January 2009 Archives

Chrome 93.5

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I don't often scan the FM dial, but I was in the car last night, and the two talk stations were in the middle of basketball games, and I wasn't in the mood to hear 10 minutes of the middle of a ball game.

There's a new station -- new to me anyway -- called Chrome 93.5, and it plays music from the '50s and '60s. When oldies radio started it was '50s and '60s, but somewhere along the way oldies crept up to the '70s and '80s, when I was in high school and college, and that is just wrong.

The station doesn't seem to have a web presence. It shows up on the FCC database as K228BR, a translator, broadcasting with a whole 250 watts of power from a 58m tower at the Clear Channel megaplex (formerly Oertle's) at 26th and Memorial. The service area has a radius of about five miles.

I'm happy to hear real oldies -- doowop, rockabilly, Motown, British Invasion -- on the radio again. Driving around town this evening we heard "Stop in the Name of Love" (Supremes, 1965), "Look through Any Window" (Hollies, 1965), "Teen Angel" (Mark Dinning, 1959), "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" (Stevie Wonder, 1965), "One Fine Day" (Chiffons, 1963), "Since I Don't Have You" (Skyliners, 1958).

Because I was singing along to some of the music, my 12-year-old said, "So... this is the music you listened to when you were in high school and college?" No, son, this is music your grandparents would have listened to in high school, college, and young adulthood. But it's better than the stuff we had 20 years later.

Coffee vs. Beer

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James Lileks, reporting from a Caribou Coffee outlet:

It's just a coffee shop. It's the modern version of the neighborhood bar, except that everyone's wired instead of sloshed, no one's smoking, no sad drunk is playing the same song over and over on the jukebox, and the window does not consist of a 3-foot-by-2-foot slit bricked up with glass blocks.

On the other hand, this is no place to drown your sorrows. You can't drown your sorrows at a coffee shop. All you can do is wake them up and jab them with a sharp stick and make them run around. Drowned sorrows never stay dead, but at least they stop moving.

Capt. Leland Stottlemeyer, on last night's episode of Monk:

Don't you have an off-switch, Monk? Here, have mine. Beer: Nature's off-switch.

Urban link dump

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Here are a bunch of links to items of note about cities:

Blair Humphreys looks at urban density and finds some surprising stats: The Los Angeles urbanized area is the most densely populated in the nation. Oklahoma City and Boston have the same density, about 900 people per km2. (Again, this is urbanized area and includes suburbs, but excludes undeveloped areas.)

In another recent post, Blair reviews the Oklahoma City government website and offers suggestions for improvements that will increase public participation. The 2nd coolest idea: Google-map agenda items. The coolest idea: Let citizens draw areas of interest on a map, then register to be notified whenever an agenda item for any committee falls within that area. We have the technology.... (A commenter notes that OKC's adoption of Accela software for permitting has been helpful for everyone involved in the process.)

Steve Patterson has been delving back into the history of urban design in St. Louis and writes, "I'm beginning to get a greater understanding about why planners from the past did what they did. The problem is a solution to a 1920s problem was not only the solution at the time but for decades to follow -- passed down from one generation to the next without anyone questioning why or if the problem being solved still existed." He has a chart showing how attitudes have changed toward issues like one-way streets, on-street parking, building height and setbacks.

As an example of changing trends in urban design, Steve has posted a document from the early 1970s, a history of St. Louis' urban renewal program. I've just skimmed it, but I'm struck by how early the city began clearing land and relocating people. Steve notes that two of the renewal projects celebrated by this document have since been demolished.

One more from Steve, and it's applicable to Tulsa, too: St. Louis' Outdated Zoning Mandates Excessive Parking.

Nick Roberts is working on a class project: Putting together a historic preservation plan for an area in Lawton. "Obviously Lawton's situation is unique, as a urban renewal-aspiring army town that already tore down pretty much anything worth preserving in the 60s. The challenges are high, but the potential is higher. Good stuff, and I look forward to posting it up." Lawton replaced much of its historic downtown with a suburban indoor mall, complete with vast parking lots.

Steve Lackmeyer has a neat picture: The owners of a five-story warehouse in Oklahoma City's Bricktown have fixed the lighting on the vacant upper floors so that they can light them up at night. As Steve notes, it's "a rare sight in Bricktown - the appearance of life above the second floor."

Charles G. Hill follows up on an earlier post about William Hudnut's idea of increasing taxes on land and decreasing taxes on improvments -- an emptiness tax. Charles points to a critique of Hudnut's idea at Market Urbanism, where the unintended consequences are considered.

Brandon Dutcher, whose wife homeschools their four children, reacts to State Sen. Mary Easley's plan to regulate homeschooling by requiring families to register with the local school district and provide progress reports. He tells Sen. Easley he'd like to see progress reports from the public schools so he can know, for example, just how far behind his children are from the public-schooled kids:

For example, when my oldest son was in 8th grade, all he was really able to learn that year was Algebra II, Henle Latin I, intermediate logic, physical science, grammar, and composition. Well, plus he read and discussed The Epic of Gilgamesh; The Code of Hammurabi; The Odyssey; The Histories; The Oresteia Trilogy; Plutarch's Lives; The Theban Trilogy; The Last Days of Socrates; The Early History of Rome; The Aeneid; The Twelve Caesars; Till We Have Faces; The Unaborted Socrates; Genesis; Exodus; I and II Samuel; I and II Kings; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Chosen by God; and Socrates Meets Jesus, among others.

Now, I'm not naïve. I realize that 8th graders in Oklahoma's world-class public school system are learning all this and more. Who among us didn't have an 8th-grade history teacher/football coach wax eloquent on the influence of Stoic philosophy on Gaius Gracchus? Heck, as a retired teacher you know better than anyone that the 8th graders in your hometown of Tulsa (or Owasso, or Grand Lake Towne, whatever) are learning all this and more.

Later, he points out that his family has saved Oklahoma taxpayers over $200,000 by homeschooling their children.

Oklahoma's freedom to homeschool has encouraged the growth of a diverse homeschooling community, with all sorts of co-op groups, special classes, sports, field trips, clubs, and other school activities to provide learning opportunities beyond what parent-teachers can easily provide at home. Instead of breaking something that works well, we ought to promote the state to attract homeschoolers from across the country to move here. Who knows -- we might grow enough to get back that 6th congressman we lost 10 years ago.

Historical quads

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The U. S. Geological Survey is mapmaker to the Federal Government, but their topographical maps are used by ranchers, hikers, hydrologists, miners -- anyone interested in the shape of the land and what lies beneath. Because they also depict cultural features in rural areas -- roads, houses, schools, churches, cemetaries -- they can be useful for recreating history, too.

Up on the fourth floor of the Central Library, quadrangle maps of the Tulsa area from the mid-to-late '70s are laid out atop the map cabinets. The maps are actually an update of maps from the 1950s, with changes marked in purple. While some features from the '50s are obscured, many are still visible.

Old USGS maps provide the kind of information about rural areas that the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps provide for developed areas. I'd love to find Tulsa area USGS maps from the '50s and earlier.

I did find a bit of a 1913-4 USGS map showing Tulsa and environs from Pine to 111th St. S, and from the 96th Meridian (Osage County line, west of Elwood) to east of Yale. It's on p. 9 of the March 2006 issue of The Outpost, the newsletter of the Three Forks Treasure Hunters Club, in an article on historical USGS quadrangle maps. It's interesting to see what roads were there already, almost 100 years ago. Tulsa had grown only out as far as 21st and Utica, except for the western part of the Whittier neighborhood and an area labeled Kendall north of 11th between Lewis and Harvard. There's a place called West School on an unimproved road at about 76th and Delaware. The most interesting change: Back then it was called Jill Creek, not Joe Creek. (Or did the USGS man just mishear?)

Because of the road conditions, Tulsa County Republican Chairman Joy Mohorovicic has waived the requirement for Republicans to attend their precinct meeting tonight in order to become delegates to the county convention. Tulsa County registered Republican voters will be able to sign up for the county convention online at tulsagop.org.

Precinct chairmen have the option of holding the precinct meeting tonight as planned, meeting on another night, or participating in a central precinct meeting next Tuesday night, February 3, at 7 pm, at the county HQ, 5840 South Memorial, Suite 333.

The GOP HQ is likely to be closed today. Any queries should go by e-mail to chairman AT tulsagop DOT org.

Dan Weber, a senior at the University of Tulsa, has a column in the school's student newspaper, The Collegian, about the impact of TU's campus expansion and its efforts to attract more residential students on its relationship with the city from which it takes its name:

[The class of 2009 has] lived out our four years in a transitional setting, hemmed in by orange barrels, while the administration finally realized its long-awaited opportunity to recast the campus image.

Now construction is essentially complete (since the financial crisis has remaining projects on hiatus) and we're finally inhabiting the more residential and attractive campus that's supposed to aid TU's obstinate struggle to breach the hallowed U.S. News Top 50.

We seniors, then, are uniquely able to appreciate what the campus has gained and lost in the process to attract all those precious National Merit Scholars.

TU has lost a sense of belonging to Tulsa and gained the feeling of a glorified boarding school for students from Texas and Missouri.

Weber mentions Starship Records and the Metro Diner, once on 11th St but demolished to make way for TU's new grand entrance on 11th St., the University having decided that its grand entrance on Delaware Ave. (the U) was no longer grand enough. Weber calls the two businesses "Tulsa institutions that meant more to locals than the view of the Collins Hall fountain ever will."

The clichéd complaint that spurred the Chapman Commons "front door" project was that traveling along 11th Street, those unfamiliar with the campus wouldn't be able to recognize that they were adjacent to a university.

Since 11th also happens to be midtown's leg of Route 66, TU was squandering a golden opportunity to latch onto the mythos of the Mother Road. Ironically, now gazing upon Chapman Commons one wouldn't immediately recognize that they were adjacent to Route 66.

I'd encourage Mr. Weber to dig deeper into the history of TU's relationship with the city and its immediate neighbors. Until ORU opened its doors in 1965, TU was the only institution of higher learning in the city. Tulsa didn't have any sort of state-funded higher ed until Tulsa Junior College (TJC) in 1969.

Before then, TU was Tulsa's only college. It was the place where Tulsans went to college because they could live with their folks and save money while they earned a degree. TU's stadium was built for and at one time owned by the public school system, for use by the high school athletic program as well as the Golden Hurricane. The TU baseball team played at Oiler Park; the basketball team played at the county's Fairgrounds Pavilion and then at the city's Assembly Center. The law school was downtown across the street from Trinity Episcopal Church. The engineering school was up on N. Lewis.

50 years ago, the main campus was contained between 5th and 7th, Delaware and Gary, surrounded by neighborhoods on all sides. Businesses and churches scattered around the neighborhoods catered to students and locals alike. At some point, in the late '50s or early '60s, the single family neighborhoods around campus were rezoned to allow apartments. One house at a time was cleared to be replaced with a single-story strip of four or five small apartments.

As the neighborhood lost its integrity, it made it easy for officials to label it blighted, in need of urban renewal. The city could then use its power of eminent domain to take land that TU wanted for expansion and sell it to the college for redevelopment.

TU might have continued on its original course, scattering facilities around central Tulsa, integrating its students in the life of the city. That's been a successful model for the Savannah College of Art and Design, which has classrooms and student housing all over the city's historic district, enlivening the city with students and renovating historic buildings in the process.

Instead TU's leaders wanted a typical integrated, isolated campus, and they had governmental muscle at their disposal to make sure they got the land they wanted.

TU has many great academic programs, but it is no longer the sole option for higher ed for Tulsans, not by a long shot. It's certainly not the most affordable. If there were ever justification for the city to assist a private college with its expansion needs, that justification is no longer valid.

(Hat tip to Route 66 News.)

Tonight's Northland and Forest Orchard small-area workshops for PLANiTULSA have been postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date. Keep an eye on the PLANiTULSA website for details and weather updates regarding Wednesday's Southwest Tulsa workshop

The nominations are in and the voting is underway for the 2008 Okie Blog Awards. Voting is open only to active Okie bloggers, but even if you don't fall into that category, you should click that link and explore the nominated blogs. It's a great way to learn about new blogs and to catch up on what you've been missing.

I was especially pleased to see Jeff Shaw's Bounded Rationality recognized with two nominations (political and commentary). Natasha Ball was nominated twice as well for two different blogs: Tasha Does Tulsa and My Life As Told by Food, which combines cuisine and autobiography in a fascinating way. Rookie Irritated Tulsan got a well-deserved nod in the humor category. Red Fork Hippie Chick was nominated in the inspirational category. And I see many more friends and blogging acquaintances on the lists, next to blogs I look forward to exploring soon.

Dustbury is up for best overall blog, which is inappropriate in my opinion. Charles G. Hill shouldn't have to compete for an award that should be named in his honor. (The Charles G. Hill trophy for best overall blog -- could we call it the Chazzie for short -- would, of course, be a statuette of a finch.)

Thanks again to Mike of Okiedoke for all the hard work he puts into this process.

David Wayne, who is about to begin chemotherapy for Stage 4 metastatic colon cancer, posted this excerpt by the late pastor and author D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, writing about Psalm 43:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.

Somebody is talking. Who is talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man's treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: "Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you ..."

The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: "Why art thou cast down" -- what business have you to be disquieted?

You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: "Hope thou in God" -- instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.

Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: "I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God."

So a Christian should talk to himself. Not just talk, but upbraid, exhort, and defy himself to believe what God says about Himself and about those who put their hope in Christ.

Jared Wilson summarizes it by saying Christians need to preach the gospel to ourselves. He offers this quote from Colin Smith:

About 90% of a pastor's job is reminding himself & others of the gospel. The other 10% is answering the phone & stuff.

A new engagement

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I spent several evenings poring over maps and sunset tables. Tulsa doesn't have an ocean nearby, but I thought there had to be some place where you could see the sun set over the water. Somehow, in the days before the World Wide Web, I was able to figure out the approximate point on the horizon where the sun would be on the target day: Saturday, January 21, 1989. And then I found my spot on a fishing map of Lake Keystone that I'd picked up on one of our rambling Saturday drives: Walnut Creek State Park, west of Prue on the north shore. There was a peninsula that jutted far enough south, and the lake ran straight due west far enough, that it should be the right spot to see the sun go down over the water.

A day or two before the big day, I left work early to drive out and see if my calculations were on target, and to scout out a good spot to sit with a view of the lake.

Saturday morning I drove from my 1985 Toyota Camry from my apartment on the east side of Place One (3249) over to her place on the other side of Cincinnati (3252) to pick her up. We were going to the Audubon Society's bald eagle watching event just below Keystone Dam. She grew up learning about all sorts of wildlife, particularly wild birds and sea creatures, from her parents as they went on family outings to the Delaware beaches and looked out the back window to the creek and woods beyond her suburban Maryland yard. It would be exciting to see the national bird in the wild.

The weather would be nice: About freezing in the morning, but getting up into the 50s, mild for January, and sunny. We drove across the 21st Street Bridge, then out Adams Road, State Highway 51, and onto old 51 -- the road that once upon a time went to the town of Keystone, now sunk beneath the waters of the lake that took its name. We joined the other eagle watchers in the parking area on the south side of the river. We could watch the eagles in flight from there, but to get a good look at eagles in their nests, we were put on a bus to the north side, where the Audubon Society had telescopes set up.

When the tour ended, it was a bit early for lunch, so we wandered around Keystone State Park, walked along the shore and talked. Lunch was at the Pizza Hut in Mannford.

She had gone to the library a couple of days earlier to photocopy Consumer Reports reviews of CD players. She wanted one to go with her new Bose Acoustic Wave machine. We talked about features and options and looked over the ratings while we waited for the food.

I suggested that we drive over to Cleveland, so I could show her the house where my great-grandparents, Henry Cleveland and Ocie Rose Crider, had lived on the southeast corner of Kiowa and Division.

(They both passed away in the mid-'70s, my last living relatives who had seen the 19th century. Their house was an interesting place to visit when I was a kid, with a refrigerator that ran on natural gas, collectible plates and figurines all over the place, wall plaques of their two cats, and a big old-fashioned console radio at the end of the hall. There were apple trees in the side yard. The covered front porch was broad and concrete, with some old metal lawn chairs, but everyone came in through the kitchen door.)

I think she suspected at this point that something was up. We'd gone on plenty of Saturday drives, visiting historic places, looking for ghost towns, but this seemed a bit more rambling than usual. Like I was killing time for some reason.

We had been dating for about three years, since the intersemester January (IAP, as we say at MIT) I spent in Tulsa my senior year. I came home after graduation, looked for work close to her in Arkansas, but found a job in Tulsa. We traveled to see each other three weekends out of four. Marriage seemed a likely prospect, but we both thought we needed some time living in the same town, around each other more than just a couple of days at a time, before we took the leap. Through a friend from church, she got a job with American Airlines, working on a support desk for the Sabre reservation system, diagnosing hardware problems over the phone for travel agents. She moved to Tulsa in the April of '88. Her little sister was spending a college year abroad, and there were suggestions that if we were to plan a certain big event, it would be nice to plan it soon enough and for a time when her sister would be in the country.

We stopped in a convenience store on the north side of Cleveland to get a couple of pops and a snack. This was the headline on the Daily Oklahoman:

Bush Calls for "New Engagement"

41st President Inaugurates "Age of the Offered Hand"

"Everyone's after me to propose!" I exclaimed in mock complaint.

We drove up to New Prue Road, a county road that would take us along the north side of the lake to Walnut Creek State Park. (I don't remember when or how I explained going into Walnut Creek State Park, except that it was someplace we hadn't been before. Maybe I said we could watch the sun set over the water before we went home.) We parked by a picnic table (the one I had scouted), went walking around by the shore, then came back to the table. It was about 5, the sun was getting low in the sky, and I said we were going to have an evening devotional.

I had become interested in Episcopal liturgy, and had my Bible, a copy of the 1978 Book of Common Prayer, and a 1982 Hymnal. I led us, inexpertly, through Evening Prayer Rite II, including singing a non-metrical version of O Gracious Light which was hard to sing, and she corrected me on a tricky interval. (She's a much better sight-singer than I am.)

The sun neared the horizon as we finished the readings and prayers. Things are a bit fuzzy at this point, but this much is clear: I got down on one knee, got a box with a ring out of my coat pocket, and asked her to marry me, and she said yes.

Somewhere in our house there's a self-timed, flash-fill photo of us sitting together with the sun setting over the lake in the background.

As we walked back to the car to head home, she noticed that the full moon was coming up. We drove to a spot on the east side of the peninsula where we could see the moon over the water. As we watched, a great blue heron flew from south to north across the disc of the moon.


Six months and a day later she said yes again, or specifically, "for better or worse, for richer or poorer."

Lately she's been putting with a lot more worse than better. The three-year-old has an ear infection; the eight-year-old just got over one. And me -- you know what's been going on with me.

Thank you, Mikki, and happy engagement anniversary, such as it is. I love you. Thanks for saying yes all those years ago.

This is a favorite hymn. I memorized it in college, and it comes back to me when I need it.

It has been called a "hymn-sermon." The first verse is a call to Christians to remember God's promises, firm foundation for our faith. The remaining verses paraphrase and combine various promises in Scripture, including Phil. 4:12-13, Deut. 33:25, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:1-2, 2 Cor. 12:9, and Hebrews 13:5. (Text via TulipGirl.)

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
to you that for refuge to Jesus have fled?

"In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty's vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be."

"Fear not, I am with thee; O be not dismayed!
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
the rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
for I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
my grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
the flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
that soul, though all hell shall endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake."

I've changed the subtitle of the blog, for the moment, to ἀπορούμενοι ἀλλ' οὐκ ἐξαπορούμενοι. That is from 2 Cor. 4:8. It means "perplexed, but not despairing":

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair....

There's a nice parallelism in the Greek:

ἐν παντὶ θλιβόμενοιἀλλ' οὐστενοχωρούμενοι
ἀπορούμενοιἀλλ' οὐκἐξαπορούμενοι

The two words, ἀπορούμενοι and ἐξαπορούμενοι, are related -- just the added prefix ek- ("out of" or "beyond") in the second, which seems intended to intensify the meaning from "to have no way out; to be at a loss" to "to be utterly at a loss." We don't know which way to go, but we haven't given up hope that the Lord will make a way.

The second of the two occurs in a slightly different form in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

An interesting appreciation of soon-to-be-former President George W. Bush, from Dawn Summers, who doesn't "agree with the President on *anything*," but she's grateful to him for two things:

The Homeland. No, I don't think the idea of this juggernaut department or its infinite surveillance powers were a good idea, but I love the term. I love this country, but too often we're expected to trade the unpopular "nationalism" for a wishy washy "global citizen" viewpoint where we're all about Darfur and Gaza and nation building.... President Bush went a long ways to bringing the Homeland to the forefront of our conversation. We may be children or grandchildren of immigrants, or immigrants ourselves, but now we are all Americans.

Second, I loved watching the President as a father.... President Bush, on the other hand, seemed to cherish his role as father and husband in a way that has brought a dignity to the White House and American *men* in general, that I hope President-Elect Obama can, at the very least, meet, if not exceed. A good American and a great father, not too shabby for eight years work.

In no mood tonight for anything but silliness, so here's a funny bit of subtitling from Earnest Pettie:

Links, offered without comment, to my latest column, the Whirled's story about the lawsuit that was filed (with over 200 comments at last count), and commentary elsewhere.

Local reaction:

From beyond Tulsa:

TWO MORE THINGS:

I would love nothing better than to defend my column publicly, thoroughly, and immediately. I am ready to do so, but this issue has now moved from the realm of public discourse and debate to the realm of lawsuits and judges and hearings, so I have to look to attorneys for guidance on what can be said and when.

Many, many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to leave a comment or to drop me a note with words of encouragement. (I even heard from another conservative columnist named Michael Bates, who writes for Reporter Newspapers in suburban Chicago.)Special thanks to those who have offered prayers and assistance. For those of you who asked, at this time, I don't know what kind of financial needs we may have in connection with the lawsuit, but I will keep you posted.

UPDATE:


More links:

Crosshairs City

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Dawn Eden has been posting extensively of late about the under-reported story of the eight years of rocket attacks by Palestinian terror group Hamas against civilian targets in southern Israel. She has a special interest in the story: Her brother, his bride, and their unborn child live in Beer-Sheva. 40 missiles have struck in or near that city since December 30.

Her most recent entry has video of a May17, 2007, Qassam rocket attack on Sderot, just across the border from Gaza City. The rocket hit a synagogue which was in the midst of celebrating the completion of its new Torah. Miraculously, the rocket did not detonate, and no one was injured. This was home video that was being taken of the celebration in the synagogue and a procession through the streets (interesting for that aspect alone), prior to capturing the aftermath of the rocket's impact on the synagogue.

The video was edited, annotated, and posted by the Sderot Media Center, a citizen journalism organization. I was struck by their use of crosshairs in the logo of the website, which exists to help the world understand what it is like to live at all times in the terrorists' sights.

The Sderot Media Center is an organization of citizen journalism that also serves as a news agency.

The Center was founded with the purpose of uncovering and publicizing the voices of a population marginalized by the conflict: the residents of Sderot and the Western Negev who suffer daily from the terror of Kassam attacks.

We give trips to members of the media, diplomats and students with the goal of spreading awareness of the situation in Sderot, and the routine of everyday life for people living with the reality of impending Kassam attacks.

As Dawn says in her headline, this is "news you won't see on CNN."

In a previous entry, Dawn has video from the Israel Defence Forces of a weapons cache in a Gaza mosque, an illustration of the way Hamas uses schools, mosques, and the Palestinian people as shields for their attacks on Israeli civilians.

She links to the website of Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, which is trying to raise funds to help them protect their students, serve their community, and do their best to continue their mission while dealing with incoming rockets on a daily basis. Their list of needs will give you an idea of what Israeli civilians must cope with. Here are just a few:

  • Installing a supplemental alert system to insure that warning sirens are heard in every corner of BGU's three Beer-Sheva campuses.
  • Purchasing additional equipment to fight fires and carry out possible rescue operations on campus.
  • Adapting facilities to safeguard flammable and combustible materials and supplies used in University laboratories and by University services.
  • Hiring and training security personnel to manage the movement of people and equipment in the event of a direct missile strike....
  • Adapting the University sports center for soldiers on leave, providing them a place to sleep, shower and briefly refresh themselves -- for many while they are visiting wounded comrades at the University-affiliated Soroka hospital.

Dawn asks for prayers for her brother and his family and for peace in the Holy Land. I'll add to that a request for prayers for friends who live at the other end of the country, in an area that has been targeted by Hezbollah rocket attacks in the past; they have a son in the IDF.

Pray for peace. Pray that the Hamas war-makers, the mis-leaders of the Palestinian people, will be defeated utterly.

MORE: Backyard Conservative links to Alan Dershowitz's column about Hamas' "dead baby strategy" and adds this cartoon that says it all:

babywar.gif

At 3:46 pm yesterday I received a phone call from Tulsa World reporter Randy Krehbiel, asking for my reaction to the lawsuit filed against me by the World Publishing Co. I told him I was unaware that a suit had been filed and that he was the first Tulsa World representative to contact me about a suit.

According to the OSCN database, at 3:01 pm on Thursday, Jan. 15, just 45 minutes before Krehbiel's phone call, attorney J. Schaad Titus filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of World Publishing Co. against Renegade Publishing Inc. DBA Urban Tulsa, Keith Skrzypczak, and Michael D. Bates alleging libel.

I have not seen a copy of the complaint. Based on the offense named and the defendants named in the suit, it appears to have something to do with a column I wrote, likely the most recent column dealing with layoffs at the daily paper.

It is always my intention to present readers with an accurate picture grounded in fact. I put a lot of time into researching details because I think it's important to be able to back up what I have to say. A friend once told me that the reason some readers get frustrated with my columns is because they don't like my conclusions, and yet I've covered all my bases and answered objections before they've been raised.

If WPC believes I've written something in error, I'm disappointed that the company would file a suit against me without first contacting me with evidence to contradict what I wrote and giving me the opportunity to issue a clarification or correction.

I'm certain that I am not guilty of libel, but that doesn't mean this won't be a difficult time. Your prayers would be appreciated.

Until I see the complaint for myself and have conferred with an attorney, that's all I have to say.

Be seeing you, Number 6

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Earlier this week, actor Patrick McGoohan died at the age of 80. He created and starred in the late '60s series The Prisoner. I caught glimpses of the show as a four or five year old when it first aired in the US -- Dad watched it -- and I was terrified by the sight and sound of Rover.

When I was in high school, it was shown on public TV. I was hooked, and so was a classmate of mine. He and I weren't friends otherwise, but after we learned of our mutual interest in the show, he'd call after an episode to talk about it. When the last two episodes were aired, there was a lot to talk about. It ran in Boston during my senior year in college, and several of us took to using the "Be seeing you" salute, just for fun. During a business trip to Shropshire in 1999, I made a point of visiting Portmeirion, the Italianate village on the west coast of Wales, used as the setting for the series. (Number 6's place is now a gift shop.)

I read somewhere that McGoohan was in line to play Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films or Dumbledore in the Harry Potter movies but ill health prevented him from taking either role.

As I mentioned over at The Judge Report, McGoohan was married to the same woman for over 50 years, his first and only wife, and insisted that his on-screen characters would never so much as kiss another woman, a stipulation that ruled out playing Simon Templar and James Bond. It would be interesting to know something about his faith and how it influenced his ethics and his artistic vision. So far I've seen nothing on that, but, as we know, "the press doesn't get religion." (I did find this mention, at Reason's website of all places, that McGoohan was a devout Roman Catholic.)

Ricardo Montalban, who also died this week, is another rare example of a Hollywood actor with a long marriage. He had been married for 63 years, from 1944 until his wife's death in 2007. Mark Evanier has an anecdote about a sketch he wrote for Montalban's cameo on a short lived comedy series. Montalban didn't care for the sketch, but why he didn't like it and how he went about making his objections known are remarkable for Hollywood.

I suppose most people will remember Montalban as Mr. Rourke on Fantasy Island. I'll remember him for his role as Khan in Star Trek II, perhaps the greatest of the great even-numbered movies, and for his role as the grandfather in Spy Kids 2 and 3, movies my kids have watched over and over again. By that time, a spinal injury from the '50s was causing him so much pain that he was confined to a wheelchair, and he appeared in the wheelchair in both films. But in Spy Kids 3, in which the characters wind up in a video game, director Robert Rodriguez used the magic of CGI to put Montalban back on his own two feet.

As we get closer to the debut of AMC's new version of The Prisoner, starring Jim Caviezel, the network has placed all 17 of the original episodes on its website for streaming, along with photos and trivia.

A group of urban planners from the Mayors' Institute on City Design (MICD) is in Tulsa today looking at the city's most significant brownfield: The Evans Electric and Fintube plants, which are located east of OSU-Tulsa, north of Archer St., between the BNSF (formerly AT&SF) tracks and US 75. The group will present their recommendations this afternoon at 4 at City Hall. From the press release:

During the three-day visit, the panel will study the Evans-Fintube site, a local development opportunity site located at North Lansing Avenue and East Archer Street. This City-owned site borders the Crutchfield neighborhood, OSU-Tulsa, Lansing Business Center, and downtown.

The panel will also meet with local stakeholders and develop planning recommendations for the site, based on this community input process. The MICD Resource Team will present their recommendations for the Evans-Fintube site to the public on Tuesday, January 13, 2009 from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m., in the 10th Floor North Conference Room of City Hall at One Technology Center.

Tulsa is one of four cities to receive a grant to participate in the MICD Alumni Technical Assistance Program. The Mayors' Institute on City Design (MICD) is a partnership program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Architectural Foundation, and the United States Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, the Mayors' Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities. The program is dedicated to improving the design and livability of America's cities.

The MICD Resource Team includes Ron Bogle, CEO & President, American Architectural Foundation; Maurice Cox, Director of Design, National Endowment for the Arts; Jess Zimbabwe, AIA, AICP, LEED-AP, Director, Mayors' Institute on City Design; Elizabeth Blazevich, Special Projects Manager, Mayors' Institute on City Design; Angie Brooks, Principal, Pugh+Scarpa Architects, Santa Monica, CA; Phil Erickson, AIA, Principal, Community Design + Architecture, Oakland, CA; and Laura Solano, ASLA, Principal, MMVA Inc., Boston, MA.

I'm intrigued by one line in the description of the group: "preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities." It's hard to imagine a mayor in that role, but there's no question that the mayor has the authority to have an enormous impact on urban design. The mayor appoints planning commissioners, oversees code enforcement officials and the departments responsible for infrastructure development. As I noted in my column this week, we need elected officials who can balance a variety of concerns, rather than deferring to lower-level unelected functionaries.

To look at it another way, every department and interest group has its own narrow view. The fire marshal wants to prevent fires. The impact of fire prevention rules on historic preservation or the economic value of a building are secondary concerns in his mind. Traffic planners want to move cars -- pedestrian-friendliness comes later, if at all. Developers just want to get their project done and their lender paid back. Homeowners are trying to protect their quality of life and the long-term value of their homes. Everyone thinks his own concerns are paramount.

You need someone in charge of city government who can see the big picture, who can balance various concerns and then direct the lower-level departments so that everyone is pulling together in the same direction.

Whirled update

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Mike McCarville reports that cost-cutting at the Tulsa World, which laid off 28 staffers last week, only goes so far:

While executives at the Tulsa World were deciding which 28 employees would be fired in a cost-saving move to help the company deal with reduced advertising revenue, the president of the company, John R. Bair, was being processed for a $90,000 "proprietary membership" in the ritzy Southern Hills Country Club.

A list of those proposed for membership in the exclusive club was obtained by The McCarville Report Online following the newspaper's announcement that 26 newsroom employees and two other staff members were being fired immediately a week ago. Bair's is the first name listed on the December 29th document, prepared by the 650-member club's office on behalf of its board of governors.

The $90,000 figure for a proprietary membership in the club is an estimate; no one would discuss the precise fee, which apparently includes state sales tax.

I understand that you can't keep 28 newsroom staffers employed for $90,000. I understand that country club memberships were, once upon a time, important tools for building business networks and negotiating deals. But Bair's job is handling the financial side of the World, bringing in advertising to cover the cost of putting out the paper. Trust-fund babies aren't going to be buying ads in the paper. The World should be selling less-expensive niche ads for the website, matching ads with appropriate news content. The small business owners who are most likely to buy those ads won't be hanging out at the Southern Hills clubhouse.

As one of McCarville's sources told him, "It just doesn't look very good, does it?"

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Observer reports that the paper didn't fulfill its 2008 pledge toward construction of the Oklahoma Capitol dome and may not make good on its 2009 pledge:

The Tulsa World owners have declined to meet their current $100,000 pledge on the Capitol dome. (They may also defer on $100,000 owed next year.)

(Via Dustbury.)

Partly personal, but this news is reason for a bit of local pride, a bit of reflection on the reach of products built right here in northeastern Oklahoma.

Today, Prince William of Wales began an 18-month search-and-rescue training course at the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) at RAF Shawbury, in Shropshire near England's border with Wales. According to the Times, Flight Lieutenant Wales, as he is known in the Royal Air Force, "will train on Squirrels and Griffins before moving on to the workhorse of the SAR, the Sea King."

Squirrel, Griffin, and Sea King are RAF nicknames for military variants of the Eurocopter AS3 50BB, the Bell 412EP, and Sikorsky S-61, respectively.

FlightSafety Simulation Systems, based in Broken Arrow, builds helicopter simulators as well as training devices for fixed-wing aircraft, and over the years they've done a number of simulators for Bell 412 variants, most of which are based at FlightSafety's Fort Worth Learning Center, just across the airfield from Bell Helicopter Textron's Hurst, Texas, factory.

In the late '90s, FlightSafety Simulation also built a Bell 412-based simulator to be used at DHFS to train Griffin pilots. In 1999, I was assigned to rewrite the communications link software that allowed the main simulation computer to send commands to the image generator that produced the out-the-window picture seen by the pilots in training. A brand new Evans and Sutherland Harmony image generator didn't have all the bugs worked out, so they were going to try an older-generation model. The older model used a different communication method than the new one, so I had to change the main simulation computer software so it could talk to the older image generator. (It used raw Ethernet packets over a point-to-point crossover cable.)

So in late May of '99, I traveled to RAF Shawbury, and spent hours in the very loud and very air conditioned computer room of DHFS's new simulator building. Mornings I marked up source code listings at the Albrighton Hall hotel over a full English fry-up or in my room, a much more comfortable place to work. I finished my work in five days and had a spare day to drive through the countryside of north Wales, take a ride on the narrow-gauge Talyllyn Railway, and pay a visit to Portmeirion, setting for the '60s spy series The Prisoner. Earlier in the week, I'd managed a quick evening visit to Hay-on-Wye, the famed town of second-hand bookshops; most other evenings I made it in to historic Shrewsbury for a meal and a walk around. Our visual software expert, Jim Narrin, arrived a couple of days before my departure to modify the software that formatted commands to the image generator to work with the older generation E&S.

Within a couple of years, the Harmony IG was deemed ready for use and the older IG was replaced. The IG communication code I developed was no longer needed (although there's still some general purpose code on the simulator that I wrote).

But I was just one of dozens of Tulsa-area engineers and technicians who had a part in bringing that simulator to life (not to mention all the support staff in human resources, accounting, travel, program management, etc.). This simulator brought millions of dollars to the Tulsa area in payroll for high-tech jobs.

And now this Broken Arrow-built simulator will almost certainly be part of the search-and-rescue training program for the future ruler of the United Kingdom. I'm not a royalty enthusiast, but I was still somewhat excited and proud to come across this bit of news today.

Here's a description of the DHFS course from the website of FB Heliservices, Ltd., the contractor that runs the program, and here's a bit about the simulator itself. More here at the BBC News website.

Jim Inhofe has a YouTube channel, and he's using it to mobilize support for S. 64, his bill that would require an affirmative congressional vote to release any more of the remaining $350 billion in bailout funds.

Here's the text of Inhofe's message.

As if the pride of Oklahoma weren't sufficiently wounded:

Oklahoma's junior senator in Washington soon will be belting out a rendition of the Elton John hit "Rocket Man" after losing a bet with a colleague from Florida.

Sen. Tom Coburn and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson placed a wager on Thursday's night's BCS National Championship game between the Oklahoma Sooners and Florida Gators.

Since Florida won, Coburn agreed to sing the song during Nelson's next constituent coffee, a traditional weekly meeting between a senator and residents of his home state.

Had Oklahoma won, Nelson would have had to sing "Oklahoma!" during Coburn's next constituent meeting.

"Rocket Man" was selected because Nelson was an astronaut who traveled into space in 1986 aboard the shuttle Columbia.

Although Coburn's daughter, Sarah, is a well-known opera soprano, Coburn himself "doesn't profess to have a tremendous singing gift," his spokesman, John Hart, said Friday.

Hart said no date has been set for Coburn to make good on his bet.

"He's a man of his word," Hart said. "And I'm sure Senator Nelson won't let him forget."

You don't have to be a singer to perform "Rocket Man," as William Shatner proved in this unforgettable performance at the 1978 Science Fiction Film Awards (introduced by Bernie Taupin, the song's co-writer):

Maybe Dr. No should have just bet some Oklahoma steaks against some Florida oranges.

Well, foo....

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Still, I can't be too upset given that the winning quarterback had "John 3:16" inscribed into his face paint. (Usually it's Phil 4:13.) Congratulations to the Gators.

And well done to Sam Bradford and the Sooners for a great season. Come back next year, Sam, and give it another go.

Thinking back to the '70s and '80s, I found it strange to see OU get beat by a team running the option.

The most entertaining part of the evening was my three-year-old dashing around the living room, diving into the couch, tackling his big brother and tackling me. (Big brother, now 12, did the same thing at that age, but my back was nine years younger.) Occasionally he noticed what was happening in the game. "Did he get tickled?" he asked after a play. In the three-year-old's experience tackled and tickled usually go together.

I thought Fox's broadcast team did a fairly even-handed job covering the game. I can remember bowl games in years past where it seemed obvious that the broadcasters were more excited about and interested in OU's opponent than OU. That wasn't the case until it was apparent that Florida was going to win.

Note to Fox TV executives: College football bowl games and other televised sporting events are often enjoyed by entire families, including young children. Please stop using such occasions to promote violent and adult-themed TV series and movies. My kids don't need to contemplate the idea of someone being haunted by their miscarried twin, the theme of one of the movies you advertised. We saw very few of your ads, even the family-friendly ones, because I had to switch to C-SPAN during every break to avoid the ugly and scary ads. (We watched a pleasant looking gentleman named Mr. Sunshine tell a Senate committee about the budget deficit. Too bad Gov. Davis wasn't at the hearing.)

The Tulsa World announced today that it has laid off 28 employees, 26 of them members of the news staff. Two of the three members of the paper's State Capitol bureau were let go.

This is the second major cutback in a year. The paper closed its Community World bureaus last March, moving some jobs downtown.

The carnage included a designer for the paper who has a blog about newspaper design called Heady Goes Herey:

I was only there for four months, so I don't have the exact tally of what positions were all eliminated and I'm not sure if or how many were laid off from other parts of the company. I do know that the graphics department has been eliminated, I was the only designer, there were two photographers (one of whom was the main videographer), the advisor of the high school section, at least two copy editors, a sports designer/editor, administrative assistants were eliminated and several reporters.

In a thread at TulsaNow's public forum, member sgrizzle reports an intriguing rumor:

I heard that the Lortons were heavily invested into buying another newspaper earlier this year (likely why they cut back in March) and were close to completing the sale when the economy tanked. Now they can't secure the financing and can't complete the sale which hurt them.

Also, they had upped the individual paper cost and upped the pay to their box route carriers (retail stores and vending machines) in response to gas prices, then gas prices subsided. That had to also hurt.

New York magazine's blog had this to say:

The Times is resorting to desperate measures, but the Atlantic thinks that, like, might not make a difference. Forbes is laying off more staffers, and that dream you had of escaping it all and running away to a little publication in Tulsa? Forget it, bud....

Tulsa World, a family-owned newspaper, has laid off 28 staffers. In case you were wondering if there were still jobs in Tulsa.

The same item offers a link to this helpful list of things a reporter should do long before the security guard comes to escort him to the exit -- e.g., e-mailing all your contacts to a personal e-mail account, weeding through personal belongings, and saving your best work to a flash drive.

Another commenter at TulsaNow's public forum, cannonfodder, writes:

Anytime a paper cuts back it cuts back on its content. Which cuts back on its readership. Which cuts back on its ad revenue. A horrible spiral.

What the World needs now is to break out of the stall spin. If they want to regain readership, the World's owners and senior management need to confess and repent. They need to acknowledge that their one-sided editorial section and the bias they've encouraged on the news pages have driven away readers. And then they need to balance the paper -- add opposing views to the editorial board, hire an ombudsman to take a critical look at the paper's news coverage, convene focus groups of the paper's harshest critics. The paper's ownership and senior management need to acknowledge that they have a blind spot and then act to correct it.

It was only four years ago that Ken Neal, then editorial page editor, boasted of the lack of dissent and diversity on the editorial board. That lack of diversity is killing the paper's credibility and its readership. Perhaps the present crisis will inspire some overdue humility and soul-searching.

MORE: The AP story adds some details:

Managing Editor Susan Ellerbach said that overall, the cuts represented about 5 percent of World Publishing Company's work force.

Those laid off were informed at a meeting Tuesday morning. Cuts in the newsroom included two Capitol bureau reporters, a police reporter, photographers and employees in the graphics department, among others.

Newspaper Death Watch mentions the World in its "Layoff Log" and also links to this Editor and Publisher column by Steve Outing with 12 online money-making tips for newspapers. The World seems to be pursuing many of these avenues already. Much of the advice has to do with pursuing niche online content and selling targeted ads for those niches. As for the print edition, Outing advises: "Don't bother chasing young people... Focus on the core demographic... Guide older print loyalists to a life online... Reduce the number of print editions."

For the first time since the Clinton administration, the 168 members of the Republican National Committee will be picking a new chairman without simply deferring to the wishes of the president. Traditionally, if there's a Republican in the White House, he makes the call, and the RNC members merely ratify the decision.

The RNC is composed of 3 members -- the state chairman, a national committeeman, and a national committeewoman -- from each state plus DC, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas, and Guam. (Yep, Guam and Texas have the same amount of pull on the reins of the GOP.) Oklahoma is represented by State Chairman Gary Jones, National Committeeman James Dunn, and National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty. Dunn and McLarty are new to the RNC, succeeding long-time members Lynn Windel and Bunny Chambers.

Six candidates are seeking the job, including incumbent Mike Duncan. According to Politico, Jones has endorsed Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State. The other candidates are Chip Saltsman (Mike Huckabee's campaign manager and former Tennessee GOP chairman), former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, and two current state chairmen, Saul Anuzis from Michigan and Katon Dawson from South Carolina.

Morton Blackwell, a long-time national committeeman from Virginia and someone who has inspired and mobilized two generations of grassroots conservative activists through his Leadership Institute, put together a list of 37 characteristically thoughtful questions for the candidates and received thoughtful answers in reply.

In response to the first question, about how to overcome the Democrats' superior ground game, I like the fact that Anuzis and Ken Blackwell (no relation to Morton) both identified the problem behind the problem. Anuzis called it the "passion deficit":

The articulation of good ideas breeds passion; Passion breeds excitement; excitement breeds volunteers, and volunteers are the life's blood of a political ground game. So our first task is to be the party that is effectively communicating conservative ideas, so that we can once again stir the passions of our nation.

Ken Blackwell elaborates:

However, to have an exceptional ground game, our Party must first inspire thousands of people who can then be activated to work for our shared values during the election cycle. Lately, our party has become overly focused on mechanics while failing to articulate a clear, concise, positive and practical message. To inspire enough prospective Republican volunteers to be a part of a new "ground game," we must stand firm for our core beliefs: Limited government, traditional values and a strong national defense. If we become the "Obama-lite" party, we will not be able to recruit the substantial number of volunteers needed for such a massive effort.

As chairman of the Republican Party, I will lead by articulating a clear conservative vision that paints in bold strokes, not pale pastels. Doing so will rally a dispirited Republican base and present a vision that stands in stark contrast to the failed left-wing policies of the Obama Administration. This is the first and most important step we can take to rebuild the ground game of the Republican Party.

I have only skimmed the Q&A, but I noticed a series of insightful questions about the relationships between the RNC and the two congressional campaign committees (NRCC and NRSC) and between the RNC and political consultants.

On the strength of his responses to Morton Blackwell's questions, the Council on National Policy, which includes leaders of many conservative social and political organizations (as individuals, not as representatives of their organizations), endorsed Ken Blackwell.

A group of about 90 conservative RNC members, calling themselves the Conservative Steering Committee, will meet today (Tuesday) to consider the possibilities for RNC chair and to cast a straw vote. The real election takes place in about three weeks.

Notice something: 90 conservatives -- that's a bare majority of RNC membership. Notice too that the gathering of this conservative caucus has prompted discontent from other RNC members, who organized enough states to force a full meeting of the RNC the following day.

MORE: Hoosier Pundit explains why he thinks Blackwell is the best choice:

When the base gets mail from the national party and the campaign committees and is again willing to write checks, then you will know that the party is unified again and marching in the same direction. Right now, all I hear from people (going on two or three years now) is about how they won't give money to the national party and the campaign committees because they support liberal RINOs and don't do enough to stand up to the Democrats and (previously) to enact conservative policies.

The RNC chairman has to appeal to the base, be competent in terms of record, and not commit unforced errors in the current political environment.

Mike Duncan is just more of the same. It may be that he did "an alright job, considering the situation" but we need somebody that will do a great job regardless of the situation. None of the candidates inspire me in that way, at least yet.

That leaves Ken Blackwell. He's not tone-deaf, he's articulate, nobody it seems can question his conservative bona fides (the base can buy-in to him in ways that they can't or won't for Steele), he's Evangelical without being from the South (it's important for the chairman to not have a southern drawl, if only to demonstrate that the party is not regionalized), and criticism of Obama is going to be much easier if it comes from Blackwell (or Steele) than from some typical GOP white guy.

From the Tulsa World:

About 160 people protested in Tulsa on Friday afternoon over the fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza.

Muslim Iman Arthur Farahkhan said the nonviolent protest was by "people of conscience" who want to help "stop the violence and cease all fire."

"I couldn't have a good weekend knowing people in the conflict won't have one," Farahkhan said during the protest at the intersection of 71st Street and Memorial Drive.

He said he wants the United States to intervene in the ongoing clash.

"We're here to say, 'Please, President (George W.) Bush, stop the massacre,'?" Farahkhan said.

Israel unleashed its bombs Dec 27 in a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire directed at Israel from the Gaza Strip....

(I think "Iman" should read "Imam" for that is Mr. Farahkhan's title.)

So that's one week of counterattack by Israel following "weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire" -- rockets fired from within Israel's own sovereign territory, territory that it granted to allow Palestinian self government and that has now fallen under the control of a terrorist group whose goal is the destruction of Israel. Hamas has been launching rockets at civilian targets. (Hamas has also long been involved in suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians -- for example, the March 2003 bomb attack on a city bus in Haifa which killed Abigail Litle.)

Israel has responded by taking out Hamas' headquarters building and other facilities used by Hamas as part of its military infrastructure -- targeted attacks aimed at destroying Hamas' capability to attack Israeli citizens.

I find it ironic to read at the end of the story that, "Palestinian protester Houssam Soueissi said, 'We're here to stop the killing of women, children and civilians.'" That's exactly what the Israeli Air Force is trying to do: Protect women, children, and civilians by eliminating an evil organization that has been attacking women, children, and civilians for decades. If Soueissi and the others were serious about their desire to end violence in the Holy Land, they'd be holding up signs saying, "Go IAF! Death to Hamas!"

Does that protester's name ring a bell? Houssam Elsoueissi was one of several men who Jamal Miftah says angrily confronted him in November 2006 after services at the Islamic Society of Tulsa's mosque. Here's Miftah's story as it appeared in my December 13, 2006 column in Urban Tulsa Weekly:

On Nov. 18, Miftah was attending prayers at the mosque. After prayers, Miftah says he was chatting with friends when he was confronted by the imam (prayer leader) of the mosque, Ahmad Kabbani.

Kabbani told Miftah that he should be ashamed of himself for writing the article, saying bad things about Muslims in front of non-Muslims. After Kabbani called Miftah "anti-Islamic," Miftah walked away from the confrontation into the corridor.

There Miftah says he was confronted by the president of the mosque's operating council, Houssam Elsoueissi (also known as Abu Waleed). In a loud voice, Elsoueissi called Miftah "anti-Muslim" and a "traitor" for writing against Muslim organizations.

Miftah defended the accuracy of his article. During the confrontation, 10 to 15 Arab men gathered around in a threatening way, some of them waving shoes and cursing him. A friend of Miftah's stepped in and rescued him from the confrontation.

Miftah says there are witnesses and security cameras that will corroborate his version of events.

In our conversation last week, Miftah explained that there is an implied threat in the label "anti-Muslim." In some parts of the Muslim world, apostates, those who abandon Islam, are deemed worthy to be put to death....

The next day at the mosque, Elsoueissi told one of Miftah's friends that he had obtained a restraining order prohibiting Miftah from returning to the mosque unless he were to apologize in front of Friday congregation.

Miftah says he was told that on Nov. 20, after the final prayer service of the day, Elsouessi discussed Miftah's article, which he said contained "anti-Islamic things."

Elsouessi announced to the assembled faithful that there was a restraining order against Miftah and anyone who saw him in the mosque should call the police.

Elsoueissi is a defendant in Miftah's lawsuit against IST and several other leaders and members of the mosque, for assault and battery, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, relating this incident. (A scheduling conference in the case is set for January 26.)

So there appears to be some consistency here between a willingness to show solidarity with Hamas terrorists and to condemn Israel's efforts to defeat the terrorists, while publicly condemning (allegedly, I have to add) a Muslim who condemns terrorism in the name of Islam.

This afternoon, our family went to Gilcrease Museum to see Ansel Adams: A Legacy, a traveling exhibit of 138 prints by the legendary photographer. Sunday, January 4, 2009, is the final day for the exhibit.

Here's a description of the exhibit from the website of the Friends of Photography, the now-defunct organization of which Adams was a founder.

Ansel Adams, A Legacy: Masterworks from The Friends of Photography Collection

ANSEL ADAMS, A LEGACY is an exhibition of over 100 photographs by Ansel Adams (1902-1984), one of this century's most admired photographers. Drawn entirely from the collection of The Friends of Photography, the
exhibition will travel to venues throughout the United States and Japan.

A tribute to the founder of The Friends of Photography, ANSEL ADAMS, A LEGACY is a comprehensive survey of the wide-ranging career of Adams. It includes the photographer's well-known vistas of natural beauty, such as Monolith, The Face of Half Dome (1927) and Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (1941) as well as more intimate portraits, close-ups and architectural views. The photographs were printed by the artist himself in the 1960s and 1970s, and attest to Adams' constant redefining and eventual perfection of the gelatin silver printing process in the last decades of his life.

Adams profoundly influenced the course of 20th century photography not only through the example of his sumptuous and technically precise images, but also by means of his personal energy and devotion to advancing the cause of photography as an art form. As an artist, educator, innovator, and writer, he helped establish many of the institutions that have come to represent the highest aspirations of the medium of photography, including The Friends of Photography.

The photos are accompanied by biographical panels and panels about the photographers and artists who collaborated with and influenced Adams, including Georgia O'Keefe, Alfred Stieglitz, and Paul Strand. It was interesting to learn that Adams was a talented pianist who gave serious consideration to pursuing a career with the instrument, and that, as a curious and somewhat disruptive child, Adams was pulled out of school at age 13 and homeschooled for a time, with the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, being held in San Francisco in 1915, a part of his daily curriculum. It was also interesting to learn that Adams did not achieve financial success until his seventies.

My favorite of the exhibit -- Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

Gilcrease is open from 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday through Sunday. Make a point to visit this weekend to see this remarkable exhibit before it's gone.

Don't forget that City of Tulsa residents are eligible for an complimentary initial year as a charter member of the museum. You can sign up at the admissions desk or register online. Charter membership is available through June 30, 2009.

MORE: Here's photographer Jeff Shaw's review of a visit to the exhibit last November.

Looking for some information relating to my next column (dealing with the requirement to add sprinklers to older apartment and condo buildings), I found the text of one of Ronald Reagan's radio commentaries from the summer of 1977 that had to do with Tulsa and part of the local Army Corps of Engineers office moving into more expensive digs because of Federal fire prevention rules. It's found on pp. 178-9 of Reagan's Path to Victory, but with Reagan's edits and abbreviations. I've retyped it to read as he would have read it for broadcast.

Government Cost
July 6, 1977

Every once in awhile another example pops up to illustrate why government costs so much. Since it's your money, I figure you should know about it. I'll be right back.

Over in Tulsa, Okla., the Army Corps of Engineers is moving about a fifth of its operation out of its present quarters and into a new office building at roughly four times the rent NOW being paid. The figures are really interesting. The engineers are leaving almost 21,000 sq. ft. of office space for which they pay $2.89 a sq. ft. to move into only16,000 sq. ft. of office space for which they'll pay (make that, we'll pay) $11.88 a sq. ft.

The operation that is moving represents only about 22% of the Corps' Tulsa headquarters. The other almost four-fifths of their offices are located in the old Federal building which has 75,000 sq. ft. of vacant space and which was remodeled 10 years ago at a cost of $700,000 for use by the engineers.

Apparently none of this is the doing of the engineers. The Business Service Center of the General Services Administration is in charge of this move. According to the chief of GSA the new more costly office building is the only building in Tulsa which meets "Standard 101 of the National Fire Protection Code" called "Code for Life Safety from Fire in Buildings and Structures." He says the government is really getting tough about the fire regulations. Standard 101 is a book with 16 chapters.

The CIty Fire Marshal of Tulsa says he doubts any building in Tulsa can meet all the requirements of Standard 101. The Fire Marshall isn't saying downtown Tulsa is a fire trap -- he's indicating Standard 101 like so many government documents goes beyond the bounds of common sense and reason. To their credit the Corps of Engineers had asked for other locations but were turned down by GSA.

A lot of questions come to mind in this whole thing, beginning with why the one-fifth of the engineers' operations aren't over in the Federal Building with the other four-fifths where there is vacant space amounting to more than four and a half times as much space as they are moving into. If the Federal Building doesn't meet the rigorous requirements for fire safety laid down in Standard 101 why haven't the rest of the engineers been moved out? A spokesman for the Corps can only say it will be up to GSA to say when the building is no longers uitable for use by Federal employees. That answers another question. Standard 101 isn't a code that can be enforced on buildings in general. It's just a code for the protection of Federal government employees. Taxpayers can work and earn in less protected quarters. And just between us I'm sure with every bit as much safety as government employees are provided.

According to the Tulsa Tribune the shortcomings of the building the engineers are leaving consists of the following: one stairway is 4 inches too narrow, and there was some concern expressed about the distance to the rest rooms.

Don't feel guilty if you can't make sense out of what they're doing. Let me read a paragraph from a memo on another subject -- zero budgeting by the Office of Management and Budget. When you can understand this paragraph everything will become clear to you.

"Agencies may use whatever review and ranking techniques appropriate to their needs. However the minimum level for a decision unit is always ranked higher than any increment for the same unit, since it represents the level below which activities can no longer be conducted efficiently. However, the minimum level package for a give decision unit may be ranked so low in comparison to incremental levels of the decision units that the funding level for the agency may exclude that minimum funding level package."

See?

This is Ronald Reagan. Thanks for listening.

(Audible.com offers a downloadable five-hour collection of Reagan's radio commentaries for less than $20.)

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