First, sorry for the seriously sporadic posting lately. Doing any kind of web-based work when I’m visiting my family is logistically difficult, what with having to find internet access and all. That brings up a different issue, though–as a couple of commenters have pointed out, many people in Oklahoma live in cities and do not have to drive 30 miles each way to use the internet. This is entirely true, I assure you. I’m sure the internet is available less than 30 miles from our ranch, but it seems weird to drive up to random people’s houses and ask if they happen to have the internet. Also, it would probably be dial-up and I cannot imagine running Soc Images with a dial-up connection.

But I just want to say, for the record, that Oklahoma has indoor toilets and cable TV and stuff just like other states do. If you live in Oklahoma long enough, you get used to people earnestly, non-ironically asking if you have indoor plumbing or live in teepees. Or if you ever met Barry Switzer. So don’t read my posts from home as indicative of what Oklahoma is like in general. My grandpa refused to get electricity lines run to the house until the 1970s, though electricity had been available in Oklahoma for quite some time at that point, because he couldn’t see what it was good for, so clearly we aren’t working with a mainstream group of people here.

Anyway, here’s an image that might surprise a lot of people who forget how rural many areas of the U.S. still are, and what that means for people’s lives. I took it from the local phone book’s emergency contacts page:


I took out the specific city name to keep my grandma from killing me. Anyway, what exactly is your nearest neighbor supposed to do if you have a fire?* What if they aren’t home, or aren’t able-bodied, or have no idea how to go about fighting a fire? Or don’t particularly like you?

I am sure some brilliant reader out there will think of a way to use this to talk about public provision of basic services (water, law enforcement, and so on), how much many of us living in industrial or post-industrial urban areas take them for granted, and what the consequences of drives to privatize them might be–would more or fewer people have access to such services?

* Ok, I actually know what they’re supposed to do. When I was about 11 there was a big prairie fire and it came near my great-grandma’s house one day when I was staying with her, and ranchers filled up their cattle sprayers with water and made a circle around the house and wet down the yard and then formed a line and fought the fire at the edge of her yard. So presumably any time there is a fire, rural people are supposed to pull together and help each other out. But I wonder sometimes if my great-grandma wasn’t involved in a lot of volunteer organizations and wasn’t generally beloved in the area, would people have fought as hard, or would they have made sure we were safe and then gone back to protecting their own barns and houses and stuff? And not everybody has sprayers, or has them already filled with water because a prairie fire was coming through, or is home all the time.

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