A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘oklahoma

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomy notes the mystery of distant active galaxy SDSS J163909+282447.1, with a supermassive black hole but few stars.
  • Centauri Dreams shares a proposal from Robert Buckalew for craft to engage in planned panspermia, seeding life across the galaxy.
  • The Crux looks at the theremin and the life of its creator, Leon Theremin.
  • D-Brief notes that termites cannibalize their dead, for the good of the community.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at William Burroughs’ Blade Runner, an adaptation of a 1979 science fiction novel by Alan Nourse.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes a new study explaining how the Milky Way Galaxy, and the rest of the Local Group, was heavily influenced by its birth environment.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at why the Chernobyl control room is now open for tourists.
  • Dale Campos at Lawyers. Guns and Money looks at the effects of inequality on support for right-wing politics.
  • James Butler at the LRB Blog looks at the decay and transformation of British politics, with Keith Vaz and Brexit.
  • Marginal Revolution shares a paper explaining why queens are more warlike than kings.
  • Omar G. Encarnación at the NYR Daily looks at how Spain has made reparations to LGBTQ people for past homophobia. Why should the United States not do the same?
  • Corey S. Powell at Out There shares his interview with physicist Sean Carroll on the reality of the Many Worlds Theory. There may be endless copies of each of us out there. (Where?)
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains why 5G is almost certainly safe for humans.
  • Strange Company shares a newspaper clipping reporting on a haunting in Wales’ Plas Mawr castle.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps looks at all the different names for Africa throughout the years.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers, in the case of the disposal of eastern Oklahoma, whether federal Indian law should be textualist. (They argue against.)
  • Window on Eurasia notes the interest of the government of Ukraine in supporting Ukrainians and other minorities in Russia.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at syntax on signs for Sloppy Joe’s.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes that a recent massive flare at Proxima Centauri, one that made the star become a thousand times brighter, not only makes Proxima b unlikely to be habitable but makes it unlikely Proxima has (as some suggested) a big planetary system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that South Korea, contrary to earlier reports, is not going to ban cryptocurrency.
  • Hornet Stories notes that six American states–Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma–have seen the introduction of legislation replacing marriage with a marriage contract, on account of marriage equality.
  • JSTOR Daily reports on the deep similarities and differences between serfdom in Russia and slavery in the United States, both formally abolished in the 1860s.
  • Language Hat links to a Telegraph article reporting on the efforts of different people to translate different ancient languages.
  • The New APPS Blog notes that, after Delta dropped its discount for NRA members, the pro-NRA governor of Georgia dropped tax breaks for the airline.
  • This call for the world to respond to the horrors in Syria, shared at the NYR Daily, is likely to fall on deaf ears.
  • At Strange Maps, Frank Jacobs shares some maps showing areas where the United States is truly exceptional.
  • Supernova Condensate notes how nested planetary orbits can be used to trace beautiful spirograph patterns.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how no one in the Soviet Union in 1991 was prepared to do anything to save the Soviet Union.

[LINK] “Parched: A New Dust Bowl Forms in the Heartland”

National Geographic‘s Laura Parker writes at length, with photos, about the ongoing severe drought in the American Midwest. Concentrating particularly on Oklahoma, Parker points out that things are bad, with very little rain, rising temperature, and a dropping Ogallala Aquifer water table. With climate change, worse is to come. Will this area become an American desert? The signs aren’t promising.

“When people ask me if we’ll have a Dust Bowl again, I tell them we’re having one now,” says Millard Fowler, age 101, who lunches most days at the Rockin’ A [in Boise City, Oklahoma] with his 72-year-old son, Gary. Back in 1935, Fowler was a newly married farmer when a blizzard of dirt, known as Black Sunday, swept the High Plains and turned day to night. Some 300,000 tons of dirt blew east on April 14, falling on Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and, according to writer Timothy Egan in his book The Worst Hard Time, onto ships at sea in the Atlantic.

“It is just as dry now as it was then, maybe even drier,” Fowler says. “There are going to be a lot of people out here going broke.”

The climatologists who monitor the prairie states say he is right. Four years into a mean, hot drought that shows no sign of relenting, a new Dust Bowl is indeed engulfing the same region that was the geographic heart of the original. The undulating frontier where Kansas, Colorado, and the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma converge is as dry as toast. The National Weather Service, measuring rain over 42 months, reports that parts of all five states have had less rain than what fell during a similar period in the 1930s.

“If you have a long enough period without rain, there will be dust storms and they can be every bit as bad as they were in the Thirties,” says Mary Knapp, the Kansas State assistant climatologist.

Cattle are being sold to market because there is not enough grass on rangeland for large herds to graze. Colorado’s southeast Baca County is almost devoid of cattle—a change that Nolan Doesken, Colorado’s state climatologist, calls “profound and dramatic.”

Elsewhere, drifts of sand pile up along fence lines packed with tumbleweeds, and tens of thousands of acres of dry-land wheat have died beneath blankets of silt as fine as sifted flour. In the vocabulary of Plains weather, this is known as a “blowout.” Blowouts often start as brown strips along the outer edges of fields, and then spread with each successive blowing wind like a cancer.

“Once your neighbor’s fields starts to blow, it puts your own fields at risk,” says Gary McManus, Oklahoma’s state climatologist, who toured the blown-out wheat fields outside Boise City last week.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2014 at 1:59 am

[LINK] “Into Oklahoma”

Over at the Power and the Money, Noel Maurer has an interesting post (with photos!) inspired by his recent visit to Oklahoma’s second city of Tulsa. I’ve never been anywhere near Oklahoma, and it interests me that Noel finds Oklahoma to be at least as interesting and different from the US Northeast in its own way as Japan. There’s the state’s politics, for instance.

Oklahoma does have a Democratic governor, Brad Henry, who just vetoed a bill that purported to exempt Oklahomans from gun registration rules and background checks. He also vetoed a bill that would require all women desiring abortions to receive transvaginal sonograms (even after rapes) and force the doctor to describe the image to them. The legislature overrode Governor Henry, and now Oklahoman doctors cannot be sued for concealing birth defects from pregnant mothers. A bill to exempt the state from the Affordable Care Act just passed the lower chamber 71-27, and some lawmakers have begun to discuss creating a state militia separate from the National Guard.

The “only-in-America” sort of empty downtown that Noel describes is somewhat familiar to me, I think, in the way that Charlottetown stopped being as relatively bustling and busy in its downtown as it was when tourist season ends.

Downtown Tulsa is an only-in-America sort of dead. It isn’t a run-down dead, like Buffalo or most Southern small towns. And it certainly isn’t an abandoned dead, like Detroit. It’s just … empty. The impression is of an old downtown now preserved under glass. Perhaps “undead” is the right word? The people are there, you just can’t see them. A disproportionate number of the few people you see appear to be unemployed long-haired (male) musicians toting guitars and Army-surplus clothes from before 1981. Most of the rest appear to be down on their luck or stealing a smoke. The storefronts are well-maintained, but manage to look vacant even when they’re not.

The fact is, of course, that downtown Tulsa is not dead in terms of office space. The energy companies that operate here want to be near their in-state bankers and someplace they can convince their out-of-state bankers to spend some time. They also want to be near their competitors and the petroleum club and nice hotels. (Which is why Holiday Inn was just renovated and the Hotel Ambassador a few blocks south of downtown proper is such a success.)

Now, to be fair, Tulsa is not downtown. Just a few miles away is a highly manicured upscale collection of shopping malls. It could be one of the nicer parts of California. Drivers are nicer than in California, save for a disconcerting tendency to pull right into the parking spot next to people who are pulling out, and the people at the post office know each other by name. The schoolyards are full of laughing pale-skinned children. A disproportionate number of billboards advertise gun shows and tattoo parlors.

There aren’t any gun shows in Charlottetown, and the malls on the outskirts haven’t hollowed out the downtown completely, but I think that there are some tattoo parlours.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

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