2013 Okie Funk In Review, Part Three

(Okie Funk is running excerpts this week of posts published throughout 2013. Click on the title to read the entire post. It’s difficult for me to believe, but Okie Funk is fast approaching its tenth anniversary in May. Thanks for following this site, and I wish you and yours a happy holiday season. I will resume regular posts on Friday—Kurt Hochenauer)

Evidence Mounts Against Fracking Processes, July 15, 2013

Another scientific article linking hydraulic fracturing processes to Oklahoma earthquakes has been released just as HBO begins broadcasting a documentary showing how these processes can contaminate water and contribute to global warming.

Here in Oklahoma, where energy companies have a gushing political influence, this might not mean much at the moment, but it seems clear that hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and its wastewater processes, are facing greater scrutiny throughout the world from scientists and environmental activists. Could fracking be prohibited one day in this country because of the dangers of earthquakes, water contamination and pollution? It could happen, but energy companies, supported by powerful politicians, such as Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, will obviously put up a tremendous fight.

Fracking is a process in which water is mixed with chemicals and other products and then injected into the ground at a high pressure. This creates “fractures” in rock formations that can release natural gas and oil.

Last year, University of Oklahoma professor and seismologist Katie Keranen argued in an academic paper that a Nov. 6, 2011 earthquake, measured at 5.7 on the Richter scale, near Prague was likely caused by fracking processes. I wrote about that here. Now, a new study argues that a 2010 earthquake in Chile eventually led to that Oklahoma earthquake because of underground disposal fluids left over in injection wells, according to an article in The New York Times.
Injection wells, or brine disposal wells, are created by the massive wastewater of fracking and can cause instability in fault lines that lead to seismic activity.

Data, Perception: Tulsa World Takes Turn To The Right, August 2, 2013

Image of Picasso work
Tulsa World publisher Bill Masterson essentially announced recently that the newspaper’s editorial page was going to get even more conservative, and that’s bad news for progressives here in Oklahoma.

To clarify, I’m not one of those people who think that the World has ever been anything but a fairly conservative newspaper, which was recently bought by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. The newspaper’s editorial page endorsed U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe in 2008, for example, saying he was more experienced that his challenger. That action alone, though five years ago, indicates the depth and political nature of the newspaper’s intellectual apparatus.

Has the newspaper been as conservative as The Oklahoman, one of the nation’s most extreme right-wing news outlets? Probably not, and if anyone had the time and inclination, they could study the issue, but for what benefit? The newspaper’s former editorial writer Janet Pearson, now retired, often wrote convincing editorials over social and health issues, but, and I don’t say this with hyperbole, truth does and will always have a liberal bias to some conservative people.

Last Sunday, Masterson announced that long-time World journalist Wayne Greene will become the new editorial page editor, but that wasn’t the most significant information in his article, expect maybe for Greene and his staff. Here’s the information that really mattered:

Analyzing The Tramel SI Analysis, September 18, 2013

Image of OSU’s Edmon Low Library

I want to take a look at how Berry Tramel, the well-known and longtime local sportswriter for The Oklahoman, responded to the recent Sports Illustrated articles outlining problems in the Oklahoma State University football program.

Tramel’s responses are the most thorough, at least in writing, to the articles among local reporters, and Tramel’s undoubtedly the newspaper’s best writer, but his defensive reaction to the articles was representative among the media types here and shows why it takes an out-of-state publication to reveal information that should be of interest to Oklahoma taxpayers. (Note I wrote, should.) His responses were also filled with cringing sweeping generalizations whenever he ventured into matters such as academics and drug use among players.

None of Tramel’s responses really get at this issue: There are present and former coaches here in Oklahoma and elsewhere who have become multi-millionaires at taxpayer-supported institutions only through the athletic talent of young men, most of whom don’t go on and play professional sports and some of whom get terribly exploited. These coaches deserve scrutiny and should be held accountable for their actions, and that includes Mike Gundy and, yes, Bob Stoops.

I’ll use a format similar to what Tramel used to respond to the articles. First, I’ll make a Tramel point, and then I’ll respond. My responses are in bold. (The SI articles can be accessed here.)

I think it’s fair to say one of Tramel’s overall points, and he responded to each article, is that the series of articles by SI were over-hyped and often didn’t live up to their promotion.

The problem with this argument is that big-time college and professional sports are highly dependent on media hype. Tramel’s income from The Oklahoman is dependent on hype. (In fact, he’s hyping the “hype” to make a living in this case.) Take away the hype and the spectacle from big-time sports, the good and the bad, and what do you have? Well, you don’t have as many fans, that’s for sure, and you don’t have as many readers, viewers and listeners.