General Category

Yes, I have noticed that there's something strange going on with the sidebars here at BatesLine. I am investigating the problem and hope to have it fixed as soon as possible.

UPDATE: Fixed. It was an unclosed HTML tag.

Q & A

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Q1. So, are you going to be writing about Kathy Taylor's threat to sue Bill Christiansen?

A1. Yep, and I've already started, but I need a little more time, because I don't want to get a scary lawyer letter from Doug Dodd, Kathy's lawyer. (I don't know what to think about a First Amendment attorney who puts his John Hancock on what looks suspiciously like a SLAPP threat.)

Q2. You don't seem to be writing much these days.

A2. That's not a question, but you're right. I have plenty to say on plenty of topics, but it's hard to blog while folding laundry. If I'm not working on the vocation that actually pays the bills, then I'm teaching Greek or grading papers or writing exams, helping my own children stay on task and get their assignments done, turning Handycam video into a DVD with a menu, doing laundry, doing dishes.

Q3. What did you think of the Republican state convention?

A3. Well, I wasn't there. I felt it was more important to spend Saturday helping my two oldest kids get back on track with their assignments. They are both heavily loaded this year, and we've had some disruptions, principally the illness and death of their grandmother (my mother-in-law) and my wife's travel related to caring for her mom and now dealing with her estate. It was a very pleasant day, working quietly alongside my kids, but it was odd to miss the state convention for the first time in over a decade.

Q4. Are you happy with the convention's election results?

A4. David Weston should do a fine job on the nuts-and-bolts of running the party. I am concerned that we need our state party chairman to protect the Republican brand in Oklahoma. Mr. Weston may not regard that as part of his job, but he should. Now that the party dominates state government, we no longer have any excuse not to enact what we believe to be the best policies for Oklahoma's future, and yet we can't seem to get anything done. Gov. Fallin blames the lobbyists. But to our north, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has gotten a significant income tax cut and a personhood bill through the legislature. When Republican legislators stood in the way of his platform -- the platform that voters endorsed by electing him -- he supported primary opponents and got rid of most of the obstructionists. We need that sort of leadership in Oklahoma. We need state party officials who will exert as much pressure on GOP elected officials for limited government and lower taxes as the lobbyists are exerting in the opposite direction. The chambers of commerce and heavy construction and public employee unions all have their lobbyists; who will speak for the taxpayers?

Q5. Any other stories you're aching to write about?

A5. The failure of the Agenda 21 bill. Tulsa's victory in the "Parking Madness" tournament. (I've taken some great photos, but I need to write about it.) The stupidity of a column on exploiting Route 66 as a tourist attraction that ignores the importance of historical preservation. And there are a bunch of other stories that aren't really timely any more, but I want to get something on the record, particularly in tribute to some good people who have joined the Choir Invisible in recent months.

Q6. Isn't BatesLine's 10th anniversary next week? Any plans?

A6. Yep. I'd hoped to put together a retrospective, but that's looking unlikely.

Q7. Shouldn't you be going to bed?

A7. Yes. Either go to bed, or graze in the kitchen in a vain attempt to stay awake enough to write. Maybe I'll go to bed.

Big thumbs up to Dodge for their two-minute-long Super Bowl ad featuring the inimitable voice of the late Paul Harvey: Beautiful words combined with beautiful pictures in tribute to the American farmer.

The speech was delivered to the Future Farmers of America in 1978 -- 35 years ago, and yet timeless. Warner Todd Huston has the full text of Paul Harvey's "So God Made a Farmer", along with the farms.com video from two years ago that first coupled this text with images of farmers.

MORE: Mediaite found the full version of the speech, which had been trimmed to fit the two-minute commercial length.

Out sick, again

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In case you're wondering at the silence here, I got hit Saturday night (shortly after publishing the previous entry) with a nasty gastrointestinal bug that had me up all night. I'm better, but not yet back to normal.

This evening was the first time I felt like spending any time in front of a computer, and I've added a few interesting items to the linkblog (left sidebar on the home page). My pace of publishing will likely remain slow, as I catch up on work and home matters while trying to get an ample amount of sleep. Thanks for your patience.

I received an email last night from a BatesLine reader asking if I had deliberately censored a comment he posted a couple of weeks ago or if the comment didn't post because of a technical error.

The answer was neither. I wrote back: "It was a worthwhile comment, and had I noticed it earlier, I would have approved it earlier. I likely overlooked the notification email. Checking pending comments in the content management system, I noticed several from four different regular commenters over the last couple of weeks that I missed seeing. I owe you and them an apology for my lack of attention to the blog and its readers."

Some of these comments I had seen and thought I had approved at the time. Others I had not seen. While, on balance, it's probably a good thing I don't give this blog the obsessive attention I did five or six years ago, things have swung too far the other way.

I moderate comments to filter out spam and the occasional abusive comment. I reserve the right to publish or not publish a comment for any reason whatsoever (including my own neglect), and there's no guarantee that your submission to post a comment will result in its publication. Publication of a comment does not imply my endorsement of the sentiment expressed or any facts alleged by the commenter. The opinions expressed are those of the commenter and do not necessarily represent my views.

In general, however, if you offer a comment in good faith, even if I don't agree with it, my aim is to post it promptly. Thank you for taking the time to read BatesLine and for caring enough to respond with a comment.

Thanks to the folks at BlogAds, BatesLine is now offering banner ads. Your ad will appear at the top of every page. Or you can buy fractions of page impressions in 10% increments. Banner images can be as large as 728x90 pixels.

The cost for this high-visibility spot is just $20 a day for 100% of page views, with a three-day minimum. For a mere $6, your ad would be seen by 10% of page views for three days.

The traditional BatesLine sidebar ad is still available, with prices starting at $30 a week. There are discounts for longer-term ads.

If you're a candidate in search of voters, donors, and volunteers, you'll want to advertise on BatesLine. Advertising with BatesLine is an affordable way to get your message in front of Tulsa and Oklahoma opinion leaders and active voters.

While BatesLine draws strong traffic throughout the year, it soars in the weeks and days just before an election, as voters seek information on candidates and state questions. In July 2010, leading up to the state primary, BatesLine served 237,954 pages, according to awstats.

For all the details about advertising on BatesLine, click the links above, or drop me an email at the address in the left sidebar.

As I've lost a couple of lengthy entries to a bug in the very old version of blog software that runs this site, I've decided to upgrade to a newer version before trying to add any more content. I'm hopeful that it will be a smooth transition. Thanks for your patience.

UPDATE: New version installed, and everything seems to be working.

FURTHER UPDATE: Well, no, everything isn't working. There are some very strange things going on with the CMS software.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Found the problem. New static directory needed to be copied to the right place.

Once upon a time, conferences were straightforward. You had a group of universities within a bus ride of one another, and they played each other in football, baseball, basketball, and other sports. At the major university level, you had a dozen or so conferences, each with no more than 10 teams, and every team played every other team in football every year, and typically each pair of teams played home-and-home series in basketball and baseball. You had the Pac 8, Big 8, WAC, SWC, SEC, Big 10, ACC, Missouri Valley, and the Ivy League, plus a long list of independents like Notre Dame, Miami, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Florida State, and Tulane. There was a second tier of conferences like Southland, Big Sky, PCAA, Yankee, and MAC. Things were fairly stable for a long time.

Then in 1978 the two big Arizona schools split off to make the Pac 8 the Pac 10. Football independents formed basketball leagues to gain automatic berths in the ever-expanding March Madness tournament, and some of those basketball leagues added football later on. Title 9 encouraged schools to drop some of their men's teams -- e.g., Wichita State dropped football, Tulsa dropped baseball -- leading to a decline of conference cohesion. The SEC picked up South Carolina and Arkansas and split into two divisions, leading a few years later to the demise of the SWC, the creation of the Big 12, the expansion of the WAC to ridiculous extremes, and a period of great upheaval involving conferences with no strong traditions or geographic roots. I've lost track.

There's hand-wringing to our north: The Kansas City Star devoted its front-page Sunday headline story to the impact of the end of the Big 12 on their market area, accompanied by an image of tattered school flags for Mizzou, KU, and K-State in front of ominous storm clouds.

Well, we still have barbecue.

Our regional universities still boast impressive trophy cases. Memories of impressive tournament failures. Tickets so hot they spawn federal investigations. And researchers who can tell you the best way to mend a heart, grow some corn or plant a wind turbine.

Kansas City remains home to a pair of not-so-major-league sports franchises, affordable housing, a pared-down cell phone company, those oversize badminton thingies, a school district boldly lopped in half, a proud history of a musical genre few people listen to anymore and a funky, thriving arts district.

All is not lost.

But something is lost.

Last week's attack on the Big 12 could toss our loyalties and rivalries to the winds. At best it leaves the Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri campuses as well as Kansas City at the center of something lesser. Now the region is a hub of schools left behind by more sought-after universities tempted to hang with a cooler, better-heeled crowd.

There's at least one sensible voice in the story:

For some, in fact, college sports weren't worth building around in the first place.

"What's lost has already been corrupted," said Crosby Kemper III, director of the Kansas City Public Library and a member of this former cowtown's most prominent families. "We need to stop looking at the Big Eight, the Big Ten, the Big 12 and NCAA as things that bring prestige and make us a better community. They don't."

Maybe Kansas City could build a new downtown arena or an entertainment district to recover its municipal pride.... Oh, well.

The Sprint Center will be able to fill its dates with other entertainment, Schulte said, but they wouldn't offer the day-long and weekend-long events that entice crowds into KC Live in the Power & Light district.

"We need more people and more activity," he said.

Any dip in activity at the Power & Light district could further nick taxpayers. City Hall must pay for any fall off in the downtown entertainment district's performance.

Even before the Big 12 started to dissolve, the Power & Light district fell short of revenue projections. That meant the city has had to dip into its general fund to pay the debt on bonds sold to build the district. This year that subsidy might grow to $11.4 million.

"We've spent a lot of taxpayer money to build up a downtown area," said Stretch, an artist, restaurant owner and Tax Increment Financing Commission member. "Our taxes don't stop coming, and our bills keep coming."

A story in Saturday's edition focuses on the unseemly concern and impotence of Kansas and Missouri politicians about the situation.

As long as every conference is becoming unmoored from its historical roots, as long as TV revenues are driving realignment, why not toss everything and embrace a system that adds drama and dynamism to college sports: The English football system of relegation and promotion.

English football is organized like a pyramid topped by a tower. There are five nationwide leagues in five levels at the top. If you finish near the top of your league, you're promoted to the next highest level for the following season. Finish near the bottom, and you're relegated to the next league down. Below the fifth level, the leagues begin to divide geographically, with more locally-focused leagues at a given level the closer to the base you go. (Here's a graphic of the English football pyramid.)

In addition to league play, there's a 14-round, single-elimination tournament called the FA Cup that stretches out from mid-August to mid-May. Any team belonging to the Football Association can enter; members of higher-level leagues get byes to later rounds. Matches are assigned at random for each round, and rounds are spaced about two or three weeks apart. Theoretically, the humblest county league club has a shot at playing in Wembley in the Cup Final. Last year, 762 teams entered the competition. (Imagine an NCAA basketball tournament that included every member of the NCAA.) A smaller tournament, the Carling Cup, involves only the 92 teams in the top four levels of the pyramid.

In 2009-2010, Arsenal, which won the Premier League, played 38 Premier League matches (home and home against the other 19 teams), plus 17 matches in three tournaments: UEFA Champions League, Carling Cup, and FA Cup. That's 55 matches in about 40 weeks. Surely, American college football teams can play 30 games over the course of a school year, particularly if players are relieved of the requirement to attend class.

So here's my proposal. Put the top 16 football teams in the US in the 1st Division. The next 16 go into the 2nd Division, and so on down for the top 64 schools. The top four divisions would all be nationwide. Each team plays each other team in their division. The next level would involve four regional conferences of 14 teams each. That covers the 120 schools of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A). At the end of each season, the top and bottom four teams would be promoted or relegated. League games would happen every other Saturday. You could add the I-AA teams into the promotion/relegation system, too, playing in regional leagues organized in a couple of tiers.

Interwoven with league play, you'd have the American College Football Cup. For safety reasons, it should probably be limited to I-A and I-AA teams (about another 120 teams.) You could manage that with an eight-round tournament, but if you give byes to the higher level teams, it might take 11 rounds. So a lower-level team going all the way through the tourney could play a couple dozen games in a nine-month season. A higher level team could add as many as six games to its 15 regular season matches.

You could use the same structure for other sports, with no necessary connection between leagues in one sport with leagues in another. Kansas might be in the 1st Division in basketball and in one of the regional leagues in football.

At the top levels, the relationship between school and team would be one of licensing. The team would be entitled to use the school's colors, logo, mascots, and facilities, and the players would be entitled to take courses, should they wish, in exchange for massive fees from the team to the school. The teams would be expected to pay a salary to the players from their revenues.

In this system, no league gets stuck with a perennial laughingstock, mediocrity in one sport isn't a hindrance to excellence in another, no laughingstock is forever stuck in a league where they can't succeed, and, in true American spirit, there are no barriers to how high a team can rise. With teams moving up and down every year, there's more trivia to memorize and more opportunities for merchandising.

MORE: Tulsa World Sports Editor Mike Strain has been covering the realignment story extensively on his blog.

OTHER SPORTS: In a column from a couple of weeks ago, Bill Haisten wonders why the Tulsa Shock isn't playing at UMAC instead of the massively oversized BOK Center:

It doesn't make sense to air-condition, illuminate and staff a 17,839-seat BOK Center when the entire upper deck is unused (and shrouded by black curtains). But the WNBA insists on conducting its contests within super-sized arenas.

That column was linked by this blogger, Mister Women's Sports, who says the WNBA should look to another women's league as an example:

I have said in the past that the WNBA would be wise to CASE* Women's Professional Soccer (WPS). And while it would be wonderful to have all of the WPS teams playing in soccer-specific stadia (like Pizza Hut Park, hem hem), the league is aware that it has to grow into larger venues rather than book a barn and pay lots of overhead for wasted space. (* Copy and Steal Everything)

He goes on to explain why, given a choice between the San Antonio team and the Tulsa Shock, he'll go south to see a game:

If I spent say, $30 on a single ticket in San Antonio, I'd be very close to courtside under one of the baskets. If I spent that same amount in Tulsa, I'd have "goal line" seats if the BOK Center hosted indoor football. Which in so many words means that my concerns about the seating chart on paper were confirmed when I saw the interior of the BOK Center on national TV last night and saw how horrible the sight lines were in the $30-ish seats. No thanks. I want to see the stars of the WNBA, not the rear of the backboard all night.

AND MORE ON REALIGNMENT:

Mad Okie comments:

So if it's all about the money, its time to stop the legal slavery, and pay the student athletes for the services they perform, for without the student athletes, there would be no revenues for these money hungry schools to be fighting over.

At this point Nebraska is poised to make 10 million more in their move... will the Nebraska taxpayers see a cut in their taxes going towards higher education?

A Thanksgiving reader

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The Wall Street Journal's Thanksgiving tradition, since 1961:

The Desolate Wilderness: The New World in the words of the Pilgrims' historian

And the Fair Land: A modern reflection on America's prosperity and challenges.

Plus this story on Franklin Roosevelt's short-lived attempt (1939-1941) to move the date of Thanksgiving one week earlier to encourage more retail sales for Christmas.

And from last year in the Muskogee Phoenix, Brandon Dutcher gives thanks for private property rights as the foundation for American prosperity:

In his 1994 book "The Theme Is Freedom," M. Stanton Evans explained that "in both Virginia and Plymouth, for slightly different reasons, initial arrangements with the sponsoring London merchants prevented the colonists from owning and reaping the benefits of private property. Predictably enough, the communal set-up proved disastrous in terms of incentives and resulting output, so that both infant states were threatened with starvation. The upshot in both cases was that the settlers converted as soon as they were able to a system of private ownership, and reward for private effort."

"Never again were the Pilgrims short of food," adds Kirk. "Thereafter, despite a harsh climate, poor communication with Britain, troubles with the Indians, pirates who took their cargoes, and other handicaps, the Pilgrims' economy began to prosper."

The lesson was not lost on Governor Bradford. He wrote: "The failure of this experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times - that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God."

And finally, a reminder to be thankful for our troops who have returned home and to pray for those still deployed in the War on Terror:

NormanRockwell-Thanksgiving1945.jpg

Calling in sick

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I've got what's going around -- not flu, I don't think, but bad enough to have trouble sleeping. There won't be anything from me tonight, but I encourage you to check out the good reading on BatesLine's Tulsa headlines page, including a salute to Guinness from McNellie's founder Elliot Nelson. (It really is good for you.)

Stay healthy.

BatesLine on your Kindle

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Thanks to MeeCiteeWurkor for letting me know that owners of the Amazon Kindle, the electronic book substitute, can subscribe to the Kindle edition of BatesLine for a mere 99¢ per month.

Why pay for something you can read online for free? Kindle automatically and wirelessly downloads updates to your subscribed blogs, magazines, and newspapers, making use of Sprint's network. When you're ready to read BatesLine, wherever you are, it's there, ready to read, just as you'd see it on the web.

And in answer to Mee's question, yes, I do make some sort of royalty from Kindle subscriptions, through my participation with Newstex's Blogs on Demand service, which makes BatesLine available through LexisNexis, CanWest and other licensees.

Mobile blogging test

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This is a test....

Except for having to remember the filename of the photo I wanted to upload and having to both attach the file and manually insert the code in the post entry and the double-posting, everything worked just fine.

I'm amused / distressed that mobile blogging apps haven't advanced much since the last time I attended a national political convention.

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.

Nils the Mac Man

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I'm very pleased to welcome a new advertiser to BatesLine. Nils the Mac Man is a member of the Apple Consultants Network, with four certifications from Apple in hardware and software. Nils handles repairs, upgrades, troubleshooting, and one-on-one tutoring to help you get the most out of your Mac.

I got to know Nils a few years ago, when he was a producer on KFAQ. Often the show would feature clips from city meetings which he had gleaned from TGOV. I was impressed that he was using his computer to capture video from cable and then extracting and editing the audio for use on the air.

That same initiative and Macintosh savvy is now available to answer your questions and solve your problems. Just click through to NilsTheMacMan.com or call Nils at 918-794-2645.

CaringBridge

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My wife, who handles the prayer chain e-mail list for our church, just became aware of an online way for friends and family of someone who is undergoing a medical crisis to stay in touch and informed and to provide support and encouragement.

It's called CaringBridge, and it's a free service funded by a non-profit. In a few short steps, you can set up a website for a patient -- yourself or someone close to you. You can create journal entries and upload photographs. You can choose whether the site should be open to anyone who knows its name or whether visitors will also need a password. (User sites are blocked from search engine indexing, so someone can't google their way into it.) Visitors to the site can leave messages of support and encouragement on the guestbook, and they can sign up to receive an e-mail alert when new information is posted.

It's a bit like a blog or a MySpace page, but it's geared for the specific purpose of allowing a patient or the loved one of a patient to keep friends and family up to date without the hassle of managing e-mail lists. A single e-mail pointing people to the webpage is all it takes.

Last weekend

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My already torpid blogging pace is going to slow even further this weekend, as I have some end-of-year tasks to get done.

I will likely be adding to the linkblog as I come across items of interest, and you'll always find new material on the blogroll headlines page and op-ed page.

Since Tuesday is a holiday, I'll be on 1170 KFAQ with Gwen Freeman and Chris Medlock on Monday morning instead, reviewing the year's top local stories and looking ahead to 2008.

Monday morning on 1170 KFAQ

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While Gwen Freeman takes a day off, I'll be sitting in with Chris Medlock on 1170 KFAQ tomorrow morning (Monday) for the whole show from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. We'll be talking about all the latest news, including the first signs of a PR push for a taxpayer-funded downtown stadium for the Tulsa Drillers, and I'm sure we'll be talking about several of the national stories I've got linked in the linkblog, over in the left sidebar.

If you can't pick up 1170 over the airwaves, you can click this link and launch Windows Media Player with a live feed or, later in the day, you can click this link to download separate MP3 podcasts of each hour of the show.

Technical trouble

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The lack of posting the last few days is the result of business busyness, lousy access to WiFi at my hotel, and, most recently, the apparent failure of my laptop hard drive. (Can anyone suggest a good data recovery service? I had a fairly recent backup, but not recent enough.)

UPDATE: The drive (a Seagate 40 GB drive) seems to be OK, but not the laptop. I put the drive in a USB enclosure and was able to power it up, connect it to another computer, and copy critical data off of it. When I tried to reinstall it in my ancient (5 year old) Dell Inspiron 4000, the BIOS still couldn't see it. The BIOS had also stopped seeing the aftermarket DVD+RW I bought a while back.

Here's what I think happened: Thursday during a break at the convention I was attending, I headed over to the WiFi hotspot to check e-mail. I had the laptop set up to standby when the lid is shut and restart when the lid is open. I put it back in the backpack, thinking I had the lid shut all the way. It must have bounced open just enough in my laptop backpack to restart, and surrounded by all that nice padding, it overheated and something fried. When I pulled it out to use it during a session, it was already restarted when I opened it, and there was an I/O error dialog box in the middle of the screen. The laptop was non-responsive to my inputs. When I reset it, it refused to recognize the DVD+RW. So I popped that out and tried again, and it refused to recognize the hard drive. The BIOS init process seemed to hang at about 95% on the progress bar.

This laptop, which I bought for $700 second hand in June 2002, has had a new video cable, a new and bigger hard drive, new and more memory, a new motherboard, a new DVD drive, and a new keyboard installed at one time or another. Plus I bought a WiFi card and a USB-2/Firewire combo card to make up for the absence of those features. In other words, I've spent as much keeping it running as I paid for it in the first place. Still, it's been a good machine, it's been with me all over the country and across the pond, and it's been cheaper to pay the incremental costs over time than to buy a new machine in one fell swoop. Plus, I haven't yet faced the problem of reinstalling everything.

So if I do buy a new laptop, should it be another Dell? And should I stick with XP, go with Vista, or chuck it all and make this one a Linux machine?

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.)

Linkblog changes

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You may have already noticed that the linkblog is back, in the left sidebar. Instead of using my old homegrown system (involving PHP and MySQL), I'm using the multi-blog features of Movable Type 4.0. There's now a separate linkblog blog, and I'm displaying the five most recent entries on the home page and Newsgator page of BatesLine proper. When I add a new linkblog entry, the index pages for BatesLine are rebuilt.

Because this is a separate MT blog, these linkblog entries have the same attributes as normal blog entries, including permalinks, trackbacks, and comments. If you click on the date and time stamp, it will take you to the individual entry archive page, where you can leave or read comments. Eventually there will be categories, and I'll be importing the old linkblog entries. I'll be trying to work out the same kind of interface that I had with the old linkblog that made it quick and painless to post something.

The biggest advantage the new way has over the old method is that this version builds files once, rather than dynamically generating them with a database query. The old system would issue a DB query every time the home page was loaded, which made my hosting provider unhappy, and resulted in the CPU Exceeded errors people would see from time to time.

Another test post

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Testing, testing, sibilants, sibilants.

UPDATE: Finally found the problem with comments. When I cut and pasted the code from the Javascript template in a brand new MT 4.0 test blog to the corresponding template in BatesLine, MT insisted on throwing in a bunch of extra line feeds. Another ctrl-c ctrl-v attempt succeeded in copying the text with no additional line feeds. Saving and publishing the template took care of it.

I will still need to rebuild the rest of the entries. There's still an issue with the queuing mechanism. I have mods I want to make to the entry template (include Technorati tags and categories, for example). And I want to import the old linkblog entries into a new MT 4.0 blog and then cross-link that with the homepage for BatesLine. And of course, I want to replace the banner image with something more representative of Tulsa.

Upgrade in progress

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Upgrading to the latest version of Movable Type. Expect breakage.

UPDATE: We seem to be back up. Someone post a comment, and let's see if it works.

UPDATE: Comments are broken, but I can post. Thanks to those who tested comments. I tried to reconfigure comments and rebuild the site, but rebuilding consistently causes a Bluehost CPU overage, which is why I'll be looking for a new hosting provider as soon as I can. I can't find a way to rebuild a few entries at a time to avoid getting dinged.on CPU.

At the end of a blog entry recounting angry letters to the editor in response to a couple of sentences in a recent column praising homeschooling and private schools, Rod Dreher explained why only the angry letters showed up in the paper:

Dallas readers will wonder why the paper only published negative responses to my column, and will perhaps see media bias in the letters selection. Not true. I work in this same department, and let me tell you, all the people who liked the column and took the trouble to write wrote me personally. The ones who hated it wrote letters to the editor -- which is why they got printed.

So if you like something you read in the paper, by all means let the writer know, but cc the letters column, and let everyone else know, too.

Totality from 4:52 a.m. to 6:22 a.m., CDT. Tyson Wynn has details.

Alas, I didn't have a sitter, so I had to miss out on Tuesday night's Absolute Best of Tulsa (ABoT) party at the Petroleum Club. I didn't find out until tonight, when I finally had a chance to pick up a copy of the latest issue, but I won an Urby this year. Urban Tulsa Weekly readers have named me Best Blogger in the 2007 Absolute Best of Tulsa awards. Thanks to everyone who voted for me.

For the record, I didn't vote for myself. I voted for Mee.

MORE: Here's a link to a PDF of the 2007 Absolute Best of Tulsa special section.

Just a brief note: I should be back to posting daily starting tomorrow.

As I write this, this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly isn't online yet, but it should be soon. My column this week is on the Greenwood Gap Theory -- the widely-believed notion that nothing happened in Tulsa's historic African-American commercial district between the riot that destroyed it in 1921 and the construction of OSU-Tulsa in the late '80s, a notion that avoids confronting the devastation of urban renewal.

20070609-MichaelBateses.jpg

On the left, Michael D. Bates, columnist for Urban Tulsa Weekly and proprietor of batesline.com.

On the right, Michael W. Bates, former Member of Parliament and Paymaster General, now director of the Northern Board of the Conservative Party.

In the background, Durham Cathedral on a brilliant June day.

I had the pleasure of spending a lovely but all-too-brief hour and a half in the company of Michael and his son Matthew, strolling along the Wear, having a light lunch in the cathedral's Undercroft Restaurant, and talking about British and American politics and the remarkable story of the Emmanuel College in Gateshead and how high expectations can transform an underprivileged area.

Expect delays

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Note to friends, family, and colleagues: The next week or so will have me busy from sunup to sunset -- and the sun goes down late in June. Getting in touch with me will not be easy. The best way to reach me will be at the blog atsign batesline dot com address, but don't expect an immediate response. If it's really urgent, call my home phone number.

Just a programming note: Because of the holiday and because of transporting my son downtown for the Tulsa Boy Singers appearance on KOTV Tuesday morning, my weekly conversation with Gwen Freeman and Chris Medlock was postponed until Wednesday morning. I'll be on at 7:40, and there will be all sorts of local issues to discuss, including the Council's vote on immigration policy and the failure to land the Big 12 basketball tournament until 2013 at the earliest.

Remember the living as well as the dead, writes Paul Greenberg:

There is nothing we can do for the dead now, but there is much we can do for the living. We can ask where they are, and how they fare, and see that they, and their families, are cared for. And when they are stacked in hospitals like so much cordwood, put out of sight like something indecent, we can demand more than a few showy dismissals of those who were supposed to be in charge.

We can ask, we can demand to know, what is being done for them and theirs. Now. For people do not live in some abstract realm - like the past or in politicians' speeches or on the television screen - but in the here and very now. In waiting rooms. In hospital wards. In veterans' homes.

Let this be a memorial day for the living, too. And let us live it, too. For today is also a day for family picnics and block parties, for good times as well as solemn rituals, a day to make the most of.

Today's mix of joy and sorrow, the quick and the dead, the grief and pride - it is all as it should be. Life is to be celebrated even as we remember the dead.

It is a day for laughter. Laughter is a better memorial than tears. It is the ordinary sounds - of children at play, of families uniting, of old stories retold - that are the best memorial. For it is the ordinary joys of freedom, not the grandiloquent ideals, that generations sacrificed to assure. So that Americans can walk the way we do - openly, freely, unafraid, even blessedly unaware. So that we can look one another in the eye and say what we think. So that any man can look his boss in the eye and tell him to go to hell. And any woman do the same. So we can strike roots where we are or light out for the territories. For this is a big country, and all of it is still the land of opportunity. This is the land where freedom grows. This is its native soil, its natural habitat. It thrives here. But not, as this day reminds, without sacrifice.

It's been a very busy weekend, and I'm fighting a cold and deadlines, thus the lack of updates. Go check out Mike McCarville's blog -- Mike has the outcome of Saturday's Republican state convention and a note about Friday's breakthrough in the dismantling of the web of intrigue which centers on former State Sen. Gene Stipe and has links to State Auditor Jeff McMahan, Governor Brad Henry, and a number of Democratic state legislators. Former State Rep. (and former State Democratic Chairman) Mike Mass pleaded guilty to Federal mail fraud charges and is singing like a canary. Here's McCarville's archive on the Stipe story.

One more thing: My wife, son, and I had a wonderful time at Friday's inaugural gala for the National Fiddler Hall of Fame. Many thanks to Jim and Alice Rodgers of Cain's Ballroom for their hospitality. More about that special evening later.

Out sick

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We've been fighting the 24-hour stomach bug at our house since Friday night. The girl got it then, Mom and older son got it late Saturday afternoon, and it hit me around noon today. I managed to get in a last minute shopping trip for supplies (club crackers, Sprite, Gatorade, Pepto Bismol) before the bug laid me low. Happily, my wife was on the upswing by then, so we didn't have to live through both grownups being sick at the same time.

The baby, praise God, is unaffected so far. I remember a frightening episode when my daughter was six months old -- she had a fever and a cold and refused to drink anything. We had to take her to the ER for dehydration. We're praying that the baby escapes the crud.

I'm feeling better, but not well enough to be coherent. Hopefully that will change by tomorrow morning.

Testimonials

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I have a fan! His name is P. R. Hensley, and he took time out of his busy day to go over to this thread on the TulsaNow forum, about my Urban Tulsa Weekly article on the history of Arkansas River plans, to post the following comment:

I never read anything Bates writes. It's all the same recycled old stuff.

I can't tell you how much it warms my heart that Mr. Hensley would devote his valuable time to seeking out articles by me or about me -- that he would be so interested in expressing his lack of interest in my writing. He even went to the online version of my article to post this:

Who cares what Michael Bates thinks? He's just in love with himself.

Charles G. Hill has a list of testimonials on the sidebar of dustbury.com. If I ever add a similar feature to this site, I think I'll kick it off with one of those two quotes.

Too tired to blog tonight, because I was up early this morning for my weekly update on 1170 KFAQ. Here's a link to the podcast of the 6-7 hour this morning. (And here's a link to the archive of podcasts.)

Anna Falling from Cornerstone Assistance Network was in studio to talk about Turkeys for Tulsans. For $15 you can provide a turkey Christmas dinner for a needy family. Click here to donate or to learn more.

In our roundup of news here and elsewhere, we discussed suspended City Attorney Alan Jackere's plan to retire, Mayor Kathy Taylor's Sunday op-ed about "the Mighty Arkansas River," potential challengers to Sen. Jim Inhofe in 2008, and Barack Obama's chances for President against Hillary Rodham Clinton.

E-mail is hosed

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I'm not sure what's going on, but it appears that the hosting provider for BatesLine is doing some sort of upgrade on its mail software. If you sent something to a batesline.com address since midnight or thereabouts, assume that it didn't and may not ever get to us. When all is straightened out, I'll post a new notice here.

Under renovation

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Things are going to look funny for a while. I upgraded to MT 3.33 (a security-critical update), and there has been a significant change in the template layout structure from my previous version (3.14). Expect it to be a few days before all the content is back in its usual places.

An installation note: When I uploaded the files to my server, I forgot to move the new static files to the old static file directory location, outside of the cgi-bin directory. I also needed to change the StaticWebPath variable from a relative path to a full URL. Without doing that, the new automated upgrade process doesn't work (it appears to stall after telling you the process has begun), nor does the new Style Catcher. Since I have customized the names of my comments, trackbacks, and search scripts, I needed to change those file names to match those in my config file.

Click the photo for a 3000x2000 (300 dpi) version of the photo of me that ran over my column during most of 2006.

Michael D. Bates, columnist for Urban Tulsa Weekly

Swamped and exhausted

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I am still recovering from bronchitis, which has been dogging me since the end of last week. The antibiotic seemed to keep me tossing and turning. (I'm sure reading the side effects didn't help -- "tendon rupture"?) I was back at work today, but I'm still behind on responsibilities at home and at work.

In the meantime, check out the latest entries to the linkblog (top of the page). Or read the latest headlines from other Tulsa bloggers.

Bobby has audio of last Friday's meeting of the Citizens' Commission on City Government, including my presentation, a presentation by TU Law Professor Gary Allison, and remarks by Chris Medlock. Was the Tulsa Whirled there to get the story? No, but Tulsa Topics was there.

(Urban Tulsa Weekly was there, too. You can read my take on the meeting in the issue that hits the streets in the morning.)

Bobby also keeps a linkblog, and one of his recent finds is this piece in the Muncie, Indiana, Star-Press, an interview with Brookside neighborhood leader Herb Beattie about how to deal with AEP's tree-trimming program.

Chris Medlock has a new entry about Vision 2025 eminent domain in Sand Springs, and some salient facts that the Tulsa Whirled omits.

From the blogroll:

Julie R. Neidlinger has a hilarious Mother's Day video and links to more work by Barats and Bereta. Julie also has some music recommendations: Philip Glass and Samuel Barber.

Marsupial Mom breaks her self-described "blog-slump" with a tale of her most embarassing moment ever.

Wanna buy some movie theatres in western Oklahoma? One is a twin drive-in, another has three screens and a luxury apartment. Okiedoke found the listings on eBay.

I've got a lot in my backblog, but I also have a cold, so I won't be writing any more tonight. Here's what I hope to get to in days to come:

  • A tribute to songwriter Cindy Walker, who died in late March;
  • A tribute to urban critic Jane Jacobs, who died a week or so ago;
  • A personal response to a recent flurry of articles about Christianity and contraception, including one about a Protestant couple (Sam and Bethany Torode) who rejected contraception, wrote a book about it (Open Embrace), but now have become Orthodox and have rethought their earlier rethinking of the issue;
  • Recent changes to the Tulsa Whirled's web policy;
  • Sen. Tom Coburn's brave and relentless battle against pork-barrel spending;
  • Family news, including my daughter's wonderful school program last Friday and a cousin's wedding at Woolaroc;

and much, much more, particularly on the national and international scene, which I've neglected of late.

The relentless flood

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Freshly relocated to the new hosting provider, my domain didn't have Spam Assassin turned on at first, and the spammers didn't seem to have any problem tracking my domain to its new home. I activated Spam Assassin around noon Saturday. In the ensuing 12 hours, I received over 1350 spam e-mails. Spam Assassin caught over 1250, with no false positives; the remaining messages fell below the threshold.

What the spammers are doing now borders on a distributed denial-of-service attack. Since people are being more careful about putting full e-mail addresses where the spambots can harvest them, spammers are now taking known domain names and matching them with a long list of possible usernames, hoping to hit a working mailbox. While it's good to see Spam Assassin's accuracy and effectiveness, it's disturbing to think how often the SMTP server is getting hit and to think how that may be interfering with the delivery of legitimate mail and the overall performance of the server. However good my spam filters are, the mail server has to handle every single message just to find out i it's legitimate.

For the first two years or so of batesline.com's life, I took advantage of the "catchall" e-mail account. If I had to give an e-mail address to register for a website, I'd make up a username, but wouldn't create a POP3 account for it, knowing that any e-mail -- mainly periodic ads -- to that address would wind up in the catchall mailbox. Now these legitimate e-mails are swallowed up and almost unnoticeable in the volume of spam I receive. The "catchall" account is almost useless, and I've had to create a forwarder to redirect e-mail to each of those registration addresses to a mailbox.

If I had been keeping up with the latest news at the Spam Huntress' blog, I would have known that it was time to give up on catchall e-mail. I see intriguing mentions of a way to reject spam before it even reaches the mail server....

If you can read this....

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...you're seeing BatesLine on its new server.

It may take a while for mail servers to catch up with the move, so don't be surprised if any e-mail sent to me today goes missing.

In transition

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I'm switching over to a new hosting provider later tonight, so you may experience some outages and weirdness as it takes DNS some time to catch up with the new location.

We had a late little league game tonight. Our boys won, beating a previously undefeated team by a huge margin. My boy struck out in his one at bat, but he handled his one defensive opportunity just as he should have and prevented a run from scoring. Good game, and nice weather for it, too. Back to springtime after several days of dry, dusty, windy, 90-degree-plus weather.

Between baseball, my wife's birthday, getting the taxes filed, getting my column written, and celebrating Easter Sunday at church and with family, it has been a busy several days. Tonight I had planned to relax -- sort and fold laundry and watch Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, which I checked out of the library today.

I haven't seen it in years, but I've been thinking about that movie ever since reading this intriguing blog entry, which brought to mind General Ripper's concern about precious bodily fluids: "I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but I do deny them my essence." I have been following that entry and its several followups, extensive comment threads, and rebuttals on other blogs, and hope to post some thoughts of my own Real Soon Now from a perspective that hasn't yet been heard from. But not tonight, dear; I have a headache. Rest assured that any of my emissions on the subject (likely nocturnal; I don't usually blog during the day) will be properly deposited here and not wasted elsewhere.

Anyway, I got a phone call right at 10, and it completely changed the direction of my evening. So this is all you're getting tonight, except I did update the link to my latest Urban Tulsa Weekly column, which is about what I would do if I were Tulsa's zoning czar.

Meanwhile, if you're a Tulsan, go visit Chris Medlock's blog -- several new entries, all worth reading, including this funny anecdote from his last day at City Hall.

If you're not a Tulsan, or if you are but don't feel like reading about Tulsa, visit Julie R. Neidlinger's Lone Prairie Blog for some pointed, witty takedowns of modern fads in evangelical church growth circles. Her latest has to do with churches that marginalize children, and it's called First Church of the Millstone.

Good night.

I had the pleasure of being Gwen Freeman's sidekick this morning on 1170 KFAQ.

Michael DelGiorno was at home, part of a reality TV segment that will run on NBC's Today later this month -- his pregnant wife is being pampered at a hotel, while Michael wears a pregnancy prosthesis and takes care of his toddler twin girls alone. (There are some photos of Michael in the fat suit on the KFAQ website.) We talked by phone to Michael and to his wife Andrea. He sounded helpless and beleaguered.

This morning we talked about the city budget crisis and the new mayor's staff.

We also talked to Congressman John Sullivan and national and local representatives of the "fair tax" movement, the effort to replace the federal income tax with a tax on new retail goods and service. The idea has a lot of appeal; click that link to learn all about it.

Valeska Littlefield, head of Life Network of Green Country, came in to help us celebrate the impending departure of Bernest Cain, a Christian-hating State Senator, who has been, as Chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee, the single biggest roadblock to pro-life legislation. Cain's ability to be that roadblock is thanks to existence of a Democratic majority in the State Senate.

The show will be repeated online all weekend. Here's a direct link to the KFAQ audio feed that works with Windows Media Player.

UPDATE (4/21/2006): There has been some reaction (see comments below) about the excerpt of Cain's 2003 comments, which are linked above -- specifically, that my characterization of Bernest Cain as anti-Christian or a Christian-hater is unfair. Here is a report from OCPA that gives more of the context of Cain's 2003 speech. I'm putting it here in its entirety just in case it disappears from the web. The full transcript of Cain's remarks and Charles Ford's reply was on the KFAQ website in May 2003, when I first saw them, but they don't appear to be on the site any longer.

Liberal Tolerance Watch
by Brandon Dutcher

Intolerance and Prejudice at the State Capitol

Living in the Bible Belt, and working as I do in the public policy arena, I see it all too often. People, often with good intentions, try to use the political process to impose their views on everyone else. They are intolerant of other viewpoints, they try to stifle diversity, and sometimes they can be downright bigoted.

I’m telling you, the left is really bad about this.

Consider, for example, the issue of school choice. As Cato Institute scholars Marie Gryphon and Emily A. Meyer pointed out in a recent study, America has a grand tradition of educational freedom. In fact, it’s a tradition that predates and is longer than our current tradition of delivering education through a government-owned-and-run monopoly. Many people today are trying to regain a measure of that freedom, mainly through policies which empower parents to choose the safest and best schools for their children, whether those schools are public or private.

These school-choice advocates celebrate diversity. They want parents and children to be able to choose from charter schools that emphasize core knowledge, specialty schools that focus on the arts, magnet schools that specialize in science and engineering, and more. Let a hundred flowers bloom. After all, students have unique needs and preferences.

What’s more, school-choicers celebrate religious diversity. They want to empower parents to choose Jewish day schools, which provide a rigorous faith-based education and help preserve Jewish continuity. Or classical Christian schools, which begin Latin in the third grade and logic in the eighth and equip children to love the Lord their God with all their minds. Or inner-city Catholic schools – often more racially integrated than their public counterparts – which turn at-risk kids into scholars.

The nation’s 27,000 private schools (nearly one in four U.S. schools) “by definition help fulfill the ideal of pluralism in American education,” says the Council for American Private Education. “They serve diverse populations, and are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.”

But the left, for all its professed tolerance, cannot tolerate this sort of diversity, especially religious diversity. The defenders of the status quo prefer secular uniformity. Indeed, they insist upon it religiously. For some reason, school choice is OK for 18-year-olds (Pell Grants at Notre Dame, federal SEOG grants at Oral Roberts University) but not for 17-year-olds.

One journalist, a member of the religious left here in Oklahoma, is particularly hostile to school choice. He often puts derisive quotation marks around “Christian” when referring to Christian schools, and once lambasted a pro-school-choice governor, saying his “tortured rightwing brain” is all too “typical of brown-shirted rich kids privately educated.”

Remarkably, this ugliness goes unpunished. Indeed, the National Education Association has given its highest award to this man who calls Thomas Sowell “a disgrace to the human race,” and he is still a popular speaker at education workshops and conferences. One essay, in which he sniffs at “mantras and Hail Marys” and warns of ominous attempts to “construct new forms of theocratic education,” is featured on the welcome page of the Oklahoma Education Association’s web site.

I suppose none of this should surprise us. After all, Gryphon and Meyer remind us, it was religious prejudice – specifically, anti-Catholic prejudice fueled by an influx of immigrants in the 1830s and 1840s – which inspired the establishment of public schools in the first place. In addition, state constitutional Blaine Amendments, “adopted during the rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment in the 19th and early 20th centuries” and now enshrined in some three-fourths of state constitutions (including Oklahoma’s), prohibit tax money from flowing to “sectarian” schools. The left, apparently without embarrassment, defends these amendments heartily, as they are among the most significant barriers to school choice in the states.

The Arizona Supreme Court pronounced that state’s Blaine Amendment “a clear manifestation of religious bigotry.” Justice Clarence Thomas has opined that “hostility to aid to pervasively sectarian schools has a shameful pedigree that we do not hesitate to disavow. … This doctrine, born of bigotry, should be buried now.”

Many of our friends on the left are working tirelessly for a more just and tolerant America, one that respects diversity. They would do well to recognize that educational freedom, as Gryphon and Meyer say, is “critical to an intellectually diverse and tolerant society.”

Rhetoric Insults Thousands of Oklahomans
In last year’s legislative session, Senator Scott Pruitt (R-Broken Arrow) co-authored a tort reform bill for teachers. When the bill was being considered in the House, a Democrat attached an amendment which would require a disclaimer to be placed in all textbooks in which evolution is discussed. The disclaimer would state in part that evolution is “a controversial theory which some scientists present as scientific explanation for the origin of living things,” although “no one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life’s origins should be considered as theory, not fact.”

The amended bill passed the House by a vote of 92-9, and was being reconsidered on the Senate floor May 6. Sen. Bernest Cain (D-Oklahoma City), a Unitarian with a graduate degree in theology and a prominent member of Oklahoma’s religious left, was offended by the bill and argued against it. According to a transcript posted on the Web site of KFAQ, a talk radio station in Tulsa, Sen. Cain made the following remarks:

“I just resent people continually, every time they bring a bill out here, trying to force their religion down other people’s throats. Now, this is what this is coming from. … Because he [Senator Pruitt] believes, basically, that his religion ought to be the dominant religion and that his religion ought to say to the rest of the religions what should be in the textbooks of our public schools. … We should not continue to let this religious, far religious views, try to force their way down on us.

“I got a quote the other day that I got from Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler. And I don’t have the exact words, but here’s basically what it says. He says, in our government we are going to put Christians in key positions of responsibility because there has been too much liberal access going on out there and we are going to straighten up and make sure that the Christian culture is back in control. Now folks, they took Jewish people and they took them out and they strung them apart, they killed them, they mass murdered some of those people, and all of the ideas that were behind that were, and they were doing this while they were having Christian music going on, while they were having hymns. They killed thousands of Jews while they were doing hymns. That is what happens when you let the right wing of the Taliban come in and try to dictate to the State how we should run our business.

“We should try as much as possible to keep ourselves separate from the religious group. I am telling you, we have got this new mindset that you can be a Taliban, you can be a religious fanatic, and you can bring it to the Senate, you can bring it to the House, you can bring it to the government, it doesn’t matter, it’s all right, we just turn our heads, it’s not that bad. That’s what they did when Hitler came along. They let him come in and he brought in his ideas, he said we’re bringing Christian values back. But was it all Christian values? No, it was everything against Christian values. And that is what I am afraid of from these extreme right-wing religious fanatics who want to bring their religious viewpoints and bring them into the Senate. …

“But no, this is another one of Senator Pruitt’s bills trying to take the religious idea and force it down on the rest of us. … I say we ought to reject this thing and say it right now, we’re not going to let extreme, extreme religious groups come in here and run our government.”

Don’t you just love it when liberals engage in nuanced, responsible discourse? They’re always so careful to be tolerant of the viewpoints of others.

It’s interesting to note that the amendment was not ambitious at all. It merely said evolution should be taught as a theory. It did not mandate the teaching of intelligent-design theories or creationism.

After all, we can’t have “extreme, extreme religious groups come in here and run our government.” And certainly Sen. Cain, known for his mainstream views, can recognize an extremist when he sees one. An extremist is one of those far-out people – “the right wing of the Taliban,” if you will – who actually believes a Creator made the world. Fortunately, according to a Tulsa World-sponsored poll in 2000, this fringe element is limited to: a majority of whites, blacks, and Hispanics; a majority of people in every income level; and a majority of liberals, moderates, and conservatives. “A strong majority of the state believes in creationism,” the Tulsa World reported. “The poll showed that support for creationism was solid in almost every political and demographic subdivision.” Indeed, belief in creationism was higher among registered Democrats than registered Republicans.

Nevertheless, if you’re one of those “fanatics” whose religious convictions lead you to a particular view about abortion, or the death penalty, or the lottery, or taxation, or sex education in the classroom, don’t bother bringing your “religious viewpoints … into the Senate.” Unless you’re a member of the religious left.

How’s that for tolerance?

BatesLine orientation

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It occurs to me that there may be a few more readers here than normal over the next couple of days, and some new reader orientation is in order.

This blog has been around since May 1, 2003. I started it as a place to note interesting things I encountered on the World Wide Web (the textbook purpose of a weblog), comment on politics, and post the occasional family photo. Tulsa politics has become the central focus of BatesLine, but I still touch on the other topics you see listed on the title image, which was inspired by the famous map of the London Underground. Lately, I've been consumed by the election, but ordinarily you'll find entries about Western Swing music, global news, national politics, Tulsa history, theology, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Over the course of nearly three years of blogging, I've added a lot of content and have tried to find an easily navigable way of presenting it. The masthead, just below the title, provides some convenient links. Over to the left, there's a link to a PDA-friendly version of the homepage -- excerpts from the ten most recent entries with as little ornamentation as possible. Over to the right, distinguished with a white background and red text, is my "spotlight" -- a place to link the current entry to which I most wish to draw your attention.

My blogging led, starting in the fall of '03, to a weekly appearance on Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno Show. (My normal slot is Tuesday mornings from 6:10 to 7:00, but I will also be on tomorrow morning from 6 to 8 as part of a panel discussing the city elections.) If my regular schedule changes, you'll see it updated on the masthead.

Last fall, I began writing a weekly column for Urban Tulsa Weekly. You'll find a link on the masthead to my latest column, a summary of all my columns with links to each, and a link to G. W. Schulz's profile of me. If you want to get an idea of who I am and what makes me tick, that's a good place to start.

Below the masthead, there's a quick link that will take you beyond the rest of the front matter directly to my latest blog entry. Below that, you'll find the titles of my most recent ten entries with links to each.

Next is the most recent ten entries of my "linkblog". I set this up last October both as an exercise in web programming and as a way to note web items I found interesting, without having to think of a clever title or add a lot of commentary. There's a link to a complete archive of linkblog entries.

Finally, we get to the blog proper. Most entries are presented on the main page in their entirety, but sometimes you have to click a "continue reading" link to read the whole thing. Comments are welcomed, but I reserve the right not to post your comment -- here's a link to the BatesLine commenting policy.

The Technorati tags under each entry give you a way to see what other blogs have been commenting on a given topic. For example, this link will take you to most recent blog entries tagged Bill+LaFortune.

Now to the sidebar: At the top, you'll find my Okie Blog award for Best Political Blog and the cover from the UTW profile (that link also leads you to the profile). Next is my e-mail address, cleverly obscured to defeat spammers. I'm a member of the Media Bloggers Association, an organization of bloggers who comment on the mainstream media. In February 2005, the group helped me deal with legal threats from the Tulsa World.

The Tulsa Bloggers button leads to a page displaying the latest articles from bloggers who write regularly about Tulsa news and politics. Below it is a link to the UTW feature story I wrote about these bloggers in January.

You can advertise on BatesLine! It's cheap -- $10 a week, $20 a month, or $45 for three months. For a mere tenner your ad gets over 10,000 views a week.

I also participate in a free ad exchange called Blog Ad Swap, the creation of Danny Carlton aka Jack Lewis.

Below that there's a tip jar -- your donations help cover hosting fees and research expenses.

The "Best Posts of 2005" button takes you to a collection of excellent blog entries compiled by Jeff Faria aka Mister Snitch. If you've never dabbled much in the realm of blogs, this would be a good place to start.

Below that, there's a button linking to information about this fall's Okie Blogger Roundup, the first-ever large scale gathering of Oklahoma-based bloggers.

The "Blog Ecosystem" section gives you an idea of how BatesLine fits into the grand scheme of things in the blogosphere. I'm a "Large Mammal", which puts BatesLine roughly in the top 1,000 blogs worldwide. Clicking that will give you a list of blogs that links to me. Technorati's "Blogs That Link Here" and "Who Links to Me?" do the same thing, but differently.

(More later.)

Today I heard from yet another reader of this site who had tried unsuccessfully to post a comment. It was a lengthy one, and after he posted it, it vanished.

This wasn't a case of a comment being post and me deciding not to approve it; the comment didn't get posted to the database, probably because a network timeout interrupted the transaction.

I occasionally hear from other readers that e-mails to me get bounced back. Based on the error messages I see, this too appears to be a problem with the network connection timing out in mid-transaction, probably because the computer which hosts BatesLine, which is shared with several other websites. My suspicion is that the server is overloaded.

Sometime soon I intend to move to a new hosting provider, but probably not until after the election. In the meantime, if you have a comment, especially if it's a long one, copy and paste the text into an e-mail message to blog at batesline dot com, so that it has two chances to get to me. And if you post a comment and you don't see a "comment pending" message, let me know that, too. It probably means there was a network timeout and the comment wasn't posted. Likewise if an e-mail message bounces back, give it another try in an hour or so, and e-mail me a copy of the bounce message. That will help me document the problem for my hosting provider, and maybe I can get it fixed without changing providers. Thanks.

Commenter clinic

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Rush Limbaugh isn't the founder of the syndicated talk radio genre -- Larry King should get the credit for that -- but he has set the standard in many respects. I don't listen often any more, but I always enjoyed it when he took the time to explain why he ran the show a certain way and how his rules contributed to the success of the show.

A lot of talk show hosts focused on the callers and measured the success of the show by the number of people wanting to talk. Rush pointed out that there were far more listeners than callers, and that the show was for the listeners. Callers had no right to bore or irritate his listeners to the point of provoking them to tune out.

Rush has always made it clear that his show is about what he thinks, and the callers' role is to interact with the issues he raises. Callers who want to talk about a different topic are turned away (except on Fridays, when he allows more leeway), and callers have to be able to make their point succinctly. Dissenting views are welcome, but you're expected to be polite and engage in a conversation, not a shouting match. It's his show, his rules, and he's built a substantial audience by running it his way. Those who want to do things another way are welcome to start their own radio show and build their own audience.

I haven't done this consciously, but Rush's approach seems to have shaped my approach to running this blog. It is after all BatesLine, and it's about what I find interesting and what I think about it. This is my blog, not a bulletin board or a forum. Comments, even dissenting comments, are welcome, but try to stay on topic and keep it polite. As it's my place, I am the arbiter of what is on-topic and what is polite. Those who want to do things another way are welcome to start their own blog (much easier than starting your own syndicated radio show) and build their own audience.

I've written previously about my comment policy, and in that entry you'll get a general idea of what I will and won't approve.

In the last week I've declined to approve seven comments.

Five were from a frequent commenter here. These comments made some interesting points, and even included compliments for me, but they went way off-topic, and some were also quite lengthy. A comment like that can kill a conversational comment thread or trigger a flame war that has nothing to do with the blog entry at hand.

The other two were from someone who had never commented before, writing under the pseudonym Tommy, with the e-mail address ConcernedTulsaVoter@yahoo.com, and an IP address of 68.229.243.88, which is a Cox cable internet address. ConcernedTulsaVoter@yahoo.com later e-mailed me to ask why I hadn't posted his comments.

I referred him to my comments policy, which he misread, responding by e-mail from 65.69.103.194 (assigned to semgrouplp.com):

I see; so you don't post any dissenting opinions. Maybe you should put some kind of disclaimer on the comments form so people don't waste their time.

In fact, after I replied to his first e-mail, it occurred to me that it would be helpful to provide a link to my entry about comments. I had already added it to the template and rebuilt all the individual entries before I received that second e-mail.

Although my general rule with comments I reject is "never apologize, never explain," I think it would be useful to take a closer look at these two comments, because they illustrate how to make an interesting point in a rude way. Rush Limbaugh used to do "caller clinics" -- he'd take an unscreened call and explain the call's good and bad points to help listeners understand the screening choices he makes.

In that same spirit, then, here we go with a BatesLine "commenter clinic." Let's start with the first comment from "Tommy", posted to the entry about "planned shrinkage":

is really, really interested in BatesLine today -- 16 visits! Tell Mickey I said, "Howdy!"

Failure is not an option

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We've been enjoying this evening's programming on the History Channel: "Failure Is Not an Option", two two-hour documentaries on the U. S. manned spaceflight program, as told by the men and women in Mission Control. The first program covers the beginnings through the end of Project Apollo; the second covers Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, and the Space Shuttle. They'll be repeated starting at 12 a.m. Eastern time -- just 45 minutes from now.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger. I was working afternoons at Draper Laboratory, the research lab just off the MIT campus where the Apollo Guidance Computer was developed. I remember walking in that day to find everyone in the department gathered in the conference room, watching the TV, stunned. A few of the people in the room were veterans of Project Apollo, still more had been involved in the development of the flight control and avionics systems on the Space Shuttle.

Sometimes, when you're working on some tiny piece of an engineering problem, you can lose sight of the fact that lives may depend on your getting your piece right. It's easy to get complacent; you have one success after another, it all seems routine, and then conditions come together to turn a latent defect into a fatal flaw. This anniversary, and yesterday's 39th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, should call all engineers who develop and maintain components of safety-critical systems to remember that failure is not an option, and that failure prevention begins on the ground, on the drawing board.

Noah progress

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I've asked you to be in prayer for blogger Mike Mansur's newborn son, Noah, who was born with a life-threatening circulatory defect. Little Noah is doing very well, beyond expectations, and is home now. Mike has moved all his posts about Noah to a new blog, Chasing Noah, and will continue to post updates and photos there. A couple of weeks ago, Mike posted a summary of all the miraculous developments that amazed the doctors in Noah's case.

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Nothing new from me tonight -- sorry about that. I've been busy wrapping up Christmas shopping and working on next week's column. In the meantime, if you're a displaced Oklahoma Citian and homesick for the B. C. Clark jingle, Charles G. Hill has some good news for you. Unfortunately for you, you won't get to hear it in the same spectacular fashion that I first did -- sung by Charles, Jan, Dwayne (and his Lovely Bride), and Dan. (I think Sean had left by then, and I don't remember whether Don or John joined in.)

A quick round up

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We were at a very entertaining Christmas program at our church tonight, a dinner theatre play called "In Bethlehem Inn," written by John Carter. The audience members are guests eating at the inn as strange things begin to happen outside. It was well written, well acted, and well directed -- with a lot of very funny moments. (The innkeeper's conniption upon realizing the star is hovering over his house is priceless. He does not regard it as a good omen.)

No time to write more tonight, but I do want to call your attention to some good blogging elsewhere.

Dan Paden is on a roll over at his badly misnamed No Blog of Significance, making a point about the Piltdown Man hoax, expressing some cynicism about LaFortune's "citizens' commission", analyzing the latest Mayoral race polls, and telling us about the subversive literature his 16-year-old reading.

Bobby's got his latest Tulsa Topics podcast up, with coverage of Friday's press conference by Tulsans Defending Democracy, the opposition to the at-large councilor petition.

Dave Schuttler of Our Tulsa World has video from recent public meetings, including a City Council discussion about the proposed 50 cent wireless phone tax, from an airport official's appearance before the Board of Adjustment. And he's keeping an eye on Cinnabar's involvement in Vision 2025.

Steve Roemerman links to some sites where you can test the permeability of your computer network's firewall.

Chris Medlock has comments on the Tulsa Beacon's opposition to the new "4 to Fix the County" sales tax.

Don't forget to mail your Christmas card to the ACLU. And don't forget to vote in the 2005 Weblog Awards. (If you're a nominee and a reader of this site, and I overlooked your blog, please let me know.)

Basil's Blog interview

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Now up on Basil's Blog: a blog interview of me. People submitted questions to Basil, who passed them to me, along with a few of his own, and I had about a week to put together a response. Basil uses icons to represent the questioners and the interviewee; for my icon, he picked a photo of me, age 6 days. Observant readers will recognize a few other Tulsa area bloggers among the participants.

Basil does two of these each weekend. Here's the category page with all the interviews to date.

It was fun and challenging. Thanks to Basil for hosting, and thanks to all those who asked questions. (Even you, W.!)

Like the linkblog?

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Now that I've had the linkblog -- that list of short takes on stuff I've found on the WWW -- up for about a month, I'm curious to know what you think of it. Useful? Distracting? Too tiny to read? An indication that BatesLine has jumped the shark?

If you're wondering where the stuff that scrolled off the bottom went to, you'll find an archive of all previous linkblog entries here. At some point, I'll probably set up monthly archives.

In order to better accommodate some of my other obligations, my weekly slot with Michael DelGiorno on KFAQ is moving, at my request, to Tuesday mornings in the 6 o' clock hour.

(I was gratified to hear that at least one listener was concerned enough to complain to the station when he didn't hear me this morning as usual. Sorry for not giving everyone advance notice.)

Link blog

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My blogging has slowed down considerably of late -- busy with work, home improvements, and family -- and I'm feeling the need to reserve what little creativity remains for the weekly column. When I do surf the web, I find plenty of noteworthy stuff, but I don't necessarily want to write a dozen entries that say little more than "hey, this was interesting." So partly to address that, but mostly to gain some hands-on AMP (Apache/MySQL/PHP) experience, I've put together a linkblog -- a list of recent links of interest, with just a timestamp, a title, and a URL, plus maybe a one-sentence comment. You will see the most recent 10 links below the masthead on the homepage. It should be operational within a few hours, and it'll give you a reason to stop back by more often.

Ooops.

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I noticed I had double-posted a couple of entries, which sometimes happens with Movable Type, and in my zeal to fix the problem I deleted the copies that had comments attached. If I can recover the comments, I will. My apologies.

UPDATE: Comments rescued.

A word about blog comments

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Before you read any of the rest of this, I want you all to know that I appreciate those who take the time to comment here and via e-mail. I'm grateful for your feedback, both positive and negative.

Still, comments here aren't a free for all, and I want you to know why.

For the first year and a half of BatesLine's existence I didn't have comments enabled. I encouraged readers to drop me an email if they had something to say, or to participate in the forums at TulsaNow.org or LivingOnTulsaTime.com. In explaining why, back in December 2003, I echoed the reasons of group-law-blogger Eugene Volokh, and added that I'd rather encourage participation in established forums about Tulsa politics rather than dilute the discussion further. Volokh's concerns about reputation and time resonated with me. I don't have time to play comment cop, and yet I can't simply allow comments to become an open forum. Comment spam is too prevalent, and while I don't mind polite disagreement, there are some comments that I just don't want using my bandwidth.

I first enabled comments following the Whirled's legal threats against me back in February. At various times I've required all commenters to be registered with TypeKey, allowed everyone to post immediately, or combined TypeKey with moderation, which is where things stand now. If you have and use a free TypeKey login, your comment is online automatically after you post it; otherwise, it's held for my decision to "approve" it for posting or not.

I put "approve" in quotes because I don't necessarily approve of the sentiments expressed in the comments that I allow to appear.

My criteria for choosing which comments will appear and which won't are entirely arbitrary and capricious. I observed one blogger attempt to establish an objective basis for editing or deleting comments or banning commenters, and she seemed to spend a lot of time defending her decisions. I'm not going to go down that road. If you feel unjustly censored, you are free to start your own blog.

If you don't see a comment of yours appear, it may be that I haven't seen it yet, as I only check a few times a day. It may also be that I saw it and decided not to publish it. If that happens, it doesn't mean that I won't publish another comment of yours, or that I'm upset with you; I just decided not to post that one.

I am unlikely to publish a comment if it is wildly off-topic, is inflammatory in tone, uses vulgar or profane language, or is a personal attack on me or my friends and allies. If I think a comment is going to cause things to get ugly -- even if the commenter had no such intention -- I will probably not publish it.

So far I have been pretty liberal in allowing straying from the topic of the original post -- no longer. If there's a subject you think I ought to address, instead of posting an off-topic comment, drop me a line at blog -AT- batesline -DOT- com. I may or may not respond -- don't take it personally if I don't -- and I may or may not get around to addressing that topic. This is my personal blog, not a forum or message board. There are some good message boards and forums out there which provide for more interactive discussion and the opportunity to raise whatever topic you please, and the best thing about them from my perspective is that someone else is responsible for moderating them.

Other bloggers are much tougher on this issue than I am. My friend Scott Sala of Slant Point became fed up with spam and has disabled comments and trackbacks completely. Phillip Johnson has some characteristically blunt comment rules. My favorite is rule no. 1:

Don't expect me to reply to your comments. If I feel strongly, I might reply in a blog entry. If I have time to waste, I could even post a comment of my own every now and then. (No promises on that.) But don't look for me to mud-wrestle with critics in my own blog-comments.

Rule no. 4 should be heeded, too:

Don't feed the trolls.

I don't intend to preach about this often, but I thought it would be useful to let you know my perspective on comments. Again, I do appreciate those who comment here, as well as those who just read.

Where'd I go?

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Blogging has suffered as I've been busy with my job and, at home, sanding floors and painting walls. I will be on in the morning at 6:10 on 1170 KFAQ with Michael DelGiorno and Gwen Freeman, talking about the proposal to restructure the Council with three at-large councilors and Tulsa County's history of sole source contracts, which was the subject of my column in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly.

My colleagues at TulsaBloggers.net have been keeping up with issues around town, and fellow Okie bloggers from down the turnpike -- Charles, Dwayne, Jan, Dan and Angi, and Mike of Okiedoke -- always have something worth reading.

Dwayne's got some great sign photos from OKC, and Route 66 in Tulsa, and Signs of Tulsa has some new entries, too.

If that isn't enough, there's a big ol' blogroll on the right side of the page for you to explore. Have at it!

Bleg: Carpet hauling

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If someone in the Tulsa area with a pickup wants to make a few bucks, we have a carpet that needs hauling off.

We're pulling the carpet out of the kids' rooms. We donated the carpet and pad from one room to Habitat for Humanity's ReSTORE. It was in pretty good shape -- no pets or smokers in our house -- and we'd planned to do the same with the carpet from the second, bigger room, but we don't have anything big enough to haul it in. Habitat can pick it up -- on November 12th. We called the H.O.W. Foundation. They'll do the job, for pay -- on November 1st.

If you can bring the truck, we can help you load the truck and will lead you over to the ReSTORE, just a few miles from our house, to help unload it. We'd like to get this done today before 4, if possible, otherwise we have to wait until Wednesday when the ReSTORE is open again.

The carpet is rolled and tied up, 13' 3" long, and about 18" in diameter.

Feel free to post a bid in a comment, or e-mail me at blog at batesline dot com, if you want the job. If you've got an alternative suggestion for disposing of the carpet, that would be welcome, too. (Polite suggestions only, please.)

UPDATE: Someone doing tree work across the street had a big trailer and was able to take the carpet for us.

If you're looking for an excuse to keep your kid off an amusement park ride:

RideAccidents.com is the world's single most comprehensive, detailed, updated, accurate, and complete source of amusement ride accident reports and related news. The site includes a record of fatal amusement ride accidents in the United States since 1972, and, for the past six years, has recorded all types of accidents, including many from outside the United States. The number of injuries and fatalities recorded at this site does not reflect the total number of injuries and deaths that have occurred as a result of amusement ride accidents.

There's a special section on carnival workers and background checks.

Over the next several days, I've got a number of real-world projects to complete and matters to decide, so don't expect to see anything lengthy posted here. I'll still be posting, but it'll be more Instapundit-esque in nature.

In the meantime, particularly if you're a Tulsa reader, click on that Tulsa Bloggers link near the top of the sidebar. You'll also find individual links further down the page. I'll try to call attention to the best stories from my fellow Tulsa newshounds, but don't wait for me -- make them a part of your regular tour of the blogosphere.

You should also check out the more extensive blogrolls even further down the sidebar. My personal blogroll now has an alarming 180 entries. It includes fellow Tulsans and Oklahomans, people I've met in person, people I've corresponded with by e-mail, and probably a whole bunch who don't even know I exist, which is cool. Here are a few fairly recent additions you should check out:

A Glass of Chianti, by Sarah Beth, the Latin-reading, Western Swing-loving clarinet teacher from Fort Worth to whose punny music joke I linked earlier in the week. She has me on her list of "People Way Cooler Than Me," which I very much doubt.

Mister Snitch!, a local blogger (i.e., he blogs about local news) based in Hoboken, New Jersey, who has been doing a lot of excellent hurricane blogging recently, and he blogs about national politics, too.

Sexless in the City, by Anna Broadway. I first met Anna at a blogger party before the Republican National Convention last summer. She's an MK (missionary kid), a fellow survivor alum of Campus Crusade for Christ, and a very witty writer. Her blog is about her romantic misadventures in New York and what she's learned about courtship, dating, chastity, and real, lasting love in the process.

Thanks to all three for adding BatesLine to their blogrolls!

And here's a challenge to you, dear reader: The blogroll is really long, but it's arranged in random order, which changes everytime you load the page. Click on the first three -- whatever they happen to be -- and leave a comment here, or drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com, and let me know what you think of the blogs you visited.

Pistol Pete disarmed

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Maybe they should just go all the way and rename him "Pastel Pete".

(Via Mad Okie. OSU's Pistol Pete is one of triplets -- besides New Mexico State, University of Wyoming also uses the same mascot.)

Service interruption likely

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I received some especially vile trackback spam today, which you may have had the misfortune to see before I deleted it, and I continue to fight an amazing amount of comment spam. I will likely upgrade to Movable Type 3.2 in the next day or two, so don't be surprised if BatesLine briefly disappears. MT 3.2 is supposed to have better tools for dealing with spam. If that doesn't work to my satisfaction, I'll have to think about making the bigger leap to Word Press or some other platform.

BatesLine gets PDA-friendly

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No, you won't be seeing public displays of affection here, but you can now see a simplified home page for the benefit of those who want to check BatesLine via your personal digital assistant or cellphone. BatesLine for PDA has minimal graphics and brief excerpts from the last four days of entries, with links to the full entry. If you access BatesLine via PDA, check it out.

Technorati tags finally working

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Despite no assistance from Technorati, I finally appear to have Technorati tags working. The trick, I think, was modifying the syndication feeds to add a category tag for each keyword, like so:


<MTKeyWordList>
<category><$MTKeyWord$></category>
</MTKeyWordList>

The idea, and the plugin that made it possible, came from this entry on Laughing Meme: MTKeywordList and Technorati Tags. That entry links to the plugin, a very simple piece of Perl code, which creates the MTKeywordList container tag. The above code, added to my RSS 2.0 feed template, iterates over all the keywords for the entry and generates a category tag.

The equivalent code for the Atom feed template:


<MTKeyWordList>
<dc:subject><$MTKeyWord$></dc:subject>
</MTKeyWordList>

I had noticed that Technorati was treating the Movable Type category names as Technorati tags. The code above produces the same XML for each keyword that was already being produced for the names of each category associated with an entry. It appears that Technorati is scouring RSS feeds for <category> and <dc:subject>, but is completely ignoring hyperlinks with the rel=tag attribute, contrary to the documentation on Technorati tags.

Maintenance in progress

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You may notice things disappearing and reappearing. I'm dealing with a problem that only affects Internet Explorer.

UPDATE: Got sick of tweaking things to make IE happy, and decided to replace my templates, which go all the way back to version 2.6.3, with versions that fit version 3.1x. Of course, all the style names have changed, so I had to get a 3.1x style sheet. Then I had to bring back all my customizations, or most of 'em anyway. I was planning to spend the last two hours on actual blog content. Oh, well. Comments on the change in appearance are welcome. I'm thinking of adding a second sidebar, maybe also creating a PDA-friendly alternate main page, sort of like Instapundit has. The default font in the new template is very small, so I changed it back to something more like I had before.

And, yes, as Bobby notes, I will be upgrading to 3.2 before long, and will get to go through all this once more.

Procrastination

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I have a pile of interesting local stuff to write about, and I am dealing with the pressure by writing about anything but.

I know this is smarmy, but I have to share it with you, my valued readers.

The numbers prove it: BatesLine is one of the best advertising buys on BlogAds. $10 a week buys you access to the eyes of over 1,000 daily unique visitors -- that's 14 cents per 100 unique visitors. Your best value is three months for $45 -- a mere nickel for every 100 unique visitors. And your ad won't just appear on the BatesLine homepage -- it will be seen on all category, monthly, and individual entry archive pages, so you'll reach those who come to BatesLine via search engines or links from other sites.

Thanks to this blog's focus on Tulsa politics, BatesLine is an even better value for Tulsa-based advertisers, who know that savvy Tulsa readers look to BatesLine to know what's going on in their hometown.

Jack Lewis has compiled tables for blogs which offer BlogAds and use Sitemeter -- comparing cost per 100 unique visitors for weekly, monthly, and quarterly ad rates.

Advertising on BatesLine using BlogAds is simple and inexpensive. Click here to learn more.

That's about all the self-promotion I can manage. I need a rest.

Home again

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We arrived back at the house at about 11:30 last night after 11 days in Florida. We spent the first week with my in-laws in a timeshare condo on Fort Lauderdale's beach, snorkeled in Key Largo, paid a brief visit to Everglades National Park, then spent two packed days in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

This morning was the first morning I slept in since the first day of the vacation. My wife grew up taking beach vacations in Delaware, and it was her family's tradition to go to the beach in the morning before it gets too hot, napping in the afternoon, then going back in the early evening. So we were up by 7:30 nearly every morning, and while everyone else napped, I caught up on work assignments. After bedtime, it was back to work to get daily reports done and try to get some blogging done. The Disney days eliminated nearly all time and energy for blogging.

I might have live-blogged the vacation, but I don't like advertising the fact that I'm out of town. Perhaps decreased frequency of blogging is the modern equivalent of letting newspapers pile up on your porch. I did write a few entries to be posted when I came home.

It was a good vacation. We didn't get much rest, but we made a lot of memories. I hope to share some of those memories with you, mixed in with the backlog of the stuff I normally blog about.

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Shut out again yesterday on blog time. When I have time to tell you what I've been up to, you'll understand. I expect to return to a normal blogging routine tomorrow. In the meantime, be sure to visit the many fine bloggers on my blogroll, to the right.

Trust fund follow-up

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I've received a few comments on my earlier entry about trust funds and their impact on Tulsa's economic development in general and downtown redevelopment in particular.

What I wrote was conjecture -- just me thinking out loud -- and so I'm happy to hear from people with experience in these matters to fill in the sizeable gaps in my knowledge on this subject. I'll add that I may have misunderstood or mischaracterized what I was initially told on the subject.

I certainly did not wish to belittle -- as one reader seemed to think I did -- what Brady Village property owners have already done to try to create an arts, entertainment, and loft district. I do think it's fair to point out that the area hasn't yet reached critical mass, and it's worth asking what the obstacles are. The whole point of what I wrote was that it may not be the fault of the property owners that more isn't happening, that they may be constrained by the terms of the trusts that own the property. Likewise the lack of available venture capital may not be because Tulsa's wealthy are risk-averse, but because they don't have full discretion in the use of their wealth.

I should elaborate on the point about a trust only taking a paper loss if they should sell downtown property at market value. An accountant friend said such a transaction would be a real economic loss. As the situation was explained to me, some of these properties came into the trusts as the result of bankruptcies during the early '80s when downtown property values were much higher than they are now, perhaps much higher than they are ever likely to be. Under those circumstances, an individual owner might decide that the market value is unlikely to approach the book value in the forseeable future, and it's worth having the cash to be rid of the property. The impression I have is that a trust is often not free to make the same trade-off.

I continue to welcome more input on this, and I especially appreciate the leads to more information, which I'll pursue as I have opportunity.

P.S. Real life has intruded on available blogging time in a big way -- but not in a bad way -- during a week when I thought I'd have more time than normal to write. Thus the lighter than usual blogging, which is likely to continue for a while.

The state of things

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Sorry to those of you who had to wait all day to see your comments posted. I was away from the computer most of the day, and so approval had to wait until very late last night.

Welcome to those of you who've found this site for ths first time through the profile in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly. Wish I had more new content for you today, but once again, I'll be away from the computer most of the day. Feel free to browse. On the right-hand side of the page you'll find links to BatesLine's monthly archives, going back to the inception of the site. You'll also find a list of Tulsa and Oklahoma links, including several other bloggers who write about local news, among other things.

G. W. Schulz's 4,000-word profile of yours truly is the cover story of this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly.

It was a pleasure to get to meet and talk with G. W. over the last few weeks. I've enjoyed his work in UTW, and it's an honor to be the subject of a profile by him. His hiring is a part of UTW's increased coverage of local news, and it's an important step in that paper's evolution from a collection of entertainment reviews and ads to a full-fledged alternative weekly.

I may issue a few clarifications or corrections later to compensate for my failure to answer as clearly as I might have, but for now, I'll just encourage you to read it. I'm very pleased.

Thanks to reader and frequent commenter W., who informed me that there was a problem with using a TypeKey account to post comments without waiting for moderation.

When I changed the name of the Movable Type comments script in a futile effort to defeat comment spam, I neglected to let TypeKey know of the change, so TypeKey couldn't associate my blog with my registered key. Thus the "site hasn't signed up for this feature" message. It's fixed now. Comment away!

John Brown's body

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Brian at Audience of One has posted an interesting historical sketch of militant abolitionist John Brown and how his life and death radicalized the debate over slavery in the United States. Brian closes with a few discussion questions:

Look at Brown's life and actions. Was he a hero or a common criminal? Do the ends justify the means? When is it morally acceptable to do the wrong things for the right reason? Think about our own modern-day examples. Think about the line between right and wrong. Just think about it.

Brian gives his answers to his own questions here, then raises another: "So what is an ordinary man or woman to do when they see an injustice that appears to have no hope of being corrected through the democratic process?"

(In between those two items, Brian has a tribute to Tulsa native and legendary singer and songwriter Leon Russell.)

At the grand old age of 20, Jamie Pierson finds that all the tumblers on the combination lock of literature are falling into place:

As I get older, I’m finding that the books, and music as well, that left a foreign and confused taste in my mouth, that gave me the idea that most “literature” was not all it was cracked up to be, are finally making sense. It’s like a code has been cracked, vision clearing, as muddied words and sounds that I know must hold meaning, gradually and unexpectedly do. It’s a most “delicious” (as my Bamma would say) feeling of finally being admitted to a club. Is it just because I’m older now? Or did I pass through a magic portal somewhere? Did something I do or endure make the scales drop from my eyes?

Partly it's age -- just as it takes time for your taste buds to develop an appreciation for strong and spicy and subtle flavors, it takes time before your intellectual taste buds are ready for stronger stuff. (With an eight-year-old and a four-year-old around the house, we have frequent reminders that what we grown-ups find delicious is too spicy or "smells bad.")

Partly it's experience. You read something at 12 and think, "How could he be so stupid?" You read the same thing again at 42 and think, "Oh, Lord, I remember being that stupid."

Unfortunately, you can have experiences by 20 that allow you to understand the darker side of human nature, as presented in a biopic of Charles Bukowski:

I turned my face away from the screen. Tears, a sob, fought to come out. I couldn’t see that, couldn’t take it. I think I gasped when he kicked her, said “no” horrifiedly aloud. Whenever I see fighting like that, raised voices and names called, a face with that look that tells you all sense has left its owner and all there is is hate behind it, whether it’s real life or just a movie, oh god, I’m back there. Back in that bedroom, that apartment, those hissing, crushing words. This is why I don’t see a lot of movies, like, story movies. And why I don’t see them in theaters. At home, I can turn it off, walk away, distract myself until that part is over. But there, in that dark and full theater, I was pinned in those memories until the clip was over.

Sounds like she has a story to tell, when she's ready, and when she does it'll help someone else connect with a part of his own past, just as seeing this film helped her connect with a part of hers.

It's like Paul said to the Corinthians:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Not up to writing anything new today, but I did a bit of tinkering with the links section of the sidebar, adding and organizing Tulsa-related links. There's a special section for folks who blog about Tulsa news -- folks who post on local stuff at least on a regular basis -- and at some point I will probably add a section for other Tulsa-based bloggers. Check it out.

A few changes

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There should be some new content ready for you in the morning, but in the meantime, I'll mention a few changes you may notice.

I've added a header with links to information about the recall election to the top of the page.

I've had to moderate all comments, because of a storm of gambling-related comment spam. If you're registered with TypeKey, you can post your comment immediately, otherwise it'll have to wait until I approve it.

The Blogs for Terri link has been moved to the sidebar, just above the blogroll. Blogs for Terri continues to be updated with news of right-to-life cases similar to Terri Schiavo's.

Dinner and a movie

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Had a kid-free night tonight, so the missus and I saw a movie and had a nice dinner out.

We went to Circle Cinema to see Ladies in Lavender, starring veteran British actresses Judi Dench and Maggie Smith -- a nice little film with both funny and poignant moments, and lots of beautiful music and lovely Cornish seaside scenery. We decided on the spur of the moment to see this movie simply because of the two stars, and it was fun to watch with no idea of how the movie would unfold, without even the exposure to the minor spoilers you can pick up from the briefest synopsis.

As we started to look for a place to eat and wondered what would be open at 9 p.m. in midtown, my wife said she'd like Thai food. We ended up on Brookside (note to out-of-town readers -- that's South Peoria Avenue between 33rd Street and 51st Street) and to our pleasant surprise found that Brookside Lao Thai Restaurant was open until 10. We had the spring rolls, scallops with drunken noodles, and green curry chicken. Delicious, reasonably priced, good service, nice atmosphere.

We took a little stroll to walk off supper. Brookside was surprisingly active at 10:30 on a weeknight. A small crowd was listening to live music in Shades of Brown coffeehouse, Harleys were lined up in front of Crow Creek Tavern, and many other bars and restaurants were open and busy.

We stopped to look at the menu at Table 10 -- which included "Beef on Wick" as a $10 sandwich plate. That's another name for beef on weck, the tasty Buffalo, N. Y., speciality -- thin-sliced roast beef piled on a caraway-and-coarse-salt-encrusted-roll, drenched in au jus and smothered in horseradish -- which I and my sinuses enjoyed frequently during my time in western New York State a year or so ago. (If you're new to BatesLine since February 2004, click on that last link -- it's a nice tribute to the medicinal properties of the sandwich.)

Quick round-up

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I have been busy today with work and with staving off a barrage of comment spam. The spammers were smart enough to see through my latest strategem, but to its programmers' credit, Movable Type seems to keep up with the most current list of open proxies and holds comments from questionable sources for my approval. (Unfortunately, a couple of real commenters often turn up as false positives -- sorry, W. and John Owen Butler -- I approve your stuff as soon as I see it. Remember, you can always bypass comment moderation if you're registered with TypeKey.)

(Speaking of blog technology, after a few glorious days of actually working, BlogRolling's recently updated feature seems to be broken again.)

Here's a quick round-up of items of interest elsewhere.

Marsupial Mom has started telling the story of her journey from the Word of Faith movement to Calvinism, through the influence of a book and a blogger. I like what she says about Reformed theology: "It's like drinking Folgers all your life and then discovering Starbucks for the first time. At first sip it's a little strong, but once you get used to it, there is no going back." Indeed -- writing that once seemed profound now seems weak and watery. (We go to church with MM and her husband, Swamphopper, and it's always a highlight of the day to chat with them after Sunday services.)

The Downtown Guy writes that Oklahoma City is simplifying zoning downtown to encourage development. The plan is to reduce the number of zoning districts covering downtown and near downtown from 15 to two -- a downtown core district and a downtown traditional district. Please note -- the reformed ordinance establishes design criteria for downtown, and a Downtown Design Review Committee to review every development proposal in the rezoned area. The aim of the design criteria is to ensure that new downtown development is urban and pedestrian-friendly.

John Hinderaker of Power Line takes a contrarian view of the Kelo decision in a column in the Weekly Standard. Wish I had the time to respond in detail -- I think he misunderstands what motivates the opposition to the use of eminent domain for economic development. For one thing, I haven't seen anyone write anything trashing Pfizer in making the case for the plaintiffs in Kelo, but Hinderaker writes that the "Pfizer-bashing started at the top," beginning with Justice Thomas's dissent.

Speaking of Kelo, David Sucher of City Comforts continues to serve up a lot of food for thought on eminent domain for economic development, including an account of the phenomenon of "blight by condemnation", and word of the town of Cheektowaga's (that's near Buffalo, New York) plan to "revitalize" a working-class neighborhood by demolishing it.

Christianity Today's weblog has many links to stories about Billy Graham's overly-generous words for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Franklin Graham says his dad was just joking, and spokesman Mark DeMoss says, "I would say virtually everybody present in the park in New York would have taken it largely in jest." Well, no.

These compilation posts always end up being a lot more work than I planned on, but it is fun to see the bizarre juxtaposition of words and phrases in the Technorati tags at the end of the post. (My Technorati tags still aren't being picked up by Technorati, by the way. Are you listening, Technorati?)

On the radio in a few hours

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My regular Monday morning chat with Michael DelGiorno on 1170 KFAQ was postponed until Tuesday this week because of the holiday, so tune in this morning at 6:40 CDT, or listen online live or every three-and-a-half hours thereafter for the next 24. (You'll have to download the Surfer Network application the first time you try to listen.) Undoubtedly the recall election will be the foremost topic, but I expect we'll also be talking about the surprise meeting to extend the airport noise abatement program, looking ahead to the ethics report for the pro-recall forces, due by close of business today, last week's Bartlett v. LaFortune poll, and, if there's time, some observations from my family's visit last week to Little Rock, and some things we can learn from that city. I also hope to introduce the radio audience to prosecutor Lance Salyers, whose firing last week is another example of the cost of standing up for what's right.

Speaking of Lance, be sure to follow his blog for the latest developments. And be sure to read what Charles G. Hill of Dustbury, Joel of On the Other Foot, and Don Singleton had to say about the situation.

(UPDATE 10/25/2005: Lance has taken down his blog, so I've removed the link.)

I'd write more, but we spent the evening at Bell's Amusement Park for their Independence Day celebration. As we left the park after the fireworks had ended, the four-year-old said, "I just can't get enough of Bell's Amusement Park on the 4th of July." She rode every ride she was tall enough to ride -- including the ferris wheel, which bugs Mommy because of heights, and Himalaya, which gives Daddy the whiplash. The eight-year-old finally agreed to a trip on Zingo, the park's wooden roller coaster. It left him laughing, but not enough to want to go again just yet. He took countless rides on Pharoah's Fury and Super Round-Up, and it's a good thing that he's now big enough to ride by himself, so that Dad doesn't have to go every single time. (There's a lot to be said for having kids when you're still young enough to keep up with them.) The fireworks show was spectacular, and it was fun to see it close up, close enough to have some of the fireworks debris drift down on us. After the fireworks, we let the kids have one last ride on Himalaya and the Scrambler before heading for home. For bedtime reading, I read the Declaration of Independence to the eight-year-old, and he was inspired enough to change his plan to listen to Riders in the Sky sing "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle" on endless repeat all night, and instead has the musical "1776" in the CD player.

Backblogged again

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There is a pile of stuff I need to write about here, but I'm not going to get to it tonight. Besides the Little Rock trip, a big part of my week has been spent providing assistance to Tulsans for Election Integrity as we enter the final 10 days before the recall election. (Don't forget about tomorrow morning's rally and volunteer event -- Walk and Talk against the Recall -- getting organized from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m., at Johnson Park, 61st and Riverside.) And I've still got some family stuff to take care of before heading off to bed.

There's one story in particular that I want to tell you about, but I want to take the time to get it right. It's about someone who was, I believe, wrongfully fired for something he wrote in his blog. Stay tuned -- more about that tomorrow.

Disservice announcement

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

Lost in transit?

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If you attempted to send email to blog at batesline dot com last week (specifically May 16-23), your message may not have arrived. I was tinkering with the filter configuration, and apparently dialed it up a bit high, as I've heard from a few people that they sent me something that never showed up in the inbox. I've undone the tinkering, so if you had something important to tell me, please give it another try. Thanks.

(Bumped this entry's date to keep it at the top.)

Goodbye, cool Thurl

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Thurl Ravenscroft, he of the deep, deep voice that sold billions of Frosted Flakes, died Sunday, age 91. You may not know the name, but the voice is instantly recognizable. You've heard him as Tony the Tiger, and you've heard him sing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!" Over at the Internet Movie Database, you'll find an incomplete list of his lengthy and largely uncredited career doing voice work for cartoons, movies, television, and even Disneyland rides.

All Things Thurl is a comprehensive fan website that features RealAudio clips -- on this page, you'll find Thurl's group, the Mellomen, singing "Zorro" and other Disney theme songs.

Another page on All Things Thurl features his solo recordings. Click on that link, and you can listen to Thurl sing "The Old Rugged Cross" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

His voice will be missed.

The last few days

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Thanks for your patience during my extended absence. I'm fine, just busier than ever with my new job.

The biggest difference between my old job and the new one is that in the old job, there would be 50 people working together on a project extending over the course of a year -- deadline pressure existed, but wasn't an every day occurrence -- while in the new job, tasks are created with a short fuse, and the buck stops with me.

I added a state to the list of those I've visited (only eight more to go) with my first business trip for my new job. The boss didn't think I needed a rental car, and strictly speaking he was right. The local manager was able to pick me up and drop me off at the hotel and take me around for lunch and dinner. The town was small enough that I could get around on my own two feet -- about two miles from the hotel on the interstate to our facility in an old retail building downtown. The main drag connecting the two had the usual assortment of fast food outlets, a Wal-Mart, and The Mall (only one in town, no need for a descriptive name). There were sidewalks the whole distance, which isn't always the case in this part of the country.

One unpleasant thing about walking where 99% of the people are driving is getting catcalls from yoofs in passing vehicles. I never can quite make out what they're saying, but I'm guessing it isn't complimentary. One time I thought I heard "Looking good!" from a pickup full of young women, but that may have been an auditory hallucination.

The first night in town I walked the four miles into town and back out, just to see the town and enjoy the cool evening. The second night I needed a longer Ethernet cable to connect one of the computers to the facility network, so after getting some work done at the hotel, I walked to Wal-Mart, picked up the cable, then trudged on to the facility. I began to notice a burning sensation in my Achilles tendons. After installing the cable, and getting a bite to eat, I started to walk back, but thought better of it when I passed the office for the local cab company. I called the number on the door; the driver came out and drove me the two miles back to the hotel for $6.

That pain revealed another difference between the old job and the new. At the old job, if I got bored or antsy sitting in my cube, I'd take a walk around the sprawling manufacturing plant. If I really needed to blow off steam, I could walk the half-mile circuit around the greenbelt that runs through the industrial park. Over the last four weeks, I haven't done any walking like that -- thus the pain in my under-used calves and Achilles tendons.

It would have been nice to give my aches and pains a rest, but I had to make my way through the Denver airport, and once home it was off to a church father-son campout. My eight-year-old was there already, spending the afternoon riding his bike on the trails. I arrived just in time for the bonfire, roasting marshmallows, and singing. We sang some clever scout song parodies, including "Ghost Chickens in the Sky" with its haunting refrain of "Bok, bok, bok bok!" We sang some praise choruses, and there was a devotional talk on the vastness of space and the greatness of God. We had good sleeping weather. The temperature cooled off, the skies were mostly clear -- in recent years, the event featured a tornado warning and a flood. Pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast, another devotional (about Ehud from the book of Judges), then an obstacle relay involving barrels, wheelbarrows, kayaks, bicycles, and running. I gave my aching tendons as much rest as possible and took pictures. My son was one of the kayakers and got stuck a couple of times on half-sunk logs, but before long he got the hang of paddling and steering, and after lunch we both paddled around the pond for a while. It was my son's first campout, and my first campout in a couple of decades, and we both had a great time.

I returned home to an inbox full of tasks that absolutely had to be done by Monday morning. I'm writing this as I'm waiting for some number-crunching to complete.

I'll be on the air in the morning with Elvis Polo on 1170 KFAQ from 5:30 to 7:30 -- he's filling in for Michael DelGiorno and Gwen Freeman, who have the day off. Blogging will continue to be light for the forseeable future, but I will do my best to post something every day. I have plenty to say, but not much time for saying it.

Service interruption

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The new job and family events have not been leaving me with much time for the Internet, and the situation is likely to persist until late Sunday evening, so don't expect a BatesLine update until Monday morning. Check out the blogroll for good reading elsewhere.

No news tonight

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Sorry again for the lack of posting, but I've had some other matters to deal with this evening. I'll be talking about local issues tomorrow morning at 6:40 a.m. on 1170 KFAQ with Michael DelGiorno and Gwen Freeman -- I'm sure we'll review the District 5 election, the appointment of Alan Jackere as City Attorney, and anything else of note from the last week.

In the meantime, I encourage you to catch up with other Tulsa blogs, like Tulsa Topics, Homeowners for Fair Zoning, Roemerman on Record, and Blog of No Significance.

I'd encourage you to read MeeCiteeWurkor, too, but he's having technical difficulties and writes that his blog will be down for about a week. I'll let you know when he's back up and running.

Bleh

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Sorry, folks, but I just can't think to write about local stuff this morning. The new job has been demanding a lot of hours, early and late. It doesn't help that the Game Cube is going in the next room. I plan to post a few entries tonight, but in the meantime, check out the some of the blogs in the sidebar to the right.

Best of BatesLine?

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When I meet readers of this blog, it always surprises me to learn which entries on BatesLine have made the biggest and most lasting impression. Often it's the stuff I put up for my own amusement, stuff I can't imagine is going to interest anyone else.

I'd like to know what you think. Post a comment or send an e-mail with your favorite BatesLine entry (or two or three, if you can't narrow it down). Thanks.

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.

Worn out

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That's all I'm going to write tonight. I'm beat and in need of sleep. Mikki and I had a great time here at the convention. Some good friends of ours, Greg and Susan Hill, were honored for their years of volunteer work at Friday's gala. J. C. Watts delivered a powerful address and demonstrated why he would tough to beat should he decide to run for governor. Tulsa State Sen. Jim Williamson is definitely running for governor -- he announced last week -- and there was plenty of talk about who else will throw his (or her) hat in the ring. It was great to reconnect with the folks we spent so much time with at the Republican National Convention and to make some new acquaintances as well. It's encouraging to see that a party that was once limited to Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and the wheat belt has now taken root in nearly every county. At Friday's gala, we sat with a contingent from Cherokee County, including a Tahlequah City Councilor.

After the convention ended, we went over for a relaxed chat with Jan, the Happy Homemaker. We sat on the back porch, looked through her box of postcards, and saw the beautiful result of all the work she's been doing in the yard. Attention postcard fans: Jan has barely started through the collection -- there are all sorts of wonderful cards still to be posted. Jan was part of January's blogger bash. Unfortunately our schedule wasn't certain enough to plan a whole 'nother meet up on this visit, but I hope to reconnect with the other great folks I met at the bash on a future trip down.

We spent the evening in Bricktown: dinner at Chelino's, ice cream, and a lot of walking around. More about all that, and about the convention, later.

BatesLine was hit with 50 trackback pings in the last 10 hours, and not a single one was legitimate.

Trackback is a very useful mechanism that helps tie the blogosphere together. If another blogger comments on one of my entries, the other blogger's blog software will send an automated message (a "ping") to BatesLine notifying me of the link. This then shows up as a "trackback" on the individual entry pages, and it lets you see what's being said about what I'm writing. If the trackback is legitimate, it will link to an entry on another blog that links back to my entry.

At some point, the spammers figured out how to exploit this to peddle their wares on other sites without payment or permission. A trackback spam message puts a link to the spammer's site on one of my entries, but there's no corresponding link back to my site. That's discourteous, but what's worse is that the messages often advertise really horrible stuff.

By simply changing the name of my trackback script, I was able to screen out a lot of the spam, but the spambots have become smarter. Not only did the spambots figure out the changed script name, they sent everyone of those 50 pings from a different IP address. Either they have figured out how to spoof IP addresses, or they have deployed trojan horse programs via e-mail to unsuspecting PC owners, a trick they were already using with spam e-mail.

The balancing act is to foil the spammers without breaking the technology that keeps the blogosphere connected. To make sure I've not broken things too badly, I'd appreciate it if a few bloggers out there who use blog software with trackback auto-discovery (e.g. Movable Type) would post an entry that links to this one, just to see if it still works. (Just like you can't tickle yourself, you can't ping yourself, so I can't test this on my own. And no, this is not just some cheap ploy to boost my inbound link count.)

Reaching a new low

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As of 7 last evening, 11 stone, 11 pounds, the lightest I've been since I did the Jenny Craig thing 10+ years ago, and four pounds lighter than when I finished Atkins in fall 2003. I owe it all to blogging, anxiety, regret, overcommitment, insufficient sleep, and a well-rounded diet of Diet Coke, taquitos, Peanut M&Ms, and Fisherman's Friend coughdrops.

Beat

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About 8 o'clock tonight it hit me, right in the middle of a meeting. I felt totally wiped out, and I think I'm coming down with something.

I am looking at my notebook, and I have a list of 25 things I wanted to blog about. Tonight, you're just going to have to make do with the most pressing news, and maybe a couple of other links. As always, there's a wealth of news and amusement to be found via the blogroll.

On 1170 KFAQ Wednesday morning

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Michael DelGiorno has had a setback in his recovery from hernia surgery, and he'll be recuperating again tomorrow morning, leaving sidekick Gwen Freeman to fill in once again. Gwen has asked me to ride shotgun once again, and so I shall. I expect we'll be talking about the recall, which will be on Thursday's Council agenda, as will 71st and Harvard. Councilor Bill Christiansen is bringing the denial of F&M Bank's final plat up for reconsideration at a special "pre-meeting" out of the public eye, Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Council committee room on the second floor of City Hall. Tune in to AM 1170 or listen online.

Thanks, Mikki!

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If you enjoyed hearing me on the radio all last week, there's one person in particular who deserves your thanks. My wife Mikki took on some added burdens so that I could be available all five days for the whole show. Thank you, dear -- it wouldn't have happened without your help and encouragement.

BatesLine recap

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Despite spending 17.5 hours on the air last week, I never had the chance to do my usual BatesLine update. Usually, after we talk about the issues of the day, I get a couple of minutes to highlight other topics I've been writing about. During the normal slot on Monday, we were occupied with the Mayor's speech to the Republican convention, and the rest of the week, Gwen and I were talking to guests and callers. We just never got around to it.

Here then are some non-city-politics highlights from BatesLine over the last couple of weeks:

  • Remembering Abigail, two years later: Remembering the life, death, and triumphant faith of Abigail Litle, who was killed two years ago in a terrorist attack in Israel. If you've never read this, and the articles it links to, please do.
  • Borscht and a cake from Brooklyn: A report about the exotic food served at our church's missions conference banquet.
  • MENDing broken hearts: A victim of abortion speaks at the banquet of a local crisis pregnancy center.
  • Lots of coverage of Terri Schiavo's situation and the efforts to save her from starvation: here, here, and here.
  • Summer at age 8 -- 1972: My memories of summer as an eight-year-old and of a particularly significant event that happened to me.
  • Swinging on a scar: A TV sweeps-month report about "swingers" inspires thoughts about intimacy and vulnerability.
  • Memories of a different kind of swinger -- posts in honor of Bob Wills' 100th birthday here, here, and here.
  • Hunchback nation: How computers threaten to give us all permanent humps and headaches, and what you can do to stop it from happening to you.
  • Go forth, Gruntfuttock, my child: A salute to the classic British radio comedy "Round the Horne" on its 40th anniversary, with a link to where you can hear the program today.

Finally, in doing some research for more recent blog entries, I read through my archive from March 2004. It was an eventful month -- the city elections that gave the Reform Alliance four seats on the Council, along with the court fight that overturned the District 3 Democrat primary. Beyond the local stuff, there was rather a lot of good writing, I thought, and if you're new to BatesLine, wander back a year and have a look.

Go get caught up.

How I got started

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You young whippersnappers don't know how easy you've got it. It was a hard life, blogging back in the old days. We didn't have fancy-schmancy tools like Movable Type or WordPress. We didn't even have HTML, or even computers, for pete's sake! Back when I started, we blogged with chalk. That's right, chalk! All I had to work with was a 1 KB chalkboard. Hits per day? Maybe 100. Archives? My archives long ago settled in between the blocks of the parquet floor. You had one chalkboard, and when it was full, it was full. You wanted to write something new? You erased what was there.

The Unfriendly Philosopher, 1981

"3: Mike Bates, the Unfriendly Philosopher, writes yet another satirical comment." -- Eight Acres 1981, p. 72.

Sometime in 1978 or 1979, Carlos Tuttle, then head of Holland Hall's Upper School and teacher of Oklahoma History, delivered a lecture in the school's commons about Washington Irving's book A Tour of the Prairies, in which Irving describes his 1832 journey through what is now northeastern Oklahoma. Mr. Tuttle described how Irving's route took him through what is now Tulsa, and in all likelihood right across what is now Holland Hall's football field. For his talk, Mr. Tuttle made use of a large map of Oklahoma, which was supported by a freestanding chalkboard.

After the talk, the chalkboard remained in the commons through some oversight, finding its way to the corner near the southeast staircase. An upperclassman calling himself the Friendly Philosopher began to write a thought for the day on the board. Before long a senior named Sean Haugh began posting biting and cynical satire on the chalkboard, calling himself the Unfriendly Philosopher. At some point, I became the Unfriendly Philosopher's Apprentice, graduating from my apprenticeship as I became a senior. The board was used for lampooning every aspect of school life, and although I cannot remember the specifics of any articles I wrote, there's at least one reader of this blog who probably can. I wasn't the sole user of the chalkboard -- a number of my friends wrote for the chalkboard as well, so it was a kind of primitive group blog.

The only writings that survive from the period are the class prophecy, which I co-wrote with Alex Eaton and Rick Koontz; Gallway, the April Fools' Day parody newspaper, which Tim Nelson, Rick Koontz, and I wrote and edited; and the speech that got me elected as an at-large representative to the Student Council.

Off the air

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Finally, a morning I can sleep in -- maybe as late as 7!

I had a great time this week filling in as sidekick on KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno show, as Gwen Freeman did a marvelous job hosting the show during Michael's recuperation. Adjectives fail me -- not enough sleep -- but Gwen is a great interviewer, and I never get tired of listening to that voice. I hope she gets her own talk show some day. (She's already got her own music show on KXBL Classic Country 99.5, every day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) It was a privilege to sit in with her, especially during such an eventful week in local politics.

Rush Limbaugh has often said that being a radio talk show host was like having an adult Christmas every day -- that sense of excitement and anticipation. Despite the early hours, I really looked forward each morning to coming in and commenting on the news.

I may regret this, but if you heard the show this week, I invite your critique -- how'd I do? How could I have done better?

I will be back in studio Monday for my usual 20 minutes, hopefully with a recovered Michael DelGiorno on the other side of the desk. In the meantime, you can listen online for a repeat of this morning's broadcast, which featured Scott Pruitt's lecture on George Washington's Farewell Address, and included interviews with Sen. Tom Coburn and State Rep. Pam Peterson, and a look at Tulsa's Altarnet Film Society, which does a monthly screening of independent films with a spiritual theme.

Blogging will be light this weekend as I get caught up with the rest of my life. In the meantime, be sure to sample the blogroll on the right side of the home page.

Tomorrow morning I'll be back on 1170 KFAQ again with Gwen Freeman.

Between 6 and 7, State Senator Scott Pruitt will continue with KFAQ University -- the sixth in his series of lectures on American history and civics. If you want to catch up, the KFAQ website has MP3 audio and class notes for the first five lectures.

Later, we'll be talking about the pro-life legislation that passed the State House of Representatives last week, and Terri's Law, the Incapacitated Person's Legal Protection Act, now working its way through the U. S. Congress.

Be sure to tune in from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., or listen anytime online as the show repeats throughout the weekend.

Here are a couple of photos from this morning, during a break. Gwen and I:

Gwen Freeman and Michael Bates

Blogging in a spare moment:

(Thanks to Chip for taking the photos.)

On the air again

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I'll be on KFAQ once again tomorrow morning, 5:30 to 9:00, joining Gwen Freeman in studio as Michael DelGiorno recuperates at home. (This morning he just couldn't stand not being in studio for the analysis of Mayor LaFortune's Tulsa County Republican Convention speech.) The special Council meeting on the recall election will be the main topic of the day, along with some of the other highlights of Saturday's Tulsa County Republican Convention. Tune in on 1170 AM, or listen online here.

Side-kickin it

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Tomorrow morning on Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ, Gwen Freeman will be filling in for Michael DelGiorno, and I'll be sitting in as sidekick for the whole morning. The show goes from 5:30 am to 9:00 am. You can listen online and hear the show live, or as it repeats over the next 24 hours.

(The first time you click on the "Listen Online" button, you'll be directed to download SurferNetwork player which you'll need to listen online.)

On deck

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Well, late last night I wrote you a quick summary of yesterday's Tulsa County Republican convention, but either Movable Type or I had a malfunction, and it's gone, gone, lost and gone. I'll be occupied until this evening with church and family matters. Tune in this evening for my notes from speeches by Congressman John Sullivan, Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin, and Mayor Bill LaFortune. I'll tell you about the newly elected party officials and about the platform we approved, which includes some strong statements on local issues. I'll also catch you up on the recall and other Tulsa news.

A slight change of style

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I'm experimenting with a slightly different way of presenting blog entries. Unless the entry is really short, you'll just see a lead paragraph on the home page, followed by a link to the full story. The link will take you right to the point in the story where you left off. This change will make it easier for you to scan quickly and see what's been posted since your last visit. It will also give me a better idea of which stories attract the most interest, and might teach me to write more compelling leads. Let me know what you think about it. And if you've got other thoughts on the appearance and organization of BatesLine, you're encouraged to express your opinion in a comment on this entry.

Time for a new look?

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Here's another opportunity for you to weigh in. I received a complaint recently that grey on white is hard to read. My wife thinks that the font is too big and spread out too far, which means you have to scroll, scroll, scroll to find everything. Some have suggested running two columns -- Tulsa stories in one column and everything else in the other.

What do you think? What would make your BatesLine reading experience more pleasant and productive? I look forward to your comments.

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Sorry for the multiple posts earlier. Movable Type was behaving strangely, and it wasn't clear that the entry about the City Council meeting had been posted.

That's all for tonight...

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...and not just because no one's hit the tip jar since my Gene Scott post. I'm listening to a replay of Wednesday's Michael DelGiorno show, and he's going through some really interesting connections between political consultant Jim Burdge, campaign manager for Randy Sullivan, Bill Christiansen, and Sam Roop, and who owns the domain for the pro-recall Coalition for Responsible Government; and Wilson Busby, the investigator selected by Sam Roop to handle the Council's airport investigation, and whose law partner was an active supporter of Bill Christiansen -- allegations of favoritism for Christiansen at Jones Riverside Airport is the subject of FAA scrutiny. It's going to take some time to process it all.

A lot of blogs have been getting hammered with trackback spam -- online c*s*nos, online p*k*r, and ph*nt*rm*ne -- over the last month. I tried to dodge it by renaming my trackback script, which stopped the stupider spambots, but one spambot was smart enough to figure it out, and I was still getting a dozen or more spam pings a day.

The spam trackbacks were all aimed at older entries. The spammers aren't really interested in being read; they are trying to increase the Google page rank of their websites. The rel="nofollow" patch is supposed to remove some of the incentive for doing that.

So I installed a plug-in called MT-Close2, which I read about in an entry on defeating trackback spam on the Learning Movable Type blog. MT-Close2 closes comments and trackbacks for entries based on user-specified criteria.

The downside is that it won't be possible for legitimate pingers to trackback to entries on BatesLine that are more than about two weeks old. The upside is that I haven't had a single spam ping since installing MT-Close2, but I am still getting legitimate pings. If you are trying to ping an entry and can't because it's more than a couple of weeks old, e-mail me at blog at batesline dot com, and I'll see what I can do.

Q.U. is in session

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On Friday, 1170 KFAQ launched "KFAQ University" -- aka Q.U. -- an on-the-air civics class airing every Friday morning at 6 a.m., and available any time on the Internet in MP3 format, along with class notes and bibliography.

The point of Q.U. is to give listeners the foundation for understanding how our political system works and how to be effective participants in the system.

The lecturer is State Senator Scott Pruitt, and the topic for the first class was, "What would cause men to risk all for an experiment? The motivation behind the revolution." Pruitt profiles George Washington and Patrick Henry and what motivated them to seek independence from England. I've listened to the first session, and it's very well done. (And regular listeners to KFAQ will be amazed that Pruitt speaks with almost no interruptions.)

Thanks and congratulations to KFAQ for the start of a worthwhile effort.

Overpromise and underdeliver

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My apologies to those of you who've been waiting patiently for me to write about what I said I would the other day. Work has consumed more time than normal, and it's about to get worse for the next few days. I'll do what I can to keep in touch.

I have been haunted all week by this Dustbury entry and by the entry by Susanna Cornett over at Cut on the Bias to which Charles G. Hill links. Here's part of what Susanna wrote:

Sometimes I think about what my life would be if I had made other choices - gone to a different college, married young, become a police officer or stayed with journalism. Perhaps it's an artifact of turning 44 this year, well and truly at middle age and past the place where some paths can be chosen. I've discovered that living life the best way you know how brings regrets and sadness and mourning the loss of things you were never quite sure you wanted, or don't even know now if you want them. It is the narrowing of possibilities that hurts, the knowledge that if you did decide you wanted a certain path, it is already irrevocably closed to you, slipping away behind you when you were looking for something else.

I have those regrets, and I've spent some time and tears mourning the things that never were and now never can be no matter how much I might wish for them. ...

I think, in the end, the issue is not what I have chosen until now. It's uncertainty about what to choose for the future, whether the sense of inevitability is less a truth than just that I can't see over the sides of the rut I'm in. I begin to see that my problem is not so much that choices have closed, but rather a failure to actually choose at all. Is it the flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities? Or is it a mercurial nature easily drawn aside from one path to pursue another, and another, and another, a jane of all trades but master of none? Is it the road less traveled, or the path of least resistance?

For his part, Charles writes:

Going through some old notes I found the following list. My mother-in-law was a winner of the President's Community Volunteer Award a couple of years ago (the last one on the list, alphabetically), and this was the list of tips given by the Points of Light Foundation to the winners for dealing with the media:

  • Be honest.
  • Be yourself.
  • Answer the question that you wish they'd ask.
  • Keep answers concise and paint a vivid picture (use anecdotes, positive language, and comparisons).
  • You are in control, so make your point.
  • If you disagree with something the reporter says, speak up immediately.
  • Prepare three 25-word sentences that convey your overall message.
  • Remember who YOU are representing.
  • Don't say anything that you wouldn't want to see in print or played over and over again in a soundbite.
  • There is no such thing as "off the record".
  • You don't have to have all the answers.

I am tickled pink to welcome Cartec Automotive Service as an advertiser on BatesLine. Cartec is coming up on their 14th anniversary in business, and Jerry Kaminski and company have been working on our cars for the last several years. They do a great job, their prices are reasonable, and they let you know your options. Cartec is conveniently located just off the Broken Arrow Expressway at Harvard. The phone number is 918-747-1840. Give them your business, and let them know you read about them on BatesLine.

(Advertising on BatesLine is cheap, by the way -- only $20 a month. Click here to learn more.

Framed!

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I discovered, through a perusal of my referrer logs, that someone has set up a domain with a rude name referring to an influential and controversial local business/political institution. Rather than putting up their own content, the proprietor of said site has simply put a frame around my site. If you go to that site, you will see my home page, but with the site's name on the window title.

There is a fix for this, and I will implement it in the next day or two, God willing.

While I have my disagreements with the institution in question -- particularly with its leadership -- I think the use of the word "sucks" is childish and does not improve the tone of public debate.

To the proprietor of the site: Stop framing my site. If you want to criticize that institution, do so in your own words. Feel free to link to and comment on articles that I've written on the subject. But don't try to associate my site with your childish domain name.

UPDATE: I think I've got it fixed. Any effort to frame my site will display a disclaimer, rather than the site itself. And referrals from the offending site are blocked as well.

Reader Ron Warnick thinks the pot is calling the kettle black:

You've called Brad Carson by the name Little Boy Brad, you call the city council minority the Cockroach Caucus, and you call the Tulsa World the Tulsa "Whirled." Yet you say that someone using the word "sucks" is immature?

Physician, heal thyself.

Yes, my epithets (you forgot "Chamber Pots") are meant to put their targets in a negative light, which is also the point behind sitenames using the word "sucks". Saying that something "sucks" is the sort of thing I'd expect to hear from a 10-year-old with a limited vocabulary -- an inarticulate expression of displeasure and frustration. Coming up with "Cockroach Caucus" and "Whirled" involved some degree of creativity and imagination, if I do say so myself. ("Little Boy Brad" wasn't as creative, but he deserved some derisive title in payment for the sleazy smear campaign he ran against Tom Coburn.)

I have a suspicion that the owner of the offending site isn't in fact a critic of the institution, but is attempting, by connecting it with a harshly negative and irresponsible name, to make this site look bad. I can do that all by myself, thank you very much.

I was listening to a nutrition talk show as I woke up this morning. The host was saying that in Third World countries they don't have a word for "menopause". This is because in these more primitive lands, their diet contains more of some nutrient of which we in the West, with our overprocessed foods, are deprived, a nutrient which staves off the Change of Life.

I may be wrong, but if Third World languages lack a word for menopause, I'll bet it's because women tend to die from poor sanitation, malaria (because we won't let them use DDT), malnutrition, war, natural disasters, and overcrowded buses careening off of poorly engineered roads long before they have a chance to experience a hot flash.

New server is up!

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If you're reading this, you're seeing BatesLine on the new server at Total Choice Hosting.

UPDATE: The transition went seamlessly. Within 12 hours of signing up, the new account was active. Within two hours of requesting a transfer from my old server to the new server, the transfer was complete. Within three hours of pointing the DNS server to the new server, traffic was headed to the new place. All that plus four times the disk space and twice the bandwidth for the same price.

Thanks to all who wrote to offer BatesLine a new home, but for now the low cost, the familiar toolset, and 24-hour service of TCH are very appealing features. There may be other opportunities in the future, and I'll keep your info on file.

Next step: Can I upgrade to a newer version of MT without breaking all inbound links?

A thought

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I'm always gratified to see my friends triumph over adversity and discouragement. It would be even more gratifying if I weren't the source of the adversity and discouragement.

Service interruption

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If you can't get to BatesLine at some point in the next two weeks, don't panic.

I've been putting it off, but I've got to get moved to a new server this week. I've picked one out. Now it's a matter of signing up, installing blog software, and migrating everything to the new server. I've been toying with the idea of a site redesign as well, maybe even changing to different blog software. I might even enable contents, but only if I can install a dozen layers of anti-spam protection. Between this and the press of last minute Christmas preparations, expect blogging to be light this week, and at times the site may disappear altogether. (Current advertisers: If there is a lengthy hiatus or interruption, I'll make sure you get your money's worth.)

If you can't reach this site, check my backup site batesline.blogspot.com to find out what's going on, and how long I expect the main site to be down.

Content might change in the new year, too. Something happened this last week, something I'm not supposed to talk about, but it was like a kick in the gut, and it's taken away my desire to write about local politics, except in the most general way. It's getting harder and harder to know who can be trusted, who is trying to spin me, and who is telling the truth. Maybe after some rest over the holidays, I'll be ready to go again. But maybe not.

(Just to be clear, I am as certain as ever that I cannot trust the Tulsa Whirled, the bureaucrats at the Tulsa Metro Chamber, or the rest of the Cockroach Caucus.)

In the meantime, there's plenty to be said about plenty of other topics, as you may have noticed over the last few days. I've been wanting to do a series on underappreciated cities, and I've got a few lined up to write about. Back in July, I was in Montreal and took a bunch of pictures to illustrate how good urban design contributes to the liveliness of a city. Maybe I'll finally get around to publishing them. And there are hundreds of articles in my backlog of interesting things that I could blog about, things that keep getting pushed aside out of a sense of obligation to write about City Hall. I intend to continue to post something new every day.

This blog started out as me writing about things that interested me. Local politics began to dominate when I got involved in the opposition to the Vision 2025 tax increases. But as one guy with a demanding job and a family (also demanding), I cannot cover City Hall with the depth and breadth that the subject deserves. I'm thankful to see other blogs taking up the topic.

What is really needed is for the Tulsa Beacon or KFAQ to invest in a full-time City Hall and County Courthouse reporter, someone with investigative skills and a good understanding of city and county government. Until that happens, we're dependent on news-gathering organizations that we can't trust. TGOV's broadcasts of council and commission meetings make it possible to "report" on the event from the comfort of your own home (in pajamas, if you like), but it's not the same as being there and seeing what doesn't get caught by the tape.

That's all for now.

UPDATE: A few folks have e-mailed to express concern, and while I don't think it's appropriate for me to say too much more, I do want to allay some concerns that were expressed. I have not been threatened in any way. It has to do with politics, not personal life. Things are fine with my job and family. Maybe the best way to describe what happened is to call it a friendly-fire incident, which is why it was discouraging in a way that a frontal attack from the Cockroach Caucus would not have been. I'm not going to write about the specifics, because to do so wouldn't be constructive, and in fact would hurt the very cause I was trying to help. It was just the sort of thing that makes one wonder what exactly was the point of all that exertion.

Notes

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  • I've updated the entry about the death of renowned Boston radio talk show host David Brudnoy with links to obituaries published today on the websites of National Review and the American Spectator.
  • I'm a long-time Netscape, then Mozilla, user, and I've finally upgraded to the new Mozilla Firefox web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client. An unexpected delights: Firefox is the first browser I've used that correctly handles the little icon file -- so now I see a little bird's head on the address bar when I visit Dustbury, and on this site, a little icon I devised, drawn from the site logo. Thunderbird includes an RSS aggregator -- the ability to see the latest posts from the feeds favorite blogs and news sources as if they were messages in a mailbox. I've started adding in the feeds of the sites on my blogroll -- this will make it easier to keep up with the latest posts from my favorite bloggers. A nice feature of the aggregator: It shows the author of the post, useful if you're reading a group blog, but only enjoy the work of one or two members of the group.

Welcome new advertisers

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I'm happy to welcome two new advertisers to BatesLine this month.

www.progopgear.com offers a range of T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, and other ways to show your support for President Bush and the Republican Party, with images that include the presidential results by county and state. Save a trip to the mall. ProGOPGear may have just the unique gift your hard-to-buy-for relative will appreciate.

Kevin McCullough is a New York-based columnist, blogger, and radio talk show host on the Salem Communications Network, who brings a conservative Christian perspective to the news. I got to know Kevin when I linked to a report of a Defense of Marriage rally that Kevin helped organize. Kevin was kind enough to blogroll me shortly thereafter. I got to meet him, and even spent a few minutes on air with him, during the Republican National Convention. Clicking on that ad will take you to Kevin's blog, from which you can get to his columns and (on the left hand side of the page) a link to listen live to his radio show, or catch a repeat as it cycles every three hours from the time he signs off until the next show begins.

Thanks to the advertisers, and thanks to you readers for clicking those ads to show your appreciation for their support.

Not much time today...

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but here are a few links to keep you busy.

For an update on the opposition Arlen Specter's prospective Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship, visit NotSpecter.com. There's more not to like about Specter than just his position on abortion -- he's wrong on tort reform, equal opportunity, and countless other legal issues where he lines up with the forces that have been turning our judiciary into a swamp of subjectivity and anti-democratic arrogance.

Tim Carney, formerly with the Evans and Novak Political Report, is a frequent contributor to NotSpecter.com. I met him during the Republican National Convention, and he was following the Oklahoma Senate race closely. He's got a column worth reading that puts Coburn's victory and the Specter controversy into context.

Yasser Arafat, world's oldest terrorist, is fully and utterly dead, to the delight of millions, including Roger L. Simon, who has apt comments here and here. Rather than reading the nauseating encomiums of Jimmy Carter and his ilk, take time to remember one of Arafat's victims, an American teenager named Abigail Litle.

Heard Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune on KFAQ this morning. This is the second week in a row that he's come on at 8:45 on Friday, which means no time for rebuttal before the weekend -- he gets the last word. He spoke about several city vacancies: an airport board member, airport director, airport legal counsel, and the deputy mayor. He also reaffirmed his support for Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds on the water board, and reaffirmed his opposition to recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. I'm hoping to have time to get into all that this weekend.

Another thing I hope to get to -- at a Tulsa City Council committee meeting on Tuesday, Josh Fowler, a Broken Arrow resident and executive director for the Homebuilders Association, expressed the radical view that there should be no land use regulation at all. As a conservative, I'm sympathetic to leaving the free market as unburdened as possible, but as the saying goes, "My liberty to swing my fist ends where your nose begins." So I hope to write about the philosophical basis for land use regulation and what kind of system we ought to have.

Blog outage sometime soon

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I was sorry to learn today that my hosting provider, BlogHosts, is going out of business. BlogHosts provided great service at an incredible price. They started up in early 2003, and I think I must have been one of their earliest customers.

The official reason for closing down:

Several technical problems with our backend have corrupted critical portions of our billing and support databases. While we have tried to recover this data several times and enlisted the help of an outside agency our efforts have been in vain. Although security has been very good we've found several discrepancies in our logs indicating the damage may have been intentional. For these reasons we have decided to stop taking new orders and will eventually cease operation altogether.

My guess is that they had a hard time managing rapid success. The web took some nasty hits during election week, with traffic reaching all-time highs. I kept getting reports from people who couldn't get through to my site.

For whatever reason, BlogHosts hasn't notified its customers directly. I found out by accident when I went to the site to see about help with a Movable Type upgrade.

So I'm looking for a new hosting provider. A search through Technorati is turning up a number of suggestions, which I am adding here for my own reference and the reference of others trying to find a new cyberhome. I am not vouching for any of them, but I'll be checking what each one offers.

www.contrasthosting.com
www.wiredhub.net
www.cyberwurx.com
www.totalchoicehosting.com
www.psek.com
www.dreamhost.com
www.surfspeedyhosting.com
www.textdrive.com
www.squarespace.com
www.webhostingbuzz.com
www.mindstormhosting.com
www.cyberpixels.com
www.liquidweb.com

BlogHosts will shut down on January 1, but I hope to migrate to a new server long before then. I'll give you some warning -- you shouldn't notice anything more than a temporary outage.

More to come

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Ran out of time -- off to KFAQ for the weekly BatesLine update. Check back about noon for more about the Oklahoma ballot.

BatesLine's first ad!

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Destiny Travels, a Tulsa-based travel agency, is the first advertiser on BatesLine. Travel agent Brenda Holt will do the legwork to find you the best possible deal on the travel experience you're looking for. Brenda can book hotels, air travel, cruises, rental cars -- anything that you need for your trip. And if something comes up that throws a kink in your plans -- as it often does -- Brenda is there for you to get your trip back on track.

I'm pleased that my first advertiser is a Tulsa business, and one run by folks I know and respect. Brenda and her husband Bobby are active in the Lewis Crest Neighborhood Association; Bobby is the webmaster. (The blog currently features some interesting election trivia.)

Support this site by supporting our advertisers. And buy your own ad -- only $20 for a full month. We've had 33,000 visitors this month -- that's a lot of eyes for just a little bit of money.

Internet Explorer problem fixed

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Bobby Holt and my dad alerted me to a problem with viewing individual BatesLine entries under Internet Explorer -- the vertical scrollbar would be disabled, preventing the reader from reading the whole entry. If the reader happened to resize the Internet Explorer window, the scrollbar would start working.

The problem seems to date back a few weeks to when I changed the individual entry template to include a SiteMeter icon (for tracking the number of visits to the site). The fix involved including the following code right before the closing </body> tag:

<br clear="all" />

There is still a problem with some text on the home page that disappears and reappears, the result of the non-standard way in which Microsoft implements web standards in its browser. Hope to get that fixed soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Aieeee! Moon turns to blood!

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Most of the world will be able to see a total lunar eclipse tonight -- the last one until 2007. Totality begins at 9:23 pm Central Daylight Time and ends at 10:45 pm.

This sign in the heavens can mean only one thing: The Red Sox will finish their sweep of the Cardinals tonight.

blogads

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At right you'll notice that I've signed up to sell blogads to help pay the cost of running BatesLine. I hadn't planned to sell ads, but I was contacted by an organization (one I support) which was interested in advertising on the site, so I set it up. It is a great advertising buy -- only $10 a week, $15 for two weeks, and $20 for an entire month. According to Webalizer, BatesLine is drawing about 1000 visitors a day. The ad runs near the top of every page on the site, so it will be seen whether a websurfer comes to the home page or links directly to an article. It takes about five minutes to set up an ad like the one you see at right -- just click on the "advertise here" link, and off you go. Once I get notice of your interest and approve the ad -- I reserve the right to reject any ad I deem incompatible with my values -- you'll see it on display.

This last week I've received some very welcome encouragement at a time when I've been feeling pretty worn out and discouraged. I'm grateful to those of you who came up to me at last week's rally and other events to say hello and tell me that you read and enjoy BatesLine.

I'm also especially thankful to the four folks who have supported this site financially, both in person and via the PayPal link on the right side of the home page. It's enough to cover a few months of hosting fees and to cover a nice evening out for me and the missus. (Shh, don't tell -- it's a surprise!)

September was a record month for traffic, with an average of 799 visits a day, and rising over the course of the month. Many thanks to everyone who visits and visits regularly. Many thanks, too, to blogs like Spot On, Dustbury, Wizbang (responsible for the RNC Bloggers aggregation), Dead to Self, OkieDoke, the Tulsan (which I realize is not a blog), and the unofficial Coburn for Senate blog for linking to BatesLine and driving a lot of traffic this way. And for some reason, I got over 100 referrals in September from the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I could never find a reference on their site, but thanks for the referrals all the same.

No thank you list would be complete without Michael DelGiorno, Program Director Brian Gann, and the whole team at Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ. I'm grateful to have a weekly opportunity to chat with Michael and to speak to Tulsa's largest talk radio audience. A lot of people have found me through the station and its website. (I have heard from a few people who found out about KFAQ through BatesLine.com!)

So how can you help keep BatesLine running strong?

Although the direct cost of running the site is pretty low, the time I spend researching and writing imposes an indirect cost -- those are hours I'm not working overtime, and some chores I might do myself, I pay others to take care of if they're urgent (or they just don't get done).

It wouldn't take much to make a difference. If everyone who visited the site at least once in the month of September dropped $10 using the PayPal button, I could quit my job and do this full time for a year. Well, I don't know that I'd quit the day job (I like my coworkers, the work is interesting, and the benefits are good), but I'd feel a lot less guilty about spending more time working to keep you informed.

If I could raise enough funds, I'd love to be able to subscribe to some online research services, which would help me dig into things without having to find time to get to the library.

Whether you can donate financially or not, one of the ways you can support this site is by visiting every day -- I've been posting something new every night -- and encouraging your friends to do the same. As the number of visits rises, so will the rates I'll be able to charge for ads. I hadn't considered advertising before, but I've been contacted by people who want to advertise on the site, promoting messages and products that are compatible with my values. (You will not see a "John Kerry for President" or a "Carrie Bradshaw for President" ad on this site.) So I'm in the process of getting that set up.

Our common forefather?

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Captain Ed links to an interesting article from the Daily Telegraph -- all 6 billion of us may be descended from one man who lived only 3500 years ago.

Using a computer model, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology attempted to trace back the most recent common ancestor using estimated patterns of migration throughout history.

They calculated that the ancestor's location in eastern Asia allowed his or her descendants to spread to Europe, Asia, remote Pacific Islands and the Americas. Going back a few thousand years more, the researchers found a time when a large fraction of people in the world were the common ancestors of everybody alive today - while the rest were ancestors of no one alive. That date was 5,353BC, the team reports in Nature.

The researchers, led by Dr Steve Olson, stressed that the date was an estimate.

"Nevertheless, our results suggest that the most recent common ancestor for the world's current population lived in the relatively recent past - perhaps within the last few thousand years," he said.

He added: "No matter the languages we speak or the colour of our skin, we share ancestors who planted rice on the banks of the Yangtze, who domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forest of north and south America and who laboured to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu."

Now the phrase "most recent common ancestor" doesn't imply that he was the proverbial last man on earth. It just means that like every other person on earth, I have this guy as one of my many, many great100grandpas.

One generation before you, you have two ancestors, mom and dad. Two generations, it's 22, four grandparents. At 100 generations, if there were no overlap, if every one of your ancestors married someone without a common ancestor, you would have 2100 = 1267650600228229401496703205376 ancestors -- that's 1.2 nonillion. Since the world's population has never been higher than it is right now, there has to have been overlap -- cousins marrying cousins, even if very distant ones.

Called on account of volcanic ash

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Scott Sala has been hearing that Mount Saint Helens in Washington State may erupt again, and remembers what it was like after the 1980 eruption in his hometown of Spokane, Washington:

Later, at home, I standing outside watching it rain ash. For hours and hours that ash came down. Dad was careful enough to give us those little white dust masks when we went outside - usually to shovel the driveway in some bizarre summer recast of winter's most horrid routine.

The disaster was almost cool to live through, not really being that dangerous, and breaking up the monotony of daily routine. TV became fun to watch, conversation was exciting and dirt was suddenly valuable. We bottled up that ash and still have it packed away somewhere.

Back then, I used to read the minor league baseball standings and scores religiously, and I remember the scoreboard entry the next day for the Pacific Coast League game that was to have been played at Spokane: "ppd. volcanic ash".

Sorry, folks, I'm a bit burned out on politics. I have a couple of entries started about the Tulsa City Council, and I will finish them over the weekend, I promise. In the meantime, I've got other things on my mind, some of which you see below.

Catching up

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Way behind where I should be -- I need to tell you all about Monday night's City Council event at the Fairgrounds, catch you up on the Skelly Building situation, and report on my visit to Tuesday's Board of Adjustment meeting, as well as give you some more analysis of the situation in the Oklahoma Republican Party. And at some point I want to share some pictures and stories of our family vacation to Texas and my week in Montreal at the beginning of this month (with some lessons about urban design learned in both places). Your patience is appreciated.

Reflections in d minor links to a very link-intensive blog called Incoming Signals. The blogger, Christopher Bahn, describes himself as a "chronic websurfer." A typical day's entry includes a half-dozen or so links with at most a sentence of descriptions. He links to an incredible variety of material: Donald Duck builds an atom bomb. Elsa Lanchester puts on her "Bride of Frankenstein" makeup. Old disease names and their modern definitions. Abe Vigoda's reactions to a sneak preview of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

This blogger seems to love maps, a passion I share. Here's a recent entry with several map-related entries.

And then he's got a categorized collection of older links, including a link to a list of Dewey Decimal System categories.

You could get seriously lost on the Internet with this blog as a starting place.

Learned recently that a new couple in our church are bloggers too. The husband posts as "swamphopper" on The Rough Woodsman, a group blog about culture and politics. Mrs. swamphopper is the proprietoress of Marsupial Mom, and together they write Little House. He's a public school high school English teacher, and she's at home with their three little girls. Here's a link to their bio. I'll look forward to getting to know them through their blogging and in person at church on Sundays, too.

Apropos of Mother's Day, here's a bit of a Marsupial Mom entry titled "Connection or Correction?"

Amanda's mom understood she needed to connect with Amanda rather than just correct her. In too many families it plays out a lot differently: Child feels bad. Child misbehaves. Mom yells and punishes. Child feels even worse. Child misbehaves again. Mom gets really frustrated and yells even louder. Child feels really bad now. Dad comes home and hears about how bad the child was that day. Mom escapes to the mall, the library, the coffeeshop, etc so she can feel better. Child still feels bad. Rinse and repeat.

How many times have my own children had a bad sad mad day and I offered only correction? Too many for me to be harsh toward to other moms who do the same thing, but I am growing and learning. My kids need to be corrected every day, but the correction is received a lot better when there has been a good connection.

Go read the whole thing.

Good reading elsewhere

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There's a lot to be said, but not enough time to say it. I am cramming in a lot of activity during a week back at the ranch-style home, which isn't leaving much time for the blog.

So as not to leave you without reading material, let me highlight a few blogs of interest:

The OkiePundit comments on Citgo's departure and the failures of the city and state economic development efforts:

On the Oklahoma side - the new Henry Administration quickly replaced most of the state's economic development professionals with international experience with personal friends with marginal experience in economic development. When Henry came to office the Commerce Department had one expert on CITGO and she was let go.

On the Tulsa side the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce failed to develop a relationship with CITGO's Venezuelan leadership - in part because the Chamber has no international professionals on staff - not one.

Okiedoke posts a regular roundup of Okie blogs.

Last week Bitweever gave us a peek at the azaleas in Woodward Park.

Dustbury is always worth a read.

Silence is golden

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A recent profundity from The Dawn Patrol, not that there's anything unusual about such an occurrence:

There's something I've longed to write on this blog for a long time, but I have always stopped myself for fear it would come out sounding too childish or sentimental. I am going to say it just once now and leave it tucked inside this entry, to speak for now as well as those few other special times when I want to express this feeling:

There are some experiences or conversations that I enjoy so much that I don't write about them, for fear that giving a word-for-word account will break the spell somehow. It's not because I fear sharing them with the world, but because I fear that, as with when one writes down a dream, I'll wind up remembering what was written instead of what happened. It seems better to risk forgetting the interaction than to remember it only according to what can only amount to, at best, a superficial outline.

Amen. (Sorry. I meant to say, "Indeed.")

Interesting to see what search strings are bringing readers to this site. Here are the top ten so far for March:

howie carr cute baby pictures dykwia vote batesline beef on weck gorilla howie carr columns batesline.com devon jones

Howie Carr and cute baby pictures usually jockey back and forth for first place.

I may be getting more visitors looking for info about beef on weck, the Buffalo, N.Y., delicacy -- my entry is number 6 in Google, right below an article from the public radio show "The Splendid Table".

Why so quiet?

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It's been a busy week, nearly all of which was spent working out of town, trying to penetrate the imponderable depths of IEEE 1394 and CANbus protocol transactions and RTX device drivers.

I haven't forgotten you, dear reader, and often in the last week I've thought, "I've got to blog about this." But I worked 12-hour days, and spent the little bits of off-time trying to get the hotel's free wireless Internet service to work with my laptop, which left me with little energy for writing. Even fell behind on e-mail.

Plenty has been happening in Tulsa during my absence, which I hope to comment on here, and during my regular spot Monday morning on KFAQ.

It's good to be back home.

Welcome to readers of The Corner!

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In response to an appeal from K-Lo (Kathryn Lopez, editor of National Review Online) in NRO's group blog, The Corner, I e-mailed her some observations about the Democrat presidential primary here in Oklahoma. This morning, she posted my observations as part of a roundup of all the states holding primaries today. The name of the website was mentioned (although not hyperlinked).

So if you found us via The Corner, welcome! This is a conservative weblog -- slightly "crunchy", as I'm interested in urban design and historic preservation. This blog is focused on Tulsa politics, but I delve now and then into world news, travel, culture, education, music, and faith. I hope you'll stay and browse, and let me know what you think with an e-mail to blog at batesline dot com.

KFAQ update postponed

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The weekly Batesline update on KFAQ will be tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6:40, preempted by an interview with a Fox News reporter covering tonight's Iowa caucuses. So tune in tomorrow morning, and we'll do a run-down of the City Council races and the latest County Courthouse and Vision 2025 scuttlebutt.

Why no comments?

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Some people enable comments on their blogs; others don't. Little Green Footballs allows comments -- and the proprietor spends a lot of time dealing with malicious posters. InstaPundit doesn't, nor does the group blog known as the Volokh Conspiracy. Recently Eugene Volokh explained why he's made that choice, giving three reasons, all of which make sense to me.

The first is aesthetic -- the blog is a coherent product produced by himself and the team he has assembled.

It would annoy me a lot if this coherent product also included some postings that I very much dislike, from people whom I never explicitly invited. Even if people didn't think less of me for those postings, it would still bother me. Maybe this isn't entirely rational; many esthetic preferences aren't rational. But it is pretty strongly felt, as are many writers' and editors' views about "their babies."

The second reason has to do with reputation:

Rightly or wrongly, consciously or not, some people's perception of the blog and its bloggers will be molded by what the commenters post as well as by what the bloggers post. Some people will infer (not implausibly) that because (A) some dreck is posted, (B) I have the power to delete it, and (C) I don't delete it, therefore (D) I must agree with it or at least not entirely disagree with it.

The third reason he gives is really a result of the first two -- no time to be the enforcer, to monitor comments and protect the quality and reputation of the blog.

I'm swamped as it is, and I don't have the time to deal with all this. "What time?," people ask. "Just enable them and leave them be." Yeah, right. Someone is going to start spamming the comments.... Someone else is going to start a flamewar. Some jerk is going to decide that he violently disagrees with me -- or, worse yet, that he agrees with me -- and chooses to express himself in terms that are hard to just ignore. As I mentioned in the second point, the reputation of the blog will indeed be on the line.

I'll add one more reason why I don't enable comments -- there are already some great message boards which deal with Tulsa issues, and the software makes it easier to read, post, and navigate. TulsaNow's forums and a new site, Living On Tulsa Time, both use the Snitz message board software.

Back online

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Had a nice couple of days out of town (in Branson, of all places), then a couple of days back here catching up on work and other chores, thus the lack of activity on the blog. Lots to get caught up on.


Hard drive crash

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Bloghosts had a hard drive crash about 3 a.m. this morning just a few hours after I submitted a couple of lengthy entries, representing a lot of work. I am hopeful that at least a couple of you out there visited the blog between that last submission and the server crash and either saved the entry or still have it in the cache of your browser. I'm looking for anything more recent than "Council to punt?" -- e-mail it to blog at batesline dot com.

To see if you have the entries in your cache, try these addresses:

http://www.batesline.com/archives/000316.html
http://www.batesline.com/archives/000317.html
http://www.batesline.com/archives/000318.html

If it comes up with a page, instead of a 404 error, you've got one of the lost entries.

Thanks.

UPDATE: Found two of the entries in cache and have reposted them, and should be able to reconstruct the third soon.

One more bit of self indulgence and then back to real bloggage. Me at age 6 days, courtesy Mom, who brought it with her when she took me to lunch today:

Judging from the hairy legs beneath me, that would be Dad holding me, so Mom's taking the picture.

Four-oh

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Permit me a bit of introspection. At nearly this very moment two score years ago, I emerged from the womb, was slapped on the rump, and proceeded to empty my bladder on the obstetrician. (You try riding around for nine months without a potty break.) Some might suggest that my response to an apparent insult to my person established a pattern that continues to this day.

My fifth birthday party featured an American flag cake. The frosting on the field was so deep blue that it prompted worried calls the following morning from the mothers of my friends. One of my birthday gifts was a ride on a Santa Fe train from Bartlesville to Copan.

Clearing the back blog

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A variety of things on the web over the last little while that you may find interesting:

Russ McGuire reports that there is a free Internet service to help you keep track of how your Congressman is voting. It's called VoteNote -- follow the link, plug in your zip code, and they'll send you a weekly e-mail with information on votes cast that week.

Clayton Cramer calls our attention to the blog of Michael Williams, who blogs thoughtfully about all sorts of subjects, including the theology of the Matrix series, the racism of the abortion industry, the shifting political winds, and space elevators. And I really like the design of his site, especially the look of the blockquotes.

The Washington Times has published a series of three excerpts from Georgia Sen. Zell Miller's new book, A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat. The excerpts are titled "How Democrats lost the South", "Able Democrats, but left-wing all the way" (about the presidential contenders), and "In pursuit of an American Churchill". The latter article includes this excerpt from his speech to the Senate on the Iraq war:

"A few weeks ago," I said, "we were doing some work on my back porch back home, tearing out a section of old stacked rocks, when all of a sudden I uncovered a nest of copperhead snakes.

"I know the difference between those snakes that are harmless and those that will kill you. A copperhead will kill you. It could kill one of my dogs. It could kill one of my grandchildren. It could kill any one of my four great-grandchildren.

"And you know, when I discovered these copperheads, I didn't call my wife Shirley for advice, like I do on most things. I didn't go before the city council. I didn't yell for help from my neighbors. I just took a hoe and knocked them in the head and killed them — dead as a doorknob.

"I guess you could call it a unilateral action," I said. "Or pre-emptive. Perhaps if you had been watching me, you could have even called it bellicose and reactive. I took their poisonous heads off because they were a threat to me. And they were a threat to my home and my family. They were a threat to all I hold dear. And isn't that what this is all about?"

A must see: Winged Migration

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I don't often go to the movies, and it's even rarer that we go as a family. There aren't many new films worth seeing on the big screen.

Tonight the four of us went to Winged Migration, which has been nominated for the Academy Award for best feature documentary. (The link will take you to the Internet Movie Database for all the details.) The photography is amazing, capturing the beauty of winged flight and the spectacular planet below -- a French village, a Saharan oasis, Arctic glaciers, the Grand Canyon, the Amazon. Here's a link to the official website, with a list of birds and locations in the film.

There were a few scenes that were a bit much for our three-year-old to handle, like when the geese were "getting shooted," and when a wounded tern was being mobbed by predatory crabs, the likeliest nightmare fodder in the movie. (I may have nightmares about that.) For the most part, the film would show an impending threat but did not graphically display the outcome. Some scenes depicted threats from man, but without being preachy. One such scene shows Canada geese in a pen on a farm, getting agitated as a flock of migrating geese passes overhead. Later, we see a boat carrying captured macaws, parrots, and monkeys traveling down the Amazon and watch as a macaw picks the crude lock on its cage and escapes.

This is a film that deserves to be seen in all its big-screen, surround-sound glory. It's showing three more nights -- through Thursday -- at the AMC Southroads here in Tulsa. An enhanced 35mm print for IMAX was released in late August and may find its way to Tulsa in a few months.

P.S. This film lost the "Best Documentary" award to Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine." There is no justice in Hollywood.

Rich Galen writes that the recent blackout in the northeast was the equivalent of a snow day without the hassle of cleaning up the snow. The article is an antidote to some of the panic-mongering about the national electrical grid:

* The North American Energy Reliability Council which tracks such things has determined that, including last week, there have been seven grid failures since the big one on November 9, 1965.

* None lasted for more than a day. ...

* Stating it the other way, the power grid (which was described by former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson as being like one in a "third world country") has been up 99.949 percent of the time over the past 37 years. ...

* When you get on a commercial airplane you expect to get off in the city your ticket suggests you should be going to, right? You know what the actual percentage of getting on a commercial airplane and getting off in your expected city is? No?

* 96.6 percent according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

* Where's the outrage? Where are the Congressional hearings? Where is the wall-to-wall coverage? Where is ... Ok, you get the idea.

He's got a link to his "Secret Decoder Ring" page, which has a NOAA satellite image showing the extent of the blackout.

Sobering to think there's a one in 30 chance of winding up in the wrong city at the end of the flight.

James Bennett's latest "Anglosphere" column compares the British and American approaches to religion (established church vs. no established church) to the two countries' handling of broadcasting (government network vs. commercial networks. Extending the metaphor, Bennett includes this sentence that made me grin:

America's public broadcasting network, in contrast, has the moral fervor of the early Puritans. Reading about the three-hour long Congregationalist sermons, incessantly hectoring congregants on some moral failing or other, during which ushers whacked napping miscreants on the head with poles, it occurred to me that the closest modern experience to match is surely being stuck in traffic while the only available channel is a National Public Radio station conducting a pledge drive.

Bennett calls for disestablishment of the BBC. The comparison of NPR to the Puritans is interesting -- Massachusetts was the last state to disestablish its church, sometime in the 1820s I believe. Perhaps it's time we disestablished NPR, too.

(Found via InstaPundit.)

Opportunity Cost: The Concept

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I was going to use that title to write about an issue related to Tulsa's Dialog / Visioning process, but when I was googlechecking the definition of the term, I found this fascinating article by Michael T. Killian on opportunity cost as applied to personal finances. The definition given for the phrase is:

the advantage forgone as the result of the acceptance of an alternative

Killian goes on to say that a dollar spent today represents an opportunity cost of $6.70 measured against investing that dollar for 20 years. He suggests that we should think about the opportunity cost when we go to make a purchase -- consider it in terms of dollars, and in terms of hours labored to earn those dollars.

The article has some links to other useful personal finance concepts, including a plan to pay off all your debts in seven years.

In a later entry, I'll apply the concept of opportunity cost at the macro level, to our elected leaders as they consider the proposal before them. But for now, consider the opportunity cost of the Dialog / Visioning tax in the context of family finances. At a price tag of $877 million, it comes to an average $1500 per Tulsa County resident, or $6000 per family of four. That's about $39 / month over 13 years. If that money were invested at, say 6%, adding that $39 each month for 13 years, then letting it sit for the next 7, at the end of 20 years, that family would have over $20,000.

These sorts of tax increases are frequently referred to as an "investment", and if we take that sort of language seriously, it's reasonable to ask what is the return on investment. Would an average family stand to gain more than $20,000 as a result of the items purchased with these new tax dollars?

This week's Friday Five -- vacations

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Every Friday, a set of five personal questions are posted at the Friday Five website, as a sort of conversation starter for bloggers. I'll give it a try -- maybe I'll do it most weeks.

1. How are you planning to spend the summer [winter]?

Working on a couple of high-priority projects at my job. Playing with the kids. Swimming with the family at the neighborhood pool. Keeping nature from utterly reclaiming our yard. And for the next week or so, trying to influence Tulsa's Dialog / Visioning leadership team to come up with a plan that I won't feel compelled to oppose.

2. What was your first summer job?

A programmer for Valuation Systems Company, writing depreciation software in BASIC for Wang and TRS-80 computers. The office was on the 30th floor of University Club Tower, south of downtown Tulsa, with great views of the entire city. I was making $6 an hour without having to sweat, and the fridge had all the free pop I could drink. That job spoiled me for life. It certainly spoiled the expectations I had of life in the software business.

3. If you could go anywhere this summer [winter], where would you go?

Paris, not withstanding the French. My son, nearly 7, has been hearing about Paris from his art teacher, and he wants to see the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and most of all, the Louvre, to see all the art works he's been studying at school. It would be a thrill to take him there and to see it for myself for the first time.

4. What was your worst vacation ever?

Hard to say, because any vacation that involved traveling to new places had something to commend it to me.

5. What was your best vacation ever?

Another tough one.

The "Rest and Be Thankful Tour" -- our June 1994 trip to Scotland and Ulster -- has to be near the top of the list, along with our return to Ulster in September 1995. We stayed at this B&B on both trips, hosted by some of the nicest people we've ever met.

Those were both before kids. A favorite family vacation was our trip to Florida last fall, which included Sea World, Kennedy Space Center, a week on the beach at Siesta Key, and a visit to friends in Fort Lauderdale.

Becoming a BlogSnob

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You'll notice a new item at the right. I've joined the BlogSnob text-based ad exchange. The ad is a randomly selected BlogSnob member. BlogSnob assures users that it scans sites for family friendliness:

First, when a site signs up, the blogsnob system automatically goes out, and checks it. It tries to see if the site is a blog, is clean, if it contains any objectionable language or pictures. If it finds no problem with the site, or the ad, it approves the site.

All applicant sites that have objectionable words, pictures, etc. are politely rejected.

Secondly, if any user of blogsnob finds any site that is not a personal or a blog site, or it is offensive, or improper, he/she reports it using the contact page. The site is then immediately checked out by first the BlogSnob system itself, and also by the Admins. [That's me, arnab and my friends :) ]
The site is then dealt with accordingly.

Overall, this system has worked fine, so if little Harriet asks "mommy can I please click on the blogsnob ad?" , let her.

Try it out, you may discover a great undiscovered talent.

Trying on a new style

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Changed the style sheet. I think this is more readable, and it fixes a problem with Internet Explorer and horizontal scrolling. Let me know what you think -- drop me a line at blog(at)batesline.com. (E-mail address disguised to fool spambots. Replace (at) with an @.)

A jobless recovery?

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Dave Russ sends along a fascinating analysis of our national economic situation, by Gary D. Halbert of InvestorsInsight.com. He points out that GDP has been growing since the 4th quarter of 2001 -- following three straight quarters of GDP shrinkage. The US is, in formal terms, in a recovery.

So why does it still feel like a recession? Unemployment is rising as many industries are in the midst of a massive restructuring in response to rising worker productivity, slow growth at home, and increasing competition from abroad. Technology advances have made it possible to do more with fewer people, foreign competition and slow growth have made it mandatory.

The bottom line is, worker productivity has been growing faster than the overall economy. That has allowed corporate executives to meet increases in demand while still eliminating jobs. This is very unusual.

Worker productivity historically increases in the early stages of a recovery, but this time the mismatch between productivity and overall economic growth is unprecedented. There have been 10 recessions since 1949, including the recession in 2001. In the recoveries following eight of those 10 recessions, demand grew faster than the increase in worker productivity. Usually, demand far outpaced worker productivity. The result: Unemployment actually declined, and more people went back to work following the eight recessions from 1949 to 1982.

However, following the 1991 recession, which was also relatively mild, demand and worker productivity increased at about the same rate. But as noted above, worker productivity has exploded since then. Here are the numbers for the latest recession:

GDP (demand) has expanded at an average annual rate of 2.7% since the 4Q of 2001. Yet during the same period, the productivity of the nation's work force (defined as output per hour of work) has expanded at a much faster rate of 4.2%. End result: higher unemployment.

The unemployment rate isn't anywhere near the peaks reached in the recessions of 1982 and 1992 -- at 6% it's just a bit higher than the 55 year average, according to Halbert. But the profile of the unemployed is changing -- more educated and highly-skilled people are finding themselves out of work.

Educated workers seem especially prone to bouts of long-term unemployment in this downturn. Hilsenrath found that of the 1.9 million workers who have been unemployed for six months or more, one in five is a former executive, professional or manager, according to a study by the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit advocacy group for the unemployed. Because these workers have specific, often technical skills, it is often harder for them to find a job that matches those skills.

Halbert says the way out is for demand to grow faster than productivity, and he seems to think that 3% growth will start to turn the unemployment numbers around.

When you studied human reproduction in biology class, did it ever worry you that the ovum seemed to have to float through the middle of nowhere to get from the ovary to the fallopian tube? Did you wonder what would happen if the ovum lost its way? BBC News has a fascinating story from South Africa of just such a circumstance:

A healthy baby has been born after developing in its mother's liver instead of in the womb. Reports from South Africa say Nhlahla, whose name means "luck" in Zulu, is only the fourth baby ever to survive such a pregnancy.

What's all this, then?

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Since I'm about to send a blanket invitation to many, many friends to let them know about this site, I suppose I ought to have an explanation ready in a prominent place.

This is a weblog, or 'blog' for short. It's meant to be a collection of reflections and ideas, mostly links to and comments on things in the news. Because my tastes are rather eclectic, you can expect this weblog to be eclectic too, symbolized in the names of the "stations" on the site logo above. Below you'll find comments on Tulsa's "Dialog/Visioning Process", urban design, and the joys of political volunteering, cute baby pictures, T-ball game reports, and a reminiscence about game shows.

I say a bit more about blogs and why I decided to try to keep one in one of my initial entries.

On the home page you'll find the last week's worth of entries, but if this is your first visit, I hope you'll read through the whole thing, as there's some rather good stuff that has already "scrolled off" into the archives. Use the calendar or the monthly archive entries on the left side of the page to read it all.

I'd welcome your feedback, and if you see a story or website you think I'd find interesting, send me a link (just a link please) to blog at batesline.com.

Happy reading!

Why a blog?

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I love surfing for news and commentary on the web. Sometime ago I discovered a trick for clipping and saving interesting articles using Netscape or Mozilla: Right-click on the page, select "Send Page....", then when the e-mail composer pops up, click save, and then close the window. Sometimes I edit the subject line to make it more useful to me, or I insert a particularly apt quote as a preface. The article is saved to the "Drafts" mail folder with the webpage attached, and from there I can file it by category or search for text. Much more useful than printing out hardcopy and filing it somewhere.

Although I use the Mozilla mail program to do this, rarely if ever do I actually e-mail the article to a friend. Although I don't mind getting forwarded links that a friend thinks I'll find interesting, I hate to intrude on someone else's mailbox too often. A handful of times I have blasted out an article en masse to my address book, and I've received positive feedback each time, with friends thanking me for keeping them informed, and some saying they'd like to hear from me regularly. So how to do this without wearing out my welcome?

Then I discovered web logs, blogs for short. First was "The Corner", the group blog on National Review's website. They kept linking to someone called Instapundit, the gateway to the blogosphere. From there I found Little Green Footballs, USS Clueless, Eject! Eject! Eject! and many, many others -- links to interesting news stories accompanied by a short description, a brief comment, or sometimes an essay inspired by an item in the news. Other sites were more personal in nature -- "what I did today", but written with style -- the Bleat on lileks.com is a favorite.

Blogs solved my quandary -- I could blast one e-mail to friends and family, point them to my site, and they could visit and read as much or as little as they pleased. I don't want to be intrusive, but if you want to know what I'm thinking about today, here it is. Come and get it!

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