Blogosphere Category

Congratulations to Charles G. Hill, dean of Oklahoma bloggers, on the 21st anniversary of his website Dustbury, founded in the early, early days of the World Wide Web.

April 9, 1996, was the publication date of the first edition of Charles's opinion column, The Vent, which addressed the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the approaching anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing. The Vent has appeared almost-weekly since then -- precisely 48 editions per year. Charles notes that the site shares its April 9 birthday with Tom Lehrer and Hugh Hefner: "I suspect that the seven million or so words I've tossed up on the screen since 1996 are at least slightly affected by both of these chaps."

Despite illness this past year, he has managed at least one post per day since June 23, 2000, when he inaugurated his "sort of blog."

Tens of thousands of entries since then have ranged widely to fill creatively-named categories like Almost Yogurt, Tongue and Groove, Political Science Fiction, Blogorrhea, PEBKAC, and Rag Trade. (That's culture, music, politics, news from the blogosphere, computing, and fashion, respectively.)

On the 20th anniversary, Charles explained the origins of his long-running experiment in HTML Bad Examples and Bandwidth Wastage:

In the spring of 1996, I got the ridiculous idea that I ought to have a Web site of my very own. I'm not entirely sure what the tipping point was. My workplace had sent me and the corporate IT guy to an HTML class for no reason I could determine, and I came away from the experience wondering why anyone would bother. But hey, I was in my early forties, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to have one more skill in case I had to move on; all else being equal, I reasoned, employers would rather have someone younger, or at least with lower expectations. I was a member of Prodigy in those days, and Prodigy was pleased to offer me a full megabyte of Web space at no extra cost. In a couple of hours, I had hacked up seven pages of stuff, installed links across the lot, and uploaded them through something that only vaguely resembled FTP. "Chez Chaz," the least-lame name I could think up on short notice, was hung on top.

BatesLine's first link to Dustbury was in September 2003, to Charles's comment about a Wall Street Journal staffer turned homeless freelancer. His first mention of BatesLine was earlier in the same month, the day after the passage of the Vision 2025 arena tax. We first met in January 2005, at the first-ever Okie Blogger Bash at the Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City.

Dustbury has always been ars gratia artis, a rarity in these times of ars gratia pecunia -- never an advertiser or even a tip jar. But in the wake of some serious medical challenges last summer and some even more serious medical bills, a concerned friend set up a GoFundMe for Charles G. Hill. As a wee bit of thanks for 21 years of interesting and entertaining content, I dropped $42 in the offering plate, and I encourage you to do the same.

There's one more reason for Oklahomans to celebrate April 22.

schoolhouse_rock-bill-as-law.pngLast Tuesday, on the 125th anniversary of the Oklahoma 1889 Land Run, Gov. Mary Fallin signed HB 2366, the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act, giving Oklahomans valuable protection in the exercise of their First Amendment rights. From the bill:

The purpose of the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act is to encourage and safeguard the constitutional rights of persons to petition, speak freely, associate freely and otherwise participate in government to the maximum extent permitted by law and, at the same time, protect the rights of a person to file meritorious lawsuits for demonstrable injury.

HB2366 was authored by State Rep. John Trebilcock (R-Broken Arrow) and is a fitting capstone to his twelve years in the Legislature. State Sen. Rick Brinkley (R-Owasso) shepherded the bill through the Senate. Reps. Mike Turner (R-Edmond), Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City), and Jadine Nollan (R-Sand Springs) joined as co-authors. The bill was approved unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee (14-0), the whole House (94-0, with 7 excused), the Senate Judiciary Committee (6-0), and the whole Senate (42-0, with 6 excused).

When the bill goes into effect on November 1, Oklahoma will have one of the strongest anti-SLAPP laws in the nation.

Ken White, a California 1st Amendment attorney, ably sums up the case for anti-SLAPP bills like HB2366:

The bottom line -- without an anti-SLAPP statute, a malicious litigant can often inflict substantial expense and hardship upon someone in retaliation for their speech, even if their claim lacks merit, and do so with relative impunity.

Some key points:

1. In a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, a plaintiff seeks to punish the defendant for expressing his opinion or stating a fact he doesn't like aired publicly by subjecting him to a costly legal process. The SLAPP plaintiff can achieve his objective -- silencing criticism -- even if he ultimately loses his case in court. The cost in time, money, and anxiety of defending the lawsuit will deter the defendant from future criticism and may also deter others from speaking out.

2. SLAPPs not only threaten political bloggers and newspaper reporters, but consumer watchdog groups and reviewers on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have been hit with SLAPPs as well.

3. The U. S. Supreme Court has issued many decisions protecting 1st Amendment rights by restricting lawsuits against written and spoken expression. For example, proving libel against a public figure requires that you prove the defendant knew he was lying or had a reckless disregard for the truth. But in practical application these protections come into play only at the end of the process, when the judge makes his ruling, or perhaps not until the case is heard by an appellate court. Even if the defendant prevails in the end, the damage has been done.

4. SLAPPs hit hardest when the SLAPPer has ample resources to sustain the prosecution of a lawsuit but the SLAPPee has to choose between (A) possible bankruptcy to defend the suit all the way to the end or (B) an undesirable settlement, which may include a promise to silence his criticism.

In response to this situation, Oklahoma has now become one of a number of states that have passed strong anti-SLAPP legislation to shift consideration of First Amendment protections to the beginning of the process and to deter malicious lawsuits by imposing costs on the plaintiff if the suit is dismissed. An effective anti-SLAPP law acts as an equalizer to ensure that you don't need a vast financial reserve in order to exercise your First Amendment rights, but it still provides for redress of valid defamation claims.

What the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act does:

The Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act authorizes a special motion to dismiss to be filed and heard early in the process. The motion must be filed within 60 days after the suit is filed, and discovery is suspended until the court rules on the motion. The hearing on the motion must be held within 60 days of its filing, (The time may be extended to 90 or 120 days under special circumstances, but 120 days is the limit.) After the hearing, the court has 30 days to rule.

The defendant must first establish that the suit is based on, relates to, or is in response to his exercise of his freedom of speech, freedom to petition government, or freedom of association.

In response, the plaintiff must establish "by clear and specific evidence a prima facie case for each essential element of the claim in question." The defendant can obtain dismissal of the case if he can establish "by a preponderance of the evidence each essential element of a valid defense" to the plaintiff's claim.

What makes this different from an ordinary motion to dismiss is that the judge can go beyond "the four corners" of the complaint. The court doesn't have to take the plaintiff's charges at face value.

If the court dismisses the case, the court is required to award court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and legal expenses as well as sanctions "sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions."

If the motion to dismiss is "frivolous or solely intended to delay," the court may award costs to the plaintiff.

Either side can appeal the court's ruling, and the appeal must be expedited; otherwise the benefit of an early motion would be neutralized.

Who is helped by the Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act?

  • Newspapers, radio and TV stations, and news bloggers, particularly smaller news outlets which may not have the resources to fight lawsuits.
  • Participants in online forums who express their opinions about public issues.
  • Consumer protection organizations that rate businesses. The Texas law has been used successfully several times to block SLAPPs brought against such organizations by businesses angry about negative ratings.
  • Consumers who register their opinions about experiences with local businesses on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, and Angie's List.
  • The general public, who enjoy a greater flow of information about matters of public interest because the groups listed above are not intimidated by the threat of SLAPPs.

Some history:

Previously, Oklahoma had a very limited anti-SLAPP provision, covering only libel, but not other causes of action used in SLAPPs (like "tortious interference" or "conspiracy"), and covering only speech related to government proceedings. Oklahoma's law lacked any form of early review that could spare an unjustly charged defendant from a lengthy and costly process. It also lacked any mandatory provision to require the plaintiff in an unwarranted lawsuit to make the defendant whole for the costs of his legal defense. (Laura Long detailed the deficiencies of Oklahoma's statute in the Summer 2007 issue of the Oklahoma Law Review.)

In 1995, two trial lawyers filed suit in Creek County against members of Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, a group attempting to launch a tort reform initiative petition. The suit alleged defamation, tortious interference with business relations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy because CALA criticized trial lawyers as a profession in their letter soliciting steering committee members. The lawsuit dragged on for three years and went all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. You can read a summary of the case here and the State Supreme Court decision here

The issue caught my attention way back in 2005 as one of a number of potential legal hazards for political bloggers. In 2006 and 2007, there were news stories about certain Islamic groups using libel suits to silence criticism or investigation of ties to hate groups and terrorist-supporting organizations, and KFAQ had to deal with a defamation suit from a city councilor.

In 2008, neighborhood activists opposed to the 10 N. Yale project faced legal threats from the Mental Health Association of Tulsa and Councilor Jason Eric Gomez. SLAPPs have even been used to target historic preservationists, simply for participating in the public process for approving or denying demolition permits or zoning changes.

In 2009, State Sen. Tom Adelson filed a bill (SB742) to add anti-SLAPP protections modeled after California's law, but the bill died without a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.

In 2012, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity launched the "Protect Your Voice" initiative to push for legislation giving citizen journalists the same protections as traditional journalists in mainstream media.

TrebilcockPortrait_Lrg.jpgLast fall, during the legislature's pre-filing period, Rep. Trebilcock put out a request for suggestions for legislation he should author during his final session in the legislature. I suggested anti-SLAPP legislation, and that was one of the bills he decided to pursue. I passed the research I had done on to Rep. Trebilcock, and he took it from there. Not wanting any animus toward me (particularly over my National Popular Vote coverage earlier in the session) to get in the way of a good idea, I kept a low profile on the bill, although I was happy to have the opportunity to answer questions from a few legislators.

The Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act is not the only landmark legislation Rep. Trebilcock has authored in his final session. HB2372, which protects the privacy of an employee's social media accounts from inspection by an employer, has passed the House and Senate unanimously, but in different versions. The Senate amendments are now pending in the House.

The Internet has created unprecedented opportunities for ordinary Oklahomans to make their voices heard. Thanks to Rep. Trebilcock, Sen. Brinkley, legislators of both houses and parties, the chairmen and members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and Gov. Fallin, they can now make responsible use of those opportunities for the betterment of our cities, counties, school districts, and state, secure in their protection from malicious lawsuits.

SoonerPolitics.org

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David Van Risseghem, a long-time Republican activist in Tulsa, has set up a newspaper-style webpage, SoonerPolitics.org, which aggregates the headlines from many of Oklahoma's political blogs and news websites. I'm honored to be included. It's a great way to see all the latest blog entries at a glance.

This coming Saturday, February 15, 2014, Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma, the Tulsa 9.12 Project, and OCPA Impact will present the first Oklahoma Growth & Opportunity Summit, a series of talks and panels on how to "make Oklahoma the place to prosper." Speakers include Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Congressman Jim Bridenstine, State Sens. Rick Brinkley and David Holt, State Reps. Leslie Osborn and Tom Newell, former Kansas state budget director Steve Anderson, OCPA policy VP Jonathan Small, and Travis Brown, the author of How Money Walks: How $2 Trillion Moved Between the States, and Why It Matters.

Growth and Opportunity Summit
Saturday, February 15, 2014
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (Doors open at 8:00 a.m.)

Tulsa Tech - Lemley Campus
3420 S. Memorial Drive
Tulsa, OK 74145

Admission: $12 (includes lunch)

Brown's book, How Money Walks, is about the forces behind the migration of people and their incomes from one place to another. The How Money Walks website includes an interactive map that allows you to explore the movement of wealth between states and counties over the last 20 years. The maps are based on IRS statistics. From 1992 to 2010, Oklahoma's annual adjusted gross income has dropped by $972 million. That represents a slight recovery since 2005, when Oklahoma was down by over $1.2 billion a year. (In 2005, Oklahoma approved what was, at the time, the largest income tax cut in Oklahoma history. An even larger cut was approved in 2006.) Oklahoma lost $1.27 billion in annual AGI to Texas, but has made some of that back with gains from California of $699 million. In general, income flowed from high-state-tax states to states with no income tax or low income tax rates.

Oklahoma-How_Money_Walks.png

Kansas is an interesting case. Former state budget director Steve Anderson will speak Saturday on "the Kansas Path to Zero Income Tax and Limiting Government Growth." For the last three years, under the bold leadership of Gov. Sam Brownback, the state has put itself on course for total elimination of its state income tax. When "moderate" Republicans in the legislature blocked the cuts Brownback wanted, he campaigned for their primary opponents and defeated them. Oklahoma may soon find itself in a vise grip, squeezed between two no-income-tax states competing for our businesses and our labor pool.

There are county-by-county stats as well. Tulsa County is the biggest loser in Oklahoma at $1.08 billion in annual AGI. Oklahoma County isn't far behind with a drop of $963 million. (So much for Vision 2025 and MAPS.) Tulsa's wealth has fled just across the county line to Wagoner County ($268 million), Rogers County ($258 million), and Creek County ($89 million) but also across the Red River to Texas's Harris County ($112 million) and Dallas County ($83 million).

You can purchase tickets for Saturday's summit ($12, admission includes lunch) at www.OKGrowthSummit.com

An anecdote from an obituary of art and music critic Hilton Kramer, founder of The New Criterion:

It did not please Hilton Kramer to make enemies. But he knew that the job of a cultural critic was to tell the truth and that the truth is often unpalatable.

He loved telling the story of attending a dinner at the Whitney Museum. He was seated next to the film director Woody Allen, who asked whether he ever felt embarrassed when he met socially artists whom he had criticized. No, Kramer replied, they're they ones who made the bad art: I just described it. Mr. Allen, he recalled, lapsed into gloomy silence. It was only on his way home that Kramer recalled writing a highly critical piece about "The Front," a P.C. movie about the Hollywood blacklist in which Mr. Allen acted. That anecdote encapsulates something essential about Kramer's practice as a critic.

I have at times felt sheepish to be in the presence of politicians whose decisions I have criticized. Henceforth, I'll follow Mr. Kramer's example. Me, embarrassed? Pal, you're the one who made the bad policy. I just wrote about it.

Hat tip for a version of this anecdote to Meghan Cox Gurdon, writing critically in Imprimis about today's lurid literature targeting older children: The Case for Good Taste in Children's Books, a must-read for parents and other teachers of the older children that publishers label "young adults."

Angel-Clark-Radio-Freedom-News-300x226.pngAngel Clark, a Delaware-based libertarian blogger and radio talk show host, has an opportunity for a radio syndication deal that would get her show on more stations. But to make it happen, she needs to fund an upgrade to her studio equipment and to cover the increased cost of licenses. (If you want to use an ear-catching song on your show, you have to pay the license holder.) So she's set up a Kickstarter pledge drive to raise the $20,000 she needs to launch the Angel Clark Show 2.0.

I met Angel and her husband at the first BlogCon and have met up with them on a few occasions over the last couple of years. She keeps the show both lively and professional whether she's talking to a guest, reacting to a caller, or sharing her own thoughts. She's got a witty, sarcastic edge, just enough to be interesting, but not grating. Angel focuses on economic and civil liberties, areas where libertarians and conservatives can usually come together. I've been a guest on the show a couple of times, and it's always been an enjoyable experience. (Here's my appearance on the show on May 17, 2012, providing a different perspective on the controversies at the 2012 Oklahoma Republican Convention. On the previous episode, Qadoshyah Fish, who was part of the rump convention in the parking lot, gave the Ron Paul movement's side of the story.)

While Angel has a strong following via podcast and is heard on a few radio stations, she points out that radio has a broader reach. "Many people just want to get in their cars, flip through the stations, and listen to something they find interesting."

While I disagree with Angel when she says there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats (although, having attended a Delaware Republican State Convention, I can see why she'd feel that way), I respect her passion for liberty and her skill as a communicator. If you'd like to listen, here's a link to podcasts of recent shows. If you'd like to help out with the equipment she needs to broaden her reach, here's the Kickstarter link.

Happy Pi Day! This evening at 6:28 Eastern time, applicants to MIT will learn whether or not they've been admitted. For those hopefuls and anyone else in need of worthwhiling away a little time, some links of interest:

Tyson Wynn, who runs local news site WelchOK.com, has been bombarded with complaints from Canadian animal rights activists and their allies about a nearby event that he knew nothing about and has nothing to do with. Among other things, these people have threatened never to vacation in Welch (pop. 619). Tyson offers some advice on how not to advocate for your cause.

Aerogramme Writers' Studio: Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling: From some of the most compelling storytellers of our time. Rule 9 begins, "When you're stuck, make a list of what WOULDN'T happen next."

Somewhat related: Ace ponders the Mystification/Revelation Model of Teaching. First you puzzle and frustrate your student, then you relieve his frustration with a solution. You're going to be much more interested in information if it answers a question that's bothering or intriguing you. Ace sees this technique used in good movie storytelling. Seems to me that Jesus' parables fit the same pattern.

My Tulsa friend Erin Patrick gets a mention in a Wall Street Journal article about grown kids who stay on their parents' family plans for phone and digital entertainment. Erin's daughter is on the family phone plan; her 16-year-old son is paying for some of his own subscriptions out of the money he earns.

TiffanyTranscriptions.com: "Ole Buttermilk Sky": A song-by-song description of a British CD collection of mid-1940s recordings by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, mainly songs from the Tiffany Transcriptions that were not included in Kaleidoscope's LPs. The article by Tom Diamant includes some interesting info on the Crosley Transcriptions (aka Presto Transcriptions) and how to tell a sloppy re-issue from a careful dubbing.

Did you know that Southern Hills Country Club is in a low-income "food desert"? The U. S. Department of Agriculture has an interactive food desert map. That SHCC is in a low-income food desert is an example of the hazards of aggregation. I guess the number of households in the apartments on the east side of Lewis north of 71st outnumber the households in the massive homes backing up to the golf course, but they're all in the same census tract.

StateImpact has a Google Map of municipal water rates in Oklahoma. It's not close to complete, but interesting nevertheless.

Rex Brown says in-home filters may be the cause of your slow DSL internet and offers a solution -- an outdoor splitter where your phone service comes into the house.

Warren Buffett praises John Maynard Keynes, but his father Howard Buffett was a friend of libertarian economist Murray Rothbard, who sent a copy of his Panic of 1819 to Howard for Warren. Thinking that Warren must have lost that copy, economist Mark Thornton sent him another.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal documents the rising popularity of home-brewing among Christians. One of the churches mentioned appears to be part of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America (although they take pains to hide their affiliation on their website; I deduced it from where their pastoral staff went to college and seminary); there's an elder at our local PCA congregation who makes some very nice beers. (An unanswered question: Why do home brewers and craft brewers feel obligated to go overboard with hops?)

From the official C. S. Lewis Facebook page:

C_S_Lewis.jpgWhat Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could 'be like gods'--could set up on their own as if they had created themselves...invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery--the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

-- Mere Christianity

I'm in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I've been at a blogger retreat held by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, an organization that is working to bolster news coverage of state and local government, an area of journalism that has been declining in parallel with shrinking mainstream press budgets. The Franklin Center has Watchdog State Capitol reporters in about 20 states, including Pat McGuigan in Oklahoma City. The weekend was informative, filled with ideas for improving the way we cover stories and communicate with our readers. It was also encouraging to be around bloggers from all over the country who face the same sorts of challenges and opportunities. We "get" each other. Most of the event was in a conference room, but we had time for fun, too, including a jeep tour of a desert wilderness area.

Scottsdale_ROCBlog_Desert-20130223.jpg

To come across that C. S. Lewis quote as the retreat ends is a bracing reminder that, for all that we do to serve our communities through blogging, the ultimate problem behind all the world's miseries is not one that we can solve with reporting or persuasion. Our work as watchdog bloggers can ameliorate the results of mankind's rebellion against God as that rebellion manifests itself in government corruption, oppression, and self-dealing. To blog about government is a way in which those of us gifted to dig and research and write can love our neighbors, but it doesn't solve the root problem that Lewis describes.

I must not lose sight of the real struggle in human history and in my own heart, and I must not neglect the means -- the Word, the sacraments, prayer, and fellowship -- that God has appointed to strengthen and transform my mind and heart. I also must not neglect to spur myself, my wife and children, my family and friends to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, to be outposts of His kingdom in a fallen world.

Mother Jones, a left wing magazine, has been reporting on a feud at FreedomWorks between former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, the chairman of FreedomWorks, and his allies on one side, and FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe and his supporters on the other. Kibbe and Armey co-wrote Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto in 2010. Armey's resignation from FreedomWorks was announced in early December. Stacy McCain has the story and the links.

Reports say that Armey attempted to get Kibbe removed but that the board encouraged Armey to leave with a reported payout of $8 million.

Dick Armey at the March on Washington, September 12, 2010, S3016625

FreedomWorks was arguing for Tea Party ideals for many years before the Tea Party came into existence in 2008. The group has positioned itself as a servant to the Tea Party movement, providing training, research, and networking to help Americans turn their concern about Washington's fiscal insanity into effective grassroots action.

FreedomWorks has been an effective watchdog, helping to vet candidates by digging deep into their records on fiscal issues, calling attention to the Romney campaign's power grab at the 2012 Republican National Convention rules committee, critiquing the Boehner debt plan and facilitating the grassroots development of an alternative. FreedomWorks VP for health care policy Dean Clancy provided the rationale for states to exercise their prerogative not to set up an Obamacare state exchange.

Matt Kibbe at BlogCon 2012, S3016535

I have gotten to know FreedomWorks mainly through a series of BlogCons -- informative workshops for bloggers. I marched with Dick Armey at the 2010 March on Washington and enjoyed the hospitality of the Kibbes at a post-march gathering at their home. I've had the pleasure of getting to know some of their great staffers, analysts like Dean Clancy, and organizers like Tabitha Hale (now with the Franklin Center), Sarah Desprat (now with Twitchy), and Kristina Ribali. FreedomWorks has made it possible for me to meet and get to know fellow bloggers from coast to coast. So it's worrisome to hear reports of turmoil.

The dispute, as I understand it, centers around this question: Should FreedomWorks judge every politician by their free-market principles, praising when possible, castigating when necessary, without regard to the politician's party affiliation or political connections? Or should FreedomWorks be pragmatic, take it a bit easier on old friends who wield power at the Capitol, even when they oppose us on our key issues? The former view seems to be held by Kibbe and his allies; the latter by Armey and his supporters.

A few reactions:

1. Why aren't the two factions working with their friends in the blogosphere and legacy media to get their side of the story out? Why is Dick Armey telling his story to a far-left magazine, rather than American Spectator? Why haven't Matt Kibbe and FreedomWorks communicated with the many bloggers who attended one or more BlogCons?

2. Back in 2010, I was surprised to learn that Armey was involved with FreedomWorks, particularly with their emphasis on holding elected officials accountable, even the Republicans. Armey won a seat in Congress in 1984 as an economics professor and came to Washington as a reformer and an outsider, but a decade in Washington changed him. Armey gets much of the blame for the failure of the 1997 attempt by Tom Coburn, Steve Largent, and others to oust Newt Gingrich as speaker. The coup and Armey's double-cross is described in detail by Coburn in his book Breach of Trust. In light of that history, I found many of Armey's statements in Give Us Liberty highly ironic. If the reported reasons behind the FreedomWorks dispute are true, I can't say I'm surprised about Armey's departure.

3. If someone can come up with $8 million to pay someone to go away, why doesn't there seem to be money in the conservative movement to sustain the conservative voice in new media and legacy media?

MORE: Since writing this, I've found a couple of right-of-center sources that covered this dispute back at the beginning of December: The Blaze had a story on December 4, mainly regarding the nature of the payment to Armey -- from a private party, not from FreedomWorks or its affiliates. A search for blog entries about this dispute mainly turns up items on left-wing blogs. The same day, Ace of Spades HQ had an item linking to the initial story in Mother Jones.

Roll Call had an item about two other senior resignations from FreedomWorks following Armey's departure, as did Outside the Beltway. Dave Weigel kicked himself for getting scooped.

Erick Erickson wrote about the story today at Red State:

Armey was willing to go in and try to take charge, but was willing to give up the fight for money and then run off to a left-wing publication to tell his side of the story.

If Dick Armey and his friends are concerned about "harm" "done to the movement," perhaps they should not be willingly talking to a left-wing publication that has been pretty clearly looking to harm the conservative movement and bring down conservative groups.

UPDATE 2013/01/03: Blogger Rusty Weiss notes the attempted intervention of Armey and his allies on the board in support of establishment GOP candidates -- for example, Orrin Hatch, whom FreedomWorks attempted to defeat in the nomination process. Weiss notes the irony that Armey had, in April 2012, signed a letter with Kibbe and Armey ally C. Boyden Gray opposing David and Charles Koch's efforts to gain control over the Cato Institute, as it would harm Cato's credibility and "undermine our community's intellectual defenses."

UPDATE 2013/01/09: Dick Armey tells the Daily Caller he thought he was talking to Media Resource Center (a conservative group that documents left-wing bias in media, headed by L. Brent Bozell), not Media Matters (a left-wing, George Soros-funded group headed by David Brock).

And here's the leaked packet from FreedomWorks December 2012 board meeting, containing budget and financial reports and other statistics, shows a tremendous growth both in donations and in number of people engaged with FreedomWorks in some way. By every measure, 2012 was a wildly successful year for FreedomWorks.

Via TashaDoesTulsa, This Land Press's Do What Tulsa has a list of large-scale Christmas light displays in and around Tulsa. See them while you can.

Do What also has a list of New Year's Eve events in Tulsa, ranging from casual to fancy. (The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate dance looks like fun.)

Brian McCullough visited the newly-opened Soulfully Southern restaurant in Glenpool and finds it "yam good." Brian Schwartz was pleased with a chicken fried steak he had at the new Oklahoma Roadhouse in Broken Arrow.

Route 66 News reports on a new mobile-optimized website highlighting 72 Route 66 historic sites along Oklahoma's stretch of the road. Each link has text, photos, and audio, and you can have the site alert you when you're near one of the tour stops. Here's a link to the list of Oklahoma Route 66 tour stops. Route 66 News also has a link to a video interview with Arizona Route 66 preservation pioneer Angel Delgadillo, and remembers Frank Pastore, Cincinnati Reds pitcher, conservative radio talk show host, and repeat conqueror of the Big Texan 72-oz. steak dinner.

Yogi and family took a trip up Route 66 to visit the World's Largest Concrete Totem Pole, and they took lots of pictures.

Emily, the Red Fork Hippie Chick, explores the disconnect between "What I Do" and "Who I Am" and finds it disorienting.

Lee Roy Chapman, who proposed naming the area north of the Frisco tracks in downtown Tulsa the Bob Wills District, notes the George Kaiser Family Foundation's RFQ for a mural of Woody Guthrie, for whom GKFF's Guthrie Green was named and whose archives are now owned by GKFF, to be housed nearby.

Maggie's Notebook has news of an American citizen imprisoned in Iran when he returned to visit his family. The Rev. Saeed Abedini, a native of Iran, has been detained awaiting trial for his work as a Christian minister.

The Chatelaine of Raising Camelot is not amused by Jimmy Kimmel's latest infliction of emotional injury on children, but it leads her to some important thoughts on parenting and trust:

Trust doesn't have to be earned from our children: we receive it, lock-stock-and-barrel, the first time our son or daughter is placed in our arms. Look into the eyes of your newborn baby, feel her little fingers clenched around your own, listen to her sigh as she sleeps against your heart and you will hear her say, without a single word, two things. First, "I am completely dependent on you." And second, "I know you'll take care of me."

Absolute trust.

The tragedy is that in every moment to follow, we have the opportunity to chip away at that trust. Most of us don't mean to. But it happens....

So why, by all that is holy, would anyone want to hasten their child's discovery that mom and dad don't always tell the truth? More importantly, that Mom and Dad will casually lie in order to trick them for a TV stunt? Because if Mom and Dad will lie, who won't?...

Our living, daily example also trains our children what to expect from God. Will they see Him as a loving and sacrificial father or a heartless trickster ready to laugh at their misery?

Read any good Tulsa blogs lately? Let me know in the comments below.

BatesLine's blogrolls

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A request from a fellow blogger for reciprocal blogrolling (adding each other to our respective lists of recommended blogs) reminded me that I got away from the traditional blogroll (long lists of links to blog home pages) some time ago in favor of aggregation. The old system provided a prominent link whether the blog had been updated recently or not. Aggregation focuses attention on bloggers who are actively publishing new material.

I use Google Reader to keep track of the blogs I want to follow and have set up four pages where you can find headlines and links for the most recent 100 articles from those blogs. It does this by aggregating the RSS (syndication) feeds from each blog. If you're bored waiting for my next post, I invite you to visit one of these four pages to find something worth reading:

BatesLine op-ed headlines: Latest opinion and feature stories from the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages, National Review, and American Spectator
BatesLine Tulsa headlines: Latest opinion and feature stories from Tulsa-area bloggers
BatesLine Oklahoma headlines: Latest opinion and feature stories from Oklahoma bloggers
BatesLine blogroll headlines: Latest opinion and feature stories from (nearly) all the blogs I follow

The last three categories are nested; you'll find headlines from Tulsa bloggers on the Oklahoma page, and headlines from Oklahoma bloggers on the blogroll page. The headlines on those three pages are mutually exclusive of those on the op-ed page, since the op-ed publishers tend to publish a large number of new articles at a set time each night.

(There are a few blogs I read regularly that I exclude from these pages because of their occasional use of off-color language in headlines, which I don't want appearing on my website.)

I started out using NewsGator for this purpose, until they discontinued their aggregation service for websites. In addition to headline and source, NewsGator also made a brief excerpt of the article and the date and time published available for display, and I miss having that information.

This weekend I was invited to Providence, Rhode Island for the Future of Journalism Summit, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Heritage is a well established national policy think-tank, while the Franklin Center is only about three years old, founded in response to a "falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government." Franklin supports state capitol news organizations in 39 states, often partnering with state policy think tanks. There are two Franklin-affiliated state capitol reporters in Oklahoma: Peter J. Rudy at Oklahoma Watchdog and Patrick McGuigan at CapitolBeatOK.

The event was designed to bring together New Media bloggers and Old Media journalists. I shared a cab from the airport with Andrew Malcolm, a veteran national and foreign reporter and now a columnist for Investors Business Daily. Last night, after the sessions were finished, I was in a group that wandered over to downtown Providence to watch their WaterFire event, a group that included Jim Geraghty, political reporter for National Review, Rob Port of Say Anything, North Dakota's authoritative state politics blog, David Guenthner of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and several Franklin Center staffers from around the country.

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The days were taken up with informative sessions. Here are just a few examples:

We heard about efforts to combat vote fraud (and efforts to thwart efforts to combat vote fraud) from National Review's John Fund, who has written a book on the subject, and Quin Hillyer of the American Spectator, who was a an aide to Louisiana Congressman Bob Livingston when Livingston successfully fought to add a voter roll cleanup provision to Bill Clinton's Moter Voter law.

Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, gave us an overview of the wide range of federal data available online. He also told us about the early days of his career, when processing government data for analysis involved hours of data entry work and going to the lab in the wee hours of the morning to process stacks of punch cards.

It was encouraging to hear Mark Morano, a former Senate Energy and Commerce Committee aide under Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, explain how thoroughly and completely the anthropogenic global warming scare has been debunked, despite the institutional weight behind the discredited theory.

SD005189Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch told us the ins and outs of Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and how to pry loose information the government doesn't want to release. He also treated us to an example of unnecessarily redacted information: A field report on Ted Kennedy's 1961 visit to Latin America, a credentials-building trip for his run to take his big brother Jack's vacant U. S.Senate seat. The document was unredacted in bits and pieces in response to a series of requests, revealing Kennedy's desire to hobnob with Lauchlin Currie, a Soviet intelligence source during his time in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, and Kennedy's all-night rental of a brothel in Chile.

After Friday's session we attended the first-ever Breitbart Awards, honoring Duane Lester of All-American Blogger as blogger of the year (that's me with Duane in the photo below), Philip Klein, senior editorial writer of the Washington Examiner as professional journalist of the year, and Andrew Marcus, as citizen journalist of the year. Political journalist John Fund delivered a challenging keynote speech, and several friends and associates of the late Andrew Breitbart paid tribute to the many occasions when he encourage them to be bold in the face of adversities. I was especially moved by a speech by Brietbart.com writer Dana Loesch. Loesch spoke of intimidation attempts she endured after she wrote about a confrontation involving SEIU members and a Tea Party member -- people showed up on her doorstep, tailed her as she drove to and from the grocery store -- and she was ready to quit and retreat to normalcy, out of the spotlight. A phone call from Breitbart fired her up and kept her in the fight.

Many thanks to the Franklin Center and the Heritage Foundation for the opportunity to be a part of this conference.

Michael Bates with Duane Lester, All-American Blogger, at the Future of Journalism Summit, June 8, 2012, Providence, RI

This is impressive. Duane Lester, a blogger based in northwest Missouri, posted a lengthy article about the Holt County Sheriff's Department response to an audit report. He took a considerable amount of time to read the audit report, conducted interviews with the auditor and the sheriff, and turn it all into a readable but detailed story. It's the sort of story small town papers used to run and should still be running.

Imagine his surprise when, 10 days later, his article appears verbatim, typos and all, on the front page of a weekly newspaper, the Oregon (Mo.) Times Observer. The paper did not seek Duane's permission, didn't even provide attribution. According to the Missouri Press Association, the paper has a weekly paid circulation of 1,100.

After consulting with a couple of bloggers who are also attorneys, Duane wrote a letter to Bob Ripley, Oregon (Mo.) Times Observer managing editor and publisher, asserting his copyright. Attached was an invoice for the cost of running the piece, a modest $500. He then went to the office and spoke directly to Ripley, who seemed ready to get in Duane's face and tell him to perform an anatomical impossibility until the little lady in the office (Ripley's wife?) mentioned the camera.

Clearly busted for plagiarism and copyright violation, Ripley complies with the demand for payment, but writes a synonym for bovine excrement in the memo line of the check. Throughout the whole confrontation, Duane is calm and composed. Duane then memorialized the encounter with a post on his blog, including the video of the encounter:

Duane explains why he's captured the event for posterity:

I have been asked why I'm writing this article. Some think it might be an "IN YOUR FACE!" kind of article.

It isn't.

It's to demonstrate the importance of standing up for yourself and your rights, regardless. It's to show how to protect your work from those who would steal it.

It's not hard when you are right.

Consult with others, get your ducks in a row and demand respect for your work.

If you don't, who will?

Here's what I suspect happened: Someone started sending around an email with the text of Duane's entry, but without attributing it to him or providing a link. When it reached Ripley, perhaps he had no clue who had written it, but thought it would save him writing a story. A Google search on a distinctive phrase would have turned up Lester's original piece easily enough.

It's amazing to see how brazen Ripley is. A willingness to apologize would have solved matters very quickly.

Although I don't have an explicit statement on the site (though I soon will), everything I've written here on BatesLine is under my copyright, as are all my columns and news stories for other publications. (You may recall that I quit writing for UTW rather than sign a freelance agreement signing over all the rights to my work to them.)

UPDATE: Corrected the headline -- Ripley is the publisher, but I don't know for sure that he is the owner. Also, I now have an explicit copyright statement at the bottom of the home page. It will be at the bottom of every page as soon as I do a site rebuild.

Live from BlogConCLT

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A day late, because of business travel, but I'm here in Charlotte, NC, at BlogConCLT. It's like old home week here, hugs and handshakes all around, and I've already seen too many old friends to list. We're about to hear from NRO's Jim Geraghty. I'll be live-tweeting (@BatesLine), and you can follow everyone's comments on the #BlogConCLT hashtag. And the hardest working man in the blogosphere, Pete "Da Tech Guy" Ingemi, is on the air on WCRN.

MORE: I missed seeing this presented, but it was the talk of the conference: A typographical portrait of Andrew Breitbart in his own words by Jim Jamitis, which Jim presented to the Breitbart.com team. Jim Jamitis is a graphic designer, principal of Forge Five Visual Solutions, and his blog is called Anthropocon

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S3016667Undeterred by Andrew Breitbart's untimely death last week, his team at breitbart.com is carrying out their founder and namesake's vision with a relaunch of his websites and the first salvos in a serial exposé of Barack Obama's radical past, publishing materials that were withheld from the public in 2008, stories that the mainstream media chose not to pursue. The initial salvo includes a fulsome introduction of radical racialist Prof. Derrick Bell, video that Obama's law school mentor, Charles Ogletree, says was deliberately kept hidden in 2008.

The last piece written by Breitbart introduces the series with Obama's participation in a panel discussion following a play called "The Love Song of Saul Alinsky." The intro to Breitbart's last article explains the vision:

Prior to his passing, Andrew Breitbart said that the mission of the Breitbart empire was to exemplify the free and fearless press that our Constitution protects--but which, increasingly, the mainstream media denies us.

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" - "Who guards the guardians?" Andrew saw himself in that role--as a guardian protecting Americans from the left's "objective" loyal scribes.

Andrew wanted to do what the mainstream media would not. First and foremost: Andrew pledged to vet President Barack H. Obama.

Andrew did not want to re-litigate the 2008 election. Nor did he want to let Republicans off the hook. Instead, he wanted to show that the media had failed in its most basic duty: to uncover the truth, and hold those in power accountable, regardless of party.

From today through Election Day, November 6, 2012, we will vet this president--and his rivals.

We begin with a column Andrew wrote last week in preparation for today's Big relaunch--a story that should swing the first hammer against the glass wall the mainstream media has built around Barack Obama.

twitchylogo.pngMeanwhile, conservative columnist and blogger Michelle Malkin has launched a new content aggregation service called Twitchy. The site employs a number of self-described "social media junkies" who mine Twitter 24/7 for stories of interest in U. S. politics, global news, sports, entertainment, and media. Several of the sites editors and contributors are bloggers I've had the privilege of meeting in recent years, including Jimmie Bise, Jr., who blogs at Sundries Shack, and Sarah Desprat.

I find that when I go to Twitter's site, I often see echoes of an important story, reactions to a big news item. Finding the actual story requires going back quite a ways in the timeline, something that new-new-new Twitter has made increasingly hard to do. And of course, any story more than a few days old is almost impossible to find on Twitter.

Twitchy fixes that. Twitchy provides an easily scanned arrangement of top stories on Twitter and elsewhere on the web. Click on a story box, and you'll get to a collection of tweets or a news story excerpt, with links for further reading and a place to leave comments. Twitchy items have a permanent link, so you can blog about them and link them and post them on Facebook and Twitter.

Best wishes and bona fortuna to the Breitbart empire and Michelle Malkin and company on their new ventures.

Pioneer new media entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart died today, age 43. He is survived by his wife and four young children.

Breitbart began his online career working for Matt Drudge at the Drudge Report, then launched his own network of news and commentary websites: breitbart.com, breitbart.tv, Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, Big Peace.

Active on Twitter, Breitbart was fond of retweeting unhinged leftist attacks against him.

His final tweet, at 11:25 pm Pacific time last night, says a lot about him -- willing to be bold in confrontation, willing to back off from a misstep.

I called you a putz cause I thought you werebeing intentionally disingenuous. If not I apologize. @CenLamar @dust92

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BatesLine photo: Rev. C. L. Bryant interviews Andrew Breitbart for Bryant's film "A Runaway Slave," on the west lawn of the Capitol at the 2010 9/12 March on Washington.

I met him only once and briefly, although I had the pleasure of hearing him in person at a couple of conferences, most recently at RightOnline 2011. The Right Scoop has video of the full speech, in which he describes his journey from reflexive Los Angeles liberal to conservative warrior.

I say to my wife, "Do your remember when I was a waiter, I was light-hearted, and I went to movies. I don't do that anymore." My goal now is to take down the institutional Left.

Fellow bloggers talked about how approachable he was and how happy to help conservative new media activists expand their reach. Kerry Picket of the Washington Times remembers:

Andrew was willing to take shots that were considered strategically risky and dealt with any blowback that came his way as a result of some of those risks. Budding citizen journalists found it amazing that Andrew would not only give out his e-mail address to strangers he met at conferences but also his personal cell phone number.

At RightOnline, he walked with a small group of people over to Netroots Nation, the hard-left activist conference which was being held at the same time in Minneapolis. (Netroots Nation types had already crashed RightOnline and were causing a headache for hotel staff as they tried to provoke a confrontation.) In this video, as he's en route, he does a bit of satire of leftist attitudes, then explains to a questioner his role in the conservative movement.

At the time, Kerry Picket of the Washington Times posted a series of videos of Breitbart's reception by Netroots Nation, which featured a rabid Daily Kos blogger claiming that one of Breitbart's employees was responsible for an alleged racial incident.

Breitbart lived intensely, accomplished much, gave a platform to an army of conservative activists, confronted the Left relentlessly, and was under constant attack in return. Give thanks for his life and work, and pray for his bereft family.

MORE REACTION:

Josh Treviño has a tribute at the Grauniad, recalling the driving philosophy behind Breitbart's network of sites:

[The cultural left] trafficked in self-assured righteousness, a vibrant network of transmitters and supporters, and a belief in the moral inferiority of their opposites.

With these things, they crafted and pushed narratives that crushed conservatives every time. Andrew Breitbart was going to bring those methods, and more important, that aesthetic to the right - and see which side won when it was main force on main force.

On Fox News this morning, Breitbart's fellow conservative web pioneer, Jonah Goldberg, who was starting National Review Online when Breitbart was working for the Drudge Report, reacts to news of the death of his friend and compatriot.

AP aggregation of tributes to Breitbart.

MORE: A very thorough bio of Breitbart, which includes how he met his wife, the odd interest they had in common, and how his father-in-law got him listening to Rush Limbaugh:

Breitbart first met Susie Bean at a karaoke bar in 1988. He'd heard about her from their mutual friend, Mike, who phoned Breitbart at Tulane to tell him that he'd met Breitbart's future wife. When he and Susie landed back in Los Angeles four years later, they bonded over their shared appreciation of Chris Elliott's genius. Breitbart was nearly as smitten with Susie's father, the actor Orson Bean, as he was with Susie. And vice versa. "I was very taken with him," said Bean. A former liberal who had been blacklisted as a Communist in the 1950s, Bean was also the person who introduced Breitbart to Rush Limbaugh. Breitbart spotted a copy of The Way Things Ought To Be on the coffee table. "I said, 'Did you read this for giggles?' " Breitbart said. "He said, 'Have you listened to Rush?' I said, 'Yeah, he's a Nazi or something.' He goes, 'Are you sure you've listened to him?' " When Breitbart's favorite radio station started playing grunge--which he despised--he flipped to talk radio instead. "At first it was like a foreign language to me. But over time, it started to make sense."

STILL MORE:

Sarah Rumpf has a compendium of links to dozens of Breitbart tributes by conservative bloggers.

On Twitter, Jimmie Bise, Jr. (@jimmiebjr), reflected on his opportunity to spend time with Breitbart at CPAC just a couple of weeks ago, an opportunity he passed up because his "bitter and wicked inner critic" told him he wasn't worthy. (I used Storify to capture those tweets in sequence and in a more permanently accessible form.)

Protect Your Voice

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protectyourvoice.pngThe Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity has launched a petition drive to ensure that citizen journalists and bloggers enjoy the same legal protections that cover traditional news media. The initiative is called "Protect Your Voice."

It makes sense for a group interested in public integrity to get involved in this issue. As the Protect Your Voice website notes, citizen journalists are stepping into the gap left as mainstream media outlets shrink and redirect their resources toward stories more entertaining than, say, financial shenanigans at the State Capitol or crony capitalism at City Hall. These citizen voices could easily be driven out of the public sphere by legal threats.

I've been told that local politics and development are the riskiest topics you can blog about -- the cyber-equivalent of skydiving. It's easy for a U. S. Senator or U. S. President to ignore one pesky blogger; in a small town a single critic may be enough to launch the ouster of a town mayor or expose an underhanded school contract.

While the First Amendment freedoms of speech and the press, and the case law that protects those liberties, apply to all Americans alike, some states also have journalist "shield" laws that date back to the pre-Internet era and don't explicitly include those who publish news and opinion online or who write and publish independently of a traditional media institution. And too many public figures, judges, and lawyers need to be educated to understand that the First Amendment is for all of us. Nearly every state needs a tougher anti-SLAPP law to protect free speech against meritless lawsuits designed to intimidate critics into silence.

In a Washington Examiner op-ed, Franklin Center president Jason Stverak writes:

Media shield laws must be revised to make clear that bloggers and all citizen-journalists deserve the same protection as the city hall beat-writer at the local newspaper.

This is especially important, as technology and new economic realities have forced newspapers all over the country to cut staff drastically and in many cases, close up shop. The public now relies on citizen-journalists to perform an invaluable service to our democracy -- serving as government watchdogs.

While I encourage the updating of media shield laws for the sake of clarity, it is important to realize that blogs and all new media outlets were granted journalism credentials in 1938.

In the case of Lovell v. City of Griffin (Ga.), Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes defined the press as, "every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion."

The delivery vehicle at the time of the ruling was a pamphlet being handed out by a Jehovah's Witness. I believe all reasonable people will agree that an electronic medium such as a website is at least on par with a sheet of paper when it comes to serving as a "vehicle of information and opinion."

I'd quibble with the phrase "granted journalism credentials" -- more accurate to say that Chief Justice Hughes formally recognized a universal freedom already inherent in the First Amendment.

If you appreciate what sites like BatesLine, Muskogee Politico, Roemerman on Record, WelchOK, and obscure local social blogs add to the public dialog, I urge you to sign the petition and lend your voice to protect our voices as citizens.

freedomworksforamerica.pngIt's been an exciting two days here at BlogCon11, FreedomWorks' 2nd annual conference for conservative bloggers. The sessions have covered policy, politics, and technology. Beyond the formal sessions, I've been renewing old acquaintances and building new friendships with bloggers, think-tankers, columnists, and activists from all over America.

I hope to do a summary of the event later, but one particular session pleased me no end, and I want to pass it along.

FreedomWorks for America is the FreedomWorks-affiliated Super PAC, and they're in the process of vetting candidates for the 2012 federal election.

FreedomWorks for America is trying to ensure that the new president is backed by (or faced with) a tough-minded majority of senators and congressmen who will do what we need to do to solve our fiscal crisis before we wind up like Greece. They want to make fiscal conservatives the majority of the majority party, controlling the agenda in both houses of Congress. This effort can't wait for the general election. It has to start well before the primary, helping solid fiscal conservatives to prevail over conservatives-of-convenience in Republican primaries.

This PAC won't be buying TV time. Instead, it will work to connect fiscally conservative Tea Party-type activists and donors with candidates who are worthy of their support, a "force multiplier for the Tea Party," as FreedomWorks political director Russ Walker put it. The website will help connect activists with any campaign in the country.

"You have to get your own house in order before you can get out there and start taking on the Democrats," commented Dick Armey, Chairman of FreedomWorks. "Our Super PAC is not about buying television ads, it's about engaging the American public, and getting them outside talking to their neighbors and putting up yard signs. We want to build a grassroots army of active volunteers that will work to retire Democrats in the House and Senate, but also hold Republicans accountable to the principles upon which they got elected."

Features on the website include candidate profile pages, official endorsements, interactive ranking systems for candidates on the issues, links to pledge time towards community organizing efforts, links to pledge money to a specific campaign, phone banking, grassroots training videos, and downloadable activist toolkits and door-to-door Get Out The Vote (GOTV) materials. It also features a "grassroots lab" where politically-minded volunteers can submit ideas on how to defeat President Obama in 2012, and rank the ideas already submitted.

"The website is designed to empower the leaderless, decentralized community of the tea party movement. There is no leader, no community organizing Czar. It's simply a political toolkit for individuals across the country to use as they see fit, with unique knowledge of their community and circumstances," commented Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks.

It's a tough job to find candidates who will remain faithful to conservative principles once they get to Washington. Executive director Max Pappas noted that, with the popularity of the Tea Party movement, every candidate knows the right words to say, so FreedomWorks for America dives deep into the candidate's record and philosophy to find the candidate's fundamental beliefs. Without strong roots in the philosophical and economic basis for limited government, a public official is easily swayed by the prevailing winds of lobbyist pressure and Washington conventional wisdom.

Checking a candidate's roots means digging back through a candidate's complete public record, going all the way back to earliest part of a candidate's career, votes taken, endorsements made, and contributions given. If a politician endorsed, say, a city sales tax increase or a crony-capitalist state tax credit, it's going to count against him when he tries to move up to federal office.

In addition to the abundant amount of searchable online data (e.g., news stories, minutes of public meetings), FreedomWorks for America looks to local free-market, limited-government activists and bloggers to dig up information on candidates and to provide context. Local grass-roots opinion matters.

PACs connected with groups like FreedomWorks and Club for Growth played an important role in the election of strong conservative freshman senators like Mike Lee (UT), who defeated an squishy incumbent Republican, Marco Rubio (FL), who won over an ex-Republican governor who showed his true colors, and Rand Paul (KY). In each case, the national free-market PACs influence helped a consistent fiscal conservative prevail over a wishy-washy or weak Republican.

Having this kind of scrutiny from influential national conservative organizations will give local activists leverage in keeping Republicans from turning into RINOs on local issues. At the same time, it places a burden on us to ensure that key pieces of the record don't disappear into the ether. Campaign websites (and endorsements) often vanish from the web quickly after election day. In some cases, they never show up online. Local activists can help by scanning and posting candidate mailers and key documents and recording public meetings and political ads, tagging video and audio with the names of those involved, so that later searchers can find the information.

The FreedomWorks for America candidate browser lets you see the list of all announced and incumbent candidates and 2012 candidates already endorsed. Registered users of FreedomConnector can rate and leave comments on the candidates.

So far FWA has endorsed five Senate candidates Ted Cruz in Texas, Jeff Flake in Arizona, Adam Hasner in Florida, Richard Mourdock in Indiana, and Don Stenberg in Nebraska. I got to meet Mourdock and Stenberg at a reception Saturday night. Both serve as treasurers of their respective states, making real budget cuts to their departments (not just cuts from the previous rate of growth).

FWA isn't the only group taking this approach. Sen. Mike Lee has set up a leadership PAC called the Constitutional Conservative Fund, using similar criteria to identify candidates worthy of support. So far they've endorsed Cruz, Flake, Stenberg, and Dan Bongino in Maryland.

Stay tuned for more blog entries in coming days about more force multipliers that FreedomWorks and its affiliates will be making available to conservative activists for this important 2012 election cycle.

Washington Post political writer Chris Cillizza, author of the paper's "The Fix" blog, has posted his list of the best state-based political blogs, drawing on nominations from his readers. Three Oklahoma blogs were named, BatesLine, Jamison Faught's Muskogee Politico, and Mike McCarville's The McCarville Report Online. (Cillizza's initial 2011 list is here. He plans to add blogs to the list as he gets additional suggestions from readers.)

It's an honor to be included on this list and in such august company. I am thankful for Mike McCarville's tireless coverage of the State Capitol (and happy to know that he's on the mend after recent surgery) and for Jamison Faught's mix of news, commentary, and analysis. I appreciate Mike's description of this site on his piece about the WaPo list:

Michael Bates' long-running production regularly probes Tulsa politics and prods politicians.

Probes and prods -- maybe BatesLine needs a logo that includes an endoscope and an electric cattle prod.

It seems like an opportune time to remind you that BatesLine is a great advertising value. There are a variety of options to fit your budget, including banner ads that appear above the content on every page of the site. BatesLine will be an especially good value over the next three months, as readership climbs during the run-up to the 2011 Tulsa city election. Whether a reader comes to the site's front page or googles her way to a story in the archive, your ad will be there.

Video of the main session speeches and the policy track panels for RightOnline 2011 have now been posted.

Available videos include:

  • Opening general session: Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN), Congressman John Kline (MN), Ann McElhinney of Not Evil Just Wrong, Melissa Clouthier @MelissaTweets, John Hinderaker of PowerLineBlog.com
  • Grassroots Awards Dinner: Andrew Breitbart of BigGovernment.com, John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Tracy Henke of Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and Erik Telford of Americans for Prosperity Foundation.
  • Saturday general session: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (MN), Congressman Tim Huelskamp (KS), Michelle Malkin, Commentator Jason Lewis, John Fund of The Wall Street Journal, Author and Conservative Commentator S.E. Cupp, Ed Morrissey of HotAir.com, Erick Erickson of RedState.com, Guy Benson of Townhall.com
  • Special session with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty
  • Closing Session With Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli, Michigan Congressman Thad McCotter, and Herman Cain from AFPhq on Vimeo.

Many of the speeches are available as individual videos.

The public policy panel discussions available for viewing:


  • Cutting Red Tape: Reining in Out-of-Control Regulators

  • Healthcare: Obamacare vs. Patient Freedom

  • Job Creation: Standing Up To Obama's Union Thugs

  • Tax Reform: A Return to Economic Growth

  • Internet Freedom: Washington's Internet Takeover

  • Extreme Power Abuse: Global Warming & Energy Regulation

A quick update before dinner:

I went to two excellent presentations this afternoon:

Earl Glynn of Kansas Watchdog spoke on "Freedom of Information and How to Use It Effectively." He dealt not only with the federal FOIA, but also with using state and local open records laws to research and investigate.

Tom Steward and Jonathan Blake of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota spoke on "Exposing Crony Capitalism," focusing on a case involving President Obama's weatherization czar and the "green" replacement window company owned by the czar's husband.

Time for dinner and a speech by Andrew Breitbart. I'll add links and some more details relating to these talks later.

In just a few hours, Jamison Faught (the Muskogee Politico) and I will be on our way to Minneapolis for the 4th annual RightOnline conference. As in years past, the conference is scheduled to take place in the same city as the left-wing Netroots Nation convention.

The conference is all about how to be a more effective online activist; breakout sessions include such topics as using the Freedom of Information Act, Podcasting 101, Exposing Crony Capitalism, and Effective Blogging at the State and Local Level.

The speakers' list includes three announced presidential candidates -- Tim Pawlenty, Michelle Bachmann, and Herman Cain -- conservative columnists Michelle Malkin, S. E. Cupp, and John Fund, and prominent online commentators and activists like Andrew Breitbart, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, Erick Erickson of RedState, Melissa Clouthier, and John Hinderaker of PowerLine blog.

Most of the plenary sessions and the public policy seminar track will be live-streamed, starting at 1 pm CDT Friday.

It is likely to be easier for me to tweet than to blog, so be sure to follow BatesLine on Twitter for my latest thoughts. You can also follow @ExJon's list of RightOnline tweeps, or what appears to be the official RightOnline 2011 Twitter list.

(Disclosure: My hotel and airfare is being paid for by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.)

Browsing through a copy of The Happiness Project at the airport bookshop, I encountered the phrase "aspirational clutter," the stuff you don't need but keep around because represents some project or plan you hope to accomplish (but very likely won't). Consider this a yard sale of blog entries and news articles that turned into aspirational clutter in the form of browser tabs; perhaps someone else will find them useful:

Michelle Malkin: Finding Marizela: The maddening quest for a missing young person's online/text info: People young and old, especially young, leave behind a long trail of digital tracks, but the trail isn't readily accessible when a young woman vanishes.

I have two tabs containing a friend's Facebook notes on political topics. Is it allowable to blog about someone's Facebook notes? Should what happens on Facebook stay on Facebook?

Ed Stetzer: FIRST-PERSON: The May 21 phenomenon & a lesson for all Christians: The forecast and fizzled apocalypse inspires a look back at May 19, 1780, when New England's skies turned dark from smoke and fog and many thought the end was at hand. What should a Christian do in light of the end? Be about his Father's business:

The Connecticut legislature was unsure if they should meet or go home with their families and face the end. They would have to bring in candles to conduct even the most basic business. But, Abraham Davenport (later made famous by a poem) stood up and expressed it clearly. He stood up and proclaimed:

"I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face, No faithless servant frightened from my task, But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls; And therefore, with all reverence, I would say, Let God do His work, we will see to ours. Bring in the candles!"

Davenport was not embarrassed or ashamed that the King might suddenly return. He was waiting and ready -- if this was the moment, so be it. Yet, for many Christians and churches, they have been unengaged in Kingdom work, so the return of the King is bad news -- so, suddenly, they want to "look busy."

You don't need a billboard with a date. You need a passion to live for a soon-returning Savior. I'm not the model on this by any means, but I will be here, doing the same thing I had planned because that's what I think Jesus would have me do.

I want to live ready in light of the soon return of Jesus, not acting like a nut because someone said He is coming back tomorrow. Honestly, I think that is part of why Jesus says, "no man knows the day or the hour." It's because we don't have to think, "Jesus is coming! Look busy" because we have been living in light of His return.

Timothy Dalrymple: A Letter to Harold Camping and Those Who Expected Judgment Day: "Your heart was in the right place.... You were right to believe that God will, one day, gather his children unto himself and draw history as we know it to a close.... You were right to spread the warning.... Our faith is not placed in a person or in a prediction, but in the good news of Jesus Christ.... No one knows when the end will come-so we must always be ready. ... We should remember the difference between scripture and an interpretation of scripture.... We should always beware the power of charismatic leaders and groupthink to sway our beliefs.... Finally, we should never believe that we've got God figured out...."

Hot Air: Is the Rapture schadenfreude turning sinister?: "Despite Camping and his followers being an extremely small fringe group, the media has covered this story as if the entire Southern Baptist church made this prediction."

Christianity Today: Should Christians Care about Harold Camping, May 21, & Doomsday?: A round-up of more commentary on the end of the world

Volokh Conspiracy: Nine Puzzles of Space and Time: Brain teasers involving time and geography. For example:

"I am located in one of the 48 states in the Continental U.S. If I go 90 miles in a straight line, regardless of direction, I will have needed to move my watch one hour ahead to keep it set correctly." In what state was Art?

Mark Steyn: The unzippered princeling and the serving wench: Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the special dispensations reserved for the Great Men of the Permanent Governing Class. And here's Ace of Spades' commentary on the Rights and Privileges of the Ruling Class:

The New Aristocracy isn't made by blood but by credentials. The aristocracy is "born" in each countries two or three most elite schools, and the formal induction into the class occurs in key international/financial government bureaucracies.

And then?

Then you can stop paying taxes with no fear of the consequences the commoners face, and you can forcibly rape (or, actually, sodomize) the help and know that an entire nation's aristocrats will defend you and criticize those lowly prosecutors who charge you.

It has always been the case that the nobility in one country supported the nobility in other countries, even countries with whom they were at war, because national ambition is always well, well secondary to personal ambition. Perpetuating the rights and privileges of the new class is more important to the members of the new class than any transitory policy goal.

Don Surber: They don't want you to travel: Government energy and security policy seem designed to take away Americans' cherished mobility.

John Piper: Thoughts on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment: An irenic and solid case for upholding the definition of marriage, despite the reality of sin and brokenness in marriage. Point 2 puts homosexuality in the broader context of disordered sexuality. Point 3 address the relationship between God's law and human law: "Not all sins should be proscribed by human law, but some should be.... there are many sinful behaviors that should not be illegal." Point 4 addresses the legal significance of marriage, leading to the crux of the issue in point 5:

The issue is not whether same-sex unions are permitted, but whether they are institutionalized. The issue is not whether we tolerate same-sex relationships, but whether we build on them as a foundation for society. The issue is not whether we forbid a particular sin, but whether we mandate social approval of that sin. The issue is not whether we block a sinful behavior, but whether we imbed it in our laws.

That's a few tabs cleared away....

Cloud services are convenient and powerful, but the mail, video, photos, audio, and documents we upload to them and the metadata we add to what we upload are hostage to the fortunes and whims of the provider companies.

So here's another illustration of the risks of trusting your important data to "the cloud." At any time, a web company could decide to stop providing a service upon which your site depends. Or they could simply lock you out of your account.

Google Video, the hosting service that Google began prior to acquiring YouTube, stopped accepting uploads two years ago and is now in the process of shutting down entirely.

I had 54 videos on Google Video, many of them embedded on this site. This includes my coverage of the 2008 Republican National Convention, a speech by Daniel Pipes at the University of Tulsa, the Tulsa Boy Singers' 2007 tour of Britain, plus various family videos. One of the attractions of using Google Video over YouTube was the five minute time limit on YouTube at the time.

Google has made it very easy to migrate the videos to YouTube, but I also downloaded everything, and I still have the original digital files for reupping to another service. I still need to go back through my archives and update all the embed codes and links to point to the new locations.

What I'd like to do is host the video files on my own site's server. To do that I'd need a decent embeddable video player, preferably one I can host on this site as well. Any suggestions?

Sometime ago I uploaded a few original audio files to imeem, which was about the closest thing I could find to YouTube for audio -- hosting, plus a handy embeddable player. When imeem was merged into MySpace, the files vanished. Here again, what I'd prefer is to host audio on my own site, but with a full-featured player to make them easy for BatesLine readers to access.

For several years, BatesLine used NewsGator as an aggregator of the latest headlines from favorite blogs on the BatesLine blogroll. NewsGator dropped the service, and the only obvious alternative was Google Reader. I'm happy to have the service, but I miss the greater customization provided by NewsGator.

I love Flickr (although I'm way behind on uploading photos), but here's another risk of losing data in the cloud. I'm not worried about losing my photos -- they're backed up in multiple places -- but I'd hate to lose the metadata (sets, collections, descriptions, geocoding, tags), which would take a long time to recreate.

Twitter has pretty much taken the place of my old linkblog, because it's so quick and easy to retweet an interesting link. The downside is that old tweets aren't easily accessible and very old tweets aren't accessible at all. Adding to the problem: The links in the tweets are dependent on the continued existence and goodwill of the link-shortener sites, many of which are in a top-level domain controlled by the Libyan government of Moammar Gadhafi. What I need is a way to query the Twitter API to get all my tweets, to query the APIs of the link-shortener services to resolve their links to direct, long links, and to convert all that data into some form that I can import into my linkblog database.

Cloud services will continue to offer irresistible tools that make it easy to tag, connect, and organize your data, but there's something to be said for entirely self-hosted content, where the hosting provider gives you a hard drive, a web server and a pipe to the internet, and you provide and control everything else.

If you're a blogger or a web programmer and have any recommendations, I'm all ears.

UPDATE: Two good suggestions from the comments for self-hosting video:

Adam writes:

Michael, I've had good luck with http://videojs.com/ It has both HTML5 and Flash players which is good for serving video to mobile users. The biggest issue in self-hosting video is bandwidth usage. You might want to double-check what kind of bandwidth limits your hosting account has and whether self-hosting the video will impact that limit.

DavidS suggests LongTail Video's JW Player. Looks like it will handle MP3 audio as well as video, and like videojs it can handle both Flash and HTML5.

I'm going to be on a blogger panel in a couple of hours, at an American Majority training session for citizen activists. I have several points to communicate about the role blogging can play in local activism; this recent post by my blogpal Tania Gail about the Philadelphia city elections illustrates several of them.

She attended a Tea Party-sponsored forum for Republican candidates for mayor and at-large city council. She took video with her iPhone and posted a couple of excerpts, but she also provided a text summary of the event, along with some context for understanding why these elections matter and why the GOP is in such bad shape in Philadelphia.

If you're going to a candidate forum or a board meeting of a municipal authority, why not take some video and share it with those who couldn't be there? If you're smart about the use of descriptive text, tags, titles, labels, and categories, your blog entry can help those using a search engine to learn about a specific candidate or election.

(I was interested to learn how their partisan at-large system works. Parties nominate up to five candidates; the top seven vote-getters in the general election are seated, except that a maximum of five seats can go to any party. That system would seem to benefit the mushiest, go-along-to-get-along Republicans and hurt those who would challenge business as usual. The best hope for reformers would be to ensure that all five GOP nominees for the at-large council seats are, as Tania puts it, pitbulls.)

Added to the blogroll

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So many people have a blog nowadays that you may stumble across a friend's blog before they let you know that they have one. Here are a few blogs of friends and associates that I've come across recently. They're worth reading, and I'm adding to the blogroll, so you'll see their latest posts show up over on the BatesLine blogroll headlines page and (as appropriate) the BatesLine Oklahoma headlines and BatesLine Tulsa headlines pages.

I've gotten to know Tulsa visionary and restaurateur Blake Ewing through his involvement in organizations like TulsaNow. He doesn't post on his blog often, but when he does post it's usually a blockbuster essay on our city's challenges and possible futures. There's been a lot of talk about his latest: "Grow up, Tulsa." (I disagree with him on a few points and may elaborate in coming days.)

English with Rae is a blog aimed at helping those learning English as a second language go beyond "This is a pen," providing examples of conversational English and American culture in context and presented in a way that makes them interesting even if English is your first language. Rae, a college friend of my wife's, spent many years in Japan and writes from her experience as a second-language learner of Japanese and with Japanese learners of English. A news item about a Honolulu restaurant adding a tip to the bills of non-English speaking guests is the starting point for her most visited article, Tipping Cows and Everyone Else, which covers three different kinds of tipping (restaurant, cow, and advice), introduces customary tipping practices, and provides examples of the Present Real Conditional form, all neatly interwoven.

Gina Conroy is an author based here in Tulsa. We know her through school, and she was my daughter's creative writing teacher. Her blog, Defying Gravity, is devoted to striking the balance in life as a wife and mom and in pursuit of her dream of novel writing. She is under contract to contribute a novella to an anthology, and a recent entry is devoted to the process and pain of cutting a 50,000-word work in progress down to 20,000. She often interviews other writing moms and dads. Many recent entries have been devoted to dreams and ambitions -- rekindling them, thwarting dream-killers, and balancing your dreams.

Urban Garden Goddess is a Philadelphia-based blogger just getting into home organic gardening. As a rookie gardener last year, Tania (a friend through blogging circles) won third prize in the individual vegetable garden category in the Philadelphia Horticultural Society's City Gardens Contest. She's also a runner, and a recent entry is about "solid eating for a solid race performance."

San Francisco architect Christine Boles and I were both active in Campus Crusade for Christ at MIT back when. Her blog illustrates some of the creative solutions she and her husband, partners in Beausoleil Architects, have devised to meet the needs of clients while respecting history and the environment. Her latest entry shows how they turned a ground floor room into a garage while preserving the bay window that makes up the historic facade. In an earlier post, she advocates for "deconstruction" and recycling of building materials over demolition and landfill. This was interesting, too: The importance of the oft-overlooked V in HVAC -- ventilation.

Texas State Representative David Simpson (R-Longview) is married to a high school classmate of mine. Last year he defeated an incumbent Republican in the primary and went on to election in November. His blog has only a few entries, but they provide some insight into the 2011 Texas legislative session and the budding conflict between fair-dealer and wheeler-dealer Republicans. He is an author of HB 1937, which would prohibit TSA groping in the absence of probable cause. His article -- Dividing the Apple -- about the tough budget decisions facing the legislature, is worth reading. An excerpt:

Civil government has nothing except that which it takes from We the People. Unlike God, the government cannot create value or substance out of nothing.

When the Federal Reserve with Congress' approval "prints more money," it simply increases the number of federal reserve notes ("dollars") that are being exchanged in our economy for goods and services. The increase in the number of federal reserve notes in circulation does not represent more wealth. It merely divides the same value of goods and services in the economy into smaller parts. If you divide an apple into 4 parts or 8 parts, it is still just one apple.

The Texas legislature cannot create wealth either. It has no money except that which it takes from We the People. It can divide the apple of wealth we enjoy and redistribute it, but it cannot create more apples.

Even so, we are running out of apple. Even after adjusting for inflation and population growth, the portion of the apple that our state government consumes has grown by 45% over the last decade (that number is 87% without any adjustments). As the state's portion has grown, Texas families and businesses have had to settle for a smaller portion to feed themselves.

As first steps to budget cutting, Simpson has called for cutting all corporate welfare from the budget and reducing administrative overhead in the common and higher educational systems. His name popped up in a recent AP story:

Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, put together an odd-couple coalition of Democrats and Republicans to approve an amendment zeroing out funding for the Texas Commission on the Arts and redirecting it to services for the elderly and disabled.

Channeling tea-party-like, populist anger right back at his own leaders, Simpson also has railed against hundreds of millions of dollars in what he calls "corporate welfare." It happens to include Perry's job-luring initiatives, the Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund.

"These parts of the budget are more protected than schools and the weak among us," Simpson said. He failed to redirect the money, but not before raising a stink among Republicans.

Congratulations to Charles G. Hill of dustbury.com, Seigneur de Surlywood, the doyen of Oklahoma bloggers, who marks his 15th anniversary on the World Wide Web today. I hope you'll take a minute to drop by, thank him for blessing us with 15 years of wit and wisdom, and wish him many happy returns of the day.

Charles's interests are wide-ranging -- pop culture and pop music (ancient and modern), politics (local, state, and national), Thunder basketball, urban planning, cars, exotic female footwear, to name but a few. The combination of interests produces enough strange search engine queries to justify a weekly feature highlighting the select strangest. Somehow he manages to write intelligently and amusingly about each topic he takes up. (I envy his brevity; as faithful BatesLine readers are no doubt aware, concision is not my gift.)

Somewhat like the fictional females Charles has cataloged, one of the best features of dustbury.com is... not exactly invisible, but certainly not as visible as the blog. I refer to his weekly column, The Vent, a longer-form essay (but still to-the-point), which also began 15 years ago today. Here's his next-to-latest Vent, a look forward to the site's 20th anniversary. And the one before that: An exegesis of the song "Honey" -- Bobby Goldsboro's 1968 hit -- with a surprising (to me at any rate) conclusion.

Links, on parenting and other topics, hither and yon:

La Shawn Barber marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible with a review of God's Secretaries, Adam Nicolson's book on how this unparalleled influence on the English language and Anglophone culture came into being.

Al Mohler calls attention to a New York Times report that 40% of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion; in the African-American community in New York, the number is 60%. Nationally, 22% of American children are murdered in the womb.

In the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Amy Chua, the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother evangelizes for her rather stern approach to motherhood; Ayelet Waldman answers with a defense of more lenient parenting. (Via Tim Bayly, who also offers the Taiwanese animated version of the dispute.)

Paul Tripp writes that we should never treat opportunities to parent our kids as an interruption. Among other things, this means not treating our kids' foolish behavior as a personal affront.

Our new Miss America, 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan was "home schooled until her junior year because she needed to grow out of being shy as a child." (Via Brandon Dutcher.) Why damage a sensitive girl's love of learning by insisting it be coupled with the relentless cruelty of her peers?

Free Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy writes that the tendency to assume all men are predators puts kids in danger.

Rick Harrison raises questions about the accuracy of GIS databases that indiscriminately aggregate data from a variety of sources; no substitute for a real survey, he says.

Tulsa photographer Emmett Lollis shares his experience of converting his website from HTML to PHP, with all the glorious, gory details.

Good in-depth story by LAWeekly: Zoning changes advertised as innocuous housekeeping are discovered instead to create a presumption against neighborhood protections in Los Angeles:

When he pored over the fine print in the Core Findings Ordinance itself, Brazeman was stunned to discover that rather than the policy-neutral word changes throughout the zoning code that were advertised as the ordinance's purpose, the new phrasing chipped away at community protections in favor of developers.

Within days, Brazeman spent an undisclosed sum to purchase full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News, issuing a warning to residents that zoning code protections were being undone citywide. His cell phone was soon jammed by callers ready to join his effort to publicly call out the Core Findings Ordinance.

(Via Mickey Kaus on Twitter.)

Finally, Skip Oliva calls attention to "eight crazy constitutional scenarios" including the 25th Amendment loophole that could allow the president to be recalled under congressional authorization. (Via Tim Carney on Twitter.)

Here are some links, briefly introduced, to blog entries of interest around Oklahoma. A few may be a month or two old, which is a reflection on how far behind I am.

First, some blogs that are not necessarily new, but they're new to me and are worth a visit:

Joy Franklin is a Stephens County-based photographer, and her blog Expedition Oklahoma is filled with beautiful photographs of our great state. A few recent entries: the Glancy Motel on Route 66 in Clinton, an old abandoned family farm, Monument Hill, on the Chisholm Trail near Addington.

If you're on Facebook, you should go and "like" Expedition Oklahoma. As of yesterday, I was the fifth "like-er" and Joy's work deserves far more recognition than that. You can also follow @ExpeditionOK on Twitter. Although I'm only a rank amateur photographer, I can identify with a couple of her tweets from earlier today:

I think I enjoy photography because it takes away the need to have a friend to go places with you. #sadbuttrue

I can be a loner without looking like a loser. #photography #cameraismyfriend

Random Dafydd grew up in Tulsa is based in Bartlesville. In addition to his main blog he has blogs devoted to Tulsa Architectural History, medieval art and medievalism, his work as a surgical technologist, and Celtic and British folk music. I liked his latest entry on "The Weekend Scrub":

The surgeon gave me the specimen, said it was ileum. A bit later the circulator asked me what we calling the specimen. I told her ileum, or Troy, her choice. She said "Oh".

Nobody gets my jokes.

An entry from May explains why our legislature should encourage the widespread deployment of defibrillators by providing unqualified immunity to owners of the devices, notwithstanding the self-serving objections of the trial lawyers:

If you have a heart attack in public, what is your chance of survival? It depends. If there is not a defibrillator near by, 6%. If there is one, 50%. Modern defribillators are marvels. It takes five minutes of training to learn how to use one. Actually, since they are designed to talk the uninitiated though the process it doesn't even take that....

Many states offer some form of immunity to owners of defibrillators. If a local convenience store owner buys one, and has to use it, and the patient dies, then the store owner can't be sued, even if the store owner used the device incorrectly. California offers qualified immunity. The store owner only has immunity if they jump through several hoops, including training employees in the use of the devices and monthly checks of the equipment for good working order, and developing a written plan for their use. Failure to jump through every hoop loses the store owner immunity and exposes them to liability. Of course, standing there and watching the customer die exposes the store owner to no liability at all. Given his legal environment, many business owners rationally choose to not buy defibrillators.

Now for some quick links:

Natasha Ball reviews a kid- and parent-friendly cafe recently opened in Owasso.

Tulsa Food Blog suggests you pick up a cup of coffee from a locally owned coffeehouse on your way to see the spectacular Christmas light display at the Rhema campus in Broken Arrow. In the comments, I pointed out that Stonewood Coffee and Tea Company is just a mile or so from Rhema, on the east side of 161st East Ave (Elm Pl), just north of the Broken Arrow Expressway.

Steven Roemerman says that the T in Bartlett stands for Totally Inept (twice), particularly when it comes to river development in Tulsa, referring to the December 3 open letter from Jerry Gordon, who developed the Jenks Riverwalk and apparently was working on a similar plan for city-owned land in Tulsa. You can see a sketch of Gordon's concept (named "Belt Street River District) at the bottom of his website's Projects page. (The sketch is via Nick Roberts, who was unimpressed.)

Man of the West has an extended quote from Bones of Contention about Rudolf Virchow, a renowned late 19th c. German anthropologist and the father of the science of pathology, and his diagnosis that the first Neanderthal skeleton was that of a victim of rickets.

Preserve Midtown believes that timely code enforcement with meaningful penalties would prevent wasteful demolition of neglected older homes. When an irresponsible owner allows a house to fall to pieces, the city winds up condemning and demolishing it at taxpayer expense and the basis for ad valorem tax drops to the value of the bare ground. If demolition is unavoidable, Preserve Midtown suggests giving an opportunity to salvage architectural elements and materials (e.g. hardwood flooring, bathroom fixtures) that would otherwise go to the landfill. I'm reminded of a suggestion Recycle Michael Patton made some years ago -- charge those seeking a demolition permit for the full cost of disposing of the debris.

Mike McCarville is keeping up with developments as Oklahoma's newly elected officials and new legislative leaders name their teams. A recent entry lists the members of the Senate Redistricting Committee named by Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Brian Bingman. Sen. Dan Newberry (R-Tulsa) will be the point man for northeast Oklahoma, freshman Sen. Kim David (R-Wagoner) will head up the congressional redistricting committee, and Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre (D-Tulsa) will be one of the co-vice chairmen representing the Democrat minority.

Stan Geiger came across his mother's 1952 tax return and crunches some numbers that illustrate the huge rise in the Social Security tax rate. He says there his mom has more documents from that period that he may analyze; I hope he will. I can't think of anything better than original documents from the past to put the present in proper perspective.

Nick Roberts has posted his wishlist for central Oklahoma City development in the coming year. The blog entry packs some great urban analysis. It's sad to read how OKC is squandering the Core2Shore opportunity with superblocks (which never work) and poor placement of the convention center. He's also worried about development stalling in Bricktown and the city's failure to follow through on plans to promote downtown housing growth. (I don't appreciate his frequent call for OKCers with bad urban planning ideas to be sent to Tulsa. We don't need them here either!)

While the Republican Party has a quadrennial convention, which not only conducts the official business of the party but provides a networking opportunity for activists, elected officials, bloggers, consultants and others connected with the conservative movement, many conservative non-profit groups hold events every year that allow the networking to continue between Republican National Conventions. CPAC is the oldest such conference, but many more have sprung up in recent years, each with its own focus and target audience, but with considerable overlap.

Last weekend, for the first time ever, I attended a national event targeting conservative activists -- BlogCon 2010, sponsored by FreedomWorks. It was wonderful to meet political bloggers from all over the country, the conference panels were full of interesting and valuable information, and the social events were great fun. I don't recall hearing a word of grumbling about the weekend from anyone.

Some of the bloggers at BlogCon have attended many of these other conservative conferences. Many of them were at Red State Gathering in Austin this weekend. Others stayed in Washington for Values Voter Summit or went to Chicago for Right Nation. Many were at Right Online in July and plan to be at CPAC next February.

As a way of keeping all these different events straight, I've put together a list of national conservative events that have occurred or are scheduled for 2010. Let me know if there are any that I've missed.

Each item in the list includes dates, conference name (with link if available), location, and sponsoring organization. Where appropriate, I may add a summary of the conference's target audience and emphasis.

More video from the 9/12 March on Washington, this time from the rally point at the beginning of the march, northeast of the Washington Monument.

Stand-up comic Stephen Kruiser is a blogger, has appeared on Fox News "Red Eye," has a show called "Kruiser Control" on PJTV.com, writes for Big Hollywood and Big Journalism, and performs in military outposts around the world with Armed Forces Entertainment. He's also a conservative activist, helping to organize Tea Party events in Los Angeles and participating in events like Right Online, BlogCon, and the 9/12 March. He's on Twitter, too, and he and Melissa Clouthier led a BlogCon session on how to make the best use of Twitter.

Here's Stephen Kruiser's talk to the Tea Party activists gathered to march in support of limited government, and his theme comes from a Thomas Jefferson quote: "I own that I am not a friend to an energetic government. It is always oppressive." Our job, he said, is to be the Government's Xanax. We're also here "to make sure the Federal behemoth doesn't get any fatter."

If you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, there's a bit you'll especially enjoy about 5 minutes in.

(NOTE: All the videos I've posted of the march were taken by me with a Flip camera. FreedomWorks loaned several out to BlogCon bloggers to help us cover the event. This was only the second video I took, and you can tell I'm still getting used to it.)

Thanks to the hard work of FreedomWorks new media director Tabitha Hale, BlogCon's tireless organizer, intern Sarah Desprat, and the rest of the FreedomWorks staff, the 175 bloggers at the event got to relax and enjoy the program and one another's company. As a result, most of us didn't do much actual blogging. One notable exception was DaTechGuy, who would break away now and then from the mingling and schmoozing to interview bloggers, taking photos, and uploading multimedia to his site.

He was kind enough to interview me on Thursday, the first day of the event, as we were waiting for the start of a meet-and-greet between bloggers and Republican congressional staff. Click here to watch DaTechGuy's interview with me. Visit his "Field Guide to Bloggers" category to see more interviews, including a very strange interview with Iowahawk.

By the way, in real life, DaTechGuy is a tech guy, the kind that can fix your PC. He can even fix your PC from the other side of the world. Read all about the services he offers here.

Just a quick note to mention that I'll be at the 9/12 March on Washington this afternoon, along with many of the other BlogCon attendees. You can read live updates on the BatesLine Twitter feed and by searching for the hashtag #912dc. A number of us will be shooting video as well, but look for that later in the day.

The first ever BlogCon, sponsored by FreedomWorks, has been a huge success. FreedomWorks new media director Tabitha Hale put together an event that was fun and highly worthwhile. On Thursday, bloggers had a chance to get face to face with congressional staffers -- how they can do a better job of working with us, which begins with understanding how we differ from traditional media.

Friday was packed with excellent seminars, many of which were more technological than political -- for example, how to make more effective use of Twitter, the role of humor in blogging, and the amazing capabilities of WordPress and its many plugins. (I'm now very tempted to switch, and it appears there's a plugin that makes it possible to migrate without breaking old links.) Matt Kibbe delivered an informative lunchtime lecture on Austrian economics. The day was capped off with a left-right debate at the Newseum.

Saturday morning we got a bit of a respite, which I used to visit some nearby friends who have a brand new baby. In the afternoon, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and FreedomWorks head Matt Kibbe held a book signing for their new book Give Us Liberty. That evening a bunch of us attended the premiere of a new movie by Citizens United and Newt Gingrich called "America at Risk: The War with No Name." All of us bloggers were badly underdressed for what turned out to be a gala occasion. The film was introduced by Citizens United head David Bossie and Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista.

Every evening has concluded with informal socializing, a great opportunity to connect faces and real-life personalities with Twitter handles. Among many memorable conversations, my favorite may be talking to Iowahawk, who digs Tulsa and mid-century modern architecture.

You can get a sense of the event by looking at the Twitter hashtag #blogcon.

Blog Con 2010

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I'm excited to be in Arlington, Va., for Blog Con, a conference for political bloggers presented by FreedomWorks. From the organization's "about" page:

What We Do

FreedomWorks recruits, educates, trains and mobilizes millions of volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom.

Why We Do It

FreedomWorks believes individual liberty and the freedom to compete increases consumer choices and provides individuals with the greatest control over what they own and earn.

How We Do It

FreedomWorks' aggressive, real-time campaigns activate a growing and permanent volunteer grassroots army to show up and demand policy change.

This is the first national bloggers' conference I've attended, and it's my first chance to meet up with bloggers from across the country since the 2008 Republican National Convention. Friday's program will be filled with interesting talks from the leading voices in the conservative blogosphere. On Sunday, we'll be attending the 9.12 March at the Capitol. Hundreds of thousands participated in last year's march, a protest against a wasteful and bloated federal government.

I will be writing here about the conference on a nightly basis, but for more immediate updates, follow the BatesLine Twitter stream and the #blogcon Twitter feed.

Busy weekend -- no time to do much more than to pass along some interesting links:

Ace of Spades HQ: Hoyer: Expiration of Bush Tax Cuts = "Republican Tax Increase": The House Majority (not for long) Leader tries to sell the idea that its the Republicans' fault that their tax cuts will expire, the tax cuts passed during the Bush administration which the Democrats blocked from being made permanent.

Doug Dawg's Blog: Oklahoma City Area History: Not the history of the OKC vicinity, but the history of the square mileage of Oklahoma City, which reached its peak at 680 sq. mi. and once reached into 6 counties before retreating a bit.

TulsaGal has a history mystery to sort out: What happened to the World War II monument in Veteran's Park?

Howard Kozloff, writing in newgeography has some ideas on what to do with surplus real estate in resort towns:

Most stalled or dead projects were geared to higher-end buyers searching for second, or third or fourth, homes. As the lenders and creditors seize these assets and write down their values after taking heavy losses, perhaps there is an opportunity to reposition them and solve both worker housing demand and over supply of second homes.

Lileks Lint: How good's your '70s pop music knowledge? Identify the faces in an ad for Capitol Record Club. I think I've figured out all but three.

New York Times: Media Decoder: How Did William Shatner Interview a D.C. Sniper? He Asked.

Yes, it was Mr. Shatner, the "Star Trek" actor and Priceline negotiator, who interviewed Mr. Malvo and found out that the snipers claim to have committed dozens of other shootings, some with co-conspirators.

"It was the most electrifying 20 minutes I've ever spent on the phone," Mr. Shatner said in an interview Thursday.

The interview was conducted for "Aftermath," Mr. Shatner's new series on the Biography Channel. The series, which Mr. Shatner said he conceived and sold to the channel, is about the human leftovers of the 24/7 news cycle.

Best comment on the story, by PeteBDawg of Cambridge, MA:

If you were a sniper who had killed a bunch of random people and were sitting in prison, and somebody told you William Shatner was on the phone, of course you'd talk to him. I have no idea why that makes perfect sense, but it makes perfect sense. It's like the man has preternatural authority of some sort - like he's an angel from a low-key and unconcerned God who doesn't hold grudges and appreciates the ridiculous.

Old but still interesting: The Syncher, Not the Song: The Irresistable Rise of the Numa Numa Dance -- how a Moldovan pop song became the soundtrack for one of the biggest viral videos ever: "Brolsma's video singlehandedly justifies the existence of webcams.... It's a movie of someone who is having the time of his life, wants to share his joy with everyone, and doesn't care what anyone else thinks."

mental_floss: Drink Up! The Stories Behind 11 Regional Soft Drinks: Cheerwine, Moxie, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, Big Red, Green River, Belfast Sparkling Cider, Ale-8-One, Blenheim Ginger Ale, Vernors, Hires Root Beer, Sun Drop. I suspect most of them are available at Pops or Ida Red. (HT @randalljweiss)

ReadWriteWeb: Study: Youth Not Only Care About Facebook Privacy, They Do Something About It:

The research finds that "most" Facebook users modified their privacy settings at least once in 2009, with this practice only becoming more common as time went on, increasing for both frequent and less frequent users. "This suggests that either Facebook's changes to the site or the public discussion about them that took place between 2009 and 2010 -- or a combination of the two -- may have influenced people's practices," reads the report.

A couple of poignantly funny bits from The Onion:

Plan To Start Little Stationery Store Too Sad For Bank To Deny Loan
New Robot Capable Of Unhealthily Repressing Emotion: "...the robot instantly performs millions of computations to ensure feelings of unresolved anger and simmering resentment remain deeply buried within its complex circuitry.... with its superior processing power, the robot could apply for clerical work and settle for the nearest available partner 10,000 times faster than a human being."

Houldsworth's Ramblings: The Price of Fear: Our fear-driven legal environment is strangling freedom and creativity.

"The Law" can be a powerful driver of human behavior, and when laws are permissive and easy to understand, society and business can flourish. But years of highly publicized frivolous lawsuits has given people justifiable cause to be fearful. I could give examples but...there is no need, everyone has their own favorites.

In reality, the number of successful crazy cases is small, but they change behavior. For example, after a highly publicized suit against Microsoft, I was not allowed to keep any consultants on site for more than 9 months, even though it took those consultants between 3-6 months just to get up to speed. Inefficient and unnecessary, but a response to fear of "The Law".

(Via Lenore Skenazy of FreeRangeKids -- a blog devoted to combating fearful overreaction to unlikely dangers.)

Beregond's Bar: Today Would Have Been Our Anniversary: A touching story of love and loss: a story that begins with a 300 baud modem and a trip to the ER on the first date and ends with her sudden death after seeing him through a prolonged life-threatening illness:

Giving everything to take care of the ones you love is not enough. They love you, too. You're important to them. Taking care of you is part of taking care of the people you love. Yeah, you're busy. Yeah, you've got a million things to do. But do it for the people you love. You're their most important You.

And with that -- take care of yourselves and have a great week.

Tulsans will remember G. W. Schulz as an excellent investigative reporter who wrote for Urban Tulsa Weekly a few years ago. He left UTW to go back to the San Francisco Bay Area where he now works for the Center for Investigative Reporting. CIR is launching Elevated Risk, a new blog devoted to shining a spotlight on the U. S. Department of Homeland Security. In the introductory post, Schulz asks some good, hard questions of DHS:

It's time, for example, to ask: Why did a Terrorist Screening Center, thousands of additional airport security officers, behavior detection specialists, ambitious technology investments and multiple intelligence-gathering operations not stop a young radical from nearly killing 290 people on Christmas Day in 2009?

Why are state and federal authorities still struggling to respond to natural disasters after the federal government handed out more than $30 billion in preparedness grants?

What happened to the high-tech surveillance system that was supposed to guard the country's southern border? The Obama Administration embraced the plan to line the border with fences, remote sensors and surveillance cameras at a cost of hundreds of millions. Then, just weeks ago, the administration showed signs that it was bailing out.

The litany of department missteps is an embarrassment.

- The $9 million spent on ice that FEMA allowed to melt on a Texas airfield.
- The $110 million in spending on conferences over a three-year stretch.
- The tens of millions spent on technology that sits unused in warehouses across the country.
- The inability to install a leader at the head of the Transportation Security Administration.

And it's time to ask if Americans are giving away too many freedoms central to their identities as U.S. citizens in exchange for costly and intrusive security programs that may not protect them.

Keep your eyes on Elevated Risk for answers.

A couple of days ago someone sent out an apparently pseudonymous email attacking a local media personality. This email was sent to a whole bunch of local bloggers, activists, publishers, and competing media personalities, challenging us to have the courage to publish his allegations and expose this person as a phony:

Let's see which of you have the stones to expose the truth about [media personality].

Sir or madam, if you had any stones, you wouldn't wait on me or Jamison Faught or Mike McCarville or MeeCiteeWurkor or Charlie Biggs to put this info on the web.

  1. Go to http://www.blogger.com
  2. Click "CREATE A BLOG."
  3. Follow the instructions.

If you have confidence in this information and want it made public, publish it yourself. If you think it's important for the public to know, put it on the web where Google will index it. Sure, if it turns out that your information is false and you know it, putting it on the web would be considered an aggravation of libel, but you've already committed yourself by sending the email to a couple dozen media people, so if it's that important to you, prove it by publishing it yourself instead of expecting someone else to take the risk for you.

2009-ok-blog-pol-con.jpgJust a quick note on the run: Many thanks to my fellow Oklahoma bloggers for honoring BatesLine with the Best Political Blog (Conservative) award. I'm particularly honored given the competition -- second place went to the excellent McCarville Report. (Happy anniversary, Mike and Ann!) And congratulations to the rest of the honorees for the 2009 Okie Blog Awards. I was especially pleased to see Dustbury honored as Best Veteran Blogger, Tasha Does Tulsa recognized with two awards -- best Tulsa blog and best culture blog -- and Erin Conrad Photography for best blog design. Irritated Tulsan had a couple of second place finishes, but as a weekly contributor he can claim a share of The Lost Ogle's Most Humorous Blog award.

I'd give more shout-outs, but I have to run. Thanks again to my fellow Okie bloggers for the great honor.

Photographer Erin Conrad has decided to blog every day this month:

That seems like an appropriate thing to do for the shortest month in the year.

Blog every day of it.

So perhaps I should try to do the same -- get back in the habit of posting on a daily basis. (Erin's posts are bound to be prettier than mine, but I'll post anyway.) So here's a roundup:

Speaking of Erin Conrad, she posted a very sweet photo on Sunday.

Tulsa area bloggers are gathering at Joe Momma's Pizza downtown (1st & Elgin) on Thursday, February 4, 2010. 40 bloggers have RSVPed, and now there are some contests and prizes to encourage even more to attend.

@TashaDoesTulsa has a Twitter list of independent Tulsa businesses to which you can subscribe, as well as a list of Twittering Oklahoma bloggers.

One of those blogging tweeters, Cindy W. Morrison, encourages her fellow bloggers to take a 31-day challenge to optimize our blogs with social media.

And if you're an Oklahoma-based blogger, the deadline for nominations for the Okie Blog Awards is Wednesday, February 3, 2010.

Tulsa Gal has a biographical sketch of Alfred E. Aaronson, a founder of the Tulsa Historical Society and leader in the development of Tulsa's city-county library system. Earlier, she took a stroll down Boston Avenue's past.

Irritated Tulsan seeks your votes for January's Tulsan of the Month. And Mr. M (with the munching mouth) frolics in the snow.

Yogi's Den has a collection of stunning photos from the Hubble Space Telescope. Don't be worried by the URL -- it's all safe for work.

You can always find the latest posts from a selection of Tulsa-based blogs on my BatesLine Tulsa headlines page.

Tulsa blogger meetup

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Tasha Does Tulsa, Tulsa Project, and Art of Manliness are sponsoring a Tulsa Blogger Meetup at Joe Momma's Pizza, 1st & Elgin downtown, from 7 - 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 4, 2010. Click the link for details.

Blogger meetups are great fun. It was five years ago this weekend that a number of bloggers from around the state and elsewhere gathered at a coffee house in Oklahoma City for an informal "Okie blogger bash." There have been a couple of statewide blogger roundups since then.

I hope to be at this one and will, barring a conflict with business travel, kid activities, or Mom's night out. While this is a Tulsa blogger meetup, I'm sure any blogger with the ambition to travel to the event from outside the city limits would be welcomed warmly.

RELATED: Nominations are open, through February 2, for the 2009 Okie Blog Awards, founded by OkieDoke's Mike Hermes and administered this year by Jennifer James (aka JenX67). Just like the Academy Awards, the Okie Blog Awards are nominated by active Oklahoma bloggers and only active Oklahoma bloggers are eligible to vote. (That link explains precisely who qualifies to participate.)

Grief, observed

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Two recent posts on the subject of grief, both by Oklahoma bloggers, deserve your attention.

C. Michael Patton (the theologian from Edmond, not the recycler from Tulsa) lost a sister to suicide six years ago. He was encouraged to write a "grief letter" to his sister and to share it, so he's posted it to his blog. He writes of her encouragement to him as he pursued teaching theology, her struggling with doubt and depression, and how her tragic death has fired his passion for grounding people in solid theology, as a way of preparing them to deal with the inevitable grief and loss of this life.

Those of you who followed Brandon and Susie Dutcher's blog through the roller coaster of their daughter Anne Marie's brief life have seen up close how that works. In the latest entry, Susie writes about
the help and encouragement that has come during this time of deep sorrow -- help from the Bible, from others who have lost babies, from books and sermons. (She links to several helpful sermons by John Piper, whom she says "is about the best when it comes on teaching and preaching on sovereignty and suffering.") She concludes:

So yes, help has come. The awful pain is still there, and seems only to get worse because I miss Anne Marie more and more each day. But sometimes I forget that if it didn't hurt so bad then it wouldn't be called suffering. And in this suffering, God is helping me "to feel in my bones and not just know in my head that God is for me" and that "behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face."

It's been too long since I've done this, and here I'm going to try to do it on three hours sleep. My day is just about to end as yours is getting started. Here are some posts of interest from blogs in Tulsa and around Oklahoma:

Tasha Does Tulsa has a list of things to do around town now that your kids are off school because of the bitterly cold temperatures for Thursday and Friday. I'm intrigued by the Sand Springs Museum's exhibit of classic toys.

Mad Okie wonders about the "mother" depicted in a frequently-seen internet ad.

Mike McCarville has the latest on Army Lt. Michael Behenna of Edmond, who was sentenced to 20 years for killing an al-Qaeda operative in Iraq. Behenna is seeking clemency and also appealing the verdict on the grounds that the prosecution withheld expert testimony that would have exonerated Behenna.

Pollster extraordinaire Chris Wilson links to news that portable electronic signature gathering equipment is being developed by a Silicon Valley firm called Verafirma. The idea is to make it easier to solicit signatures using social media and gather signatures using smartphone apps. Wilson asks, "Are we ready for this?"

At Choice Remarks, Brandon Dutcher links to a quote from Lt. Gov. Jari Askins about the fiscal wisdom of the HOPE initiative, on the ballot in November, given the current economic realities. The initiative would peg Oklahoma education expenditures to those of surrounding states. According to a story in the Edmond Sun, a study by the Oklahoma House of Representatives indicates HOPE's passage would require a 40% tax increase or a 20% across-the-board cut of non-educational spending.

On his personal blog, Brandon says his daughter's avid interest in Sports Illustrated is "another reason to come courtin'."

Laurel Kane, owner of the Route 66 landmark Afton Station, traveled down Admiral Pl. in Tulsa, a Route 66 alignment from 1926-1932, looking for roadside history and snapped a few photos in the process. (Admiral was also the alignment for State Highway 33 and -- at various times -- US 75 and US 169, so it continued to attract roadside development long after 66 was shifted to 11th St.)

Emily, the Red Fork Hippie Chick, is looking for activist songs as part of a unit for her class. She knows a lot of left-leaning songs, but she wants to be balanced, so she's looking for songs from a conservative perspective (and not just -- Irritated Tulsa will be pleased to know -- "Toby Keith bleat[ing] about putting a boot up somebody's arse"). She's also looking for items people are willing to loan to create a hippie decor for her classroom.

Speaking of Irritated Tulsan, he has a list of Tulsa's top 10 places not to wake up dead. And his weekly Tulsa Tuesday post at The Lost Ogle reports "Downtown YMCA Moves, Creates Really-Homeless People."

Tyson Wynn gloats about the Corporation Commission's decision to use an overlay instead of a split to handle the 918's lack of available phone numbers. (My friend Dana Murphy was the only commissioner to vote the sensible way -- for a split. Area codes should indicate area.)

Lots of interesting articles on all manner of topics by Lynn Sislo over at Violins and Starships and by Charles G. Hill at Dustbury. But you knew that already, or should have. Lynn has a list of 12 things that every woman needs, including a "lifetime supply of drama repellent." Charles reports that he has written over 2 million words, and that's just since the start of his second decade of blogging.

Straight Shooter shares her two New Year's resolutions.

Yogi, lucky fellow, got to hear Hot Club of Cowtown at Cain's Ballroom last Saturday night.

Finally, The Pioneer Woman turns 41 today and has posted a gallery of old photos (with old hairstyles) to mark the occasion.

One the blogs I added to my list of favorites last year is The Other McCain. The eponymous author, journalist Robert Stacy McCain, was a long-time writer and editor for The Washington Times, a dead-tree newspaper that began a steep decline about the time of his departure. McCain began blogging, and in less than two years reached 3 million hits.

The Other McCain covers national politics from a conservative perspective. Stacy McCain's approach is aggressive but infused with humor (much of it self-deprecating), and he's willing to burn shoe leather to go after a story. (A couple of examples from the site's previous incarnation on blogspot.com: His on-the-scene reporting from the NY 23rd Congressional District special election and from eastern Kentucky on the census worker suicide staged to look like a hate crime.) There's even something endearing about his relentless rattling of the tip jar. His co-blogger, Smitty, adds incisive comment that goes beyond the news of the day to consider the long-term picture.

Stacy and Smitty have successfully relaunched The Other McCain with its own domain (theothermccain.com) and with an attractive new design. I've added The Other McCain's new feed to the "headlines" page, so you'll always see links to their latest posts there. (Check the BatesLine headlines page several times a day for the latest links from the best blogs.)

Yet another linkfest: I washed, dried, folded, and distributed seven loads of laundry yesterday, so I'm lagging behind. Meanwhile, Tulsa area bloggers are turning out plenty worth reading.

In a post titled, "Why I am a Republican," Man of the West relates the evolution of his political philosophy, having started out as a Ayn Rand-inspired Libertarian, then moving to a conservative perspective under the influence of the Bible and writers like Francis Schaeffer. He had been registered as an independent, but "In registering Independent, I began to see, I, and other conservatives like me, were actually making it easier for the Republican Party to continue its slide into political and philosophical incoherence." He came to see the Republican Party as the only hope for promoting and electing officials who would pursue conservative policies.

So I changed my registration to Republican. I vote in the primaries, and I always vote for the most conservative candidate available. But please understand: it's not the Republican Party per se that matters to me; it's the election of conservative candidates. The Republican Party is not my nation, and certainly not my God. The Republican Party is merely a vehicle. And if and when that vehicle isn't getting me where I want to go, I feel free to abandon it, or its candidates.

And that brings him to the impending election:

At the time of writing, there's a candidate for Tulsa mayor--Dewey Bartlett, Jr.--that campaigned in the primary as a "conservative," despite having previously endorsed a pretty liberal Democrat for re-election, despite having supported some very questionable local governmental maneuvers, and having, in his first ads, made rather obvious reference to local conservatives via referring to people's partisanship and "bickering." In my estimation, he appears to have less loyalty to the Republican Party than I do--I certainly never endorsed Kathy Taylor's re-election--and is running as a "conservative" for no other reason than that he knows that being a liberal is political poison in this city. In his case, the vehicle isn't getting me where I want to go, and I refuse to put any "gas"--money or time--into it.

Elsewhere in the Tulsa blogosphere:

Steven Roemerman doesn't like Lucky Lamons's legislation to require pseudoephedrine to be sold only by prescription and he points out the unintended consequences of restrictions on pseudoephedrine sales. (I agree with Steven that phenylephrine -- the drug being substituted for pseudoephedrine in many cold products -- just isn't as good at unblocking sinuses.)

Don Danz has some sweet photos of his boys, including his middle son's third birthday and his smallest learning to pray.

Scot Law remembers his uncle, pianist Larry Dalton, in the latest episode of Goodbye Tulsa.

The Pioneer Woman has some reassuring words for those suffering from the October Homeschooling Blues.

Stan Geiger takes a closer look at what the stimulus money coming to Oklahoma is actually stimulating:

From down the turnpike, Steve Lackmeyer's OKC Central blog presents a post on Oklahoma City's future by Nick Roberts. Nick thinks the core-to-shore plan needs to be reworked, but beyond his interesting ideas on that topic, I really like this guiding principle that he sets out:

In order to visualize Downtown OKC in 2020 we have to visualize Downtown OKC in 2000, and 1990, and so on. Most importantly I think we need to visualize Downtown OKC in 1920, 1930, and 1940. OKC needs to go back to the future to a time when it had excellent downtown parks, a great streetcar network, and downtown vibrancy.
Links from bloggers and websites in Tulsa and around Oklahoma:

MeeCiteeWurkor looks at a traffic fatality that killed a bicyclist. The trail led to the Sinclair refinery parking lot and the question: Does Sinclair Hire Illegal Aliens?

An 1829 letter from President Andrew Jackson, informing leaders of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations that they would have to leave the southern states, has been found. (Via Blair Humphreys.)

Yogi gives a panhandler his lunch and ponders whether shelters and soup kitchens are enablers rather than true helps: Yogi's Den: A Homeless Guy, Leviticus 23:22, and my Lunch

Tasha suggests several more ways to get to know Tulsa, including Twitter and parenthood.

Emily was given a lovely 1946 linen postcard of Tulsa's Webster High School.

Stephen and Elizabeth Thompson spent a week touring famed diners and dives around Oklahoma and Kansas, and recorded the results in their blog Foodies Gone Wild: Oklahoma & Kansas edition.

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane has a new costumed mascot, replacing old mascot Huffy the Hurricane, Powdered Toast Man's doppelganger.

aRdent Voice wants you to see his wife Lori Sears' portrait drawings

Freedom of Information Oklahoma has some interesting stories:


Remember Marc Sherman, who was a midday talk show host on KRMG? He has a blog: Marc's True News

Jason Kearney considers the case of a Tulsa youth pastor on "The Biggest Loser" and asks Is It a Sin To Be Fat? (And congrats to Jason on his third blogiversary.)

TulsaGal has the story (with photos) of Tate Brady, namesake of Tulsa's Brady Street, and some wonderful photos and information on the Akdar Theatre, which later became Leon McAuliffe's Cimarron Ballroom.


Irritated Tulsan's guest poster bestandworstofokc offers 10 ways to annoy your coworkers.

Stan Geiger thinks high-speed trains might work in the Los Angeles / Las Vegas corridor but has reasons to doubt their utility in connecting Tulsa to Oklahoma City.

Bill Yates, who blogs about neuroscience research, has a surprising post about children, video games, and attention.

Jack Lewis remembers the way the basketball coach pushed his own son to excel and draws a lesson from that about God's love for His childrenCatoosa's Coach Commisky and God's love

Welcome, new readers! Click this link to read the blog article in question regarding Dewey Bartlett Jr's divorce filings and what his own side's assertions tell us about his financial acumen. Did Bartlett Jr fairly characterize what I posted? Read the article and the accompanying documents for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Then read my response to Bartlett Jr below.

On Thursday, September 3, 2009, at about 2:45 pm Tulsa mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr filed an application to seal the record of his 2002 divorce case against his first wife. The order was handed down at 3:09 pm, signed and entered by Judge Rodney B. Sparkman at 4:25 pm.

Part of the record -- the trial transcript from January 2004 -- was already under seal. From the docket report, it appears that this seal was placed in September 2004, when Bartlett was running against Tom Adelson for the open State Senate District 33 seat.

Yesterday (September 4, 2009) afternoon at about 4 pm, I received a call from Tulsa World reporter Brian Barber, who informed me about the seal and about Bartlett's comments and asked me for my reaction. My response was fairly reported in the story by Brian Barber and Bill Braun in this morning's edition.

Dewey Bartlett Jr doesn't seem to have looked at what I posted, as what he and his attorneys are saying about that information is not accurate. Let's take his claims point by point:

"I have no desire to hide anything from public record," Bartlett told the Tulsa World, but he called the bloggers' actions irresponsible. "I am glad for any member of the legitimate media to have total access to that information."

The first statement seems to be contradicted by his action on Thursday, asking a judge to block the public record of his divorce from public scrutiny, and by his decision in 2002 to style the case using his and his wife's first initials rather than their full names, making the case more difficult for the public to locate.

Secondly, there's only one blogger who has posted anything from the public record of his divorce. That would be me, and I feel I was very responsible and selective as to what I posted. There was far more material that I viewed but decided not to post because it was irrelevant to what in my judgment were the newsworthy aspects of the file.

Third, his use of the term "legitimate media" should alarm Tulsa media outlets of every type. The phrase suggests that only he should get to choose which outlets he considers legitimate and should have "total access to that information." I would hope that organizations like Media Bloggers Association and Freedom of Information Oklahoma would recognize this kind of talk as disrespect for, if not an actual threat to, public access to public records and freedom of the press for all Americans, not just for "officially approved" media outlets.

Now for the next statement in need of correction:

The application for an order to immediately seal the record, filed by Bartlett's attorneys, states that "the file contains sensitive personal financial information such as account numbers, which are being publicly disseminated on the Internet by certain persons who post political blogs."

As far as I can determine via search engines, BatesLine is the only website or blog on which information about Bartlett Jr's divorce has been posted.

Furthermore, the information I posted did NOT contain any account numbers or any other sensitive personal financial information. As I mentioned in the entry, I was careful to redact three bank account numbers which appeared on a single page of the original document. No other sensitive identifying information appeared anywhere in the documents that I posted. (For example, I did not see any Social Security IDs or driver's license numbers anywhere in the documents I examined, much less in the documents I posted.)

As for the sensitivity of the financial information, Bartlett Jr's May 16, 2003, motion for summary judgment contains information about transactions that all occurred at least seven years ago. Most of these transactions involve real estate that he no longer owns, a trust that has been distributed, and a company that has been liquidated. The filing contains the names of companies in which he had (in December 2002) an ownership interest, and to the extent that he, a candidate for mayor, is still invested in these companies, it is a matter of public interest.

Most of the 18-page main body of Bartlett Jr's motion for summary judgment is devoted to a brief that cites other divorce cases as precedent for Bartlett Jr's claims of separate vs. marital property. There isn't any personal information about Bartlett Jr in that part of the brief, but those citations of earlier cases do highlight the public importance of a given divorce case beyond the public matter of the dissolution of a single marriage. Precedent plays a central role in our legal system, and the facts of a case and the decision rendered by the judge in that case are fodder for attorneys' arguments in future cases.

Bartlett's next claim:

But there is a difference between government records and personal records that contain sensitive financial information, not just about his family, but former and current business partners, as well, [Bartlett Jr] said.

"I was quite disturbed to find all of that was being disseminated on the Web," Bartlett said.

"Ninety-nine percent of our fellow citizens are honest and good people. It's that 1 percent that I didn't want to give the opportunity to unfairly use that information to help themselves and hurt a lot of others."

The only former partner mentioned in these documents is his first wife. The companies mentioned are Keener Oil Company (KOC), the Bartlett family business which was "essentially liquidated" "in the first six months of 1994"; Keener Oil and Gas Company, the business that Bartlett Jr founded around the same time; Sage Properties Ltd., a real estate lot development partnership in which he was invested; and Lumen Oil Co., a company acquired by KOC, shares of which were received by Bartlett Jr and other KOC shareholders. Lumen and Sage don't appear to have a presence on the web, if indeed they still exist. The documents I posted don't even identify the states in which these entities were incorporated. There are, in what I posted, generic references to different sorts of investment accounts and financial institutions, but nothing that identifies specific account numbers or any other identifying information that could be used in identity theft.

While there may be good cause to seal some documents in the file or to redact bits of information from some pages of some documents because of the presence of account numbers and other identifying information, the reported claim by Bartlett Jr and his attorneys that "bloggers" have posted such sensitive identifying information on the Internet or disseminated that information in any way is false. Bartlett Jr is indirectly accusing me of doing something that I did not do. Had he looked at the information I posted, that would have been blindingly obvious.

Some of the information I posted may well be embarrassing to Bartlett Jr, to the extent that it may contradict the image of successful businessman and job creator that has been set forth in the marketing of his candidacy. But what I posted doesn't fit the false picture that Bartlett Jr and his attorneys have painted.

MORE: The World story mentions that Bartlett is one of several candidates who signed FOI Oklahoma's transparency pledge. Medlock for Mayor campaign manager Howie Morgan e-mailed in response:

If Dewey signed the FOI pledge, he did it in the last 2 days. His name was not on the list when I looked at their page on Thursday Sept. 3. And they put us on the web within an hour of our signing.

September 3 is the date that Bartlett Jr applied to have his divorce case sealed.

If you follow BatesLine on Twitter (and you should), you'll have seen my tweet yesterday about Americans United for Life live-blogging the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. AUL has a legal focus, researching state and federal legislation, court cases, and court nominations that affect issues like abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia.

As soon as the nomination was announced AUL launched Sotomayor411, which provides the paper trail to show that, as bad as Justice David Souter has been on life issues, Sotomayor would be far worse. Another site, AskSotomayor.com, listed AUL's top ten questions for senators to ask the nominee and asked readers to vote for their favorite.

Veteran pro-life blogger Dawn Eden, AUL's Senior Fellow for Publications and New Media Outreach, is providing the Judiciary Committee play-by-play, with commentary from AUL president Charmaine Yoest. Eden is well-known for her thorough research on pro-life issues and for her knack for brevity, honed by years of headline writing for New York tabloids.

Here are a couple of updates from Okla. Sen. Tom Coburn's questioning of Sotomayor:

12:24 p.m. - Coburn continues critiquing Sotomayor's past statements. "You've taken the oath already twice, and if confirmed, will take it again." Reminds her of what the oath says -- "I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties ..." Notes that it doesn't reference foreign law, whereas Sotomayor has said we should take foreign law into consideration.

12:23 p.m. - Coburn says concerns over Sotomayor's past statements will guide his questioning. Is "deeply concerned" by Sotomayor's saying the law is "uncertain" and her praise for an "unpredictable" system of justice. We want justice to be predictable, he says.

Even if you aren't concerned about the sanctity of human life, a Supreme Court nominee who looks beyond the written Constitution and laws to "empathy" and foreign precedents as a basis for her rulings is a threat to the life, liberty, and property of every American, whether born or unborn.

Beyond the life-and-death issues at stake in these hearings, what AUL is doing should be of interest to organizations looking for social media best practices. Just as food needs to digested down into nutrients to get into circulation and reach all parts of the body, a complex news story needs to be digested into pieces that can easily be circulated via blogs and Twitter. There are sympathetic bloggers and Twitter users willing to spread the word, but they don't have time to do the digesting themselves.

Many organizations blast out detailed press releases to bloggers by e-mail (too often accompanied by unsolicited high-res publicity photos). These releases often sit unread and unblogged because they require too much time and effort to digest and turn into a blog post. They can't be turned into a tweet because the press releases exist only in e-mail and so can't be linked. Brief highlights that can be passed along with a couple of mouse-clicks, accompanied by pointers to more detailed analysis and documentation, are far more useful to a blogger/tweeter and more likely to circulate widely.

As James Lileks tweeted, "You want to be quoted? Speak in Lego pieces, not bolts of cloth."

I have only one suggestion for AUL: Post some of the live-blog updates to Twitter (@AUL) in real-time, with appropriate hashtags (#sotomayor and #sotoshow seem to be the most popular) with a shortened link back to the AUL's Sotomayor hearing live-blog.

Follow Friday has become a tradition for many Twitter users, who take time each Friday to point their followers to at least five other Twitter feeds worth following. Now John Hawkins of Right Wing News is launching the same idea into the blogosphere. Here are my five for this week:

Right Wing News: Frequently updated commentary and links by team of insightful conservative bloggers, led by John Hawkins. (Hey, this was John's idea, why shouldn't he get some links from it?)

news from me: Mark Evanier has spent a long and varied career as a writer in Hollywood for comedy shows and cartoons. Each day he shares anecdotes and clips from classic TV and movies. Here's a clip of the Cone of Silence scene from the pilot episode of Get Smart.

Ida Red: The owners of Cain's Ballroom launched this "rock and roll boutique" in Tulsa's Brookside District last year, specializing in the works of local musicians and local artisans, classic sodas and classic candy. Their blog will tell you about special events and special items on offer, but more importantly they have video from their weekly Thursday night artist sessions. Here's Rockin' Acoustic Circus from April 9 performing "Bethany," "The Tracker," and "A Filly and a Pack of Mules." Here's a bonus video of "The Little Man."

Fear an Iarthair: "Man of the West" offers intelligent commentary on culture and politics. He often shares excerpts from what he's reading; today he offers an excerpt from Russell Kirk's six canons of conservative thought from The Conservative Mind.

New Geography: A website about the economy, demographics, and politics of places. Today the site features the movement toward greater public participation in local land-use decisions:

We have found that the best engagement efforts invite the most diverse and representative group of residents possible, give them information from a variety of perspectives, and facilitate discussions in such a way that forces participants to wrestle with the issues in the same way planners, city managers, and city councils must.

At their worst, such "participatory planning" campaigns are pre-ordained and, therefore, manipulative. Organizers can hold this control whether they're inside government, or, like environmental groups and developers, outside of it. Explicit stakeholders, from developers to environmentalists to city officials, are most effectively engaged in the early stages, serving as an "advisory group", helping to formulate the information packets and option sets that will be presented to the general public.

Of recent note in local blogs:

At Choice Remarks, Brandon Dutcher salutes State Rep. Jabar Shumate (D-Tulsa) for his efforts to expand school choice with a bill that will allow tribal governments to sponsor charter schools.

Tulsa Chigger has posted a 1934 Chicago Tribune cartoon lampooning the New Deal, headlined "Planned Economy or Planned Destruction." In the corner of the cartoon, a Trotsky-esque fellow writes a placard: "Spend! Spend! Spend under the guise of recovery -- bust the government -- blame the capitalists for the failure -- junk the constitution and declare a dictatorship." Chigger writes, "Strangely similar to our situation now, isn't it?"

Chris Medlock writes about State Sen. Randy Brogdon's upcoming announcement as a candidate for governor and the impact of a Scott Pruitt candidacy on the race.

Owasso blogger James Parsons wonders about the conservative credentials of another GOP gubernatorial possibility, former Congressman J. C. Watts, who has spent the last seven years as a corporate lobbyist.

Yogi gets quote of the week honors: "I love little 'creases' in time and space." Me, too. He's referring to unexpected places like an Italian mining community in southeastern Oklahoma named Krebs that boasts legendary Italian food. Yogi recounts a recent visit to Pete's Place -- it's been too long since my last meal there.

OKDad is working on a mystery: A statue of a farmer, erected for the American Bicentennial in 1976 and currently under restoration, turns out not to be a bronze after all, but "some sort of hardened concrete-plaster hybrid." "He was planned as a bronze. Molds of him were made in preparation for a bronze. Funds were apparently raised for him to be cast in bronze. The papers from July 4, 1976 (the day he was dedicated and unveiled) clearly state he is a statue of bronze stature. So, where's the bronze?" The mystery is still unsolved, but here's the latest development.

Rod Dreher has posted an 1999 article by Russell Hittinger about how a Benedictine monastery came to be established in Cherokee County. (Driving directions on the monastery website include prayers to St. Jude and St. Benedict in the event of high water. Irritated Tulsan might advise prayers if you decide to follow the restaurant recommendation on the same page -- I've eaten at said restaurant three times and never had a problem.)

Irritated Tulsan's Tulsa Tuesday post last week on The Lost Ogle: Tulsa's Worst Remodels, including a Pizza Hut turned adult novelty and lingerie shop, a Wal-Mart-to-church conversion and a KFC (complete with bucket on the sign) turned chiropractor's office. (I wonder if you can still get a chicken wing there -- either the food kind or the wrestling kind.)

Down the turnpike:

Steve Lackmeyer has posted a series of videos featuring urban planner Jeff Speck's comments on downtown Oklahoma City. The latest segment hits a harsh reality in Speck's comments: When you optimize a street for moving cars at high speeds, you inherently make it hazardous for pedestrians. Here are the three earlier entries in the series:

Jeff Speck Video No. 1 on urban parking
Jeff Speck Video No. 2 on giving people what they want
Jeff Speck Video No. 3 -- outlook for downtown

JenX67 has a gorgeous photo of nightfall in OKC's Plaza District.

Nick Roberts has an interesting chart showing Oklahoma City's population by decade since its founding. Noting the massive growth the city experienced in the 1920s and 1950s, he wonders whether, despite great rankings in a variety of categories, OKC will ever again be a place to which people flock.

Finally, congrats to Blair Humphreys and the MIT design team for their victory in the 2009 Urban Land Institute design competition. The design is for a transit-oriented development to replace big-box and strip-mall retail in Denver.

Chris Medlock is back to blogging, having moved his blog to a domain with a matching name, www.MedBlogged.com. Since relaunching, he's written about both local and national issues, including the strange case of Obama excluding the press from a ceremony in which he was to receive an award from a press organization.

His most recent entry includes audio of Pat Campbell's comments on his show the Monday morning after KFAQ cancelled the Chris Medlock Show. Pat has kind words to say about Chris, and he made it clear that the cancellation of Chris's show reflected the station's economic situation, not Chris's performance.

Shortly before Pat's arrival in April 2008, I was informed that my weekly segment on KFAQ, which had run continuously since September 2003, was being discontinued. I was told that I might be called on from time to time to talk about a particular local issue that I covered here or in my UTW column. (And indeed that happened, with occasional appearances with Pat, Chris, and Elvis, most often with Chris, although the time of day didn't always allow me to participate.)

The change made sense: The station was launching a two-hour daily program devoted primarily to local issues, hosted by an expert. There really wasn't a need for my segment to continue. It was fun while it lasted, but I haven't missed having to get up extra early every Tuesday.

But now that there isn't a Chris Medlock Show, it would make sense to add a regular local politics segment alongside all the other weekly segments on the Pat Campbell Show. And it would make sense for that segment to feature the insights of a former city councilor and mayoral candidate named Chris Medlock.

MORE: Muskogee Politico notes that KFAQ has reposted the final week of podcasts of the Chris Medlock Show; MP calls it a "good start." Steven Roemerman says the gesture is "too little, too late."

jwesleybush.com

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J. Wesley Bush, a long-standing friend of this blog, has launched a new website to bring together his world-ranging interests in one place. Bush is "an immigration historian, Russian linguist and East European area specialist," and as you might expect, his blog covers immigration policy and developments in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine and Russia. He also brings a conservative perspective to political and cultural issues. Here's a sampler of his recent work:

J. Wesley Bush is no newcomer to blogging. He was in Kiev in 2004, serving at the time as a Presbyterian missionary, and provided indispensable on-the-scene coverage of Ukraine's Orange Revolution, blogging at Le Sabot Post-Moderne. He was missed during his blogging hiatus, and it's great to have him back in the blogosphere in a big way.

Some notes from around the Tulsa blogosphere:

Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton has updated his website. On his City Council News page, he's posting city government documents. Recent entries include an update on the Public Works contracts put on hold because of Federal bribery indictments and a spreadsheet from the Tulsa Police Department with two years of crime statistics. On his blog, he has links to articles and editorials of interest, on such topics as the economy, law, and national defense.

I'm happy to see MeeCiteeWurkor back online. His latest entry is about plans to unionize the City of Tulsa's Information Technology department.

Steven Roemerman was on KTUL last night commenting on his earlier story about Taco Bueno outsourcing its drive-thru order-taking.

The story reveals that old media is still struggling with new-media terminology: "Roemerman even wrote a local blog about his experience." Actually, Roemerman is a local blogger who has a local blog and who wrote an entry on that local blog about his experience.

Irritated Tulsan is celebrating the first anniversary of his blog, and this week he's been blogging like it's 1979. An entry about Forgotten Tulsa Stories from the 1970s remembers the Tulsa Babes women's pro football team. Today, Mr. M (with the munching mouth) is visiting downtown.

The Babes mention had me struggling to recall the name of the Glenn Dobbs-coached semi-pro team that played Skelly Stadium in 1979. It was the Tulsa Mustangs. The Football entry in the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture says that the Mustangs played five games of a 15-game season, then folded. This webpage says the team played in 1979, which sounds about right to me.

Continuing on in stream-of-consciousness fashion about short-lived pro sports teams of the 1970s, here's a 1978 People story about Bobby Delvecchio, a 21-year-old from the Bronx who was the bull-riding star of the Tulsa Twisters major league rodeo team.

Going further back to the '60s, Yogi, the Crusty Gas Guy, has an interesting post on Brutalism right here in Tulsa (not brutality, but the architectural style of the '60s and '70s that seeks to be brutally honest and unadorned about its materials). Yogi points to the Civic Center Plaza as an example of the style, which spawns some good discussion in the comments, including a defense from fans of modern architecture, including Shane Hood. I like SandyCarlson's comment: "True to its material seems like a weird idea. Like asking the cake you baked to be obvious about its flour. Why?"

DoubleShot Coffee Company is celebrating an anniversary, too. It's five years old, and they'll be throwing a birthday party on Saturday, March 14, from 7 p.m. to "whenever."

Yesterday at lunch -- I spoke about blogging at the spring workshop for the Ad Program at the University of Tulsa -- I mentioned that some companies give prizes to bloggers to give to their readers as a way to help the blogger build traffic and to help the company reach new customers. Someone asked me if I'd done much of that, and I noted that it was the mommy bloggers who seemed to get prizes to give away. (E.g., the Pioneer Woman giving away a $500 Apple Store gift certificate in a contest (now closed). Then again, I'm not likely to draw over 16,000 comments on a single blog entry.)

Now I see that two mommies who blog, Natasha Ball and Holly Wall, have teamed up on a giveaway post, which also contains a great overview of arts events this weekend in Tulsa -- theater, sculpture, photography, Shakespeare -- if you can't find something fun and interesting to do in Tulsa, you're just not trying. The contest involves answering an opinion question about the arts in Tulsa. The prize is tickets to "Educating Rita" at the PAC for tonight (Thursday).

Natasha is running a second contest -- this one's for a $20 gift certificate to the downtown fresh-Mex restaurant Eloté's first night of being open for dinner, also tonight. This one involves answering an opinion question about downtown dining.

There aren't very many entries yet, so your chances are good. Give it a whirl!

Okie Blog Awards: Best Political Blog, 2008

My deepest gratitude to my fellow Oklahoma bloggers, who have named BatesLine the Best Political Blog for 2008. It's especially meaningful to be recognized by fellow bloggers who know what it is to write content for public consumption day-in and day-out. And it's particularly encouraging during what has been a very stressful time.

Congratulations to the other winners, particularly to Tulsa-area blogs: Confessions of a Pioneer Woman for Best Overall Blog and Best Looking Blog, Rocks in My Dryer for Best Writing Blog, Tasha Does Tulsa for Best Culture Blog, and Decisionally Challenged for Best Humor Blog. (Yogi's Den came second for Best Culture Blog.)

Go check out the rest of the winners, and check out the rest of the nominees as well. As Mike Hermes, who founded this competition in 2005 and has been running it ever since, noted, "We are all winners to be a part of a thriving Oklahoma blogging community."

There are three bloggers that deserve a great deal of the credit for that thriving Oklahoma blogging community. Mike Hermes of Okiedoke is one of them, for his Okie blog roundup feature and the annual awards. Kevin Latham is another, for creating the BlogOklahoma webring. And then there's the doyen of Oklahoma bloggers, Charles G. Hill of dustbury.com, who has, for as long as I remember, made special note of his fellow Oklahomans in his blogroll and called attention to them by linking worthy posts. Their work has made this blogging community possible. Whatever our other affiliations, these three have helped us recognize what we have in common.

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.

Ace has some helpful things to say (sprinkled as always with words that would make a sailor blush, so be advised) about the Republican Party's failures to plug in effectively to what the conservative blogosphere has to offer. He wants to get bloggers engaged in candidate recruitment, finding non-traditional candidates -- retired military, doctors, farmers, teachers, businessmen -- encouraging them to run and helping to connect them to the resources they need to run and win.

The Democrats have their recruitment pipeline-- lawyers, bureaucrats. The GOP has a much bigger and better talent pool, but we don't exploit it.

I'm not sure why. I think it's because so many people assume, "Gee, I could never do that."

Well, of course you could. If the Democrats can put up one hack lawyer after another, why isn't a Master Sergeant war hero a good candidate?

We need an army of Sarah Palins in 2010.

Look at Joe the Plumber. Pretty sharp guy. pretty likable. He doesn't have the alleged credentials to be a Congressmen -- by which I mean he's not a hack trial lawyer or sub-bureaucrat at the Department of Cutting Checks for People Who Don't Work. So what? He's got what it takes -- he's bright, politically interested, presentable, and, if he does decide to run, backed by a major political party.

I think an awful lot of people fit this profile.

Especially military men and women.

For God's sakes, guys: You know you have a better than even chance of winning just by showing up?

Think about it as just a slightly distasteful new tour of service. One one hand, you'll be surrounded by mutants and halfwits. On the other hand, no one will be shooting at you and there will be lots of free barbecue and (weak) chicken cordon blue.

That is, by the way, how the Oklahoma Republican Party, under Chairman Gary Jones' leadership, has succeeded in winning legislative seats in traditionally Democratic rural/small town districts. They found Republicans who were known as community leaders, not political figures, and gave them the training and access to the campaign support network they needed for a successful run. As a result, Republicans control the State House and are poised to take over the State Senate.

Ace wants to be able to call attention to and rally support for candidates in key congressional races, but for that to happen, the GOP should keep conservative bloggers in the loop and actually solicit our ideas:

Not to overstate my importance, but the internet is a huge fundraising and name-recognition machine. Honestly, the GOP should have us on conference calls every week.

Not for [b.s.] getting-the-message out. They do that. And we do get the message out.

But to be more involved in this. As in, making some decisions and offering input.

Personally the prospect of yet another conference call where I get the talking points I already knew (based on common sense) and was already getting out anyway isn't all that appealing.

Ace links to John Hawkins of Right Wing News, who writes that Republican operatives don't get what blogs could do for them:

The bad news is that the Republican Party looks at bloggers solely as an alternative means to get their message out. In other words, there's a completely non-functional top down organizational structure. It's non-functional because the Republican Party organizations and pols issue talking points and press releases, most of which are of no interest to bloggers, and they are largely ignored. In other words, they spend most of their time issuing unheeded orders to people who, by and large, think they're incompetent and aren't inclined to pay much attention to what they say....

That's a real shame because had they listened to bloggers, most of the big political snafus of the last four years could have been avoided. However, they pay zero attention to things they're told by bloggers, even on the rare occasions when they ask what we think.

Just to give you an example of what I'm talking about, here's a generic conversation, some variation of which I've had with different congressional aides at least half-a-dozen times over the last four years.

Anonymous Aide: Hawkins, I want to ask your advice.
John Hawkins: Shoot.
Anonymous Aide: We're thinking about doing idea x.
John Hawkins: Are you out of your mind? That's going to be a disaster!
Anonymous Aide: Well, they've already decided to do it. How do we sell it to the bloggers?
John Hawkins: You're asking me whether you should put mayonnaise or mustard on a sh*t sandwich. I can give you some advice, but it's not going to go over well no matter how you spin it.

Inevitably, it doesn't sell -- which cuts to the heart of the problem the GOP has with bloggers: they need to have conversations with bloggers instead of just viewing us as another part of the message machine....

What the GOP needs to realize is that bloggers, some of the better ones anyway, tend to have their fingers on the pulse of conservatism.... The Republican Party should pick up the phone and call Erick Erickson, Ace, or Michelle Malkin and ask them what the conservative reaction is going to be BEFORE the GOP makes yet another blunder instead of trying to do damage control afterwards. It would make a lot more sense.

Hawkins has much more worth pondering about how the left and right sides of the blogosphere compare in presence and enthusiasm -- and how the left has overtaken the right over the last few years -- why conservative bloggers are bad at fundraising and generating online activity, and how conservative old media institutions and donors could help grow a conservative blogosphere.

This week's cover story in Urban Tulsa Weekly is a profile of Tulsa's growing blogging community. The piece features:

Dan Paden's No Blog of Significance

Jeff Shaw's Bounded Rationality, which is celebrating its second anniversary. (Congratulations, Jeff!)

Emily Priddy's Red Fork State of Mind and Indie Tulsa, her husband Ron Warnick's Route 66 News, and their blog about "green" living, the House of the Lifted Lorax.

Irritated Tulsan's Irritated Tulsan

Alternative Tulsan's Alternative Tulsa

Last but not least, Natasha Ball's Tasha Does Tulsa, who regularly puts the lie to the oft-heard whine that "there's nothing to do in Tulsa." There was a very sweet and touching quote from Natasha in the story:

Many local bloggers herald UTW's own Michael Bates' "Batesline" as the gold standard of Tulsa blogging. When Natasha Ball got her first congratulatory comment about her blog from Bates, Ball said, "I was elated. I danced around the living room. I even cried a little. I was star-struck, I guess. I was happy to know I would start to reach more readers, too, since several of the local bloggers with established readerships had told their subscribers about me."

There are many more Tulsa-based bloggers. I wrote about a bunch of them two and a half years ago. Commenters on this week's story have posted links to several more.

It's exciting to see Tulsa's blogging community continue to expand and diversify. The more the merrier!

Bobby's back

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I'm happy to note that Bobby of Tulsa Topics has several new entries up -- a commentary by Kent Morlan about the downtown stadium trust and the oligarchy that put it together, a visit to Espresso by the Book in Gardner's Books, and an item about his work as an industrial computer specialist working on control systems for natural gas production, a job that has taken him to Tunisia, Massachusetts, Texas, Boston, and Montana, among other places.

Welcome back to blogging, Bobby -- hope you'll continue to bless us with your observations and commentary.

Here are links to and a few notes about the bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting this week at the Republican National Convention. (If I met you but left out your name below, it's because I didn't get your business card. Drop a reminder to me at blog at batesline dot com.)

* Anne Leary, the BackyardConservative, from the Chicago 'burbs: Here Anne has posted some great photos from the last day of the convention, and she tells of her brushes with greatness.

* Skye, a conservative Democrat from Philadelphia, who blogs at Midnight Blue, Flopping Aces, and Right Wing News: Skye's latest has video of Barack Obama gaffe-ing his way across Pennsylvania.

Here's a video conversation between Anne and Skye.

* Chad Everson of Grizzly Groundswell and Socialist Squirrel. Grizzly Groundswell is a conservative blog community.

* Stix of Stix Blog: Stix has photos of several of our fellow bloggers at Centerfield, the Minneapolis warehouse district bar where he and several others stayed during the convention. (Unfortunately, I had to miss the Wednesday night party there. I stuck around the Xcel Center for the roll call, then posted about the problem with Oklahoma's votes and uploaded video, and I didn't get out of the Media Filing Center until 1:30 a.m.)

* Eric of The Tygrrrr Express: Eric had an interesting run-in with some Code Pinkos:

When they complained about a police state and overaggressive police tactics, I set them straight.

I told them:

"I can prove you are wrong in 60 seconds. You claim the police use excessive force. I know this is wrong because I begged them to do it and they wouldn't. I asked those cops (pointing towards them) to use tear gas, rubber bullets, and batons. I wanted Kent State 2008. They said no because we live in a democracy. So sorry to disappoint you, but as badly as you want it, you will not be savagely beaten. Now be quiet before I come back tomorrow with a razor and shave you all under your armpits."

Sadly enough the police would not let me do that either.

Eric also believes that Sarah Palin is the Second Coming of Margaret Thatcher.

Skye has posted some video of Eric conversing with a Code Pinko and a "Paulbot."

* Katherine Morrison from New Hampshire, of PurplePeopleVote and Blogs4McCain: Here's her summary of Day 2, which had the theme of service.

* Bill Smith of the ARRA News Service, a conservative Arkansas blog, and Let's Get This Right, a conservative blog community: Here's an interview between Bill and the aforementioned Katherine Morrison, who talks about what brought her to the convention:

I have a brother who moved to the St. Paul area and I wanted to visit him, my sister-in-law and their children. I am also a blogger and applied for press credentials as an Independent. And the RNC granted them. So, I took vacation and paid my way here. I have meet bloggers of all types: republicans, libertarians, democrats, independents and some from other countries.

* "CyberPastor" Ed Boston of Do the Right Thing.

* The Lady Logician of Ladies Logic: Here are her photos of the wide variety of Wednesday afternoon protesters, and here are her initial reflections following McCain's speech:

Senator McCain's intro video was very informative and I loved the self deprecating humor that was interlaced in with some very serious subject matters. At one point, in a section where it talked about all of the different names that Senator McCain had been called, as the narrator said, "He has even been called," the camera cut to Senator McCain's 96-year-old mother saying, "Mama's boy".

* Fausta of Fausta's blog: Here's her encounter with a couple of P.O.ed PUMAs for Palin:

Staunch Hillary supporters with a long history of activism, they headed to Denver. Bettyjean [Kling] purchased a 27′ RV and drove to Denver with her friend Robin Robinson as part of the "300″ to get Hillary a nomination and roll call at the Democratic National Convention last week.

They had worked on the Hillary campaign for months, Bettyjean in Pennsylvania and Robin in Delaware, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

But once they got to Denver they found delegates who told them that they were bein pressured to vote for Obama, and who were being told that they would never have a future in politics if they didn't. "Their arms were twisted", said Bettyjean....

Robin and Bettyjean were bitterly disappointed. When they heard that Sarah Palin was going to be the Vice-Presidential candidate, "our spirits rose and we headed to St. Paul."

* Lance Burri, who is, according to his business card, "the widest read, most influential conservative columnist ever to emerge from Greater Metropolitan Baraboo. East side. North of the river. Ever." Lance also blogs at Badger Blog Alliance, where he posted this account of the blogger lunch at Babani's Kurdish Restaurant, complete with a mouthwatering photo, plus video of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Frank Luntz at Wednesday's blogger brunch, and of former Sen. Fred Thompson from Tuesday's brunch.

* Dan Blatt, the western correspondent for GayPatriot, which calls itself "the internet home for American gay conservatives": Dan notes that the theme of gratitude provided bookends to McCain's speech:

At the beginning, he acknowledged his rivals for the Republican nomination and expressed his gratitude to the president and his family. He concluded by acknowledging his fellow POW Bob Craner, telling us how that good man "saved" him.

Maybe I read too much into this, but it says a lot of a man that he frames this speech by acknowledging how much he owes to others, showing how grateful he is for their love, their inspiration, their support, their compassion. He knows, more, he recognizes what he owes to others. For no one who has achieved any measure of success in any given endeavor could have accomplished anything without the support of others.

Devoting so much time in a speech of this significance suggests a certain humility, something we don't see in many politicians, particularly this election cycle.

* MarathonPundit, who recounts a conversation with a British press journalist who regarded his assignment to cover the RNC as "punishment."

I also met (briefly) A-list bloggers Scott Ott of the family-friendly satire site Scrappleface (who was surprisingly tall and whose face did not at all resemble scrapple), Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, and former (?) blogger and rising conservative star Mary Katherine Ham.

MORE: Skye and Marathon Pundit were interviewed by Al Jazeera during the convention.

My tank is full

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I've spent all morning and the beginning of the afternoon eating and listening. I've finally had the time to stop taking in and starting processing and writing about what I've seen and heard.

First stop was a joint breakfast of the Oklahoma and Louisiana delegations, way the heck out in Brooklyn Center, northwest of Minneapolis. J. C. Watts was the guest speaker. If the audio is audible, I'll post it later this evening.

Then I drove into St. Paul, for an 11 o'clock RedState.com/Google blogger brunch. Tony Lauinger from Oklahomans for Life rode along with me -- he was headed to a "Catholics for McCain" event not far from the brunch.

Today's blogger brunch featured a Q&A with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, U. S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy from California (not the guy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and UHF), and a surprise appearance by pollster Frank Luntz.

At the brunch I heard about a lunch organized by Hot Air's Ed Morrissey at a Kurdish restaurant, Babani's. I hadn't gotten the invite and therefore hadn't RSVPed, but I decided to tag along anyway. We heard some brief remarks, but mostly it was a chance to chat with the other bloggers. I shared a table with Fausta, Dan Blatt, and one of Dan's readers who lives here in the Twin Cities area.

One of the topics of conversation was how poorly organized the RNC had been in dealing with bloggers this year. Four years ago, there was a Bloggers' Corner near radio row, which gave bloggers easy access to the eminentoes coming and going for talk radio interviews. Convention staff brought elected officials and other special guests around to be interviewed by the bloggers. There were fewer bloggers in 2004, but they all knew who the others were. This time there are many more, but word about special events for bloggers isn't getting around. I was especially chagrined to hear today about an incredible Pajamas Media party last night at James Lileks' palatial Jasperwood estate. Granted, if they had had a full list of convention bloggers, they might not have invited all of us, but then again they might have.

At the moment I'm back in Dunn Bros. Coffee, sitting next to Adam C. from RedState.com, a Tulsa native. (Here's his latest post, about a poll showing Gov. Sarah Palin with stratospheric approval ratings in Alaska.) Once I get back to the convention hall, I plan to upload more video, audio, and photos. You can see my pictures, up through last night, on my Flickr page. There are some good shots of Fred Thompson, George H. W. and Barbara Bush, and a number of Oklahoma officials and delegates, such as Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons, America's youngest mayor, being interviewed here by MTV News.

Muskogee Mayor John Tyler Hammons at the 2008 Republican National Convention

You can hear more of my take on last night's proceedings on the WynnCast and in an interview with the KRMG Morning News team.

MORE: Here's a slideshow which includes photos of my conversation with KRMG's Joe Kelley and Rick Couri.

Some recent finds worth telling you about:

Here are two fairly new "news around town" blogs devoted to Tulsa: Tulsa Loop and This Tulsa.

This Tulsa has a very cool logo (featuring the BOK Tower, the Mid-Continent Tower, and University Club Tower), and they encourage readers to submit links of local interest. (If you've missed Beef Baloney, the site has a video with Matt Zaller interviewing Bill Hader and talking about growing up in Tulsa.)

TulsaLoop aspires to be "Your Tulsa City Guide," offering a calendar of events, a list of attractions, and news about happenings around town.

I noticed Kick the Anthill when the blog weighed in on the CAIR-OK EEOC complaint against the Woodland Hills Abercrombie Kids store. The three bloggers cover a wide range of topics:

We're a small group of ants that got tired of getting kicked, so we decided to kick back. We're mad about movies, conservative politics and our Christian faith. Safe to say we're just mad in general. We also like to yak about Oklahoma (which, seemingly coincidentally, is just one gigantic anthill itself) and other completely random things. Thanks for joining us.

I've already been following Terra Extraneus, but I just noticed that blogger Terry Hull has a separate, personal blog, with entries that link to things I need to read, like this one about someone who makes more than $100,000 a year blogging, and this entry linking to Writer's Digest's 101 Best Websites for Writers.

I've come across a number of blogs devoted to real estate and development in Oklahoma: The Journal Record has a blog called Oklahoma per Square Foot, covering the commercial real estate industry in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Oklahoma City homebuilder Jeff Click writes Modern Land Run.

Blair Humphreys dreams about Oklahoma City's future on his blog imagiNATIVEamerica. Right now he's in living car-free in Boston, where he's studying planning and urban design. Here's a great post, illustrated with photos and maps, about what makes for pedestrian friendliness.

Nick Roberts is a fellow right-winger and urban advocate who has just started blogging at A Downtown ontheRange. He lives in Calgary, but considers Oklahoma City his adopted hometown:

Obviously OKC is a very special place to me, and I'd rather not be away from it at this point in my life, but I promise I will come back home better positioned to leave the kind of impressions that I would want to on my adopted hometown. Whether I settle down in OKC, or Galveston where I was born, remains up in the air, but the only thing certain at this point is that I am hardly finished with OKC. I want this blog to have the same kind of impact that Doug Dawg, Steve's OKC Central, and other blogs have had, in informing readers about the life of urban OKC, and perhaps Tulsa, too! And I will be making comparisons to beautiful Calgary whenever possible, just for the purpose of expanding you guys' horizons.

A couple of other bloggers are in Oklahoma but a long way from where they grew up:

Sarah, Brit Gal in the USA, moved here from the UK after falling for an Oklahoma man she met in an online backgammon room. Her blog helps you expand your transatlantic vocabulary with a "Brit Word of the Day" -- Wednesday's word was bollard.

Stuart Campbell, the Dusty Traveler, is from New Zealand, and he's been photographing scenic spots around Oklahoma, including the Wichita Mountains, Red Rock Canyon, Turner Falls, Maysville, and Natural Falls. He finds it a challenge to capture the grandeur of the Great Plains:

Big mountains are dramatic. A big lake is peaceful. A big city is bustling. The plains are just BIG. There is a lot of space with nothing going on and it is hard to capture nothing and make it look spectacular.

Some secrets I am discovering; color- go early or late but the middle part of the day dilute the color. The sky- watch what is happening above as the clouds are fascinating in themselves and can add to a wide open space. Find things to put in the picture -- whether it be natural or man made it can add character to a scene.

But capture it he does. Click that link and have a look at our photogenic home state.

I found many of these new blogs via the BlogOklahoma web ring -- a list of nearly 900 Oklahoma-based blogs, with brief descriptions for each. To give you an idea of how Oklahoma's blogosphere has exploded, BatesLine joined in March 2004 as blog number 39. The latest addition to the web ring -- yesterday -- is called I Don't Think I'm a Grown Up Yet -- number 861. And it's not an exhaustive list: The oldest Oklahoma-based blog of all isn't a member of BlogOklahoma (which is akin to Switzerland not joining the United Nations -- when you're Switzerland, you don't need to join the UN to prove yourself as a peace-loving nation-state).

When the Sitemeter mess came to light over the weekend, I noticed that this site looked funny in my laptop's copy of Internet Explorer 6, which is still the second-most popular browser among BatesLine readers. (IE 7.0 has taken the top spot, and Firefox is gaining rapidly.) There was blue space around my header image, and the right sidebar had slipped way down the page and to the left. The header image and the text looked like it had been enlarged using a particularly bad algorithm, and I noticed that on most sites, images appeared to be stretched out and pixellated. It was as if I had the magnifier turned on just for IE, but I couldn't find anywhere to turn it off.

Here's what I saw in the header (click to see the full size version):

BatesLine-IE6ProblemHeader.jpg

And here's the sidebar overlap:

BatesLine-IE6ProblemOverlap.jpg

Everything looks normal in Firefox 3.0.1 and in IE 7. A reader e-mailed to say that things looked strange in his browser, too, although he didn't say which browser he was running. I went to browsershots.org to see what it looked like in various browsers, and it showed everything looking fine in IE 6.

Here's what it's supposed to look like (again, click to see the full size version):

BatesLine-Firefox301.jpg

If BatesLine doesn't look like that, please drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com, and let me know what browser and what version of the browser you're running and what kind of weirdness you're seeing. (Click the "Help" menu, then select "About...", and it'll show you the version number.) Thanks in advance for your help.

There maybe something funky about my particular Internet Explorer configuration. Or it may be a problem with the style sheet. I don't think Sitemeter is responsible, as the problem persisted after I removed Sitemeter. (I'm going to put it back now.)

EUREKA! Don Danz identified the cause and the cure. Evidently Dell thoughtfully altered the DPI setting of my high-res display to make icons and fonts look bigger, and it messes up websites. I put the DPI back to the default (96 dpi) and all is well.

Terry Hull of Terra Extraneus, an Oklahoma City-based blog about the law, is looking for other Oklahoma "blawgs." So far he's found six -- five based in OKC, but only one based in Tulsa, the Oklahoma Family Law Blog by Dan Nunley.

I have a blawg in my blogroll that Terry hadn't yet encountered: Opinions from Oklahoma & the Northern District: Legal Decisions from Oklahoma State and Federal Courts. 28 entries were posted there between June and December of last year, but nothing since then.

A blawg can be a way to promote both your own practice and a broader understanding of the law, not by offering specific legal advice, but by explaining legal issues you encounter in your practice in terms that are understandable to lay people.

If you're an Oklahoma attorney actively blogging about legal issues, drop by Terra Extraneus and leave a comment.

If you're an Oklahoma attorney interested in blawging and you need an example to inspire you, I'd encourage you to check out Likelihood of Confusion, an award-winning blog about copyright, trademark, and intellectual property law by Ron Coleman. Ron is general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association, and he was a tremendous help in my dealings with the Tulsa World.

I'm very happy to pass along the news that friend and top talk host Kevin McCullough is back on the air with his pale Stephen Baldwin (the conservative Baldwin brother). Baldwin/McCullough Xtreme Radio launches tonight from 8 - 10 p.m. Tulsa Time (9 - 11 Eastern) on 21 stations from Cape Cod to St. Augustine, FL, from New York City to Salt Lake City:

New York City - AM 970
Washington DC - AM 580
Salt Lake UT - AM 820
Jacksonville FL - FM 91.9
Charlotte NC - AM 960
Richmond VA - AM 580
Newark NJ - AM 970
Virginia Beach VA - AM 1010
Trenton NJ - AM 970
Greensboro NC - AM 830
Hartford CT - AM 970
Winston-Salem NC - AM 830
Cape Cod Mass - AM 970
High Point NC - AM 830
Roanoke VA - AM 910
Hackensack NJ - AM 970
St Augustine FL - FM 103.7
Danbury CT - AM 970
Statesville NC - AM1400
Mocksville NC - AM 1520
Bridgeport CT - AM 970

You can also listen online via Blog Talk Radio.

Here's what Kevin says we can look forward to:

Here's part of what we're hitting on tonight - so be by the radio:

1. If the top song in the country (especially for those 15-34 female) is, "I kissed a girl and I liked it..." we'd sort of love to get your idea as to WHY it is number 1. Some say it's due to the fact that society and culture have pushed the envelope right over the cliff. The pressure to be funky - the influences of where it comes from and how we respond to it...

2. Brooke Barrettsmith (www.brookerocks.com) is a rising star in the music world. Her new single "Farewell" has been climbing charts. She will join us LIVE to tell us the story behind the song. You may remember Brooke from American Idol season 5 - the most talented Idol class ever.

3. Kevin McCullough will go see it! But Stephen Baldwin has refused to see the newest Batman movie 'The Dark Knight'. The character of The Joker as played by Heath Ledger is a large part of the reason why. Some think Jack Nicholson intimated some sort of supernatural involvement with evil when he played the role years ago in the Michael Keaton/Tim Burton version. As you may know Heath Ledger committed suicide shortly after finishing work on film. Upon hearing the news Nicholson could only reply, "I warned him." We'd like to know whether you think Heath's death was influenced at all by supernatural evil. Which also begs us to consider how we intersect with the supernatural on a daily basis.

4. Music Guests tonight feature: Brooke Barrettsmith, Jonas Brothers, Pillar, Demi Lovato, Tenth Avenue North, Leona Lewis, Natalie Grant, and Duffy!

We'd like to thank our sponsors for making it all happen: Christian Values Network, Compassion International, GLYBooks.com, and Hit Me Energy Shots.

You can get a sense of the entertaining way Stephen and Kevin deal with serious issues by heading to the BMXRadioNow website and listening to their conversation with KISS's Gene Simmons about merchandising and child-rearing.

Many thanks to the readers of Urban Tulsa Weekly who have, for the second year in a row, voted for me as Tulsa's Favorite Blogger in the Absolute Best of Tulsa readers' poll:

Michael Bates, Urban Tulsa Weekly's own uber city news geek and pundit extraordinaire, is the man. With his encyclopedic knowledge of Tulsa's history and of the inner workings of city and county government and his piercing insight into the goings on of the city's elite, his weekly columns are often a source of both dread and delight to local leaders. The man is a machine, though, so a weekly column is hardly enough of an outlet for him to say all that he has to say, nor for readers to get their regular fix of his words and wisdom. So, there's always his blog at Batesline.com.

Congratulations to Tulsa World music writer Jennifer Chancellor for getting a "close call" in this category. Although many editors and writers at the daily have blogs, Jennifer is one of the few who is really taking advantage of the medium, updating on a near-daily basis. Most recently she's been posting lots of photos and video from Rocklahoma. I shall have to work much harder if I want a threepeat. (Or maybe lobby to have a separate category for music bloggers.)

I was also happy to see a win in the coffee house category for one of my favorite hangouts, the Coffee House on Cherry Street, with Shades of Brown, another favorite hangout, as a close runner-up. The two coffee houses set the standard not only for good coffee but for community gathering places.

(Note to PLANiTULSA team -- as part of your outreach to Tulsa's young people, hold some "bull sessions" at these coffee houses. Just plan to show up, hang out, and expect to have some great conversations about the city's future.)

I was also happy to see Callupsie win in the Local, Indie Produced Album for their recording debut:

No other established band in Tulsa is as hard-working as Callupsie. And their particular brand of indie jazz-punk is one of the most unique sounds to emerge from the city in quite some time. Produced by Stephen Egerton over just two sessions (the entire album took a total of several days to record), the debut is a ridiculously catchy collection of pop tunes (pop in the best sense) that is just waiting to be played on college stations across the country. To boot, they're four of the nicest musicians you'll ever meet. You all chose well on this one.

The ABoT issue includes some of the more interesting "fill-in-the-blank" responses to questions like, "If I were mayor," and "You are so Tulsa if you..."

My favorite: "If I were mayor... I'd build the Golden Driller a girlfriend." I know just the girl. She's somewhat older, but a lot better looking than the old roughneck. She's "The Goddess of Oil", a 1941 sculpture by Tulsa World staff artist Clarence Allen. The plan was to erect a 40-foot version of the sculpture at the next International Petroleum Exhibition, but the outbreak of World War II got in the way. The model was 19-year-old Marjorie Morrow. Although the full-sized version was never erected, the original sculpture stayed in Morrow's family, and her grandson, muralist William Franklin, hopes to see the original artistic vision realized. You can read all about it and donate to the project at goddessofoil.com.

Congratulations to a transplanted Tulsa couple who received well-deserved national recognition for promoting Route 66. Ron Warnick and Emily Priddy were honored last weekend at the 2008 National Route 66 Festival in Litchfield, Illinois.

Ron received the "Person of the Year" award for his blog, Route 66 News, a clearinghouse for news from Chicago to Santa Monica and everywhere in between along the Mother Road.

Emily was selected by author Michael Wallis for the inaugural Wallis award for (as she put it) "for being a noisy writer/photographer/firebrand." Denny Gibson put it another way: "In [Wallis's] description of the award, he used the words talent, energy, and passion and those certainly apply to the first Wallis 66 award winner, Emily Priddy."

As he describes in an entry earlier this week, Ron saw a need three years ago and stepped in to fill it, creating a central clearinghouse for news from the highway -- positive and inspiring stories of entrepreneurs restoring a piece of roadside history and local officials getting clueful about the tourism value of the highway, alerts about endangered properties, happy news of festivals and foreign roadies here to encounter Americana firsthand, sad news of the passing of Route 66 pioneers and Route 66 landmarks.

Through Route 66 News, historic highway lovers learned of the impending doom of the El Vado Motel and were able to communicate with Albuquerque's city leaders to help them understand the value and significance of the property as a historic asset. Route 66 News notified us of the tragic fire at the Rock Cafe, helping to rally support for clean up and restoration.

Ron's reflection on winning the award is worth reading. He writes about how experiencing Route 66 changed his life, why he started Route 66 News, and why he chose the blog format for the site:

Route 66 News was never intended to be a blog. But the more I investigated the Internet avenues available, it became clear that blogging -- with its ease of writing stories, its archives and its multimedia capabilities -- was the way to go. So here we are, in the blogosphere.

The winner of the Will Rogers award this year is another Route 66 internet pioneer. Swa Frantzen of Belgium launched his Historic66.com website in 1994, which has to make it one of the oldest sites on the World Wide Web still in operation. Looking in vain for the kind of turn-by-turn guide needed to tour the decommissioned highway, he created one of his own, a resource for his fellow archaehodophiles the world over.

Broadway extension

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My blogpal Anna Broadway has her first book out: Sexless in the City: A Memoir of Reluctant Chastity. It's an entertaining read, especially for those who grew up in the same evangelical subculture that shaped Anna's view of the world. The heart of the book is the conflict that arises as she moves out of that hothouse environment and into the Big City. The resulting collision of values helped to demolish her inadequate, sometimes idolatrous, notions of sex, love, romance, and marriage, making it possible to rebuild on a firm, God-centered foundation.

Last week, Carla Hinton, religion editor for the Oklahoman, interviewed Anna and wrote an insightful account of the conversation:

The book "Sexless in the City" is lighthearted enough that it should keep the reader laughing and wondering what Broadway is going to say next. The humor does not hinder or water down her thought-provoking message for singles attempting to maintain a chaste lifestyle in a society that says the very idea of chastity is crazy and out of touch with reality....

"I really hope that it raises questions about what the basis of our identity is," Broadway said of the book.

"You know, when I started the book, I would say I was closer to the perspective I describe in the prologue -- of being torn between wanting to serve God but thinking that sex is the ultimate experience in life. So, in other words, if I was chaste my whole life and died without having sex, I pretty much thought, even if I hadn't admitted it to myself, that I was going to die with an unfulfilled life.

"But in the course of having the blog and writing the book, I've come to realize that that's only true if my identity is rooted in my sexuality and if I believe that my sexuality is the most important part of me.

"But if my identity is based on something else, then I can have a fulfilled life no matter if I ever marry or not. My fulfillment is not dependent on the number of lovers or sexual experiences I have. I really hope that is the message people can take away from the book, regardless of whether they share all of my values or not, that they find hope in that -- that who we are as people doesn't have to be just limited to and defined by one part of us."

That same link includes a brief audio interview.

I was happy for Anna's book to get coverage in Oklahoma, but I also came away very impressed with Carla Hinton. She comes across as not only knowledgeable but also understanding of the people and ideas she writes about. That's not always true of the religion writers in the mainstream media.

Carla Hinton's Religion and Values blog is a place where she can offer more personal reflections than would be appropriate in a news story (for example, this item on her love of Vacation Bible School), provide links and additional context (e.g., this item relating to a story about bloggers who write about the Southern Baptist Convention, and summarizing reader reaction to a story (such as this entry about a story on tithing). It's a good example of a reporter using a blog to complement her reporting.

I've added three more blogs by and about Oklahoma to my blogroll. You'll see new entries from these blogs pop up on the powered-by-NewsGator blogroll headlines page. (I'm thinking it may be time to break out the Okie blogs to a separate page. What do you think?)

Random Dafydd (that's the Welsh version of David) grew up in Tulsa but now lives in Bartlesville. His blog covers Tulsa history, ancient manuscripts, and many other topics. Here are a couple of his recent historical entries: Tulsa before the railroad: Taylor Postoak Home and Tulsa Architecture, Hooper Brothers Coffee. The latter entry includes photos of the historic building on the edge of downtown at Admiral and Iroquois.

Green Country Values, which covers politics and regional events. Here's an entry about a trip last Saturday to the Lavender Festival and Stone Bluff Cellars. Blogger Jenn also has the scoop on U. S. Rep. John Sullivan's Private Property Rights Protection and Government Accountability Act, which addresses eminent domain abuse in the wake of the Kelo v. New London decision.

Finally, Save ORU chronicles the rebuilding of Oral Roberts University's finances and credibility. reacts to the AP report of declining enrollment:

It's something that should have happened long ago, after years of struggling with a crushing debt and a corporate culture of fear, Oral Roberts University has another major hurdle to overcome. Since its beginnings, ORU has taken on the role of a "surrogate parent/guardian" for its students. Whether you were 18 or 40 -if you lived in the dorms -you had a curfew and an RA telling you to clean your room. Adding insult to injury, it cost you a pretty penny too, and up until 2001, you had to wear business attire to attend classes.

With tuition costs soaring and more students footing the bill for their own education, they want to be in control of their college experience. ORU has improved over the years with the adoption of more customer-service oriented approaches, but the recent scandal has made many of the most forgiving students and parents take a step back and ask "what am I really getting for my money?"

(I found that last blog via Club Fritch, the blog of two ORU graduates, Ryan and Gillian (Rowe) Fritzsche, who are now in the film industry. They have a category called ORUgate.)

If you have a blog that you think would be of interest here at BatesLine, drop me a line at blog at batesline d0t com.

Clayton Cramer, a conservative blogger from Idaho, is seeking the Republican nomination for State Senate District 22, opposing an incumbent Republican that he says is "out of touch with the traditional values of the district."

The primary is today, and the turnout should be strong, with the eight-man race to replace U. S. Sen. Larry Craig at the top of the ballot. The Secretary of State's website will have results after the polls close at 9 p.m. Mountain Time.

Beyond the traditional array of conservative issues (for which he offers thoughtful position papers), Cramer, an amateur astrophotographer, supports state legislation against light trespass.

It's been interesting to read his thoughts about the various aspects of campaigning, such as his decision to eschew the use of robocalls, the results of his own phone calls to voters, and the difficulties presented by supportive independent campaigns.

If all goes well, we'll be able to enjoy Cramer's take on legislative life.

Oklahoma-based but internationally-renowned blogger Lynn Sislo hits the half-century mark today, and she's rather pleased about it, because it gives her an appreciation for technological advances that the younger set merely takes for granted:

You have to be my age (or nearly so) to understand how seriously cool and awesome all this stuff is. I don't want to be old but I'm glad I'm old enough to get it. And I can hardly wait to see what they come up with next.

Even as young as I am I claim the right to be a curmudgeon and to talk about how we did things back in the day and to say we were right, because we were. I know; I was there. I claim the right to be a know-it-all and to give unsolicited advice because I do know more than most folks. One of the benefits of being 50, you see.

Go wish Lynn a happy birthday.

BatesLine is five years old today. Although that doesn't come close to Dustbury's longevity, five years of fairly consistent and continuous blogging is pretty impressive in a world where blogs start and end at an alarming rate, if I do say so myself.

Here is the Wayback Machine's first snapshot (in August of 2003) of my first month of posts.

Blogging has been a wonderful thing for me. It has given me an outlet to express my interests and opinion and to connect with other people -- here in Tulsa and around the world -- who share those concerns.

The whole thing really started out as, "SInce we're switching from dialup to DSL, maybe I should buy a domain so we can keep our e-mail addresses if we change ISPs." One of the best prices for domain hosting was a company called BlogHosts (RIP), which came with Movable Type 2.6.3 pre-installed, so why not give this blogging thing a try?

I had the good timing to start blogging just as Vision 2025 was gaining public attention. I had plenty of local politics to write about, although it wasn't my original vision for BatesLine that it should be dominated by local issues.

My blogging caught the attention of KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno, and right after the Vision 2025 election, Michael and his co-host Gwen Freeman took me to St. Michael's Alley (RIP) to pitch the idea of a weekly follow-up on Vision 2025. That broadened over time to cover the full scope of local politics. At some point we switched from Monday to Tuesday, and if I missed any weeks through the four and a half years, it was only one or two. Serving as a guest analyst on election night 2004, participating in election post-mortem roundtables, and filling in with Gwen when Michael was off are among some of the highlights.

(Although the regular weekly guest slot on KFAQ is no more, you may be hearing me on the radio again before too long.)

Being on the air every week caught the attention of Urban Tulsa Weekly reporter George Shultz, who wrote a profile of me in July 2005. Through that, Keith Skrzypczak brought me on to write a column for the paper. That began in September 2005. To bring things full circle, the column's tight focus on local politics allowed me to restore a broader focus to BatesLine. The linkblog allowed me to pass along links of interest -- blogging in its fundamental form -- with a minimum of fuss.

I'll stop there for now, but later today look for some highlights from the past five years, and an appreciation of the many wonderful blog-pals I've made.

Thanks for reading and celebrating this milestone with me.

UPDATE: Thanks for all the lovely well wishes. I'm sorry, but I didn't get anything more added today. I did attend a wonderful event: The Holocaust remembrance at Temple Israel. There was an overflow crowd. (Well over a thousand, I would say.) My son sang with the Tulsa Boy Singers. The featured speakers were Dr. Leon Bass, an American World War II veteran who was one of the liberators of Buchenwald, and Robbie Waisman, a survivor of Buchenwald. There was an emphasis on honoring those who had fought against fascism and had liberated the camps. Seven World War II veterans were given the honor of lighting remembrance candles at the end of the service. My son knew the basic facts of the Holocaust, but hearing these speakers tell their personal stories brought it home to him. Mr. Waisman was about the age my son is now when his secure and loving home was torn apart by the Nazis. Only he and a sister survived; five brothers and both parents were put to death.

A couple of additions to the sidebar:

The Conservative Intelligencer is a new blog on politics, culture, and religion.

The Conservative Intelligencer features tough-minded, conservative commentary on the day's events, as well as value-added research to put these events in context. Check here for news and analysis of the War on Terror, immigration reform, Campaign 2008, conservative activism, and the conservative movement. Be sure to check in for Fun with Fisking!

The latest post: Scientology Is weirder than you think. I already thought it was pretty weird, but I learned something new.

Sarah of A Glass of Chianti (first linked on BatesLine here for her musical puns and western swing references) not only took up housekeeping with the blogger formerly known as Mansfield Fox, the two took up blogkeeping together as well. Last fall, after a year of marriage, they returned to the blogosphere at a new address: Dwyeropolis is now the cyberhometown for the bloggers now known as Angus and Sarah Dwyer and their beautiful baby girl Prudence. The blog features cute baby pictures and cultural and political commentary, but mostly cute baby pictures.

Sexless in print

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I met Anna Broadway at a blogger party in New York City the Thursday before the 2004 Republican National Convention, hosted by Karol Sheinin. We had an enjoyable conversation, which involved shouting into one another's ears to be heard over the very loud music.

A few years ago I wrote: "Anna is an MK (missionary kid), a fellow survivor alum of Campus Crusade for Christ, and a very witty writer. Her blog [Sexless in the City] is about her romantic misadventures in New York, and what she's learned about courtship, dating, chastity, and real, lasting love in the process." Although dating is far in my past, it's in the not-too-distant future for one of my children, and her more contemplative blog entries have helped me reflect on my own experiences and the lessons I'll pass on to my children.

Her less contemplative entries are just fun to read. There's something about living vicariously through stories of singles in the big city that strikes a chord in popular culture, as evidenced by Seinfeld, Friends, and, yes, Sex and the City.

In the last couple of years, she moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and her blogging pace has slowed considerably, but in a good cause -- turning those misadventures, experiences, and reflections into a book: Sexless in the City: A Memoir of Reluctant Chastity. Its official release date is April 15.

From the publisher's blurb:

Anna Broadway's "Sexless in the City" blog has become a popular Internet destination, attracting readers with its amusing tales of romantic misadventures and candid, far-from-prissy reports on the difficulties of trying to reconcile Christian beliefs with the mores and temptations of the modern world.

In SEXLESS IN THE CITY, Broadway offers a lighthearted, yet unflinching, look at the realities of life as a twentysomething urbanite. She writes about her youthful ambition of writing or editing bodice-rippers, struggles with debt and loneliness, the pleasures and perils of meeting men in singles bars, and other urban outposts, and about her friendships with women searching, as she is, for a good man to spend the rest of their lives with. Guided by her trust in God and the teachings of the Bible, Broadway navigates romantic entanglements with the Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, Ad Weasel, 5 Percent Man, and various others who wander in and out her life--but never into her bed.

Anna has also compiled a soundtrack for Sexless in the City, downloadable at 99 cents a song from iTunes. The 19-song playlist, while sadly bereft of western swing, includes selections from Miles Davis and John Coltrane, three songs by Etta James ("Stormy Weather," "I Just Want to Make Love to You," and "At Last"), and Dean Martin singing "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You." There's also a favorite of mine, Louis Armstrong singing "A Kiss to Build a Dream On." (KFAQ listeners may recall me singing this a capella during one of my weekly appearances; host Michael DelGiorno had challenged co-host Gwen Freeman to a "KFAQ Idol" sing-off, and I insisted on participating. KFAQ producer Elvis Polo still tweaks me by playing it from time to time.)

Congratulations to Anna on the publication of her book, and best wishes for many printings. I'm looking forward to reading it.

...to Steve Patterson of Urban Review STL, who is recovering from a stroke. He's up and eating pizza and starting to blog again. His insights on urban planning are always worth pondering.

... and to Brian of Audience of One for his impending nuptials. I met Brian and his intended, Terri, at the 2006 Okie Blogger Roundup. They seemed like a happy couple then, and I hope they have many happy years together.

Back to blogging

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A quick note to welcome back two bloggers who spent some time on hiatus:

Mister Snitch! took most of '06 and '07 off, started up with occasional posts last fall and for the last month or so has been back to his previous prolific pace. (Twenty posts today, and the day's not over yet.) Proprietor Jeff Faria always provides an eclectic selection of links. I particularly enjoy his thoughts on the social impact of the Internet and his perspective on local politics and local journalism, shaped by his experiences in the Mile Square City, Hoboken, New Jersey.

Joe Kelley, host of the KRMG Morning News, was an avid blogger during his previous stint as overnight host on WBAP in Fort Worth. When he came to Tulsa in 2005, he posted occasionally before putting his blog permanently on hiatus and dropping the domain. The demands of the morning show and twin babies didn't leave him time to blog. Now it appears that blogging has become part of the job description, and Joe's back with a blog hosted on the KRMG website.

Welcome back to Jeff and Joe. You'll find links to their latest posts on the BatesLine blogroll headlines page, powered by NewsGator.

Imagine a world where opinions are censored without the censored being aware of it. You write passionately and publish your views and as far as you know, your opinions are out there for the world to consider.

Except that they aren't. Nobody but you can read what you wrote.

Such a world exists at SFgate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle, according to a new blog called Investigate the Media. This blog was set up by a frequent commenter on Chronicle articles at SFgate. He discovered that he could only see certain of his comments when he was logged in under his username. From another SFgate account or when not logged in at all, the comments were shown as deleted. The coding trick involves the "cookie" that is created on your computer when you log in to the SFgate website. The motivation?

Why would SFGate do such a thing? Because ever since public input was first allowed at SFGate, many commenters who had their comments deleted would come back onto the comment thread and point out that they had been silenced for ideological reasons -- i.e. they weren't sufficiently "progressive" -- or because they had pointed out ethical lapses at SFGate and the Chronicle. Or any number of other reasons that the Chronicle did not want known. So, to pacify these problematic commenters, the SFGate moderators came up with a very clever and underhanded coding trick to prevent deleted commenters from ever finding out that they had been silenced.

A commenter adds:

What refined censorship. The censored don't know they've been deleted, so when they never get feedback of any kind to their comments, they are slowly demoralized and stop posting altogether. It's fiendishly clever and completely dishonest to all readers, left and right, though most of the left probably would approve.

Meanwhile, like a kangaroo court, the San Francisco Chronicle runs a kangaroo court of public opinion where citizens are misled into thinking that they have been heard. It's like a Monty Python skit but nefarious instead of funny.

Via Little Green Footballs.

There are at least a few of you who make faithful use of my BatesLine blogroll headlines page, also known as the NewsGator page, because it uses the NewsGator feed aggregator to collect headlines from the 100 most recent posts from about 160 blogs that I've handpicked as some of the most interesting on the web.

Until today, I included on that page feeds from several sources of op-ed columns and other paid, long-form opinion journalism: American Spectator, National Review, TownHall, and OpinionJournal.com. You'll find a prolific daily output of well-reasoned and informed opinions on those sites.

And that was the problem. While an individual blogger posts on an irregular schedule, these corporate-owned, employee-staffed sites typically post the new day's collection of a dozen or so columns in the wee hours. That means that each morning there might be 50 new op-ed pieces on my NewsGator page, pushing the previous night's output of ordinary, one-or-two-posts-a-day bloggers further down or all the way off the page.

So I've created a second headlines page: The BatesLine op-ed headlines page. Visit there for your daily dose of intelligent opinions and commentary.

By the way, the old NewsGator URL that ended in .php is now obsolescent, so change your bookmark to the link above. I've purged all PHP from my site, because PHP, dynamic content, and my shared hosting provider don't get along. With MT 4.0, I was able to provide a statically-built linkblog and spotlight using the new built-in MultiBlog capability.

There are still several things on my blog to do list:

  • Import entries from my old hand-rolled linkblog into my new MT-driven linkblog
  • Use Apache mod-rewrite and RewriteMap to direct links to my old numerically named archive entries to the new named versions
  • Read Wild Bill's Passionate Blogger blog every day for constructive tips on how to be a better blogger with a better blog
  • Reinstate full-text RSS and Atom feeds

As always, your suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Back in June I announced the Blog Reader Project, a way to collect information on who reads BatesLine that might be of interest to potential advertisers.

As an incentive to participate, I offered a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one participant out of those who supplied their e-mail address as part of the survey. Because of the number of respondents I decided to award two certificates, which I sent out earlier today to the two lucky winners, selected with the help of the truly random integer generator at random.org. Congratulations to Nik Majdan and Steve Arnold! And to the rest of you, thanks for taking the time to participate.

You can look at aggregate numbers for all participating blogs at the Blog Reader Project website. You can view select results from BatesLine readers here.

One of the most interesting stats, albeit not surprising, is that 85% of the participants have a zip code beginning with "74" and 89% have an Oklahoma zip code. I imagine that the survey is mainly representative of people who come to the site via the homepage, as opposed to those who find the site through search engines.

As I mentioned when I introduced the Blog Reader Project, there is some cost involved in keeping this site running and in keeping myself informed so that I can share what I learn with you. If you appreciate the information and analysis that I provide, you can express that appreciation by means of the PayPal tip jar in the sidebar to the right.

You can also gain some exposure for your business while supporting this site by advertising on BatesLine. $15 buys a standard-sized blogad, which will appear at the top of the right hand column on every page of this blog for one week. That works out to about a tenth of a cent ($0.001) per ad impression. The longer the ad period, the better the deal gets: $100 gets an ad for three months at about five-hundredths of a cent ($0.0005) per ad impression. Hi-rise (more expensive) and mini (less expensive) ads are also available.

(If you run into trouble with posting an ad or using the PayPal donate button, please let me know by dropping me an e-mail at blog at batesline dot com.)

Until I get the linkblog integrated with the new template, here are a few interesting links for your perusal. For more links, check out the BatesLine blogroll headlines page, now relocated and cleansed of PHP:

Slate: The Dangers of Reclining Your Car Seat

"Tilt your car seat back in the front, and you'll find that the seat belt no longer rides the way it's supposed to--the upper strap moves up toward your neck and the lower one up from your pelvis to your middle. And it turns out that is dangerous--though somehow neither the government nor car manufacturers think they need to clearly tell us so."

Slate: William Saletan: Buried Alive in Your Own Skull

"Five days ago, Science published a report on a young woman devastated by a car crash in England. For five months after the accident, tests showed no signs of awareness. Doctors declared her vegetative. Then, scientists put her in a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner, which tracks blood flow to different parts of the brain. They asked her to imagine playing tennis and walking through her home. The scan lit up with telltale patterns of language, movement, and navigation indistinguishable from the brains of healthy people.

"Something was awake inside that woman's skull. Without the scanner, no one but her would have known."

TIME: Best 100 TV Shows of all Time

Via WorldMagBlog, where a commenter complains that the Andy Griffith Show is the "single best show, and it isn't even listed."

New English Review: Theodore Dalrymple: How To Hate The Non-Existent (Via WorldMagBlog.)

"Suffice it to say that I have never received such hate mail as when I suggested that religious people were better than non-religious in their conduct. It seemed that many of the people who responded to me were not content merely not to believe, but had to hate. Although I had not denied that religious motivation could motivate very bad behaviour, something which indeed can hardly be denied, I was treated to a summary of the historical crimes of religion such as many adolescents could provide who had recently discovered to their fury that they had been made to attend boring religious services when the arguments for the existence of God had never been irrefutable....

"Perhaps one of the reasons that contemporary secularists do not simply reject religion but hate it is that they know that, while they can easily rise to the levels of hatred that religion has sometimes encouraged, they will always find it difficult to rise to the levels of love that it has sometimes encouraged."

dustbury.com: Remembering Lane Bryant

"In 1909, Mrs Bryant remarried, to Albert Malsin, who took over the business end of the Lane Bryant shop while she concentrated on design. New York newspapers, however, would not accept advertising for the store, what with all those evil maternity outfits on display. Eventually one paper did agree to run an ad, and when it appeared, the store was completely sold out within twenty-four hours. A second store had been opened in 1915, in Chicago, but feeling that they could not rely on newspapers, the Malsins opened up a mail-order branch, which by 1917 was bringing in $1 million a year."

If you live in Oklahoma and run a blog, you are eligible to nominate blogs, vote for blogs, and maybe even win an Okie Blog Award. This will be the third year for the peer-driven awards, founded and run by Mike Hermes of Okiedoke.com, one of his many wonderful efforts to build an Oklahoma blogging community.

You'll find the rules for participation and the categories here. Nominations close on September 8.

This process is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to new Okie blogs, even if you aren't a blogger and aren't eligible to vote. The Blog Oklahoma web ring has 458 members, so there is a lot of unexplored territory out there. If you have or know of an Okie blog that I ought to check out before I submit my nominations, please leave a comment below.

Danny Carlton is a good blogger. Politically, we're usually on the same page. I used to read his website on a regular basis.

Some time ago, he made the decision to block all Firefox users from his websites. If you're browsing in Firefox and click on one of his links, it sends you to whyfirefoxisblocked.com, where he explains that he's resorted to this because of a Firefox add-on called AdBlock Plus.

His feeling is that if you don't want to look at his ads, you shouldn't get to read his content. Fair enough. That's his right. Since he can't selectively detect and block AdBlock Plus users, he's blocking all Firefox users. He explains that it's no great loss, because there aren't that many Firefox users anyway, and they don't spend as much money as IE users. And he says that the Mozilla Corporation, which produces Firefox, is abetting theft by listing AdBlock Plus

It seems a bit excessive and counterproductive to block (and annoy) all his readers who use Firefox to screen out the handful that have installed AdBlock Plus. But that's his right.

The problem for him is that opinions are a dime a dozen. Danny is a good blogger, but he's hardly indispensable. If I can't read his site, I'll just spend that browsing time somewhere else. The typical reaction to being redirected to whyfirefoxisblocked.com won't be howls of outrage, but a shrug, followed by a click on the "Close Tab" X.

His most recent post is a swipe at "FireFox fanboys". Some of it is lashing out at people who have responded to his ban with profanity, denial of service attacks, and other reprehensible behavior, but some of it is aimed at ordinary Firefox users:

If you think the future of the internet is best decided by a committee of unelected computer-nerds (W3C), rather than the wishes and desires of billions of internet users (market forces)... ...you might be a FF Fanboy.

Blogger Don Singleton posted the first reply:

You are generally very level headed, but your war with FireFox users is tiring.

Danny responded with:

The Fanboys are only a segment of FF users. I'm not at war with FF users. I never was.

I tried to chime in with this comment:

What Don Singleton said. If you block all Firefox users, you're at war with all Firefox users.

What percentage of your pageviews were coming from Firefox, and what percentage of your Firefox users were actually blocking your ads? And aren't there add-ons to IE that do the same thing as Firefox AdBlock Plus? Are you blocking them, too?

I have to use IE to pay a couple of bills every month. Other than that, if I can't get to it from Firefox, I don't bother going. (I made a special effort to read this post when it popped up on my Newsgator page.)

And yes, I'd rather have a neutral standards body define HTML than Microsoft. If that makes me a fanboy, so be it.

But when I hit post, this popped up:

Comments are disabled due to server drain. When the children finish their tantrums, comments will be enabled

I'll give him this much: Sitemeter had him averaging around 100 visits a day until his decision to block Firefox got the attention of Slashdot and other popular websites. He came close to 3000 visits a few days ago.

UPDATE: Danny's advertisers have another, bigger problem than Firefox. Our brains have their own built in Adblock, writes Jakob Nielsen (via a comment on an item on Guardian Unlimited):

The most prominent result from the new eyetracking studies is not actually new. We simply confirmed for the umpteenth time that banner blindness is real. Users almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement, whether or not it's actually an ad.

On hundreds of pages, users didn't fixate on ads. The following heatmaps show three examples that cover a range of user engagement with the content: quick scanning, partial reading, and thorough reading. Scanning is more common than reading, but users will sometimes dig into an article if they really care about it.

At all levels of user engagement, the finding is the same regarding banners (outlined with green boxes in the above illustration): almost no fixations within advertisements. If users are looking for a quick fact, they want to get done and aren't diverted by banners; and if users are engrossed in a story, they're not going to look away from the content.

[Click through to the article to see the heatmaps.]

The heatmaps also show how users don't fixate within design elements that resemble ads, even if they aren't ads (and thus aren't shown within green boxes above).

What does attract attention?

For example, we know that there are 3 design elements that are most effective at attracting eyeballs:
  • Plain text
  • Faces
  • Cleavage and other "private" body parts

And the fourth way to get a reader to pay attention to an ad:

  • The more an ad looks like a native site component, the more users will look at it.
  • Not only should the ad look like the site's other design elements, it should appear to be part of the specific page section in which it's displayed.

But, writes Nielsen, that approach is unethical and likely to turn off readers in the long run if abused:

A specific ad may or may not be ethical, depending on how closely it masquerades as content. I caution against going too far, because it can backfire and mislead users. Unethical ads will get you more fixations, but ethical business practices will attract more loyal customers in the long run.

AND STILL MORE: Here's the Slashdot thread about Danny Carlton, courtesy Manasclerk.

More commentary on the matter from the folks who keep Oklahoma bloggers connected: Mike H. at Okiedoke and Kevin Latham, admin of the Blog Oklahoma webring. Kevin was annoyed enough to consider revoking Danny's membership in Blog Oklahoma, but decided to do nothing.

I came across an item about Tulsa-based blogs while looking for info about Tulsa's Coliseum -- the stories were on the same page in the April 2007 Tulsa People.

Writer Andy Wheeler mentions this blog and two others: Indie Tulsa, which spotlights locally owned businesses and Alternative Tulsa, an left-leaning anonymous political blog. Included in the list of blogs is a non-blog, the Voices of Tulsa forum, founded and run by MeeCiteeWurkor.

It looked like they intended to do a monthly feature of Tulsa-related web links, but I don't see that it continued in more recent issues.

But there was this piece, in their Tulsarama-themed June edition, showing how the price of a home, a gallon of gas, college tuition, a postage stamp, and a movie ticket had changed since 1957. Family income rose faster than the official rate of inflation, and University of Tulsa tuition rose at five times the rate of inflation. (A year at TU would be $4,334 today if it had kept pace with the cost of living. Instead it's $20,669.)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics online Consumer Price Index calculator, 100.00 in 1957 has the same buying power as 735.54 in 2007.

A week or so ago, I e-mailed Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn through his website regarding the Copyright Royalty Board's decision to raise royalty rates on Internet webcasters, retroactive to 2006, a decision that endangers small Internet-only broadcasters as well as on-line streaming of over the air content (e.g., WFMU). His reply is below. I appreciate the fact that Sen. Coburn has obviously examined the issue and given it some thought:

Dear Mr. Bates,

Thank you for contacting me with your support for the Internet Radio Equality Act of 2007 (S. 1353). I appreciate your input.

On March 9, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) issued a decision that establishes a statutorily mandated standard for royalty rates for commercial and non-commercial Webcasters. The new rates represent an extension of the "willing buyer/willing seller" standard. Under the CRB decision, Internet Webcasters must pay an annual non-refundable $500 fee for a set level of listening hours. Moreover, both commercial and non-commercial Internet Webcasters will be charged 8 cents per song retroactively back to 2006, with the rate gradually climbing until 2010.

The new rate does not include a special exception for small Webcasters. The CRB considered a small Webcasters proposal where the fee structure would be based on total revenues. The CRB rejected the proposals because:

"[S]mall commercial webcasters focus on the amount of the fee, rather than how it should be structured, is further underlined by the absence of evidence submitted by this group to identify a basis for applying a pure revenue-based structure to them. While, at times, they suggest that their situation as small commercial webcasters requires this type of structure, there is no evidence in the record about how the Copyright Royalty Judges would delineate between small webcasters and large webcasters."

As you know, the Internet Radio Equality Act would essentially nullify the CRB's March royalty rate decision and would allow the Internet Webcasters to choose from two payment standards: either 7.5 percent of total revenues received by Webcasters during that year that are directly related to the provider's digital transmissions of sound recordings or 33 cents per hour of sound recordings transmitted to a single listener.

It is my understanding the U.S. Court of Appeals has been asked to review the CRB's decision. I would like to wait until the courts have reviewed the decision before considering legislative action on this issue. I instinctively believe in free markets and competition and a level playing field for all types of radio broadcasts. Government intervention deters risk takers, hoards financial resources and interferes with the efficient allocation of resources. With that said, I believe the best solution to this problem would be for Webcasters to negotiate directly with sound recording copyright owners.

Internet radio, particularly small Webcasters, provide another format for the public to access free music, news and public safety information. I understand the substantial harm these new royalty fees will cause many small Webcasters and that they could potentially put them out of operation. I would like to see a solution to this problem that will allow Webcasters of all sizes to continue streaming their broadcasts over the Internet.

I will closely monitor this issue with your views in mind. Again, thank you for writing me. Should you have any additional concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Tom Coburn
United States Senator

TC: swm

You know those big "bingo card" surveys that ask about your interests, income, hobbies, age, etc.? Sometimes you fill one out to qualify for a free subscription to a professional magazine.

The point of such a survey is to put together a demographic profile which can then be used to attract advertisers who want to reach the kind of people who read the magazine. And by attracting advertisers, the magazine generates sufficient revenue to offer the magazine for free to subscribers.

BatesLine has always been and will always be free of charge to the reader, but it isn't free of charge to me. There are hosting, domain, and other Internet fees to be paid. It costs money -- more than ever -- to attend meetings over lunch and dinner and to drive to events around town and around the state. The laptop needs occasional repairs and upgrades. (My laptop is five years old, but over the years it's had a new video connector, new keyboard, new battery (twice), new motherboard, new hard drive, and -- as soon as its delivered -- a new DVD drive.) I've bought a couple of pieces of equipment -- a digital voice recorder and a digital camera that also shoots video -- to help me capture information to be presented here.

You can support BatesLine directly by making a donation via PayPal (click the DONATE button on the right side of the home page) or buying an ad.

But now there's a way you can support BatesLine financially that will cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

It's called the Blog Reader Project, a sort of online version of those bingo cards with questions about your web surfing and online buying habits, your interests, and your affiliations. You can skip over any questions you don't want to answer. Because the survey is being handled by a third party, your answers are anonymous. I'll only see the totals in aggregate.

As an incentive to participate, at the end of the survey there's a place to leave your e-mail address. I'll pick an e-mail address at random to receive a $10 Amazon gift certificate. (If a large number of readers participate, I may give away additional gift certificates.) Your e-mail address will NOT be tied to your survey responses.

Your honest, anonymous answers to the survey questions should help me attract advertisers who offer the sorts of products, services, and information that you'd be interested in. And that will help me continue to fund BatesLine.

Ready? Click here to complete the survey. Thanks for your help.

I am going to be pruning my blogroll over the next few weeks -- checking in with sites I don't visit as often nowadays, removing links to dead and zombie blogs, and synchronizing my blogroll with my Newsgator page. The plan is to take 10 at a time in the random order below and post an entry describing each one, linking to notable recent posts, and, if one has to go in the dustbin, explaining why.

It always bothers me when a site just disappears off of someone's blogroll without explanation. (It's especially troublesome when that site is BatesLine.) It's like driving down a familiar street and seeing a vacant lot that wasn't there yesterday. I rack my brain trying to remember what used to be there.

So for the record here is my blogroll, with 228 entries, as of March 30, 2007.

Congratulations to fellow Tulsa blogger Steven Roemerman on his confirmation as a member of the City of Tulsa Sales Tax Overview Committee. It's a sign of his manifest intelligence and civic-mindedness that he was nominated by the man whose election he tried to prevent. Roemerman was a fervent supporter of former Councilor Jim Mautino, who was defeated for re-election by Dennis Troyer.

The Sales Tax Overview Committee monitors the spending of the "third-penny" sales tax fund for compliance with the list of projects promised to the voters. I know that Steven will be a diligent watchdog, and he should have some interesting insights into city finances to share with us on his blog.

Calvey in Iraq

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Former State Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Oklahoma City) is a captain in the Army National Guard, and he is finally getting his long-awaited opportunity to go on active duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While he's there, he'll be keeping a blog about the experience, called "Calvey in Iraq: From State House to Bunkhouse." He received his deployment orders on Thursday and leaves today for Fort Bliss, Texas.

Kevin is a sharp guy and his departure from the State House (he ran for the Republican nomination for the 5th Congressional District) is a loss for Oklahoma. I'm looking forward to his reports from the scene in Iraq and hope he'll also share some reflections on his time in the Legislature.

Be sure to keep Kevin and his new wife (they wed on December 29) in your prayers.

There's a new Roemerman!

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... and it's a boy! Click the link to see pictures and to add your congratulations to Steve and family.

Congratulations to a couple of long-distance blogpals whom I've met in real life and who are getting some well-deserved recognition:

Steve Patterson writes the excellent Urban Review STL, which covers local politics and urban planning in and around St. Louis. In the December issue of St. Louis magazine, he made their list of "50 Most Powerful in 2006." Here's what they had to say about Steve:

He’s the Jedi master of sunshine laws, the seeker of clandestine city meetings, the guy who can suss out the minutiae of St. Louis politics and explain it in a way anyone can understand. Some call him strong medicine: Jennifer Florida described him to us earlier this year as a “zealot,” and the RFT just crowned him Best Gadfly. But his knack for digging up information that makes those in power squirm—for example, a site plan for the proposed South Grand McDonald’s that Florida claimed did not exist—has been throwing a wrench into local machine politics.

NYC radio talk show host and syndicated columnist Kevin McCullough had the thrill of hearing his latest column, "Why it will be 'President Obama' in 2009," read by Rush Limbaugh today on the flagship program of conservative talk radio. You can read Kevin's reaction and find a link to audio of Rush's comments here. In his column, Kevin lists five political trends and shows how Obama fits each one. Note the last one in particular: "gullible evangelicals."

Snowbound reading

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Thursday morning my car was too iced over to get the door open, so I took our garaged minivan to work. On Thursday night the 10-year-old and I had to dig out the driveway to get the minivan up the hill into the garage. We lit the gas fire, and I read Dickens' abridged version (the version he used for public readings) of A Christmas Carol.

This morning we had about nine inches of snow at our house on top of half an inch of ice. I stayed home and late morning we all got out into the snow. The wee one had his first encounter with the icy white stuff and was interested, but it did not induce his happy bounce. (The birds at the feeder did, however.) The two big kids went across the street to play with a neighbor kid. The six-year-old came home in tears -- she took a snowball in the face. A couple of good movies on TV -- The Polar Express and The Princess Bride -- were part of the day.

I remember a lot of ice storms in my childhood, and snowfalls of two to three inches. I don't recall the big dumps of snow -- six inches to a foot -- that happen at least a couple of times every winter nowadays.

I hope to catch up on some reading. Some of my fellow bloggers have been tracking some important stories in depth. Here are just a few:

At JunkYardBlog, SeeDubya has been covering the stories of the six imams who were removed from a US Airways flight after some worrisome behavior, the "realists" of the Iraq Study Group (actually defeatists who will lead us into disaster), the evidently fake Iraqi police captain who is a frequent source of information for the Associated Press -- heck, just start at the top and work your way down.

All right, one more, back a bit further -- the suicide bomber grandma gets immortalized with a parody of an Elmo and Patsy tune -- "Grandma detonated in a rage, dear"

Kevin McCullough has been all over bestselling author-pastor Rick Warren's decision to invite Sen. Barack Obama to address a global AIDS conference hosted by his Saddleback Church. McCullough detailed Obama's legislative record and religious views and cautioned Warren against giving Obama what amounts to an evangelical seal of approval. Today, Kevin reports that Obama said what he was expected to say:

In other words, Barack Obama views the people of the African continent as smart enough to change their behavior so as to apply microbicides and condoms before engaging in otherwise risky intercourse, yet he doesn't believe that the people of the African continent are smart enough to be presented with the fact that it is the risky sexual behavior that is endangering their lives. Nor does he trust them enough to be able to decide for themselves that they would rather LIVE than have sex.

And Kevin notes that while retailers generally saw post-Thanksgiving sales go up, Wal-Mart's numbers were down, perhaps due to the efforts of groups who are publicizing Wal-Mart's new ties to homosexual-rights groups.

Tom Gray has a couple of updates on the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery of the PCUSA's legal efforts to seize to the property of Kirk of the Hills, which left the PCUSA earlier this year. Part of the PCUSA's strategy when evangelical congregations leave is to find a few disgruntled members of the congregation, declare that they are the "true church," and sue to give them control of the church property. In a similar situation in North Carolina, the PCUSA presbytery found a member who had moved to the west coast but whose name was still on the rolls. When he declared his opposition to the congregation's departure from the denomination, the prodigal member became one of the chosen remnant entitled, in the PCUSA's view, to the church property.

Happy birthday, Jan!

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happyhomemaker-20050122.jpg

Wattenblog

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Recently I came across the blog of Ben Wattenberg, and it's become a favorite read.

The name is no doubt familiar. Wattenberg, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a social scientist and syndicated columnist, has been involved in or writing about Federal policy for over 40 years. He is a classic example of a neo-conservative, a one-time liberal who felt pushed away from the Democratic party by its weakness abroad and failed policies at home. He had served as an aide to President Lyndon Johnson, worked on Henry "Scoop" Jackson's 1976 presidential campaign, and has served on boards and commissions in the Carter, Reagan, and Bush, Sr., administrations.

What I love about his "Wattenblog" is that it is very obviously his, not something a grad student is writing for him. It consists of unedited, unpolished thoughts about things in the news or on the web.

For example, in this entry, Wattenberg rebuts an anonymous commenter, whom he dubs Mr. Wrong, interlineating his reply in bold red capital letters:

You have been provided with a lot of statistical evidence -- largely ignored on your part -- that proves everything you say here is false; that in fact Hispanics are, on average, developing into a new underclass, WRONG, MR WRONG,JUST PLAIN WRONG with significantly higher criminality CERTAINLY NOT IN THE SECOND GENERATION, CERTAINLY NOT WHEN COMPARED TO HOMEGROWN AFRICAN-AMERICANS. and much lower academic success rates IN THE FIRST GENERATION PERHAPS. SOMETIMES IN THE SECOND, AND MOST OFTEN NEARLY DISSAPPEARED IN THE THIRD.

You don't have to agree with him to admire the fact that someone with plenty of formal outlets for expression -- books, a syndicated column, a PBS show -- is willing to jump in to the rough-and-tumble of the blogosphere.

Three's a charm

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Congratulations to Dawn Summers of Clareified and Brian of An Audience of One, who both marked the completion of three years of blogging today. Dawn is an attorney in New York City. Brian is a public school administrator here in the Tulsa area. Not a lot in common, except that both are terrific writers. (And I have actually met each of them, exactly once.) Go visit their blogs and wish them a happy blogiversary.

In the absence of actual video, Sean Gleeson has used actual audio and still photos to put together a Ken Burns-style recreation of his Okie Blogger Round-Up presentation on the history of blogging:



(I recounted the beginnings of my personal blogging history about a year and a half ago.)

Okie Blogger Round-Up round-up

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The 2006 Okie Blogger Round-up was a fun event and a good start to what everyone hopes will be an annual tradition. Much credit belongs to Mike Hermes of Okiedoke, who started the planning on this over a year ago. It was well organized, and there was never a dull moment. Thanks, too, to Kevin Latham of BlogOklahoma.us and ITLnet, particularly for providing a WiFi router for all us bloggers to use during the event and for allowing someone (me, in fact) to take it home as a door prize.

Sean Gleeson led the opening Blogging 101 session, and Dan Lovejoy led the advanced blogging panel discussion, joined by Sean, Kevin, and Kurt Hochenauer of Okie Funk. The sessions were well-done, and I learned plenty of new blog tricks.

I came in late -- I had been helping my 10-year-old son get his Lego entry for the Tulsa State Fair ready to take over to the fairgrounds -- but registration was handled very smoothly by Redneck Diva,, her sister Taterbug, and Babs of Conversation Station.

Through Okiedoke's weekly Okie round-up feature, the Okie blog awards, and the Blog Oklahoma webring, which now includes 343 blogs, Mike and Kevin have done more than anyone else to introduce Oklahoma's bloggers to each other and create a sense of community.

It was great once again to see most of the folks who joined us for the much smaller Okie blogger bash a year and a half earlier. While I didn't expect anyone to come all the way from New York this time, I missed seeing John Owen Butler and Dwayne the Canoe Guy, aka Mike Horshead.

(Dwayne has a fairly new blog called Matching Dragoons, devoted to 1970s DC comics bounty hunter Jonah Hex. What I love about this blog are his regular features of comic book mail order ads from the '70s -- e.g., combat games with exploding pieces -- and the Weekly Wonderous Moment in Comics -- often featuring gorillas. Look for "Pitchman-a-go-go" and "Weekly Moment" in the sidebar at Matching Dragoons.)

Mike was wise to give us a three-hour break between the afternoon roundtables and the evening activities. There was plenty of time to grab a leisurely dinner and do a little sightseeing or shopping before the awards ceremony commenced.

I had dinner at Bricktown Brewery with three other veterans of the earlier blogger bash -- Charles G. Hill, Don Danz, and Dan Lovejoy -- and for the first time got to meet Dan's lovely wife and co-blogger Angi and their adorable and well-behaved three-year-old son Elijah. Charles kindly picked up the tab for me and Don, in consideration for traveling a relatively long distance to be there.

Before heading back, I took a brisk stroll around Bricktown, enjoying the perfect temperature and the cloudless skies. Don headed off to the Apple Store. (Tulsa doesn't have one yet.)

At the awards ceremony, I sat with Brian of Audience of One and his beloved Terri, Steph Waller, Lynette Erwin, and AKA Monty. I wasn't familiar with Steph or Lynette, but I had read read AKA Monty's blog on occasion and Brian's blog fairly regularly.

The highlight of the awards ceremony was seeing Charles win for Best Overall Blog and giving him a standing ovation. Given his decade of excellence in Internet publishing, the Okie Blog Awards trophy ought to be named in his honor. (Mark your calendars for next year's Chazzies.)

After that, some danced, some blogged, many drank, some did all three. (I blogged.)

I had been suffering from a strange shyness most of the day. I felt comfortable around the folks I knew, but awkward making small talk with people I was meeting for the first time. That's normally not a problem for me, and I meet new people all the time with the civic and political stuff I do. But Saturday, when I met someone new, I wanted to say, "Ah, would you excuse me for a moment while I read a few pages of your blog so I can hold an intelligent conversation with you?" I was embarrassed at the thought of asking a blogger a question to which, were I a faithful reader, I would know the answer. Eventually I got past that and had some good conversations.

The evening closed with a screening of the documentary Mozartballs, which featured Steph and Lynette, along with three other people who feel a special connection to Mozart. The Mozartballs of the title are the Echte Salzburg Mozartkugeln -- chocolate, marzipan, and praline candies which come individually wrapped in gold foil with a picture of Wolfie himself. The film has been shown on TV in Europe and at Cannes, and an expanded version will be released in the US this fall on DVD. I wouldn't be surprised if it pops up on the Bravo channel.

I stayed around to see the film mainly because, as the two big kids are both very interested in classical music and have studied Mozart's life and music in school, I wondered if it might be appropriate for my children to see. (It's not.)

I made it home about 1 a.m., tired, but glad to have made the trip and looking forward to the next one, hopefully with a bigger Tulsa presence.

Other bloggers review the round-up:

And here again are links to the official list of 2006 Okie Blog Award winners, the Flickr photo pool for the event, and videos of the event on YouTube. And Bill Bauer has photos and audio, too.

Blogger Roundup photos

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Charles G. Hill and Dr. Jan and Betsy of the Ugly Girls Club

No time to write much now (time to finish my column), but I'll point you to the Flickr photo pool for the 2006 Okie Blogger Roundup. Above, Charles G. Hill, winner of the 2006 Best Overall Blog award, is congratulated by his adoring fans, Dr. Jan and Betsy of the Ugly Girls Club.

Bloggers can dance?

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2006's best overall Okie blogger Charles G. Hill is at this moment on the dance floor with not one, not two, but three lovely ladies. (Pictures to follow later, assuming I don't find the cash-filled plain envelope in the previously arranged location.)

UPDATE: Because of the underpowered flash on my digital camera, Charles gets a reprieve. (And thanks for dinner, too, Charles.)

UPDATE (2): Don Danz's flash worked just fine.

UPDATE (3): There's video!

2006 Okie blog award winners

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Quickly dashed off on the Treo -- will add links later:

Corporate: Oklahoma Wine News
Inspirational: Counseling Notes
Commentary: Two-Headed Blog
Culture: Blog Oklahoma
Writing: Audience of One
Unusual: 3:40 am
Layout: Taste the World
Audio: Daily Bitch
Humor: Ramblings of a Redneck Diva
Family: Rocks in My Dryer
Political: Okie Funk
Overall: Dustbury

Congrats to all the winners, particularly to Charles G. Hill of Dustbury, who also received a much deserved standing ovation.

Okie Blogger Roundup is underway

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I came in late, but I'm here at the first ever Okie Blogger Roundup at the Bricktown Central Plaza Hotel. Sean Gleeson is the lecturer for the session on basic blogging. Dan Lovejoy is running the presentation laptop, and looking around the room I see nearly all the folks I met at the January 2005 Okie blogger bash: Jan the Happy Homemaker, Charles G. Hill, Don Danz, and Wild Bill. There are about 25 folks here now; I expect to see more for the advanced seminar and the awards ceremony and social hour later.

Blogger party NYC

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I'll be here in Tulsa, a couple thousand miles away, but Karol said to spread the word, so just in case someone reading this is likely to be in or near Manhattan this weekend:

***BLOGGER PARTY NYC***

It's on, baby. Are you a blogger? Do you read blogs? Everyone is invited.

I'm not sending out an evite like I've done in the past because inevitably I forget to include people on it and feelings get hurt. So, fellow bloggers, please post a note about the party on your site and invite anyone that wants to attend. If at all possible, leave a comment here letting me know you'll be attending so I can give the bar a semi-accurate count. I will keep bumping this post until the day of the party.

This is not just for political bloggers but since I'm the one organizing it it's likely that political bloggers, particularly the right-leaning kind, will be heavily represented. If you feel you won't be able to maintain composure if outnumbered by non-liberals, this event is probably not for you.

The deets:

WHERE: Mica Bar, 252 E 51st St, between Second and Third Avenues.

WHEN: Saturday, September 9th, 8:30pm.

See y'all there.

Leave a comment at Alarming News if you plan to attend.

Back during the 2004 Republican National Convention at a similar event, I met Karol and a number of the bloggers who are likely to be at this shindig, and a higher concentration of bright, witty, interesting people you are not likely to find, at least not until the Okie Blogger Round-Up on September 23 in Oklahoma City.

(Note to Karol and Jessica: Oklahoma City has 24-hour Wal-Marts and eeevil energy companies, just like Dallas. And we have casinos in Oklahoma, too, but Dawn already knows about those.)

Okie Blog Awards voting is underway

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Mike Hermes of Okiedoke has posted the nominations for the 2006 Okie Blog Awards. Voting is open until September 20.

My thanks to whomever nominated me for best overall blog and best political blog.

This is going to be a tough choice. Many of the nominated bloggers are friends (and one is a cousin). The easiest thing would be to vote for the blogs I nominated, but I will take the opportunity to have a look at each nominated blog. Whether you're an active Okie blogger (and therefore eligible to vote) or not, I encourage you to explore the list of nominees, too.

Okie blog awards, blogger bash

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Mike Hermes of Okiedoke has done more than any other individual to create a sense of community in the Sooner State segment of the blogosphere. Two of his efforts are at hand.

The second annual edition of the Okie Blog Awards is in the nomination phase, which ends Thursday, August 31. Only active Oklahoma bloggers can nominate, be nominated, or vote. The voting phase will begin Saturday.

The winners will be announced at the first-ever Okie Blogger Roundup, to be held on September 23 in Oklahoma City. If you follow that link, you can register online, look at the agenda, find out about becoming a sponsor of the event, and hotel reservation information.

I plan to be there. If you're an Okie blogger, I hope you will make plans to be there too.

My MySpace

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My last name is one of the 250 most common in the United States, according to the Census Bureau.

My first name was the number one boy's name in America throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, and it remains a popular name to this day, not only in the US, but throughout the English-speaking world.

So I'm not shocked that there are 182 MySpace profiles that match the name "Michael Bates."

For the record, this one is mine; none of the others are. Accept no substitutes.

I don't intend to do much with it. (Although I do have a great Bob Wills song you can listen to. "Three Guitar Special" -- "Here's them three boys: Eldon! Herbie! Tiny!") I signed up partly because you have to if you want to fully explore the site. Now that I've read about a blogger who appears to be the victim of MySpace identity theft -- someone using her name and photos from her website to make it look like she set up a profile -- I'm glad I have staked out my claim on MySpace.

Thinking about it, if you have a presence on the web or are a public figure at all, it's probably a good idea to claim a profile on MySpace and make it unmistakably yours. It's easier to say "that ain't me" when you can point to another profile and say "because this is me over yonder."

Happy Americanniversary, Karol

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On Thursday, Karol celebrated the 28th anniversary of her family's arrival in America from Russia. She writes:

As has been noted by many people before, you can move to China and never be Chinese, France and never be French, Brazil...well, you get it. But move to America and a few years later you're American, just like everyone else.

Karol has links to her previous anniversary posts. The highlight of the post is a picture of her, beaming with pride, an adorable curly-redheaded six-year-old posing with the judge on the day she became an American citizen. "I remember being so happy, I was going to be an American like my brother who had had the good fortune of being born here. If I look thrilled, it is because I was (and still am)." You will want to read her account of that day, with the story of why she was up on the stage with the judge.

Don't be surprised if you get a little choked up. I did.

Drew is now a proud big brother. Congratulations to the Danz family on the arrival of David William Danz! Click the link for photos and vital statistics.

Blogging 101

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Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost has helpfully gathered in one place links to his articles on how to start a blog. Also included are links to his various "Notes on Blogging" entries and to useful how-to articles by other bloggers. And by how-to, I don't just mean the mechanics of blogging, but how to get your work noticed, how to build and keep an audience, how to find a niche, how to have an influence. Carter's notes on blogging give some societal perspective to the impact of blogs. If you're new to blogs, wondering if you ought to start your own, wondering why people invest time and talent in blogging, Carter's articles are a great place to gain some perspective.

Neither rare nor well done

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Dave Winer answers Scott Karp's question about Media 2.0: "But what happens if big company brands realize that they no longer need a media middleman to connect with consumers?"

Why do you think they call it media?

They're middlemen.

In the future we won't need middlemen.

Why?

Because the Internet disintermediates.

Which is a fancy word for "gets rid of the middlemen."

Or, if you prefer, "gets rid of the media."

Via Euan Semple at The Obvious?

At the risk of providing Charles G. Hill with another blurb for his list of testimonials, this has to be said: Dustbury is the epitome of a blog -- links to an eclectic mix of web content, each accompanied by a well-selected excerpt that entices the reader to click through, followed by a pithy observation, and topped with a clever play on words. Even the category names are inspired. By comparison, other blogs are mere shadows on the wall of a cave.

Dustbury celebrates its tenth anniversary this coming weekend and Mr. Hill would like your help to mark the occasion:

With the official Tenth Anniversary in the offing, I'm soliciting reactions: to the site, to individual writings, to perceived philosophy, to whatever you might think is pertinent. And atypically, I'm not taking them as comments: I don't want the tenth one received, for example, to be affected by the preceding nine. This will be email only, and a representative selection of the reactions received will be posted here next week. Use this link if possible; if you don't want your name used, say so.

Please note that this is a more sophisticated and nuanced feedback mechanism than the site's original Feedback Form.

Phoebe Gleeson is live-blogging the home birth of their fifth child. Click that link for the play-by-play, and send some prayers and good wishes their way.

UPDATE: The stork's done landed, and brought little Beatrice Anna. Congratulations, to Phoebe, Sean, and the whole bloglomerate on your beautiful baby girl. (Did you really post to your blog a mere seven minutes after giving birth? Wow.)

Just found a fairly new and interesting Oklahoma blog called Terra Extraneus. In addition to commenting about politics and religion, Terry Hull is surveying the Blog Oklahoma blogroll and dubs me "the standout among the 'Bs' of Oklahoma bloggers." Thanks!

I've added Terra Extraneus to the blogroll, and I look forward to future installments on Oklahoma bloggers.

I stopped by the "Realtor Reality Check" rally for Chris Medlock, held across the street from the Southern Hills Marriott, where the Tulsa Real Estate Coalition was holding its candidate forum, from which TREC excluded Medlock. I had to leave at 5:30, but I'm told the crowd grew as more people had time to arrive after work. Mad Okie has photos and a description of the event. That's Councilor Jim Mautino's wife Bonnie holding a sign that says, "Bixby has a mayor, Jenks has a mayor, Owasso has a mayor. Tulsa needs a mayor, too!" Mad Okie's got a bunch more worth reading, plus some funny stuff.

I was downtown right about sunset and drove down Main Street, where two of the last remaining small commercial buildings are fenced and awaiting demolition -- 417 and 419 S. Main. The buildings belong to one of the partnerships formed by Maurice Kanbar and Henry Kaufman to acquire buildings in downtown Tulsa. Remember my half-joking worry: What if these guys buying all these old downtown buildings were really demolition enthusiasts? Well, it looked as if the first visible work to be done on the historic downtown properties they had acquired would be to tear down two buildings for parking. Some preservation-minded folks got their concerns back to Kaufman, who issued a two-week stay of execution. (Maybe this was some sort of hazing ritual, forced on Kaufman and Kanbar by the local good ol' boy network. "Y'all have to prove you're real Tulsans by tearing down historic buildings for parking.")

Here's the start of a TulsaNow forum topic about the buildings; the topic goes on for four pages. The southernmost of the two buildings has special memories for me: I did my month-long high school internship there when it was Channel 41, a news-talk TV station that had just gone on the air. (You'll find my memories of KGCT on Tulsa TV Memories.)

I met another blogger this evening, while waiting in line at the drugstore. A friend from church came up to say hello, and mentioned that she and her husband enjoy reading my blog. The fellow in front of me overheard and asked what blog, and when I told him, he said he'd just come back to Tulsa from NYC, and he'd heard of BatesLine from a fellow blogger back there -- Scott Sala, of Slant Point and Urban Elephants. (I mentioned Scott in this week's Urban Tulsa cover story about local news bloggers.) What a small world!

The blogger I met is Earnest Pettie, who blogs as The Idea Man. His latest idea: issue tax refunds as debit cards, tied to an account that accrues interest on the remaining balance of the refund.

Best Posts of 2005You have some great reading ahead of you. Mister Snitch! has published a collection of the Best Blog Posts of 2005.

I participated in the compilation, going back through the blog entries I found linkworthy over the course of the year. It looks like most of those I nominated made the cut, and there are several I remember reading but neglected to nominate. You'll find plenty of Oklahoma-based blogs in the mix.

Mister Snitch! put a lot of work into categorizing and describing each of the links. Click through and you'll find blog entries that are heartwarming, gutwrenching, heartbreaking, breathtaking, and milk-through-your-nose funny.

The entry also includes a FAQ explaining the methodology and premise behind this effort.

I'll be leaving the "Best Posts of 2005" button up in the sidebar to make it easy to find.

More Tulsa blogger babies

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Congratulations to Joe Kelley on the birth of his twin boys, Hudson and Brook, and to Matt Galloway on the birth of his daughter Hazel!

So much for sleep!

(If you missed the news about our new family member, click here. He is nearly back to his birth weight, gaining about an ounce a day. He's taking longish naps during the day, and we're looking forward to when he decides to start taking those longish naps at night. His big sister spent the weekend with my wife's folks, and she made a blanket for baby brother, with her grandmother showing her how to do zig-zag stitches with the sewing machine.)

Been meaning to post links to these: Basil, who has been conducting blog interviews of others, put together an interview of Owasso-based Greta "Hooah Wife" Perry. Greta turned the tables with a blog interview of Basil on her blog. Greta and Basil are both very interesting folks, and you'll enjoy learning more about them.

In her latest entry Greta asks for prayer for the health of a friend -- pray for Greta's health, too.

Pajamas Media launched in November amidst much fanfare and a certain amount of confusion, thanks to their last minute name switch to Open Source Media, followed by a quick reversal to Pajamas. As I understand it, the point of Pajamas Media is to get mainstream advertisers to support blogging by offering an attractive package of the most popular and prominent blogs.

That may be useful for advertisers and ultimately successful, but it doesn't seem to have had an immediate impact on content. Over time, the extra income may free up member bloggers to spend more time researching and writing, but most of the members are bloggers who became popular because they're already writing a lot and updating frequently.

I was thinking today about another potential benefit from bloggers banding together, and I didn't see anything on Pajamas Media's website addressing this: Affordable access to online research tools.

There's an amazing amount of information that is hidden away in pay-for-access databases. newslibrary.com has archives from 818 news sources across the country, including Tulsa Whirled and Tulsa Tribune content going back to 1989. LexisNexis has content ranging from news and magazine articles to court cases to voter registration records to incorporation documents to land records, information that can provide background for a story and help a writer follow the money and connect the dots.

Professional journalists sometimes have access to these databases through the publications they write for. A freelancer might be able to deduct the cost of a subscription, provided he has enough income to cover the cost in the first place, but even then, if the information he needs is scattered through several different databases, he'll end up paying a fee to each, and may not get enough benefit out of any one source to take advantage of volume discounts.

But bloggers have to make do with the free samples. Archives for the most recent week of a newspaper may be free, but anything before that is $2 an article. A database may provide free access to limited information or relatively weak search capability, but you have to pay a monthly fee to get the full information in a usable format or to be able to use full-featured search tools to find what you're after.

For example: I recently used GuideStar to look up the most recent IRS Form 990 for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, to find out how much of the organization's income came from government funding. (See my linkblog archive, scroll down to 2005-12-13. Sorry; one of these days, I'll add permalinks.) Money is fungible, and the money they get from the government for less controversial services frees up donor money to pay for cartoons of pro-choice superheros destroying abstinence advocates. Bloggers have used GuideStar recently to find out who funds a think-tank advocating against prescription drugs from Canada , to look into the finances of certain megachurch-related businesses, and to find out how much government money goes to a group that has produced a puppet video to urge teens to lobby the FDA for emergency contraception without a prescription.

For free, you can look at the three most recent Form 990s for an organization, but if you subscribe for $30 or $100 a month, you can get lists of board members and executives and access to all Form 990s on file. Paid access gets you more powerful search tools, as well.

Some research sources are available for free through your local library system, but that means having to schedule research time during their hours, using their computers, and being limited to so many minutes of access per day. (Occasionally, the database owner will allow library patrons to log in from anywhere on the Internet, but that isn't the case with some of the most powerful and useful databases.) It's good enough for casual use, but not sufficient for intensive research.

Most of the database sites I've visited mention that they can arrange special rates for libraries, corporations, and news organizations which need access for multiple users in the same organization. So here's my idea, and perhaps it can be done through the Media Bloggers Association: Negotiate group rates for unlimited or at least less expensive access to these databases for member bloggers. Access could be offered as part of an enhanced package of membership benefits. A blogger would pay one annual fee to the bloggers' association, and it would entitle him to access to a dozen key databases. The association would accumulate membership fees and pay group fees to the database services.

Does this seem worth pursuing? I think it would add depth to blog entries and would encourage more investigative blogging. How much would you be willing to pay to have this kind of information at your disposal? Let me know what you think, especially if you're a fellow blogger, by posting a comment or emailing me at blog AT batesline DOT com.

(That stammered "order" was an attempt at a Betty Boothroyd impression, for you incurable C-SPAN Question Time fans.)

Basil of basil's blog has been conducting interviews of bloggers this fall, collecting questions from readers, then allowing the subject blogger to respond, unedited, and presenting the results in an entertaining format. Here's my interview. I notice that sometime early next year Sean Gleeson and Don Singleton will be on the hotseat.

Coming up very shortly will be an interview with Hooah Wife Greta Perry, who is based here in the Tulsa area. If you've read her blog, you know she isn't shy about speaking her mind, so the interview should be a fun read. Click here to submit questions for her interview; the deadline is December 31.

Now Greta is turning the tables on Basil. She's collecting questions for an interview of him, and the deadline for those questions is also December 31. So here's your chance to learn about the enigma who uses a cute chubby-cheeked toddler photo as his avatar.

Mister Snitch! wants your help in identifying the best 100 blog entries of 2005:

Even if most web awards weren't an exercise in driving traffic (compare traffic numbers with Wizbang's list of award winners, and you'll understand), they still don't direct us to the best posts of the year. Great posts happen independently of traffic stats. In fact, some bloggers are likely to create great (and unknown) posts precisely because they spend less time doing self-promotion and more time writing. Those are the posts we want to acknowledge.

To get you thinking, he lists ten types of posts that fit what he's looking for, including "milk-out-your-nose funny," "a great comment thread," "something you'd stick in a time capsule."

I'm going to go back through my archives and take another look at the things I found link-worthy in the course of 2005 for a half-dozen or so that rise above the rest, maybe one of each type. (I have a feeling one of the Bayly Brothers' reports and reflections from Terri Schiavo's hospice will be among them.)

To make it easy for you to participate, I'll be adding a link in the sidebar on my homepage. Click through and follow the instructions to participate.

Keep praying...

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The latest reports from Mike Mansur regarding his son, who was born prematurely and with a congenital heart defect, are encouraging.

I don't know how often Mike will be able to check his blog, but you might leave an encouraging comment, just in case.

Welcome back to...

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...Will of Caffeinated Musings, who is learning to be less caffeinated and more active.

...Missy of Marsupial Mom, who has posted her first entry ("a hodge-podge") since giving birth to her new baby boy back in August. Her latest post links to a Reformation Day entry by Jollyblogger, in an attempt to explain "why coming into the Reformed faith has been such a life-changing experience." She writes:

I was in despair when I was trying to figure out what I could do to get closer to God. I have spent the last two years being reminded of what God has done for me. Huge difference.

(There are also some smile- and tear-inducing entries on her and her husband's family blog, Little House, including a lovely remembrance of his recently departed aunt.)

Weblog Awards 2005

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Speaking of the Weblog Awards, I should mention that a number of BatesLine's blogpals (defined as blogs that link here) are finalists this year:

Best New Blog (Established after November 19, 2004): basil's blog
Best Liberal Blog: Clarified
Best of the Top 1001 - 1750 Blogs: The Gleeson Bloglomerate
Best of the Top 1001 - 1750 Blogs: Dustbury
Best of the Top 1751 - 2500 Blogs: Sean Gleeson
Best of the Top 2501 - 3500 Blogs: Different River
Best of the Top 6751 - 8750 Blogs: Save the GOP
Best of the Rest: Hooah Kid

Congratulations on being nominated!

Remember, you can vote once a day in each category, every day through the 15th.

Please pray....

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Basil of basil's blog has been doing blog interviews, two a week for the past couple of months. Readers submit questions, the subject blogger has about a week to reply, and then Basil assembles and posts the interview. Here's the page with the list of interviews done so far and the schedule for future interviews.

I've volunteered for an interview. Basil is receiving questions for me through next Saturday, November 26, so click on over and ask away.

Vote for the elephant

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Aaron.cc is creating a Deck of Bloggers, sort of like the deck of cards created for the bad guys in Iraq, but with good guys (bloggers) instead.

The ladies at Elephant in My Coffee, which includes Greta "Hooah Wife" Perry, are in the running for the hearts suit, and they'd appreciate your vote -- you can vote for them here. If you have a blog, you can also vote for them by trackbacking to that entry.

Over 20 tabs open in Mozilla, and I'm feeling guilty about not sharing all this bloggy goodness with you. No commentary, just links to stuff worth reading. Here goes:

Eric Siegmund takes apart a silly National Newspaper Week ad which calls letters to the editor "the original Web Blog". Saving me the trouble of commenting, Charles G. Hill has exactly what I would have written -- something I actually did write in a similar context last year -- and compares the count of "letters to the editor" (aka comments) published on Dustbury to those published by the Daily Oklahoman. (By the way, the Whirled's letter lag is now closer to three weeks. Last Sunday there was an op-ed by an editorial writer in response to letters in that same edition, letters which were written prior to the gas tax vote.)

Mister Snitch! links to Jay Rosen, who says that the New York Times has abdicated its place as the Paper of Record. Snitch disagrees with Rosen's conclusion that the Washington Post has taken its place and has an interesting metaphor for the position that the MSM is in.

Blogging counselor/pastor Bowden McElroy has some challenging observations on what it takes to make a marriage work, along with some of his recent web finds of interest.

Lots of good stuff on JollyBlogger -- I don't even know where to begin. Are Calvinists saved? John Calvin on beauty. An intro to theonomy. An intro to postmillenialism. (Did you know that many Bible-believing Christians don't believe in the Left Behind / Scofield Bible / "Thief in the Night" concept of the end times?) And an appreciation of one small piece of M. Scott Peck's writing. And the one that really got my attention, "We don't always have to ask questions of conscience," which deals with the issue of how a Christian should spend money and time and calls to mind the notion of "terminal thinking" and "relational thinking" that was drilled into me in Campus Crusade.

(I said no commentary, didn't I? Sorry.)

If you're testing to see how your site deals with different user agents or copes with referral spam, wannaBrowser is a very cool tool.

Some other useful links on referrer spam and using Apache's .htaccess file to deal with it: fighting referrer spam by restricting IP addresses, a comprehensive guide to .htaccess, how referrer spam works and how to fight back, a sample .htaccess file, and why using .htaccess to fight referrer spam is futile.

Ronnie Barker, a British comedian who specialized in sketch comedy and was star of a couple of classic sitcoms, has died. The BBC has a collection of Ronnie Barker's best lines, including these fake news items:

The man who invented the zip fastener was today honoured with a lifetime peerage. He will now be known as the Lord of the Flies.

The toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on.

(That last one reminds me of a certain award-winning headline.)

And that's goodnight from him me.

The Technorati tags for this entry are going to be a mighty strange collection indeed.

Here's another good reason to clean out your blogroll from time to time:

Last year sometime I blogrolled a blogspot blog called The New York Minute, which was at thenyminute.blogspot.com. After a few months the blog went away completely -- 404 -- but I neglected to remove it from the blogroll. I noticed there was a "recently updated" star next to its name, and went there to find it had been restarted by someone called "Mask Man". The entries are random paragraphs out of an encyclopedia. Mask Man's blogger profile shows he has eight Blogger blogs, and each one has the same sort of content. The most recent entry on each has a comment with links to a Halloween costumes website.

What's the strategy? Find abandoned blogs that are still linked by other blogs, claim them, add enough content to avoid easy detection as a spam blog, then put the spam links in the comments, so the search engine bots will find them.

How to fight this?

If you have a blogroll or a list of links on your site, clean out the dead wood from time to time.

Regular maintenance is especially important for those who manage alliance blogrolls, where one person controls a blogroll that is displayed by each member blog. For example, there are the three on my sidebar -- Wictory Wednesdays, League of Reformed Bloggers, and Blogs for Terri. The blog I mentioned above is on the Blogs for Terri blogroll, which means it's linked from hundreds of blogs. According to Technorati, it has 334 links from 209 sites.

If you're deleting your Blogger blog for some reason, I suggest you then recreate it, with zero entries, so that no one else can claim the name for nefarious purposes. (If you are deleting your Blogger blog, you should back it up as it appears on the web, and export the entries, too. I think you can also export comments, and I believe that paying Haloscan customers can export their comment data as well.)

(UPDATED with a bit more info on 10/5/2005.)

Wish I could've been there. It was a big New York City blogger party Friday night, organized by Karol Sheinin of Alarming News, and there were a lot of smart, witty bloggers there that I met during last summer's Republican National Convention.

One of those smart, witty bloggers who was there is blogger and radio talk show host Kevin McCullough, and he had a conversation with fellow smart, witty blogger Scott Sala of Slant Point about how the blog world has changed since the frenzy leading up to last year's elections and what it means for the future of blogs:

I could feel Scott's pain when he said it, "It's like people are now reading the four or five big blogs and since the bigs aren't linking to us anymore - it's made me try to redefine my niche."

So what did he do - he started something brand new, more focused, more directed. (Urban Elephants) It's a complete start-over in Scott's case... but it has a specificity to it that makes it a great product for a more defined audience.

And in the end - I believe this is what will happen in a way that is not dissimilar to what happened to broadcast media. More channels brought more opportunities to target viewers. The more specific a channel is the more its audience relates to it in a strongly personal way. (This is why - all talent elements being equal - a talk radio station - will do better with a local talent as opposed to someone syndicated.)

I think Scott's observation about finding a niche is exactly right. My traffic is actually up over last year, thanks in part to the Tulsa Whirled's short-sighted decision to threaten me over linking to their website. I think most of it, though, is because there's a lot of room for growth in the niche I occupy. I mainly write about Tulsa, and there are a lot of Internet users in Tulsa that are just starting to discover blogs. My blogging and my political involvement gave me enough local visibility and credibility to give me opportunities on the radio and now as a columnist in an alternative weekly, which raises my visibility further and brings more people to the blog.

It's funny: I don't regularly read most of the big blog dogs that Kevin mentions in his entry. I used to, but it seems that ever since I created a special sidebar section for "News Blogs, Frequently Updated" I stopped checking them as often as before. Instead I find what they're saying via the lower-ranked bloggers that I read more often. I find myself more often exploring the sites of other bloggers who have linked to me, or who have written on some of the same topics, or bloggers that I've met in real-life, like Kevin and Scott and Karol.

The Schwenkiest spot on the web

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Speaking of PCA pastors, nice to see my friend Dave Schwenk, pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Claremore, has returned to blogging. Welcome back, Dave!

Reading elsewhere

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I spent a sweaty afternoon with a stripper and a pair of dikes.* The exertion has left me uninterested in generating any original content. So here are some links:

Chief Justice William Rehnquist died this evening, age 80, succumbing to cancer. He served on the court for 34 years.

The Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center have been completely evacuated.

Here is a New Orleans citywide group blog. (Via Caren Lissner.)

Here is an entry from that blog: A week ago today... and today.

Here is a Google map tagged with info about specific locations in the affected regions, with satellite imagery from August 31.

Happy Homemaker has hurricane-recovery news from Foley, Alabama, near the Gulf Coast east of Mobile Bay.

Here are photos (from before Katrina) of locations from the book A Confederacy of Dunces, which is set in New Orleans in the early 1960s.

Here is a map showing which countries have which of the four principal legal systems -- e.g., common law, civil law, customary law, Islamic law. (Via JMBzine.)

Acorns from an Okie has a list of very useful Firefox extensions, including one that lets you launch a link in Internet Explorer, and one that saves your current session -- all the open tabs and windows.

Greg Horton posts the unedited version of his Oklahoma Gazette article on Oklahoma City churches that have relocated from the inner city to the suburbs. Dwayne the Canoe Guy thinks Horton missed a significant part of the story.

BlogOklahoma.us hosts a PDF (1.5 MB) of the official 2005 Oklahoma State Highway Map. And they're building a database of every Oklahoma historical marker -- photo, text, and GPS coordinates.

(* I was installing a new outdoor GFCI outlet.)

A bouncing baby blogger

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Congratulations to Marsupial Mom, who gave birth to a boy yesterday. Swamphopper of The Rough Woodsman is the proud papa. Now they just need to come up with a Little House on the Prairie-themed pseudonym for the new addition -- on their family blog (Little House), the three girls are known as Mary, Laura, and Carrie.

Her most recent non-baby-related entry is this one, the third installment of her spiritual journey, which tells how they came to visit and ultimately join a Reformed church. We're very glad they did, because it's how we got to know this wonderful family.

I've added two new entries to my list of those who blog about Tulsa news. Joe Kelley, the new host of the KRMG Morning News, has started writing about local topics on his blog, The Sake of Argument. (UPDATE: I originally mentioned a second Tulsa blog here. See below for why it isn't mentioned here anymore.)

In the bigger blogroll, I've added Urban Elephants, the creation of my friend Scott Sala, whom I met at last year's Republican National Convention, where he was a credentialed blogger. Scott, whose personal blog is Slant Point, began blogging mainly about national politics, but he saw a niche to be filled in the coverage of New York City politics from a Republican perspective. Urban Elephants is a blogging community, organized similarly to RedState.org, with individual blogs, from which the best entries are promoted to the main blog. I'm pleased to see a focus on involvement and action -- there's a calendar of Republican events, including campaign volunteer opportunities, and a list of declared Republican candidates with links to their websites. In a heavily Democratic city, where Republicans can easily feel isolated and unable to make a difference, it's a great idea to use blogs to bring together a community of Republican activists. Best wishes to Scott and the rest of the herd, and I look forward to seeing the impact they make on this fall's New York municipal elections.

UPDATE 9/10/2005: I have dropped a blog called "Republican Vet" from the blogroll, at least for now. I checked that site today -- all past entries have been purged, and there seems to be a dispute going on between the owner of that blog and other bloggers, with accusations of impersonation, among other things. It's hard to tell who's who, and rather than get involved in sorting things out, I'm simply dropping it off the list.

Mike of Okiedoke has posted the nominations for the inaugural Okie Blog Awards. Voting is open from now through September 3, but, just like the Academy Awards, only active bloggers are allowed to cast a ballot.

I'm honored to have been nominated by my blogging peers for Best Blog and Best Political Blog, although I doubt I'll win in either category, given the competition. In fact, I predict that in years to come we'll be referring to the trophies as Chazzes whatever the plural of Chaz is.

Once again I've gone overboard opening new tabs in Mozilla, but my excess is your gain, dear reader. Some items of note, in no particular order:

  • Allen of Acorns from an Okie reports that Frontier City closed three hours early on Tuesday for no apparent reason other than the park wasn't full enough and wasn't making enough money. Very unexpected from an amusement park which is part of the world's largest amusement park chain and is right next door to the chain's world HQ in Oklahoma city.
  • Dawn travels to the northern reaches of flyover country and visits the Mall of America, explores the Minneapolis skyway, and attends a wedding at a St. Paul library. She also tells of the removal of a superfluous tooth. They don't call her the blogosphere's single-and-still-living-at-home answer to Erma Bombeck for nothing. (They don't call her that, but you should read her stuff anyway.)
  • Joel of On the Other Foot posted a touching tribute to his late grandmother on what would have been her 95th birthday. She was a preacher's wife, not much of a cook, but hospitable and never weary in well-doing. Of her generosity, he writes, "no baby was ever born in our church that didn't get a crocheted blanket." (I know how special that is: My little girl is very attached to the pink crocheted blankie made by her Great Aunt Bea.) When you visit that link, be sure to read some of his favorite posts. A couple of them have to do with a newspaper's hounding of a local politician, apparently driven by the newspaper's owners' other business interests. (By the way, Joel, feel free to move me into the "Prods" section of your blogroll!)
  • Tim Bayly writes that just as a taste of a homegrown tomato spoils you from enjoying the hard, tasteless storeboughten variety, so an encounter with a church that follows the "old paths" -- right preaching of the Word, right administration of the sacraments, and right exercise of church discipline -- may spoil you from feeling at home in a congregation that lacks the marks of a true church. (If Tim should write a book on the topic, he should call it Secrets of the Vine-Ripened Church.)
  • If you need motivation to acquire and enjoy some genuine homegrown tomatoes, read columnist Paul Greenberg's paean to an Arkansas variety of Lycopersicon esculentum: "Like life itself, the Bradley County Pink is perishable, but a joy while it's here."
  • Here's another Greenberg summer classic, updated for 2005: "Fifty Ways to Beat the Heat." I can testify to Number 20 -- Ray Winder Field in Little Rock is a grand old ballpark, a great place to watch baseball.
  • Three more interesting items from BaylyBlog: The use of zoning and other municipal regulations to harass churches; the history of William Tennent's Log College, predecessor to Princeton Theological Seminary, and the beginnings of a new school designed to train pastors in the tradition of the Log College, in the context of the local church; and thoughts on the decline of evangelical Christian colleges and the handful still worth considering.

Happy reading!

Mike of Okiedoke has initiated the first-ever Okie Blog Awards. Today is the last day to submit your nominations in 12 different categories. You must be an active blogger to make a nomination, to vote, or to be nominated -- "active" is leniently defined as having made at least one post in the last 60 days. I've submitted my nominations. Voting will commence on August 20. Click here for official rules and instructions.

I'm looking forward to seeing who is nominated, as I'm sure to learn about some great blogs I haven't yet come across.

...but not here!

You know the "What Everyone Should Know" series of booklets with the handwriting-like fonts and the artwork that looks like it came from Good News for Modern Man? There's one of those for bloggers.

"What Everyone Should Know about Blog Depression" -- a helpful booklet helpfully linked by the ever-helpful Dawn Summers. (Who has been blogrolled -- even if she is a lefty, she spins a good yarn, like this account of the wake of a woman who was not exactly her aunt.)

UPDATE (10/25/2005): Lance has taken a hiatus from blogging and taken down his blog for the time being. Unfortunately, shortly after he took his blog off the net, a spammer grabbed the blog name in order to take advantage of its high page rank, so I've had to remove links to his old blog. (You can read about this newfound method of junking up the Internet here.) When Lance returns to the blogosphere, I'll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, you can still listen to the radio interview with Lance, linked below.

UPDATE (12/13/2005): The spam blog was deleted, and his old blog address is back in safe hands, although Google is still caching the spam blog home page. I'm restoring the links in hopes that Google's bots will pick up the new, blank page.

Last week, I told you about Lance Salyers, a blogger who was fired from his job as a prosecutor in Dayton, Ohio, because a colleague recognized herself in an obscurely-written entry he posted on his blog about cowardice, was offended, and set about to get him fired. The colleague in question had declined to prosecute a case involving a violent crime, but was overruled by a panel of prosecutors which included Lance.

Lance will be on the radio today at 11 a.m. Central Time (noon Eastern) on a legal talk show on Dayton's WHIO 1290. You can listen live over the Internet.

UPDATE: I captured the audio of the show, and have uploaded the segments of the show where they spoke to Lance, in MP3 format, in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Part 1 was toward the beginning of the show, then the hosts took listener questions about a variety of topics. One question was directed to Lance -- that's part 2. Part 3 contains most of the discussion about Lance's firing. Unfortunately, I set the timer to cut off recording right at the top of the hour and I missed a bit of the end.)

Earlier this week, Lance responded on his blog to those who argue that he deserved firing, responding particularly to the notion that his blog entry amounted to giving the Montgomery County (Ohio) Prosecutor's Office a public black eye. As I pointed out, Lance had never mentioned where he worked on his blog or anywhere else on the Internet, and Lance says that this was acknowledged when he was fired:

They were not worried about somebody outside the office reading what I wrote because, I was told, "You're right: nobody out in the public is going to read this and know what you're talking about at all." Their problem was that people inside the office read it and knew what I was upset about.

The scary reality is that, when you click the "Publish" button, anyone might read your words, conclude that you're writing about him or her, take offense, and take action. This could happen even if you weren't thinking of the offended party when you wrote. Some people are so skilled at reading between the lines that they see things that aren't there. In some cases, what a reader sees may convict him of his own weaknesses, flaws, and sin, but rather than recognize the voice of conscience working through your words, he casts you as an attacker and seeks to retaliate against the person who (however inadvertently) made him feel bad about himself.

(NOTE: If you are reading this and think that I am writing about you, please be assured that I am not. Is that clear?)

Some people, and evidently Lance's former colleague is one of them, seem to be looking for opportunities to take offense, and if such a person has the ability to hurt your career -- well, that's a risk we take when we publish our opinions.

Lance isn't crying about the injustice of it all. He's busy praying about and preparing for the next steps for his family and his career. But as a part of moving on with his career, he must and will defend against the charge that he was fired for unprofessional behavior.

The only unprofessionalism I see in the situation belongs to two people: The first is the unnamed prosecutor who took such offense to being overruled and felt convicted of her own insecurities when she read Lance's words. The second is Mathias Heck Jr., the Montgomery County Prosecutor, who set aside process and proportion to get rid of Lance, thus depriving his constituents of an able and energetic prosecutor. (You can read Lance's performance reviews, which are linked from his home page.) (See UPDATE at the top of the page.)

This is a bit of pure speculation, based on years of observation of local government machinations around here: Is the defendant in the case in question politically connected? Was the prosecutor who initially declined the case told to "throw the fight" by her superiors? A guilty conscience from complying with such a request might explain the hypersensitivity to what Lance wrote. Lance was successful in persuading his fellow panel members to prosecute -- did this inadvertently upset some well-laid plans? If I were a Montgomery County resident, I'd hope that someone is digging into this story. (UPDATE: Lance responds to this point in the comments.)

Happy Independence Day! In honor of the day, take a few minutes to thank the men and women who help to keep our nation independent, free, and secure. Through the America Supports You website you can send along your message of thanks and appreciation. The site has information on other ways you can provide help and encouragement to the troops and their families.

Phillip Johnson has a cool photo for the day, snapped by his wife Darlene during their trip to London -- red, white, and blue over Big Ben. Go check it out.

UPDATE (10/25/2005): Lance has taken a hiatus from blogging and taken down his blog for the time being. Unfortunately, shortly after he took his blog off the net, a spammer grabbed the blog name in order to take advantage of its high page rank, so I've had to remove links to his old blog. (You can read about this newfound method of junking up the Internet here.) When Lance returns to the blogosphere, I'll be sure to let you know.

This last week, the good people of Dayton, Ohio, lost a skilled prosecutor, but Dayton's loss may be Tulsa's gain.

Fighting for justice and truth is a costly thing. You face opposition not only from those who are trying to conceal their wrongdoing and escape the just consequences of their deeds, but also from those who believe the battle is too risky and not worth fighting. The phrase, "Pick your battles," is too often a coded way of saying, "Don't ever fight." The latter kind of opposition can be more demoralizing than the former, because it comes from those who are ostensibly on your side.

At the international level, President Bush has taken grief from our Western "allies" for taking the war on terror directly to the enemies of civilization. Our "allies" aren't pro-terror, but they're unwilling to take the decisive action necessary to defeat those who threaten their survival.

At the Capitol, the effort to get just judges appointed to Federal courts has been undermined by those Republican senators unwilling to consider the "nuclear option" -- hiding behind comity and precedent, they seem most afraid of getting a tongue-lashing from the editorial board of the Washington Post.

At Tulsa's City Hall, we've seen the price being paid by Councilors Jack Henderson, Roscoe Turner, Jim Mautino, and Chris Medlock, and by their families, particularly by Mautino and Medlock, who face a recall election a week from Tuesday. Make no mistake: The purpose of the recall election is punitive, to make men like Mautino and Medlock pay so dearly for trying to serve the interests of Tulsa's citizens that other men and women of integrity will not seek to serve on the Council. The people behind recall want a Council that is cowed and compliant. Mautino and Medlock face fierce opposition, but it's my own experience that what can be most discouraging is the lack of fight in some of one's allies, who urge playing it safe.

For some in public life, the time for political courage is always beyond the next election, and political capital is always to be hoarded. Real leaders like George W. Bush and the four reformers on the Tulsa City Council understand that God has given them their positions and powers for a purpose. Like Queen Esther, they have been placed where they are "for such a time as this," and they are intent on doing as much good as possible with the time and resources they have for those they are sworn to serve.

Blogger Lance Salyers saw the "play it safe" principle operating where he worked, and he lost sleep over it, because playing it safe where he worked can mean leaving a violent criminal free to harm someone else. In his entry, "I Hate Cowardice," Lance compared the timidity he witnessed to the unfaithful servant in Jesus' parable of the talents:

There's the pitiful servant, having done nothing with the opportunity that the Master gave him, and all he can come up with as his reason for failing to act? -- "I was afraid." Is there a more lame excuse? Probably, but from the perspective of where I am tonight, I'll take anything over being afraid to lose. Such a weak way to approach the job of doing what's right.

Citing Theodore Roosevelt's famed "in the arena" quote, Lance wrote:

Sadly, the work of doing Justice sometimes falls into the laps of "timid souls," who not only shrink from the hard and uncertain work of Duty, but have the audacity to wrap themselves up in an air of self-congratulatory smugness at their exercise of "responsible caution." And while the halls of the ivory tower bear witness to the solemn nods of other, like-minded souls with their reinforcing pronouncements of "Yes, it had to be done. Nothing you could do," the Small, the Weak, and the Victimized are left to fight Evil alone. Some fight, too: unfair to start, now Evil has the added upper-hand of having had the Powers That Be tell its Victim in no uncertain terms "You're not worth fighting for."

Lance posted that entry early Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Lance Salyers was told he was being fired for posting that on his blog. Lance had been an assistant prosecutor in the criminal division of the Montgomery County, Ohio, Prosecutor's Office. Although Lance did not identify any specifics of the situation that inspired what he wrote and had never identified his place of employment on his blog or anywhere else on the Internet that I can find, a colleague recognized herself as the inspiration for the entry, took offense, and set about to get Lance fired.

Lance's situation escaped the notice of Dayton media, but it made this Sunday's New York Daily News column about blogs:

Last Monday, he said, he got a police report in preparation to review a prior decision to not press charges against an alleged rapist.

In investigating the refusal, he said, he called the prosecutor who had turned down the case. She said there was "not enough evidence to convict," Salyers wrote to me in an E-mail. ...

Salyers told me that the day his "I Hate Cowardice" entry appeared, his panel voted to take on the twice-refused case - and the case's original prosecutor was infuriated.

Lance contacted me by e-mail Thursday night, and we spoke by phone the following day. He had been assigned to a review panel -- a routine step when a decision is made not to prosecute a case -- and his research for that responsibility led to the events described above.

Since his firing, Lance has updated his blog, Ragged Edges, several times with the latest developments. A Dayton, Ohio, TV station got wind of his dismissal and interviewed him for a story that aired late Friday evening. He's also been under attack from a few cowardly anonymous commenters, on his blog and elsewhere, claiming to present inside information that discredits him. He has responded to the attacks with class and forthrightness. To back up his assertion that he had an unblemished record, he has posted every one of his performance reviews from his five years in the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office. (They're linked from his home page, on the sidebar, under the heading, "The Paper Trail.") (See UPDATE at top of this entry.)

I first became familiar with Lance and his blog by way of his comments on some theological threads on another blog. He struck me as someone passionate about the truth, who could make his points firmly and skillfully without being disagreeable. I got the same impression from his blog. His performance reviews back up that impression.

That someone with such an exemplary record would be canned for that blog entry suggests to me that something else was at work. The colleague who was offended by the decision to overturn her call evidently had enough pull with her superiors to get her revenge. It might have been reasonable to ask Lance to remove the post from his blog, but that option was never offered to him. He was told he could resign or be fired. Montgomery County's voters ought to wonder at the way the situation was handled.

As I wrote at the start, Dayton's loss could be Tulsa's gain. Lance has connections to Oklahoma -- he went to Oklahoma Baptist University and married a Tulsa girl, a graduate of Memorial High School. He and his wife had been thinking they'd like to move back so their baby girl could grow up near her grandparents. I think Tulsa County residents would be blessed to have Lance working for them to put the bad guys behind bars, and I think he'd fit in well with District Attorney Tim Harris's team. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Tim -- a devout Christian and someone willing to take risks to do the right thing.

Of course, if Lance were to imitate Tim Harris thoroughly, he might challenge his former boss in the next election. Tulsans will recall that Harris ran against then-DA Chuck Richardson and Judge Ned Turnbull in the 1998 Republican primary. Richardson was eliminated in the primary, and with significant grass-roots support Harris prevailed in the runoff. Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck, Jr., a Democrat, doesn't appear to be up for re-election until 2008, but the voters of that county, which has a murder rate twice the national average, might just prefer to have their prosecutor's office led by someone like Lance Salyers, who believes that it's worth taking risks to see to it that evildoers are punished.

I'll be keeping Lance and his family in my prayers, and I hope you will, too. I trust that God has bigger and better things in store for him.

Those are familiar words during tornado season in Oklahoma, but I'm talking about a cellar of another sort. Via Dustbury and reader Joey Baumgartner, I learn of a new Tulsa blogger, Matt Galloway, whose blog is called The Basement, and after just a month in business, he's already off to a great start. He's been poring over stats from BlogPulse, and he's passed along some interesting observations from his dad, Bethany, Oklahoma, City Manager Dan Galloway, on the proposed flag-burning amendment and on the relationship between eminent domain for economic development and Oklahoma's municipal finance structure, which is almost entirely dependent on locally-collected sales taxes. Dan says, in a nutshell, if you don't want cities to condemn neighborhoods to build shopping centers, don't make cities rely on sales tax collected within their boundaries to fund municipal services.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Matt!

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.

Cheers!

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

Series-ous blogging

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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!

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.

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.)

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":

Ive 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 everyoneincluding God. I proclaimed a message to others that I hadnt fully taken into my own life. I was willing to admit that I was imperfect. I didnt 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, wont be again. That brings tears to my eyes right now because I really dont know what that means, or how it will look. What I do know is that I think Im coming to the place where Im 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 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.


Ping-O-Matic
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 201.138.5.158 (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:

http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/

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.

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.)

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.)

Congratulations to Lawton, Oklahoma, pastor and blogger John Owen Butler for getting a mention in a Business Week article on religious podcasting. John's podcast can be found at psalmcast.blogspot.com, and it features recordings of the singing of the Psalms by choirs from around the world.

His latest entry is Psalm 98, set to the tune "Desert," a joyous tune I've also heard used for the hymn "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing." (The tune is Common Meter, so it could be used for a vast number of hymns.)

Round up the bloggers

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Mike Hermes of Okie Doke is proposing an Okie blogger round-up for sometime in the fall of 2006. He wants to start the planning now to make it a successful event, and to help the process along he's launched a new blog as a home for brainstorming and organizing.

The first-ever Okie blogger bash back in January was a lot of fun. It's nice to be able to put a face and a voice with the words on the CRT. This event promises to be even bigger, and just the work to put it all together will get bloggers networking.

Great idea, Mike, and I'll do all I can to support the effort.

I tend to go a bit crazy with Mozilla's tabbed browsing capabilities. Rather than move on from something interesting, I open a new tab and keep browsing, and the tabs become a snapshot of what's caught my attention. I have 12 open at the moment, and it's about time I shut Mozilla down for a while. So let me write about a few and close them up as I go along.

Jim Davila of the University of St. Andrews has a blog called Paleojudaica, which received an Instalanche for his post about MIT's Time Traveler Convention and his speculations as to why no time travelers were in attendance. The normal stuff of his blog is ancient Judaism and archaeology. Recent entries include one on the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount and a link to an article about Egyptian Karaite Jews, a people who migrated to Egypt under the Persian Empire in about 550 B.C. and who began leaving Egypt because of persecution during the 1950s. Elsewhere, Davila has an essay on why he blogs about his academic speciality:

I don't remember the exact concerns that led me to open a blog. I think it was partly frustration with the carelessness and inaccuracy with which the mainstream media often treats specialist subjects such as my own, combined with being impressed with how often the major political blogs were able to catch the media in errors and sometimes get them to correct them. I think it was also partly my longstanding interest in making my work available to a popular audience. Having a blog gives me an international forum to give non-specialists a better perspective on the media reports they read about my field and to speak to them with something approaching my whole voice rather than just my scholarly voice.

Manuel L. Quezon III, grandson of the founding father of the Republic of the Phillipines, is a columnist and also a blogger about Filipino life and politics.

A new blogger called Zippy Catholic has been stirring the anti-evangelical pot by arguing from Gödel's incompleteness theorem that sola scriptura -- a fundamental doctrine of the Protestant Reformation which asserts the sufficiency of the Bible -- "asserts its own irrationality." His first post on the topic is here. That was linked elsewhere leading to a lengthy comment thread, featuring Zippy and some other Catholics debating a handful of evangelical Protestants. Then Zippy posted yet another entry in which he seems to say that evangelicals believe in salvation by knowledge, which leaves out those incapable of abstract thought, but in fact we are saved by love, and we love Jesus by doing what He commands, and what Jesus commands is that we obey the Catholic church. (Yes, I'm oversimplifying. That's why I link, so you can read it for yourselves.) In the comments to that latter entry, I posted a question and a further clarification, to which I have yet to get an answer that doesn't beg the question:

Zippy, you write: "those who love Him will do as He commands because they love Him." How does one who loves Christ know what Christ commands, so that he may be able to do it?

How can I know that Christ commands me to heed the successors of Peter and the Roman magisterium, rather than, say, rival claimants to apostolic authority in Salt Lake City or Constantinople? How do I know who truly speaks for Christ?

You can read the entry and the replies I've received to my question.

Kevin Johnson, one of the Reformed evangelicals participating in the discussion, has also posted some thoughts here and here.

Kevin Johnson also participates in a blog called Communio Sanctorum, which is described as "an online theological journal designed to highlight the sacramental, trinitarian, and covenantal connection we have with the historic Church...[,] a Reformational contribution to catholicity." Apropos to the above discussion, here's an article on sola scriptura and the place of councils and confessions:

Rightly does the Protestant tradition, building as it does on substantive strains of the larger catholic tradition, say that no authority under God is absolute. This is why, for instance, we conceive of the Church (particularly in her Councils) as being the minister and not the legislator of the Word. 'Sola' Scriptura does not mean that we cannot have Councils and that they cannot lay down definitive rulings on matters of doctrine and practice; it just means that 'definitive' cannot itself mean 'irreformable'.

I forget where I found this, but it's a column by novelist and left-leaning Catholic priest Andrew Greeley about Cardinal Ratzinger, written before he was elected pope. This was intriguing:

Many devout Catholics would recoil at [Ratzinger's] blunt assertion (which I quoted the other day) that it is wrong to say that the Holy Spirit elects the pope because there have been popes the spirit would never have elected. He might also be less likely than some other popes to identify his convictions with direct communication from God.

Last tab -- political not religious, but it also has to do with authority and interpretation. Todd Zywicki at the Volokh Conspiracy notes an Alabama Supreme Court concurring opinon for a decision in which the Court actually defers to the legislature's long-standing interpretation of the Constitution's requirement for a majority vote to enact legislation.

Justice Parker then goes on to argue that each of the branches of government have an independent obligation to interpret the constitution, and that as a result, the court should defer to a longstanding constitutional interpretation by the legislature:

[T]he Alabama Legislature has consistently followed the third interpretation for at least three decades. I believe the Legislature is within its authority to interpret 63 in this way, and I therefore conclude that this Court should defer to that interpretation. By so deferring, we show proper respect to a coordinate branch of government.

On the same blog, the next entry up, Eugene Volokh writes that the Montgomery County, Maryland, Public Schools have adopted a sex-ed curriculum for the 8th Grade that includes handout listing "myths regarding sexual orientation." One of the "myths" listed: "Homosexuality is a sin." The "fact" rebutting the "myth" counts the biblical passages condemning homosexual behavior, notes that Jesus never spoke on the issue, notes that religion has often been used "to justify hatred and oppression," and praises liberal Christian groups for "beginning to address the homophobia of the church." Looks like a state institution pronouncing on matters of theology, and the U. S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. noticed:

The Court is extremely troubled by the willingness of Defendants to venture or perhaps more correctly bound into the crossroads of controversy where religion, morality, and homosexuality converge. The Court does not understand why it is necessary, in attempting to achieve the goals of advocating tolerance and providing health-related information, Defendants must offer up their opinion on such controversial topics as whether homosexuality is a sin, whether AIDS is Gods judgment on homosexuals, and whether churches that condemn homosexuality are on theologically solid ground. As such, the Court is highly skeptical that the Revised Curriculum is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, and finds that Plaintiffs Establishment Clause claim certainly merits future and further investigation.

Last Thursday, Williams granted a Temporary Restraining Order preventing the curriculum from being deployed as planned.

From the blogroll

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Haven't done this for a while -- a few bits and pieces worthy of note around the blogosphere:

New York City bloggers Karol and Ace premiered their weekly Internet radio show, "Hoist the Black Flag," on RighTalk. I missed the live Tuesday 4 p.m. EDT webcast, but it's running again right now, and will be running hourly until 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, rotating through RighTalk's five channels. Their guests this week were James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin. They'll replay the show twelve times over the weekend. Interesting show, but I expected to hear the phrase "Arrr, Matey" more frequently.

Bowden McElroy writes about life in his house as a very outnumbered man:

With the college semester being over, everyone is home now. At least for another few weeks until the older two girl's summer plans start. Which means I'm back in the full swing of experiencing culture shock in my own home. What I want Steven to understand is this: while you are raising your daughters, there will be moments when you CANNOT understand what is happening in your own home. Don't worry, you haven't lost your ability to speak English, you haven't lost your grip on reality; you have, however, entered a culture completely alien and foreign to anything you have experienced before. Just relax and hang on.

With Cheese has an anthem for bloggers, the perfect musical accompaniment for those preening glamour photos that so annoy Christopher Hanson. (HT: Overtaken by Events.)

Jason of Worldwide Rants proposes a blogger handsign as a way for bloggers to recognize each other in public. Hat tip to Jessica, who likes the idea but says, "Some people may look at us funny and ask why we were trying to break our own fingers." I tried the sign and noticed that, viewed from the wrong angle, the handsign may be misinterpreted and may result in a broken nose.

Many thanks to Dan and Angi for reminding us about the joys of Engrish, the website that collects entertaining manglings of English from the mysterious Orient and elsewhere. This is a truly unfortunate name for an ocean-going vessel.

Today was the second anniversary of BatesLine.

In April 2003, we had just connected to broadband. I had been thinking about getting a domain name so our e-mail addresses could be independent of our ISP. I had also started reading blogs, beginning with National Review's The Corner, then Instapundit and Little Green Footballs. As long as I was finding a host for our domain, I may as well find one that would set up a blog for me. What I had in mind was a place to make note of and comment on news and other interesting things I found on the web, and to make those comments and notes available to friends and family. I did not begin with grand ambitions.

It's instructive to look back over two years' worth of stats. According to awstats, BatesLine had 142 visits from 80 unique IP addresses for the entire month of May 2003. I received absolutely no referrals from other websites in that month.

There's some good stuff in that first month worth of posts, including one of the most frequently accessed BatesLine entries, "Cute Baby Pictures." It's on the first page of Google results for that phrase, although I doubt the many visitors who hit it are looking for images of a half-inch long baby toad or a baby armadillo -- even though they are very cute. Since 99% of you didn't read any of it at the time, it's all new to you, and maybe I'll start rerunning it.

In July and August, BatesLine became the de facto website for the opposition to Vision 2025, and traffic began to climb as radio stations and even the Tulsa Whirled linked to the site. (Do you think I should sue?) I received 2298 visits in August and peaked at 3496 in September -- 833 on September 9 alone, the day of the Vision 2025 vote. It was in the course of this election that BatesLine was first noticed and linked by A-list Oklahoma blogs like Dustbury, OkieDoke, and Reflections in d minor.

It was also in August that I got the world's smallest Instalanche for this article on using WiFi to spur development in downtown Tulsa. (I linked to this Instapundit item, and Glenn updated later with a link back to me.) How small was it? So small that I only just now noticed it -- 24 hits. Compare that to the 10,488 hits from Instapundit in February 2005, linking to my items about the threat letter from the Tulsa Whirled.

The Vision 2025 campaign transformed BatesLine into a blog mainly about local politics. It also began the partnership between BatesLine and KFAQ. Michael DelGiorno, Gwen Freeman, and I had lunch shortly after the vote, and Michael suggested having me on regularly as a Vision 2025 watchdog. As other local issues cropped up -- the 71st and Harvard case in October 2003, city elections at the beginning of 2004 -- that role broadened to include all of city politics. I think I've only missed one Monday morning since we began way back then. Month after month, KFAQ's website is the single biggest referrer to BatesLine.

Traffic climbed steadily over 2004, as BatesLine covered the new City Council majority and offered some first-hand reporting from the Republican National Convention. I also got to know a number of official convention bloggers and New York City-based conservative bloggers -- connections that would come in handy earlier this year. Traffic peaked in October at 15,015 visits, with October 22 the biggest day to date at 3,389 visits, thanks to a link from National Review's The Corner to this item reporting Chris Matthews' claim that George W. Bush is not pro-life.

The threat letter from the Tulsa World dominated February 2005, which has been BatesLine's biggest month to date -- 40,082 visitors, nearly 28,000 in a two-day period. For much of that traffic, I have to thank Ace of Spades (to whom Karol Sheinin introduced me at a New Criterion "Tuesday at Fitz's" in New York City back in late November) for responding to the mass e-mail I sent to nearly every blogger I'd ever met. Ace's entry was picked up by Michelle Malkin, who wrote about it (and hit my tip jar!), and Michelle's entry caught Instapundit's attention. Many others were kind enough to write about the issue, but Ace was the vector by which the story gained international attention.

Kevin McCullough interviewed me on his New York City radio show. CNN's "Inside Politics" mentioned the story three times. Bob Cox of The National Debate and founder of the Media Bloggers Association contacted me, expedited my membership in that organization, and put me in touch with the MBA's General Counsel, Ron Coleman. Ron sent a reply to the Whirled that has yet to receive an answer.

While Instalanches don't last forever, they do allow prospective regular readers to discover a blog for the first time, and I'm sure with each of those bumps in traffic, some Tulsa-area readers found BatesLine for the first time. Traffic has tailed off to about 1300-1500 visits per day -- half-again more than before the Whirled's threats. It had been a bit higher, but I noticed traffic flagged a bit just before Tax Day and hasn't completely recovered.

Everyone of those numbers is a real live human being (except for the search engine bots and the referral spam bots), and I thank you for taking the time to visit, to read, and to tell your friends. Many of you have been kind enough to send encouraging comments by e-mail or to stop me at events to express your appreciation. I'm grateful to those who have dropped a few bucks in the tip jar (the "donate" button on the home page) and to those intelligent advertisers who have chosen BatesLine to deliver your message to an intelligent readership. I've been especially gratified to see several of my readers start blogs of their own. Although this is still a hobby, I do feel an obligation to fill you in on local politics and provide you with some food for thought, and it's nice to know that it matters to you.

Happy 9th!

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Charles G. Hill marks nine years of his website, remembering pages past:

Another page that's disappeared was the Feedback Form, which I wrote in 1997, and which never got much use. There was a text box for comments, and a place to identify yourself, but before that, there were seven possible answers to "So really, what do you think of this site?"

* It's the most amazing site I've ever seen
* I give it an 85; it's got a good beat and you can dance to it
* There are suckier sites
* It must be nice to have that much free time
* Tell me you don't do this for a living
* Let me guess: you majored in Snotty
* I will eat dirt rather than bookmark this

"It must be nice to have that much free time," the median, was set as the default.

He concludes:

I have a feeling this site is never going away until I do.

Let's hope neither happens for a long, long time.

After a five-month hiatus, it was nice to see The Horserace Blog pop up into the most recently updated section of the BatesLine blogroll. Jay Cost, who wrote the blog, a thorough and fascinating analysis of the presidential polls over the month leading up to Election Day 2004, announces that he is now a contributor at RedState.org. You can find an archive of his posts to date here. In his latest entry, Cost answers those who bemoan the decline of cross-party comity with examples of fierce partisanship from all the way back to 1797, when President Washington was accused of debauching America by Benjamin Franklin's grandson.

Motel postcards!

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Jan the Happy Homemaker has gone all Lileks on us, posting motel postcards. More please! (And higher res, too, if possible. The Pow-wow Lounge needs to be seen in all its glory!)

I may not get the international linkage and fan mail that some bloggers do, but there are perks to being a blogger with a focus on local news. Most bloggers have to be satisfied with kind words via email or in the comments, but I am privileged to get real hugs, pats on the back, hearty handshakes, and face-to-face words of thanks and encouragement. For all that, I want to express my appreciation to you, dear readers. It makes it all worthwhile to know that what I do here matters to you.

Blog survey

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TulipGirl had this, so I thought I'd give it a try here. Put your answer in the comments or email me at blog -AT- batesline DOT com.

1. How often do you check my blog?

2. Do you have a blog of your own? If so, what is the link? If no, why not?

3. Why do you visit my blog?

4. What are some other good blogs that you read?

Semper ubi sub ubi

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I was proud to find myself blogrolled under the heading "eclectic" on a blog called Semper ubi sub ubi. (Ask a Latin-speaking friend for a translation of that profound motto.)

Although I'm not a cigar smoker, I like this quote from the top of the page:

I have enough trouble keeping the Ten Commandments, I don't need to add an eleventh one ... and I fully intend to go home tonight and smoke a cigar to the glory of God.--Charles H. Spurgeon

All the cool bloggers are doing it, so why not join in?

By "it," I mean annoying Baltimore Sun columnist Christopher Hanson, who complains that "[a] great many bloggers are... too self-absorbed to focus on keeping the public informed." He calls such bloggers "I Bloggers", who, says Hanson, "owe less to Watergate investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein than to the recently deceased Hunter S. Thompson. His 'gonzo' journalism focused on the writer's precious idiosyncrasies, not on fact digging, and the Blogosphere, too, is a wilderness of self-absorption."

As his first case in point, Hanson cites the Dawn Patrol, which he describes as "Manhattanite Dawn Eden's preening report on Dawn Eden, iconoclastic neoconservative 'petite powerhouse,' illustrated with Dawn Eden glamour photos."

One wonders if Mr. Ever-Accurate Main Stream Media bothered to read the target of his scorn. Dawn Eden is second to no one when it comes to digging up facts and informing the public about America's Death Industry. (Also, she's not a Manhattanite, either by birth or residence.) She does leaven her fact-digging with personal insights, pop culture, and the occasional photo, all of which make it easier to sit still to read about the latest outrages from Planned Parenthood -- a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.

On the other hand, I have to make myself read Eminent Domain Watch every few days. It too is a valuable source of information about outrages -- in this case, outrageous abuse of government's power to take private property for public use. I know nothing at all about Mr. E. D. Watch's personal life, other interests, or motivations for keeping on top of this issue. I'm glad the blog is there, but it's dry as dust.

Here at BatesLine, I make you sit through my personal whims on a regular basis. In order to get to first-hand reports and analysis of local news, you have to put up with a theological essay or a tribute to Bob Wills or Gene Scott or a rumination on the summer I was eight or pictures of the kids or links to cool maps and British radio comedy and photoshopped romance novel covers. You don't like it, you can get your own blog and do things your own way. The day I don't publish something that strikes my fancy, because it might annoy someone who's only interested in hard news, is the day I quit writing because I've completely lost interest.

One of the wonderful things about the blogosphere is discovering that people come in such interesting combinations of interests and experiences. I wrote the following in an e-mail about a year ago:

One of the wonderful things about the blogosphere is it provides a showcase, an outlet, and a means of connection for people who aren't easily pigeonholed. How do you categorize a liturgy-loving Calvinistic Baptist conservative Republican with an interest in urban design and local politics and a fondness for pre-British-Invasion instrumental pop? Much has been written about the way eBay has brought buyers and sellers together for obscure items that otherwise wouldn't have a market, but the blogosphere has provided a place for ideas to come seemingly out of nowhere, gain a hearing, and gain critical mass, in a way that used to be possible only in the biggest cities or on college campuses. You just write about your passions, and people who share those passions write back.

So in the spirit of I Blogging, here are a couple of glamour photos of me, my contribution to the "Annoy Christopher Hanson" campaign, hosted by Charles G. Hill of dustbury.com. And there's a bonus!

First photo: Here I am, atop 30 Rockefeller Center at a party honoring Senator Jim Inhofe, during the Republican National Convention, where I served as a delegate. I'm with Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock (an elected alternate to the convention) and Congressman John Sullivan, two public officials I helped get elected. (Ask them if you don't believe me.) Quite glamorous, n'est-ce pas? (That is your actual French.)

Councilor Chris Medlock, Michael Bates, U. S. Rep. John Sullivan

Click the picture for a larger version. The buttons I'm wearing are from the National Review get-together I had just attended. The one on the left, with the French tricolor, says "Just say 'Non!' to John Kerry," the one on the right says, "Vote for Kerry. Save a hamster." (I don't know what the deal is with the strange reflection on the Congressman's face.)

This next pic is even more glamorous. That's me at the controls of a Dassault Falcon 900 EX EASy, or at least an incredible simulation thereof. The steely glint of confidence in my eye is because I've just landed the imaginary luxury jet, speeding off the end of the runway and through several buildings. (There were no casualties, simulated or otherwise.)

Michael Bates in a Falcon 900 simulator

I think I should get extra "annoy Christopher Hanson" points for that photo, because it was snapped by a glamour photo expert, the preening, iconoclastic neoconservative Petite Powerhouse herself.

And trekking deeper into that "wilderness of self-absorption," here's that bonus I promised, in the spirit of self-indulgent self-promotion: Michael Bates sings! (1.4 MB MP3 file. WARNING: Contains crooning. May cause swooning in bobbysoxers.)

Coming soon: More gratuitous photos of my adorable children.

UPDATE: Charles Hill reports the following e-mail reply from Hanson: "I am trying to be annoyed but am actually flattered by the attention."

Bye-bye, Dan

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Last night was Dan Rather's final broadcast of the CBS Evening News. One of the funniest tributes to Gunga-Dan is a song by the Evolution Control Committee called "Rocked by Rape," which is nothing more than samples of random words spoken by Rather on the newscast, set to a beat. It earned ECC a nasty cease-and-desist letter from CBS, but as a parody the song is clearly fair use. ECC is offering the song for free download, along with a couple of alternative versions. You can read the nastygram from CBS on the same page.

I falafel about this

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News Hounds, a multi-author blog that watchdogs the Fox News Channel, has been hit with a cease-and-desist letter from Creators Syndicate, demanding removal for an "unauthorized link" to a column by Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly.

I'm no fan of Bill O'Reilly, whose arrogance and smugness appear to be genuine (unlike Rush Limbaugh's braggadocio, which is just schtick). My opinion of News Corp. (parent company of Fox News Channel) and of one subsidiary in particular, has dropped significantly in recent weeks. On the other hand, I'm hardly a fan of MoveOn.org, the organization that brought the News Hounds together.

But my feelings about the parties involved and their politics don't matter. A link isn't any more a copyright violation than a footnote is. This is just another meritless legal threat intended to intimidate the critics of Big Media, and I'm glad to see that the News Hounds are sticking to their guns.

(Hat tip: Pennywit.)

Summer at age 8 -- 1972

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This week's assignment is "You're eight and it's a typical summer's day. Discuss."

Mom, Kay (age 5), and I would all be at home, and Dad would be at work downtown in the new Cities Service Building. Mom was a school teacher, so she was off for the summer, too.

I had just finished third grade, my first year at Holland Hall. I lived in Rolling Hills, just outside the Tulsa city limits and across the Wagoner County line. All of my school friends lived in "Tulsa Proper" -- at least 10 miles away. I don't recall if I saw any of my school friends at all that summer.

On a typical day, I'd be watching game shows on TV. Concentration. (I had the home game.) Password. Truth or Consequences. Three on a Match. Hollywood Squares. To Tell the Truth. Split Second. Let's Make a Deal. You could watch TV all day and never lay eyes on a soap opera.

BlogAds survey

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Blogads, the site that handles advertising for BatesLine and countless other blogs, is doing its annual blog readers survey. It's a chance for bloggers and blog advertisers to learn more about their audience. The survey is 18 short questions and it should take you about four minutes to complete. If you participate, please be sure to use "batesline.com" for the answer to question 16. Thanks.

To participate, click here.

This week's Oklahoma Gazette -- Oklahoma City's alternative weekly -- has a story by Deborah Benjamin about the Tulsa World's legal threats against BatesLine.

For the story, Benjamin spoke to me and to my attorney, Ron Coleman, the general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association.

The story contains the first public comment from an attorney representing the World, Schaad Titus. Titus doesn't address the issue of excerpting (which is what I do) at all, but merely states that it's necessary for those who post articles in full to seek permission first.

Titus explained how, in his opinion, a hyperlink can be a copyright infringement:

He added that direct hyperlinks, which dont outright copy content but refer to an HTML page where it can be found, also act as a copyright infringement because they avoid the pay provisions of the Tulsa Worlds Web site. If such links prompted the reader to pay before viewing the content, then the hyperlinks would be acceptable, Titus added.

Note that this differs from the World's earlier assertion: The letter from World VP John Bair said that any link to their content without written permission constituted copyright infringement.

I can't see how a hyperlink can "avoid the pay provisions" of any website. If someone sends me a link to a page on the web, and I can view that page without logging in or being asked for payment, what "pay provisions" were avoided? And how is it avoiding "pay provisions" to pass on that same link to others? If you put something on the World Wide Web and want people to have to pay in order to see it, it's up to you to install the necessary screens. It's a bit like putting elaborate Christmas lights on the outside of your house -- if you put it out there for everyone to see, you hardly have a right to complain when people give directions to your house.

Ron Coleman points out that newspapers could prohibit their registered subscribers from deep-linking as part of the "click-wrap" user agreement. Of course, such an agreement wouldn't be binding on non-subscribers.

I like Ron's comment on how the World is handling this:

Theyre so heavy-handedly telling him, You have no First Amendment rights as regard the Tulsa World: You cant link to us; you cant excerpt from us. And thats just not true, Coleman said. ... Its just such an incredible emblem of the thick-headedness of old-media monopolies and their own inability to react rationally to a new-media landscape.

Last October, Deborah Benjamin wrote a Gazette story about blogs as media watchdogs, speaking to me, Charles G. Hill of Dustbury, Mike from OkieDoke, and Alfalfa Bill. That story and this latest piece demonstrate that she understands blogs and their relationship to traditional media. I'm glad at least one newspaper in the state gets it.

More local blogging

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Scott Sala of SlantPoint calls attention to a Roanoke, Virginia, blog which is all about bias in the local newspaper. Entries in the Roanoke Slant features the date and page citation, a brief summary, and the author's comments. It's interesting that the author never quotes directly from the paper, never mentions the paper by name, and never links to the newspaper's articles. You don't suppose he got a cease-and-desist letter, too?

In his comments, Scott points out that he's shifted to more of a local focus:

I think niche blogs will prevail as the hierarchy of general blogging hits a ceiling. As many readers may have noticed, I have turned away from exclusive national and international new towards those plus local NYC issues. I care about it, know about it and am here. I also see an opportunity and somewhat of a void in NYC. Nationally, I'm not that big of a fish. Here, well, I hope to be.

Scott has been all over Thomas Ognibene's Republican primary challenge to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- attending rallies and speeches and providing excellent first-hand coverage (two examples here and here.)

Blogging like marital conversation?

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Novice Gleeson guest blogger Bugga says marriage has prepared her well for one-way communication:

See, what this reminds me of is a wife (me) talking to a husband of many years. What I say is probably of vital importance to me, and I hope he is listening intently as I speak. Not quite hanging on my every word, but close.

Through the years he has developed a variety of expressions on his face, which have fooled me many times into thinking he actually heard what I said. He even makes the occasional "comment" just to show he is listening. Aha - we have been blogging all our married life and didn't know it.

So, Gentle Readers, I am on to you and I understand if you feel a need to tune out now and then. I will still love you. I still love my husband and he has probably only heard half of what I had to say.

Turkey ALA king

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One of the more notable reactions to the Tulsa World's legal threats against BatesLine came from Michael Gorman, the incoming president of the American Library Association (ALA). His response was not a defense of fair use and its role in public discourse, but a knee-jerk reaction, which, as it turns out, reflects a deeper lack of respect for blogs, the Internet, and the electronic availability and searchability of the written word. Karen G. Schneider has documented Gorman's reaction to the World controversy, along with his other controversial statements, on the blog Free Range Librarian.

In a response to Bob Cox's remark, "Comprehensiveness is not part of the blogger's 'value proposition,'" Ron Coleman notes that the difference between mainstream media and blogs in this respect is more a matter of perception than reality:

The myth here is that the MSM does present a comprehensive picture. In fact, it doesn't. But unlike a blog, it pretends to. I am not saying blogs are better than newspapers, because in many important respects, they're not. But even when they are dishonest, they are honestly dishonest - you know the viewpoint of the writer by virtue of his other postings, his web rep, whatever. Whereas when the [New York Times] or the [Los Angeles Times] omits key information or context, the reader assumes he is getting "all the news that's fit to print" ... without really appreciating how "fitness" is being decided.

Another Tulsa blogger

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One more added to the blogroll:

No Blog of Significance: Dan Paden says it's mostly a place to post notes from his Sunday School class at Sheridan Road Baptist Church, but so far it's about everything else, including some sort of tangle with Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom about Kid Rock playing at a presidential inaugural ball.

Note to my single, female Tulsa readers: On a comment on this site, Mr. Paden claims to have knowledge of a "wide variety" of "excellent matrimonial prospects" who "have the advantage in looks." If you're wondering if all the good men are taken, Dan seems to think not and claims to know where to find them. Better hurry, though; he was hawking these prospects to an out-of-town blogger.

The "Tulsa World silliness," as Ron Coleman calls the World's legal threats against BatesLine, got more airtime on CNN's Inside Politics on Friday, talking about the Media Bloggers Association coming to my assistance. Bob Cox of the National Debate (and the founder of Media Bloggers Association) has video and a transcript excerpt.

Bob Cox was scheduled to be on MSNBC today to discuss bloggers organizing. He should have video up at some point.

Bob also has a thorough entry on the hard work of being a credentialed blogger at an event like CPAC:

As I attempted to sort out my role at CPAC, I reflected on a point made by Judith Donath of MIT coming out of the Harvard confab, "bloggers tell their readers what they think is interesting or important, but there is no attempt at comprehensiveness." I agree but I don't take that to be a bad thing. Comprehensiveness is not part of the blogger "value proposition". Blog posts are more like points of light, colored onto canvas by George Seurat; sometimes the result is a grand mess while other times the result is La Grande Jatte.

I soon accepted that my role at CPAC was not to determine the news or to fit my reporting into someone else's (an editor, a readership) larger definition of what is important about the event I was covering but rather to write about what I could see that seemed important to me and share that with my readers (and the readers on the CPAC feed aggregator). And so I wrote about what I saw: a heated argument between Michael Medved and Al Franken, a backstage look at a surprise appearance by Matt Drudge during Ann Coulter's speech, John Fund helping himself to laptops in Bloggers Corner because one of them was mine and other little tidbits of information that, taken together with other CPAC coverage by blogger, might bring blog readers a more personal view of the goings-on at CPAC.

MBA general counsel Ron Coleman (wearing his blogger hat) has a couple more comments related to the Tulsa World silliness here (on the perils of deep linking) and here (on the best way to protect your copyright).

Meanwhile, Okiedoke has had visitors from tulsaworld.com looking for passwords.

Hooah Wife: "The journal of a Jewish moderate conservative military wife whose husband is deployed to Iraq." Home is "wherever the army sends us," but they're in Oklahoma for now.

Jack Lewis: Another Tulsa-area resident, and a prolific blogger on national and international news, with a very attractively designed website.

Linda's Thoughts: Yet another local blogger, mainly about faith and family. Her latest entry is worth a parent's consideration -- some thoughts about the teachable moment when a child is just settling into bed.

Don Singleton: That's a name that will be familiar to many Tulsa computer professionals and hobbyists. Don is president of the Tulsa Computer Society and involved with Helping Tulsa, a group that refurbishes computers for schools, churches, public housing, and other non-profits. He just started blogging a couple of weeks ago, and has written several entries on social security reform.

A reminder: If you're on my blogroll, but your name doesn't rise to the top when you update, be sure that you're sending a ping to blogrolling.com -- check their website to find out how.

Assorted linkage

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Dean Esmay is blogging about Bouguereau again. (NB: Artistic depiction of busty substances.)

Dean's also blogging for Terri Schiavo:

Please click here and read this.

Come on. Are you all that certain you know all there is to know here that's important?

Are you really?

If you aren't all that certain, and if you have a weblog, do you think maybe you should tell your readers about this?

You guys know me. I'm no pro-lifer or religious extremist. I'm anything but. So, are you sure you know everything that's important to know here??

(This post stays at the top of Dean's World all day today. And by the way, click the links and read them before commenting, dammit!!!)

It's heartening to see that Terri's cause is just as compelling to those who are not suffering from the "unpleasant reek of fundy mindrot." Dean asks the question that cuts right to the heart of the problem. People hear bits and pieces on the news, they see that Randall Terry and the pro-life community is involved, they hear that the Schindlers are devout Catholics, they hear words like comatose and vegetative, and they reduce the whole situation to a template and invoke the appropriate knee-jerk reaction.

Meanwhile, Discoshaman is soliciting reader comments about whether marijuana should be decriminalized. He's also trying to figure out how best to label what kind of conservative he is. He coins the phrase "humane conservatism":

While Conservatism has gotten better at winning battles, it seems to have lost something of itself along the way. We've never agreed on our ultimate vision of things, but in decades past we had insightful, productive debates about it.

Conservatism is more than Grover Norquist's "Leave Us Alone" Coalition. It's more than the Chamber of Commerce. It's more than a handful of unconjoined reactionary sentiments. Unless we have some vision for the just, good society, how can we know what to conserve?

From my reading of Le Sabot Post-Moderne, I detect a certain crunchiness to Discoshaman's conservatism. (Thanks, Google -- here's evidence.)

The Penitent Blogger is back in America from her tsunami relief journey to southern India but finds herself on a second and emotionally more arduous leg of the same journey:

Once back home, I could barely look at the 400+ photographs without crying. I have not yet been able to sit down and edit the seven hours of video. Every single picture and image is a complete story that has to be written, and it is very overwhelming to me, a woman who until now had barely travelled up north, let alone visit a devastated third world nation.

However, I will begin this second leg of my journey now. We had the physical journey, now I must commit to the spiritual journey of not abandoning the tsunami victims in Tamilnadu, just because the press has now decided to report on something more titillating. Ten thousand people suffered horrible deaths in Tamilnadu, which means at least fifty thousand survivors have had their lives changed forever. We helped 100 orphans and families. How many more are out their needing assistance? Fr. Leo is right; ten dollars can feed an Indian child for a month, and I am going to feed as many of these children as I can.

You can help feed them, too, by clicking here.

Finally, if you're a homeschooler or (like me) sympathetic to the movement, this cartoon from the Arizona Daily Star will outrage you, but you'll appreciate the witty response by Jon Swerens of Kirkcentric. (HT: Dawn Eden, who says the abusive dad in the cartoon looks like "Richard M. Nixon reimagined as a vinyl-record store clerk.")

From the blogroll

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The St. Gabriel's tsunami relief team is back in northwest Arkansas from their trip to India. You'll find a long but preliminary account here, and some reflections on poverty and the people of India here. And they still need your help -- click here to find out how you can donate. (Hat tip: Penitent Blogger.)

Discoshaman exposes some of Gary "Baby-Unwise" Ezzo's many theological defects -- like Ezzo's belief that children are cleansed of sin by spanking. And he has some thoughts on socialism and social homogeneity.

Eric Siegmund says skip Starbucks' new Chantico -- for a real treat, pull up to a Texas Stop Sign for a chocolate covered strawberry blizzard. It's much better, and not that much worse for you. (Dairy Queen has almost vanished from these parts, but its many stores live on as used car lots and burger joints, most prominently as Big Edna's Burger World in the movie UHF. It was really Harden's Hamburgers, which later moved to another disused DQ. It was just down the street from where I worked. Once a fortnight I'd walk there for lunch, order a hamburger steak dinner, onions grilled in, Curly-Qs, and a Dr. Pepper, and do the Trans-O-Gram in the brand new issue of National Review. $2.99 with a coupon, and they gave you a new coupon with every meal. But I digress. Mmmmm. Onion burgers.)

Dwayne (AKA Mike Horshead) has some daytime photos of vintage Illinois signs, and promises to get some neon night shots on his next trip back.

Boyden McElroy has a rantish but reasonable take on nouthetic counseling, or rather, some of its proud practitioners.

Over at Samizdata, Brian Micklethwait writes of the music of Johann Strauss II, and that golden moment in history when pop culture and high culture meshed. (A favorite memory of our 1990 visit to Vienna: standing-room tickets to Die Fledermaus at the Volksoper. There's nothing like hearing Strauss in Vienna.)

That oughta hold you.

Great segment about the contrast between blogs and real journalism on the Daily Show -- you'll need RealPlayer and a high-speed connection to see it properly. (Hat tip: The Corner.)

Here's a transcript.

Movable irony

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I was amused to see that Sunday's Tulsa World features an Associated Press story about Ben and Mena Trott, the founders of Six Apart and creators of Movable Type, the content management system that powers this and many other blogs.

By the way, you will notice that the link above (and links in other entries today and yesterday) is to a story on the part of the Tulsa World's website which is open to anyone, not just to subscribers.

Here's the round-up on this week's Okie blogger bash consortium writing assignment. I picked newspapers as the topic of the week:

Good stuff, all around, but I will have to give the nod to Charles for a great bit of history writing about the Oklahoma Journal. Along with the nod, he gets the baton. Watch Dustbury for next week's topic.

Coming up later

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I'm taking a quick break from work for a quick update. I typically post only in the late evenings, after work and family obligations, and that will be the case this evening as well. Over the course of the weekend, I hope to post some updates on local issues -- the FAA's scrutiny of Jones Riverside Airport, the recall petitions filed against Councilors Medlock and Mautino -- plus an essay on urban design and disability, some updates on Terri Schiavo's situation and what you can do to make a difference, some thoughts on evangelicals and Republicans in New York, and some reaction to the blogosphere's reaction to the Tulsa World's attack on bloggers.

To tide you over until then, check out the blogroll to the right -- the blogs at the top are the most recently updated. And here are some links of interest:

  • Peggy Noonan has an essay in the Wall Street Journal on bloggers and old media: "The Blogs Must Be Crazy".
  • Here's a great Cox and Forkum cartoon: "Pajamas at the Gate". Compare that to Wednesday's Pat Oliphant cartoon, also about bloggers.
  • Hyscience has the latest on Terri Schiavo's fight not to be starved to death. There's a crucial court hearing on Monday, and pressure needs to be brought on Florida's public officials to give Terri justice at long last.
  • Just as he did for the Republican National Convention, Wizbang's Kevin Aylward has set up a blog aggregator for bloggers covering the speeches and panel discussions at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. You'll find it at www.cpacbloggers.com.
  • You'll want to read Kevin McCullough's CPAC coverage as well, and listen to his radio show for interviews with newsmakers and fellow bloggers. Friday's show will repeat all weekend until he goes live again Monday at 1 p.m. Eastern time.
  • Joel Helbling has posted a nicely organized summary of stem cell research discoveries over the last three months, and he plans to add to it as he has time. Mainstream media tends to blur the distinctions between embryonic stem cell research, which is controversial because it involves the destruction of human life, and research on stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood or adult tissues, which does not involve the destruction of life. Joel's table makes those distinctions very clear.

Guess that was more than a quick update....

The following letter from my attorney is en route to the Tulsa World tonight, in response to their allegations of copyright infringement and threat of legal action against BatesLine. I am represented by Ronald D. Coleman, general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association. Many thanks to Bob Cox of the National Debate (and a founder of the Media Bloggers Association) for contacting me about the organization, and many thanks to Ron Coleman for working with me. If you are a blogger engaged in coverage or criticism of the media, you should join the Media Bloggers Association.

Here is the text -- a PDF of the letter is linked below.

February 17, 2005

BY OVERNIGHT

Mr. John R. Bair
Vice President
Tulsa World
315 South Boulder
P.O. Box 74103-3423
Tulsa, OK 74102-1770
RE: Batesline.com

Dear Mr. Bair:

I am general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association (www.mediabloggers.org) and write on behalf of Mr. Michael Bates, in connection with your letter of February 11, 2005.

The World's complaint appears to be twofold. Let us dispose of the first issue quickly -- the claim that Mr. Bates's website "has inappropriately linked . . . to Tulsa World content." Why a newspaper with a website would want to prevent Internet users from gaining access to that website, regardless of the referral source, is a question best left to the World Publishing Company's board of directors. But while Mr. Bates's links may be "inappropriate" in the view of your newspaper, Mr. Bair, there is no legal basis whatsoever on which the World may prevent it.

Regarding the World's claim that Mr. Bates is reproducing copyrighted material in whole or in part in violation of the Copyright Act, this accusation must be rejected as well. Not only does the First Amendment protect Mr. Bates's activities, but the Copyright Act itself includes a "fair use" exception, granting parties the ability to use copyrighted material without permission from the owner for purposes of commenting or criticism. Mr. Bates's use of excerpted material from the World is obviously fair use and constitutionally protected speech.

Your organization's attempt to intimidate a small media competitor and a critic with the threat of legal action over his free speech is ironic, but it is unfortunately not unique. The Media Bloggers Association Legal Defense Project was formed expressly for the purpose of providing legal advice and counsel, and if necessary to assist in securing local counsel, for webloggers and others whose freedom of expression is threatened by established institutions who act as if the purpose of the First Amendment were to protect a sort of media monopoly. It is not.

We write therefore to advise the World that Mr. Bates is represented by counsel and by the Association, and that any further attempts to silence him, including the filing of meritless litigation as threatened by your letter, will be vigorously defended, including to the extent appropriate by the seeking of sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 in connection with the filing of meritless litigation claims.

Very truly yours,

Ronald D. Coleman

You'll find a PDF of the letter here.

The number three result on Google for "Tulsa World" is this.

The number four result is this.

The number five result is this.

Kevin McCullough reveals that big league radio talker Sean Hannity doesn't have a clue about blogs.

I'm grateful to ktul.com, the website of Tulsa's ABC affiliate, for taking an interest in the Tulsa World's threats against this blog and other bloggers and websites. I was impressed that they were able to reach World publisher Bobby Lorton and get comment from him for this afternoon's story.

Here's what Lorton said in response to my statement that linking can't violate copyright, because nothing is being copied:

Lorton says Bates is opening a channel to PDF, or Portable Data Files, hosted on the Tulsa World website. Lorton says those files are owned by the Tulsa World and should not be free, but that they cannot lock the files.

"One way to stop it is to pull the PDF files, and I don't want to do that," Lorton said.

The World's website is unlike any other newspaper site with which I'm familiar. Some content -- theater listings, classifieds, and some special sections -- is free, but HTML-formatted versions of the articles from the current week are only accessible to subscribers. The firewall for current stories was added a few years ago; I forget exactly when. Before that, current stories were available without registration of any kind.

The World provides a selection of stories from each section in their wireless edition -- you don't need a subscription to access any of those stories.

Stories older than a week are in an archive which goes all the way back to 1989, and they cost 50 cents each (if bought in bulk). The same archive is available for free at Tulsa City-County Library branches. If you needed to search the World's archive, you could go to the library, do a search, then e-mail every story of interest back to yourself for later review at your leisure.

The World allows Student-Voices.org to publish the full text of a selection of their news stories and some editorials, mostly about local government. They have stories going back about a year. No subscription or registration is required to read these stories.

You also don't need a subscription to access PDF files of every page of every edition of the Tulsa World going back to sometime in early 2003. A Google search for PDF files on tulsaworld.com returned 3,510 results.

Balloon Juice actually phoned the Tulsa World's web editor:

I spoke to Scott Nelson, the Tulsa World Web Editor (They can be reached at (918) 583-2161), and tried to make sense of their policy, and got nowhere. I am even more confused with what they are trying to accomplish than before I called.

According to Mr. Nelson, you need written permission to print the article and must print the article in full. I responded that I didn't want to copy a whole article, just a quote, and he said that was not allowed and would be copyright infringement. When I asked why, he said it was their policy so that things wouldn not be 'taken out of context.' ...

He also said, contrary to the letter to Bates Online, that linking was allowed, which leads me to believe that Mr. Bair, the Vice-President, was perhaps a touch overzealous or using terms he was not familiar with. Who knows.

Counterclaim

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Here is one of my favorite responses so far to the World's demands. A blog called Christianity and Middle Earth has posted a tongue-in-cheek letter in response to Tulsa World VP John Bair:

I am writing on behalf of batesline.com, a weblog described as Reflections on the News by Michael D. Bates. We have recently learned that you and/or your secretary have reproduced (in whole or in part) Mr. Bates's name, address and the name of his website and have inappropriately typed said name, address and website name on your letterhead.stationery, and presumably, although I do not have the evidence immediately at hand, also typed it onto a first class envelope which was then sent through the mail, which act may be a further violation of federal statutes. ...

Therefore, we hereby demand that you immediately remove any BatesLine material from your files, to include unauthorized URLs for that website, and cease and desist from any further use or dissemination of Mr. Batess copyrighted material. If you desire to use (in whole or in part) any of the content of batesline.com or Mr. Batess name and address, you must first obtain written permission before that use. If you fail to comply with these demands, Mr. Batess vast network of blog-friends will not be amused and will probably make enough of a bloggy fuss to discourage such imbecility in the future.

Read the whole thing.

Bobby Lorton speaks

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Just time to link this: KTUL's website has a new story with comments from World publisher Bobby Lorton and reaction from me.

Funny: He doesn't want me to quote the paper out of context, but he doesn't want me to link to the whole story so people can read it in context.

Whirled threat update

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More nastygram reports:

The Tulsa World sent the same threat of legal action to the hosting provider for www.tulsansforelectionintegrity.com, the website for Tulsans for Election Integrity (TfEI) the opposition to the recall of reform Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. TfEI was told they had 24 hours to remove links and quotes or their service would be cut off. They'll be looking for a new provider, one less susceptible to the World's pressure. Chris Medlock writes about it here.

As far as anyone is aware, the World has not sent a similar letter to the Coalition for Responsible Government (CfRG), the campaign to get rid of Medlock and fellow Councilor Jim Mautino, which has, on this web page alone, the full text of 69 articles from the Tulsa World archives.

TulsaNow, the civic organization, has also received the letter, concerning its popular and lively discussion forums. You can read the TulsaNow forum discussion here.

Many, many thanks

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I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the outpouring of support I've received in the 24 hours since I posted the Tulsa World's nastygram and notified friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere. Trackbacks galore (you can find them at the bottom of the original entry), a radio interview with New York talk show host Kevin McCullough (which will run again online at 1:20 a.m., 4:20 a.m., 7:20 a.m., and 10:20 a.m.), a mention on CNN's Inside Politics, many hits on the PayPal tip jar (prompted and led by Michelle Malkin), an Instalanche (size yet to be determined), and many, many supportive e-mails.

There's some big news about to break, having to do with some of the cozy Cockroach Caucus ties I mentioned. I hope to have something I can report on it by mid-morning.

In the meantime, for the first time ever, I'm opening this post up for comments. I reserve the right to remove anything that exceeds the bounds of good taste and politeness, but I want to give you all a chance to weigh in.

Welcome new readers

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Welcome to all of you who've come to read about the legal threats made against this blog by the Tulsa World (or Whirled, as I prefer to call it). You'll find that entry at this link, along with a summary of other blog commentary on the matter.

To give you more of a sense of the mindset of the newspaper, here are two of my recent entries -- a partial rebuttal to an editorial about the Tulsa City Council and an account of a speech by the World's editorial page editor Ken Neal.

I hope you'll take a look around -- BatesLine has a focus on local news in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I also write about world news, national politics, city planning, right-to-life and other cultural issues, and faith, all from a Christian and conservative perspective, with a bit of whimsy thrown in from time to time.

World vs. Whirled?

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The BatesLine stylebook, such as it is, decrees that the monopoly daily newspaper in Tulsa be consistently called the Tulsa Whirled. I am bending that rule during the course of the present controversy for the sake of those who may be Googling for information, using the paper's legal name. I will still work in the occasional reference to the Whirled, just so I don't get used to typing it the other way. It's really a better fit. "It's a new Whirled every morning...."

Today on CNN's Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff, the legal threat to this blog from the Tulsa World made the "Inside Blogs" segment of the show. Here's a link to the show transcript -- the blogs segment is about 1/3 of the way down. The segment featured CNN blog reporter Jacki Schechner and Washington Post media critic Howie Kurtz. Schechner says the story has been "rising all day" in the blogs, and particularly mentions Wizbang's Kevin Aylward, who published the letter he sent to World VP John R. Bair, author of the nastygram.

I liked Howie Kurtz's take on the World's threat:

It sounds like [Bair]'s saying nice little site you got here, it would be a shame if anything happened to it. But, you know, if this blogger is really just picking up bits and pieces from the biggest newspaper in Oklahoma's capital [sic], and putting his own comments on it, everybody does that these days.

I do that every day on WashingtonPost.com. I provide the links. Other news organizations like that because it drives traffic to their sites.

Schechner concluded by saying, "Well, that's what they were saying, that he's linking. And really that's not infringement or anything. So we'll keep an eye on it and see if this gets any bigger."

UPDATE (3/10/2006): CNN.com still has the transcripts to the BatesLine mentions on Inside Politics:

February 15, 2005
February 16, 2005
February 18, 2005

I'll be on the air today at 1:20 p.m. Central Time with New York City radio talk show host (and friend) Kevin McCullough. You can listen live online, or hear the repeats every three hours for the next 24 by clicking on the "Listen" icon on the right-hand side of Kevin's blog.

Kevin writes:

A blog swarm may be necessary to let TULSA WORLD (insert Griswold joke here) know that they may be a relatively unimportant voice in the editorial of the world - but that's no excuse for their shoddy, immoral, and repugnant behavior towards BatesLine or any other blogger. ...

It's possible that TULSA WORLD has had their head in the sand for the last four months while bloggers decapitated CBS and CNN but if this piddly, sad, excuse of a newspaper wants to be next in line for a can of whoop-blog, they are off to a great start...

Be sure to tune in early and keep listening after to hear more of Kevin's show.

NOTE to those of you who normally skip the Tulsa stuff here: Please read this entry. This is not just about the sordid little world of Tulsa politics. This is the old media trying to intimidate their critics in the new media into silence. It has repercussions for any blogger engaged in media criticism. It strikes at the heart of what blogs do. I'd appreciate your help in putting the blogosphere's spotlight of shame on this legal threat.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock wasn't the only one to get a special valentine from our friends at the Tulsa Whirled. The Vice-President [sic] of the Tulsa World has threatened legal action against me for "reproduc[ing] (in whole or in part) articles and/or editorials" and for "inappropriately link[ing my] website to Tulsa World content." ("World" is the legal name, although here at BatesLine we call it the Whirled, in the spirit of Private Eye's renaming of the Guardian as the Grauniad.)

Here's the actual letter (click to enlarge):

Here's the text of the letter:

Dear Mr. Bates:

I am writing on behalf of World Publishing Company, publisher of the Tulsa World. We have recently learned that your website, www.Batesline.com, has reproduced (in whole or in part) articles and/or editorials from the Tulsa World newspaper or has inappropriately linked your website to Tulsa World content.

The Tulsa World copyrights its entire newspaper and specifically each of the articles and/or editorials at issue. The reproduction of any articles and/or editorials (in whole or in part) on your website or linking your website to Tulsa World content is without the permission of the Tulsa World and constitutes an intentional infringement of the Tulsa World's copyright and other rights to the exclusive use and distribution of the copyrighted materials.

Therefore, we hereby demand that you immediately remove any Tulsa World material from your website, to include unauthorizedlinks to our website, and cease and desist from any further use or dissemination of our copyrighted content. If you desire to use (in whole or in part) any of the content of our newspaper, you must first obtain written permission before that use. If you fail to comply with his demand, the Tulsa World will take whatever legal action is necessary to assure compliance, Additionally, we will pursue all other legal remedies, including seeking damages that may have resulted as a result of this infringement.

We look forward to your immediate response and cooperation in this matter. Please acknowledge your compliance by signing below and returning to me.

Sincerely,

(signed)
John R. Bair
Vice-President [sic]
Tulsa World

As I wrote regarding the same letter sent to Councilor Medlock, excerpting copyrighted material for the purpose of criticism is covered by the fair use exemption, and linking to content cannot be a copyright violation because nothing is actually copied. The threat is empty, an attempt at using intimidation to silence my criticism of their editorials and news coverage.

Why would a big ol' daily paper, with over 100,000 daily circulation, send a nastygram like this to someone who gets about 1,000 visits a day? And why now? Here's a little background, especially for you out-of-towners:

The Tulsa World has been the only daily newspaper in town since September 30, 1992, when its publisher refused to renew its half-century-old Joint Operating Agreement with the Tulsa Tribune then bought the Tribune and shut it down.

The World is more than just an observer of the local scene. It is an integral part of the tight social network that has run local politics for as long as anyone can remember. This network, which I have dubbed the Cockroach Caucus, has pursued its own selfish interests under the name of civic progress, with disastrous results for the ordinary citizens of Tulsa and its metropolitan area. The World, and the way it wields its influence in the community, bears a strong resemblance to the Dacron Republican-Democrat, the fictional subject of the National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody.

The Cockroach Caucus is most recently infamous for convincing state and local elected officials to pour $47 million in public funds into Great Plains Airlines. This airline promised to provide non-stop jet service between Tulsa and the coasts, but in the end was not much more than the Mrs. Grace L. Ferguson Airline and Storm Door Co. It went bankrupt, leaving local taxpayers liable for millions in loan guarantees. Many leading lights of the Cockroach Caucus, including World Publishing Company, were investors in Great Plains Airlines.

The Cockroach Caucus has wasted tens of millions in public funds on failed economic development strategies, at a time when tens of thousands of Tulsa high-tech workers had lost their jobs, ignored the plight of small business, and has bent and sometimes broken the rules of the land use planning system to favor those with political and financial connections. The same small number of connected insiders circulates from one city authority, board, or commission to another, controlling city policy, but beyond the reach of the democratic process.

Many people in this city are fed up with the World and its allies. For the first time, in Tulsa's March 2004 municipal elections, Tulsa's voters elected a bipartisan majority of councilors who were not endorsed by the newspaper, five councilors committed to reforming city government so that it serves the interests of all Tulsans, not just a favored few. Alternative media outlets played a significant role in helping these reform councilors get their message out and win election -- principally, Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ; the Tulsa Beacon, a conservative weekly newspaper; and this blog. These same sources continue to subject the World's content to critical review on a daily basis. Now all three of us have received some sort of threatening letter from the World.

The empire is striking back. Leading a broader Cockroach Caucus effort, the World has engaged in a sustained campaign in its news pages and editorial pages against the reformers, painting them in the worst possible light. Two of the five-member Reform Alliance majority on the Council, Republicans Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, have been targeted for recall from office by a shadowy group calling itself the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004. No criminal wrongdoing or negligence is alleged -- they are being targeted because they have voted the "wrong way". They have pursued reforms and investigations that the Cockroach Caucus seems to find threatening to its interests. (The Coalition for Responsible Government used copyrighted World photographs and articles in the Tulsa Tribunal, crypto-racist smear tabloids targeting Mautino and Medlock, but have apparently faced no similar threats from the World.)

The deadline for the submission of recall petitions is this week. I believe the World is hoping to silence alternative low-budget media voices as the recall campaign proper gets underway, so as to create a clear channel for the pro-recall campaign, which will continue to have the tacit support of the World alongside a massive paid-media campaign.

I am not concerned for myself. I believe I have respected the World's copyrights within the fair-use exemption. Let the World name the specific articles in which it alleges that I have exceeded fair use. I have violated no law by directing readers to the Tulsa World's own website to read the Tulsa World's own content as the World itself presents it. I am seeking legal advice for dealing with the matter.

The World deserves the scorn and ridicule of the blogosphere for using bullying tactics against its critics. Let's give it to 'em.

TRACKBACKS: Thanks to fellow bloggers who are showing their support. Click on the links to read all that they have to say on the matter.

Joe Carter of evangelical outpost asks "Did someone at the WPC lose their mind? ... It takes a special brand of idiot to bully a guy with a megaphone. But you have to be a world class moron to push someone around who has thousands of compatriots with megaphones."

Ace writes "the next phase in this battle [between new and old media] is nonstop legal harassment. They've had a monopoly for 50 years and they're not giving it up without a fight... or at least without calling in their lawyers."

Kevin of the Primary Main Objective knows the World and says they're worthy of contempt rather than pity.

Matt of Nerf-Coated World provides some guidelines for bloggers on fair use.

Scott Sala of Slant Point asks "Does the paper intend to only sell its news to those who like what it has to say? Will conversations on the street condeming the paper now be monitored, and those individuals barred from buying future copies?"

Dan Lovejoy calls the World a "fossilized fecolith of the dinomedia."

Charles G. Hill gets to the heart of the local political situation and the World's part in it:

If it weren't so pathetic, it would almost be tragic. There are many cities like Tulsa, where a favored few seek to maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else; what makes Tulsa different is the World, which evidently would rather be a conspirator than a crusader. The people of Tulsa are the poorer for it.

Top-ten blogger and columnist Michelle Malkin reacts to the World's attack: "Can you spell U-N-H-I-N-G-E-D?" And she hit my PayPal tip jar! Thanks!

Thanks to all of my "compatriots with megaphones." Watch this space as more bloggers pick up the story.

UPDATE 9:14 AM: Ironically, I didn't link to the Tulsa World's website anywhere in this entry. That was unintentional (subconsciously trying to protect myself?) but I've fixed it with a link up near the top. Wouldn't want anyone thinking I'm scared.

UPDATE: You'll find a quick intro about this site and me via this link.

UPDATE (12/28/2005): Here is the category archive of all entries related to the Tulsa World.

Given the entry I'm about to post and other blogosphere-old-media confrontations that have been in the news in the last week or so, I've decided that the topic de la semaine for the Okie Blogger Bash Consortium will be newspapers. Entries are due by midnight Friday night / Saturday morning.

In today's column, Michael Barone writes that we now know how the Internet will impact American politics, and it seems to be good for the Republicans.

Best blogs for breaking news

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A couple of weeks ago, Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno asked me to compile a list of five to ten top, must-read blogs. That's difficult, because the best blogs at any given moment vary with the hot story of the moment, based on which bloggers are in the best position to cover the story.

For example, when the Ukraine election drama was in progress, the best sources for information were Le Sabot Post-Moderne and TulipGirl, a pair of blogs run by an American couple who live in Kiev, blogs that most of the time focus on theology and family life. During the election crisis, they provided on-the-scene original reporting, links to local news sources, links to pronouncements from the government and the political parties, and links to other bloggers covering the same story.

To find out which blogs are covering the hot stories, you can go to certain key blogs that are frequently updated with links to breaking news. These are the Energizer Bunnies of the blog world, and you can expect to see at least a dozen posts a day.

The Command Post is actually a group of topic-driven blogs on Iraq, the War on Terror, elections and politics, among others. It has a large number of contributors, and it seeks to go in-depth on the few topics it covers.

Redstate.org has its main blog, plus lots of "member diaries", from which the best entries are promoted to the main blog.

Some old media outlets have their own group blogs, where any editor or regular contributor to the magazine is able to post to the blog. Because so many people participate, you get exposure to a variety of topics, plus some interesting commentary and debate:

Not a group blog, and updated only once a day, is OpinionJournal.com's Best of the Web Today. It's a good source for the hot stories of the last 24 hours.

To find out who's blogging about a particular story or topic, go to Technorati, a blog search service. Enter a keyword or phrase, and you'll get a list of blog entries on the topic, most recent first.

In a future entry, I'll tell you about some specialist blogs -- individuals and groups that focus on a key issue.

Disclaimer: I will not vouch for everything that these bloggers write, but I believe them to be diligent and generally reliable. You may occasionally find offensive content, but the same goes for the rest of the Internet, TV, radio, newspapers, the backs of cereal boxes, etc. Viewer discretion advised.

Blogosphere prayer requests

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Please say a prayer for Marcia Morrissey, wife of Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters -- she's in the hospital tonight for a pancreas transplant. I met Ed during the Republican National Convention -- a great guy. He has risen to the top of the blog world by being consistently there with the big news. He's set up to blog from the hospital, but we'll all understand if he slacks off for a while.

Kevin McCullough asks for prayers for his wife's mom, who is undergoing tests to see if cancer has returned after nine years in remission.

Aaauuugh!!!!

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Lesson of the day: Save your work frequently and do not go back and forth between editors with different keyboard shortcuts. I just managed to kill a lengthy post, which I was just about to publish, by using an Emacs command (Ctrl-W -- meaning, cut region) in a Mozilla window (where it means close tab, destroying all my work in the process).

This week's Oklahoma Blogger Bash Consortium entries on childhood diseases are in:

John Butler has passed the baton to me. I'll think about a topic for this week and announce it here Monday evening.

UPDATE: Charles Hill has posted his submission.

Dawn's side now

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Five days after Women's Wear Daily printed outright lies about her dismissal from the New York Post, blogger Dawn Eden's side of the story is out in today's New York Observer (the February 14, 2005, edition). George Gurley's interview of Dawn Eden, "Eden in Exile," is online here. Not only does it tell her side of what led to her dismissal from the Post, but it is also a comprehensive profile of her life and worldview.

The tension between her faith and the culture of what is perceived to be the "conservative paper" in New York is illustrated by her boss's reaction to a magazine interview:

The Post hired her full time in 2003. She loved editing and writing punning headlines. But she landed in hot water after giving an interview to Gilbert, a G.K Chesterton magazine, in which she talked about her faith and working at the Post.

She said her boss, chief copy editor Barry Gross, chided her, telling her, "Some people already think the Post is conservative, and we dont need New York readers also thinking its a Christian paper and that there are Christians working there."

It's hard to imagine that there can be a part of America where Christianity is so marginalized.

There's no doubt in my mind that it was Dawn's dogged exposure of Planned Parenthood and its ilk that magnified a minor matter into her firing, which speaks volumes about the true values of the New York Post and the Murdoch empire.

I'm sure Dawn will fill in the pieces of the story that were left out in days to come.

UPDATE: Dawn has posted her initial comments and corrections on the story. The comments from readers make for interesting reading, too.

MORE: Saint Kansas links to an LA Times story which reminds us that in some countries the consequences for blogging your mind can be a lot worse than losing your job. (The link comes at the end of this funny and pointed Saint Kansas entry, on tolerance and diversity and the We Are Family Foundation.)

MORE COMMENT ELSEWHERE:

Kevin McCullough believes Dawn has a case for wrongful termination, and he helpfully supplies e-mail addresses and phone numbers if you want to give a piece of your mind to those responsible for her firing.

Gawker thinks profile writer George Gurley is smitten. (Not hard to understand, if he is.)

Wes isn't surprised that Dawn was let go, and explains why.

UPDATE 2006/05/03: Replaced the link to the Observer's main site with a link to the archived version.

I just found a brand new blog called NOTES, written by Bowden McElroy, a fellow Tulsan, Christian therapist, and sometime pastor.

I have just started perusing his site. He has collected a list of other bloggers' entries on Christian counseling and plans to begin a dialogue by responding to them. His first in the series is on the biological basis for behavior.

This is going to be fascinating reading.

He was kind enough to link to BatesLine as one of the blogs he reads regularly. He paid me a wonderful compliment: Although he's a little burned out on politics, he finds BatesLine "refreshing." Thanks a million!

During our weekly visit, Michael DelGiorno of KFAQ asked me to put together a list of five to ten blogs you ought to be reading every day. One blog that will be on that list is Little Green Footballs, which specializes in covering the the spread, influence, and activity of the Islamofascist movement around the world. LGF was one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own back in May 2003.

The New York Sun has profiled Charles Johnson, the man behind LGF. Read the profile and learn how 9/11 drove a pony-tailed musician and web designer to become a relentless tracker of the enemies of Western Civilization.

(Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.)

Friday night linkage

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Worth your while:

Bobby Holt of Tulsa Topics is writing about the 15th & Utica zoning controversy: What Does a Zoning Travesty Look Like?

Discoshaman says "Team America: World Police" was "was one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time." (I agree, although the version he saw was apparently not as foul as the American original.) He also continues to keep us abreast of the latest political developments in Ukraine under new President Yushchenko. And there's this well-written entry tying the anti-intellectualism in certain segments of the Charismatic movement to a faulty understanding of the components of human nature.

His wife TulipGirl continues her watch over various forms of spiritual oppression in the evangelical world, such as Gothardism and Ezzoism. Her post on Gothard's ATI -- explaining that it isn't so easy to move on from such an experience -- includes some very thoughtful comments from her readers.

Dustbury has so much good stuff I can't even begin to summarize it. Just go read what Charles has to say.

Large mammal invades Tulsa home

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Dawn Eden, Petite Powerhouse, was a guest in our home last weekend. I'm sure you're all wondering what it's like to have such a highly-ranked and popular blogger under our roof. In a nutshell: It was fun to have her around, and I think she had a good time, too.

The kids liked having someone new in the audience, although they were baffled that she didn't take them up on their repeated invitations to play Super Mario Kart. One night, Joseph read her part of the last chapter of The Horse and His Boy (book 3 of C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia) -- a little more her type of entertainment.

During her visit, Dawn made use of the extensive Bates Library, particularly the Reformed Theology and mid-20th-Century Comics sections, perusing some Francis Schaeffer and rereading some favorite stories from the Pogo Revisited collection.

She ate well: Metro Diner on Thursday night; the Fountains lunch buffet on Friday; homemade potato leek soup and baked salmon, prepared by my wife Mikki on Friday night; Sunday lunch at Chimi's; and a feast at the home of some friends from our church on Sunday evening; plus scrambled eggs on toast (her favorite breakfast, she said) every morning, fixed by me.

It really was cool to be simul-blogging a mere 10 feet from each other, and to know I was the first person in the world to read the latest Dawn Patrol entry. The downside: Thinking, "I wonder if Dawn has posted anything since I checked last," and realizing, "No, she went to bed an hour ago." I won't reveal her trade secrets, but I will tell you she is lightning-fast at finding what she wants to blog about and turning it into an interesting and beautifully written post, while yours truly slogs along trying to find a simple way to explain a zoning controversy. That's why, in the ecosystem of the blogosphere, she's a Large Mammal (albeit petite) and I'm a mere Adorable Little Rodent.

"What's she like in real life?" you ask. One of her more endearing traits -- one I hope to emulate -- is that when she likes something, she says so. She is quick to express appreciation and praise, and that's a nice quality in a house guest.

Another cool thing about her visit: Having someone who's written liner notes for over eighty '60s pop music CDs providing commentary and trivia as you listen to an oldies station.

Dawn has posted the first installment of her recollections of the trip, covering her visit to the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore. She's also posted some fascinating photos of celebrities (here, here, and here) who have joined NARAL's "I am Pro-Choice America" bandwagon, and a biting piece of satire on the Schiavo case by her mom, proving that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

UPDATE: Dawn expresses amazement that I failed to mention that she blogged in her jammies. In fact, I did, and for the record, she was very modestly attired in a blue plaid flannel nightgown, which was so modest as to conceal even her feet.

Dawn has posted Part 2 of her Oklahoma travelogue.

The evolving ethics of blogging

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Tulsa attorney (and my friend) John Eagleton sends along a Wall Street Journal article about the growing clout of bloggers (the story reports an estimated blog audience of 32 million people) and the debate over ethical standards, particularly involving objectivity and disclosure of financial interests. The article also touches on a blogger's legal liability -- the bottom line is that you don't need a printing press to enjoy the protections of the First Amendment that you may think only belong to traditional reporters.

The last paragraph contains a usefully simple ethical standard:

All the way back in 2002, Rebecca Blood advised bloggers to disclose their conflicts of interest, publish only what they believe to be true, and correct mistakes publicly. Her counsel to readers? Follow the same rules as one would walking down the street: "Don't make eye contact with someone who seems crazy."

Karol Sheinin of Alarming News is a political consultant, and she has posted the following disclaimer on her home page:

NOTICE: I work at a political consulting firm in NYC. From time to time I will write favorable posts about my clients because I believe in my clients and their causes. Consider this statement as adequate disclosure for all my possible conflicts of interest now and in the future. Additionally, all material on this site should be considered my personal opinion and may not represent that of my employer.

This may seem inadequately specific, but in her situation, disclosure of her firm's involvement with a specific client may violate the client's expectation of confidentiality.

Karol's disclaimer was suggested by a commenter to her blog and slightly modified. It was inspired by her post on Armstrong Williams' allegedly taking money to promote the Bush administration's "No Child Left Behind" bill -- you can read her wrestling with the issue and readers' comments here.

Hill's angles

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Charles G. Hill can say more in 10 words than I can in 1000. For example, here's his take on the passing of Johnny Carson.

If you can handle a bit of double-entendre, read his take on the arraignment of former Creek County District Judge Donald Thompson.

Blogger Bash recap

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Had a great time at the first-ever bash for faith-friendly Oklahoma bloggers. About 14 folks showed up -- Don Danz has the list here and here . (Browse around to see several of his entries about the event.)

Dan Lovejoy has some great pictures here, with links to larger versions.

The event was instigated by Dawn Eden, who over the years had come to know a number of Oklahoma bloggers and wanted the chance to meet them in real life. Dawn spent the morning with her longtime penpal (or should that be electron-pal) Charles G. Hill, seeing the city and doing some shopping for old vinyl.

Don Danz was liveblogging the event, and nearly everyone made an entry or two, enjoying the free WiFi available at Will's Coffee, which is in the lobby of the old Will Rogers Theater on N. Western Ave. in Oklahoma City. (More info about the coffee house here.) It's a good adaptive reuse of a great building. The theater itself has been converted into a banquet hall. Many of the original decorative fixtures are still in place, including a mural depicting scenes from the life of Will Rogers.

Oklahoma City's Will Rogers Theater was designed by the same architects (Jack Corgan and W. J. Moore) for the same theatre chain (Griffith Southwest Theaters) as Tulsa's old Will Rogers -- Tulsa's was built in '41, OKC's in '46. (The Hornbeck in downtown Shawnee may be the only Corgan-designed theater in Oklahoma still in operation as a movie theater.

Several folks brought laptops, which gave us a chance to show off our blogs. Dwayne (AKA Mike Horshead) and lovely wife Barb showed us some of his wonderful photos of classic neon signs -- a passion shared by many present. (Check his various "Photos" categories on the right-hand side of his home page. Here's one stunning example: Ritz Bowling in Salt Lake City, Utah.)

Wild Bill of Passionate America brought along his son Brandon and brother Mike (both budding bloggers as well). (Wild Bill has a photo of the Wienermobile, which had been parked down the street.)

It was great to see John Owen Butler, whom I'd met before through PCA circles. He told us about his new blog, PsalmCast, which links to recordings of psalm-singing. It's set up with an RSS2 feed for podcasting -- listening on your portable audio device.

Jan, the Happy Homemaker, has an entry about the event here and a photo here. After the bash broke up, Jan, Dawn, and I went next door to Sushi Neko and shared a boatload of sushi (picture below), and then Jan had us over to her beautifully decorated 1920s home, where we met her husband and her two adorable boys. Dawn and I had the privilege of looking through the collection of Valentine cards, dating back to the early '40s, that she's been featuring on her blog. (What she's posted so far is in her January archive.) Dawn and I are Pogo fans, so it was exciting for us to see one of Pogo's larger cousins on Jan's backporch, contentedly eating cat food, with no apparent fear of predators.

Sean Gleeson was there, too, but he hasn't blogged about the event yet. And Brett Thomasson doesn't even have a blog, but it was nice to have him there, too.

Photos after the jump.

Blogger Bash underway

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I'm here at Will's Coffee on Western Ave. in Oklahoma City, using Dan Lovejoy's PowerBook. Right now I'm listening to several OKC-based bloggers singing the B. C. Clark Jewelers jingle. We're having a great time, and in a few minutes we'll be going down the street to pose in front of the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile. (Update: Didn't make it outside in time to get to the Wienermobile -- enjoying the conversation too much to budge.)

Don Danz has a list of the attendees and several of us have been live blogging. (I'll add links later -- can't quite get the hang of this Apple keyboard, although I'll say that my site looks even better on the PowerBook in the Safari browser.

Guess who's come to visit?

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Daily linkage

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Here's a spot-on parody of National Review's group blog, "The Corner". (Hat tip: Overtaken by Events, which also has news about the tsunami relief effort led by their church, St. Gabriel's United Episcopal Church in Springdale, Arkansas.)

Don Danz remembers Rosemary Kennedy, who died last week. Her father, Joe Kennedy, had her lobotomized as a young woman because she was difficult and emotional.

TulipGirl links to the Positive Discipline Resource Center (aka "Get Off Your Butt" parenting), which aims to help parents to navigate between the Scylla of punitive discipline and the Charybdis of permissiveness. (Turn your volume down before you hit that link -- there's a really obnoxious Shockwave ad at the top of the page.)

The Happy Homemaker has a helpful Biblical parenting checklist -- daily tasks like "Hugged my child and told him, 'I love you and God loves you,'" "Did not expect behavior beyond his age capabilities," and "Praised and thanked my child more than I criticized him." She invites her readers to follow suit with more thoughts in the comments.

Dustbury has an item about pico-hydro -- using small streams to generate small amounts of electricity, not enough to power an American home, but enough to make a difference to a Third World household. This kind of approach can do more good, more quickly than the kind of massive public works projects which have been favored for foreign aid funding in the past. Like micro-credit societies (another effective small-scale alternative to massive economic development programs), pico-hydro encourages self-sufficiency.

Michael Totten takes a look at reasons behind the widely varying stats produced by various website stat programs. (Hat tip: Alarming News.)

Discoshaman links to an article in Elle magazine about an evangelical Christian conference for teenage girls. Carlene Bauer writes that the conference caused her to reflect on her own Christian upbringing and her rejection of much of it. Discoshaman says there are some valid criticisms and the evangelical world should pay attention.

Welcome back, Bitweever

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After three months of displaying nothing but a blank page to the world, Tulsa blogger Bitweever is back. He says the blog may take off in a new direction to match the new directions in his life. In the past, he's blogged about all sorts of topics, including politics and technology.

(And you're more than welcome. It's the least I could do for someone who took a photo like this, which still graces my computer desktop at home. It's a nice reminder of what we have to look forward to in just three short months -- although I saw some of that already in Savannah this week.)

Better than a poke in the eye

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We've been ringing in the new year watching Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard racing through hospital corridors, in the original "Men in Black". There's nothing like the merry cackles of an eight-year-old and a four-year-old, already giddy for being allowed to stay up late, watching classic slapstick. Oh, for the days when anesthesia involved the use of mallets!

New Year's Eve was warm here in Tulsa -- temps in the low 70s. I walked with the kids as they rode their new bikes from Santa to visit some friends a few blocks away. Eight-year-old helpfully observed that the elves forgot to remove the Academy Sports price tag from little sister's bike. That's the sort of thing that can get you dropped from Santa's preferred list of subcontractors. (Santa used to build it all at the North Pole, but you can't beat outsourcing.)

Meanwhile, other bloggers have been busy:

Bobby Holt at Tulsa Topics is pondering the age-old problem of reconciling God's goodness and omnipotence and the reality of pain and suffering, in light of the massive death and destruction dealt by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Discoshaman and his boys rang in the new year with a bang in the heart of Kyiv, Ukraine, and he's got photos.

Wizbang is keeping up with the ongoing controversy over the recounts in the Washington State governor's race, pointing us to an analysis of ballot count and voter count discrepancies by Seattle blogger Stefan Sharkansky.

It was last reported that there were 3,539 more ballots counted in King County than voters who cast them. The discrepancy is actually much larger.

The 3,539 is only the net. This comes from having roughly 1,500 more voters than counted ballots in some precincts, and about 5,000 more ballots than known voters in other precincts.

The situation in Washington bears a strong resemblance to election discrepancies in Tulsa's City Council District 3 race, complete with spin-filled editorials attacking the real winner for complaining about discrepancies. In Tulsa, however, we didn't have new ballots magically appearing. I don't know what the laws are in Washington, but here in Oklahoma if the number of irregularities exceeds the margin of victory, the outcome cannot be mathematically determined and a revote is mandatory. It's the only way to be sure.

Closer to home, Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock answers the first in a series of Frequently Asked (or Insinuated) Questions: "Why do you hate the suburbs?"

Oklahoma City's Downtown Guy previewed downtown Oklahoma City's New Year's Eve celebrations. And Charles G. Hill of Dustbury has some typically brilliant observations on the decay of Oklahoma City south of the river, concluding with this bit of pith:

The city can wave whatever magic wands are at its disposal, but change comes from the bottom up, one street, sometimes one building at a time.

Well said. And Happy New Year 2005 to one and all!

Christmas roundup

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Some people are still blogging on Christmas. I tend to notice more now that I've organized my blogroll in most-recently-updated order.

Karol recounts her tough year -- several loved ones lost, back surgery, and enduring a significantly downward financial adjustment to pursue the field she loves, but she's still thankful:

It wasn't all bad. I was happy that President Bush won re-election, that I had the best friends anyone can ask for, that I loved my blog and my readers, that Peter remained a calming, happy influence in my life, that my mom and my brother are so good to me, that there were no terrorists attacks on US soil, that I got to spend a good length of time in Georgia and Colorado and that I remain alive in the greatest country in history.

Omar of Iraq the Model writes of the importantce of sacrifice:

It's never easy for us to see the blood of our brothers and friends being shed everyday but we should also remember that great goals to be achieved need great sacrifices and now it's our duty; we, who are still breathing must make sure that the priceless blood of our brothers and friends was not shed in vain and we should remember that the sacrifices they made were made for a noble reason.

Huge responsibilities are waiting for us; responsibilities towards the coming generations and responsibilities towards the brave ones who sacrificed their lives on the frontline.

We cannot let despair walk into our hearts now and we must keep the faith in our cause and keep the hard work until the dreams of our loved ones come true and I believe we should learn the lesson from the sacrifice of Jesus the Christ who offered his life for the cause he believed in and struggled for; freedom and justice.

He also links to this account of Christmas in Baghdad from a Sunni Muslim.

Today I went to my parents house and I took my daughter to their neighbors house because they have a daughter in her age and she likes to play with her, the neighbors are Christians and they are the best neighbor a person can have. I asked the mother if they will go to church in Christmas as they used to go every year, she said no with sorrow. She is afraid from attacking the churches in Christmas, but she said I know many will go what ever will happen since they will go to the house of God. I really hated myself at this moment and I did not know what to tell her, I told her that not only you are targeted, look what they had done in Najaf and Karbala two days ago, they are trying hard to tear us apart, but I dont know who are they. I felt so silly that moment.

Swamphopper's four-year-old was paying attention to the Christmas eve sermon:

This morning while we were lighting our last Advent candle, we talked about how the Magi fell down and worshiped the Christ child and gave him gifts. I asked the girls what we could give Jesus for Christmas. To our surprise, our four-year-old, replied, "We can give him our sin."

That was actually a quote from our pastor in his Christmas Eve sermon last night. Who says children aren't listening as they sit and doodle during church?

Charles Spurgeon reminds us of something we ought to take care of before bedtime, something we're likely to forget on a feast day:

Amid the cheerfulness of household gatherings it is easy to slide into sinful levities, and to forget our avowed character as Christians. It ought not to be so, but so it is, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. There is a way of joy as pure and sanctifying as though one bathed in the rivers of Eden: holy gratitude should be quite as purifying an element as grief. Alas! for our poor hearts, that facts prove that the house of mourning is better than the house of feasting. Come, believer, in what have you sinned to-day? Have you been forgetful of your high calling? Have you been even as others in idle words and loose speeches? Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice. The sacrifice sanctifies. The precious blood of the Lamb slain removes the guilt, and purges away the defilement of our sins of ignorance and carelessness. This is the best ending of a Christmas-dayto wash anew in the cleansing fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it be so good to-night, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood; to them sin, great as it is, is nevertheless no cause for despair, since they draw near yet again to the sin-atoning victim, and their conscience is purged from dead works.


More about our Christmas day later.

Last day to vote for blog awards

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I had ignored the 2004 Weblog Awards, partly because I wasn't nominated, partly because I hadn't realized how many people I know were nominated. It was possible to vote in each category every 24 hours over the 12-day voting period, but at this point you have the opportunity to vote once in each and every category.

One of the blogs on my blogroll with a good shot at finishing first in a category is The Gleeson Blogomerate, a beautifully designed and relatively new blog by Sean Gleeson and family, who live in the Oklahoma City area. Kevin McCullough, radio talk show host and a friend to this blog, is a nominee in the same category (Best in the 1000-1750 bracket), although well back in the pack. You can vote for the Gleesons or Kevin here.

I haven't met anyone in the 250-500 bracket, but I do link to King of Fools, who may have been the first convention blogger of 2004, with his coverage of the Texas Republican Convention.

I do know, and recently met up again with, two bloggers in the 100-250 bracket -- Karol Sheinin of Alarming News (formerly Spot On) and Scott Sala of Slant Point -- both convention bloggers and politically-active New York City conservative Republicans. You can vote for them here.

Ace of Spades (whom I recently met and have linked to a couple of times since then) is leading the top 100 bracket by a wide margin, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind some help padding his lead here.

Tim Blair may be one of the few blogs to win a category with an actual majority of the vote. He leads the Best Australia or New Zealand blog category, with Arthur Chrenkoff, famous for his good news roundups from Iraq and Afghanistan, well ahead of the pack in second place.

I'll stop there. Go browse and vote. If nothing else, the process will expose you to some excellent blogs that you haven't yet encountered.

Still swamped....

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Too swamped with work to do any writing tonight, but here are some links to check out:

TulipGirl reports that the Ukraine Supreme Court has invalidated the fraud-ridden presidential runoff election and has directed that a new runoff election between Yushchenko and Yanukovich will be held by the end of December.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock takes a detailed look at the legal issues surrounding the attempt by the Cockroach Caucus to recall him from office. Interesting that the Tulsa Whirled doesn't bother to run the statement by the League of Women Voters opposing recall, but does bother to have its city reporter call and try to intimidate brave Deanna Oakley with threats of lawsuits.

By the way, I hear that at the Council meeting last night the Oakley question was asked again by several people in several ways of Councilor Randy Sullivan, and he continued to refuse to answer publicly. Councilor Tom Baker reportedly let loose with a strident verbal attack on the citizens who were asking the questions, an attack greeted with boos and jeers from the audience. Guess he's decided not to run for mayor after all. The Council repeat tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. on cable channel 24 ought to be worth watching.

There's plenty more bloggy goodness if you'll explore my blogroll, on the right-hand-side of the home page.

In other blogs

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Not much time to write tonight, but there's plenty worth reading on other blogs:

Dawn Eden received a polite inquiry from a Swiss reader in response to her frequent posts on matters of sexual morality: "I'd really like to know why some Americans praise chastity and abstinence. Most Europeans think of sexuality as something natural, not as something that should be suppressed." Dawn allowed her readers to respond, and she posts several at the above link, and more here. It's good to see a discussion of the presuppositions that underlie views of sexual morality, and so many respectful answers, without a trace of condescencion, given in response to a respectful question.

Scott Sala of Slant Point writes about the upcoming election of a new chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party. Will the New Jersey party organization continue to be about patronage and position, or will it rediscover the priority of fighting and winning elections? He also writes about a plan to make free Internet access available in NYC housing projects, but it's not really full Internet access, but access to a specific content provider, with access to content from sponsors pushing a particular point of view, such as this item aimed at pregnant women:

You have three choices: --You can choose to have the baby and raise the child. --You can choose to have the baby and place the child for adoption. --You can choose to end the pregnancy. There is no right or wrong choice.

The Ace of Spades tells us about "A Liberal Who Doesn't Want (Much) To Call You a 'Retard' Anymore", which is progress. He makes some great points about how liberalism is integral to many liberals' sense of themselves as good people, and that attitude makes it impossible to have a civil discussion with those who don't share their politics.

Ukraine bloggers Discoshaman and his bride TulipGirl got a mention in John Podhoretz's Tuesday column about the pessimism of the Left in the New York Post.

Right now, in Ukraine, we are witnessing a genuine democratic revolution against the post-Soviet status quo, with hundreds of thousands of ordinary people refusing to allow an election to be stolen by kleptocratic thugs.

And who is celebrating this spontaneous, powerful and entirely progressive uprising? The Right, and no one but the Right. The good news is being blasted out of Kiev by conservative bloggers (particularly the married couple "Tulipgirl" and "Discoshaman") and promoted by conservative bloggers stateside.

Bloggers on the Left largely greeted the uprising with skeptical distance and worry. Because the president offered his moral support to the uprising, obsessively anti-Bush commentators seem reflexively to be skeptical of it.

Podhoretz failed to list their URLs -- is that a Post stylebook issue?

Better stop there -- be sure to check out Discoshaman and TulipGirl for the latest Ukraine news -- they've posted a lot in the last couple of days and link to still more.

An elephant in my pajamas

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I was Googling the phrase, "stamp the rooster," and came across this blog entry, which said, in part:

The last Democrat I voted for was actually in 1998, and he resigned in disgrace recently in the face of impeachment proceedings. What did I expect, right? In my defense, he was a neighbor of one of my good friends and he asked me, at a Fourth of July picnic, if he could count on my vote for Insurance Commissioner. Maybe it was the hot dogs talking, or the hot beer, or the hot Oklahoma sun, but I said, "Yes sir." So I was stuck. (There. I feel so much better getting that off my chest.)

The bit that Google found:

Update: To those of you wondering, "yellow dog democrat" is a term used throughout Little Dixie and refers to those rabidly partisan voters who would "vote for a yellow dog before a Republican". These are the same people who would "stamp the rooster". That phrase was always unsettling to me, but it refers to the old ballots having a rooster as the emblem of the Democrats. Straight-party voters would "stamp the rooster". (I know. It does me, too.)

The name of the author was Doug Smith, and the site's name is "An Elephant in My Pajamas," one of the cleverer blog titles I've seen.

A glance through the rest of the blog (about two months old) reveals that he's studying Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion at church on Sunday nights, he went to a University of Tulsa home football game this fall (and invented a cocktail in TU's honor), is evidently a conservative. The elephant in the title suggests he's a Republican, too.

Another conservative Republican Calvinist Tulsan blogger? How is it that I don't know this guy already?

Go read "An Elephant in My Pajamas" and leave some comments -- it's a good blog, but he needs to be encouraged to post more often.

From daily blog rounds

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No comment, just links to some interesting finds in my latest tours around the blogosphere:

  • Power Line has a number of stories on vandalism targeting Republican offices, signs, even vehicles displaying Republican bumper stickers. And there's this item, that shows that separation of church and state apparently only applies to Republican candidates.
  • Richard Rushfield conducted an experiment, going into conservative Orange County and Bakersfield, California, wearing a Kerry/Edwards shirt, and into reliably liberal areas around L.A. wearing a Bush/Cheney shirt. He writes about the reactions he observed for Slate. You probably won't be surprised to learn which parts of southern California were most tolerant of minority points of view.
  • NRO has a new blog called Battlegrounders, featuring first-hand reports from key states. Here's one from Arkansas about how an election judge (a Democrat) treated Arkansas First Lady Janet Huckabee (a Republican) when she showed up to volunteer as a pollworker for early voting. Mrs. Huckabee naively believed she was supposed to follow the law and ask voters for ID. The same item has more about Democrat facilitation of voter fraud.
  • The writer of that Arkansas item is Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Dan Greenberg, who has an interesting CV -- Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, policy director for Governor Mike Huckabee -- and now owns an editorial service -- you write it, he will edit it, for a fee. Cool typewriter effect on the website. And he doesn't say this, but I'm betting he's related to one of my favorite columnists, Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. (Watch for his Monday column, about the Sox making it to the World Series.)
  • Two polls now show Bush slightly ahead of Kerry in Hawai'i -- Ward Research has Bush ahead 43.3% to 42.6%, while SMS Research has Bush up 46% to 45%. Yes, both well within the margin of error, but Bush shouldn't even be competitive in Hawai'i.
  • Michelle Malkin says "call the wah-mbulance" for Kerry's latest poster child for economic deprivation during the Bush years.
  • Downtown Guy (of OKC) doesn't think Shan Gray's "The American" is going to happen. But he's excited about new apartments going in downtown Oklahoma City -- traditional urban-style four-story buildings with retail at street level.
  • Want to see a full-blown case of Bush Derangement Syndrome? See Lawrence O'Donnell now before the men with the nets take him away! (Thanks to the Daily Recycler for this and many more video highlights, like the new Bush "Wolves" ad, Reagan's 1984 "Bear in the Woods" ad. He's got that video of John Edwards primping before a TV appearance, which includes a moment that Lileks describes thus: "Its like Captain Kirk whipping out his communicator to contact the USS Fabulous. Set phasers on stunning!")
  • The Grauniad has already removed the opinion piece which closes with a wish for a presidential assassination, but you can still read it here.

That's enough for now.

The cover story in this week's issue of the Oklahoma Gazette, Oklahoma City's alternative weekly, is about blogs, specifically Oklahoma bloggers who comment on the news and it features quotes from Dustbury's Charles G. Hill, Mike from OkieDoke, and yours truly.

I spoke to Gazette reporter Deborah Benjamin a couple of weeks ago, and it was obvious from her questions that she had done her homework on the subject. There are a lot of angles you could take with a story on blogs. Deborah's focus is on the role of blogs as watchdogs and supplements to the traditional mainstream media.

The story begins with a recounting of how bloggers picked up on comments made by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott at a reception in honor of Sen. Strom Thurmond. The mainstream media was there, but for whatever reason chose not to report the remarks or give them any prominence.

Much of the focus on blogs recently has been about their fact-checking function, displayed prominently in the recent CBS memos scandal, but the Lott/Thurmond story illustrates another way in which blogs help to balance the media.

One of the ways media bias infects news reporting is in story selection and the selection of details to report in any given story. Story selection can be deliberately slanted, but often I think it happens subconsciously. A reporter is observing an event through his own frame of reference, and a story or a detail just doesn't register as important, even though it might be interesting or crucial for some in the reporter's audience. This is one way blogs serve the public -- bloggers can glean the cutting room floor of the mainstream media, and put the lost details out there to be found by others who will also find them significant. Key facts are rescued from burial next to the classified section and given prominence.

Thanks to Mike from OkieDoke for calling attention to the story. There are some comments on his entry which are worth reading as well.

The Doyen of Dustbury

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Charles G. Hill of the mythical Oklahoma City of Dustbury ought to be on your daily reading list, assuming he isn't already. I've plugged him in the past, but he's had too much good stuff lately not to remind you to pay him a visit. Here's a sampler of some recent output from this fount of common sense down the turnpike.

  1. Some observations about an older neighborhood and urban renewal:
    Now the roads through there aren't great, and I suspect the rest of the city's infrastructure is probably an upgrade or two behind schedule, but this struck me as a relatively nice, if obviously not at all upscale, neighborhood. (I spot-checked a couple of houses for sale, and you can still buy in around here for thirty-five to fifty-five thousand.) Professional worriers, faced with a few blocks like this, would undoubtedly start screaming "Blight!" and calling for intervention. And indeed, there's room for improvement, starting with what appears to be, at first glance, a higher-than-average crime rate. But I am becoming persuaded that the kiss of death for any neighborhood comes at the exact moment when the studies and the surveys and the recommendations start coming out and the focus shifts from "How can we make this area better?" to "How can we get these people out of here?" I, for my part, am loath to tear up an area of affordable housing just because it's not pretty.

  2. An open letter to a Muslim friend on the 3rd anniversary of 9/11:

    It's simply this: while the tides of history roll over everyone, they don't necessarily maintain an even depth. We are at war, Mo. And we are at war, not because of something you did, but because of things that were done ostensibly in your name, and in the name of your God. Until such time as we can weed out every last terrorist who claims to be doing the will of Allah, it is only prudent to assume the worst. Professional complainers call this "racial profiling"; the real world calls it "self-defense."

    (In the same entry, Charles links to this revealing quiz.)

  3. A look at an at-large council in a big city:

    Turns out that Austin has a council-manager form of government, something I'm familiar with, but there's a twist: all six of the council members are elected at large. Which means that whatever power base she's built up in her section of town (just north of the University) doesn't mean a whole lot, since she's got to make her pitch to the entire city of 650,000.

    I admit to being unable to understand why this is supposed to be a Good Thing. If each of the council members represents the whole city, why do they need six of them? The traditional complaint about ward representation, as used in Oklahoma City and more recently in Tulsa, has been that it encourages members of the council to think about neighborhood needs rather than the needs of the city as a whole, but the fact remains: neighborhoods do have different needs. Residents of Balcones Drive in northwest Austin don't necessarily have the same concerns as residents of Springdale Road on the east side.

  4. And an earlier comment on Ken Neal's Whirled rant about ward politics in Tulsa:

    "In effect," says Neal, the current system demands that councilors "are elected to try to put their district ahead of the overall welfare of the city." I don't live in Tulsa and don't have a grounding in Nealspeak, but I'll attempt a translation: "How can we do Great Things for this town if we keep having to piddle around with the petty needs of mere citizens?" ...

    And I'm still concerned with Neal's tossed-off phrase: "the overall welfare of the city." If you can't get five councilors to buy such and such a proposal, maybe it's not so good for the overall welfare after all, huh?

    There's a great comment on the same entry from McGehee:

    In my opinion, the opinions of editors and columnists at any major city's most widely-read daily newspaper should be disregarded out of hand -- especially in terms of civic reform.

    Media opinionmakers tend to be members of the local elite, and what they regard as "the overall welfare of the [community]" is almost always whatever enhances the wealth, position and comfort of their circle.

    And on the national scene this same phenomenon plays out on that scale. So...

    Charles had a visit to the hospital last week (duly reported on his blog) and I was happy to see that he was back at the keyboard the same day. Glad to have you back in the saddle, or at least hovering gingerly over the saddle...

Doody before honor

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Congratulations to Dawn Eden, whom I will now have to refer to as award-winning headline writer Dawn Eden, for she has won this year's prize for "brightest headline" in a large-circulation newspaper from the New York State Associated Press Association. The winning headline? "HURT IN LINE OF DOODY", about a court clerk who suffered a back injury when a toilet exploded beneath him.

You can find her and her award-winning New York Post headline on her home page.

Bloggers' bash

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Had a fun time last night at a bloggers' gathering at a very loud club called Fashion 40. Karol has full coverage, which I won't attempt to duplicate. Thanks to everyone for extending a warm welcome. You can't beat an evening with intelligent people who make words their avocation. (It would have been nice to hear more of the words over the music, and eventually I learned that shouting directly into someone's ear is considered acceptable, even polite.)

This place was trendy enough that very tall, well-dressed gentlemen screened people at the door. (Or maybe all clubs here are like that. How would I know?) Even though I'm a middle-aged nerd, I dropped Karol's name and I was in.

I would try to tell you about all the people I met last night, but the best way is to let them speak for themselves. Broaden your blog reading -- follow the link to Karol's entry, and follow the links to read what they have to say.

Happy Birthday, Honey Bunny...

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...ducky downy, sweetie chicken pie, little ever-lovin' blue-eyed jelly beane*.

After leaving the Platform Committee meeting, I headed downtown to a delightful gathering at an Irish pub called Slainte. Not only did I get to meet Dawn Eden, Petite Powerhouse, her own self, but also many of her blogging friends and her mom and stepdad, Rachel and Ron.

(Ron and Rachel guest-blogged on the Dawn Patrol during Dawn's vacation, relating, in daily installments, the path along which Jesus led them to Himself -- start here and scroll up to read the July installments, then continue here for August's continuation of the story. It's moving reading. And mixed in is a "best of" selection of Dawn's work which is a good intro to her work if you've never before had the pleasure.)

Ron and Rachel had a surprise for Dawn -- a cake in honor of her ninth birthday, if the candle count is to be believed.

dawncake.jpg

There ensued eating of delicious cake (really -- it had all sorts of fillings) and much more conversation and fellowship. Dawn introduced me around to everyone there, and I had a dozen or so fascinating conversations, chiefly about politics and the convention. I actually didn't spend much time talking to Dawn herself, as she was acting as a human mixer (thinking of cake batter here -- that was really good cake), folding people in as they arrived and making introductions. And since we read each other's blogs, we know a lot about each other already. But I did manage to get a snapshot with her before she had to go. (As usual, my eyes are nearly closed.)

dawnandme.jpg

* If you spells it with a final E, it's a girl's name.

Ecce blogroll

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You may notice the blogroll to your right is a bit longer than it was. I've added a bunch of sites. Some are Oklahoma bloggers, some mostly write about faith, some about politics. Some are frequently updated, some only rarely. Some descriptions, in alphabetical order:

Al Mohler is President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and a leader of the movement to recall Southern Baptists to their deep roots in Reformation theology. His blog mostly consists of longer essays on faith and culture.

C-Log is the weblog of townhall.com, a website which features an exhaustive roster of conservative columnists.

Dave Schwenk is pastor of a PCA congregation in Claremore, Oklahoma. Some years ago, he and I got to know each other as fellow students in the seminary extension courses offered by our church. He doesn't blog often -- but he does come up with some interesting links, like this entry about the USDA's nutritional database, free for download.

Hugh Hewitt is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and columnist. He's on hiatus from the blog and the show for a couple of weeks, but he's thoughtfully left us a New Visitors' Guide to the Blogosphere pointing us to the blogs and news sources he visits regularly. I have never heard his show -- he's not on in Tulsa -- but James Lileks has a weekly call-in to the show and occasionally serves as guest host, so it must be worth listening to.

Kevin McCullough is a conservative Christian radio talk show host based in NYC, who blogs about politics and culture.

I'm out of gas -- I'll cover the rest in some later entry.

As always: I don't agree with or even approve of everything I read on the blogs I link to, but they're worth a look -- some daily, some now and then. Some day, I'll categorize them. Use your judgment. Your mileage may vary. Parental guidance suggested.

Instapundit links to this New York Times article about obsessive blogging.

The constant search for bloggable moments is what led Gregor J. Rothfuss, a programmer in Zurich, to blog to the point of near-despair. Bored by his job, Mr. Rothfuss, 27, started a blog that focused on technical topics.

"I was trying to record all thoughts and speculations I deemed interesting," he said. "Sort of creating a digital alter ego. The obsession came from trying to capture as much as possible of the good stuff in my head in as high fidelity as possible."

For months, Mr. Rothfuss said, he blogged at work, at home, late into the night, day in and day out until it all became a blur - all the while knowing, he added, "that no one was necessarily reading it, except for myself."

When traffic to the blog, greg.abstract.ch started to rise, he began devoting half a day every day and much of the weekend to it. Mr. Rothfuss said he has few memories of that period in his life aside from the compulsive blogging.

He was saved from the rut of his online chronicle when he traveled to Asia. The blog became more of a travelogue. Then Mr. Rothfuss switched jobs, finding one he enjoyed, and his blogging grew more moderate.

He still has the blog, but posts to it just twice a week, he said, "as opposed to twice an hour." He feels healthier now. "It's part of what I do now, it's not what I do," he said.

I like that line -- "capture as much of the good stuff in my head in as high fidelity as possible".

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Blogosphere category.

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