Online learning is on the rise, although it faces resistance from some quarters. The Internet has opened doors few knew existed just a few years ago; failure to develop the market won’t protect the old system.
For example, Virginia has become the go-to place to obtain a concealed-carry permit through online courses. Virginia doesn’t require in-person firearm training — only passing a written test and criminal background check.
Because 26 states have reciprocity agreements with Virginia, citizens from states with more stringent requirements are taking Virginia-based online courses to obtain a permit that will be honored in their home state.
As that shows, the Internet provides consumers greater choice and the ability to go outside traditional channels. In the same fashion, Oklahomans are soon going to obtain K-12 education online. The only question is if Oklahoma will be on the front edge of that change.
For a quarter of a century, Mary Gilmore Caffrey has made the Tree Bank Foundation her branch office. Pun intended.
Caffrey has announced her retirement as the foundation’s executive director, effective Sept. 30. She’s overseen the planting of more than 200,000 trees on public grounds in Oklahoma and the distribution of more than 108,000 seedlings for others to plant.
Concurrent with her retirement, the Tree Bank Foundation is celebrating 25 years of adding trees to the landscape, trees valued collectively (at maturation) at nearly $250 million.
The foundation was started in 1987 and seeded by volunteers dedicated to planting and distributing trees. It joined with Oklahoma Forestry Services for the Centennial Witness Trees program that was part of Oklahoma’s 100th birthday celebration in 2007. More recent projects include the planting of native tree species at Oklahoma City University and a reforestation project in Atoka County following the April 2011 tornado outbreak there.
Chances are you saw a Tree Bank tree growing somewhere along your route to work or school this week. Recipients of Tree Bank plants don’t just get the trees. They also get instructions on how to care for them.
Trees are not only nice to look at. They provide shade and reduce air pollution. So we congratulate Caffrey and an organization with a lot of bark that’s taken a big bite out of a tree-challenged landscape.
If only crickets could eat a lot of mosquitoes.
Blame the mild winter on two outbreaks, one of West Nile virus transmitted by mosquito bites and the other of crickets.
The cricket explosion is blamed on ideal breeding conditions for crickets and less-than-ideal breeding conditions for the insect’s natural predators. Mosquitoes need water for breeding but not for living or for biting. The hot weather has actually spurred their development; it won’t stop until freezing temperatures hit.
West Nile symptoms typically start appearing three or more days after the bite from a carrying insect. The virus has taken the lives of five Oklahomans so far this season. Being forewarned means protecting your forearms and other body parts from mosquito bites as summer rolls into fall.
As for the crickets, they’re a nuisance but at least they don’t foster a dread disease.
The term “pothead” has long been used to describe someone as being less-than-bright. Now that characterization is backed by scientific data.
New research concludes teenagers who routinely smoke marijuana experience a long-term drop in IQ. The study tested the IQ of more than 1,000 13-year olds in New Zealand, then conducted five follow-up interviews through the years, and concluded with another IQ test when the individuals turned 38.
The study recorded mental decline only for participants who regularly smoked marijuana before age 18. Many teenagers will turn down a cigarette because of its association with health problems, but see marijuana as harmless.
For a government survey, roughly 23 percent of American high school students reported smoking marijuana, compared with just 18 percent who smoked cigarettes. It appears that if they smoke enough marijuana, they may lose the ability to mentally make that distinction.
Concerns about gang members using clothing from sports teams to identify themselves is what contributed to the district implementing the policy several years ago. But Cooper is 5 years old. He’s in kindergarten. “I’m pretty sure he’s not a gangbanger,” his father said.
The teacher who ordered Cooper to reverse his shirt was only following policy. But that’s the trouble with some policies — they can remove all common sense from the equation. Those charged with carrying out such policies figure that it’s better to rigidly adhere to what’s in the manual than risk getting called onto the carpet by a superior for not doing so.
The school district plans to review the policy. It should.
Meantime, a nod to Cooper’s parents. They weren’t happy about the incident, which embarrassed their son, but instead of throwing a fit they counseled the boy thusly: “We explained to him that these are the rules, and we have to follow the rules,” dad Chris Barton said. “But we don’t think that this rule is correct.”
Water and electricity don’t mix. So we were told as children, to overcome our resistance to leaving a swimming hole when a thunderstorm approached. Water and electricity may soon mix in the Bricktown Canal.
Plans are to convert the gasoline-powered canal boats to run on electricity, using a federal grant to buy the engines. This would be a quieter, potentially cheaper alternative that also has the potential of being better for the environment.
Operators also won’t have to carry heavy fuel cans to the boats. Instead, they will plug them.
No one swims in the canal (at least not legally), but water and electricity will make a good mix for the water taxis running in Bricktown.
Much was made of the record-tying high temperature on Aug. 3, when the thermometer hit 113. That tied a record set on Aug. 11, 1936.
As we all sweltered this month, Oklahomans old enough to remember the original 113-degree day could offer some perspective. In 1936, air conditioning was a rarity. Indeed, in some parts of the country then, electricity itself was still in the future.
Conditioning the air has its roots in ancient Rome, but the forerunner of what we have now dates to early in the 20th century and Willis Haviland Carrier’s electric air conditioning system.
Oklahoma should set aside a day each year to honor The Father of Cool. Since his birthday is Nov. 26, when nature cools us without electricity, perhaps Aug. 3 — or Aug. 11 — is appropriate.
Rachel Beckwith’s story is a testament to human kindness.
Rachel, a 9-year-old from Bellevue, Wash., died last year in an automobile accident. At the time, she was trying to raise $300 to help bring clean water to Africa.
As her 10th birthday approached, she asked friends and family to forgo buying her presents and instead donate to a New York-based group called charity: water. News of Rachel’s quest spread following her death, and it resulted in nearly 32,000 people giving a total of $1.27 million.
This week, the girl’s mother, grandparents and others were in Ethiopia visiting the wells built with Rachel’s gift. That money will go a long way. Charity: water says a $20 donation can provide one person with clean drinking water for decades.
“There’s something about Rachel and her story that has touched people and inspired them,” her mother told The Associated Press. “She was such a special girl.”
Dan Cathy has stirred up quite a hornet’s nest.
Cathy, president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, had the audacity to say recently that he defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman: “Guilty as charged.” This has riled up the liberal masses.
Boston’s mayor says he no longer wants Chick-fil-A in his city. The company behind the Muppets backed out of a deal to partner with Chick-fil-A on kids meals toys. An alderman in Chicago says he plans to prevent the company from building a restaurant in his ward. “If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the 1st Ward,” he said.
But Chick-fil-A isn’t discriminating against anyone. Cathy is an easy target because he’s an unabashed Christian who walks the walk — for example, his restaurants are closed on Sundays.
If Cathy were a Muslim, would anyone have said boo about his stance on gay marriage? No way. He certainly wouldn’t have been subjected to vitriol such as that spewed by “actress” Roseanne Barr, who tweeted that those who eat “antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ” deserve to get “the cancer that is sure to come.”