Saturday, January 29, 2005

Wait, wait, don't tell me

Oklahoma was again the butt of jokes on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" the popular NPR radio program today. It seems that Senator Frank Shurden's proposal to legalize "electronic cockfighting" in Oklahoma continues to entertain the nation. One comedian on the show joked that all he had to hear were the words "an Oklahoma Senator" and he knew it was going to be something ludicrous.
The deceivers

Today I received an important looking envelope bearing only the words "Explanation of Benefits" and a New York City address on the front cover. Must have something to do with insurance I supposed as I opened the envelope. It was a piece of junk mail from Forbes magazine. The benefits? That would be the "professional benefit price" of $19.99 of course.

Maybe I take lying and deception too seriously when it comes to advertising and direct mail but I think we get so used to it that we fail to even recognize the deception as deception.
Big Brother and Blue States

Scientific American's December issue had an interesting article on the various levels of personal information protection US states provide to their citizens. Oklahoma's protections are rated as "intermediate" while every state that surrounds us (except New Mexico and Colorado) is rated as having "low" protection of personal information.

The author, Rodger Doyle, points out that the federal government has been lax in moving to protect citizens from private data theft and exploitation. Federal laws do not shield medical and library records and give only partial protection to financial records.

California has been most active in enacting laws to protect its citizens privacy as well as courts that are vigilant in enforcement. Wyoming is singled out as the worst at protecting its citizens.

Oklahoma used to place everyone's Social Security number right on our drivers licenses but now we have the option of a randomly-generated drivers license number (which I opted for).

In looking at the ratings map in the Scientific American article I couldn't help but notice a rough correlation between red states and low privacy protection and blue states and high privacy protection. Has a historic flip-flop taken place? The John Wayne Republicans used to focus on individual rights but this seems to have become a Democratic issue in recent years.

I'm just speculating here, but I wonder if the Republican states aren't too friendly with corporate interests that want to utilize private data for business purposes. There's also the Patriot Act mentality that sacrifices individual liberty for collective security. Could this be it?

For more information see: Privacy Journal

Friday, January 28, 2005

Virtual Cockfighting

What did Oklahoma do to deserve the curse of State Senator Frank Shurden? The Senator from Henryetta that distinguished himself with his efforts to defend cockfighting and to enact laws to castrate sex offenders has come up with another bizarre idea that is already earning Oklahoma a new round of national ridicule. Now he wants to legalize cockfighting sans blades. He wants to put boxing gloves and pressure-sensitive electronic vests on the fighting birds.

Shurden has been the feature of several national interview programs such as this appearance on NPR's All Things Considered program. Shurden's uberhick accent and cognitive difficulties feed the stereotypes of the hayseed Okie. As an Oklahoman I just want to cry when I hear this fool being interviewed. We can spend years and millions of dollars on tourism and economic development advertising to improve our state's image and Shurden's can undo it in one minute on NPR.

Shurden's buffoonery aside, of course the reason he wants to make "virtual cockfights" legal in Oklahoma is because he knows the real deal can function under the pretense of non-lethal cockfighting. The cockfight pits can continue to function and rural sheriff's will fail to "monitor" the fights - just like they failed to monitor the rampant illegal gambling that accompanied cockfights during the decades when the fights themselves were legal. It's just another dishonest way to ignore the law.

Here in Oklahoma we know what's behind the cockfighters' deceptions but on the national level all our fellow Americans who hear Senator Shurden must think that we Oklahomans must be from a different planet.

To all my fellow Americans I just want to say that Shurden is an Oklahoma anomaly, really, he is. In fact, I think he was born in Idaho or something.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Comedian

At the time I was reluctant to stand in line to get the ticket - it meant getting up early and fighting the traffic to Burbank and then coming back again in the afternoon to get in line again, long before the show started. But now I'm glad I did it, three times. Getting to see Johnny Carson host the Tonight Show was great fun once I got into a seat but now I appreciate just being a small part in a piece of Americana.

The set, or stage, seemed a lot smaller in person than it did on TV. Carson though, was the same. Friendly and funny. He was also part of the family. Setting down to watch Carson after the news was part of a family tradition - we didn't have worry about being embarrassed by offcolor humor. Carson was funny without being ribald. How many late night TV shows can the whole family set down to watch now?

After his retirement I only saw him in person one more time - on a flight to LA. He was in first class and I watched the back of his head through the curtains of economy class for two hours.

Johnny's passing reminds me of how much I miss him.
China's Weak Leaders

We may complain about our money-influenced political system but it sure beats the pathetic dictatorship in China. One of the primary architects of China's economic reforms, Zhao Ziyang, died last week but because he was removed from the Premier's position in 1989 after he objected to using force against the students in Tiananmen, the pathetic politicians of China now want to ignore his death. The fact that they are so afraid to even acknowledge Zhao's death shows just how weak they are and how tenuous they fear their hold on power is.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

OkiePundit's Rules of Etiquette (continued)

Ears needs to be cleaned periodically, but this is a job that should be done in private using one's OWN truck keys.

Dirt and grease under the fingernails is a social no-no, as it tends to detract from a woman's jewelry. Excessive grease also alters the taste of finger foods.

Always offer to bait your date's hook, even if he says he can do it himself.