Friday, February 23, 2007

In a Deep Funk - Musings on Putin, No. 1

Coming up on the end of a very tumultuous and yes, at times tortured involvement that – curses on the electronic age – was memoralized for me by my good friend CabinDweller, and delivered to me last night in the form of a massive pdf file of past emails appropriately titled “the Compendium”. All of this the outcome, I maintain, of a casual remark by same, which to quote precisely was “what the hell, why not?” This was in response to my question if I should explore possibilities of van-related fun. Well, many, many days and some great times and trips later (of the road/air/river variety, not the sort involving ‘shrooms or anything else, though sometimes I wonder wouldn’t that have helped?) – I am pondering that rhetorical retort, indeed, and can think of many reasons why not – but its all water under the bridge. Last year at this time we were coming back well tanned, rested and much in happiness from Mexico – unlikely a trip to be repeated, especially since I now have the compendium to keep me sane and in line whenever my resolve starts to crumble. I guess it is fair to say we will always have Sante Fe, Mexico, Scottsdale, Red Slough and other places both near and far to remember. But right now its time to come up for air and gather back some sanity and balance.

Which is no doubt what was in General Nikolai Solovtsov’s mind when he lashed out at the US’s bozo proposal to build a Missile Defense System in Poland and Czech Republic. I haven’t taken much note of Russia and its President prior to this – but I have to say, he is rising in rank on my list of heroes in this sorry-ass mess those Rapture Freaks running our gummint have sent us into.

I am with Vlad when he expressed strong distrust of the US’ claims that “the system would be to guard the American East Coast and Europe from missiles launched by ‘rogue nations’ in the Middle East.” [1] Oh come on! Who in the international set (lets not ask nationally, since we know the X-ian Right is hell-bent on an Armageddon of their own creation) is really going to believe that line of horse shit? As someone who unwillingly[2] lives a scant 80 miles from our own back forty of missile silos comprising the totally ineffective MDS for the alleged “rogue nation” of North Korea, I am in total agreement with Putin. It has given me terrible back shivers to fly over Alaska’s MDS field – it looks like something out of Dr. Strangelove – and harkens me back to a time when Russia and the US were indeed poised with their fingers over the triggers. And now we have Dubya and his warhawks fanning those flames again.

I hope Poland and the Czech Republic take the good Russian general’s warnings seriously and decline to allow the US to establish more bulkheads in yet more countries. When is a nation, or a coalition of nations, going to stop this ill-conceived imperialism, and liberate those of us who are trying to survive the crazy and dangerous antics of the Rapture Freaks? It cant happen too soon.

[1] Moscow warns Czechs and Poles on U.S. shield, International Herald Tribune, February 19, 2007
[2] because like a vast majority of transplants, I am no longer suitable for or suited to Lower 48 living, thus cannot envision leaving Squarebanks, despite its proximity to the Ft. Greely test bed.
Photo of the Ft. Greely Missile Defense System, Alaska, (c)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Real Weather Returns to Fairbanks, Grasshoppers

So, you remember the story about the ants and grasshoppers?

The industrious, type A, workaholic ants busted their gasters1 gathering and splitting cords of seasoned firewood, putting away smoked salmon, halibut, Cheetos, and DVDs, brewing vast quantities of beer that they didn't even sample - all to tide them through the long, dark, cold winter. (Apparently, there were no convenience stores in this story.)

Whenever there was a good party happening, they'd always say something like, "I'd love to go, but I have so much work to do" or "I have to get up early in the morning."

Meanwhile, the grasshoppers, no doubt suffering in the summer from the reverse of SAD (MAD, or Manic Affective Disorder) ran about partying like Nomeites: carrying on at parties in the Valley2 where live bluegrass was heard, there were twice as many dogs as people, and all sorts of alternatypes ate, drank, and were, generally, merry. At one point, there was a smoke machine involved.

They were seizing the day, my peoples.

First, off, I might be a grasshopper, but that is not why I ran out of firewood this week, just in time for our cute little cold snap.3

No, back when the grasshoppers were considering starting a band, back when driving 500 miles to go fishing seemed like a good idea, this grasshopper didn't even live in a place with a wood stove. The necessity of gathering, cutting and splitting firewood belonged to an entirely other category of lifestyle, one to which I might one day aspire.

So, upon reading the forecast for the week, (and the tone of doom in the voices of our local weatherpeople), I realized I had yet another heating situation. With a few days before our next foray into clearing out friends' property of seasoned wood, emergency measures were called for. So, I talked a buddy with a pickup into driving me to Northland Wood and getting a load of 'slab wood.'

It's the outsides, the leftovers from their sawmilling process. It's dirt cheap, it's spruce - and it's not seasoned. I knew this going in, no one misled me, but I figured that we could work with it for a few days. So far, the Blaze King Princess Ultra is not happily heating the cabin up to the subtropical temps to which we are accustomed in the loft.

At one point, the S.O. came over and observed my efforts.

"It doesn't want to burn, does it?"

1Ant butts. I looked it up.
2Goldstream Valley, not to be confused with the Whack-Su Valley. (Thank you Ishmael, for the term.)
3Don't get me wrong, anytime it gets below -35 it gives one pause, but really, my Interiorians, it could be so much worse.

Photo above: Some grasshopper friends sleeping off a few beers soaking up the sun on the beach at Homer, Alaska.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Jesus H--- Camp! It's the American Jihad

OK, well I am sure this is not news anywhere Outside of Squarebanks, but I just happened to pick up a copy of Jesus Camp last week. Our 16-plex stocks the expected: the latest Ice Age sequel-tillion, mind-numbing date flicks, and whatever violent action, drug gang, cop shop type movie Hollywood most recently churned out, so keeping up with the cinematic Jones takes effort. But even so – a documentary that frankly shows the ugly underbelly of fundamentalist brainwashing of children? As they say in the Mafia flicks (a genre I love) – Fugeddaboutit! It isn’t going to be on a big screen here, (unless the Loon screens it – hint, hint!), not ever.

So, no, I had never heard about Jesus Camp, until it caught my eye in the local Movie Gallery. It’s a scary movie, and if anyone out there in the saner parts of our society still doubts that we have amongst us the neo-con Taliban, they need doubt no longer. One might think that perhaps the difference between our home-grown fundamentalists and those hanging out in parts Middle Eastern is that our X-ian fundamentalists don’t preach martyrdom and don’t train up their young-uns to go Jihad, but fugeddabout dat too. Maybe Becky Fischer – Pentecostal day camp matron – and subject of the movie – ain’t promising virgins, but that is about the only difference. She IS preaching religious intolerance, she IS instilling hatred and she IS brainwashing youth. The camp IS militaristic in nature, and although those kids aren’t learning how to pull the pins out of grenades, she and others running the camp are fanning the flames of mob violence in the name of their own perverted view of X-ianity. Hey, in a dark room where you cant tell if one is wearing a long beard and a turban, or a polyester pants suit and hair spray – there really isn’t much else that sets Becky Fischer apart from those that we have been instructed by our government to call t*****ists.*

Rent the movie. Visit this website:

* The US Patriot Act and other secret laws prevent me from using the actual word, or in anyway suggesting something that could be construed as “unpatriotic” and thus, treasonous.

Photo (C)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Don Young, Arrest, Exile, or Hang?

What's That Smell? Hypocrisy, Yet Again, Mr. Young

One of the right's well sold memes since the beginning of the Iraq debacle has been that a person couldn't question or criticize a damn thing that Dubya's Admin has done without being a traitor. And God forbid someone call the Iraq Mess a mess or point out how utterly F.U.B.A.R. the situation is - because then the same crowd would pillory you for 'not supporting the troops.'

The irony, of course, being that that is exactly what the Republicans did during the Clinton era, when they totally shat on him (and the troops if their assertions today were valid then) during the Kosovo situation. Nome, Home has an excellent post about Don Young's embarassing performance today trotting out that "disagreement with Dubya = sabotage of the war effort" nonsense.

Geez, Don, I guess you forget about that press release you issued, titled, interestingly enough, "Rep. Young Supports U.S. Troops, Not Kosovo Mission."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

She Was Against it Before She Was For It

Or was it the other way around?

As read in the News Minus, Governor Sarah Palin has now stepped back from her campaign pledge to return the Habitat Division to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It was one of Murkowski's more flagrant attempts to deregulate industrial-scale mining in the state, coupled with his support of mixing zones, (another bad idea.)

Of course the mining industry greeted Palin's move with applause, but why would they be surprised at their victory? Alaska Miner's Association Executive Director Steve Borell served on the Department of Natural Resources Transition Team, which by a whopping coincidence recommended that Palin not return Habitat to Fish and Game. As Borell wrote at the AMA website1:
Last month I mentioned that I was part of the DNR Transition Team. Transition teams for each department assembled a report addressing the major topics that will face the new administration. The purpose of these reports is to give Governor Palin and her administration a better understanding of the issues they will face. The status of the Habitat function was one of these major topics. The DNR Transition Team report pointed out that the review, evaluation and permitting work of the Habitat group is now functioning very well, much better, with less conflict and controversy than ever before; and the Transition Team strongly recommended that the Governor keep the Habitat function in DNR.
Man, two weeks of not posting. I offer the usual blogger's lament: no time. But hopefully, Flic will offer us her review of "Jesus Camp" which ought to come to The Loon. Hint, hint.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

$1.2 Million to Decide Whether to Write Discrimination Into the Constitution

"It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America." - Molly Ivins

According to the News Minus yesterday, Governor Sarah Palin wants to spend $1.2 million in state money to fund the advisory vote on whether The Lege ought to write a proposed amendment to the Constitution to stick it to gay people. If the majority of those voting agree, the proposed amendment would then be voted on in the 2008 general election.

You know, I read somewhere that she has gay friends. Well, goody for her. Nice demonstration of friendship there, Ms. Palin. Perhaps they are members of the Log Cabin Republicans, who seem to think you can work within a political party that is not above a little gay-baiting to win an election.

And, make no mistake. Despite Rep. Mike "God and Family, Only Heteros Need Apply" Kelly's reference to the cost to the state of providing the employment benefits, this has nothing to do with the money involved. That is made clear by the actual wording of the proposal:
“Shall the Legislature adopt a proposed amendment to the state Constitution to be considered by the voters at the 2008 general election that would prohibit the state, or a municipality or other subdivision of the state, from providing employment benefits to same-sex partners of public employees and to same-sex partners of public employee retirees.”
Not only do the right wingers want to prevent the state from providing the employment benefit - they want to forbid any municipality or subdivision of the state (like U of A or the City of Anchorage) who believes in treating all its workers fairly from doing so as well.

The issue, for those of you trying to preserve your sanity by ignoring most of what goes on in Juneau, originates in an Alaska Supreme Court decision that said the State couldn't deny employment benefits to same-sex couples. Equal work, equal compensation and all those peculiar concepts. Well, treating gays equally under the law, even when the words marriage or spouse aren't invoked, caused quite a stir amongst the anti-gay crowd.

Forget their bleating about how terrible it is to institute a new employment benefit or that tired and bogus red cape of 'judicial activism' ... what this proposal is about is some of the more narrow-minded of our fellow Alaskans are doing their best to send a message that gay people are second-class citizens, not equal to the heteros. Rep. Jack Coghill, (R), said exactly that1. Too bad he didn't notice that the last amendment (which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman) makes no reference to benefits.

If nothing else, this situation highlights the need for some sort of legal mechanism to recognize same sex partnerships, whether you call it a civil partnership or a civil union or, dare we say it, marriage. Property, medical decisions, inheritance of property and child custody are all dealt with within the law if you are a married heterosexual. If you are in a same sex relationship, there are few legal mechanisms to deal with that stuff.

1"I simply do not believe it is appropriate for the Judicial Branch to side-step the Legislature's constitutional right to find a remedy to the court's decision on this issue by ordering the executive branch to put a new employment benefits program in place," said House Majority Leader John Coghill. "The courts have overruled the people of Alaska, the state legislature, and the next generation by making same sex partners equal to married people with regard to the benefits of marriage." At: