Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
My first sign to turn around and not even attempt Ballaine Hill was sliding across Ballaine Road as I made a low-speed right turn on to it. But no, I thought driving cautiously and slow might be alright.
My second sign to turn around and not try Ballaine Hill, even slowly, came before the crest of the hill, when I asked a woman pulled over on the should if she needed a lift. Her car couldn't make it up the hill, she said, so she had called for a lift home.
By the time I noticed and paid attention to the third sign not to attempt Ballaine Hill even at a near crawl -- the third sign being all the other vehicles off the road below me -- I was already sliding downhill, ABS fluttering away, into the opposite lane of traffic, trying to gain some control over my direction and not slide into any of the other cars off the road. This was all happening very slowly, mind you, but that was little comfort.
Visualize, for a moment, a curling stone. You know how it comes to a slow, graceful spiral as it nears the end of the lane? That was my trusty, sure-footed little Soob. By sheer luck and maybe some decent steering, the Soob gently nosed into a mini snow berm on the shoulder. On my side of the road. Facing downhill. In theory, I could have tried to get down the hill. Problem was, there was no guarantee I wouldn't hit all the other cars half-in/half-out of the lane. And there was no guarantee I wouldn't end up spiraling into the opposite lane of traffic again. Which was a far sight better than most of the other 8-10 vehicles off the road around me. Most are going to require tow trucks which are going to be hard to come by today.
I managed to get all of the Soob on to the shoulder and walked back home on the snowmachine trail by the side of the road. As I was walking I watched two cars crest the hill going way too fast, lose control and almost hit the Soob and vehicles coming up from the other side.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I'm sure Karl Rove will turn up sometime soon.
But in the meantime, peoples, I highly recommend the political shorts put together by Alaska Robotics. I missed them prior to the election while in my work-induced funk.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
And, clearly, this is all the federal government's fault.
If they'd just eradicated any vestigial foreign-ness stemming from the Murkowski family's origins at Ellis Island, back when Lisa's great-grandfather emigrated to this country to something very patriotic and American-sounding like, say, Smith, we wouldn't be in this mess. I'll bet the Democrats were in charge back then, too, allowing Poles to come over with their difficultly spelled names all willy-nilly taking away those low-paying jobs that our great-grandfathers wouldn't deign to do.
Easy! Got it on the first go!
As opposed to
Came the news that Miller and that bunch of Outside wackos, aka the Tea Party, are suing to make make any misspelling of 'Murkowski' not count. From the ADN:
"Miller is asking a judge to stop the state from making a judgment on a voter's intentions if the voter wrote in something other than "Murkowski" or "Lisa Murkowski." State law allows no leeway for other spellings, his lawsuit says."What if a voter wrote in 'Lisa Ann Murkowski'? Or 'Lisa A. Murkowski'? And how shocking that Joe Miller, lawyer and ex-magistrate -- who made such an enduringly positive impression on his peers that word is that the magistrate's association spurned his campaign's request for an endorsement prior to the election -- has pursued this further. I'm seriously
Better yet is Miller's argument that minor misspellings, may, in fact, be 'protest' votes. Frankly, I think one could make the case that a huge number of voters, hundreds even, intended to vote a protest vote and accidentally spelled the name correctly.
So there I was in the ballot box, so I misspelled it just to make some weird point that I don't understand but sounded really good when I heard it on talk radio... and I -- dang it -- what was that again ?
Really, I am shocked that he hasn't started challenging correctly-spelled versions of the name on the grounds that they were cast, actually, by voters whose intent was to misspell it. It is entirely possible that 98% of those write in votes were cast by people in protest and they spelled the damned name right! My god! How will we ever know?
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
And I said, "Mike, dude, don't you know you are calling the wrong house?"
But Mike, like many of my Tea Party callers, wasn't interested in me. Oh no, it was all 'liberal agenda of Barack Obama" this and "serious time for our country" that, and some 'protect life' thrown in for good measure. Oh, and did you hear? Joe Miller is bold. And apparently, Mike called from a place called "Foreign Exchange" with a 402 area code.
So I went back to watching some mass entertainment put out by the vast liberal conspiracy to corrupt our youth and turn all tweens into sexters, although honestly, I have a hard time seeing the connection between Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" and any threat to the as-yet unlabeled generation. What are they? Generation Z? Did anyone actually watch "Death Proof?"
So there I was, back on the couch with a beer watching some pretty mindless violence. And who should call? Lt. Governor Loren Leman. Funny right? Loren and I don't talk on the phone much. He prefers things to remain the way they are -- him down in Juneau doing not much other than hop on the wagon of more charismatic candidates and spout some right wing clap trap, and me up here in Goldstream Valley rereading my copy of the liberal agenda to my same sex partner and occasionally writing a check to radical groups like those organic food growing CSAs. Loren: Happy. Me: Happy.
But no, Loren had to mess with our happy arrangement (see above) and try to convince me to vote for Joe Miller. Apparently Loren had been talking with Mike and a previous caller with the code name Alaskans for Common Sense. Loren was very concerned about the Barack Obama's liberal agenda. (Must remember to see if it is the same version as mine.)
It was impossible to get a word in edgewise.
I did eventually hang up, and would have called back later to apologize for my rudeness, but Mike was calling from a phone number that my caller id could not suss out. I guess I'll have to wait until he calls back.
Monday, August 09, 2010
When the times get tough, or too annoying, and it is June-August in Alaska, the wise woman goes dipnetting. Had another lovely time perched on a rock waiting for the bump of a red salmon. And bonus! Got there in time ahead of the hordes of people directed to Chitina by the ADN article the week prior. Spent most of the last week processing: brining fish, smoking fish, drying fish, drying and smoking fish... and enjoying the delicacy that is red caviar. It doesn't keep that long and I refuse to try to can it. It is awesome (particularly on a hot day with a cold beer) and oh-so-fleeting, a once a year treat. If you're harvesting salmon and don't try to make it at least once, I suspect you are a closet Tea Party member.
Friday, July 23, 2010
|New favorite annoying-ex-Governor related product.|
Sure, Flic and I have vowed time and again that we were not going to feed into the crazed, publicity-hungry media frenzy that She Who Will Not Be Named has cultivated. We've tried, but one can't stay abreast of the news without running into some kind of headline, some cringingly embarassingly story, or quote, or description of the latest occurance in the family feud between her grandbaby daddy's family and her own faux-regular middle class
Palin Palin Palin! There, I've said it. No more not naming that which ails us. No more hoping against hope that this will all just go away. Now, all that's left to do is to document this strange time. I'm hoping I can find the car sporting that bumper sticker that I saw last week. It read, "Palin = quitter."
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Call me old fashioned - but I am still back in the day where being fat, even obese, meant being oh say somewhere north of 250 but south of 500. Anything above that was left to the carny, the Guinness World Book, or that rare individual who went reclusive and ate him/herself to the point where they had to be moved by crane.
I haven't cognitively updated for the PB&C(TM) factor. True, its been banging at my consciousness that more and more, I no longer get my own airplane seat (silly old-fashioned me). Being a person of normal weight, it has now become implicit airline courtesy that I am expected to give up my unused seat portion to the billows of elbow, waist and thigh fat that flow over from the seat of my aisle mate into my unused seat space.
You would think since I am (in) voluntarily giving up my extra space, and thereby saving them having to hork over the price of two seats to accommodate their girth, that at least sometimes there would be an offer of token compensation. Maybe an offer to buy me an on-board burger bomb, or a share in their box o' 12 Cinnabons that they brought on for a snack during take off, but sad to say, I spend my flights squished and wreathed in chemically contrived food smells that waft from the goodie bags jammed all around. Alas, to score a bag of peanuts and obscured by rolls of fat, I am left to wild gesticulations to gain the attention of the flight attendant.
So sure, I have noticed that bigger is well a lot bigger now in the US of Ay. But I didn't fully comprehend how far the scale has tipped up there to the elephantine, until this morning when I was browsing ByrlaneHome Catalog, and encountered its "plus+sizeliving" pages (where I can find "more comfort and convenience"). Here is a sampling of products offered:
- A talking scale (for those whose belly obscures the read-out) that has a 500# capacity, and if that is not enough for all those baby elephants out there,
- A 1000# scale with a remote digital readout.
- The "Big John Toilet Seat (TM)": 19" wide from lip to lip with a 1200# capacity (offers 75% more area than a regular toilet seat!), which accessorizes nicely with the
- Ergonomic Easywipe: a personal 15 & 3/4 inch "wand" that holds toilet paper on its soft silicone end, and which ejects used toilet paper with the click of a button (unfortunately, this item is available only through another catalog).
Wow, so 500# is the new 200, and 1000 is the new 500. What does define obese these days, if furniture and hardware to support 1000 pounds is commonplace, and scarier still, in demand? Meanwhile, more and more populations in Africa are starving, with African nations poorer now than they were 20 years ago.
This is not an embarrassment of riches, this is criminal robbing of the grainaries by corporate rats, aided and abetted by sheeple drugged by 24/7 reality TV, fast crap food and sugar.
I think I am going to go for a run.
* 50 stones is roughly equivalent to 800 pounds
**Since 1990, coffee retail sales have jumped from $30 billion annually to $80 billion. Four multinationals control the coffee market, with the New York commodity market setting the price. Ethiopia is the biggest producer of coffee in Africa, with Starbucks buying most (if not all) of its African coffee from the Sidama region, Ethiopia. In 2006, the Sidama region experienced prolonged famine. Ever since the commodification of coffee, Ethiopian farmers cannot make enough to feed their families and are dependent on US aid to survive (mostly in the form of cheap wheat).
Photo downloaded from:
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
A little research reveals that the answer really depends on how thick the bacon is sliced, but for regular bacon, 16 to 20 slices.
Thus, 68 slices is a little over three pounds of bacon.
68 slices is also the equivalent of the amount of fat contained in one 24-ounce serving of a PB&C shake* from Cold Stone Creamery. That same serving packs a walloping 2,010 calories too: basically the full daily caloric intake for a healthy, active individual (and that is active as in old school active, not like nowadays where people sit around all day watching TV, engaging in social media, and well, uh, blogging).
What are the odds that the people who slurp down a PB&C shake eat nothing else throughout the course of their day? Not so good, I would imagine. And would those same individuals also sit down and consume at one sitting three packages of bacon? Not likely. Because while Americans are getting huger and fatter and more unhealthy with every passing day, most are not, in all likelihood, setting out to eat to become large enough to be buried in a grand piano-sized casket.
But if this shameless, irresponsible marketing of fatty, sugary crap continues, that is where a majority of Americans will end up.
Now, I should note that I am among the first in line to say that people are responsible for their choices, and to recognize that in a capitalist society, markets are driven by consumers. If people werent sucking down those PB&C shakes, well more than likely Cold Stone Creamery wouldnt be making them.
But....wait a minute. Ice cream milkshakes have been around forever. There is nothing wrong with having a sweet, cold treat once in awhile. But at 2,010 calories a pop, this type of drink is not a treat, its a threat. Old fashioned milk shakes, even ice cream made from pure heavy cream, don't pack that sort of caloric punch. So clearly, Cold Stone is adding a lot of something else to its products.
On its website, the company is not entirely forthcoming about what that something else might be. In fact, rather obviously the information about its products (all of which, including PB&C, are trademarked) appears to imply that these milkshakes are leaner and more nutritional than milkshakes of yore. According to the company's ice cream FAQ's, the PB&C (TM) is nothing more than peanut butter, chocolate ice cream and skim milk (there is that masterful stroke to lull those itchy dieters).
And while the company likes to blat about how its ice cream is "made fresh daily" (not obviously trademarked), with only the freshest ingredients, it is darn hard to find out just exactly what those ingredients are - let alone what their nutritional value is.
In fact, it takes following about four links on their web site to finally drill down to the table that reveals the dietary horror that its products truly are. Personally I have never stepped foot in a Cold Stone Creamery but I am willing to bet its even harder to get nutrition information from a server at one of the franchises.
Besides which, that is not the point. The point is that this corporation, like McDonald's and so many other processed, fast food corporations that try to pass as responsible corporate citizens, is packing its products with an excess of sugar and fat, while simultaneously using copy that appears to promote health, responsiblity**, slimness and in some extreme cases, weight loss (even though in reality, their products results in its antithesis).
If this was America in the days before there was a Starbucks on every corner and a Lowe's in every strip mall, this wouldn't be so bad. Sure, there have always been eateries that have promoted severely unhealthy eating. But they were local businesses that had impact only within their own regional reach.
Nowadays, where Anywhere USA clones Olive Gardens, Chilli's, Cold Stone Creamerys in every hamlet, burg and city in this nation (and beyond), their menus reach us all. Their dietary influence is ubiquitous and pernicious, especially as the new breed of fast crap food is re-packaged in ways that lull people into thinking its safer and healthier.
Case in point: Cold Stone Creamery's architecture, internal decor, marketing and packaging plays on people's nostalgia and memories of days when ice cream was ice cream: sweet and a bit fatty, but certainly not three-pounds- of- bacon fatty!
*Named "Worst Beverage in America" by the authors of "Drink This, Not That!", a timely expose of the hidden calories in common and popular beverages like bottled, flavored water, ice teas, energy drinks and coffee and ice cream specialty drinks. Rather than just list calories and grams of sugar and fat, the book does a nice job of putting the #s into equivalents that people can immediately relate to - such as 68 slices of bacon.
** From the company web site comes this gem of meaningless marketing babble: " Despite the general perception that ice cream isn’t as good for you as it tastes, at Cold Stone, we’re all about making people happy – for the long haul! – which requires a balanced and sensible approach to eating fun treats like ice cream. We therefore obsess, far more than most companies, about the nutritional aspects of our products as much as we do their taste. For some people, Cold Stone is a ritualized special treat, for others, a daily must-have."
Friday, June 25, 2010
Still out here folks, only occasionally breaking my news/blog fast long enough to realize that the world is still in the handbasket. If anything, it has picked up speed.
After each foray into paying attention to the larger world, or even statewide Alaskan news, I've been convinced that it is not yet time to once again wax bitchy about things. In my defense, I offer the following linked stories that drove me straight back into willful ignorance:
- Bristol's new job: Bad Actress
- Palin to refund most of defense fund money
- Tea Party Express fuels Miller-Murkowski fight
- Advances in Oil Spill Cleanup Lag Since Valdez
Monday, June 07, 2010
Yes and yes. Things have been dormant here for while, with Flic and I both gone to ground. Same reasons. As I've said in many other avenues than FBH, people have lost their g-damn minds.
And ya know what put me round the brink and off to sulk and brood and not even read Harper's Magazine fergodssakes? It wasn't She Who Shall Not Be Named clearing millions with her Wasilla-based cottage industry shilling for a bunch of fanatical hypocrites. It wasn't the Gulf tragedy, although that has certainly been on the mind. It wasn't even that idiot woman walking around here with a loaded handgun in her hand (not holstered) who insisted the cops overreacted when they stopped her and oh-mah-God Obama is coming for our guns!
No. What convinced me that I needed a break from the greater world was a small occurance on the way home from work weeks ago. Living in some of the best moose growing habitat in the world up here in Interior Alaska, one would think that folks would adjust to the idea that we have a lot of them and adjust their lives (and expectations) accordingly. Watch out for them on the road, fence the damned garden, and enjoy taking pictures of the calves in the yard.
So. Weeks ago, driving back into the Goldstream Valley on Ballaine, as I crested the hill and followed the curve down I noticed a whole line of brake lights before me. Seven or eight cars were at a complete stop on the back side of the hill, which could be a bit sketchy if you came round the curve and weren't paying attention. I stopped, curious, and then noticed that the lead car had stopped to let a moose and her newish calf cross the road. They were taking their time doing it. But, ya know, no big deal -- it was maybe 20 seconds of delay on all our trips.
They crossed, the line of cars began to move -- and the idiot in front of me slowed down as we passed the two moose, rolled down his window, and flipped them off. I can think of no finer illustration of the self-centered, irrational rage that certain members of our society have been wallowing in since Obama got elected than that.
Hope y'all are coping better than Flic and I. We'll be back again -- I will after the long drive to the clamming beaches.
Sunday, June 06, 2010
It's been awhile since we here in District 7 have been plagued with the rattles of that viper Mike Kelly. Of course it's also been awhile since there has been any action here at the old basket. I have to say, in the interim of our resounding silence, we - as in we of the global world - have been on a rip- roaring ride to that nether region. With the oil Armageddon in the Gulf, the Gaza Strip crisis, the Afghanistan/Iraq mess, and a host of other human-generated calamities (environmental, political, financial, and military), we are no longer in a collective handbasket, rather we are perched on a fiery blazing rocket to Hell.
My reaction has been pretty much to hunker down, watch my chickens and tend to my dogs, garden, and bees. I have been too gobsmacked by it all to gin up commentary on anything. In fact, I might even say that I am looking at the state of the world and wondering if it is at all possible that those fundy wing-nuts might be onto something with their end-times yapping.
Alas, there is no mark of the divine here - it's simply those all too human traits of greed, stupidity and hubris finally catching us up. It will be interesting to see what survives these human times.
In the meantime here we have Mike Kelly and that blank who is our governor - Sean Parnell. I mean, how long now has he been in office? And still, there really is no public sense of the man, other than if he was Lt. Gov. to she-who-shall-not-be-named he must perforce be conservative, non-analytical, and prone to governing through the very narrow and rigid lens of his personal value system. Though he lacks the overt meanness of Kelly, I suspect Parnell is just as hypocritically judgmental and intolerant of others he considers his lessers; perhaps not so much a viper as a guinea worm.
Shoot yer mouth first, ask questions later
So, first we have Parnell signing HB 186, the Alaska Firearms Freedom Act (oh pul-leese), sponsored by Kelly. This so-called "freedom" act exempts anyone in Alaska manufacturing guns or ammo or firearm accessories from federal regulation. No matter that there aren't any gun manufacturers in Alaska - Parnell & Kelly just want to send a message to Obama not to mess with Alaskans. After all, those durn federales are running roughshod over us: taking away guns, shoving socialism down our throats and paying our wimmin to have abortions. It's
It's also rather pointless, since the Obama administration has done nothing to indicate our right to bear arms is threatened; quite the opposite. Under this administration, it is now legal to carry loaded firearms in national parks. Predictably, Denali Park has reported its first bear killing (probably since the days of market hunters) by a park visitor just one month into its seasonal opening. I used to spend a lot of time hiking and working in not so remote places with trail access, and my biggest fear was not of bears, but jumpy men with .45s who were uncomfortable in the back country, but were too macho to admit to the fact.
Throw that baby out with the bath water
Pointless and annoying, but the AFFA doesn't much impact our communities (except perhaps our ursine ones), unlike Parnell & Kelly's other little tantrum, which is turning out to be not so little at all. I refer to their shit-canning of the proposed increases to the Denali Kid Care program. Kelly was one of three representatives (Tammie Wilson being another - Fairbanks flops on this one) who opposed the bill, because he felt it encouraged fiscal irresponsibility (more on that in a moment).
Parnell, although supportive throughout, suddenly lost his senses and vetoed the expenditure because of his "recent realization that the program paid for abortions"(yes, Sean, 0.18 of the program funds, as it turns out - which quite likely also included counseling that helped at least some women decide against an abortion, but never mind that little factoid).
In the three or so days since this news broke, its critics have been making headlines, so there is not much new to contribute to the debate. Frankly, Parnell was doing pretty much OK with women and kids with his efforts to bring some exposure to the horrific domestic violence problem in this state, but he just zorched his karma points with this stinker.
Denali Kid Care is not Planned Parenthood; it is not a family-planning program. It's health insurance for low income children - from birth through 18, and for pregnant women that meet certain guidelines. You would think that the "Kid" in Kid Care might have been a tip-off to him that this isn't about women's health, it's about keeping kids healthy so that we have healthy adults.
Denali Kid Care is win-win for everyone: for the relatively low costs of providing health insurance to children of families who can't afford it, our society is saved the greater costs of unhealthy kids and the unhealthy adults they become. Not to mention that it is the mark of a compassionate, caring and intelligent society to help those among us who are the most unable to do so for themselves. I think even the Brat Pack might agree that those would be babies, young children and teens before they are in their majority.
Do as I say, not as I (or my family) do
But as bone-headed as Parnell's statements were (doesn't he employ fact checkers on his staff???) at least he claimed to have some moral compassing going on, even though many might not agree with the direction his compass points. Mike Kelly on the other hand is just arrogant and mean (hardly a new observation for this blog), and rarely misses an opportunity to promote his belief that if people are poor or unable to make ends meet, it must be their own damned fault. And as is often the case with these arrogant blow-hards who wear their moral superiority like a super-weighty crown, he apparently has not done a terribly great job of making sure he and his family pass the sniff test.
Case in point: here is the state representative who votes against subsidized health care insurance for low to low-middle income children because, he believes, this sort of "entitlement" will just encourage all those people to laze around on their sofas and milk the system for all its worth (which is the real subtext behind his statement that middle income families should be encouraged in "financial responsibility").
Then there is one of his family members who, a number of years ago, worked for a local minority-run organization. Not only did she run her own private business out of this organization during business hours (even using her office to meet her personal clients), but she often and loudly stated that she stayed at that job because of the health insurance. At that time this organization had a Cadillac plan: full health coverage for employee, spouse and dependents, with zero employee contributions. She also was fond of informing her co-workers that she was only staying in the job because she wanted that health insurance through her pregnancy and to help cover the costs of her delivery and maternity leave.
Not long after the baby arrived, a golden, healthy baby with all its prenatal care and delivery paid for by the insurance provided by this organization, she packed her personal business and left.
Interesting. A Kelly scion receives totally free health care for a number of years, even while apparently not quite producing the work for which she received compensation, including those yummy free health bennies. Yet Pa Kelly feels strongly that upper lower income families (the majority of whom are undoubtedly working like wage slaves to make even the barest of ends meet) should absolutely under no circumstances receive subsidized health insurance.
Quite the double standard there the Kellys fly. But then, that is what we have come to expect from the Moral Right.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Arranged along the downtown streets, the jersey planters stand resolute against terror
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Pulled aside with ID confiscated and put in a holding pen by gun-toting men wearing dark glasses and with little curly wires snaking into their ears. If you think Green Zone check point or a prelim shake down prior to the next flight to Gitmo – think again. It’s what can happen to you on a tour of the East Wing of the White House – and it’s what happened to this blogger today.
I was told it was because my DOB didn’t match my SS# on the list of people scheduled to tour*, but when the Secret Service told me that at the final check point, I hadn’t yet given them my Social – only my driver’s license. I could see it on the guard’s face as soon as she looked up my name on the list: I was flagged even before I ever showed up – spit out by some database for some reason. And no, I am not paranoid. While I waited 20 minutes before they moved me into the pen, they asked none of the other tour hopefuls (all of whom had nice, safe Anglo-sounding, from-the-heartland names) for their socials. I also noted out of all of the 100s in line during the three-hour ordeal this turned into, none were obviously Arabic, or Muslim, and certainly there were no women wearing hijab.
Welcome to DC.
For several days now, I have roamed the Mall, the
What all of this puts me in mind of is
This was life behind the Iron Curtain. Although it would take another twenty years before the
And now, here we are, subjected to the very same things in our nation’s Capitol – which for so long has been the symbol of the free world. As a child of a person who fled political oppression, it is extremely disturbing and depressing to see how rapidly our government has stripped away our freedoms and has become what previous
What it is most disturbing about the jersey barriers and the dogs, though, is not their presence, but that so very few question why they are there. Of all the American tourists that I poll as I wander around, no one thinks at all that this “security” is a sign of something very rotten and troubling about our government, its policies and its current global actions and positions. The standard response is of course that “they” want to harm us, and this is the price of freedom.
WTF??? How do jersey barriers maintain freedom? I don’t feel free at all. You don’t dare take your shoes off and cool your feet in the Reflecting Pool, you don’t find kids running around enjoying the grounds of the Capitol, you don’t dare take a picture of much in case they decide to hassle you. It bothers me at a very deep level that most people do not have the ability or the inclination to discern the profound disconnect, or to see that in fact, it is us, the supposed free citizens of this country, that are contained by the dogs, barriers and police.
It bothers and saddens me, but it does not surprise me. No one in this crowd of tourists of which I am a current member should ever dare disparage (but most almost certainly do) the German nation of 75 years ago or question how its government then terminated six million people, without the general population rising up in protest. Behold, here in our country right now is that very same seedbed that grows mindless acceptance by the masses of the oppression of the different, the singled-out, the faceless “other”. It is sown with the seeds of apathy, ignorance and blind faith watered heavily and well by a cocktail of fear, suspicion and intolerance brewed by a sophisticated and technologically advanced propaganda machine.
Although the Bush-Cheney regime created the police state in eight years – it's been in the works for far longer. I wish I had the belief that Obama can turn it around, but I think it is a juggernaut that is going to run him over as well as all the rest of us.
*To get on a tour of the White House, one must submit a request to a member of their Congressional delegation, or if a foreign tourist, through their embassy.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Should you ever find yourself preparing to visit someone in our local hoosegow, the Fairbanks Correctional Center (or the Fairbanks Country Club as some wags in the Native community call it), the following tips might come in handy.
Getting in the Door...
#1 Don't leave home without your jailhouse cryptogram. This is the little schedule chock-full of abbreviations (GP, M, F, Ad Seg, Max/Max, Ad Seg PC) that, when decoded, tells you what times you can visit "your" inmate (FCC has the peculiar habit of using the possessive when referring to the person you want to visit), based on their sex and the nature of their offense. And like any good church potluck list, depending on the first letter of their last name, it also tells you what day you can visit "your" inmate (for example, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays, L-Z).
#2 Don't go with the expectation that you will actually get to visit: Only eight inmates are allowed into the secure area during any one-hour period. Because the jail is so over-crowded that 41 inmates are sleeping in half the gym, eight inmate slots doesn't really cut it. It can be a scrum to get on the visiting list, and if you actually follow the instructions that FCC provides, the chances of you getting a visit are like that proverbial snowball's, leading to tip...
...#3 Be prepared to waste time: Although FCC tells you, for example, that you can show up between 9:10 and 9:20 to get on the list for a 9:30 visit, don't you believe it. You are going to want to be there by 8:30 at the latest, in order to gain one of the coveted eight spots on the "first come, first served" list.
#4 Sunday mornings are the least crowded, BUT, don't drink a lot of coffee beforehand. Unlike week days, there is no one at the front desk in the visiting area. Therefore, visitors must cram inside the little vestibule (heated, complete with camera and microphone, but no amenities) for at least an hour before their desired visiting time. And you dare not leave to go to the bathroom, step outside for a smoke break, or sit in your car and read or listen to the radio, least you lose that spot in line. (NB: its not your fellow visitors who will challenge your place in line should you need to leave, its the guards. Although they likely won't open the door til just a hair before the visiting hour, if they do, and you aren't there to get your place on the list, they may not honor it, no matter what your fellow visitors say. Since the door is just as likely to open at say 8:45 as it is at 9:29.5, no one dares leave the vestibule, even though it really only comfortably fits six.)
#5 Week days are best for visiting, because although your odds of landing on the visit list are better on Sunday, during the weekdays you are allowed into the jail to wait - where you have access to a bathroom, water fountain, and a bunch of bad magazines.
#6 Morning are the worst time to visit if your inmate is in general population and is on the list to be moved to the North Star halfway house. Although these are the times you are most likely to get in, visiting can seriously queer their chance to get moved. Even with the over-crowding and a spot on that list (its all about lists), if an inmate is not in GP, and in secure visiting instead, a guard won't come fetch them. Nothing takes the shine off a visit like learning your visit cost your inmate the chance to get over to North Star, the Holy Grail of the Fairbanks correctional system.
Once you are in the door...
#7 Dress like a fundamentalist Mormon: No bare shoulders, V-necks, or skirts or pants above the knee. No hoodies, hats, vests, jackets, or translucent or transparent garments. Zippers are a particular FCC fashion no-no. While one can get rid of a polar fleece vest with a zipper by stashing it in the visitor locker, one can't stash one's pants. I haven't had the nerve to test the zipper thing with pants, thus on possible visitation days, my current favorite pair with zippered pockets stay in the closet.
And through the security screening...
#8 Try and grab one of the phones on either end of the visiting row: Secure visiting is just like what you see in the movies or on TV. You are on one side of the bullet-proof glass, they are on the other and conversation is by phone. The phones have notoriously poor reception, so everyone in this tiny room is screaming. Bedlam, it's like talking to a friend long distance in the village. If you are lucky enough to get a seat at the end, you don't have conversations on both sides of you, which makes it easier to focus and to block out the commotion of jail house visiting.
#9 If they "forget" to bring out your inmate, hope for a nice guard. A nice guard is more likely to take pity on you sitting there forlornly without your inmate. Instead of leaving you there to rot for yet another hour, they may come over, lift up the receiver and ask who you are waiting to see. A really nice guard will actually call for your inmate, instead of simply noting the information.
#10 On weekends, don't expect to be let out of the secure visiting area before the hour is up. Perhaps apocryphal, a story has been recently circulating among the FCC visiting regulars that a very pregnant visitor was left locked up in the visitor's secure area for half an hour while guards on the other side of the door ignored her repeated ringings of the buzzer. Although she really had to use the restroom, they weren't about to man that desk where the visitor door buzzer is located, not until the visiting hour was up and they could buzz all of the visitors out.
#11 If you have claustrophobia, visiting in the tiny locked-from-the-outside secured area is probably not a good idea, especially since at peak visiting times, up to 24 people may be crammed in there with you (up to three people/inmate are allowed on a visit).
And finally, prison sartorial elements explained...
#12 Forget the stripes of old. Modern prison wear is indistinguishable from hospital scrubs, except an inmate doesn't get to choose his/her color. Blue is for misdemeanors, yellow for felons, and orange for the hard-core mean mothers who are in there for a good long time.
#13 What's with the pink? All FCC inmates wear bright pink T-shirts under their prison scrubs. This "pink-in-prison" trend was started by that redneck whack nut Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ , who promotes himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff". As sheriff, he, among other highly questionable acts, forced inmates to wear pink underwear as a way to
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Charles Pierce (Idiot America) proffers the thesis that in this country the advent of reality TV, the web*, rant TV & radio has produced a situation where everyone has the potential to be an expert, thus no one is. In other words, because public visibility and the acquisition of an admiring audience requires virtually no effort, credentials or particular smarts, anyone with a drum to beat can be launched into instant expert status.
In fact, expertise has been conflated with celebrity: if one shouts loud enough, acts outrageously enough, and pisses off enough people (whether right or left) well, then not only do they deserve their own TV or radio show, but they should also run for public office to set this country straight. Forget about education, putting in long hours in the trenches to gain experience and wisdom, or working in a job that might prepare one for local, regional or national governance. All of that is just elitist crap promulgated by those East Coast limp-wrist nancys.
In addition to Palin and Tammie Wilson (the ugly stepsister who didn't get invited to the ball and had to settle for the state house and no gift bags) we have Shaeffer Cox. Two years ago, at the age of 24, he gained some local exposure by unsuccessfully running for House District 7. Now he is in the news for being arrested twice in as many weeks. First for felony assault (later pled down to reckless endangerment) for hitting and choking his wife, then for the relatively minor offense of failing to disclose to a police officer that he was carrying a firearm.
The first offense is disturbing under any circumstance, in any situation. Mr. Cox apparently has trouble controlling his anger - so much so that he hit his wife in front of their two-year old son while driving the family to Anchorage. Then when called out on his inappropriate behavior, he reached over and grabbed her neck, pinning her against the passenger door. He appears to have an overweening need to be in control, especially of his wife, and gets really gnarly really quickly if he feels he is being thwarted.
Couple this with the circumstances that surrounded his second arrest, and watch the red flags pop.
Wearing a bullet-proof vest (because, Mr. Cox states, he has received "fewer than 12 death threats"), and carrying a knife and concealed gun, Mr. Cox arrived at the scene of a police search to monitor whether or not the subject's rights were being violated by the police. The arresting charge arose from Mr. Cox' s failure to disclose to the police that he was carrying a concealed weapon, as prudence, responsible gun-ownership, and the law require.
Setting aside for the moment the scary implications of having an armed, angry, self-aggrandizing control-freak interfering in legitimate police business, here is a text-book example of Idiot America in action. With virtually no formal education or experience in any of the applicable fields (law, peace-keeping, military, to name a few), Mr. Cox has appointed himself an"expert" in constitutional, civil and criminal law. He clearly believes he has as much right to be involved in a police action, as well, the police, attorneys and courts.
And what are Mr. Cox's credentials for being a Individual Rights Monitor ? Why, membership in the Liberty Bell Network , which according to their website is
a group of Patriots that have joined together to mutually support each other against an out of control Government, it's lust for power, and the ever increasing occurance [sic]of violating our inaliable [sic]rights.Patriot??? That is not the "P" word that comes to my mind when I look at Mr. Cox's behavior in the past month. Paranoiac, psychopathic,putz and peckerhead, are, however, some that do.
In the tradition of the original "Liberty Bell", this is a public notification network. In the event that you, or one of your neighbors rights are being violated, a call to a member of your local network would spread the word throughout your local network, for people to drop what they were doing and come immediatly [sic], because a fellow patriot needed their support.**
In response to a court order that he not carry a gun for the next two months until his hearing, Mr. Cox had this to say: "Everybody's going to think, 'He's not armed, so let's go get him'." (Fairbanks Daily News Miner, March 20, 2010). Does this punk really think there is anyone who gives enough of a shit to take him out??? If this is not paranoid wing-nuttery I really don't know what is.
In the final analysis, its not these faceless hordes ready to trammel our rights into the ground that we need to fear. Rather it is Mr. Cox and all the other "experts" like him who present a clear and present danger to our free and open society - the one for which the true patriots fought so hard.
*I am well aware of the irony inherent in blogging about this.
**Pay no attention to the misspellings, mangled sentences and poor grammar. Proper writing is for socialists and them other goddurn furreigners, not Patriots.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
and not there...
1) The dog races. It's hard to find a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than munching ham sandwiches watching the sprint races on a warm, sunny blue-sky day. And where else but Alaska would sled dogs be treated as centerfolds? This morning found my SO pouring over the FDNM's cheesecake photo-spread of Hans Gatt's winning Yukon Quest team as if it were a Playboy magazine he had surreptitiously hidden beneath the bed.
2) Taco King. Yes, my blogmate has already noted this authentic (and authentically cheap) Mexican restaurant. It deserves mention again. Because after a day at the dog races, I then went on to savor a south-of-the-border dinner with a friend, prior to going to...
3) Fairbanks Shakespeare Theater's production of the The Tempest. Not only it is a treat to be able to go to productions in the Empress Theater (one of the very few old buildings still left in strip mall Squarebanks), but it is not hyperbole to say that FST is rare treasure, not just here, but anywhere in the US. Their sets are always minimal, clever and evocative, and their stagings (with one notable exception, at least for me, of Richard the III set unfortunately in Nazi Germany) witty, bright and polished. This run is no exception. Ariel deserves special mention for his fantastic body paint and green contact lenses, as does the incorporation of the band Good Daze to provide both the mood setting for Prospera's island, and some lively musical interludes throughout the play.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Its February, when the light returns, and it is not such a stretch to envision green trees, gardens and near 24-hour daylight. Everything looks good in February - except inside the house, where once again the returning sun illuminates the incredible scrim of wood ash, dog fur, and other detritus I have been nesting in these past four months. But even so, dogs, the Bard and a darn good adobada - how can it be anything but all good?
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, possibly the world's northernmost coffee hut: Aarigaa Java in Barrow.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
A Modern Proposal: For Preventing the Palins from Being (More of) a Burden to Their Country and Relatives
The time has come for those of us Alaskans with a political memory going back far enough to remember the days before that someone swallowed up the reputation and image of this fine place to make sacrifices. For the good of all of us, even those living in Wasilla, we need to make the ultimate sacrifice:
We must, friends, bring her back to Alaska, even if it means electing or appointing her to something. We must 'take one for the team.'
In the former case, the only caveat, of course, is that it can't be a national position, i.e., a House or Senate seat. The idea is to keep her, like that crazy second cousin with who thinks the post office is unconstitutional, occupied and far away from things like the cable news circuit and national political office.
We might form a political action committee, the "Bring Sarah Back" PAC, and begin fundraising immediately. A movement starts with a few volunteers before it turns into a for-profit venture, and personally, I'd be willing to spend a few bucks and some sign waving afternoons if it meant a person could open up a newspaper or take a look at a online news site without being forced to translate English into English. We could use the money we raise to pay for her 'speaking fees' (in-state engagements only, please.)
Personally, I favor reappointing her to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. I don't know that there really are any qualifications or requirements to be on it, which is a plus, and it pays very well: $120,000 a year. And what we are buying, really, is peace of mind.
So what is to be? State office or state appointment?
If for no other reason, I urge you to support the BringSarahBackPAC so that when a person admits to being from Alaska, the non-Alaskan can think of only one thing to ask about:
Friday, February 05, 2010
Coming home from ingesting a Teriyaki cheese steak gut bomb (the second in as many days - the blogmate and I finally got together last night at IJ's for burgers and beer), I caught the tail end of Alaska News Nightly.
That little story about the 1,500 Palin emails finally released to MSNBC by the State, after - what - a good year and 1/2 of foot dragging? Now that was a precious thing to hear. It gave me the tiniest glimmer of hope that maybe this is the tail of the rope that will not so much hang her as finally shut her the hell up.
Although I don't usually surf for news, preferring to get mine in the diluted pabulum form that is the News Miner (because I just can't shake the habit of a morning cuppa with news that I can hold in my hand), I had to go to MSNBC to check it out. The story more than satisfied.
Before I veer off into the outrage that engulfed me despite the fact that I should be totally numb to palinography, let me note the network's stroke of genius: its invite to channel our inner muckraker by combing through an online database of the Palin emails, and to help MSNBC reporters connect the dots of this travesty of governance that was the Palin administration. What a nifty way to recruit eyes to help sift the gold from the dross as more and more of these emails start flowing in.
That the State tried to buffle its way out of this public records request by claiming it would cost $15M didn't raise this blogger's eyebrows. As a veteran of many a public records request battle with the State, I know that little trick. I have had some fairly outrageous price tags thrown at me when I wanted records that weren't going to put a particular State Division in a very good light. I also famously once had a notebook hurled at me by [redacted], then head of the Division of [redacted], who shouted at me that from then on, he was instructing his employees to buy their own notebooks for meeting notes so they couldn't be obtained through a public records request.
Obviously Palin isn't the first state official to have the misbegotten notion that if state officials use "private" media to memorialize and communicate state business this makes them immune from the public right to know.
And that is where my outrage just refuses to be stifled. Are the Palins arrogant or ignorant, or some lethal combination of both? I just don't know, but I fear it is the latter - which is the most dangerous to our civil rights and democracy. Because who really buys (other than the Tea Partiers, the Fundys and other extreme right wing nuts) the Palin camp spin on this: that the emails merely reflect the spousal succor that Todd offered his wife in her tough job as Governor.
How stupid do they think we are? Of course, wives and husbands of people in public office are sounding boards and advisors, and yes, they do have a lot more information about what really happens during the execution of official duties and responsibilities than others outside that private circle. But that sure as hell aint the same thing as being in direct contact with employees of the Governor's Office and essentially conducting business the same as if one was the Governor. Which is how a whole lot of those released emails read.
Truthfully, I find the emails from Sarah trying to hide the fact that we Alaskans paid for electrical upgrades for her tanning bed amusing, and as with the Corrupt Bastards Club, a bit embarrassing. If I have said it once, I have said it a 1000 times: our corrupt politicians are sooo petty and cheap. Free wiring, dry-cleaning and flights for their brood, or maybe an electric massage chair and a large propane barby for the king salmon on the newly remodeled wrap around deck; these guys and gals (don't leave Bev Masek out of the mix) barely think beyond the double-wide.
Nope, I got a feeling these emails are going to be a lot like the Bill Allen secret videos. I suspect when its all digested and analyzed, they will reveal corruption and abuse of power. This time around its not a bunch of good ole boys guzzling beer, scratching their nuts and using potty mouth as they talk about who they are going to buy. But its the same vile brew of venality, self-aggrandizement and parochialism.
Sarah may have racked up a $150K tab on her campaign wardrobe, but all too soon I think its going to be clear the Empress has no clothes.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Some in our audience may be wondering if the Fiery Blazing Handbasket has winked out like the tail end of the Hale Bopp comet (or the Heaven's Gate cult), or sputtered to a quiet sizzle like the occasional dud firework at the New Year's Eve Sparktacular (none this year, it was a great show!).
Nope, I think we are just in the lull of mid-winter, with perhaps a dollop of battle fatigue thrown in. The constant onslaught from the Christian Right crazies (bible verses on gun sights, palinography, Pat Robertson's mouth - need we say more???), the mega-corporations, and the insanely twisted body politic that is running amok has stunned us into blog interrupted.
I can only speak for myself, but I know these winter months, I have been in hermitage. It's one I frequently share with the S.O. (who has come in from the vil to escape for awhile that milieu's own version of crazy). Other times, its only me, the chickens, a few odd tropical fish and the snoring (sometimes greenly farting) dogs.
Unlike some past winters, there's no winter doldrums. I have been out nearly every day enjoying the roseate light that is steadily increasing - snow shoeing, skiing, running or ski-joring. I have cooked up a storm (which has caused the S.O. to imitate a bear and put on a healthy layer of insulation, soon to be worked off as caribou-hunting time nears), and finished many an unfinished sewing project.
And I have been reading up a storm.
My January favorites thus far:
- Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party; Max Blumenthal
- The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power; Jeff Sharlet
- Going Rouge - Sarah Palin, an American Nightmare; edited by Richard Kim & Betsy Reed (and an Xmas present from my blog mate & her S.O.)
- Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town; Nick Reding
So, I expect that as the days lengthen and we head back up the seasonal bi-polar curve, 'Dweller and I should be revving back up in the blogging department - until then....
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Sure enough, we had a day yesterday, the first minus forty this winter. However, unlike years past, this cold snap didn't hang on long here. It's already up to the minus 20s (ordinarily a warm spell in mid-winter) today.