As many of us are aware of, June 15 marks a day for Tulsa that brings a 50-year wait to an end. That's right--they are digging up a 1957 Plymouth that is buried beneath a sidewalk near the old Tulsa County Court House.
This event has generated much buzz and excitement not only in the local community, but has also received countless national attention. I personally know of many people planning to drive in from neighboring and distant states to attend this spectacular event. And all of this was planned 50 years ago to be part of our state's centennial celebration.
As a native Tulsan, and avid car enthusiast, I myself have been counting down the days on my calendar for nearly a year now. As the event grows nearer, my enthusiasm and excitement has diminished, not as a result of the novelty wearing off, but as a result of the details of the event continues to evolve.
As I now understand it, I am going to be forced to purchase a ticket to be able to witness the unveiling of the 50 year old coffin. I was under the impression that the Oklahoma legislature provisioned funds to pay for projects and events for the year long celebration of our wonderful state.
Remember the fireworks that went on in downtown back in November, those funds paid for that event as well. I quickly grew concerned about the funds that the "Tulsarama" people are generating off of this event.
I have to admit I have not been able to bring myself to pay the $25 required to purchase a reserved seat to the unveiling of the car. I did some research and discovered directly on the buriedcar.com website that on April 23rd, 2007 a press release was issued stating that "Mayor Kathy Taylor announced that the City of Tulsa will waive all fees associated with the use of the Maxwell Convention Center for the events involving the buried Belvedere."
Later on the same release adds that "On Thursday, April 19th, the Tulsa county Budget Board, unanimously passed a measure to aid the Tulsarama events as well, allocating 56,000 for law enforcement and safety involving the events."
This is where my concerns began to grow greater, so I started making some phone calls. First I called my city councilor, who while quite interested in my concern did not have the answers to my questions readily available.
Then I decided to contact the Oklahoma Centennial Commission directly, where my phone calls were never returned. The only person who I was able to get any information from was Paula Hale, the Tulsa Coordinator for the car event. She told me that they were attempting to generate funds for this event through primarily private donations. I asked her about the fact that the Convention Center and police protection had been underwritten by the City, and County. I never received a direct answer from her.
Now I understand that there will be expenses that will be incurred beyond simply having a building and police present. There will be event insurance, excavation fees, and other such expenses that go with any large event.
I do however have a hard time believing that there is not a single excavation company in this entire great state of ours that would be willing to donate their services. I also find it hard to believe that enough private donations can not be generated to cover the other costs associated with this event.
Instead I will be left with 2 choices: Pay to park in downtown Tulsa, Pay $75 for tickets to get my family seats, and I am sure there will be t-shirts and other novelties available at the event. Or I can simply not attend and wait to see the results of the event in the newspaper.
As a concerned citizen of Tulsa, I think the Oklahoma Centennial Commission has a duty to be financially responsible with the funding of their events and needs to be open with its citizens about where those funds are coming from.
In addition I am concerned that I could not get a straight answer, as to where proceeds generated from the event that exceeded the costs would be diverted. I would not have such a hard time stomaching this whole situation if it were being put on by a private source, but this is the state and city governments hosting this event.
I am certain that I am not the only citizen that will share my concerns regarding this whole convoluted event. The City of Tulsa demands Answers.
Student of Anatomy
Let me start out by saying that I am a big fan of your weekly publication and because of this issue I will make it a point to never miss another one. I am not a learned man. Nor am I well spoken or well traveled. But I know something when I see it and I know nipple when I see one, a left nipple to be exact, in the Night Trips advertisement on page 54 (May 3).
I am reminded of the "Seinfeld" episode where Kramer takes a picture of Elaine for Christmas cards that she is sending to her friends and family. "I've got nipples, he's got nipples *Kramer raises his shirt*, we've all got nipples."-Jerry. I can only hope that no one is calling this poor woman "Nip". Anyway, I just thought I would say keep up the good work.
Editor's Note: Thank you for reminding us of our kinship to all mammals great and small.
Coffee: For Believers Only!
Coffee has served as the center piece of the intellectual community for centuries. Public intellectuals and laymen alike have met amongst the intoxicating aroma of freshly roasted beans to discuss politics, philosophy and other social avenues of life, all while enjoying a hot cup of coffee.
Sadly, this cultural exchange of information cannot be upheld in a society that is intolerant and prejudice; two negative aspects of humanity that have lead to the subject of this essay.
I am a former employee of Nordaggios Coffee, which is locally owned by a proud graduate of Oral Roberts University (a private Bible College in Tulsa, Oklahoma) and a devout Christian. I was a dedicated employee and I truly loved my job. Customers enjoyed my presence and my passion for the product that I sold. I had a number of regular customers during my morning shift that knew me by name and frequently asked for my opinion on music, politics, philosophy and coffee. Many of these customers are no longer my customers, but are now my friends and I believe that our relationship will extend far past these recent events.
On February 28th I was let go from Nordaggios Coffee after a two-hour discussion, initiated by the owner, about my personal beliefs on some very important social issues. I met with him off of the clock and the discussion continued as follows.
As I walked to the table and sat down we exchanged pleasantries as acquaintances would, but the mood suddenly shifted when the owner plopped down a copy of Urban Tulsa Weekly onto the table in front of me, asking "what do you think about this?" I should probably preface this by saying that two weeks prior to our meeting, Nordaggios management took a stance against what they called "pornography" and made it known that Urban Tulsa would no longer be distributed in their stores.
After being informed that all copies of this independent alternative newsweekly should be stacked in the back room away from the eyes of customers, I felt the need to speak out against what I saw as blatant censorship.
The store I worked at was located in Owasso, Oklahoma and this publication was the only source of information on local arts and culture that could be found within miles. In protest, I taped a note to the pile of papers in the back room that simply said "censorship leads to ignorance".
This single phrase all but sealed my fate as a Nordaggios employee.
During our discussion about this incident, I pointed out that there was a copy of Shakespeare's Macbeth on the store bookshelf that contained sex, incest, violence and murder, yet it remained morally justified in the eyes of management and free for all to read. I added that if a single customer had complained about sexual deviances found in the King James Version, things that would pale in comparison to the Urban Tulsa's "pro gay" articles that got it banned from the store initially, he would undoubtedly allow this book to stay. This is simple logic, so I was not surprised when he failed to see the correlation. For some reason these remarks caused a sudden change in the subject of our discussion and we quickly moved on to a greater matter.
Nordaggios employees are overwhelmingly Christian. In fact, of the 30 or so employees, I was the only person who wasn't a devout Christian. I am openly agnostic and consider myself a secular humanist. I feel very strongly about my beliefs and I enjoy discussing them with others in person, as well as on the myspace blog that I keep updated frequently. This myspace blog was now the center of our discussion.
Close to a month earlier I had received an email from a disturbed ORU student who had read one of my essays and felt that I didn't fully understand god. He stated that I was ignoring all of the "evidence" for the existence of his Christian god, such as miraculous healings, resurrections and other supernatural occurrences and that he had felt the need to "enlighten me". I replied respectfully and eloquently to the student's remarks, which he then deleted, as to keep the devil off of his myspace page.
Knowing that I cannot stop a person from censoring my thoughts from their personal web page, I decided that a public reply on my own blog would be the best route to take. I compiled evidence and wrote an essay about the "faith healings" of Oral Roberts and the 500 million dollar empire that he built around this scam.
I cited my sources and used all of the proper etiquette that is required for a work of literature to be taken seriously and to be intellectually sound. During that week this essay was read by close to a thousand people, many of which were ORU students or graduates and also fellow co-workers. Keep in mind that this is an open forum of information that is free to be embraced or ignored by any person who may choose to do so.
Because of this essay and others that had openly criticized the shortcomings of Christianity, I was now discussing my philosophical beliefs with my employer, only minutes before I was to be terminated. He too proclaimed witch-craft, faith healings and demonic exorcism as "proof" that his god exists. He explained that Ted Haggard's recent stint of homosexual prostitution was a direct product of witch-craft and that demons were so rampant in "Liberal Cities" on the West Coast that it served as a hot bed for gays, murderers and prostitutes, then adding "you would fit in well in Seattle."
I explained that remarks such as these were exactly what have lead to my open discussion of Christianity and the intolerance that its followers embrace. He then went on to say that it was irresponsible for me to openly discuss my beliefs on religion with 18 year old kids, who are new into their faith and unsure about their beliefs, because it might cause them to question the nature of god.
Astonished that he would say such a thing, I quickly replied that this was the very reason that I feel I must discuss the faults of religion. Be it philosophical ideals or historical evidence, any information that can make a person question the world around them should be information that they seek.
If his religion could not stand up to scrutiny and rational thinking, then his religion did not deserve to stand up at all. This was apparently very disturbing to him because he quickly started to back peddle in his reasoning and his development of new ideas started to decline rapidly. Under my lead, we then moved on to discuss the Israel/Palestine conflict, the Rapture scenario, the Christian Coalition and Pat Robertson, Evolution versus intelligent design, the Crusades, the Inquisition and finally Christian intolerance towards Jews and homosexuals. Although he seemed to continuously lose his train of thought, I felt that I was making great progress in the expression of my views, thus leading to a successful debate.
After a few failed attempts to get me "on his side" our discussion on religion and philosophy started to stammer and eventually fell to silence. This is when he looked up at me and finally decided to get to the point of this whole ordeal. Jillian (my manager), he said, doesn't think that you respect her because of this Urban Tulsa deal and after you were late last Saturday she decided that we needed to let you go.
So there it was. After an hour and a half of arguing with me about my stance on censorship, religion and supernatural faith healings, he "had to let me go" because I was late last Saturday. He then added that this had nothing to do with the fact that I was an "atheist" (a term he kept using even after I corrected him) or the fact that I had openly criticized his belief system. Of course it had nothing to do with these things, because that would be discrimination. Instead he decided to drive forty-five minutes across town to discuss religion with me for and hour and a half and then spent roughly 20 seconds telling me that I was fired for being late to work. This makes sense right?
Ultimately, this worked out better than I ever could have planned. I used a public forum to discuss the intolerance, bigotry and suppression of information that is exuded by the Christian community and then my Christian conservative boss decided that the best way to deal with my open dissent was to be intolerant and to suppress my point of view by getting me out of his company.
As if the irony in this wasn't beautiful enough, he then handed me a hundred dollar bill as I walked out the door, thanking me for all had done as a dedicated employee.
Although I do not agree with the owners reasoning behind my termination, I can easily see why such a person could justify letting me go. This man moved from the West Coast to get away from the demons and witches that were damaging society. He then went to a conservative Christian college in the Midwest that reinforced these views and gave him the inspiration to start his Christian coffee shop. He somehow hired a young graduate student purely out of intuition, but had forgotten to ask him if he believed in god. This student then stood firmly under his first amendment rights and openly discussed the importance of rational thought in society.
Recognizing this free speech as the exact behavior he had been trying to escape, the owner felt justified in ridding his company of this demon. A process I would like to call dissidential exorcism. This term will constantly serve as inspiration as to why I must continue to speak out against religious intolerance and irrational thinking in the world that I live in.
The media these days are beginning to take note of the condition of debt ridden college graduates who have tried to do what any ambitious person would. They have paid attention in school, gotten good grades and tried to get themselves admitted to the best universities that money can buy. The only problem is that there are scarcely any grants or scholarships available and so when the euphoria of the acceptance letter wears off and the reality of finding money to meet the ever escalating college costs hits, they are confronted with the fact that their only means of payment is through giant loans which most will find impossible to pay on their meager salaries.
If this is what the American Dream has come to mean, we scarcely have a future in this country because engineers and doctors and professionals in other countries are graduating in much higher numbers and without the debts that suffocate our young people. And while Sallie Mae execs are reporting super incomes and while colleges are working on growing humongous endowment funds and while text book publishers are showing great cash flow, the graduates of America are being saddled and bridled with thousands of dollars of debt that they have no way of retiring.
Now I try to understand issues by making the components as simple as possible. So I look back to 1971 when as a young graduate I took my diploma in hand without owing a penny. Had I decided to get a job, the worst I could have expected would have been about $10,000 a year having paid about $2100 per year with books.
I challenge you to find a private university with charges under ten times what I paid in 1971 and then I urge you to find a job for a young college graduate that pays him or her ten times what I could find in 1971. At the same time grants and scholarships have not kept pace with the cost of a college education and the system of loans can honestly be termed highway robbery. And the fact that a gentleman or lady who jumps higher and runs faster that the average person can get into any school free of charge while a person with an above average SAT score must fend with huge loans is an indication of just how sick our priorities are in this country.
The need for specific and immediate action to remove this albatross from around the necks of the working poor in our society who happen to have paid for a college education that does little to place them in high earning jobs is strong. Increasing Pell Grants by a few hundred dollars is insulting and useless. Real solutions that will assist those who have already been shaken down by the system must be found and the expenditure of the Universities that depend on loading debt on America's students need to be examined.
Young people in India and China and some Third World countries are graduating in higher numbers and without these huge debts and we are being pushed back into the Stone Age rather being one of the leaders in education for the 21st century. This is unacceptable and it must stop.
Colin T. Bent
Oil Fuels Human Progress
In ancient times, the rate of human progress was so slow as to be indiscernible. People lived and died as their ancestors had done. Their outlook was pessimistic. In the second century AD, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote that anyone who had lived for 40 years had seen "all that is past and future."
Human beings did not begin to develop a more optimistic outlook until the sixteenth century when Francis Bacon recognized that "by far the greatest obstacle to the progress of science is that men despair and think things impossible." The principle of progress was developed and embraced by eighteenth-century Enlightenment philosophers. In 1768, the chemist Joseph Priestly predicted "whatever was the beginning of this world, the end will be glorious and paradisaical."
Priestly's prediction was fully realized in the Industrial Revolution, a transformation that continues to sweep through the world today. In the last 200 years, the productive capacity of the American worker has increased by a factor of 36. By 1970, the diseases of diphtheria, polio, malaria, smallpox, typhoid fever, and whooping cough had virtually disappeared from the U.S., and life expectancies doubled. Since 1850, the length of the average work week in America has decreased from 66 to 35 hours. In 1997, the United Nations noted that world poverty had fallen more in the last 50 years than in the previous 500.
As our prosperity is increasing, the quality of our environment is improving. Since 1970, air pollution in the U.S. has declined by 53 percent, even while our energy use increased by 48 percent. Over the same period of time, the concentration of water pollutants in the US declined by 80 to 90 percent.
Human progress depends on abundant and inexpensive energy from fossil fuels, including petroleum. Fossil fuels provide 85 percent of the world's energy, and oil is the largest single source. Since the large-scale exploitation of petroleum resources began in the nineteenth century, the world has consumed a trillion barrels of oil. But the resource is far from exhausted. In the last 10 years, geological estimates of the size of the ultimate petroleum resource have grown from about 2.5 trillion barrels to 5.5 trillion barrels. Human beings are discovering new oil resources at a rate 10 times faster than we are consuming the resource.
There is at least enough oil to provide for the world's energy needs to the end of this century. Ultimately, however, petroleum is a finite resource that will be unable to power human civilization indefinitely. No technology is sustainable; all are bridges to greater human achievement. But at the present time all alternatives to fossil fuels have severe deficiencies. These limitations are not due to a lack of political will, but to the laws of chemistry and physics.
Finding new energy sources will require decades of research and development. The technologies of the future are being developed today at the University of Oklahoma, where visionary president David Boren has fostered an intellectual renaissance. But impoverished societies cannot fund scientific research or afford clean environments. To create the future, we need to continue the development and utilization of fossil fuels. Indeed, much of the funding for education and research at OU comes directly from the energy industry.
Human progress is sustainable only if we maintain an optimistic attitude, continue to increase our prosperity and energy utilization, and invest in education and research. The greatest danger to human civilization today is not environmental degradation, but a return to the ancient plague of pessimism.
The Beauty of Tax Cuts
In a recent "Wizard of Id" comic strip, the king informs his subjects, "I'm pleased to announce that I've balanced the budget." One subject then asks another, "What does that mean?" The all-too-true (and thus only mildly funny) response is: "He spent every dime we gave him."
This is a dead-on accurate description of how the Oklahoma budget process works. The state agencies, teachers, state universities, and all the other tax consumers first spend weeks holding teary press conferences describing the millions of dollars worth of unmet needs. These figures, when you add them all up, far outstrip any estimate of the money available for that year. When the money comes in, it surely all must be spent -- and generally is -- because no matter what we have we will never meet the needs of those dependent on government.
Well, the horrible cries you have been hearing from the vicinity of 23rd and Lincoln these last few months are coming from these tax consumers and their political patrons. They have discovered that we have less money to spend than they had hoped for. It turns out that, strangely enough, recent tax cuts may have played some role in the reduction of the pie. The Tax Commission estimates that the tax cuts passed the last two years may have reduced the spending pie by as much as $300 million -- and these permanent spending cuts will increase each and every year.
These developments should go a long way to settle an intramural debate among Oklahoma conservatives. Some conservatives have been arguing that reducing spending is more pressing than cutting taxes -- or at least one should invest as much political capital in trying to cut government programs as in cutting taxes.
Others of us have argued that the only way to cut government spending is to cut taxes. Unlike with the federal government, the state requires a balanced budget -- if you cut the revenues, you have to cut the spending. Now if you had tried to cut government programs directly, the tax consumers would have trotted out the poor child, the teacher, the rural firefighter, or the correctional officer who would be hurt by the cruel cuts, and you would find yourself on the losing end of the political stick.
If, however, you cut spending by reducing taxes, all that will appear in the press is an announcement that revenue has dropped -- or, as is the case this year, that it hasn't gone up as much as projected. The whining and wailing of the tax consumers that their money has been stolen by the greedy taxpayer causes no stir at all.
So if you a hear a House or Senate leader tell you we have to cut spending before we can cut taxes, keep in mind that failing to cut taxes guarantees that we do neither.
I find it a bit interesting how I have watched J. Inhofe be so rude all the time. By all the time I mean when I see him on CSPAN channels. Since 2000, I have seen his pattern, so I know that this specific example is not a one time "bad moment" (see attachment)
Open Letter to Sen. Inhofe
23 March 2007
Senator J.M. Inhofe,
I am extremely displeased with your mode of questioning when Mr. Gore was before the Senate this week.
It IS irregardless as to whether you agree with climate change and the role humans play in it. The very foundation of "public" hearings - and any hearings is to "fact find". Note this is different from tailoring questions to manipulate the answers given. Any federal representative should avail themselves of all the info. and then evaluate appropriate actions. Furthermore, I expect as a citizen in this country, that Senators and Congresspersons will always conduct themselves with grace, modesty, courtesy and openess. This was a poor display entirely unbecoming of you, and the American identity.
We have many serious and compelling problems and issues to contend with, and none of us ever will place ourselves in an ideal position to address any of it, if the only way we probe an issue is with a "yes-or-no-answers" mindset. It is only a disservice to us all.
Understand, this is not about Gore, Democrat, Republican or conservative. I am speaking of conduct and honest intentions to problem-solve. Regarding party "b.s." I'll only say the Republicans can ill afford to have snippy and combative people leading them at this juncture (not that it is EVER appropriate anyway).
Thank you for your attention. Let me close by asking two things: 1) did YOU take the eco-pledge? If you didn't, then your attempted point, to Gore, is voided; 2) Help me understand how you have shown role-model leadership by being a part of a Congressional body which only met a mere some 105 days for 2006...was the state of our union so blissful to only require such little time devoted to working for the public?
Scott T. Shier,
College student &
Flying Under Radar--Until Now
I am writing to introduce your readers to the Fraternal Order of Eagles, I have been involved with the Fraternal Order of Eagles for more than 14 years and beginning in July of this year; I will be serving as the Membership Chairman for the state of Oklahoma. I am writing today to raise awareness of the Fraternal Order of Eagles and all the great things we are doing for our local communities, our state, and our country.
The Fraternal order of Eagles is an international non-profit organization with more than 1.1 million members worldwide. We are known throughout the United States & Canada as "People Helping People." Together, we donated more than $100 million to our local communities, charities, medical research, families in need and many more.
Oklahoma is the home to six aerie and auxiliaries, 1989-2007 we have raised over $400,000.00 for charities such as, diabetes, heart, cancer, spinal cord, child abuse, etc. 1989-2007 we have given over $460,000.00 in grants for medical research across the state including, The LaFortune Cancer Center, St. John's Health Systems, Oklahoma Health Science Center, funding research for kidney, diabetes, spinal cord, and Alzheimer's.
The Fraternal Order of Eagles, founded in 1898, has had seven United States Presidents as members, it was through the Eagles that the concept of Mothers Day was started, we sponsored America's first Workman Compensation Law, and played a major role in the fight for Social Security.
I encourage community members to reach out to your local Fraternal Order of Eagles aeries & auxiliaries. Together, we can work as one to continue being "People Helping People."
Share this article: