When Animals Attack: Bizarre Alaskan Edition

You know that thing, where a group of ravens steal a hunk of smoked pork and then proceed to repeatedly drop it on your car in order to break it up into more palatable pieces?

My poor car:
My car after being used by ravens.

Found on the ground next to my car:

I hate when they do that; don’t you?

To answer some of the questions I’ve received about this:

  • I have no idea where the pork came from. In fact, I don’t even know if it’s pork.
  • Luckily, no dents.
  • Yes, I registered scorn with the ravens: I shook my fists at them and referred to them in very disparaging terms.

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Gross Anatomy, I’d Say So



This email alert just came to me from UAA (bold formatting mine):

UAA Campus Community:

Respect is an important value at UAA and safety is our highest priority. For those reasons, we are compelled to inform you that an inappropriate incident involving a female cadaver occurred in the Health Sciences Building’s Gross Anatomy Lab sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. In addition, an act of vandalism to building furniture occurred Wednesday afternoon in the same building.

Criminal investigations are underway and additional security measures were implemented immediately.

Students and staff should take appropriate precautions, including extra vigilance, avoiding isolated areas of buildings, working and traveling in groups or seeking escorts at night.

If you have any information regarding these incidents, please contact the University Police Department at 786-1120.

Thank you.


I guess that’s what one might expect in a “Gross Anatomy Lab”.


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Wielechowski v. Parnell

So Governor Parnell tweeted:

This prompted Alaska State Senator Wielechowski to respond:

And thus, the stage was set.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a brief story about the exchange. Alaska print and broadcast media weighed in as well. On Thursday, the Anchorage Daily News editorial board recommended the Governor accept the challenge, and conservative talk-show host Mike Porcaro offered his program as a venue for the debate.

Governor Parnell’s response came through his spokesperson, Sharon Leighow:

“A spokeswoman for Parnell, Sharon Leighow, said Parnell would not debate Wielechowski.

“The debate is occurring in the legislative hearings,” she wrote in an email. “As a former legislator, Gov. Parnell understands and appreciates the thorough examination of proposals, by Alaskans and legislators alike, that is carried out during the public process.”

Governor Parnell was a guest on Kenai radio yesterday, on KSRM’s Sound-Off with Duane Bannock (humorously dubbed, “The Tall, Dark, and Handsome Hour”). Bannock asked the Governor, “The Senator from East Anchorage and part-time Homer resident, Senator Bill Wielechowski, wants to debate you. Is that going to happen, yes or no?”

Parnell: “No. Not directly. You know, everyday, he has a unique opportunity, unlike most Alaskans, to debate people speaking on my behalf in the legislative hallways. He has a unique opportunity to put forward new ideas to create new production. Those opportunities are there everyday for him, to be on statewide TV doing it. He really needs to do his job as a senator, and I’m doing my job as Governor.”

His comment about the debate being had in the legislative hallways struck me as a bit bizarre and disconnected. There have been far too many deals struck, and debates had, in the capitol’s hallways that should have happened in televised committee rooms and floor sessions. It is extremely important that Alaskans understand this issue; it has the potential to dramatically affect the operations of our state for many years to come. Vice President Biden might refer to it as a big…ahem… deal.

As far as Wielechowski having the opportunity to have these discussions on statewide TV, committee meetings covered on Gavel to Gavel are hardly the place for the lay Alaskan to learn the debate on oil taxes: the discussions are often technical, lengthy, and well… a bit boring. And still, committee hearings are ran by the legislators asking questions of the administration and others selected to offer testimony; they lack the back-and-forth exchange that a proper debate would allow for.

I’ll admit, part of my desire to see such a debate stems for my love of political theater and the potential exists that this could be one of the great debates of Alaskan history. Some are speculating that the next Governor’s election will be between these two men as well, so what a great preview of what might be in store for 2014.

But greater than my desire to see this event for entertainment purposes is my desire to become educated on the Governor’s oil tax plan. I’m tired of the soundbites and slogans. I don’t know if the Governor’s plan is to giveaway $2-billion to the oil companies or if it’s going to create a booming Alaskan economy the likes of which we haven’t seen since the construction of the Alyeska pipeline. And neither do many other Alaskans.

This is one issue that warrants the extra attention. Governor Parnell should give not Senator Wielechowski, but Alaskans an hour or two to let this issue be heard. If the Governor doesn’t want to do it himself (and I can respect the notion that the Governor shouldn’t get in a habit of debating legislators outside of a political campaign), maybe Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell could have someone else protect the state seal for a couple of hours and carry the Governor’s banner in his stead. If the Governor’s plan is defensible, and it damn well better be if he’s proposing it, then time is nigh to defend it.

When it comes to something so important to Alaskans and our future, Alaskans would be better served by having at least part of this debate on primetime KTUU than they are to have all of it happen within the less-accessible halls of the state capitol.

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One Last Vote

So it wasn’t a swing vote, but this is still pretty cool:

[Mary] Nelson lives in Adak. The town had its own polling station for the first time this year, but the island is so far west, it’s in a different time zone from the rest of Alaska. That pretty much guaranteed that the results of the Presidential election would be a foregone conclusion by the time the polls closed. Nelson says she knew her vote wouldn’t swing the national race, but she wanted to do her part anyways.

Adak on the map
(Map showing where Adak Island is located. Also, look how big Alaska is! It really isn’t small and located off of the coast of California with Hawaii, as many maps like to pretend.)

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Denali National Park Quarter

At the end of 2008, Congress passed the “America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008”. The Act became the basis of the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters Program. Beginning in 2010, quarters featuring national parks and other sites were printed by the US Mint. The quarters feature sites from each of the 50 states, as well as Washginton D.C. and the US Territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, United States Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

The first round of printing in 2010 brought us Arkansas’ Hot Springs National Park, Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, California’s Yosemite National Park, Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park, and Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest.

In 2011, quarters for Pennsylvania (Gettysburg National Military Park), Montana (Glacier National Park), Washington (Olympic National Park), Mississippi (Vicksburg National Military Park), and Oklahoma (Chicksaw National Recreation Area) were released.
Finally, 2012 brings us El Yunque National Forest (Puerto Rico), Chaco Culture National Historical Park (New Mexico), Acadia National Park (Maine), Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii), and most importantly:
Denali National Park Quarter

Denali National Park (Alaska)

The quarter was beautifully designed by Susan Gamble and sculpted by Jim Licaretz.

The program will continue with five quarters per year through the year 2021.

What do you think? Does the quarter capture your national site?

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Alaska Democratic Party Should Denounce Michelle Scannell

Michelle Scannell, state house candidate (District 20) running against incumbent Representative Mia Costello, created a little bit of a buzz with a tweet and a blog post last week.

The tweet linked to a post on Scannell’s campaign blog, where she elaborated on the “on her knees” comment, in a post called “Happy Alaska Day“.

My opponent is bought and paid-for by outside resource extractors who aren’t interested in what’s best for Alaska.  They want a partner like Mia.  Like a vassal hauled before the king to kiss the ring, she is willing, compliant, and on her knees, ready to submit.

Scannell told KTVA that she did nothing wrong and that there was no innuendo implied in her tweet or blog post. I find that difficult to believe. Does she and anyone involved in her campaign really expect you to believe that this is just an accidental double entendre? Maybe she’s innocent and it’s just the people that inferred she was lacing her remarks with sexual connotations that have the dirty minds. Maybe. But I don’t think so.

In another Scannell blog post, here’s how she talks about a recent debate she had with Representative Costello (the arrogance in the post speaks volumes about Scannell, but that’s not the point right now):

We last saw Mia Costello hobbling-out of yesterday’s Sand Lake Smackdown at KSKA, crying on the inside after sustaining a humiliating verbal horsewhipping from me during our half hour debate.  After giving my opponent such a thorough thrashing, you’d think Mia would know when to fold ‘em.  You would be wrong.

Accompanying the blog post was an attempt to load an image of Rep. Costello. I say “attempt”, because whoever posts content to Scannell’s website (Scannell herself?) doesn’t realize that .tiff file extensions aren’t native to common web browsers, so viewers would just see the broken image, like so:

Broken image on Scannell's website

The alt-text (used for text-only browsers, such as for the visually impaired), “What was I thinking?” had me curious what the photo was supposed to be. I checked to see what filename was being linked to and was shocked with what I saw:

Screenshot showing the offensive filename Scannell used for a picture of Costello.

The image of Rep. Costello that Scannell uploaded to her website was named:

Mia Nasty Herpes Scar

The image they intended to show was this:

Mia image from Scannell's website.

This is the image that the Scannell campaign named “mianastyherpesscar”.

I can tell by the names of the folders on Scannell’s blog that she uses WordPress as her blog-posting platform. I point this out because it’s the same platform I use and I’m very familiar with how it works. When you upload an image, you are shown the current filename of the image and given the opportunity to change it. Either Scannell or her webmaster uploaded the image with that name already given to it (she/they would have seen it when browsing to it to upload and again after it was uploaded) or it had a different filename and they re-named it to that after it was uploaded.

At the very least, the Scannell campaign knowingly uploaded the image with that filename. At the worst, they gave it that name.

There really does appear to be a pattern here, and it’s not that the Alaskan people just have dirty minds and are inferring something Scannell never intended.

This type of campaign is totally unacceptable in Alaska and the Alaska Democratic Party should pull any support they might be providing Scannell’s campaign. I do not believe this is the type of campaign that the Alaska Democratic Party (or the Alaska Republican Party) stands for, and as such, they should come out an denounce it.

UPDATE: The Scannell campaign changed the name of the file. It now reads “miaguffaw”. They still haven’t fixed the .tiff problem — and I even gave them a .jpg they could use right here! Now that step one (removing that terrible title) is complete, step two is an apology to Rep. Costello. If Michelle Scannell would like, I’d be happy to publish her apology right here.

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Mount Stevens (with bonus Ted Stevens Icefield)

View Larger Map

Above was the highest unnamed peak in Alaska, until October 18, when President Obama signed Senate Bill 3802 (Mount Stevens and Ted Stevens Icefield Designation Act into law).

The act was sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski, and co-sponsored by Senator Mark Begich. It passed the United States Senate by unanimous consent on September 27, went to the House and was passed on September 30.

Senator Ted Stevens passed away in a plane crash this summer. All across the state, Alaskans mourned the loss of Uncle Ted. Whether a Democrat, Republican, or somewhere in-between (or something else altogether), Alaskans appreciated what “Uncle Ted” did for our state. Even amidst guilty verdicts on corruption charges (later overturned by the Justice Department due to prosecutorial misconduct), people appealed, “Even if he did a little something for himself, he did a whole hell of a lot for Alaska!”

Alaskan hearts are still sensitive to our loss, and mentioning the corruption case is considered blasphemous to many Alaskans. To be sure, the corruption episode will fade from most memories and Ted Stevens’ legacy will shine bright for the future generations of Alaskans.

Uncle Ted, the fearless fighter for the last frontier.

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