Archive for Soonerland

Meanwhile, up in the sky

The spring storm season in this place lasts 14, maybe 15 months. On the upside, when the sirens pipe down we get a glimpse of something like this:

There was a tornado warning at the time, at a far corner of the county.

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For which they stand

Because, you see, this kind of stuff is important:

Ruling [Thursday], Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bernard M. Jones denied Oklahoma City Public Schools’ request for an injunction that would force Locust Grove and Oklahoma City Douglass High Schools to replay their Class 3A quarterfinal game, or to replay the last 64 seconds of the game, starting from when a mistaken rule enforcement cost Douglass a touchdown to which it was by right entitled.

And God forbid anyone should fail to get something to which it is by right entitled. Meanwhile, there exist issues of lesser import:

You, O Fine Reader, being the perceptive sort of person that you are, will probably have noticed that no one is threatening to go to court over Douglass test scores or building facilities, or the fact that the statewide testing mark for the school dropped from a C+ in 2013 to a D- in 2014, or that nobody noticed that school staff had let so many academic requirements slide for the class of 2013 that the discovery only a fifth of them could graduate was not made until November 2012.

None of those things are worth disturbing a judge and packing a courtroom for, apparently.

It’s all in the priorities. And in this state, that’s football, followed by Everything Else.

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A hard day at the office

I might have expected something like this on Black Friday, but not on the following Monday:

An employee of Walmart in Ada faces felony charges after allegedly setting two fires in the bathrooms at work Monday morning.

Police say Lois Smith, 49, lit a fire in the trash can of the women’s bathroom and lit another fire in the trash can of the men’s bathroom.

Says the police spokesperson:

“[W]hen confronted she said that yes she had done it, that she was stressed out at her job and was upset so she started the fires.”

There are four degrees of arson in this state; this will be at most second-degree. (First-degree requires that the structure burned be an actual residence, and that it be 85% destroyed.)

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Half an anchor

Lett’s reply: “Look! I have no legs.”

This has to be a first: a female television anchor with no legs.

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Eaker than thou

The City of Durant has been requesting proposals for runway improvements at Durant Regional Airport-Eaker Field, south of town. What they want is an overlay on the existing 17/35 runway, to improve its surface, and to extend it beyond its current 5,001 feet. Nothing is planned for the secondary runway, 3000 feet, oriented 12/30. Proposals are due in tomorrow.

Historical note: Ira Clarence Eaker, who attended what was then Southeastern State Teachers College in Durant, was commissioned in December 1917, and 24 years later got his first star and a job organizing the VIII Bomber Command in England, later the Eighth Air Force. As commander of the Eighth, he delivered an address to the British garrison, including this pithy sentence: “We won’t do much talking until we’ve done more fighting. After we’ve gone, we hope you’ll be glad we came.” The character of Major General Pat Pritchard in the 1949 film Twelve O’Clock High is based largely on General Eaker. He died in 1987, aged 91.

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Go thou and don’t do likewise

Acts 5:12 (KJV):

And by the hands of the Apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; and they were all with one Accord in Solomon’s porch.

If you’re not an apostle — there were only twelve, after all — or anywhere near Solomon’s porch (Solomon’s Porsche, maybe?), you probably should not try this yourself:

A Catoosa teacher has been suspended with pay after she was accused of piling kids into her [Honda Accord] and putting two kids in the trunk to run an errand.

The school board set a hearing for the teacher to fight a possible firing.

Parents claim Heather Cagle left Wells Middle School with 11 kids and drove to Wal-Mart to get snacks.

The Lord, who driveth a Plymouth, would not approve:

Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my Fury.

(Via Fark.)

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Report from the polling place

In the 2012 election, I wandered in at the usual time — just before 5 pm, two hours before the polls close — and got out in half an hour with ballot #1211 for the precinct. For a mid-termer, I figured half the time and half the turnout would be more than acceptable.

And it was a little busier than that: I cast #783 at 5:07 pm. There was no line, really, but there was only one booth when I signed in, and fortunately, I’d already made up my mind on most of the races. (I admit, I totally forgot Lieutenant Governor.)

A few folks had address or identification issues, but so far as I could tell, no one at the time was being turned away: provisional ballots are not exactly routine, but everyone on site knew the procedure, which is always a good thing.

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Sports shortage alleviated

RadioInsight reports on recent sales:

Fred & Evelyn Morton sell 96.5 K243BJ Oklahoma City to Tyler Media for $100. The translator is currently operated by Tyler as CHR “Now 96.5″ rebroadcasting 107.7 KRXO-HD2, however the application states Sports “The Franchise 2″ 1560 KEBC Del City will be the originating station.

Because, you know, there just aren’t enough spots on the dial where you can get sports in this town.

The Now 96.5 programming seems to have landed on K225BN, at 92.9, where it will at least have 200 watts to play with instead of 120. It won’t be interfering with KBEZ Tulsa, also on 92.9, though it’s going to be a mess where fringe-reception areas meet.

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No endorsements

Not this year, anyway; this year’s ballot is unrelievedly meh. (At least in the Second Congressional District, you have the option of voting for a dead guy.) The only local candidate I view with anything resembling enthusiasm is Forrest “Butch” Freeman, who’s done a heck of a job as the country treasurer. At least county-level offices aren’t an embarrassment these days; the three commissioners seem to be busting a nut to get things done without breaking us. (I will definitely be voting for incumbent Willa Johnson for District 1, who is not messing up; there have been years when this was too much to expect from a commissioner.)

Otherwise, I am motivated these days mostly by the possibility of disposing of incumbents. Most incumbents in this state being Republican, this means I’ll have to pull the virtual lever for some Democrats. Fortunately, in this state Democrats tend to be Democrats as I remember them from my younger days, instead of the neo-Stalinists that get all the national press coverage.

If you’re still contemplating the race for governor, Joe Dorman answered some questions from The Lost Ogle, and Mary Fallin didn’t. Hard to tell which of the two is less persuasive.

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Turn down the weather machine

Stephanie Bice won the Republican runoff for Senate District 22, in west Edmond and northern Canadian County; there is no further opposition, so she will take her seat after the first of the year. Between now and then, we can only hope that she will improve her grasp on what is and isn’t possible:

Preventing droughts? Are we hiring an Equestrian weather patrol? Because last I looked, the jet stream and the clouds didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to what we want. We can certainly mitigate the effects of drought, but anything beyond that is out of our hands.

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That whole civic-duty thing

Something called BadVoter.org will query a name in the State Election Board’s database and return the number of days it’s been since that person was handed a ballot. (Anything under 365 is considered “good.”) Presumably, this will empower you to nag your neighbors, or at least Ree Drummond, who, they say, has missed several elections.

This sort of thing, to me anyway, has just enough of the busybody about it to make me think it’s a Democratic get-out-the-vote scheme, and indeed Matt Silverstein, the designated Democratic sacrificial lamb against Senator Jim Inhofe this year, is promoting it on Facebook. (Read the comments, if you dare.) I, of course, figure that everyone knows when I vote, because I post about it here.

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Save me a slice of cake

Applying for a marriage license

Facing the clerk are Sara Michelle Yarbrough and Lauren Marie Tidwell, the first same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license in Oklahoma County, after the Supreme Court let stand federal appeals-court rulings that struck down bans in several states, including Oklahoma.

I’m willing to bet they’re smiling.

SCOTUSblog reports:

With not a single dependable hint of its own constitutional view of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court in one fell swoop on Monday cleared the way for gays and lesbians to wed in a batch of new states — starting first in five more states, and probably adding six more in the coming weeks. If that happens in all eleven, it will mean that same-sex marriages would then be legal in thirty states and Washington, D.C.

In seven one-line orders, released without explanation and with no report on how any Justice voted, the Court surprisingly refused to review any same-sex marriage case now before it and, in the process, prepared to lift a series of orders that had delayed such marriages while the issue remained in the Court. Almost no one had expected that to happen.

It may take a few weeks for the Court’s action to take effect in real-world terms, in the geographic areas where federal appeals courts have struck down bans in five states — the decisions that the Justices have now left intact.

For “a few weeks,” read “an hour or so,” at least in the case of Oklahoma.

(Photo by Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman.)

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Texoma bailing

There are exactly two commercial radio stations in Durant, Oklahoma, population 17,000 or so, and they and a nearby sister are changing hands:

Texoma Broadcasting sells AC “B99.7″ KBBC-FM Tishomingo, Country 106.3 KLBC Durant, and Oldies 750 KSEO/94.1 K231CE Durant, OK to Mid-Continental Communications for $2.45 million.

On the one hand, that’s a fair chunk of change for two FMs and an AM daytimer with a low-power FM translator outside any major metropolitan area. Then again, the buyer, Kinion E. Whittington, is a gynecologist in private practice in Durant, which suggests to me that he’s probably going to be keeping those stations right where they are, rather than apply for relicensing to somewhere across the Red River and then moving into north Dallas, as I might have expected.

As long as I’m mentioning Durant radio, I probably should bring up KSSU Power92FM, actually at 91.9, operated by, and presumably for, students at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Their Web page is, to be charitable, a work in progress.

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Your 2014 State Questions

Only three this time around, and two of them are kissing cousins. (Okay, they’re not about cousins, or kissing either, but they did sort of grow up together.) As always, I have my own take on all the measures under consideration, and also the ones that aren’t.

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Checking those streams

Sometimes a paragraph just jumps out at you from the front page:

Oklahoma City Public Schools is the only district of comparable size in the state without an employee drug-testing policy in place, said Rod McKinley, the district’s chief human resources officer. “I don’t know why things didn’t happen in the past,” McKinley said.

Okay, that was technically about a paragraph and a third. Work with me here.

Now what I want to know is this: which of these two justifications will be invoked?

  • “Hey, all the other districts of comparable size have this, why don’t we?”
  • “Our schools are getting failing grades! Do you think it could be — drugs?”

Samuel L. Clemens was technically not available for comment.

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Political branding

Most campaign signs are boring as hell, perhaps because the people running campaigns are mortally afraid of doing anything to which J. Random Independent can possibly object. In this century, I’ve seen only two I thought were memorable: the simple blue square used on some George W. Bush stickers in ’04 that said simply “W” and across the bottom “The President,” and Barack Obama’s O device, which has now been beaten to death and beyond. State and local candidates don’t even get that much.

Connie Johnson for Senate emblemConnie Johnson — “Constance N.” Johnson just sounds too severe — is the Democratic candidate for the US Senate seat being vacated by Tom Coburn. All her campaign material contains this little emblem, which strikes me as having all sorts of subtleties to it.

For one, few as those dots are, they make for a plausible representation of the state of Oklahoma, which, well, kind of looks like that, though the Panhandle is of necessity exaggerated, inasmuch as it’s only 34 miles north to south.

For another, there are two blue dots and three red ones; this hints at the actual electorate, where the Republicans hold a plurality, albeit not close to 60 percent. And the blue occupies the leftmost portion of the grid, the red on the right, with both colors in the middle.

This is pretty impressive stuff for a Senate campaign, especially one for a two-year seat — although truth be told, what I really want to know is how the campaign managed to make a woman older than I am look younger than my daughter, a task which should require, I would think, more than mere Photoshop proficiency.

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The thinnest possible mud

This crossed my stream Tuesday evening:

What’s it all about? Algae:

“We’ve had it tested with Tulsa Health Department and everything is within the limits,” said [Assistant to BA City Manager Norman] Stephens.

Stephens said the culprit is algae blooms.

“We had a substantial amount of rain this year,” said Stephens, “that created a high amount of algae bloom and organic material like that in the water and that created the slight smell.”

The current Drought Monitor (as of Tuesday, 9/9; 9/16 results will be up tomorrow) might argue with “substantial,” except for the area of BA that spills into Wagoner County. (Then again, that new water plant of theirs is way the heck out on 361st East Avenue, which might as well be in Arkansas.) We’ve had sporadic outbreaks of similar, um, fragrance down here in the 405, though they seldom last longer than a day or two.

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Hardly seems fair

Jennifer McClintock saw this being vended at the State Fair of Oklahoma this week, and decided “Pretty sure I’m going to pass on this one”:

Scorpion Pizza at State Fair of Oklahoma

Apparently it was a big hit in Calgary back in July:

The owner of the Pizza on a Stick stand says she’s the sole scorpion pizza vendor at Stampede, and confirmed slices are expected to return this week.

“I’m hoping Thursday, but definitely by Friday,” Percsilla Larue told the Herald. Her stand ran out of $10 scorpion pizza slices Monday after demand was higher than expected.

“People love it. I had one guy come back twice for more slices,” said Larue, who describes it as “crunchy.” She said staff were surprised by how many people came asking on last Thursday’s Sneak-a-Peek.

I dunno. You tell me that a pizza with scorpions on it is sixty bucks, and the first thing I’m going to ask is “How much is it without scorpions?”

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The latest whiz kids

I admit to a certain difficulty trying to determine a motive here:

Imagine going to Walmart only to find that what you need is off the shelf. Not because it’s out of stock, but because it’s been soaked with doe urine.

Arrest and booking reports show that the damage amounted to more than $2,500.

I mean, who carries this stuff around? Besides deer, I mean, and they get rid of it as quickly as they can.

Police said Cody Hudson, 18, and Jon Ohlman, 24, sprayed doe urine on toys, fabrics and shoes inside the Walmart near East 96th Street North and Highway 169 in Owasso.

I’m guessing the culprits, nabbed right across the street, were not exactly fawned over.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Added to the colander of saints

“Lose the glasses,” they told me when they took the picture for my driver’s license. “Too much glare.” Good thing they didn’t shoot the top of my head.

Then again, I’m not a Pastafarian:

It may sound like a joke but an Enid woman says her Oklahoma driver’s license features a unique symbol of her religious freedom.

It may even prompt a giggle, but for Shawna Hammond, the spaghetti strainer is a symbol of freedom.

“It doesn’t cover my face. I mean you can still see my face. We have to take off our glasses, so I took off my glasses,” Hammond said.

Letter of the law, doncha know. And this is the law:

According to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s rules, religious headpieces cannot cause shadows on your face and the photograph must present a clear view of your face.

Hammond declares herself to be an atheist, her manifest devotion to the Flying Spaghetti Monster notwithstanding.

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Walking off from the runoff

I cast ballot #290, according to the machine, at 4:53 pm. With competitive races in both parties, I think I was expecting a few more than that. Still, there are lots of folks wedded to the concept of “Runoff, schmunoff.” Perhaps one of these years we can do the Instant Runoff thing.

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You’re watching GOTV

Does the process of Getting Out The Vote require that you, you know, actually get out once in a while? I’m one of those weird people who thinks it does.

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A pretty good call

A vision of (some of) the future:

Unfortunately, morning email is still a chokepoint.

Well, at least he didn’t mention flying cars.

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Dust inevitably bitten

Two years ago, three community papers in south Tulsa County — the Bixby Bulletin, the Jenks Journal and the Glenpool Post — were consolidated into the South County Leader.

Today, the Leader retreats:

With this edition, the South County Leader will officially cease publication. The July 31, 2014, Vol. 109, No.23 South County Leader will be its last.

“It is a shame that after 109 years in print we are signaling the end of an era but market conditions in the communities we have served have changed,” said Neighbor News publisher Jamey Honeycutt.

Neighbor News has several other papers in the Tulsa metro, perhaps most notably the semiweekly Broken Arrow Ledger.

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Double non-secret probation

In fact, it’s so non-secret it made the news halfway across the state:

Move-in day at Oklahoma State University is two weeks away, but no one will be moving into the Phi Delta Theta house.

OSU has suspended the fraternity until August 2016, citing multiple violations of university and Interfraternity Council policies regarding alcohol and hazing.

There seems to be one particular class at fault:

Students who will be juniors this fall seemed resolved to cause problems for the chapter… They threw a keg party at the chapter house May 9 — while the fraternity was on deferred suspension for hazing pledges.

So far, no one has announced a really futile and stupid gesture in response.

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Markwayne the Cute-ish

Photo of Markwayne MullinMarkwayne Mullin, thirty-seven, first-term representative from Oklahoma’s Second House District, was named this week to The Hill’s annual 50 Most Beautiful list, and was quoted saying this kind of aw-shucks stuff:

And how would he describe his style? “Awkward,” he replies with a smile.

But there’s one thing he’s certain of, as far as his personal fashion goes.

“The idea of having to match a pair of socks to your tie or to your pants just doesn’t make any sense to me. … With boots you don’t have to worry about it. Nobody sees your socks,” he says.

It’s not because he can’t afford socks, either. From before he was elected to his first term:

A Republican congressional candidate who argues the federal government should rein in spending was awarded around $370,000 in federal stimulus money distributed through a pair of Oklahoma Indian tribes, records show.

Companies owned by Markwayne Mullin, the GOP nominee for a U.S. House seat in eastern Oklahoma, received the money under contracts with the Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations, according to documents posted on a government website created to track recovery funds…

“Mullin Plumbing is a plumbing business. When someone hires us to do a job, we don’t ask them where the money comes from,” the [Mullin campaign’s] statement reads. “Plumbing is plumbing. These projects were Cherokee Nation projects, and our contract was with the Cherokee Nation. We just performed the services we were hired to do and moved on to the next job, like always.”

Then again, this could be construed as proper preparation for Congress, which never, ever asks where the money comes from.

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Spent thinking

Above the fold in this morning’s Oklahoman:

Oklahoma taxpayers could get a small cut in their state income taxes beginning in 2016, but nobody can say whether that’s even likely to happen.

It’s all based on a complicated revenue-based “trigger” built in to the measure.

So complicated, in fact, that even state Treasurer Ken Miller, who holds a doctorate in economics, said it’s about as “clear as mud.”

“I just don’t understand the logic of a trigger,” he said Thursday. “There’s no economic reason to pass a measure today predicated on a future event, when one can simply wait for that event to occur and then preserve the flexibility. It’s difficult to explain the mechanics of the trigger and it’s certainly difficult to communicate to the taxpayers what their taxes are going to be.”

(NewsOK link once the paywall lets this through.)

But it was deemed necessary to pass the bill, because tax cuts, doncha know. Enough members of the Legislature are emotionally wedded to the concept that they’ll even pass an imaginary tax cut, just to say that they passed a tax cut. This is the next step before you get to Nancy Pelosi’s immortal utterance “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” which, if it isn’t the dumbest goddamn thing ever said by a legislator, is way ahead of whatever’s in third place.

Ken Miller’s a pretty bright guy. If he can’t defend this measure, it can’t be defended. Now situations like this can be avoided by the simple expedient of not passing crappy bills; however, for some reason the electorate, perhaps persuaded by the legislature — or maybe it’s the other way around? — seems to think that passing a bill is almost always better than not passing a bill, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.

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711 craps out

For those around here who might not remember the original referendum from ten years ago, the text of the measure enacted by Oklahoma State Question 711, now picking up speed on its presumably inevitable roll to the dustbin:

(a.) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. Neither this Constitution nor any other provision of law shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

(b.) A marriage between persons of the same gender performed in another state shall not be recognized as valid and binding in this state as of the date of the marriage.

(c.) Any person knowingly issuing a marriage license in violation of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

This is what I said at the time:

Inasmuch as same-sex marriages are already illegal in this state, this measure is superfluous; more to the point, while there are perfectly logical reasons to oppose them which don’t imply that the opponent is necessarily some horrid hidebound bigot, I don’t like the idea of establishing a precedent that in the future could be used by horrid hidebound bigots for some nefarious purpose — this isn’t a chainsaw, it’s a bludgeon — and that reason alone is enough for me to vote No on 711.

That slippery slope can go in several different directions, you know?

Anyway, no licenses are yet being issued, and nothing is final, even by the dubious political definition of “final.”

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Shaking and stirred

Given my stand on energy generally — we need to produce so damned much of it that the marginal cost eventually nears zero, which happy event will bring us closer to utopia than any scheme yet imagined in Washington — I derive no joy from picking on the oil and gas guys that pay a lot of the bills around here. But dammit, there are still some questions that need to be answered:

Are all these recent earthquakes, some in the 4.0-magnitude or larger range, capable of damaging homes over the long term? Could the repeated shaking damage house foundations or window seals or roofs, for example? Can the oil and gas industry be held liable for the damage? What is the possibility of a larger quake in the 6.0- to 7.0-magnitude or larger range? Would lives be lost if the big earthquake hits?

In the absence of definitive data, these are my guesses: almost certainly, almost certainly, they’ll be sued but the outcome is not clear, about even money, depends on where it hits.

What I see as a best-case scenario: the industry, grumbling, revises the fracking process to reduce the threat, and even manages to cut down the enormous water use. Chances of that: don’t bet your life savings on it.

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Watch where you’re pointing that thing

Conventional wisdom holds that you don’t turn away an online ad, because you might not get another. I wouldn’t have turned down this one, but …

And it’s not like nobody at the World has heard of Dong’s, which has been in business since 1946.

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