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In the spotlight
Give your kids a strong academic foundation with a Christian education in the classical model. Learn about two great options in Tulsa:
Open houses for Augustine Christian Academy, a traditional K-12 school that also offers a part-time option for homeschoolers.
Informational meetings for Classical Conversations, a homeschooling approach with 10 communities in the Tulsa area.
"Politicians like himself will always spend taxpayers' money in a way that enhances THEIR popularity and maximizes THEIR chances for re-election. There are orders of magnitude more votes to be had in handing out welfare benefits or lavish public employee pensions than in replacing leaky water lines. Public employees are well organized politically; the average taxpaying citizens are not.... Putting a basement in a new school building will not motivate government school teachers to spend thousands of hours campaigning and driving voters to the polls in school buses. Promises of pay and pension increases will."
The writer has a point about politicians, but it doesn't apply to Oklahoma and the way we finance education and school facilities. School bond issues can only be used for capital improvements and equipment, not operating costs. If anything, school bond issue supporters here work for low voter turnout; I've never heard of driving people to the polls in school buses, which I'm pretty sure would be against the law. Heavy construction companies are usually very supportive of school bond issues, since they stand to win the contracts to do the work, and publicly-funded construction can take up the slack when the economy has stalled new commercial construction. There's plenty of political incentive to build school tornado shelters; I suspect the hindrance is practical. Oklahoma just doesn't have many basements. (Remember what happened to Tulsa's buried Belvedere.) Blair, Oklahoma, has an impressively large, partially buried storm shelter on its school playground, easily seen from US 283, about 20' wide by 70' long, built in 1928 after a tornado destroyed the school.
"Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars' worth of damage in thirteen U. S. states.
"To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world's weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic....
"The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality."
After the May 3, 1999, Moore / Midwest City tornado, the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University conducted a damage survey to determine the causes of structural failure. The team found that methods of construction -- joining roof to walls to slab -- permitted by code were inadequate to handle structural loads caused when the wind lifts up the roof. When a home is destroyed by a tornado, it becomes a collection of projectiles that the tornado can use to destroy the next house. Even if you build a sturdier house, it can be destroyed by the whirling remains of the shoddy home next door. The team was disappointed to learn that new houses being built after the tornado failed to incorporate improvements that would make the structures more resilient to high winds.
"Although it is true there are no provisions in building codes to construct houses to resist tornadoes, building codes are still important in mitigating tornado damage. A better-built house would yield less debris in a tornado, and occupants would have a better chance of surviving in such a house. In addition, structural improvements could reduce the level of damage to a house that experiences weaker tornadoes or straight-line thunderstorm winds that are just above code-required design levels and hence could mitigate economic loss and improve safety."
"As noted from our damage survey, numerous housing failures initiated with destruction of attached garages. In a typical case, garage doors blew in, allowing internal pressures to act in combination with external aerodynamic uplift pressures to remove the garage roof structure. Uplift on the roof structure caused toenailed connections in the wooden top plates to pull apart. Destruction of the attached garage frequently led to damage or the removal of the remaining roof structure on the residence."
"When the author visited the post-tornado reconstruction area, 6 of the 40 new houses contained tornado shelters or safe rooms; however, these homes generally were not built any better than prior to the tornado. Thus, homeowners appeared to be making the decision to provide for personal safety (i.e., building a safe room) instead of to increase housing strength (to provide property protection and increased safety). This decision may, in part, be based on the assumption that it is unreasonable or uneconomical to try to construct houses for the high wind speeds described on the F scale."
These are the roots from which my father-in-law sprang. Youngest speakers are in their 60s, the last generation that grew up with German spoken at home, church, and school. A University of Texas scholar is documenting the dialect while there's still time. The BBC story explains some of the distinctives of the Texas variety of German. You can learn more at the Texas German Dialect Project website.
Andrew J. Coulson's February 10, 2011, testimony to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Includes graphs showing federal per-pupil spending vs. achievement and total K-12 public school spending vs. achievement, 1970-2010.
In 2004, the New York Times hunted for the 44 instrumentalists who graduated with the Juilliard Class of 1994. After 10 years, fewer than half of these gifted musicians were making a living performing music.
This view is centered on Tulsa, but you can look anywhere and watch the process of development and road-building.
This complex map, accompanied by charts and notes, depicts the geographical extent various dialects of English in North America. The historical notes describe the historical events that drove the migrations that shaped the odd patterns. For example: What historical development may have influenced Oklahoma City's dialect to be different from areas to the north and south?
A surgeon explains how the Federal Government's requirement to use standard coding for Medicare reimbursement has led to the bureaucratization of the entire medical profession: "The coding system was supposed to improve the accuracy of adjudicating claims submitted by doctors and hospitals to Medicare, and later to non-Medicare insurance companies. Instead, it gave doctors and hospitals an incentive to find ways of describing procedures and services with the cluster of codes that would yield the biggest payment. Sometimes this required the assistance of consulting firms. A cottage industry of fee-maximizing advisors and seminars bloomed....
"As the third party payment system led health care costs to escalate, the people footing the bill have attempted to rein in costs with yet more command-and-control solutions....
"Twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, protocols and regimentation were imposed on America's physicians through a centralized bureaucracy. Using so-called 'evidence-based medicine,' algorithms and protocols were based on statistically generalized, rather than individualized, outcomes in large population groups....
"What began as guidelines eventually grew into requirements. In order for hospitals to maintain their Medicare certification, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began to require their medical staff to follow these protocols or face financial retribution....
"These rules are being bred into the system. Young doctors and medical students are being trained to follow protocol. To them, command and control is normal. But to older physicians who have lived through the decline of medical culture, this only contributes to our angst."
Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield demonstrates the odd, fascinating result of wringing a wet towel in the microgravity of the International Space Station.
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