I’ve met many “cradle-Baptists” in my time as religion editor.
Yep, I’ve also met plenty of people who were raised as Roman Catholics and who still adhere to the faith traditions of their youth.
However, a survey released this week said those folks still dedicated to the faith traditions of their childhood are decreasing in number.
In fact, the survey released this week by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, says that nearly half of American adults have left the faith tradition of their upbringing.
According to the survey, they are either switching to another denomination or faith or deciding to reject religious affiliation.
A story about the survey is featured in Saturday’s Religion section. I’d like to know what readers think about the survey findings.
E-mail your comments and opinions to email@example.com.
The absentee voting booth at the Oklahoma County Election Board on Lincoln Blvd. appeared to be doing a brisk business this morning.
I dropped in to cast my first-ever in-person absentee ballot in advance of Tuesday’s sales tax vote.
If the penny sales tax passes, the money raised will be used to enhance the Ford Center in anticipation of the relocation of Seattle SuperSonics NBA franchise to Oklahoma City. A work assignment will take me out of town Tuesday, so I decided to cast my vote in advance.
I’m not sure what I expected, but when I walked in about 10 a.m. there was a room full of ballot boxes and a row of precinct workers just like a normal polling place.
The only difference, instead of looking up my name in a book the workers had me fill out a form before they gave me a ballot. I did take the time to read the long description of the purpose of the sales tax, then marked my ballot and ran it through the machine that counts it.
I noticed I was voter No. 92.
Other voters came and went as I completed the process, so it was evident the issue has generated some interest.
How did I vote? Can’t tell you. It was a secret ballot.
Business News Reporter
About 130 million taxpayers are expected to receive a check from the Internal Revenue Service in the coming months as part of the economic stimulus package designed to spur our lagging economy. For most of us, simply filing a tax return will result in the tax rebate. Those rebates will begin appearing in mailboxes and bank accounts in early May.
Some folks who have not typically been filing returns, particularly those whose income is in the form of tax-exempt Social Security or Veterans Affairs payments, also will have to file a return. The good news is that only a few lines of the form will need to be filled in to qualify.
The IRS Web site has a lot of excellent data on the rebate payments that is regularly updated.
This is a .pdf image of a sample form for Social Security recipients and others who have not been required to file returns in recent years, but need to file this year to qualify for the economic stimulus payment.
Here’s a video interview I did with Oklahoma City IRS Spokesman David Stell about the rebate payments.
This mp3 audio file is Acting IRS Commissioner Linda Stiff discussing the rebate program during a Feb. 22 conference call with reporters.
And here are several recent articles that ran in The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com:
If you have any questions, call the IRS at (800) TAX-1040, which is (800) 829-1040.
Did I miss anything? E-mail by clicking on my name below.
When I went out last week to talk to owners of some television repair shops around town, I had visions of walking in and seeing some of those old console televisions with the wooden cabinets like the one that sat in my parents’ living room for decades. I didn’t see a one.
Instead, what I saw mostly were the giant analog televisions encased in black pastic. It’s kind of what my parents have today. They’ve been eyeing the new HDTVs they’ve seen in electronics stores and are considering replacing the old 42-inch Toshiba that occupies the corner of their living room today. I was shocked to even hear them talk about replacing the television, but the quality diffference in HDTV and an old analog television is striking.
Anyway, the repair guys I talked to didn’t seem too worried over the transition because many of them do warranty work and expect to continue those relationships with manufacturers and retailers.
The one shop I visited that doesn’t do warranty work was concerned about making the transition himself because of fears that potential customers with old analog TVs in need of repair might opt to buy a new digital model rather than bring it in to his shop.
A valid fear, I think.
The closest I came to a big wooden console TV was in this poster that Bob Keating showed me at his Newport TV repair shop on the far west side of Oklahoma City. The poster shows the progression of RCA TVs and radios through the years.
If you want to know more about the transition to digital television broadcasts, visit the government’s Web site.
Business News Writer
News Flash: Nearly 7,100 company-operated Starbucks stores across the U.S. were to close at 5:30 p.m. local time Tuesday so some 135,000 employees could go through about three hours of training.
My drive home every evening takes me by two Edmond Starbucks locations, so I checked them out to see what was happening at about 6:30 tonight.
Sure enough, the Starbucks at Broadway and 15th Street was closed, as was the one near Santa Fe on 15th. The Broadway Starbucks had something like a large trash can placed right in front of the door, as well as a car blocking the drive through.
At the Starbucks near Santa Fe, something was blocking the view into the store through the front door, although it was clear that employees were gathered and listening to a supervisor speak.
I stopped at the 15th and Santa Fe store and took a few photographs. I didn’t see any caffeine addicts pounding on the door begging for their coffee fix.
Business News Reporter
It was cold and rainy on Dec. 6, 1969, when Air Force One emerged from the clouds to land at the Fort Smith, Ark., airport. I was there, along with about 2,000 of my closest friends to welcome President Richard M. Nixon to Arkansas.
Nixon was on his way to Fayetteville to witness the Texas-Arkansas football game, but had to land about 60 miles south in Fort Smith because the Fayetteville airport runway wasn’t long enough to accommodate his aircraft.
Anyway, I was a sophomore in high school and begged my mom to let me take her car to the airport to see Nixon. I actually arrived before they opened the gates to the Air National Guard section of the airport about 9 a.m. Nixon’s plane didn’t arrive until about 11, so we had plenty of standing around to do.
A press plane landed about 20 minutes ahead of Nixon’s plane. Reporters came out and struck up some conversation with some of those around me along the rope barriers set up for the occassion. The Southside High School band was there to play “Hail to the Chief.”
I don’t recall Nixon making any kind of formal speech, but he came down the rope barrier shaking hands during the brief time he was there. When he got to within about six feet of my spot in line, Arkansas Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller whispered something to him, which I assumed was about the need to head up to Fayetteville in time for kick-off of the game.
Nixon turned away and started to walk to the waiting helicopter, but several hundred disappointed well wishers let out a collective “awwwww.” Nixon turned around and came back and shook hands all the way down the line, including mine. I have pictures! He even took time to shake a few hands of the high school band members.
A couple of things happened that morning that I still clearly recall:
First, a reporter who stepped off the press plane complained of the cold weather and one of the folks waiting with me offered to sell him the stocking cap he was wearing. The reporter took him up on the deal and paid about $10 for the cap. I was impressed with his walking-around money.
Second, a man armed with a Kodak Instamatic climbed up on one of the barrels that held the rope barrier just as Nixon’s plane was pulling onto the tarmac. A sheriff’s deputy came running over and shouted for the man to get down. I’ll never forget the guy’s reply after he jumped off. He said “come the revolution, you are going to get yours.” (Although, I believe the deputy was already out of earshot) We had a counter-culture wannabe in the crowd!
Finally, when I got home my mom told me that a friend of mine called minutes after I left to go to the airport. His family had tickets to the big game, but his mother decided it was too cold and wet to sit in the stands. So he was calling to offer me the extra ticket.
RICHARD NIXON COST ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO WATCH THE GAME OF THE CENTURY IN PERSON.
I didn’t hold it against him.Almost 40 years later, that day remains one of my fondest memories.
I took this photo of Air Force One sitting on the tarmac in Fort Smith and had not seen the picture for decades. It showed up in my e-mail box Monday morning courtesy of my dad, who obviously ran across it while looking through some old photos.
His only comment: “Do you remember this?”
I certainly do.
Business News Reporter
The New York Times has opened up some of its most historic archives to the public. TimesMachine offers a look at any New York Times edition from 1851 through 1922. I decided to see if I could find how the paper of record covered Oklahoma’s statehood. It wasn’t as easy as I had thought it would be.
First, I went back to read the front page of the Nov. 17, 1907 edition. There was nothing there about statehood, although there was a complete report on the accidental incineration of the beard of a 70-year-old man who had never shaved.
Perhaps, I thought, the Times opted to run a story on the actual day Oklahoma became a state. But I could find nothing in the Nov. 16, 1907 paper.
So I returned to the Nov. 17 edition and began to flip through the pages. Eventually, on page 8 I found a fairly brief mention of President Theodore Roosevelt’s signing of a proclamation declaring Oklahoma’s statehood. You can see it yourself by clicking here.
As the Times noted: “There was absolutely no ceremony connected with the signing of the proclamation.”
Of course, we played it bit larger in The Oklahoman. Our banner headline read:
OKLAHOMA BECOMES STATE
Scratch of Quill Pen Lets The New State Into Union;
Indian Territory and Oklahoma Are Symbolically Wed.
The Oklahoman also managed to find room on the front page for a fatal saloon shooting. Here’s the flavor of that feature:
“In a pistol duel in Ed Conley’s saloon, 116 West First Street, at 8:15 o’clock last night — a little more than three hours before the prohibition law was applied by Sheriff Garrison and the police departement — Robert Johnson, bartender, was shot three times and is now believed to be in a dying condition at St. Anthony’s hospital.” (A later bulletin noted that Johnson had died.)
Perusing century-old newspapers is endlessly fascinating, with the advertisements often as revealing of the past as the news of the day and the manner in which it was reported.
We Oklahomans know dust — perhaps better than anyone. Like it or not, the hardscrabble Joad family is as much a part of our cultural heritage as Curly, Laurey and Jud.
The Dust Bowl completely destroyed the state, and some would argue it took us a half-century to recover.
I mention this because University of Colorado researchers have found the West has become 500 percent dustier in the past 200 years because of human activity.
My first thought was how they measured such a thing. Turns out the researchers used sediment records from dust blown into lakes in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Co-author Jason Neff, an assistant professor of geological sciences at CU-Boulder, attributed the “sharp rise” in dust deposits to the railroad, ranching and livestock of western expansion.
“From about 1860 to 1900, the dust deposition rates shot up so high that we initially thought there was a mistake in our data,” Neff said in a press release. “But the evidence clearly shows the western U.S. had it’s own Dust Bowl beginning in the 1800s when the railroads went in and cattle and sheep were introduced into the rangelands.”
A paper on the research was published in the Feb. 24 issue of Nature Geoscience. In it, the scientists described a “dust fall” that exceeded that of the previous 5,000 years. Because of the size of the dust particles, the authors concluded the dust particles came from the Southwest.
Neff said the West’s increasing dustiness isn’t drought-related. Instead, he said, it is because of “intensive land use, primarily grazing.” Researchers used radiocarbon dating and lead isotope analysis of soil cores to determine this.
“There were an estimated 40 million head of livestock on the western rangeland during the turn of the century, causing a massive and systematic degradation of the ecosystems,” he said in the release.
The five-fold increase in nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and other byproducts of ranching, mining and agriculture can affect ecosystems.
Then, of course, there’s dust’s effect on allergies.
“There seems to be a perception that dusty conditions in the West are just the nature of the region,” Neff said. “We have shown here that the increase in dust since the 1800s is a direct result of human activity and not part of the natural system.”
For more health and medical news and commentary, read The Medicine Bag blog at http://blog.newsok.com/health.
Jeff Raymond, Medical Writer
It’s time to see how much attention you’ve been paying to the news in the past week or so. From The Oklahoman’s news copy editors and designers, here’s a quiz:
1. Americans fear foreign terrorists, but researchers say what accounts for seven times as much damage in the U.S.?
a) Children playing with matches.
b) Home-grown terrorists.
c) NASCAR crashes.
2. A fire stopped production of Feb. 17 editions of which newspaper?
a) Tulsa World.
b) Norman Transcript.
c) Daily Planet.
3. The Oklahoma Sooners defeated Oklahoma State in wrestling last week for the first time in how many matches?
4. The chairman of the House higher education subcommittee does not expect bills that would create tuition waivers to pass the House because:
a) Students should build character by paying themselves.
b) Tuition rates are dropping, making the waivers unnecessary.
c) A revenue downturn will give lawmakers less money to spend this year.
5. Which former first lady was hospitalized recently after falling in her home?
a) Hillary Rodham Clinton.
b) Barbara Bush.
c) Nancy Reagan.
6. The United States has extended formal recognition to what country?
7. What has the federal government designated will happen Feb. 17, 2009?
a) It is the day for analog TV signals to end, replaced by digital signals.
b) That is the day the national ID card is to be implemented.
c) It is the date the next president will take office.
8. How many teams were penalized by NASCAR for violations following the opening week of the 2008 season?
9. What two large airlines are discussing a merger?
a) United and Southwest.
b) Northwest and Delta.
c) Braniff and JetBlue.
10. Workers at McAlester’s Southeast Expo Center were surprised when they arrived at the center Tuesday morning and found:
a) An escaped buffalo.
b) Brad Pitt running laps around the grounds.
c) An extremely large sinkhole full of water.
11. A Tulsa woman is the only known person to be hit by falling space debris. What hit her?
a) Remnants of a satellite.
b) Remnants Delta II rocket.
c) Golf clubs that were lost during the moon landing.
12. A study by the U.S. Geological Survey says what animal might find Oklahoma’s climate to its liking?
a) The Monty Python.
b) The ball python.
c) The Burmese python.
13. A state House committee on Thursday called for what regarding the state Department of Human Services?
a) A reduction in force.
b) A performance audit.
c) Tarring and feathering of officials.
14. Economic problems are leading to a new phenomenon in China. What is it?
a) Pawn shops.
b) Food stamps.
15. What did Indiana University give basketball coach Kelvin Sampson to get him to resign?
b) Cell phones and unlimited minutes for his entire family.
c) An lifetime supply of denim shirts.
How did you do on the quiz? Here are the correct answers:
1-B; 2-A; 3-C; 4-C; 5-C; 6-B; 7-A; 8-B; 9-B; 10-C; 11-B; 12-C; 13-B; 14-C; 15-A.
On your list of things to accomplish this month, productivity “expert” Marsha Egan wants you to add one more: clean out your e-mail box.
Eagan, chief executive officer of The Egan Group Inc, has declared Jan. 28-Feb. 1 as “Clean Out Your Inbox Week. She suggest that the average e-mail interruption costs each American worker four minutes of lost time. If a worker receives an average of 15 e-mail interruptions per day, that’s one hour of time lost to e-mail interruptions.
If that worker is part of a 20-person department, that’s 20 hours of work time lost per day. And if the employees average $20 per hour, that’s a loss of worker productivity that amounts to $400 per day or $2,000 per week.
This e-mail is a call to action for me. I’m cleaning out my e-mail box immediately, starting with any e-mail that arrives from my editor.
If I’m going to lose an hour a day of productivity it’s going to be lost to idly surfing the Internet and NOT answering e-mails that only pile on more work.
So, thank you Marsha Egan, productivity “expert.” Now whenever anything flies unexpectedly into my e-mail box I’m slamming the “delete” key immediately.
Business News Writer