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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Enough Already

The Woman who was supposed to live in Juneau is getting far more attention from the Alaskan blogosphere than is deserving. Little can be said that will dissuade people from "camping out all night" in front of a bookstore to see her.
Who cares, really. She can knock herself out and make a fortune and we can all thank Dick Randolph for the fact that Alaska doesn't have an income tax anymore.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Eagle, Alaska Flooding

Well, flooding isn't really the word for it. Bulldozed by Yukon River ice is more like it.
Eagle has always been my favorite spot in Alaska. I've always said that if I had one minute to pick where I would live the rest of my days up here, Eagle would be that place.
I first visited the fair, First Class City (and Village) in the late '70s when I was in the Coast Guard in Tok.
Well, this year "Springtime in Alaska" ain't no 40 below. It's been HOT in the Interior and the Upper Yukon is on an ice jam rampage.
The pictures are heartbreaking.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Catching Sophie’s Killer: Cold Case Investigators Search For New Clues

Were you a UAF student in April, 1993? Did you live in Bartlett? Know somebody who was? Then you probably remember this story. Know something? THINK you know something? Then please call AST. They would love to talk to you!

From the Alaska State Troopers:

Sunday, April 26, is the 16th anniversary of the murder of Sophie Sergie, a 20-year-old from Pitkas Point who was found dead in a dormitory at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 1993. In the past few years, Cold Case Investigators have diligently sorted through old case files and gathered new information; however, they need the public's help in finding new leads and eliminating others in order to find Sophie's killer. Soldotna-based Cold Case Investigators Jim Stogsdill and Lindy Minnick, aided by other Cold Case investigators within the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, Tim Hunyor and James Gallen, are trying to track anyone who was at UAF dormitory Bartlett Hall at the time of Sophie's death in the very early morning hours of April 26, 1993.

“We’d like everybody who was residing at Bartlett Hall in the spring of 1993, just simply call up and say, ‘Hey, I was
there, I was in whatever room number, this is what I heard, this is what I saw, this is what I heard people speak of afterwards,’”
Stogsdill said. “We can filter all that out.”
Interviewing people who might have something to add to the timeline leading up to Sophie’s death has been a challenge
from the start. Her murder occurred right around finals. Students quickly left for the summer, some of them never to return for
another semester at UAF. Investigators have the difficult task of tracking down people, some of whom have moved Outside or
joined the military in the almost 16 years since Sophie’s death.

Anyone who was in the area of Hess Commons or the Moore, Bartlett and Skarland Halls on April 26, 1993 can contact
Stogsdill at (907)260-2716; Minnick at (907)260-2710 or lindy.minnick@alaska.gov; Gallen or Hunyor in Anchorage at
(907)269-5611; or UAF Police Investigator Steve Goetz at (907)474-7721.

Please see the PDF version of the story for new information on the case, photos and contact numbers for the investigators.

Contact Beth Ipsen at (907)269-5654, (907)351-5191 or elizabeth.ipsen@alaska.gov for more information, or for a copy of a videotaped interview with Investigator Jim Stogsdill.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Amen!

The old priest lay dying in the hospital.

For years he had faithfully served the people of the nation's capital.

He motioned for his nurse to come near.

"Yes, Father?" said the nurse.

"I would really like to see Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi before I die", whispered the priest.

"I'll see what I can do, Father." replied the nurse.

The nurse sent the request to them and waited for a response.

Soon the word arrived. Harry and Nancy would be delighted to visit the priest.

As they went to the hospital, Harry commented to Nancy , "I don't know

why the old priest wants to see us, but it will certainly help our images."



Nancy couldn't help but agree.



When they arrived at the priest's room, the priest took Nancy 's hand in

his right hand and Harry's hand in his left. There was silence and a

look of serenity on the old priest's face.

Finally Nancy spoke. "Father, of all the people you could have chosen,

why did you choose us to be with you as you near the end?"

The old priest slowly replied, "I have always tried to pattern my life

after our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

The old priest continued... "He died between two lying thieves. I would like to do the same."

The BOTH BARRELS Archive

Take a trip down memory lane and root around in the archives. Plenty of Tim Treadwell, Ted Stevens and other more arcane stuff in there. So if you are new to the blog, please feel free to see what you can see.

Trina is in Paris!

Trina Landlord, aka Eskimo to the World is in Paris, no doubt comparing the City of Lights (no, NOT Anchorage) to the Great White Way. So lucky!

Writing Raven's Earth Day Resolutions

As is my wont, on matters better understood and elucidated by those much wiser than myself, I once again defer to Writing Raven at Alaska Real:

So Earth Day kinda snuck up on me, and I do try and recognize it in some way. For several thousands of years, the Native people of this continent did a pretty good job of being responsible with the earth. But I think we're slipping, big time now. "Taking care of the land" should not be a past value, and I don't think it totally is - yet.

But today, I didn't really do anything because I forgot about it until about noon today. I also got to thinking that every Earth Day I reflect on how I SHOULD be doing more, and down the way not that much happens.

So today I actually reflected on WHY that's usually a fail. And I came up with two pretty obvious reasons:

1) I start too big. Somehow, overnight, I believe I'm going to change all my habits? As utopian as that is... that's a set up for a big fail right there.

2) I'm not really that specific. "Recycle more." "Use less energy." Uh, right. Not ,only is it kind of copping out, there's no accountability, even to myself.

So I've gone over some very small, very realistic changes I know I can make and instead of making them, "change these for the rest of your life" kind of moves, I'm going to commit to them until the end of the summer (Sept. 1.) Then, re-evaluate. My small changes include:

1. Do not purchase DVD's, or physically rent them.
Benefits: Save on packaging, the energy to create the physical DVD, save on gas. I will download any movies I want to rent or purchase, and if it's not available on iTunes... well, I'm SOL. I think it's something I can survive.

2. Do not purchase anything from the grocery store if I'm not using a reusable bag.
I started something like this last year, and even have all the bags, but kept forgetting them, and shrugging it off for a "I'll remember next time." So, for grocery shopping only, if I don't have the bags, I'm not walking in. Benefits: Save on plastic AND paper, landfills not as full.

3. ONLY use environmentally conscious cosmetic brands
I'm halfway to this goal, as the brand I prefer for my basics is pretty much there. But I looked up one of the items I use every day, and... yikes. I checked it on Skin Deep cosmetic database, and holy crap. I'm basically washing my face with toxins... which seems a little self-defeating as well. So only earth-friendly brands. This includes my shampoo, shower gel - the works. Benefits: Not putting freaky hormone-ridden stuff on every day, save on packaging, supporting companies with a green conscious.

4. I will dispose of any medications correctly
I didn't even know this was a problem until I was made aware of how BIG a problem it is recently! Not disposing of medications correctly can mean a lot of things, like danger to yourself or children by accidental poisoning, but it can also (and DOES) get into the water systems, and doesn't come out. This goes into our drinking water, but it can also effect salmon (and other wildlife) populations. You can check out proper disposal here from the State of Utah (hey, they popped up first.) Benefits: Non-poisoned drinking water and oceans, less chance of poisoning.

So that's it. It seems like so little to me, but this year I'm focusing on small changes, and succeeding small, instead of focusing on big, and failing hard.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Drugs, Guns and Money (These are a few of my favorite things...)

Seriously, though, lets talk about Mexico.
Our sunny south of the border friend is in a serious downward spiral for as many reasons as Carter has little liver pills, not the least of course the out of control drug game.
Some argue that the arrest and killing of a number of kingpins have had the same effect as the death of Tito (Marshall, not Jackson) in the former Yugoslavia.
Others suggest that the rampant corruption in, say it with me, "Mexican Law Enforcement" is the cause, although I must say that any man who risks beheading for a few hundo a month is my kind of guy (maybe Mexico and Iraq should have a law enforcement exchange program...)
The United States is the biggest market in the world for illegal drugs. All roads point North. It was interesting to hear on the radio the other morning that about 14% of Americans represent the consumer sector for illegal drugs. That was a surprise. However, it is an interesting corollary to the percentage of the population that controls the wealth, too!
President Obama was in Mexico recently, talking drugs, guns and money. Mostly guns.
Yesterdays Washington Times had an interesting editorial, to which I link:Obama's Gun Lies and shamelessly quote:

On Thursday, while on a visit to Mexico, the president continued his Blame America First tour. "This war is being waged with guns purchased not here but in the United States," he said, referring to the drug wars that are tearing apart our neighbor to the south. "More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that lay in our shared border."

It is completely untrue that 90 percent of guns recovered in Mexico are from America. The Mexican government separates guns it confiscates that were made in the United States and sends them here to be traced. U.S. weapons are easy to identify because of clear markings.

Of the ones sent here to be traced, 90 percent turn out to be from America, but most guns recovered in Mexico are not sent here so are not included in the count. Fox News reported that 17 percent is a more accurate number.


It's a good editorial. Read it!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Either, Or, Both

It's not like I'm an anonymous blogger, or anything.
So I'm wandering around the new Denai'na Center in Anchorage earlier this week (Tuesday, to be precise) and I got the impression there was a social worker convention going on - everybody had on these big buttons reading OCS Yes!
Well, once I realized that most of the people wearing the buttons were old white men (and yes, I suppose I am one, too) it dawned on me that it WASN'T a social worker convention.
As me and my com padre were driving up we saw a sea of hardhats gathered outside the convention center, chanting "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho" this and "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho" that, to nobody in particular (to nobody, actually) cheered on by a Ursus Maritimus riding in a horse-drawn coach (no methane worries there, eh?) who looked for all the world like Kusko the Kapeq Dog.
"Watch this," I told Norman as I rolled down my window and went into drive-by gear...
"Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Why Don't You Hire Some Eskimos" I yelled. The crowd quieted, looking confused. "The Governor keeps telling our kids to get jobs on the Slope," I continued. "How do they do that?"
Finally a woman piped back, "Join the Union and go to work."
Never one to leave the last word up for grabs, I finished with "Yeah, if you give them more than 5 minutes to sign up for an Apprentice Program!"
See, in the "Good Old Days" when the "Good Old Boys" ran things the apprenticeship ads in the papers said you had to have all completed paperwork in hand and present yourself at the union hall between 2:37 pm and 2:53 pm or you would not even be considered for entry. Things obviously have changed, but there is always room for improvement, particularly in getting more Alaskans into jobs on the Slope.
But I digress.
The social worker convention seemed like the early morning social event of the year. Luminaries filled the hall and the lobby. I saw Governor Bill; wanted to be (still does?) Governor Johnne; wants to be Governor Bob; the current Governor (well, I didn't SEE her, but I think I heard her voice through the open doors as she gave the Secretary of Interior a Piece of Her Mind); Lisa, Mark and Don (and Lu, who was looking very good, I hasten to add); Ethan Berkowitz; Emil Notti; Mead Treadwell (hey Mead, call me!); gosh, and a LOT of people I never recognize but I am sure are important.
Or not.
Anyway, half the crowd was wearing these OCS Yes! buttons. Big, round, garish creations that signified support for exploration and ultimate development of offshore gas and oil resources in Alaskan federal waters.
Then the other half was wearing slap-on stickers reading "Protect Alaska's Oceans."
So I'm standing in the line for free coffee compliments of Alaska's oil industry when the lady behind me, well dressed with her back turned, catches my attention.
"So the thing I don't understand," I tell the back of her well-coiffed head, "is why half the people here are wearing OCS Yes buttons, half are wearing Protect Alaska's Oceans stickers, but noone is wearing BOTH!"
She turns and says, "Excuse me?"
So we chatted, I asked if she was in the "petroleum industry" and she said "OCS, Yes" (I jokes, she had on a button but she only said "Yes") and I asked what part and she said "oil and gas" and I thought, "well, duh!" She said that one of her colleagues was wearing both a button and a sticker, and I asked if her colleague was a scientist. She owned up that he pretty much was.She, on the other hand, was a "negotiator."
Well, I asked that question to almost everyone I spoke to, oil n gasser, environmentalist, politician. They all were taken aback at the concept that one could wear BOTH hearts on their sleeves.
We hung out with a few of the locals, catching up with friends and relatives....
Then we saw Randy.
My com padre on this trip was none other than Our Yup'ik Republican, Norman (recent candidate for the Alaska State Senate).
"Hey Norman, lets go talk to Randy," I said and off we went, chasing him down the escalator until we got his attention. After I muttered the secret masonic recognition phrase he cordially greeted us as brothers in arms.
A disgusted Vic Fisher races upstairs to the world of free hats and coffee.

He spoke warmly to Norman, even as he endorsed Norman's successful opponent in the race as a fine conservative in his own right.
I took a few snaps for posterity and then got down to business.
"Mr. Ruderich," I said, "Half the people here are wearing OCS Yes buttons, half are wearing Protect Alaska's Oceans buttons, but noone is wearing both."
Randy didn't miss a beat.
"Well," he began, "Those are a bunch of code words. The ones wearing the stickers are really anti fishing."
WTF?
He started onto a fine rant (Your erstwhile correspondent didn't think to press play on the recorder :( ) about how all we have to do is "eliminate" the Democrats and everything will be OK.
Norman and I looked at each other..."eliminate the Democrats," eh? Talk about your monotheistic point of view!
Well, Norman suggested that most of the people who voted for him were more of a Libertarian bent and Randy agreed with the veracity of that observation ("People in Rural Alaska just want to be left alone" - editors note: No shit, Sherlock)and then he started off again about polls and statistics about Rural support for Unions or some such truck.
Sheesh.
Me and Norman tossed back a couple of lifesavers hoping for a crucial sugar rush, shook Randy's hand once more, then headed back to whatever dreamworld we had been so (no pun intended) Ruderich'ly awakened from.
Oh yeah, I got lots of hats, too.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Transparency? What transparency?

from the Electronic Frontiers Foundation:

In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ's New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush's
Commentary by Tim Jones

We had hoped this would go differently.

Friday evening, in a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA, EFF's litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans, the Obama Administration's made two deeply troubling arguments.

First, they argued, exactly as the Bush Administration did on countless occasions, that the state secrets privilege requires the court to dismiss the issue out of hand. They argue that simply allowing the case to continue "would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security." As in the past, this is a blatant ploy to dismiss the litigation without allowing the courts to consider the evidence.

It's an especially disappointing argument to hear from the Obama Administration. As a candidate, Senator Obama lamented that the Bush Administration "invoked a legal tool known as the 'state secrets' privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court." He was right then, and we're dismayed that he and his team seem to have forgotten.

Sad as that is, it's the Department Of Justice's second argument that is the most pernicious. The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying — that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.

This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. No one — not the White House, not the Justice Department, not any member of Congress, and not the Bush Administration — has ever interpreted the law this way. (more...)

Some GREAT News!

ALL RIGHT, TOKYO! It's Official!
CHEAP TRICK TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM

Good a time as any to reprint MY ALASKAN CHEAP TRICK ADVENTURE (originally posted on the Cheap Trick message board in 2007)

“I hope you don’t mind that we brought some sunshine,” Rick Nielsen told a roaring crowd in the Alaska State Fair’s Borealis Theatre on Friday night (August 23, 2007). Cheap Trick had indeed brought the Midwest heat wave to Alaska…

My Alaskan Cheap Trick Adventure began earlier Friday morning as fog lifted from the Bethel Airport and my wife and I boarded Alaska Airlines Flight 42 to Anchorage where we would pick up a car, and my daughter and her boyfriend, and drive north to Palmer. It was the usual hour long, 500 mile run from Western Alaska to the state’s largest city, with clear weather all the way, giving us beautiful views of the Alaska Range as we flew over.

Now, the place I live, Bethel, is a community of a little over 6,000 people. I drive 5 miles to work every day. The plan of the day for Friday was to make the 40 mile run to the Fair up the Glenn Highway, a trip I hadn’t made in years. I was fully expecting to feel a little asphalt culture shock.
We set out and after years of considering 50 miles per hour FAST, I rediscovered the fact that on Alaskan highways the posted speed limit is a suggested minimum. 65 really means 80…We got to Palmer, in the heart of the state’s Matanuska Valley in no time at all.
Once we got into the Fairgrounds (our reserved seats included Fair admission) the first place I looked for was the Borealis Theatre, venue for the day’s long awaited event. You see, Cheap Trick was supposed to play at the Fair in 2005 but cancelled much to my disappointment. Today was making up for it!
I had emailed Trick Int’l about the possibility of a Meet and Greet, but they said it wasn’t happening, so as soon as I could I started scoping out the route to backstage.
Let me tell you, this venue is GREAT for a fan. The visual access is wonderful. I was able to see through the fence to the stage as it was set up, and even watch the full-bore soundcheck performed by the crew.

As I walked around the fairgrounds I could hear one of the crew saying “two, two, yuup” to test the mikes, and later, although I wasn’t there, it sounded like the Boys Themselves were warming up.
The backstage area is very nice, very Alaskan. This cabin first had a sign that said “Cheap Trick Dining Hall” and later it simply read “BC.” Once more, a view of the back stage.
The show was scheduled to start at 7:30, gate at 6:30 so I was getting ready to skulk around the back entrance when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a but a familiar face in a bright blue jacket. I said “Hi Rick” as he walked past and he replied with a “How’s it going,” or somesuch. I was stunned. I pulled my camera out and grabbed my wife and started down the midway. As we went, a fellow concertgoer I had spoken with earlier (he admired my Rockford t-shirt) said “Your lead guitarist is right in front of you.” I spotted the bright blue at a distance and began to make tracks.
Soon enough we caught up with the greatest songwriter of all time who was gracious enough to share a few words and let me get a couple of pictures with my wife.
“This is a pretty wild place,” he observed, and I of course blurted out what a big fan I was and how I was glad they made it after their cancellation (ho hum) and then I told him I was from Western Alaska and he asked me what I did there and I said I had lived there for nearly 30 years and he said “You didn’t answer my question!” So I told. Then I told him my wife is Yup’ik Eskimo and he, very classily replies “Oh, you pick pretty!” Then he said he was part Sioux, a small part. By then the manager ( I think, you’ll see the back of his head soon) came back and handed Rick a pork chop on a stick, and we left him to munch out and head to the show.
But first I had to take one last look backstage to see if anyone else interesting was there. Whoa! There was Tom on his cell phone.
Well, time to go in the gate before the rush.
The Borealis Theatre is a very intimate setting with some great seats, some sucky seats and a gorgeous grass amphitheatre for festival seating. Julie and I were in Row E, just below Stage Right.

There was plenty of behind the scenes activity on the stage for us to watch. This gentleman gave all appearances of being the manager; he’s the one that got Rick his pork chop.
I don’t know how well, on a BIG stage, you are able to see stuff like this, and for obvious reasons I titled this photo Second Best Job in the World.
Well, here’s Bun E.’s kit, and a shot of Stage Left.
One last check of things and We Were Ready!
Much to the delight of the Alaskan crowd Rick paid us tribute by walking out at the opening with a fur hat on. I of course was too slow on the shutter to catch his fashion debut!
Bun E. punched in, Robin strutted,singing Hello There, Rick took the band into Big Eyes which was a real workout for Robin and Tom. And here’s Rick finishing it off.
Yes, it was the now standard concert playlist and we loved every second of it!

One of my favorites and a CT classic, Oh Candy was a reason for Rick to bring out the Checkerboard. By now Robin has unbuttoned his leather jacket and will soon lose it completely. Here’s Tom playing Oh Candy. After the song Rick handed his axe to a lady in the front row, then after a minute or so he said “Oh, I thought you were my cousin” as he took it back.
Rick’s birthday present to his son, Welcome to the World was next (Robin had a lyrics sheet for it at his feet).
After If You Want My Love they whipped out a fine rendition of Come On Come On Come On and Robin finally gave in to the Alaska heat! “>Tom never took off HIS jacket!
A couple of lucky ladies got to hold some of Rick’s guitars. He told this one to keep it. I remember some of the audience chanting “Run, Run” as one lady wondered what to do. Rick says “There are only two ways to get a guitar. One is to BE me. The other is…I’m thinking…”
Rick intro’d Tom and I Know What I Want with his yellow plexi. It was a real treat seeing Tom belt it out. Here are Robin and Rick backing Tom as Bun E. laughs at something… And here is one more of Tom singing.
Rick waved his ’88 with Bun E.’s picture on it, made a little patter and then HUNG IT FROM THE LIGHT BAR! Luckily, Ricks tech rescued Bun E.
Lucky fans, these. Rick saw their shirts and, suggesting they were newlyweds, invited them up on stage to “consummate your marriage.” And up they went.
Here’s a little something for the ladies out there…
And here’s a little something else…
"Mother told me, Yes she told me I’d meet girls like you, She also told me Stay Away, You never know what you’ll catch..."
Oh man, here’s Robin saying Good Night! Is this the end of the show? Then I saw Rick’s technician re-loading the semi-automatic mic stand with more picks! So I knew better!
This time I didn’t miss! The malaqi (Yup’ik word for fur hat) looked great on Rick, even if it was a little warm! But he wore it through the first half of Dream Police. Here he is. Ladies and Gentlemen, Alaska’s Finest (at least on August 24th!) Could this guy be Rick’s biggest fan?
Except for the shots with my wife and daughter, this is one of my favorite pictures as Cheap Trick sings Goodnight... And here’s the finale’.
‘Bye, Rick.
Like I said, the back stage is really accessible, and so is Cheap Trick! I saw my wife and daughter and her boyfriend and a couple of other people down past the gate and there was Bun E. shaking hands through the chain link. I stuck my hand through the barbed wire and Bun E. shook it and warned me, “Don’t cut your hand!” Then he apologized for having nothing to sign or sign with. I then whipped out a Sharpie pen and a stack of notecards and he generously moved down to the gate to sign and smile! He told us he would “send over the rest of the guys.” Thanks, Bun E.!
Lo and behold who should stroll up but Robin in his Greek fisherman hat (pulled down way to low). He signed my wife’s t-shirt and a couple of notecards, made some small talk and headed back in.
During the concert my wife said “I should have given him (Rick) my necklace.” She makes a lot of Alaska native handicrafts, including Yup’ik dance necklaces, so when he came out to say Hi she took off her beaded necklace and gave it to him.
You can see it under the strings of his hat here as he signs her shirt. Rick also singed a few autographs, including an old Dream Police 45 dust cover, which really caught his attention. He asked the guy, “Where did you get this?”
Tom didn’t make it out, but he did spend some time talking to a small boy and his dad who got backstage, and I don’t know how many people leave a concert with all 4 autographs LOL.
All in all it was a great trip. Final score- Picks: 5 for me, 5 or 6 for my wife, a new black hat for me, a t shirt for her, 3 autographs and great pics.
Rick told the crowd at the end, “Maybe we’ll see you next year.” We all sure hope so.
The next day I felt like all the air had been let out of me!
When I got back to work on Monday a coworker, bobbing her head asked if I “rocked out?”
I replied, simply, “I sang myself hoarse.”
As we say out here, Quyana Tailuuten (Thank you for coming), and thanks for being so gracious to your fans!
All pics @2007 by Mark E. Springer, ask if you want to use them for something.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

"shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate"

EDITORIAL: Barack takes a bow
The president shows fealty to a Muslim king

In a shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate, President Obama bowed to Saudi King Abdullah at the Group of 20 summit in London last week.

Mr. Obama later said in Strasbourg, France, "We have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect." Symbolism is important in world affairs. By bending over to show greater respect to Islam, the U.S. president belittled the power and independence of the United States. (more)

White House: No bow to Saudi

"The White House is denying that the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London, a scene that drew criticism on the right and praise from some Arab outlets.

"It wasn't a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he's taller than King Abdullah," said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity." (more)

What The F**K???

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Anonymity Outed

Here's the basic story line. Someone in Anchorage (I guess) has been writing a blog called The Mudflats and has been using the nom de plume "Ak Muckraker."
Said Ak Muckraker is a fine writer, and since the Republican Convention this summer has ammassed quite a following.
Obviously an unassuming individual, the affectionately abbreviated AKM has preferred not to let loose with a public persona, and as I suggested in a previous post that may be for good reason, reasons AKM has also noted on occasion.
So, popular Alaska blogger pisses off not only the Governor but, somehow, Representative Mike Doogan (D-Spenard) who, a retired journalist himself (I have always known him as a columnist and honestly don't recall ever reading a hard news piece written by him, although one supposes he did do a little honest scribbling in his youth) has his own experience with anonymity. Speculation fluriates like Redoubt ash in a snowstorm and suddenly, mystery writer Doogan does a little "sleuthing" on his own (time paid for by the Alaska Treasury...?) and identifies AKM to the "public", or at least people interested enough in his point of view to subscribe to his email newsletter.
Once again, I must defer to the also anonymous Writing Raven and this mornings entry on Alaska Real, Mudflats, meet Publius, Junius and Boz.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Committees of Jurisdiction

I noted a couple of comments during President Obama's recent press conference on March 24.. 

" I’ve said that we’ve got to have a serious energy policy that frees ourselves from dependence on foreign oil and makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy."
and
"And what we have to do is invest in those things that will allow the American people’s capacity for ingenuity and innovation, their ability to take risks but make sure that those risks are grounded in good products and good services that they believe they can market to the rest of the country, that those models of economic growth are what we’re promoting"

So it should be clear from the Presidents comments that he continues to encourage "Yankee Ingenuity," as well he should. The shining city on the hill should offer everyone the highest quality of life possible, at the least cost to the overall environment. Yes, there will always be shipbreakers in India, Pakistan and China, but fewer and fewer of those hulks should be VLCC's and ULCC's. Energy independence and the efficient utilization of renewable energy, and the increasingly efficient utilization of non-renewable energy is not a new idea.

With this in mind I would respectfully suggest that Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Mark Begich, pose questions like this to the Secretaries of Defense, Energy and Commerce, in their respective Committes of jurisdiction.They might also want to ask the Presient himself. After all, he is promising a new openess and transpaarency to government.

"In line with the goals and objectives of the Obama Administration, the Congress and the American people, will you (Mr. Secretary) commit to a thorough declassification review of technical intelligence, classified patent applications, government funded research and development and archival matter relating to any and all topics regarding the use of energy in all its forms (excluding of course properly classified Restricted Data and Formerly Restricted Data and munitions information) in a manner that permits the public to view and use it to promote inventiveness and innovation?"

Or something like that. The point is that the US Government has an incredible amount of information on energy utilization (think fuel cells instead of litium batteries for cars, for example) locked up that if turned loose on an unsuspecting world could result in an economic and technical revolution rivalling the microcomputer and internet!

Look at how long we've been screwing around with laser ignition. Lets see what the governemnt has, let people do their own messing around in university labs, basements and garages. One can only imagine the sorts of breakthroughs we might see ove the course of the next 10 or 15 years!

Kinda gives you a sense of perspective, doesn't it?

This is a satellite image of Mt. Redoubt puffing away. Now, anyone who doubts that volcanoes add to the introduced gas load in the atmosphere and above it really ought to think again. Likewise huge forest fires and, yes, LA freeways!

Hey - At least he's anti-death penalty...

Since I can't say any of this better, I'll just link to an excellent post on the subject of yesterdays nomination (is it in writing yet?) of Wayne Anthony Ross as Alaska Attorney General.
The always amazing Writing Raven posts at Alaska Real with the killer (and true) headline: Palin says final farewell to the myth that she cares about Native people.

Wayne Ross has been a thorn in the side of Rural Alaska and has never been able, or it appears, willing, to defend his positions in any forum requiring honest debate that I have ever seen. He has cut a fat egotistical hog as the mouthpiece for the professional hunting industry in Alaska. I won't begrudge him as a 2nd Amendment supporter, since I am one as well, and I was at least slightly heartened to read in the ADN this morning that he is anti death penalty (and yes, as a staunch Catholic, anti abortion as well, so he is consistent in THAT regard).

What bothered me most listening to the wind whistle past the microphones yesterday was the absolute lack of mention (if indeed unreported) of the Governors marching orders to Ross on, umm, ENFORCING THE LAW!
Well, actually I might (when I find some time) be able to shed a little light on the lack of interest by the Palin administration on things like violence against women. She is on record as saying some, to my mind, pretty provocative things on the subject...so stay tuned.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Dependency Creep"

Just found the above phrase in an editorial on New Scientist. Got there via a piece on a recent (January) National Academies report on severe space weather.
Now, the idea that Ol' Sol, our 93 million mile distant friend could turn on us in a fury is most emphatically NOT the stuff of science fiction fantasy. In fact, a sudden, severe solar eruption in the direction of Earth represents the greatest threat mankind faces, barring a cataclysmic space body collision.
Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts
Workshop Report
is described thusly:
The adverse effects of extreme space weather on modern technology--power grid outages, high-frequency communication blackouts, spacecraft anomalies--are well known and well documented, and the physical processes underlying space weather are also generally well understood. Less well documented and understood, however, are the potential economic and societal impacts of the disruption of critical technological systems by severe space weather.

As a first step toward determining the socioeconomic impacts of extreme space weather events and addressing the questions of space weather risk assessment and management, a public workshop was held in May 2008. The workshop brought together representatives of industry, the government, and academia to consider both direct and collateral effects of severe space weather events, the current state of the space weather services infrastructure in the United States, the needs of users of space weather data and services, and the ramifications of future technological developments for contemporary society's vulnerability to space weather. The workshop concluded with a discussion of un- or underexplored topics that would yield the greatest benefits in space weather risk management.

Space weather risk management: to a ham radio operator like me, that means buying a nice tube radio!
But back to "Dependency Creep." The Coast Guard recently announced the demise of LORAN-C. Now, as an old Coastie who helped build USCG LORAN Station Tok, I am kinda bummed. The fact is that when we start getting sunspots again, (which I personally hope come back with a vengeance since I would like to work some DX before I die,) and GPS satellites start having problems, LORAN-C will represent the best game in town.
Since it's a Departmental (DHS) budget decision, maybe Congress can take a good, hard look at the significant historic investment in LORAN-C and keep this fine system alive for another decade.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Red Sky at Morning

Sailors Take Warning...
The sky was pink here in Bethel this AM, perhaps because of the volcano, perhaps in anniversary of the worst shipwreck in Alaska history.

It was dark when the Exxon Valdez set sail that fateful evening from the oil dock in the town of it's namesake. Captain Joseph Hazelwood, an experienced and respected mariner couldn't have dream t in his worst nightmares what was to transpire over the next hours, days and decades.
I wrote then and I'll write again that although he holds responsibility as Master of the ship for what happened, he was completely justified in leaving the deck and the conn to the mate who, for whatever reason neglected to keep the supertanker on course.
But the taciturn voice of Captain Hazelwood will always stick in my mind, as I heard it on the radio that early morning 20 years ago, just waking up, in Hooper Bay...
"We've fetched up hard on Bligh Reef...and we're leaking some oil."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bring it on, Big Boy!

Stratovolcano! Has a real ring to it, doesn't it?
Well, the much predicted (and, I must say, vaunted) eruption of veteran Alaskan stratovolcano Mt. Redoubt is underway. A "thin film" of ash was reported to me from Willow this morning, but so far no major complications seem to have arisen from the high ash cloud.
Of course, real concern exists for the safety of the Drift River Oil Loading Facility which sits, for all intents and purposes, at the base of the mountain. The Anchorage Daily News reports:
"The AVO staff also warned authorities at the Drift River Oil Terminal -- on the western shore of Cook Inlet downriver from the volcano -- that mud flows and flooding from melting glaciers might be headed their way.
Cook Inlet Pipe Line Co., which operates the terminal, said early this morning that it had begun shutting the facility down.
At a 3 a.m. press conference today, John Powers of AVO said given the hot material landing on snow, mud and snow slides could be expected and staff would check the Drift River area at first light today.
Protective dikes have been constructed at the terminal since Redoubt last erupted nearly 20 years ago..
Powers also said -- looking at the history of Redoubt eruptions -- that this event could be expected to go on for some time, even months."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vets win on insurance, for now...

American Legion praises White House change in plan

President Obama has dropped a plan to bill private insurance companies for the treatment of veterans with service-connected disabilities and injuries. American Legion National Commander David K. Rehbein applauded the move.

"We are glad that President Obama listened to the strong objections raised by The American Legion and veterans everywhere about this unfair plan," Rehbein said. "We thank the administration for its proposed increase in the VA budget. We are always available to assist, by providing guidance to ensure a veterans health-care system that is worthy of the heroes that use it."

After a March 18 meeting with the Legion and other veterans groups, the White House announced it would no longer consider billing insurance companies or veterans for treatment of their service-connected disabilities.

"Although we disagreed with the proposal, additional revenue streams are needed by VA," Rehbein said. "I strongly encourage Congress and the administration to allow VA to begin billing Medicare for the treatment of veterans who qualify for the program. They paid into Medicare for their entire working careers, and should be able to use it in the medical system that was built specifically for them."

The White House plan to bill private insurance companies for veterans' service-connected health care led to a fire storm of opposition. Rehbein's editorial opposing the move appeared in the March 18 Wall Street Journal.

The same day, Legion spokesman Peter Gaytan appeared on Fox News and explained why the plan would not serve veterans' best interests.

Link 'O the Day

Trina Landlord's Eskimo to the World blog, live from New York!
Great job, Trina, and its nice to see my old boss strap hanging in the Big Apple.
Manhattan has a special place in my heart. I attended Electronics Technician School at the US Coast Guard Training Center on Governors Island back in 1975-76.
The last time I was in New York City, several years ago, I came to the insight that although I could never live in a big city (not even Anchorage), living in Manhattan would be just like living in a village! I COULD live there :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Obama to Vets: Pay for Your Own Care

Contact: Craig Roberts of The American Legion, +1-202-263-2982 Office, +1-202-406-0887 Cell

WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"

Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group's early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, " There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable."

Commander Rehbein reiterated points made last week in testimony to both House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. It was stated then that The American Legion believes that the reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate that VA treat service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits.

"I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted," said Commander Rehbein, "is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540-million in revenue. The American Legion has long advocated for Medicare reimbursement to VA for the treatment of veterans. This, we believe, would more easily meet the President's financial goal. We will present that idea in an anticipated conference call with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel in the near future.

"I only hope the administration will really listen to us then. This matter has far more serious ramifications than the President is imagining," concluded the Commander.

SOURCE The American Legion

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'll sign!

Ray Metcalfe has sent the following email, which we have come across:

The difficulty in prosecuting politicians like Cowdery is that much of what you would think is illegal is not. Politicians have exempted themselves from punishment through loopholes. Prosecutors find themselves relying on statutes made intentionally flimsy by the politicians they prosecute. To remedy this, I am collecting signatures to put the following proposition on the ballot.
 

     “Anyone found using their public office to enrich themselves, their relatives, close friends, business associates; past, present, or anticipated employers or contributors, is guilty of a class A felony. Anyone found securing enrichment by inducing public officials to violate this statute is guilty of bribery, a class A felony.” ––


Believe it or not, what you just read is not illegal. If you’re willing, I need 100 sponsors to submit my proposal to the Lieutenant Governor’s office. I will be at CafĂ© del Mundo 341 East Benson Blvd at noon Monday the 16th. PS: Class A felonies = 20 years in jail. 
 
Alternatively, print out one or more copies of the attached petition, get a few signatures and mail them to: Ray Metcalfe, PO Box 233809, Anchorage Alaska, 99523.
 
Ray Metcalfe. [ mailto:RayinAK@aol.com ]RayinAK@aol.com 907-344-4514

Did anybody (from Alaska) go

to the 23rd Annual Reservation Economic Summit (RES 2009)
& American Indian Business Trade Fair
put on by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Nick Tucker, John Moller

Nick Tucker of Emmonak writes in Alaska Newspapers (amongst other places):


First off. I am outraged.

Think of this: Did Martin Moore and I have to go meet Gov. Sarah Palin there in Russian Mission and Marshall? Why did she not come here to Emmonak?

It took away the most precious time of my life to have to be absent from my granddaughter's and nephew's first Yup'ik dance in Alakanuk that evening.

We returned late and Dorothy, my wife, had to go down. By the time I got home, I was already over a half-hour late and would have been over an hour late if I had been able to go - my oldest son's snowmachine had no gas.

I don't have the latest figures, but Martin had told me that there are over 20,000 people in our region, the Wade Hampton district. If at least 50 percent are employable and are not working, where are these 10,000 young and older men and women going to exodus in trying to find jobs; who has 10,000 jobs available?

I felt like Governor Palin treated Emmonak with most disregard and disrespect by not coming here where it all started. Instead, we had to go up to Russian Mission to meet her and followed her to Marshall.

I was there. About whom and to whom was she referring that top leadership in what village(s) should be changed? This is a blow to all rural villages telling each one of us that our past and current leadership isn't worth being there!

Why and on what basis? This message is dismal, not of hope. How do I take things?

Here, I had a person whom I voted for and who turns around and stabs us? I tell you, I want things done for Emmonak. And now, for all rural villages. We deserve better than that - respect.

In my original letter, I stated that we do not have time for debates - attention was needed then and it will not disappear overnight. Usually, I refrain from this type of outrage, but I am hurt to the core of my heart and spirit.

Let's see some things get done - talk and PR are cheap until you have solid accomplishments to back them up. Our villages need that now. That is why I mentioned to our governor, "Who else do we have to look up to?"

Emmonak leadership has always been superb, otherwise we would not have our present infrastructure as it is. It has advanced from a tiny village of about four houses 80 or so years ago to some 220 houses.

Considering the harsh, remote challenges, it has paved its way to what it is now. Yes, we have a very long way to go in terms of matching up with Bethel, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.

I have faith in my fellow rural villages and their leadership. They have brought their villages to where and what they are today with challenges greater than most in our vast state. Is it not embarrassing enough to have to cry out, let alone be put down by our state leadership? I think all rural Alaska deserves an apology and never to be treated like this again. We are unique to the state, contribute our rich resources into the state and urban cities and barely have anything in return to improve ourselves.

How about a 50-50 split between the state and the region where resources are extracted from; then each region can split its 50 percent similar to the 7(i) distribution.

I doubt if anyone will hear me cry out again. I believe our region stands to have one of the richest gas deposits right beneath my house!

Will I still cry out? I am an open man, but I feel insulted myself and on behalf of our rural native villages

And here is John Moller's complete statement in response to Nick Tucker:

I was a member of the fourth team of state officials to visit Emmonak since January 14, and was on the ground in Emmonak when the aid mission operated by Samaritan's Purse was delivering food aid to Marshall and Russian Mission.

I spoke to Mr. Tucker three times while in Emmonak, including just before he left for Marshall. At that time, Emmonak had already received thousands of pounds of food from both state and private resources. Samaritan's Purse made the right decision to deliver aid to Marshall and Russian Mission. The governor and lieutenant governor were guests and not in control of the destinations. Both had also previously made an attempt to fly to Emmonak but were weathered out.

I spoke with many citizens while I was there and the main issue is jobs and increased earnings from fishing. On the issue of jobs in rural Alaska, several state agencies, including the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, have been, and will continue, working on several fronts to improve the opportunities in rural Alaska.

Alaska Department of Labor representatives have already signed up more than 100 residents in the area to receive employment information and assistance, and are working with local leaders from four communities (Alakanuk, Kotlik, Nunam Iqua and Emmonak) on a mid-April career fair in Emmonak. Employers could include Native corporations, the Department of Public Safety, tribal organizations, the CDQ group, Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, and other seafood employers.

ADF&G managers are currently working with stakeholders on plans for the next fishing season to allow maximum sustainable use of available fish. A budget amendment has been proposed for ADF&G to conduct in-season salmon research efforts that should lead to additional harvest of chum salmon.

The state's efforts will continue.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Fair Wind and Following Seas

North America's 1st female ship captain dies at 93
The Associated Press
BANGOR, Maine - Molly K. Carney, who as Molly Kool was the first woman in North America to become a licensed ship captain, has died at her home at the age of 93.

I don't blame Nick Tucker for being pissed!

Letter: Nick Tucker angered by governor's "disrespect"

Johnny on the Spot

John Moller interview with Alex DeMarban at The Tundra Drums

Blog response of the week!

from Businessinsider.com
Uh Oh, White House Seeks Economic Advice From Twitter

Twitter cofounder and CEO Ev Williams is headed to the White House today.
The administration invited him to join a “young business leaders" summit to discuss the economic crises.
As Ev himself puts it -- in a Twitter message, of course -- "[this] must mean they're *really* out of ideas."
A reminder: With 6 million members and 700% plus growth, Twitter makes no money in the US. (It sells some ads in Japan).


Tom Genin said:
Mar. 06, 9:16 AM
Tell them that they should look at the brilliant marketing ideas of Home Depot. For the first time ever, I saw Home Depot selling gun safes. Where are they being sold...next to portable electric generators. We are so screwed.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Blessed Be the Peacemakers

Black Christian News reports:
Franklin Graham says Arrest of Omar al-Bashir Threatens Chaos in Sudan

"In a shocking statement Tuesday, American evangelist and relief organization head Franklin Graham said he prefers the Sudanese president - who is facing an international arrest for crimes against humanity - to remain in power.
Despite his egregious and inexcusable involvement in the Darfur genocide and attacks on Southern Sudanese, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has displayed some willingness to cooperate and work towards peace, Graham argues in his opinion piece posted in the New York Times on Tuesday."

"I can't say anybody's starving, but people are doing without."

Here's a link to yesterdays Alaska News Nightly story Rural Alaska seeks long term solutions to economic challenges featuring Ann Strongheart and Victoria Briggs.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I told you I like high speed rail

Here's a socialist euro nation to emulate in that regard:
Spain's High Speed Trains Faster Than Planes
NPR's Jerome Socolovsky explains how the Spaniards are doing it right!
With my oldest son about to deploy to Afghanistan with his Marine Corps unit, I found this NPR Morning Edition story interesting:
'Gamble' Author: Iraq War Only Halfway Over

This just in

from our own Correspondent

Looking for all the world like the sweating floor manager on the late afternoon shift at Larry Flynt's Hustler Club in an unbuttoned shiny black shirt and undersized sport coat, Rush Limbaugh leaned his meaty hands on the lectern at the CPAC conference and slipped a greasy dollar bill into the G-string of the writhing conservative dead-enders packed into the garishly lit Omni Shoreham in Washington DC.

Jowls rolling like thunder from the right via CNN's unfortunate high-definition feed, Limbaugh took control of the sad and tattered remnants of the mainstream conservative movement, and urged continued allegiance to the noble Lost Cause of Reagan, metaphorically carrying his rebel-yelling followers into the hills like modern-day Quantrill's Raiders standing firm against change.

If there's any doubt that the GOP's own Paulie Walnuts  is now firmly in command of the Party of Lincoln, the "breaking news" style coverage of Limbaugh's bellow-cose rant dispelled the notion. CNN, for one, went wide - with the kind of uninterrupted live footage usually reserved for Presidents and Popes, followed by a panel of analysts to weigh and consider the import of the speech to this republic of ours. There were other dancers on the stage, to be sure - including Ward Connerly, Ann Coulter, Phyllis Schlafly and Karl Rove - but only Limbaugh's hour-long ramble (he went over by 30 minutes) garnered opposition leader status. "As the movement searches for a front-and-center spokesman to provide inspiration and direction, Limbaugh's refusal to tilt toward the center may place him out front in a Republican Party already suffering from a disappearing moderate wing," wrote Tom Schaller in Salon.

Limbaugh is a showbiz talent, and he is taking full advantage of this moment of rudderless, thoughtless spinning in circles by Republicans to seize the stage in full-throated opposition to the overwhelmingly popular new President - and virtually everything he stands for. In rooting publicly for Barack Obama's failure, Limbaugh may be leading the conservative movement to a smaller, fringe-like existence in the halls of power - but it will be an existence that he can easily dominate.

Leading gullible Republicans into the hills of guerrilla ideological resistance during the nation's toughest economic crisis in 80 years constitutes a gift of incredible political proportions for the Obama Administration. Instead of principled point-by-point opposition by a chastened party of experienced professionals ready for tough dealings at the bargaining table, President Obama is blessed with clownish truculence and pure rejectionism - embodied in the Republican response to the President's forceful Congressional address by Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a moment of excruciatingly tone-deaf ideology rescued only by the attention lavished on its shockingly poor delivery.

President Obama, of course, is aware of this lumbering and clumsy gift from the right - so much so that he sent chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to Bob Schieffer's CBS studio this morning to declare Limbaugh "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party."

And it's that blustery intellectual force that convinces Republicans like Jindal and Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi that their political futures are enlarged and brightened by a nihilistic refusal of Federal funds to their own communities. "White kids on dope," jibed conservative Rod Dreher, one of a small cadre of right-wing commentators to take on the Limbaugh lemming movement, the willful ignorance of the current crisis and the nation's ultimate rejection of a failed a humiliated party leadership. "No need to return to first principles and recalibrate policies to account for new realities," wrote Dreher. "Just find a better messenger for the same old same old. You begin to see why nobody inside that bubble could grasp what a flop Bobby Jindal's reheated Republican mush of a speech was going to be ahead of time."

Rush Limbaugh is right about one thing: President Obama is indeed on a mission of reinvention. That much was clear from his speech on Capitol Hill last week - and even clearer in his budget proposal. And, as Limbaugh undoubtedly knows, the President holds the whip hand for the foreseeable future. So Limbaugh plays to that loss of power in his audience, and in a speech that referred bizarrely to "slave blood" and a defense of John Thain (who seems to literally be asking for a set of numbered orange duds from Andrew Coumo) and the spending habits of bail-out bankers, he laid on some false concern for Obama:

"President Obama is one of the most gifted politicians, one of the most gifted men that I have ever witnessed. He has extraordinary talents. He has communication skills that hardly anyone can surpass. No, seriously. No, no, I'm being very serious about this. It just breaks my heart that he does not use these extraordinary talents and gifts to motivate and inspire the American people to be the best they can be. He's doing just the opposite. And it's a shame. [Applause] President Obama has the ability -- he has the ability to inspire excellence in people's pursuits. He has the ability to do all this, yet he pursues a path, seeks a path that punishes achievement, that punishes earners and punishes -- and he speaks negatively of the country. Ronald Reagan used to speak of a shining city on a hill. Barack Obama portrays America as a soup kitchen in some dark night in a corner of America that's very obscure. He's constantly telling the American people that bad times are ahead, worst times are ahead. And it's troubling, because this is the United States of America."

Yes, Rush this is the United States of America. And your timely and spectacular gift to the President is much appreciated indeed.

(editors note: This is what I get for telling m2k I thought Limbaugh's speech was "invigorating" LOL)

Discuss quietly amongst yourselves

I kick myself every time I see what originated as a sci fi plotline inside my tiny head years ago makes the headlines:

Russian general says U.S. may have planned satellite collision

The concept of autonomous robotic orbital (and suborbital) vehicles is by no means far fetched. Ever wonder what all those USAF-sponsored classified shuttle missions were all about? Yeah, me too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Statement of Sen. Murkowski responding to Gov. Jindal’s Republican address:

It is absolutely appropriate for our federal government to spend money on volcano monitoring. A current example is Mount Redoubt. This active volcano, which is on the flight path into Anchorage International Airport, the third busiest cargo airport in the world, and Elmendorf Air Force Base, has been smoldering since the end of January. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has been on 24 hour watch since then.

A volcanic eruption at Mount Redoubt has the potential to bring down a jumbo aircraft flying over Southcentral Alaska. Alaskans vividly remember that volcanic ash from an eruption of Mount Redoubt nearly brought down a KLM Boeing 747 as it was completing its flight from Amsterdam to Anchorage in December 1989. The volcanic ash caused the failure of all four engines on the jumbo jet.

It is understandable that citizens in the Lower 48 may not be familiar with our many active volcanoes in Alaska and how devastating they can be to our state and its citizens. In many ways, it is the same kind of danger caused from Mother Nature that the Gulf states face from hurricanes or all coastal communities face from a tsunami.

However, Governor Jindal raised a legitimate question last evening about whether it is appropriate to fund volcano monitoring in legislation that purported to stimulate the economy and create jobs for unemployed Americans. One of my key criticisms of the economic stimulus bill is that it turned into a supplemental appropriations bill, rather than a targeted approach to stimulate the economy.

 

And it's really USGS money!

Bobby Jindal and volcano monitoring: What was he talking about?

Fact Checking the Republican Response: No, there's not $140 million in the stim for volcano monitoring

Don't Pisstak

As reported around the blogosphere, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made at least one faux pas in his GOP response to President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress when he said
"But Democratic leaders in Congress -- they rejected this approach. Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history, with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest. While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a "magnetic levitation" line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called "volcano monitoring." Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C."
Obviously he neglected to vett (popular word these days, isn't it?) his zinger with people like, oh, say, Senator Murkowski or Governor Palin.
A look at the State of Louisiana website prominently displays another liberal democrat initiative, the National Hurricane Center.
Personally, I am also a fan of high speed rail, but that's another issue.
Here's the email I just sent to him:

Governor, great speech last night except for one small thing: Volcano Research is as important to the people of Alaska and Washington State and trans-Pacific air commerce as the National Hurricane Center is to the Gulf.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory (www.avo.alaska.edu) is critical preparedness infrastructure to us, as is the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.
You are no stranger to natural disasters, and neither are Alaskans.
While it got you a great line about the "eruption of spending" in Washington, a sudden eruption of one of our many active volcanoes could have a devastating effect on life here in the Last Frontier and cripple the northern air trade routes that are so important to our Nation's economy.
Personally, I would like to hear you state that you misspoke last evening, and recognize the similarities of importance in Federal warning systems for natural disasters between the Gulf States and the Pacific Northwest.
Sincerely and with best regards from Alaska,
Mark E. Springer

Bethel, Alaska 99559

cc: Senator Murkowski

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Y'all Come Back, Now

Let me say this about that. If you are from Alaska, listen to the Governor carefully.
As to Franklin Graham, I have to say that being from Hooper Bay I have to respect the man for what he did for my Alaska home village. When the school burned a couple of years ago he was there that day pledging to rebuild homes. And he and his organization, Samaritans Purse did just that (with a lot of help from the community!)


Video courtesy of Anchorage Daily News.

Anonymity

The "Anonymous Blogger," bane of politicians from Wasilla to, well, Wasilla, is a creature not even of modern times, but a graffiti artist from the prehistoric, drawing animal pictures on the ceilings of caves and carving hearts into oak trees and asking, politely, that their name be "withheld by request."
Of course, in our modern age an authors name can be "withheld by choice" allowing, one would infer, greater intellectual latitude.
What is ironic, of course, is the pithiness with which some anonymous commentators comment on public and attributed statements by anyone, with no opportunity (barring a blog reply) for retort, not that many bloggers would welcome such response in the first place.
The policy here at Both Barrels has always been to be up front about who we are, partly through ego and partly because that is the way we have always operated, with a byline and letting the chips fall as they may.
This is not to say that we don't hold the work of some of the Anonymous Bloggers in high regard. Some are remarkable writers and we will be linking to their work as time allows.
Whether our willingness to attach a name to the words functions as a restraint only time - and I - can tell.

Monday, February 23, 2009

We May Be Back

Shocked? Don't be! After a more or less self-imposed hiatus form the public square, your Both Barrels editorial board is giving careful consideration to the implications of a reappearance. Certainly the times call for a voice from the wilderness (not that there aren't one or two now, but what the hey) too add to the roil.
As some would say, stayed tuned.
MS