Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bringing Home the Bacon - Native Style

Somewhere in the Flats: So far I have gutted over 50 ducks in an afternoon, and plucked and singed many more. In the smokehouse there's meat still to be cut up from a moose brought in yesterday, as well as dry meat curing.

As we took care of the ducks, we heard the single crack of a rifle. With no other shots following, we knew that after we finished with the ducks, we'd be cutting up another moose. Sure enough, 20 minutes after we heard the shot, nephew was back for chainsaw, tarps, rope and extra hands to help bring the moose in. In the past week, six other moose have been cut and distributed.

All of this is the result of hard work by three hunters - men who are feeding their extended family, which includes their wives and children, a number of related elders, and four single women (both with and without kids), including myself.

This is subsistence hunting - where getting sufficient food for the winter takes precedence over anything else. The men do the hunting, the women are in camp or the village - cutting and smoking or freezing meat, plucking, singeing and gutting ducks, geese and the occasional swan or crane.

One can hear the righteous cries from particular segments of the population: unfair, poaching, wasteful and so on. Many of those who would condemn the number of moose and ducks taken would be the first in line to declare that, with rising energy costs and escalating diet-related disease in Alaska Native populations, a return to subsistence should be encouraged and promoted.

Fact is, very few Alaska Natives have left the subsistence way. Another fact is current ADF&G regulations do not allow for lawful subsistence hunting, at least in the Interior.

The bag limit for ducks is 30 in possession, and for moose, its one/hunter. Sure, a hunter can hunt proxy, but only if the person is over 65 and/or disabled. Single women under 65, regardless of ability, have to go out and hunt if they want to eat moose. How practical is that?

Speaking for myself, I certainly can wield a gun, and I probably could hit something as large as a moose, but it wouldn't be pretty, it wouldn't be clean, and it would likely waste a fair amount of meat. Furthermore, most women and quite a few men aren't strong enough to handle a dead moose on their own.

It makes more sense, and it is more humane and respectful of the animal to send experienced hunters out. The kill is likely to be cleaner with fewer chances of a lost but dying animal, and the chances of spoilage are reduced because the animal will be field dressed faster. Finally, even with the addition of store-bought food, one moose and 30 ducks doesn't feed a hunter's family, let alone his relatives that depend on him.

As for wasteful, this week I counted several boned-out rib cages, backbones and rumps in the local dumpsters. The heads, minus their racks, are left in the field by non-Native hunters. In contrast, Natives value and consume all of the moose, including the organs, stomach and head.

And as far as unfair goes, well, it is hardly fair that strong, accomplished hunters that provide for their families should be called unlawful. It's way past time for real subsistence hunting to be legalized here in Alaska.

Just something I contemplated as I ate boiled moose rump cooked over camp fire.

Brought to You by the Great Folks at AK Robotics

How can have I neglected to put a link to AK Robotics for so long? Go check them out. Now.

And if you haven't done so, watch their "Buy Back Alaska" bit. Awesome!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mike Kelly puts the Bully in Bully Pulpit

5 10 Reasons Why He Needs to Go

I can't claim ownership of this post. The idea is Cabin Dweller's, but she's too busy crawling out of the cabin life and sheet rocking their new digs (with not just plumbing, but a well - talk about moving on up out of the 'hood!) to start the list, so I am. I consider this one to be a joint-posting with more strikes to come and growing numbers as she adds even more reasons why the time has come to boot Kelly out of District 7.

So here we go.

It's time to kick Mike Kelly to the curb because...

1) he is part of the lawsuit to stop or delay the abuse-of-power investigation of the Palins,
2) homophobic gay basher doesn't even come close to describing him,
3) he, along with Palin and other homophobes in the Lege, spent 1.2 million to hold that nasty, discriminatory advisory vote on whether or not the constitution should be amended to prohibit same-sex couples from receiving the same benefits as hetero couples (which thankfully failed),
4) he's Pete Kelly's brother,
5) During his tenure as CEO of GVEA, the Intertie was conceived and permitted - the latter occurring without a Best Interest Finding made by the State- thanks to legislation sponsored by his bro,
6) he makes little effort to hide his disdain for the "little people" (i.e. everyone else except his bizness cronies),
7) he holds everyone else to a different energy standard than himself (we should all turn off our lights and conserve fuel, while he flies all over in his private plane),
8) he has a low opinion of Natives (although I am sure he would righteously deny it), and indeed of anyone who is not white, Christian, conservative, and hetero,
9) he writes vituperative, mean opinion pieces as a state legislator,
10) he's buds with the sewer mafia and Seekins - need we say more?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cool New Item: Custom Obama Buttons

Note to Those Outside: Wasilla Is Not Representative of Alaska

So there I was, standing in my former landlord's driveway covered in sheetrock dust and god/dess knows what else that was up in that old ceiling, tired and grumpy yet unburdened by even the faintest acquaintance with the day's news.

I had more important things on my mind, like how the hell does one fix such a shitty sheetrock job? Pulling down the sheetrock was easy enough, but then I discovered that whoever had framed the room had been on the same drugs as the mud and tape people. So, I'd driven into town to meet up with my buddy/former landlord for a roll of Tyvek tape, which he'd assured me, would at least save the day in regards to redoing the vapor barrier.

Bear with me, there is a point.

So there I was, standing on the street in Fairbanks, begging construction materials and advice - when my landlord dug into his coat with an additional gift: he'd ordered custom Obama buttons and I was high enough in his esteem to rate two. This guy, a superb construction type of the old school, a Vietnam vet, a property owner and all around model citizen, had gone to the trouble of going online and buying pro-Obama buttons to hand out to his friends. He'd paid for them. Pics to follow.

But to my fellow progressive types: if a scene like this can happen in Redneck-freaking-Fairbanks, out here in whacko conservative land, then all is not lost. In fact it never was. So get off your asses snap out of it already. Start showing some backbone and start stumping for your local candidates. Get out your yard signs and visit your local campaign offices. Volunteer some of the time you've spent checking your blog stats and watching the teevee.

The UMWA was not made up of hand wringers. John L. Lewis was a fighter. The civil rights movement was not achieved by sitting around feeling bad about how unfair it all was, how willfully ignorant some people were. Elizabeth Peratrovich was not a shrinking violet. Progressives have a long, proud, tradition as tooth-and-nail scrappers - and we're embarrassing ourselves.

Karl Kassel for House District 7! In case you've forgotten, this is the year we dump Mike Kelly.

I'm not opposed to him being the Legislature; he just might be more suited to represent some place like North Pole.

Monday, September 15, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

Garden flowers

Just to create some visual and mental relief from the apparently bottomless pit of Palingerie*, here are some of the fruits of my labor this summer. Granted it was rainy and yucky, but I still managed to get food (plus some to put up for this winter) from the garden.

garden in late summer

*except the splendidly hilarious Tina Fey as Palin doppleganger, which I know has been blogged to death - but as a palinphobe, I have to acknowledge Fey's magnifcant mimicry. Alas, if only it was all about just providing top drawer fodder for comics. Hey Tina, I thought North Pole was the crystal meth capital of Alaska, not Wasilla.

the makings of a strawberry rhubarb pie

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Musings on Media Muzzlings

I retract my earlier concern about the potential muzzling of press during the (un)holy visitation we just experienced*. After two weeks of headlines above the fold screaming accolades about Palin, I am more than ready for a serious muzzling of any and all press on the subject.

Geez, just shut up about this woman already!

Hair up, hair down, her brand of glasses and her color of lipstick - who really gives a rat's ass? Oh, I forgot - its all those sheeple in Somewhere and Anywhere YooSSAAAY that have confused the running of our country with reality TV. It might matter on the Island if Sarah can kill a moose at a 100 yards or maximize the full potential of a Blue-Light Special at K-Mart, but the months leading up to November 4 aren't episodes in Survivor, and the election isn't about voting Obama off the island.

However, I was somewhat heartened this AM with the Daily News Minus' headline about the Mister being served a subpoena as part of the abuse-of-power investigation. We can at least be thankful that the planets were favorably aligned (or that McCain's team did a total shit-ass job of vetting - take your pick) such that the investigation was approved by the legislature and underway prior to the announcement of her selection. Otherwise, the investigation would have had as much longevity as a crystalline water sphere in that place where Sarah believes all non-believers go, including all the non-supporters who were admonished to stay away from her love fest. Naturally, we have already had state legislators, notably Coghill (a fundy of the highest order) bleating that it's all a smear campaign to tarnish the luster of that god-fearing, righteous family.

Hmmm. Sure. As if.

It sure doesn't signify that the Mister took his cutesy title of First Dude to heart and dabbled in the affairs of state, or that the attorney selected to represent the governor (and paid for by public money) during this investigation is the same attorney who has privately represented both Palins. Maybe the latter doesn't constitute too much of a red flag, but the fact that First Dude was cc'ed on correspondence related to the work that his wife, not him, was elected to do, does. There is definitely smoke in the air, and it ain't hellfire and brimstone smoke either.

It's the smoke from the bonfire of the vanities that the Palins have been so assiduously fanning, and, most def, it's smoke from the embers of Troopergate.

As a final note, I am not ignorant of the fact that my blogmate and I are contributing as well to the white noise of Palinmania, but hey, when in Rome....

*Does anyone remember the good old days when a visit from the religious right meant the pope on a dais at FAI - the most tangible outcome of that visit being a piece of carpet now gracing the Howling Dog stage?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Two-fer:

I can not resist linking to this. Even though it is ... funny yet, evil.

It starts off funnier than hell, but then ends with the typical "Female politician in a bikini" thing, nearly as unoriginal as "Female politician in a dominatrix outfit" thing.

You were warned.

See more Gina Gershon videos at Funny or Die

Dusting Off the Old GOP Playbook: Gods, Guns and Gays

God? Great Jeebus, they seem to have that one. Check. I popped on over the Wasilla Assembly of God website this morning over coffee. Interesting, and a wee bit scary.

Guns? Yep. Palin's go those, too. (Though really, even the liberals like me have guns up here.)

Gays? Well, I'm waiting for that one to pop up in the campaign. Palin certainly seems ready built to play from the more partisan Republican playbook, the one that we've seen before. Oh, and make no mistake, Log Cabin Republicans, she is no ally. Let us all prepare for another edition of the "culture war."

I've been having a few Palin-free days lately, trying mostly successfully to avoid the non-stop coverage in all major news outlets. But I've been mulling over the fact that, like a lot of people up here, I didn't know that much about her before she started getting scrutiny from some professional league media.

It's not that I'm lazy about staying informed, I just figured out pretty quickly that I wasn't going to vote for her back in the gubernatorial race. No one needed to say much more to me than "Wasilla Fundamentalist Republican, anti-choice" and my vote was going elsewhere. I mean, I knew she was a far right Christian, I just didn't know how much so.

There's a very interesting piece in today, which you ought to go read. It explores that fact that even we who live here don't know much about our potential Veep.
But the truth, said Michael Carey, former editorial page editor of the Anchorage Daily News, is that Palin knows little about the United States either. "She's spent her whole life up here in Alaska, except for a few years in college in Idaho."
Actually, I've always had the sense that Palin doesn't even know that much about Alaska outside the Anchorage-Wasilla-Palmer area, either. I've seen nothing that demonstrates an interest or understanding of our ginormous state outside that population center. (To be fair, that can be said of many who reside there.)

They even spoke to none other than our former governor, Tony Knowles. (An actual Democrat. We do elect them here, you know.)
Knowles pointed to the recent "per diem" controversy as one example of the petty ways Palin has "gamed the system" for personal gain. "By establishing the governor's house in Juneau as her home of record, instead of her family residence in Wasilla where she actually lives, Palin was able to charge the state for $17,000 in per diem expenses. Everybody in the state knows she doesn't really live in Juneau -- she just stays there a few days when the Legislature is in session. She lives in Wasilla, so she shouldn't be generating travel expenses there. But she hit up the state for $17,000 a year for meals -- that's not what I call just macaroni and cheese for the kids."
Well, shee-yit. That's not very reformer-y, is it?

One gets a sense from the article of the way this state is claustrophobically small. Several sources would only talk anonymously for fear of reprisal.

My favorite quote, though completely unrelevant to the topic at hand, came from Bill Parker. Genuine Alaska, here:
"People in Anchorage tend to think of people from Wasilla as toothless hicks, living on dope and poached moose. But she came out of nowhere and beat us like a drum.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


The Killa from Wasilla Muzzles the Press

Word on the streets is that the Fairbanks Daily News Miner will be barred from attending the scheduled appearances of Sarah Palin here in Fairbanks (edited 9/11/2008: more detailed intelligence indicates that its her appearance on Ft. Wainwright that will be tightly controlled, including restriction on media. The proffered reason is to protect her son from potential attacks when he goes over to Iraq. Humph. When all that appears in the press are her carefully scripted crowd-babble quotes - I argue we have muzzled press, no matter if they are in attendance or not. They might as well save gas money, stay in the office, and just use press release quotes. The time of the press conference with an uncontrolled Q&A period has definitely gone the way of the dinosaurs).

No word yet if the local men in black and the Fairbanks police department plan to pull a St. Paul on the protesters that are planning to picket some of the venues of her visit.

Where's the luv, Sarah? Not a very fine way to treat the folks who voted you into a position that enabled you to craft a piece of family-values/soccer mom fiction that is every neo-con's wet dream.

Stevens' Brain Bucket Defense

Here is one for the law reviews. The ADN reports this morning that Stevens' defense team has requested Bill Allen's medical records. They argue that Mr. Allen's recall & testimony of gifts given to the Not-Quite-Senator-For-Life all date from 2001 forward. 2001 is the year in which Allen crashed his motorcycle and suffered brain injury.

These defense lawyers are sure earning their hefty retainers. You got to give them a nod for a very inventive answer to incriminating evidence that just can't be glossed over. It's pretty hard to fudge and obfuscate when you got people caught on tape talking about back-scratching, pay-offs and handsome gifts given for favors received - especially when one of those caught chatting is Stevens himself.

Oops. Just what is a defense team to do?

Shazam! Enter the brain bucket defense. Bill Allen crashed his bike, scrambled his brains, and presto/chango - is just making this up or mis-remembering things.


Probably won't save Unc' Ted's hide, but they definitely get high marks for creativity.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Musings on the CabinDwelling Lifestyle, Part XI: The Slop Bucket

This will come as no shock to my Alaskan readers, particularly those residing in the 99709, that I live in a cabin without running water. No sewer, no water lines, no flush toilet, no fire hydrants ... bupkus.

It's not a big deal, really, because a great number of us residing outside of the city limits of Squarebanks are in this situation. And out in the Bush, plenty of people don't have running water still - and it is not by choice.

The lack of big city water and affiliated technologies is solved in a couple of ways:
  • Outhouse
  • Wet wipes or Purel
  • The slop bucket
For those of you unfortunate-enough-to-live-elsewhere, the slop bucket sits under your kitchen sink. Plumbing from the sink, not being connnected to anything, drains into a handy five-gallon bucket. (Dumping a small amount of bleach in it when empty helps keep, uh, gunk from growing in it too badly.) When it gets near full, one awkwardly carries it outside trying not to spill any on oneself, to a location removed from the house and dumps it.

It's not a bad bit of exercise.

This is my chore in our household, because I promised to eventually move to a place with running water if we could just live cheap for a few years in a cabin. As further incentive, I agreed that dumping the slop bucket was my chore.

Emphasis on near full. One of the more unpleasant household disasters is to forget to check the bucket before dumping one's dish water. Suddenly you're mopping up some nasty stuff that's been in the bucket for days getting gunky. It's been over two year since I forgot to check the bucket first. I truly thought I'd get out of the CabinDwelling lifestyle without it ever happening again.

Until this weekend.

Above right: The 'gray water system'. A slop bucket disaster, after I'd freaked out and mopped up the 'gray water'.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Rest in Peace: Liberty, Justice and Freedom

For if they aren't dead yet, they soon will be

OK - admittedly, I have been giving the media a pass in the last few days because I can't stomach the Palinoia, but I have been occasionally popping in on the major media sites. Not once did I see coverage of the St. Paul raids, which happened four days ago. Hats off to my blogmate for bringing my attention to the coverage outrage.

I was in tears watching the various video clips of the raids (I gotta wonder when our government will take a page out of Beijing's playbook and start mass blocking of sites). What rolled forward on my screen were scenes that most of us have seen only in news coverage from Romania, South Africa, Iraq, Kosovo, Beijing, and countless African or Latin American countries that have suffered under an oppressive government.

In other words, ordinary citizens roughed up, searched and detained simply because they disagree (peaceably!) with the current regime. And worse - these people were detained at home. Not on the streets protesting, engaging in rioting or throwing stuff or yelling things or carrying signs. Nope, they were home, minding their own business and here came the police a-pounding on their doors.

Fifty-two years ago my father fled ahead of the police in the aftermath of the Hungarian Revolution. He escaped because he heeded warnings that the police were coming for him, and because he was a strong swimmer - he swam the Danube to thwart the mined borders. He left not simply because he was a target of the secret police, but because he could not face living under a fascist regime.

Soviet tank & soldier, streets of Budapest, 1956

As a political exile, my father faced arrest if he tried to enter Hungary. My grandparents first saw me at two - when my dad held me aloft over the heads of border guards in the Viennese train station. Although my grandparents could take the train from Hungary to Austria, they could not pass through the border - so they stayed on one side of the iron bars, and my father stayed on the other. No touching, no speaking. Just a small child held aloft over the heads of armed guards. And like so many million others, a family torn asunder by a government run amok.

After the Wall fell, my father and I went back to Budapest together. We walked the route my father took when he ran out of his office and joined the crowds marching to face the Soviet tanks. He showed me the place where my uncle narrowly missed execution at the hands of a soldier simply because the gun jammed. He took me past the building used for secret interrogations (now a luxury hotel - imagine the ghosts and the lingering screams that haunt those finely appointed rooms) and to the recently erected monuments that list his fallen friends. I met cousins who spent 30 years in prison - captured as young men, released as old men broken by decades spent in soviet gulags.

True, we are not yet to the point of tanks rolling in our streets, but the scenes captured on camera in St. Paul are not so far off. Heavily armed men refusing to answer questions and strong arming people; police raiding homes of ordinary people wearing ordinary clothes (certainly not a hint of camo, a kaffiyeh, beret, or pakol among the detainees - only Lands End, LL Bean and perhaps Sears).

After eight years of Bush, the Iraqi war, Guantanamo Bay and secret CIA flights, the growing likelihood that McCain might win the election (I don't think I can weather four years of plastic Palin), and now these raids, I realize that the possibility is growing that I may have to re-enact my father's flight, albeit in the other direction.

And so the screw turns. A generation later, this country has evolved into the very thing my father sought political asylum from : an oppressive police state where civil liberties are curtailed and people are controlled by fear and force.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Slouching Towards Fascism

What's Next? Protest Zones?

Over the weekend, while a large chunk of the nation's press was covering the shit out of the vice presidential potential of She Who I Won't Name, Minneapolis and St. Paul police had preemptively raided the houses of people who were going to engage in protests.

Remember freedom of assembly? Anyone? Bueller?

I had a She Who I Won't Name-free day yesterday, no news whatsoever in fact, so I didn't find out about the mass arrests in St. Paul until this morning.

Of the many disturbing things about this one, including arresting legitimate journalists and charging them with 'conspiracy to riot', I'm struck by the fact that had this happened in another country, our talking heads would be beside themselves condemning that sort of behavior.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Well, There Went the Funvangelical Vote

Will the Far Right She Just Brought Back to Fold Stay or Stray?

I sense another media field day coming regarding Sarah Palin, although perhaps not in the way that occurred last week. And I'm not going to make a big deal out of it, because, frankly it is a non-issue to me. The question is, will the rabidly judgmental, stick-their-noses-in-the-personal-business-of-others, right-wing funvangelicals treat her the way they would have treated another candidate, [cough] a Democrat for example, or will they grant her a pass because of her conservative credentials?

Sarah Palin announced that her 17 year-old daughter is pregnant; she also announced that her daughter will marry the father. Apparently, the announcement came about to put to rest any rumors that the child that the Governor recently had was not hers but her daughter's. A couple of thought:

1) Good Christ. I'm not the biggest Palin fan, but I'm glad I took a day off reading the news, because that level of rumor mongering is what has made politics such a freaking disgusting, destructive business.

2) Life happens. Best wishes to her daughter and the health of her grandchild.

Here's hoping that the Dems and the left will not see this as an excuse to behave as badly as the right would have done had this happened to a Democratic candidate's 17 year-old daughter.