and the Internet. What public interest is served by government funding for one TV station out of 100?

Cutting CPB funds won't mean the end of NPR or PRI or PBS. No one is going to declare Sesame Street blighted and bulldoze it. Boohbah and Teletubbies will still be there to hypnotize children, annoy parents, and enhance the recreational use of controlled substances. Barney's position is, alas, secure. Click and Clack will still dispense automotive wisdom. You'll still be able to wake up each morning to the reassuring tones of Bob Edwards -- no, wait, NPR fired him for being too old. If a program is good enough to attract an audience, companies and viewers will see value in contributing toward its production and broadcast.

MeeCiteeWurkor visited Tulsa's Central Library today and was amazed and appalled to find that the main display area, just opposite the children's section, was given over to a "Gay Pride" display. He has posted descriptions, photos, videos, and PDFs of what he saw. He was especially disturbed by the display of the Openarms Youth Project, which encourages sexually confused ("Questioning" is the approved term nowadays) children as young as 14 to mingle with homosexual young adults.

He links to an item I wrote in December about the defeat of the library bond issue, in which I mentioned a controversy some years ago about the same sort of display. For some reason I thought the library had decided at the time not to allow the exhibit any longer, but apparently not.

MeeCiteeWurkor went on a quest to find out how one gets the privilege of using the library's display cases, but the person who could answer his questions was out. In his wanderings around the library, on a rack near a checkout counter, he came across a brochure from the Tulsa Chapter of the National Conference of Community and Justice (NCCJ -- now the reminted and independent OCCJ) encouraging inclusive prayer -- i.e., don't pray in public in Jesus' name.

Back to the gay display: It's one thing for the library to offer controversial books on controversial subjects, often with opposing viewpoints shoulder-to-shoulder on the shelves. It's another to offer prominent display space to such a controversial cause, particularly in a place so close to the children's section, and on behalf of a cause contrary to the sensibilities of most of the people who are paying for the library.

There are so many better and less controversial uses of that prominent public space, and not least among them would be more shelves for books that are now relegated to storage.

A hat tip to MeeCiteeWurkor for the thorough documentation of what he saw. If you're a Tulsan, his blog should be one of your daily reads.

Friesen in my tracks


Also seen in that Nebraska truck stop, on a rack of Christian books: The 25th anniversary edition of Decision Making and the Will of God, by Garry Friesen and Robin Maxson. I first read this book about 10 years ago and about 15 years too late for me -- after most of my major life decisions had been made -- but not too late to help shape my children's understanding of the freedom and responsibility they will have to choose among the many options they'll be presented with.

The thrust of the first part of the book is that the "traditional view" (a view that appears to trace back to the 19th century Keswick movement) of making life decisions is unbiblical. The idea you are likely to encounter in a church youth group or in a campus ministry is that God has a perfect will for your life -- where to go to college, what career to pursue, whom to marry. Your job is to figure it out, and if you guess wrong, you will miss out on the abundant life God desires for you (except that He apparently doesn't desire it for you enough to tell you how to find it).

As an alternative, Friesen looks at what the Scriptures say about decision-making and summarizes what he finds with the name "the way of wisdom." Where God gives us a specific command in Scripture, we're to obey it. Beyond that we have the freedom and responsibility to make choices in accordance with Biblical principles, trusting that God will sovereignly work through those choices to accomplish His purposes.

In the new edition, the section describing the traditional view is significantly reduced, and more space is given to presenting the Biblical view and how it can be applied in specific decision-making situations. The back of the book has a list of Frequently-Asked Questions raised in the 25 years since its first edition -- the FAQ list refers the reader back to specific chapters to read the answers. There's also a "study guide" -- discussion questions for each chapter.

You can read a review of the 1980 edition here on the 9 Marks website. Can't seem to find a detailed review of the new edition on the web.

UPDATE (2006/04/18): Garry Friesen has a section of his website devoted to the new edition of the Decision Making and the Will of God. The website has the forward, intro, first two chapters, and the opening section of the original edition. There are answers to frequently-asked questions and reviews by Friesen of over 30 other books on the topic of life decisions. Very helpful and informative.

Postcard found in a Nebraska truck stop -- a beige relief map of Nebraska with the caption, "NEBRASKA: No Relief." On the back of the card: "There's a reason it's called a plain state. Road-weary pioneers just gave up and stayed. Their descendants are the counter clerks who sell these cards."

(The card is published by Ersatz Nebraska, 800-300-1050 x04.)

Northwestern Oklahoma blogger Mark Allen reports that an exhibit of the work of Oklahoma-born and -based cartoonists will be a part of the Pauls Valley Toy and Action Figure Museum. Pauls Valley is a lovely little town, the seat of Garvin County, just off I-35 south of Norman.

The Oklahoma Cartoon Collection will include original editorial cartoons (e.g., Dave Simpson, who used to be funny when he drew for the Tulsa Tribune), comic strips (e.g., Broom Hilda by Russ Myers and Bizarro by Dan Piraro, both cartoonists from Tulsa), comic books, and humor magazines. The late Don Martin, who drew for Mad for many years and later for Cracked, is listed among the participating cartoonists -- I had no idea he had any connection to Oklahoma.

(Someone has compiled a dictionary of sound effects from Don Martin cartoons, from "AAAAGH! EEEEEOOOW ACK! UGH UGH MMP AGH! AEEK!" to "ZZZZ ZZT-ZNIK SNUFFLE SNORK.")

Happy to be a dad

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It's the end of a busy and unusual Father's Day, in the midst of a busy summer.

The eight-year-old has had two weeks of camp away from home, back-to-back -- not only camp, but time with the extended family. The first week was in Oklahoma City with my sister and his cousins -- boys just a bit older than he is. My sister teaches art at an elementary school and does an annual "art camp" -- a week of half-days working on some unusual and creative projects. Early in the week he made a papier mache light saber, but at the end of the week he found that tulle wrapped around wooden dowels created a more realistic effect. This is the second year she's invited him down to participate, and he's really enjoyed it, but he also enjoyed late nights playing Game Cube with the cousins.

This last week was spent with the grandparents in Arkansas and going to a day camp at Bella Vista. He said it wasn't as fun this year. Last year on the nature hike they climbed up behind and over a waterfall and caught crawdads in a creek. I guess a parent complained, or maybe the insurance company threw a fit -- too dangerous to do it again this year. He still had a good time. Grandmother remarked that he'd matured a lot in a year's time -- much quicker to comply and not so much fussing when things don't go his way. Last year she was alarmed that he was self-centered and demanding in the way that seven-year-old boys are and seemed certain that it was because we were too strict or too lenient.

The house was quieter without the two kids pestering and teasing each other. The four-year-old has enjoyed the exclusive attention. She had eight swim lessons over the two weeks and really enjoyed them. She's now confident enough to be in the water without five different flotation devices strapped to her. She's especially proud that she can now touch the bottom of the neighborhood pool -- if she's on the very edge of the shallow end and on her tiptoes.

At home, she has been spending a lot of time playing with the keyboard, picking out tunes of her own invention. She always seems to be working on a plan. When preschool was in session, she had a plan to get the boys to stop picking on the girls. More recently, she had a plan to make a delicious dessert with whipped cream and strawberries.

I'm very blessed to have two beautiful, loving, smart, funny, and affectionate children. I'm proud to be their dad, and I'm very thankful for their mom -- my wife -- the lovely woman who brought them into this world and devotes her life to caring for them.

I should add that the longer I'm in this dad business the better I understand the joys and frustrations (especially the latter) that my dad experienced. Thanks, Dad.

The news from the backyard


From our little wildlife sanctuary:

So far we've had two batches of baby birds -- four robins back in May, in a nest in the bend of a downspout, just outside our back door; this month, a batch of baby sparrows in a nest box mounted on the outside of our shed.

A male cardinal who lost his crest -- fight with a blue jay? -- has been making regular visits to our deck. We call him Flattop.

We've been seeing a rabbit around the neighborhood, and a couple of days ago I saw it loping across the backyard.

The toads have been singing merrily most nights, and a couple of voices have been singing harmony -- green tree frogs. Not many of them yet, but they are there. Last year was the first time we found one in our yard. This year we've seen and heard them several nights.

Speaking of toads, I spotted a new string of eggs in the pond yesterday. A few days ago, my four-year-old saw the first couple of baby toads on dry ground -- each just about the size of her thumbnail.

The goldfish are doing well, but we miss the Big Kahuna -- a big orange, black, and white koi -- haven't seen him in months, and haven't seen any sign of his demise either. I've wondered if some predator fished him out for dinner. A few years ago I walked out on the deck one morning, heard a couple of big fwoomps, and looked up to see a great blue heron flying away from the pond.

Note to UAL

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It really does go faster if you load the plane from the back forward.

What Einstein came up with the idea of loading front to back?

Personally, I look forward to the day that they line us up in the terminal on a seat map stenciled on the floor, then march us on in exact order.

Earlier this week, Michael DelGiorno interviewed urban development expert Joel Kotkin. Kotkin knows Tulsa well, having visited and written about our city during the tech boom and the tech crash.

As you might expect, the topic of the interview was Vision 2025, and whether a downtown arena and convention center is going to be the answer to our city's woes.

An MP3 of the interview is linked from the KFAQ home page. It's about 25 MB, so I downloaded it, converted it to a lower bitrate (which means lower quality, but still good enough for voice), and have it available here, weighing in at about 3 MB. (I used Total Recorder to do the conversion, which does a great job of converting between audio file types. It's also capable of capturing any audio on your computer, such as streaming audio of a radio broadcast from any source. It's well worth the price.)

Kotkin visited Tulsa in May 2002 at the invitation of Brent Johnson of SecureAgent.com, as preparations for the Mayor's vision summit were underway. About a year later, I wrote an entry about Kotkin's visit and speech, with links to the Tulsa Whirled news story and op-ed on his visit, as well as his own piece in the Wall Street Journal.

It was fun to think back to that speech and the Q&A that followed. I submitted a question about whether city leaders were right in thinking that expanding the convention center and building a new arena was the key to Tulsa's economic future. From the Whirled's news story:

Kotkin's discouragement of cities seeking to build new arenas and convention centers drew some applause from the crowd.

"I think those leaders are living in the wrong decade," Kotkin said, referring to backers of expanded convention industry facilities. ...

Kotkin contends the convention industry has "played itself out."

"I can think of better things to do with the money," Kotkin said.

Mayor LaFortune's response was funny, but not intentionally so, and looking back, it was an early sign that we weren't getting the bold reformer we had voted for. He began to try to get Kotkin to agree that in Tulsa's case it would be a good idea to invest in convention facilities. Here's what he said in a later interview:

"I was surprised to hear him say that was not necessary as we move forward," LaFortune said in a Friday interview.

"I hear very little dissension in Tulsa that our Convention Center that exists today either needs to be upgraded and modernized or a new convention center built elsewhere," LaFortune said.

"I believe the Chamber officials can point specifically to business we've lost which translates to lost sales tax revenues and impacts the quality of life in our city because we don't have the sales tax dollars that make the basic improvements to our streets and infrastructure," he said.

There was a moment there when Bill LaFortune could have moved forward as a real leader, defying the conventional wisdom and leading Tulsa in a visionary direction, but I guess he didn't have it in him.

I appreciate a couple of things about Kotkin. First, he's skeptical of urban revitalization fads and looks to see if the data are there to back up the claims made for whatever is the latest rage. Second, he understands the value that middle class families add a city, at a time when many urban analysts seem to believe that families are too boring to be important, and that the key is to cater to the tragically hip. I encourage you to browse his website, which not only features his own work, but articles of interest by other authors, like this recent op-ed by John Tierney on the "Circus Maximus Syndrome" that afflicts American mayors. Tierney has this to say about the demise of plans to build a new football stadium on the west side of Manhattan:

The proposed stadium would have been a generic hulk like most other new arenas and convention centers, sitting empty most of the time and preventing the surrounding area from becoming the kind of space that urbanites really revere: a neighborhood with homes and businesses and street life.

Those neighborhoods are hurt by grand public buildings that take up valuable real estate and must be paid for with higher taxes, which drive businesses and the middle class to the suburbs. Older cities have made comebacks the past decade by getting back to that core function of protecting people's lives, but most still haven't figured out how to restore their commercial marketplaces.

Instead, their leaders build projects whose economic benefits go to the Circus Maximus industrial complex: real estate developers, construction workers, bond traders, owners of hotels and sports teams. Aside from the thanks of these groups, politicians also get a pleasant distraction from their mundane duties.

That last paragraph is comes close to containing a concise and accurate list of who pushed Vision 2025 and who's been paid so far from Vision 2025 tax money.

It seemed timely to come across this during the Presbyterian Church in America's annual general assembly:


That's a screenshot from a Chinese bootleg DVD of the new Star Wars release, "The Backstroke of the West," with English subtitles translated back from the dubbed Chinese dialogue. winterson.com has this and ten more screenshots and explains why the Presbyterian Church makes an appearance in Star Wars -- it's the back-translation of the Chinese translation of "Jedi Council". (Hat tip to Language Hat.)

Makes sense. The Jedi Council sort of looks like a presbytery meeting -- you have a group of men (must have been PCA or OPC Jedis) conversing in serious tones about serious issues, and an emphasis on doing things "decently and in order." I'll bet more than one teaching elder in some of our far-flung presbyteries has wished he could attend presbytery holographically.

What do you suppose we'd find in the subtitles from the rest of the movie and the rest of the series? Did they translate "Trade Federation" into "Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference"? Does Obi-Wan say at the end, "Only a Sith believes in strict subscription!" Did Luke's sojurn on the ice world of Hoth make him the Frozen Chosen One? Does the "D." in D. James Kennedy stand for "Darth"?

Feel free, especially you fellow Calvinists out there, to make up your own jokes and post them in the comments.

(Oh, the title refers to an 18th century split in the Presbyterian Church between supporters of the Great Awakening revivalist preachers -- the New Side -- and those who believed revivalists were undermining established church order -- the Old Side.)

Oklahoma City's Downtown Guy has posted the last installment in his series on a recent visit Tulsa, which features a photo of the demolition of the Skelly Building. He says it's been years since a significant historic building has been demolished in downtown OKC, and he mentions one badly-damaged building that the owner chose to restore because, like the Skelly Building, it sat on a prominent corner. About the Skelly, he writes:

Protests were held, much like those for the Gold Dome in OKC. But they weren’t victorious (the Gold Dome, on the other hand, was a big win for preservationists here).

Saving the Gold Dome was a hard-fought victory, but OKC preservationists had some tools at their disposal that are missing in Tulsa. The building is in an urban design review district, and the owner of the building had to seek a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the building and build the new Walgreens and bank branch to replace it. The Urban Design Commission denied all three applications, and ultimately a buyer was found to restore and reuse the landmark.

Here in Tulsa, we have nothing in our ordinances to stop or even slow the demolition of historic commercial buildings or to prevent the continued erosion of what remains of our urban streetscape. If there were a consensus among the powerful that preservation is a good thing, such laws wouldn't be needed, but the fact that we don't have such laws is a clear indication that the folks who really run this town don't get it yet. They see a new arena and a new convention center in Oklahoma City, and they think that's all we need to achieve the same sort of revitalization. What they don't notice are all the old buildings that weren't knocked down in the '60s for urban renewal or in the decades since for parking. These old buildings were available when people were ready to take risks and start businesses in Bricktown. Tulsa is starting off well behind Oklahoma City in the old buildings department. If we expect great things to happen in downtown Tulsa, one of the first steps is to stop tearing down buildings. A private effort to rescue endangered buildings, paralleled by public policy decisions to encourage preservation, are the first steps.

Father Shane Tharp at Catholic Ragemonkey paints a vivid picture:

Every priest has a couple of bridezilla stories, that is, brides who went on a rampage because they got the notion in their heads that their wedding day was meant to fulfill every pretty, pretty princess dreams and when things don't go their way, Tokyo must pay the price.

I'm proud to say that neither Bridezilla nor Groomzilla were present at our nuptials 16 years ago. And the even-tempered young bride who asked our four-year-old daughter to be a flower girl back in January wasn't the least bit perturbed at her attack of stage fright at the rehearsal (she got over it), nor bothered by her decision not to drop any petals from her basket during the procession.

The end of a three-centuries-long era: Reuters is moving its head office from London's famed Fleet Street to the Docklands. Reuters was the last major news organization headquartered there, once home to all of London's newspapers, broadsheets and tabloids alike. Former editor Bill Hagerty remembers the Street of Shame in its heyday. Mostly he remembers the pubs:

I spent around a quarter of a century in and around Fleet Street; 25 years roaming a film set of a workplace stocked with larger than life characters and larger than average drinks in The Stab in the Back or The Cock Tavern or El Vino.

Outside the buildings where the production of newspapers filled some 22 hours of most days of the year, The Street was one great watering hole, which, if you walked fast enough, could be traversed pub-to-pub during a rainstorm without getting very wet. ...

Features chief sub Des Lyons, cigarette ash tumbling down the front of his worn blazer, was another Stab pianist, especially on Thursday evening "Nights of Magic" when songs were sung, insults and sometimes punches exchanged and marriages crumbled in the heady atmosphere of booze, news and nothing-to-lose.

Hat tip for that item to Manuel L. Quezon III, who files the news in the Sic Transit Gloria Mundi department. He's covering a scandal involving another Gloria -- Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, under pressure to resign after the release of a tape that implicates her in voter fraud. (That's what I gather, anyway. I'm still working my way through his archives and trying to sort out what's happening.) Blogs have played a role in exposing the tapes to the widest possible audience. I think it'll be worth keeping an eye on Mr. Quezon's blog as the story develops. For that, and also because he was kind enough to add me to his rotating overseas blogroll (Maraming salamat!), you'll find Manuel L. Quezon III on mine.

One more quick link -- double-checking if I remembered that bit of Tagalog correctly from 22 years ago (I did!), I found this handy website on the Tagalog language.

UPDATE: Here's the Wikipedia article on the 2005 Philippine Election Crisis. Note the disclaimer at the top of the article -- what you find when you go to that link may be quite different than what I'm seeing right now.

"The City Attorney shall be the chief legal advisor and attorney for the city and all offices, divisions, departments, boards, authorities, commissions, and agencies thereof." -- Tulsa City Charter, Article III, Section 4

There's more evidence today that Mayor Bill LaFortune's appointment of Alan Jackere as City Attorney is a slap in the face of the reform-minded citizens who worked hard to elect him Mayor.

Two weeks ago, the City Council took up final consideration of an ordinance governing ethics for city officials, whether elected, appointed, or employed. Mayoral staffers (and former Councilors) Sam Roop and Clay Bird spoke on behalf of the administration, asking for more time and more input from those who would be affected by the new administration. Even though the ordinance had been in work for the last eight months, Councilor Medlock proposed and the Council approved continuing the item for two weeks. Since that meeting, there have been three work sessions and a committee meeting. Representatives from Mayor LaFortune's administration and the City Auditor's office participated in the meetings. An attorney from the City Attorney's office was present for most of the work sessions as well, although it was said that she didn't have much to say in the meetings. It appeared that consensus had been achieved among all the participants on nearly every point, and that the way was clear for the Council to pass an ordinance which the Mayor would sign.

Then this afternoon at 5 p.m., an hour before the Council meeting was to begin, City Attorney Alan Jackere delivered a memo outlining about a dozen objections and concerns about the draft ordinance. He stated that he spent the last two days looking over the draft and developing this list. Most of the concerns were minor, some seemed to be significant, but the thing to notice is the timing. If the City Attorney regarded himself, as he should, as the servant of the people we voted into office, he or a deputy would have been actively involved over the eight months that the ordinance was in development and particularly over the last two weeks as the final version was being hammered out, raising concerns and helping to put the language into proper legalese. Many of the concerns Jackere raised applied to the version that was before the Council two weeks ago, and he should have raised his voice at that time, or shortly after, if he were truly interested in helping these elected officials achieve their goal of enacting an ethics ordinance.

Jackere's last-minute objections had one purpose -- give Cockroach Caucus councilors cover to vote for further postponement or to vote against the ordinance. It was obvious from the councilors' comments that a vote would fail by a 4-5 margin.

In response to this 11th hour surprise, Chris Medlock made a smart move, but it angered some of his allies. He proposed continuing the item for one more week, until next week's Council meeting, to allow time to incorporate the City Attorney's concerns and to make sure a majority of the Council is on board. If Medlock had not taken the initiative to postpone for one week, it's very likely that a Cockroach Caucus councilor would have proposed, and succeeded in getting, a delay of a month or more, past the recall election, in hopes that there would be two fewer votes for a real ethics ordinance with teeth.

Friday is the last day to register to vote or to move your registration (if you've moved into Tulsa City Council districts 2 or 6) so that you can vote in July 12th's recall election. You can register at any tag agency, but you might want to head down to the Tulsa County Election Board at 555 N. Denver to register in person, just to be sure that the application gets where it needs to go in a timely fashion.

Steve Roemerman attended Councilor Chris Medlock's Tuesday night town hall meeting and wishes all of Medlock's constituents could have been there, too:

[Had you been there, y]ou would have come to understand that Councilor Medlock’s portrait as anti-development is unfair and unfounded. Clearly he is not anti-development as he has been crucial in securing the new 600,000-900,000 square foot, Tulsa Hills, Shopping Center at 71st and east of highway 75, a project that is projected to bring 5 million dollars in new tax revenue for Tulsa. That’s good for District 2 and for Tulsa.

You would have been confused at the rumor that he is a negative person, or that he has no ideas, or that he is ignorant, or arrogant. You would have seen a passionate Councilor who loves Tulsa, who wants to see Tulsa grow while protecting its citizens, and an important elected official with great ideas. You would have started to wonder, “So why do we want to recall him? Don’t we really want to keep him in office?”

Finally, Rick Westcott of Tulsans for Election Integrity explains why the group stands against all recall efforts -- both those pursued by the Coalition for Reprehensible Government against Medlock and Mautino and those being pursued against Mayor LaFortune and the Cockroach Caucus.

Ron Coleman, intellectual property attorney, general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association, and defender of this blog against the threats of the Tulsa World, has moved his blog on intellecual property issues from Blogger to Movable Type and to a new domain, www.likelihoodofconfusion.com. A couple of recent entries of note:

  • New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority is trying to enforce trademark rights on icons like its alphanumeric subway line symbols. (Transport for London has a detailed Intellectual Property Rights policy to protect its trademark roundel and the copyright on its maps and the New Johnston font. An earlier version of the font is available for purchase and public use. And for what it's worth, the BatesLine logo, while inspired by the London Underground map, uses different colors and a different font -- Gill Sans -- and makes no use of the roundel. I don't believe there's any -- ahem -- likelihood of confusion.)
  • In a post about a new law that has the merchants of filth panicking, he asks a pointed question about the Supremes' recent use of foreign jurisprudence and moral standards in their opinions: "Query: The next time the Supreme Court decides to look at worldwide contemporary legal and moral standards in interpreting the Constitution of 1789, maybe it will explain why it only looks to 'enlightened' (i.e., liberal) views and not the benighted regulation of speech and pornography experienced by probably most of the people on earth (i.e., all Muslims and those in China and in much else of Asia). I'm not suggesting we adopt the Saudi approach, but I would like to know the rationale whereby we don't." Wouldn't it be nice if they stuck with our own Constitution as a basis for their opinions?

Update your bookmarks, and go pay Ron a visit.

One test of a good voting system is whether it effectively prevents a candidate to enter the race as a "spoiler." There is probably a technical term for this, but there ought to be a stability of results. If A would beat B in a two-candidate race, the addition of C to the list of candidates shouldn't result in a victory for B. By extension, adding a candidate to an n-candidate race shouldn't hand the election to someone who would have lost the n-candidate race.

Because many jurisdictions don't have any sort of runoff at all, and only a handful use instant runoff voting, we often see elections where the winner is someone who might not have won with fewer candidates in the race. Sometimes the winner is someone who might have lost head-to-head with several of the other candidates, but wins the multi-candidate race because the other candidates split a common core constituency.

Here are two more recent examples.

Yesterday there was a special primary election in Ohio's 2nd congressional district, a seat previously held by Rob Portman, who is now U. S. Trade Representative in President Bush's cabinet.

Here's the final result (PDF) in the Republican primary:

JEAN SCHMIDT 14232 31.35%
BOB MCEWEN 11565 25.48%
TOM BRINKMAN, JR. 9211 20.29%
PAT DEWINE 5455 12.02%
ERIC MINAMYER 2111 4.65%
PETER A. FOSSETT 1026 2.26%
TOM BEMMES 695 1.53%
JEFF MORGAN 400 0.88%
DAVID R. SMITH 374 0.82%
STEVE AUSTIN 221 0.49%
DOUGLAS E. MINK 100 0.22%

Ohio has no primary runoff, so Schmidt wins the primary despite the 69% of the vote against her.

Had the 4th through 11th place candidates not been in the race, the distribution of their votes to the top three could have put any of the top three in first place. Even an Oklahoma-style primary runoff wouldn't fix the problem, as the top three were close enough that we can't know which of them would have finished 1-2 if the other eight candidates had not been in the race. Instant runoff voting would have produced a winner with the support of a majority of the voters. The beauty of instant runoff voting is that you eliminate the spoiler effect of an additional candidate.

We had another example in last week's Republican primary for New Jersey governor.

Doug Forrester 108,090 35.94%
Bret Schundler 93,926 31.23%
John Murphy 33,662 11.19%
Steven Lonegan 24,346 8.10%
Robert Schroeder 16,691 5.55%
Paul DiGaetano 16,551 5.50%
Todd Caliguire 7,472 2.48%

It's been argued that Steven Lonegan acted as a spoiler for Bret Schundler, peeling off enough conservative support to keep him from once again winning the GOP nomination. The counter-argument is that if the other minor candidates had not been in the race, most of their votes would have gone to Forrester. A runoff is the only way to know for sure.

A simple two-candidate runoff probably would have been sufficient to provide a clear outcome, but theoretically Murphy could have finished second in a three-way race -- the bottom four candidates had enough combined votes that if they had been out of the race and all their votes had gone to Murphy, Murphy would have finished second.

The advent of the blog has made it easy for ordinary people to write about and publish their opinions on the news gathered by professional journalists. Blog publishing software has also made it possible for ordinary folks to publish original reporting, but because we're ordinary folks, we bloggers are usually not familiar with the legal issues involved in reporting and publishing.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a helpful and thorough "Legal Guide for Bloggers," which covers anti-SLAPP laws, intellectual property law, privacy rights, defamation, reporter's privilege, media access to public records and government meetings, election law, and labor law. In some cases where state laws vary, there are links to state-by-state information. (Hat tip: Sandhill Trek, via the Media Bloggers Association mailing list.)

On the other side of the traditional journalism / blogger divide, mainstream media outlets are just beginning to explore how to make citizen journalism a part of what they do. Steve Outing has put together an 11-layered hierarchy of citizen journalist involvement in traditional media, with links to examples of each layer. The lowest level of the hierarchy is allowing readers to comment on news articles on the web, much the same way readers comment on blogs. Bluffton Today is an example of a newspaper at the higher end of the hierarchy -- using reader-submitted online content to drive the content of the daily print edition. Smart publishers of traditional newspapers will eventually realize they have more to gain by opening themselves up to collaboration with citizen journalists and the online world than by walling themselves off. (Hat tip: Bob Cox at The National Debate.)

Tomorrow evening, Thursday, June 16, the Tulsa City Council will consider adopting an ethics ordinance which will govern all elected officials, city employees, city appointees to authorities, boards, and commissions, and trustees of Tulsa's public trusts. You can read the proposed ordinance online in PDF format. (Warning: It's a big file. They appear to have printed the document, and scanned it in full color mode, then converted the scans to PDF. They could have used Acrobat to convert the original digital document directly to PDF and produce a much smaller file.) Here's another, smaller PDF file, showing recent markups, but I'm not sure how recent.

There will be a rally in support of adopting the ethics ordinance on City Hall Plaza at 5:15, just before the Council meeting. The Mayor and a number of councilors (the usual suspects) have been dragging their feet on this, and I suspect they hope to drag it out beyond the recall election in hopes that Medlock and Mautino won't be around to help get it passed.

Tulsans deserve a government that is run for the benefit of all Tulsans, not just a favored few. When important decisions are being made about land use and public infrastructure, the decisions need to be made by people who don't have a personal stake in the outcome. We've waited over a decade for an ethics ordinance, and this one has been in the works for over a year. It's modeled after successful ordinances in use in many other cities. There is no good reason to delay action.

Please call or e-mail your councilor -- 596-192#, dist#@tulsacouncil.org, and replace # with your district number -- show up for the rally at 5:15, and if possible, stay to address the Council during the meeting. Let them know you want openness, transparency, and ethics in city government.

George Grant has an interesting biographical sketch of Christopher Wren, the architect of the rebuilding of London following the Great Fire. He was a professor of astronomy at Oxford and designed his first building at the age of 31. Three years later he was overseeing the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral, outwitting the committee that was overseeing his work. Grant's piece also touches on how Wren's theology affected the architecture of St. Paul's.

Brains aren't all that


To balance out my boasting of my score on the online IQ test, I feel compelled to direct you to this entry I wrote in my first month of blogging: "Smarts ain't all they're cracked up to be."

A couple of weeks ago I critiqued Ken Neal's op-ed attack on the pro-life stance on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. I acknowledged that he made a valid point about in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and the creation of "surplus" embryos that are routinely frozen or destroyed. If those embryos are human life, as I believe, then we have to question the practice of IVF on moral grounds. The ends -- having a baby -- can't justify the means if the means involve destroying human life.

Today, Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost examines the ethics of IVF and other means of dealing with infertility from a Christian perspective. He links to an article on reproductive technologies by Daniel McConchie of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. McConchie suggests that by taking certain precautions IVF can be used in a way that does not involve destroying embryos or exposing them to a greater level of risk than would be encountered in nature.

There's a vigorous discussion in the comments to Joe Carter's post, and rather than try to duplicate that here, I'm going to turn off comments on this entry. If you have a comment, please post it over there.

Dory of Wittenberg Gate has posted the latest entry in the series on dealing with controlling personalities in the church. (That entry has links to the first three entries.) In an earlier entry, she also has links to a couple of resources that may help those recovering from spiritually abusive situations -- a sermon on spiritual exhaustion and a review of Martin Lloyd-Jones's book Spiritual Depression.

I think I've found the brainiest blog on the Internet. The blogger, named Tom, writes about favorite foods (often!), taxes, family, pets, pop culture, and his longing for a meaningful relationship. Here's a recent entry:

So, I was hanging out with Keith Richards last night, and I asked him something I've wondered as long as I've known him: "Why haven't you ever eaten Mick Jagger's brains?"

And Keith told me -- get this -- he told me he's not a zombie.

I know! What the hell! You could've knocked me over with a feather. I mean, he looks like a zombie, he smells like a zombie... I just figured: zombie.

I was so shocked, I forgot to eat his brains. Maybe next week. We're going to Golf n' Stuff on Tuesday.

I guess he was on TV recently:

I still say, if Dr. Phil didn't want to have his brains eaten, he shouldn't have gotten all up in my grill about being an undeadbeat dad.

That's from Tom the Zombie, and I found his blog, zombie eat brains, in a collection of undead links in a recent entry at Incoming Signals, a daily assortment of amazing links from around the web.

Full disclosure: I am posting this for my own self-preservation. (UPDATE: Maybe not! And Dwayne, if he shows up at my front door, he'll be handed a map to your house. And a PikePass.)

Still waiting for the U. S. Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v. New London, expected to be a landmark case on whether governments have the power to take property by eminent domain for private use. This week's edition of Phyllis Schlafly Live, an hour-long radio show, is an interview with Steven Greenhut, author of Abuse of Power: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain. A caller to the program talked about an attempt to add checks and balances to the eminent domain process in Missouri (House Bill 258).

You can hear the show until about midday tomorrow on www.rightalk.com, where you can also hear this week's edition of Hoist the Black Flag with Ace and Karol, featuring a chat with National Review editor and music critic Jay Nordlinger.

It surprised me the first time I noticed it, but Phyllis Schlafly and her organization Eagle Forum have been stalwarts on issues that you would normally associate with libertarianism, not social conservatism. Eminent domain abuse is one example, but the first such issue that came to my attention was freedom of encryption. Eagle Forum opposed Clinton administration efforts to require use of encryption schemes with "back doors" accessible to law enforcement. Eagle Forum also opposed the 20-year extension of copyright passed in the late '90s. (That last link has links to Schlafly's writing on the subject and to an article in The Nation. It's been my experience that social-issue "wingnuts" like Schlafly -- and me -- are more concerned about abuse of government power and corporate welfare than socially moderate and liberal Republicans.)


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Your IQ Is 140
Your Logical Intelligence is Genius Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius Your General Knowledge is Genius

(Hat tip: Jack Bennett of Idle Mendacity, a New York City conservative Catholic blogger who has me on his blogroll. In recent entries he mourns the passing of Frank Gorshin and the hi-JACK-ing of the oldies format at WCBS-FM. Thanks for the link, Jack, and I've blogrolled you, too.)

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock will hold a town hall meeting Tuesday night, June 14, at 6:30 pm, at Cityplex Towers (a.k.a. the City of Faith), 81st and Lewis. The meeting will be on the first floor under the east tower. While the forum is principally for Councilor Medlock's District 2 constituents, anyone is welcome to come, listen, and ask questions. According to Councilor Medlock's website, topics will include Vision 2025 Neighborhood Funds, remediation schedule for Fred Creek, planned improvements for 81st & Delaware, an update on recent zoning issues, new developments in district (particularly the new Tulsa Hills development at 71st Street and US 75), and the upcoming recall election.

If you support Councilor Medlock's efforts at City Hall, this would be a great opportunity to come and show your appreciation. If you don't think you like what he's doing, or you're skeptical or unsure, this is a great opportunity to see for yourself and ask your questions face-to-face, without the Tulsa Whirled editing and rearranging his replies.

(This entry's timestamp has been set forward to keep this entry at the top through Tuesday evening.)

Kenneth Taylor, RIP

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men's advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God: But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a river bank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper.

-- Psalm 1:1-3, The Living Bible

Kenneth Taylor, who published his paraphrase of Scripture as The Living Bible, passed away last week.

The Living Bible was the first Bible I really read for myself. My parents gave me a copy when I was eight -- an Easter gift if I remember correctly. When our VBS class memorized John 14:1-6, I was the oddball who memorized the LB version -- everyone else recited the King James. Up until I received a Scofield Study Bible in high school (KJV with dispensational premillenialist study notes), The Living Bible was how I got to know God's Word.

Christianity Today has posted several articles in tribute to Taylor: an obituary, an interview from 1979, and a review of his 1992 autobiography.

From that 1979 interview, some insight into Taylor's motivations for paraphrasing Scripture:

The children were one of the chief inspirations for producing the Living Bible. Our family devotions were tough going because of the difficulty we had understanding the King James Version, which we were then using, or the Revised Standard Version, which we used later. All too often I would ask questions to be sure the children understood, and they would shrug their shoulders—they didn't know what the passage was talking about. So I would explain it. I would paraphrase it for them and give them the thought. It suddenly occurred to me one afternoon that I should write out the reading for that evening thought by thought, rather than doing it on the spot during our devotional time. So I did, and read the chapter to the family that evening with exciting results—they knew the answers to all the questions I asked!

You'll find a more personal tribute to Taylor at Baylyblog, starting here. Tim Bayly is Taylor's son-in-law. (We all got acquainted with Tim and his brother David as they kept vigil outside Terri Schiavo's hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, and reported their observations on their blog, back in March.)

For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are. -- Hebrews 4:12, The Living Bible

Virginia is for voters


Today is primary day in Virginia. Virginia has a one-term limit for governor, so Democrat Mark Warner will be stepping down (rumored to be planning a run for Senate next year against incumbent Republican George Allen). Jerry Kilgore is expected to defeat George Fitch in the race for the Republican nomination for Governor; the winner will go on to face Democrat Tim Kaine, unopposed for his party's nomination.

The most hotly contested races are for the lower house of the legislature. Last year, a number of Republican delegates supported a tax increase to address a budget crisis, and many of them have drawn primary challengers this year.

Unlike Oklahoma, Virginia has an open primary system. You don't register by party. Instead, at each primary you ask for the ballot of one party or the other. An incumbent facing a primary challenge might try to win renomination by luring voters who usually vote in the other party's primary.

Last week when I was digging for info on the New Jersey primary, I was surprised not to find any blogs devoted to Garden State politics, and only a few with even a mention of the contestants in the main race, but a quick search today found several conservative blogs devoted to Virginia politics. One blog, Sic Semper Tyrannis, contacted me before the Oklahoma Republican Convention to write about George Allen's speech there and how he was received by the delegates. A district attorney blogs about politics under the pseudonym John Behan at Commonwealth Conservative. One Man's Trash is covering the governor's race extensively.

Bacon's Rebellion is a biweekly Virginia public policy e-zine. It's covering the election, but it also covers government efficiency, taxation, and transportation and land use. There's a blog, updated daily, and a special blog on transportation, urban design, and land use, called The Road to Ruin.

Polls close at 7 local time, and you can see results from 7:30 on via the Virginia State Board of Elections.

Here's a story about a city planner who considers the city's comprehensive plan a "mandate," and he's leading the effort to update the plan, which was last updated in ... 1998! The last update lead to the creation of the city's first historic districts.

The process of gathering public input is designed to help draw out residents' dreams for their city in twenty years' time:

Shaw hopes the session will be made more lively and interactive by the approach of asking residents in attendance a series of questions about what they would most like to see happen in [the city] and what they expect to see happen as a way to promote discussion of the future development of the community.

One query will ask residents to identify what they think [the city]'s strengths and weaknesses are. Another will tap into the creativity of meeting participants.

"We'll ask, if you were given a camera and asked to take photos of the five strongest features of [our city], what would they be?" Shaw said.

"We're also going to ask the question that a lot of us ask this time of year. If you have friends or relatives coming in from out of town, what three places do you want most to take them to, and what three places do you least want to take them to?" Shaw said.

A final question will require those attending the meeting to think like a journalist.

"The scenario that we'll present is, imagine that it's 2025, 20 years from today," Shaw said. "You're a reporter for a major magazine, and you've been assigned to do a story about [our city]. What are you writing about? What happened over the previous 20 years that led [our city] to where it is? What were the successes, and how did they get there? What challenges did they face, and how did they work to overcome them?"

It's not Tulsa, obviously -- our comprehensive plan hasn't been updated since the '70s. It's Waynesboro, Virginia.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about Stacy of Not a Desperate Housewife and her effort to display both HaloScan and Blogger comments. I saw on that blog today that she's also a participant in a fairly new group blog called Meet the Bloggers, which consists of interviews with bloggers. So far the four interviewers have interviewed each other plus two other bloggers.

One of the interviewees is Tina of Corner Chair, who writes about her journey from driven perfectionism as a minister and counselor, to a breakdown and two months in prison for a felony, to the slow rebuilding of her life by God's grace. It is powerful stuff. A sample from one of her early entries, "Being Recreated":

I’ve been doing some reading about brokenness and humility. Recently, someone suggested that I needed to be more humble. My first response was one of incredulity. How could I be more broken, more humbled? I felt like my life had been pulverized. I felt less than useless. I had squandered my purpose. God could no longer have a plan for me.

I had been an achiever. I was driven to produce and to perfection. Failure was unacceptable and yet I made choices that resulted in the loss of my position. I went way beyond disappointing people. I betrayed trust. I behaved in a manner that was despicable. The only thing I deserved was rejection and to live a life of despair. ...

I had lived a life so full of myself. I worked to earn approval from everyone—including God. I proclaimed a message to others that I hadn’t fully taken into my own life. I was willing to admit that I was imperfect. I didn’t like it, but God said he would even use a “cracked pot.” What he was doing now was grinding the pieces into powder.

I kept asking how I was going to put the pieces back together. At some level I hoped to return to life as I knew it. I imagined that the process of healing would result in a restoration, a giving back so that I could move past what had happened and get on with my life and living out my purpose for God.

God had, has, very different plans. There will be a restoring of sorts, but his greater desire is to recreate me. That means I have to give up control. That means I have to truly trust him. That means what was, won’t be again. That brings tears to my eyes right now because I really don’t know what that means, or how it will look. What I do know is that I think I’m coming to the place where I’m willing to accept it and to open myself fully to it.

Thanks to Meet the Bloggers for introducing me to Corner Chair. Both have been added to the BatesLine blogroll.

It's always interesting to see your city through other eyes. OKC-based blogger The Downtown Guy spent some time in Tulsa recently as a tourist and has a few thoughts to share on what we have going for us, and where we fall short.

Part 1 is actually an Urban Tulsa article from the latest issue on why downtown Tulsa doesn't work.

In Part 2, he notes Tulsa's high ranking in salary value, and tells us we ought to cherish and celebrate Cain's Ballroom. (By the way, I love the evocative Flash intro to Cain's website, but I want to hear the whole song!)

In Part 2 1/2, he passes along some exciting news about plans for the East Village area -- mixed-use development including a $500 million production facility. (TulsaNow forums has a discussion thread on the topic here.)

Part 3 is about where Vision 2025 went wrong. He observes Bricktown-type synergy occurring, but it's happening on the riverfront in Jenks.

He promises more commentary tomorrow.

A couple of comments:

He's right about Cain's Ballroom, and I don't think enough of Tulsa's civic leaders fully appreciate what we have in Cain's and in the heritage of Western Swing music. It's almost as if the Chamber Pots are embarrassed by the grubby, gritty blue-collar and barely-tamed side of Tulsa. I see that attitude reflected in the way the two cities promote themselves to tourists.

The tourism brochure that the Chamber puts out (the one you'll find at hotel tourist brochure racks all over this region) paints Tulsa as a high-class, high-culture cosmopolitan city. The brochure highlights our world-class art museums and our opera and our ballet and shopping at Utica Square, all wonderful and worthy of attention. Even the tiny font of the Tulsa brochure suggests that Tulsa is an acquired taste for the discriminating palate. Next time you see a rack of tourism brochures, contrast Tulsa's with Oklahoma City's. OKC's has big type, big pictures of horses, cowboys, and Indians, and a big map showing at a glance where all the good stuff is. It's the sort of brochure that says "We're proud of who we are," not, "We're East Coast wannabes." And OKC's brochure is designed to grab a kid's attention -- "This looks cool! Can we stop there, please?"

Getting back to Western Swing, Tulsa ought to make it easy for visitors to find Cain's, maybe work with ownership to allow tours when there aren't any events, be sure that Western Swing has a place at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, and help Western Swing fans visiting Tulsa find that kind of music. Coming to Tulsa as a Western Swing fan and not being able to find it performed anywhere would be like going to Vienna and being unable to find anyone playing Strauss waltzes. And while we're at it, let's make north Main Street a link between downtown, Brady Village, and OSU-Tulsa, which owns the land just on the other side of I-244 from Cain's. OSU-Tulsa ought to be encouraged, pressured even (since the city gave the school the land), to build out their campus in an urban fashion, not more of the suburban mall approach they've used so far.

Regarding Jenks and the river -- some of the development Downtown Guy mentions is actually on the east bank in Tulsa, like the Creek Casino. But his main point is that this development is off the beaten path, not easy for out-of-towners to find, and far from downtown. He says Tulsa had twice attempted to pass a MAPS-type program, but that's really not so. Tulsa's plans were always focused on the arena and convention center, while MAPS involved a variety of projects, still mostly downtown, but MAPS also included the Bricktown canal, the art museum, the library, and the music hall. There's a synergy in Bricktown which will be difficult to achieve in downtown Tulsa. I'll be interested to read his next installment and would love to know what he thinks about the arena's location relative to other downtown activity centers, the impact of the Inner Dispersal Loop, and ongoing downtown demolition.

It's a blogging anniversary for three sites on my blogroll:

Happy first blogiversary to syndicated columnist and incredibly prolific blogger Michelle Malkin, and a special thanks again to Michelle for calling attention to the Tulsa World's legal threats against this blog, for hitting my tip jar at the time, and encouraging others to do the same.

Happy third blogiversary to Karol Sheinin of Alarming News. It was a pleasure to get to meet Karol last August, when she was a credentialed blogger to the Republican National Convention. Alarming News is a fount of common-sense conservative insight on world events, national politics, and pop culture, leavened with tales of poker nights and New York City, and an occasional bit of sparring with friend/nemesis Dawn Summers. If you aren't reading Alarming News every day, you should be. Karol is host (with Ace) of "Hoist the Black Flag," a weekly one-hour talk show, which you can hear live at 4 p.m. Eastern Tuesdays at rightalk.com. And if you're conservative and in the New York City area, check out Karol's Right Events blog for a list of places and times to fellowship with like-minded folks.

Happy belated first blogiversary to Don Danz, patriarch of the Danz family and a conservative Tulsa-based blogger. I had the pleasure of meeting Don at the Okie blogger bash in Oklahoma City back in January. DanzFamily.com is a beautifully designed and photo-laden blog, and Don has a comprehensive page of useful links, too. Be sure to read his recent entry on the recent controversy over adding a display on the Biblical account of creation at the Tulsa Zoo.

Many happy returns of the day!

I've done some more investigation into why most blogs on my blogroll don't ever show up as recently updated. BlogRolling.com's FAQ on how it determines which blogs have recently updated mentions that it relies on two RSS feeds in addition to direct pings. The two feeds are:

http://www.weblogs.com/changes.xml http://www.blogger.com/changes.xml

When I tried to add these feeds to Mozilla Thunderbird's RSS aggregator, both showed up as invalid RSS. I wonder if there has been some change to BlogRolling's method of reading and aggregating these feeds, so that it no longer tolerates deviations from the RSS standard, or if there have been changes to the Blogger and weblogs.com RSS feeds so that they are no longer compliant. Either way, this appears to be the broken link -- updated blogs are notifying Blogger and weblogs.com, but BlogRolling no longer can extract information from those sources and only reflects updates from the blogs that ping it directly.

The solution then is to add http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/ to the list of sites that are automatically pinged when you post. You can do this in Movable Type, and I imagine b2, WordPress, and any other advanced blog software has the capability to add to a list of standard sites to ping.

If you use Blogger, you can go to the Blogrolling update form and submit a ping manually.

may be an easier method for Blogger users, if it works as advertised. On the home page, you can check boxes for up to 14 services to ping, enter the name and address of your blog, and click submit. You'll see a results page, which you can bookmark. Clicking that bookmark in the future will submit a ping for your site to the same set of services. I tried this about 10 minutes ago (with and without the trailing virgule on the URL), and the results said the ping was accepted, but I have yet to see BatesLine's updated status change.

While I'm waiting to see if that changes, I'll tell you about some other odd technical matters. I checked my site stats yesterday through awstats, which is provided as part of my hosting package, and it reported over 6,000 visits for Sunday, which is usually the lowest-traffic day of the week. A look at the raw log revealed that awstats must have counted wach visit yesterday as 8 or 9 visits. We'll see if awstats recounts everything correctly when it runs tonight.

Here's the other weird thing -- in a couple of days' time, I've had two dozen referrals from iaea.org -- the International Atomic Energy Agency. Something like this happened last August, too, but at the time I didn't think to examine the raw log to see where those visits come from and which pages are being hit. All the hits came from (apparently a server in Mexico City), started with the article about the legal threat I received from the Tulsa World, and then visited all the pages linked from that page. I suspect what I saw was a test run for a referrer, trackback, or comment spambot. I've banned the IP address from accessing the site, just to be on the safe side.

All right: It's been nearly an hour, and the ping via Ping-O-Meter still isn't reflected by BlogRolling, so I'll assume it doesn't work. Some clever person out there must have developed a one-click bookmarklet to ping BlogRolling, as an alternative to filling in the form each time. Let me know about it, and I'll link to it.

Recently updated?

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I probably shouldn't write about this, as it will remove a competitive advantage I currently enjoy.

I have my blogroll sorted in most recently updated order, and I use it for my own reference to see who has new material posted. Other bloggers use italics, an asterisk, or some other special mark to highlight recently updated blogs. A websurfer visiting a favorite site is more likely to follow a link to another blog if it stands out in some way. In looking at my referrer logs, I know I've received some visits simply because I show up on a site in the Blogs for Terri, League of Reformed Bloggers, or Wictory Wednesday blogrolls, and BatesLine is highlighted as recently updated.

How does Blogrolling.com determine when a blog has been recently updated? When a new entry is posted on a blog, most blogging software will automatically ping Technorati, blo.gs, weblogs.com, and other sites that track blogs. Blogrolling.com takes information from these sources and determines when a blogroll has been last updated.

Over the last few weeks, the number of recently-updated blogs in my blogroll has dwindled noticeably. At first I thought it was because people were going on vacation, but it seems that some blogs are never showing up as recently updated at all. If you hover your mouse over a blog name in the blogroll, you'll see when Blogrolling.com thinks it was last updated. For example, it thinks Instapundit hasn't been updated since May 25. Instapundit had seven new entries today. The problem is not specific to a publishing engine -- Movable Type, WordPress, and Blogger blogs are all affected.

My blog (yes, I've blogrolled myself) almost always shows up as recently updated when it is. That may be because, rather than relying on Blogrolling.com to get update info from the other services I ping, I directly ping Blogrolling at the following address:


In Movable Type, on the weblog config preferences page, under Publicity / Remote Interfaces / TrackBack, you can add sites to ping automatically with each new post.

I also found this FAQ on the subject. If you're a blogger on my blogroll, and you aren't showing up as recently updated even if you are, take a minute to read it. If you're on my blogroll, it's because I like what you write, and if you've just written more of it, I'd like to know about it, and I'd like my readers to know, too.

A faithful few links

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I'm not going to be doing any writing of my own tonight, but here are a few links on faith, theology, etc., for your Sunday edification:

  • Evangelical Outpost has the commencement speech Neil Postman never delivered (but you're welcome to give it, if you ever get the chance). Graduates, will you align yourselves with the Athenians or the Visigoths?
  • Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, has an essay on assurance of salvation, entitled "On Faith's Crumbling Edge: Restoring The Uprooted Assurance Of The Ordinary Christian." From my years in the Southern Baptist Convention, I can affirm his observation that although the denomination professes belief in the security of the believer, it is home to many believers who are filled with doubts about their standing with God. I saw plenty of people who "got saved" again because they weren't sure they really meant it the first time. (There's a typo in the piece that made me laugh -- an errant "r" turns Lifeway, the publishing/bookselling arm of the SBC, into Lifewary, which is probably true of a lot of the tender consciences that Spencer writes about in this essay.)
  • Speaking of the SBC, Southern Baptist Seminary president and powerhouse Al Mohler turns out a thoughtful, in-depth essay every single day on subjects moral, theological, and political. His May 31 column is a review of Paige Patterson's new book on the reformation within the SBC in the '80s. The denomination nearly followed every other large Protestant body in the US into relativism, but thanks to a dedicated group of laymen and pastors, the SBC is firmly committed to the gospel of Christ and the truth of Scripture. That victory required both prayer and politicking. But even if you don't care about the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, you will care about the other topics -- sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage, deliberate childlessness -- that he has written on in the last few days.
  • In response to native Tulsan Philip Johnson's piece on Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism, Marsupial Mom owns up to her nascent Calvinism, and finds that real-life Calvinism is easier to take than the Internet variety. (She also mentions having been involved in the "Toronto Blessing" movement. To put that in Internet terminology, that's the Church of ROTFLMAO.)
  • Jacob Hantla, also responding to "Quick-and-Dirty Calvinism", said his pastor compared him to Barney Fife during his early enthusiastic days as a Five-Pointer. "At the discovery of the most humbling message around, I became boastful, proud, and arrogant, even harsh." He talks about the mentors and the books that helped him out of what I've heard called "the cage period" -- the period when new Calvinists should be locked up so as not to harm themselves or others by beating people over the head with the new understanding they've acquired.
  • Jacob also enthusiastically recommends John Piper's sermons on "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ," the topic of 2004's Desiring God Ministries national conference.
  • Bowden McElroy has some thoughts on Henry Cloud's Christianity Today article "Dating is Not about Marriage". Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, what Cloud describes sounds like "Crusade Dating" to me -- conversation over lunch or dinner, no promise or expectation of long-term commitment, and no physical contact beyond a wee hug at the end of the evening -- just time to get to know another person and sharpen one's own social skills. (We called it "Crusade Dating" because that's how we were taught to date in Campus Crusade for Christ in college.)

Have a blessed Sunday. Attend church!

Huffington's Toast

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I still haven't bothered to visit the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington's Left Coast glitterati group blog, so I can't even link to it. But I have discovered its parody site -- Huffington's Toast, and it's on my blogroll.

It reminds of National Lampoon's Letters section, from that magazine's heyday in the late 1970s -- brief opinions purporting to be from celebrities. (It took me a few issues to figure out that the letters weren't really by the celebrities named, and, no, that wasn't really Jimmy Carter's cousin writing a monthly column about his misadventures with Brother Billy.)

Huffington's Toast features blog entries that are explicitly labeled "not really by" famous folks. It's written by some of the best satirists in the blogosphere. (See their links under "Arianna and Her Stooges" in the site's right sidebar.)

I especially enjoyed the exchange between evil galactic warlord Xenu* and Sc**nt*l*gy devotee Tom Cruise*, and political consultant Bob Shrum*'s prescription for the Democratic Party. Don't overlook the mugshots for each writer. (In Andrew Sullivan's case, that's the mugshot of Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens, from his 1991 indecent exposure arrest.)

It's frequently updated and always good for a laugh.

(* Not really.)

Dead Man Blogging hat trick


Robert Williams latest three entries on Dead Man Blogging are all excellent essays:

  1. God's Sovereignty Over Pharaoh: How God hardened Pharoah's heart so as to deliver Israel in a way that brought great glory to Himself, to make His name great among the nations. Williams notes that Pharoah let Israel go, and that might have been the end of the story, but God hardens Pharoah's heart, and he continues to pursue Israel all the way to and into the Red Sea.
  2. Appeal to Consequences is no way to Rightly Handle the Bible: You can't make a valid argument against a theological assertion based on the fact that you don't like the conclusions to which it leads you.
  3. Losing My Religion: Williams outlines his faith journey over the last 10 years from Arminian dispensationalist to Calvinist, and it resembles mine in many ways -- growing up in a small Southern Baptist congregation, Campus Crusade in college, a brief time in a Bible Church, then settling in a PCA congregation, and in the process coming to a very different understanding of what it means to live the Christian life:
    I’m trying to understand what a Christian life ought to look like. I’m losing my Gnostic religion. I’m losing my “busyness is godliness” religion. I’m understanding godly living and Christian service to be in the small things. I don’t have to light a fire and start a ministry that will change the world. If I pursue a close walk with God, lead my family, look to my wife’s sanctification, raise my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, work diligently and enjoy the work itself as well as the fruit of my labor, spend time with a very few good friends, go to worship regularly at my church, serve a little bit at my church (e.g., by teaching theology), take care of my extended family and my church family, I’m full. There’s not a lot of time to do much else. And that’s OK. No, it’s more than OK. It’s good.

    Robert from 10 years ago might not like the Robert of today, but that’s his loss.

    Three entries well worth your time and pondering.

I wondered about the same thing:

Re: Coruscant apartment codes. The architecture of the city is one of those giddy treats for city geeks. All those sleek Moderne towers and endless urban canyons. One of the best sequences consisted of Vader and Padme looking into the city, considering their fates; the camera moved slowly between the towers, for no particular reason; what, do the astral project when troubled? But any excuse for a flythrough. It’s just a cool place. But. BUT. For God’s sake, why aren’t there any railings anywhere? You build a docking pad so people can visit your 127th floor apartment, but you don’t build a railing? It’s windy up there. I’d get out of my car and crawl on my belly to the porch, and I wouldn’t stand up until I saw something I could grab. Like the hostess.

Read all of James Lileks' "disconnected observations" on "Revenge of the Sith" in today's Bleat.

One man's trash...


Is there anything you can do with games that are missing pieces? Dwayne the Canoe Guy has a brilliant answer to that question: He's bagging them -- 20 to a package -- and selling them at scrapbooking stores. You can see a photo of one of his packages, which includes cards from the '70s Parker Brothers board game The Inventors and tiles from Trippples.

The proposed City of Tulsa ethics ordinance is on the agenda for a special City Council meeting on Friday, June 10, at 10 a.m., in the City Council committee room (Room 201 of the City Hall tower).

That's a very convenient time for various special interest lobbyists, a very inconvenient time for the rest of us, who would like to see more accountability at City Hall. Hope at least some pro-disclosure citizens can be in attendance to balance things out a bit.

Tonight the Tulsa City Council will consider a zoning change to remove some lots from the Yorktown historic preservation overlay (HP) district. These lots are part of the new Arvest Bank development under construction on the southwest corner of 15th and Utica. They'll also consider a major amendment to the PUD for Arvest Bank to allow a curb cut onto Victor Avenue from the bank's parking lot. Victor is a residential street, and nearby homeowners are concerned that the erosion of the HP district combined with making Victor Avenue a convenient route for bank traffic will hurt property values and quality of life. The neighborhood is already squeezed by the expansion plans of Saint John Medical Center.

The people who bought homes in the area bought with the understanding that HP would help protect their investment in restoring their historic homes. Sure, it can be a bother to seek a certificate of appropriateness when doing exterior work on a home in an HP district, but the benefit is that all your neighbors are under the same set of standards. You don't have to worry about your investment being undermined by a bad remodeling job across the street or the house next door being torn down and replaced with a suburban-style home with the garage as the most prominent feature. Changing the zoning breaks the promise the City made to these property owners.

Yorktown Neighborhood leaders would appreciate your presence and support at tonight's meeting at 6 pm at City Hall.

For more discussion about the issue, here's the relevant thread on TulsaNow's forum.

UPDATE: Stacy emailed to say that she never could get the fix I found on Bad Example to work -- a link to the old comments appeared, but they showed up at the beginning of the entry, and she couldn't get them to show up in the normal spot at the end of each entry -- and she went with another suggestion that after much trial and error did work. The solution that worked for her was found in this entry on HaloScan's support forum, and Stacy writes that she "had to place the first code in twice at different places in the HaloScan codes." As always, your mileage may vary, but it is possible to display both kinds of comments.

Today I found an answer for a blogger with a technical problem [or so I thought -- see above], and it's a common enough situation that I thought it would be worth writing up for general perusal.

BatesLine has always been, and probably always will be, a Movable Type blog, but many bloggers, maybe most bloggers, use Blogger to power a blog at blogspot.com or for a self-hosted blog.

Starting a blogspot blog has the advantage of not costing any money, but it does have its limitations. At one time, Blogger had no comment capability, so most Blogger users used a comment service by HaloScan. Blogger then began offering comments, better in some ways than HaloScan, more limited in others. HaloScan also offers trackback, which isn't yet built in to Blogger. So it's a fairly common thing for a blogger to enable Blogger comments, get frustrated with certain limitations, and decide to switch to HaloScan.

The problem is that in making the switch, all the comments created in Blogger seem to vanish. Some theoblogical [sic] speculation posits that the Blogger comments have gone on to their eternal reward. In fact, it's more like "Honey, I Shrunk the Comments." They're still in the database at blogger.com, but after converting a blog to HaloScan comments, all links to the comments have disappeared, and they can't be seen.

There is a way to fetch the old comments back from the Great Beyond, and I'm happy to report that Ouija boards and un-shrink-rays are not involved. When I saw the plea for help on the HaloScan-beset blog (an entry on Not a Desperate Housewife), I remembered having seen both types of comments displayed on some other blogs, and a bit of googling came up with the QUICK AND PAINLESS GUIDE TO ADDING HALOSCAN COMMENTS WHILE KEEPING YOUR OLD BLOGGER COMMENTS VISIBLE on Bad Example, a blog which offers many other helpful blogging tips. I posted a comment with that link, and after a certain amount of template tweaking, non-desperate-housewife Stacy has everything working beautifully. [UPDATE: See note at top -- the Bad Example solution did not work for her.] If you visit her blog, you'll see links to the old Blogger comments and the new HaloScan comments side-by-side. (See above to see what was actually involved in getting it to work.) She should be able to go into Blogger settings and set the default Blogger comment policy to "New Posts Do Not Have Comments," so that new posts will only show links to HaloScan comments and trackbacks, while Blogger comments on old posts will remain accessible. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an easy way to close off all old posts to new Blogger comments -- you have to do it one entry at a time.

The Bad Example tip sheet carries an important warning which applies to all bloggers, regardless of which content management system you use: Always back up your template before making changes. In fact, you'd be wise to back up your template even if you aren't making changes. (Blogger has been known to make templates disappear without warning.)

On the blog Cosmic Rantings, AJ Coyner, a Tulsan and a physics grad student at Rice University in Houston, has a nice synopsis of the situation at Tulsa City Hall, which those of you coming in late may find helpful:

It's been a fairly quiet month here for notable stories but I have to think the brilliant politicians and puppeteers of Tulsa Oklahoma for the latest bit of political comedy I've seen. It appears a three page code of ethics with actual penalties for not disclosing conflicts of interest is complicated enough to require an additional month of study. Nevermind it's been in the works in its present form for more than a year and had been previously informally approved by all concerned parties. I know those of you not from there are probably thinking what could possibly be wrong with Tulsa? Trust me there are enough parallel storylines to compose about a 15 page entry. Luckily my caffeine-induced ADD will not allow me to expound beyond the following:

Two city councilors are being recalled. One of the councilors not under recall lied on his election forms and doesn't live in the district he represents. One of the allegedly clean councilors is under investigation by the FAA for unfair business practices at the airport. Something to the extent of increasing holdings and preferential signage because he appointed his best customer to head the Tulsa Airport Authority. The chairman of the council got a death threat last week because he wants to continue the airport investigation. One former council was rewarded for a controversial vote change with an $80,000 raise and a cabinet position in a city whose budget cannot afford to light the freeways but can afford to pay him.

That's just the tip of the conflict of interest iceberg. yet the situation is not worthy of a simple 3-page code of ethics. Maybe they'll have it in place when the airport gets shut down and I have to fly back to OKC and hitchhike 90 miles to get home.

In a nutshell.

Phil Johnson is well known to admirers of the 19th century English Baptist evangelist Charles Spurgeon and to searchers for online Christian history and theology resources. Starting in the early days of the web, Phil has developed an extensive online archive of Spurgeon's sermons and writings. "Next door" to the Spurgeon archive is the Hall of Church History -- 14 pages of annotated links to collections of primary texts, timelines, and history, including Early Church Fathers, Medieval theologians, Reformers and Counter-Reformers, Puritans, revivialists, and even heretics. Phil has also put together an annotated collection of links to theology resources on the web -- not just links to the good stuff, but links to bad, really bad, and really, really bad theology.

Phil has just started blogging, and he calls his blog PyroManiac. As you might expect, the blog is mostly about theology -- such as this entry on "ugly Calvinism" -- but one of his first entries is about the eccentric early 20th century French composer Erik Satie. It includes a link to a MIDI version of Satie's most famous composition (Gymnopedie No. 1). The entry also includes a few of Satie's eccentricities, such as the artist's account of his daily regimen:

I eat only food that is white: eggs, sugar, shredded bones; fat from dead animals; veal, salt, coconuts, chicken cooked in white water; mouldy fruit, rice, turnips; camphorated sausage, pasta, cheese (white varieties), cotton salad, and certain kinds of fish (minus their skins). I boil my wine and drink it cold mixed with juice from the fuchsia. I have a good appetite but never talk while eating for fear of strangling myself. ...

Once every hour a servant takes my temperature and gives me another.

I've added Phil to the blogroll at right. Check out his blog, and be sure to check out the wonderful collection of online resources he has developed.

It's fascinating to comb through the raw server logs for my website. awstats does a pretty good job of summarizing who's visiting, where visitors are coming from, and what they're looking at, but the detail in the raw log allows me to put it all together.

For example, it allows me to see that someone behind the Tulsa Whirled's firewall ( got to BatesLine via Google searches for "Bobby Lorton" (on June 2) and "robert e. lorton iii" (on June 3). A bit of vanity Googling, perhaps? BatesLine is the first result for both of those searches, thanks to tulsaworld.com walling itself off from the Internet and sounding retreat in the battle for Googlespace.

Then there was this intriguing search: lorton tulsa klan. On my site, that leads to a couple of category archive pages, where the words are all mentioned, but nowhere near each other.

Just below my result was this: A 1993 issue of a newsletter devoted to the murder of Hollywood silent film star, director, and Casanova William Desmond Taylor, shot to death in 1922. Taylor's death came not long after the trial of Fatty Arbuckle, and Hollywood was regarded around the country as a modern day Babylon.

The newsletter includes a collection of headlines, editorials, and one-liners from newspaper coverage of the Taylor murder. Within days of the killing, newspapers from Boston to Seattle to Wichita to Savannah were responding with pointed, punny comments about Taylor, Hollywood morals, and the investigation:

February 4, 1922, DES MOINES REGISTER: The recent movie tragedy was too realistic for the director's health.

February 6, 1922, RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH: The question now is, who saw Director Taylor last. Until recently, the burning issue among the movie queens was, who saw him first.

February 7, 1922, PITTSBURGH SUN: Nowadays a great many screen luminaries are being tried and found wanton.

February 8, 1922, BOSTON HERALD: A "gruelling" examination, as the police employ the term, is one expected to put its recipient in the soup.

February 9, 1922, INDIANAPOLIS STAR: A movie funeral seems to be one thing that will get the Los Angeles people out to church.

February 16, 1922, BOSTON ADVERTISER: Police in Hollywood have not thought of questioning the movie bathing girls. Experience proves they conceal little.

Apparently there was a flimsy but important piece of evidence in the case:

February 10, 1922, COLUMBIA STATE: In the modern murder case it is not only cherchez la femme, but cherchez la lingerie.

February 11, 1922, DES MOINES TRIBUNE: Incidentally, the Hollywood tragedy has brought home to some women the advisability of omitting initials from nighties.

There's more from the nation's newspapers in that issue, including a short excerpt from a Tulsa World writer named Otis Lorton.

More local history links


The Tulsa law firm of Feldman, Franden, Woodard, Farris & Boudreaux hosts the Retro Tulsa Internet Museum, featuring postcards from Tulsa's past. Some of the most interesting are postcards of long-gone small businesses, like Mann Brothers Grocery. (That same page has a photo of a tornado alarm.) I appreciate the firm for hosting these old postcards, but I have one complaint -- the scans are too low-res, and a lot of interesting detail can't be explored.

Here's a list of Tulsa streets that changed names between the 'teens and the '30s. (Cherry Street is notoriously absent. Was that really the name of 15th, or was that a bit of myth-making?) Clicking the button at the top of the page will let you look at similar lists for about 100 other cities.

I found the above two sites and much more from Linda Haas Davenport's website devoted to Tulsa County historical and genealogical topics. One of her latest additions is a tribute to Rockin' John Henry, a long-time fixture on the Tulsa airwaves who passed away last August.

The OSU Library Electronic Publishing Center has converted to HTML the first 20 volumes of the Chronicles of Oklahoma, the journal of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The volumes were published in the years 1923 - 1942, but the subject matter extends back to prehistory.

While surfing a bit today, I came across a fascinating article from the December 1939 issue, containing excerpts from the diary of Miss Sue L. McBeth. Miss McBeth taught in 1860 and 1861 at a Presbyterian boarding school for girls at Goodwater in the Choctaw Nation.

In her first entry from the school, Miss McBeth writes about her "housemates":

The muslin papering of my room is drawn tightly over the walls leaving spaces behind it, between the logs, where any insect or reptile which fancies doing so can find a home. Some of the widths are only tacked together, affording places of easy degrees. I have killed several scorpions in my room already. Last night my candle went out just as I had knocked one from the wall to the floor, and as I stood in the darkness, afraid to move, I felt the reptile run over my dress across my shoulder and down to the floor on the other side. Perhaps it was as much frightened as I was.

The mission congregation gathers for communion -- "big meetin'":

There must have been several hundred persons in the church and around it today. A motly assembly—men women and children all dressed in their gayest clothes—such brilliant colors. The men with calico hunting shirts trimmed with fringe and rosettes, and two or three different colors of ribbons on their hats. The women with bright bandannas or sunbonnets and walking many miles perhaps with their allunsi (babies) in their arms or bound upon their backs with a shawl. As we went to church as far as the eye could reach through the woods were groups of people, horses and wagons, and an Indian sounded a cow horn from the church door to call together the worshippers.

Watching the girls at play:

It is their recreation hour, and some of the little ones are making images out of the red clay in the yard. They seem to enjoy it very much. They make horses and saddles and little men to ride them, and sheep and cows and deer, and let them dry in the sun. They seem to enjoy their play work very much.

She attends a Choctaw wedding on a hot 4th of July:

All who wish can attend the wedding. Some had no doubt come from a great distance. While dinner was preparing, an old man arose and made a long speech in Choctaw. "What is he saying," I asked Mrs. Oakes. "He is telling the bride and groom that they must live peaceably and right and not get tired of each other and separate in a little while." "Do they ever do so?" "Sometimes. They usually marry very young, and some only live together a few months." (Like some of their white brothers and sisters in the states, was my silent comment.)

The summer of 1860 was a hot one. Miss McBeth kept track:

I sent my monthly report of Meteorological Observation to the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, D. C. a few days ago. For the thermometer the average for last month as: at 7:45 a. m., 83.50°; at 1 p. m., 99.64°; at 6 p. m. 96.7°. Many days it was 110° in the shade at 3 p. m. But I am told that the heat this summer is unusually great; and the situation of Goodwater, in the heart of the forest, distant from any large body of water, probably makes the temperature higher than at many other places in the same latitude. Certainly the effect is very debilitating, especially to those accustomed to a colder climate.

She writes of a campmeeting, of the beliefs of the Choctaws before the missionaries came, and of trying to learn the Choctaw language.

In June of 1861, as war began and Confederate raiders began to make inroads from Texas into Indian Territory, the missionaries left the mission for their homes back east, via Fort Smith, Arkansas, and she experiences a bit of culture shock as she returns to her own country:

The first glimpse we caught of the white man's civilization (not the civilization of the Gospel) as we emerged from the forest on the borders of the Indian Territory, and came in sight of the States once more, was the white tents of any army of soldiers encamped on the outskirts of Fort Smith.

All the way to our homes were the sights and sounds of war; soldiers with us on the boat; the cars bearing us swiftly through the camps of the south and north. The effect of the sudden transition from the quiet of the forest and our Indian homes into the midst of such scenes as these was bewildering. We were transported back to the days of Caesar and 'De Bello Gallico.' We could scarcely realize nor can we yet fully realize, that we were traveling in Christian America in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Note that phrase, "in sight of the States" -- she regarded Indian Territory as a foreign land.

It's fascinating reading, and there's much more like it in the online collection of the Chronicles of Oklahoma

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read. Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few.

(HT: Badger Blogger, a blog devoted to Wisconsin politics and media criticism.)

Yesterday afternoon Chelan County, Washington, Superior Court Judge John Bridges ruled against Republican gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi, affirming that Democrat Christine Gregoire won last November's election. There were over a thousand invalid ballots cast, far greater than the margin of victory. As I understand it, Rossi's team tried to make a statistical case, based on where the irregular votes were cast, that enough of the invalid votes were cast for Gregoire that Rossi would have won if those votes weren't counted. The judge ruled that it couldn't be determined with certainty which candidate received the benefit of those invalid ballots, therefore the result stands. Michelle Malkin live-blogged the judge's press conference. She links to Seattle-area political blog SoundPolitics, which has been covering the situation in great depth since last November when the recounts began.

This result is puzzling. Under Oklahoma law, if the number of irregular or fraudulent votes is greater than the margin of victory, so that the result cannot be mathematically determined, the election is voided and a new election is held. This happened in Tulsa in 2004, in a Democratic primary for City Council. Incumbent David Patrick received three votes more than former incumbent Roscoe Turner, but in one precinct, 255 votes were cast, but only 207 Democrat voters signed in. Evidently, 48 Republicans who showed up to vote in the presidential primary were also given Democrat city primary ballots. After Turner contested the election and presented evidence of the irregularities, a judge ordered a re-vote, which Turner won handily. I'm surprised a similar provision doesn't exist in Washington law.

Jim Miller, one of the bloggers at SoundPolitics, appears to have coined a new term to describe what seems to have happened in Washington -- distributed vote fraud. Rather than a coordinated effort to stuff the ballot boxes in a few precincts, handfuls of ineligible voters cast ballots in each precinct -- maybe only 1 in every 1000 voters, maybe as high as 1 in 100, but more than enough to affect the outcome of very close elections, like Oklahoma's 2002 governor's race, which was decided by three votes per precinct.

Miller's disclaimer on the topic explains what it would take to determine the extent of the problem. He also observes that Democrats tend to favor policies (like the Federal "Motor Voter" act) that make fraud easier to commit and to oppose policies (like showing photo ID when you vote) that make fraud easier to detect or deter. He writes, "Perhaps all these Democrats are wrong to think that there is an advantage for their party in what I call distributed vote fraud, but I doubt it." You'll find a longer treatment of the problem here.

New Jersey votes today


One of two states with a statewide election this year, New Jersey holds its primary today for offices from governor all the way down to township officials. (Virginia has a primary next Tuesday. Louisiana and Kentucky are the other two odd-year states; they'll vote in '07.)

There are seven candidates vying for the Republican nomination for Governor -- leading the pack are former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler, the 2001 nominee, and Doug Forrester, who lost the 2002 Senate race after Frank Lautenberg tagged in for the damaged-goods incumbent, Bob Torricelli.

Kevin McCullough has posted his assessment of the two candidates. The latest Quinnipiac University poll has Forrester leading Schundler 35-33, within the margin of error. (HT for the poll to The Hedgehog Report.)

On the Democrat ballot, Sen. Jon Corzine is expected to win handily over two other candidates.

Here's the official list of candidates. Each candidate has an official slogan in each county, which I assume appears on the ballot. Forrester's slogan in each county has some variation on "Regular Republican," but in some cases it's clear that he has the endorsement of the county party organization, e.g. the slogan "Middlesex County Republican Party." Schundler uses "Bret 2005" unless a specific organization has endorsed him -- he was endorsed by the confusingly-named "Middlesex County Republican Organization." The idea of county organizations making an endorsement seems strange -- here in Oklahoma, it's against state party rules. I rather like the idea of having a slogan on the ballot; it could make it easier for voters to remember which candidate is running on which issue.

One more New Jersey oddity: You vote for two candidates for your district in the General Assembly (the lower house of the legislature). Same thing applies in the primary election.

This is the official page for 2005 election results, but it isn't clear if live results will be available. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Why does an Oklahoma blogger care about the result in New Jersey's primary? It's partly job-related -- more than that I won't say. Mostly, it's for the same reason that some people bother to look at box scores in April. It's politics, and today it's the only game scheduled -- that's reason enough.

UPDATE: NJ.com has results from the Associated Press updated at 10 minute intervals.

Discoshaman, Blogger of the Orange Revolution, is back blogging at Le Sabot Post-Moderne after a three-month hiatus and a change of scenery from the snows of Kyiv to the white sand beaches of the Florida Suncoast. He's off to a fast start, with four posts in three hours: What he's reading, listening to, watching; DNC chair Howard Dean's first 100 days; the "outrage" over Koran mistreatment that doesn't extend to the desecration of Christian symbols; and a wee technical problem with Movable Type's comments -- he could use some help.

Very glad to have him back tossing clogs. (TulipGirl -- Mrs. Discoshaman -- has been back and blogging for nearly two months.)

It's about four minutes to hold your sweetie close and sway back and forth on the dance floor.

That's about all the significance a good slow-dance song really needs.

(In response to this bit of news here. You can find other speculations on the song's meaning here.)

It's one of the wonders of the Internet that you can learn about a new blogger in your own backyard by reading a blog thousands of miles away.

I'm looking through referrers to my website and check out a site that sent me a visitor. Carla Rolfe is a Reformed (Sovereign Grace) Baptist blogger and mother of seven homeschooled kids in Ontario, Canada. In her latest entry, she announces:

Dennis from Grace and Truth Books (hands down, THE best bookstore in the universe) is now blogging here. Go say hello to Dennis, then go buy a book from his store, you’ll be blessed senseless.

Dennis is Dennis Gunderson, pastor of Grace Bible Church here in Tulsa. I met him many years ago through mutual friends, David and Susan Pedrick Simpson. (Susan and I were high school classmates.)

Dennis's online bookstore features works by John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, and the English Puritans, books from Banner of Truth and Soli Deo Gloria publishers. Grace and Truth is also a publishing house, focusing on devotional and educational material for families.

His first blog entry is an excerpt from his eulogy for his best friend, John Bower, who died suddenly three weeks ago:

I just never knew anyone less easily satisfied when it came to getting answers to his questions about God! John did not tolerate shallow answers! Surface. Superficial. Half-baked. Now, as for you, if you could settle for that, he would smile that incredible smile at you, of amazement at how you could settle so little, but he had to have more than that. He was just driven to understand the truth as deeply as God would allow a man to know it this side of heaven.

And guess what? Now he’s satisfied. Can you imagine John Bower, satisfied? Completely satisfied with his knowledge of God?!? But it’s true: he is! John has no more questions! No more battles to fight, no more dragons to slay; no more controversies to settle; no more “but what about this”? I think that’s what makes me happiest for John right now: John has all he wants. He is satisfied with the life he has – eternal life – which means not just endless time, but a quality of life which is boundless. And John is satisfied with the light he is given.

A worthy beginning to your blog, Dennis. Welcome to the blogosphere.

Good news from Utah -- the governor has signed into law a bill prohibiting redevelopment authorities from the exercise of eminent domain. In the name of increasing tax revenues or economic development, redevelopment authorities seize land from one private owner to sell it to another private entity. While there is hope that the U. S. Supreme Court will declare the practice unconstitutional when it rules in Kelo v. New London, it's nice to see that elected officials recognize the abuse of eminent domain and are taking steps to stop it. The Heartland Institute, an Chicago-based free market think tank, has published an analysis of the new law.

(Hat tip to Eminent Domain Watch.)

I was watching a replay of Thursday's Tulsa Council meeting, where former Councilor (now Chief Administrative Officer) Sam Roop and former Councilor (now Mayoral Chief of Staff) Clay Bird spoke to prevent the passage of an ethics ordinance. Their line is one we've become accustomed to hear from Mayor Bill LaFortune's administration: "We're supportive of the concept, but this isn't the right time." And the right time never seems to come.

Seeing Sam and Clay in the same camera shot reminded me of a lunch that happened sometime in 2001. Former Street Commissioner (and my colleague from two sales tax fights) Jim Hewgley set up a lunch at St. Louis Bread on 15th Street so that I could meet zoning attorney Bill LaFortune, who was getting ready to run for Mayor. I had expected that it would be just me, Bill, and Jim, but Bill was accompanied by Councilors Sam Roop, Clay Bird, and Randi Miller. The three Councilors wanted me to know how Bill would work with the Republicans on the City Council to achieve the kind of reforms that Mayor Savage had routinely blocked. They were excited that Bill would be a Mayor who would treat the Council with respect, as a co-equal branch of government.

Today -- well, Bill has certainly treated Sam and Clay well, giving them high-paying jobs in his administration. Their job is to appear before the Council and tell them that the Mayor won't be cooperating with them on the reforms they are trying to achieve. Meanwhile, I hear that Councilors have a very hard time getting a meeting with the Mayor.

Sam and Clay seem pretty happy with the outcome, even if it doesn't match the picture they painted for me over lunch at St. Louis Bread.

Bill Bartmann profile


In the latest Urban Tulsa Weekly, G. W. Schulz has a fascinating profile of Bill Bartmann, one of the more colorful characters in Tulsa's business community over the last decade or so -- where he came from, what happened with CFS, and where he's headed.

Alt-comic icon Zippy the Pinhead was in the neighborhood recently, having a chat with the Golden Driller. Tulsa Time has the comic, from May 24, along with Zippy's visit to the Blue Whale in Catoosa, from July 15, 2002.

Time to catch up with the Tulsa bloggers on my blogroll. It's a diverse bunch.

Don Singleton is tracking blog commentary on treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo.

MeeCiteeWurkor has figured out how to use built-in features and the Adblock extension of Mozilla's Firefox browser ("the Internet, your way") to block most of the annoying, slow-loading features of the KOTV website, but he's still stumped by the Javascript ad ticker.

(Here are my Firefox puzzlers. 1. How can I get back the right-click "Send Page" option that I had in Mozilla? Firefox only gives me "Send Link", and then I have to attach the page manually to the e-mail message. 2. I can put my blogroll in my sidebar in Firefox, but if I click on a link, Firefox tries to open it in a frame in the sidebar, not in the main window, which is how it works in Mozilla. What's up with that?)

Ladies and gentlemen, Voyager 1 has left the solar system. (HT: Steve Roemerman.)

Steve has also been writing about parenting, along with a number of other Tulsa bloggers. Steve has set up a magnetic "responsibility chart" for his two-year-old.

Bowden McElroy writes about the goal of parenting: "The goal, when raising children, is NOT to have a precious 2-year-old, or a precocious fifth-grader, or a model teenager. The end goal is to raise independent, fully functioning, adults who love Christ with all their heart, soul, and mind." The previous two entries are also about parenting and discipline, and if you go back even further you'll find some insights on being a father of three daughters.

Marsupial Mom is expecting baby number four and says she looks farther along than she is.

Her husband Swamphopper asks if we're trying to raise good kids or redeemed kids:

It sounds so simple, but I must keep reminding myself that my first priority in parenting is not helping my children be good but helping them understand the gospel. Of course I have a responsibility to educate, instruct, and protect. But first and foremost I must rehearse, explain, model, demonstrate, and reiterate their need and my need to trust in Jesus Christ.

First of all, we do our children a disservice if we point them to truth (or to Jesus for that matter) to primarily safeguard them from the pitfalls of life. History is replete with examples of good, moral people who respected Jesus but rejected His Lordship. Learning about Jesus is more than just learning about his life and teachings. We do well to take our children to church, to protect them from negative influences, and to encourage good behavior; however, our hope really rests on the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

Swamphopper and Marsupial Mom have a joint blog about family life called Little House, where they go by Pa and Ma and they call their girls Mary, Laura, and Carrie. The blog features lovely, funny slices of home life.

Something I meant to blog about at the time, but never finished, so here's the link anyway: Marsupial Mom had an excellent entry a couple of months ago about the dangers in the idea that everyone has a soulmate or One True Love -- one perfect match among billions, and if you don't find your soulmate, you're doomed to a life of misery. She writes about the approach she took to making the decision about who to marry. Her entry was inspired by a longer article on the topic by Jollyblogger. (My headline for the entry: "Happily ever after is not a beshert thing." Beshert is Yiddish for destined one, soulmate, and you have to Americanize the pronunciation of the second "e" for the pun to work.)

Bobby of Tulsa Topics has been visited by the utility company's Angel of Tree Death. (Update here.)

Don Danz wonders if the Strawberry Nirvana from Jamba Juice isn't a bit too good.

Dan Paden writes of a friend who wants to go back to school to get an education. Dan says his friend is better educated than most college graduates he encounters -- particularly when it comes to basic logic.

Doug Smith reflects on a day of prayer, laying hands on the walls of the Tulsa County Jail. (Yes, the post is a month old, but worth reading.)

Over on the LiveJournal community "Tulsa Time", we learn that the Parks Department has installed a labyrinth at Hunter Park, and that Backwoods in The Farm Shopping Center has maps of the Illinois River, Robbers' Cave and other such places printed on bandanas.

Bitweever has a job and will be staying in Tulsa.

Joel Blain has built a very, very big tire swing. And he discovers just how unpleasant it can be to be sitting next to the last empty seat in the theatre. (The soundtrack for the latter entry should be Weird Al singing "Another One Rides the Bus.") He's also got a cool link blog in his sidebar, powered by del.icio.us.

Linda Carlton is on a mission trip to Guatemala, but should be back posting in the next day or two. In earlier entries, she writes about an adventurous three-year-old who got into the toy-grabbing crane game at Wal-Mart, and she reflects on how God has used her children's genetic medical condition and her husband's computer skills to minister to other families in the same situation, helping to answer questions and save lives.

Linda's husband Danny responds to an ESPN writer's nasty jab at homeschooled kids.

Update your links: Greta "Hooah Wife" Perry has joined a group blog called Elephant in My Coffee. Her blog-partners are also her partners in a business called We Surf for You -- they do personalized Internet research, blog setup, transfer, and customization, website design and critique, and they have a large collection of favorite family-friendly web links.

Did I miss anyone?

It's time for the annual Wal-Mart shareholders meeting, and Fayetteville-based blogger Matt of Overtaken by Events has photos of a pathetic little protest march down Dickson Street.

It was my senior year in high school, and I was browsing through the religion section of B. Dalton Bookseller in Southroads Mall when I came across some books by C. S. Lewis. I remembered the author's name from 3rd Grade -- Father Ralph Urmson-Taylor read Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to us during weekly chapel. For whatever reason, I picked up The Abolition of Man, paged through it, and bought it, the first Lewis book I read for myself.

If you believe that our culture first took a wrong turn in, say, the 1960s, this series of three brief lectures from the '40s will give you a new perspective. The rotten fruit of relativism began to appear in the '60s, but the seeds were planted long before.

Lewis begins with an excerpt from an English composition textbook which subtly plants the idea that a statement of value is nothing more than a reflection of the speaker's emotions and is unimportant. The educators are debunking the idea that our sentiments ought to be ordered in accordance with an objective reality. In the process, the very qualities needed to sustain civilization are being cut out of it.

If you want to see the sad results of that radical surgery, read anything by Theodore Dalrymple. If you want to understand how such a sad state of affairs came about, read The Abolition of Man.

The Abolition of Man can be read online, on the website of the Augustine Club of Columbia University.

Hat tip for the link to Eve Tushnet, who also links today to Lego scenes of the life of Martin Luther -- Luther posting his 95 Theses, Luther at the Diet of Worms, Luther translating the Bible in the Wartburg Castle, Luther throwing his inkwell at the Devil.

Another stem cell research advance that doesn't require destruction of human life: Australian researchers have harvested adult stem cells from the nose which have the potential to be developed into heart, liver, kidney, muscle, and blood cells.

(See my earlier item rebutting Ken Neal's op-ed in Sunday's Tulsa Whirled for more links and information about the ways adult and cord-blood stem cells are already being used therapeutically.)

Anglican Books of Homilies


A wonder of the Internet is that you can recall something that had puzzled you or that you had wondered about years earlier, but could never find an answer for at the time, but now, with about a minute's worth of Googling, you have what you were looking for. That happened to me a few minutes ago.

The Thirty-Nine Articles, the statement of faith adopted by the Church of England in 1563, has an article devoted to something called the Second Book of Homilies -- a book of sermons commended for reading in the churches -- and in another article makes specific mention of a homily on justification.

For some reason I thought of that again today, and sure enough the two Books of Homilies are available on the web. It appears that the intent of publishing these books was to ensure that each parish could provide its parishoners with a basic education in doctrine (e.g. "Of the salvation of all mankind") and in living the Christian life (e.g. "Against idleness").

Over the weekend, French voters defeated a referendum to ratify the 300-page European Constitution, and yesterday the Netherlands voted no by an even larger margin, about 62%-38%. In both countries, nearly all major political parties and civic organizations supported passage. Instapundit linked to Netherlands-based, English language blog Zacht Ei, for results and commentary. Looking back through entries before the vote, I find this one, expressing optimism that not only will the Dutch defeat the Constitution, but that the defeat means something more profound for democracy and public discourse in that country.

As far as the Netherlands are concerned: in the past few days I've often wondered what worries Dutch politicians most: that a majority is considering to vote 'no', or that the country is finally engaged in the most intense political debate since the assassination of Pim Fortuyn. Indeed, the one thing that seemed to annoy most politicians about Fortuyn is that they suddenly had to debate issues which a large part of the electorate had wanted to address for years, and thanks to Fortuyn, they no longer could avoid it (though Ad Melkert famously tried).

I've felt strangely hopeful for the past few weeks, as the voice of dissent gradually increased in strength, that the tide may indeed be turning, and that this is the first step towards a better way of governing, in which politicians rule on behalf of the people rather than over them from a pedestal of feigned moral superiority.

My understanding of Dutch politics is limited, but it's my understanding that two or three parties have dominated -- trading places in the cabinet but operating under an unquestioned consensus. You get to an unstable political situation when no dominant party addresses an issue that matters to a large percentage of the population. In the Netherlands, immigration (particularly Muslim immigration) and European integration are two issues that had been ignored by the traditionally dominant parties.

The Netherlands sounds a lot like Tulsa: a powerful political elite confronted by upstart voices challenging the conventional wisdom, and a growing sense among the public that politicians should make government work for all the people, not just a favored few.

Rick Westcott, chairman of Tulsans for Election Integrity, has posted his reaction to the Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision not to assume original jurisdiction in the group's suit concerning the recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. Westcott addresses what the Court's action does and doesn't mean:

It's a little unfortunate that the Supreme Court's ruling does not address the issues of what the City Charter actually requires. Their ruling does not state whether there should have been a vote of five or if the City Clerk should have compared the actual signatures. We still believe that our position on those issues was, and is, correct. All the Court's ruling says is that the Justices do not believe that the facts of this case warranted the Court's assumption of original jurisdiction.

The full text of the Court's order:

Application to assume original jurisdiction is denied. All parties’ requests for costs and attorney’s fees are denied. ALL JUSTICES CONCUR.

Westcott ends his article with a call to tighten up the language concerning recall in the City Charter and a call to defeat the recall election on July 12. It will take money and volunteers to make that happen. Surf over to www.tfei.org and offer to help in any way that you can.

A dose of the Sith


A while back I alerted you to Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn's Star Wars-themed lunchtime talk on sexually transmitted diseases, featuring free pizza. The intended audience was young Capitol Hill staffers. Both Washington papers covered it. From the the Washington Times:

Mr. Coburn, a family physician, later said he doesn't do the slide show for shock value but sees it as a way to get medical facts to young people.

'They don't get enough information,' he said. Most new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur among people younger than 25, and if people know the science, they can modify their behavior, he said. ...

Yesterday, as he has done before, Mr. Coburn advised adults to refrain from having multiple sexual partners and engaging in unsafe sexual activity.

'What would happen in this country if the young women would say no [to sex] until they're 20?' he asked. 'Disease would go down, the pregnancy rate for unwed mothers would go down, the social costs for the next two generations would go down.'

Mr. Coburn also encouraged sexually active youth to use condoms.

'Condoms make a difference,' he said, cataloging the effectiveness of condoms in protecting against fluid-borne STDs such as HIV/AIDS and gonorrhea.

The problem is that condoms don't offer much prevention against several other diseases, such as herpes, human papillomavirus and syphilis, that are transmitted by skin contact, he said.

The Washington Post reports the audience reaction when the first diseased body part photo appeared on the screen:

This image was now projected up on a wall of the U.S. Capitol, and the mood shifted instantly. None of the 160 or so audience members shrieked, or giggled, or ran out of the room. They're not 15 anymore, and this is a professional environment. The chatter stopped; everyone looked straight ahead, or down at their BlackBerries. A large number of women crossed their arms over their chests. Most everyone seemed encapsulated in the bit of air around them, afraid to move or touch the person sitting next to them. The half-eaten slices of pizza, now cooling on laps, seemed deeply unappetizing.

Lest you think Capitol Hill staffers are too worldly-wise to need this sort of instruction, the Post piece includes this anecdote from a previous lecture:

"You keep mentioning the word 'monogamy'," a staffer named Roland Foster recalls one young woman asking after a lecture. "What is that?"

"That's when you have sex with only one partner," Coburn responded.

"You mean at a time?"



Kristen, an 18-year-old young woman from Maine who is a fan of the band Hanson, flew to Tulsa to see the band perform during Mayfest. Her journal of her visit to Our Fair City is a fun read -- she had "an AWESOME time in Tulsa."

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