"In 1980, when Jimmy Carter created the 19 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, only six families of white settlers were allowed to keep cabins there. Heimo Korth and his wife, Edna, are the only ones left." [more inside]
Nearly 3,000 pages of e-mails that Todd Palin exchanged with Alaskan officials, which were released to msnbc.com and NBC News by the state under its public records law, draw a picture of a Palin administration where the governor's husband was intimately involved in governmental affairs. The 'Shadow Governor' (as some called him in Juneau) "got involved [among other state business] in a judicial appointment, monitored contract negotiations with public employee unions, received background checks on a corporate CEO, added his approval or disapproval to state board appointments and passed financial information marked 'confidential' from his oil company employer to a state attorney." [more inside]
A giant polar bear is awakened by an icebreaker and jumps into a fighter jet and destroys the earth. The Big Dipper explodes and turns into a bear which then destroys the moon and Anchorage and then goes to Fairbanks. A Grizzly bear is awakened by a cheering crowd and smashes the town and throws a rocket football. A space bear is awakened by the Nanook signal, destroys a Red Hawk, turns into a giant bear and destroys the roof. [more inside]
After a spate of recent deaths, efforts to rehabilitate homeless chronic inebriates in Anchorage now include involuntary confinement. Other city-wide efforts include a mayoral decree that established homeless camps should be scattered. [more inside]
Winter 1900. You are in Dawson, Alaska. The Klondike Gold Rush is fading. Suddenly... news from Nome - Gold Strike! (on the beach of all things) You are snowed-in at Dawson, and recovering from tetanus. You have to get to Nome before the thousands of other gold seekers. What to do? How about hopping on your bike and riding the 1200 miles across snow and river ice!!! [more inside]
A mysterious black blob of something is floating along the Alaskan coast... and it's biological. According to the Coast Guard, "It's definitely not an oil product of any kind." The strange goop even has a taste for flesh... "[S]omeone turned in what was left of a dead goose -- just bones and feathers..."
"The Cap and Tax Dead End", a Washington Post opinion piece written by soon-to-be-former Alaskan governor and frequent media critic Sarah Palin.
Vanity Fair recently published "It Came From Wasilla", Todd Purdum's lengthy profile piece about Sarah Palin, her involvement with and the inside workings of the McCain campaign, and her political future. [more inside]
After months of pre-eruptive activity, Alaska's Mount Redoubt has erupted 6 times since Sunday night. Telegraphing its eruption with massive shallow earthquake activity in the range of 26 earthquakes every 10 minutes, the volcano, located around 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, spewed an ash column 10km high, and is expected to continue erupting for weeks or months. The last time this massive volcano erupted in 1989 a commercial airliner was caught in the ash column, causing the engines to seize and the plane to lose two miles of altitude before the engines were restarted. That eruption, which lasted for 5 months, produced this spectacular photo. Follow this amazing event at the Alaska Volcano Observatory. [more inside]
Journalist Jill Homer writes about and takes media of snow cycling Up in Alaska. Now deputy managing editor of the Juneau Empire, she has written for NPR about being a snow cyclist. From the first cycle tour she went on in 2002 to recently when Jill said "If I don't die or worse, I'm gonna need a nap.", there is no shortage of pictures and video and accounts of scenic places encountered via cycle along the way, all over the country. There are a wealth of stories to read and pictures to look at while you sit out Winter in your home. [more inside]
Prominent blogger Andrew Sullivan develops an unhealthy obsession over the (lack of) details surrounding the birth of Sarah Palin's youngest child. Sullivan really, really won't let it go. Persistent rumors lead the editor of the Alaska Daily News to, "finally decide, after watching this go on unabated for months, to let a reporter try to do a story about the 'conspiracy theory that would not die' and, possibly, report the facts of Trig's birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all." Palin releases press release slamming the paper. Editor of paper publishes email from Palin's office along with his response. Palin complains about "bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie," says episode is, "more indication of continued problems in the world of journalism." She also thinks Katie Couric is bad at journalism, not the center of everybody's universe, and is exploiting Palin. Mike Huckabee disagrees, says Couric was "extraordinarily gentle" with Palin. Political pundits and journalists are left scratching their heads - is she crazy? Or a crazy genius? 2012 is just around the corner.
The new Internet legend. Trevor Dunbar ran a 9 min 1 sec, 2 mile time trial through ice and snow. The entire thing is recorded. And what was once in Alaska can't stay in Alaska. More details.
An independent investigator hired by the Alaska Personnel Board has cleared Governor Sarah Palin of wrongdoing in the Troopergate controversy. (Executive summary and recommendations of the report). As previously covered in MeFi, the Alaskan legislature had conducted its own investigation and had concluded that Governor Palin had indeed abused her power in dismissing Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, but the independent investigator concluded that the Legislature's special counsel used the wrong state law as the basis for his conclusions and also misconstrued the evidence in the investigation.
Sen. Stevens (R, AK) found guilty of of seven corruption charges. Stevens was behind in the polls before this point anyway, so it looks like a solid Dem gain at this point. Palin has obviously thown him under the bus.
Legislative panel concludes that Palin abused the power of her office. A Republican-dominated Alaska State Legislative panel voted unanimously this evening to release to the public the results of the investigation into Governor Sarah Palin's dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. (Full report PDF here) Among four key points released in the report, the most significant "concludes that Palin violated the state's executive branch ethics act, which says that 'each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.'"
Rusty Shackleford over at right-wing anti-Muslim jihad blog The Jawa Report has posted that the Obama campaign, in an effort to portray Sarah Palin a member of the secessionist Alaska Independence Party, is engaged in a smear campaign through the use of viral video and astroturf techniques on You Tube. [more inside]
Candelaria and Herman Zapp drove from Argentina to Alaska in a 1928 Graham-Paige. They wrote and self-published a book about their trip and are now planning a similar trip across Asia. [more inside]
The 'Dirty Thirties' saw farmers hit with the double-whammy of the Great Depression and the ecological disaster of the Dust bowl years. "In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered 203 families from the hardest-hit areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan the chance to start fresh in a new land, in a fertile Alaskan valley with the melodic name Matanuska." "It was heady, fine-sounding stuff on paper. Picked from relief rolls in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the prospective colonists knew their Promised Land was a wilderness, but the Government was going to turn the wilderness overnight into an Eden with running water, radios, a cinema. It was going to set each family up on fine 40-acre farms with every necessity, many a luxury, 30 years to pay." It didn't quite work out as well as they'd hoped.thirties' saw many farmers in the United States [more inside]
The Jupiter Foundation and the Whalesong Project are both organizations which record humpback whale songs from floating buoys; some of their archived recordings can be found here, here, and here. (Warning, last two may resize your browser.) DOSITS hosts a more comprehensive collection of oceanic sounds, with seals and fish along with its whales and dolphins. It also has a couple of nice sections on how animals use sounds in the ocean. (Previously.) [more inside]
Enemy of the State. Wolves in Alaska are gunned down from the air for cash bounties, their orphaned pups often discovered by agency biologists in the field and killed. Alaskans soon vote on proposition 2 to stop the controversial slaughter that serves the interests of large game hunters.
All across Alaska, radio operators tore their earphones from their heads, swore under their breath, and ran out to find help. The telegram in their hands read: "AN EPIDEMIC OF DIPHTHERIA IS ALMOST INEVITABLE HERE STOP I AM IN URGENT NEED OF ONE MILLION UNITS OF DIPHTHERIA ANTITOXIN STOP MAIL IS ONLY FORM OF TRANSPORTATION STOP I HAVE MADE APPLICATION TO COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH OF THE TERRITORIES FOR ANTITOXIN ALREADY STOP THERE ARE ABOUT 3000¢WHITE NATIVES IN THE DISTRICT". [more inside]
Stop me if you've heard this one. An Icelandic sea captain, an Alaskan reporter, and a bunch of Russian amateur radio enthusiasts try to get to a remote island in the Aleutians to set up a ham-radio outpost as part of a DXpedition (wiki). From the preliminary report, it sounds uninteresting. They landed on the island, and the resident volcano, Mount Cleveland (wiki), erupted. Solution? Bring on the vodka and big bags of croutons. (WMV or RealAudio)
"Once Upon A Time... there were two very special airplanes that lived.... far.... far.... away on a tiny island in the Bering Sea. One was named Rivet Ball and the other was named Rivet Amber. Very few people knew anything about these two planes or the men that flew them. Even family members knew very little. That's because their mission was... TOP SECRET." (some photos and language within are NSFW) [more inside]
62 year old emergency physician John Hall and his wife Jane took off on a Bike Ride Around America to promote cancer awareness. They started on April Fool's Day, and completed their 12,000 mile journey around the perimeter of the country just today. Along the way they encountered hundreds of towns and thousands of friendly people, and a few not so nice. All in all, a pretty amazing accomplishment in my book.
Dispatches from Polar Scientists -- A compilation of blogs "in celebration of the International Polar Year (2007-08), [giving] you an up-close-and-personal look at research in extreme environments through the thoughts and experiences of the scientists working there. We’ll post their photos, videos, and blogs on this site."
PhotoGrahambo.com ― Alaskan photoblog by Graham Siebe. Where, what, and how.
While Alaskan senators get mopey about polar bears and climate change, the capitol city is busy cutting their power use... even if it is a bit against their will. The Snettisham Hydro plant suffered a massive avalanche this Spring, taking out the main source of power for Juneau. Some more info
The Song of the Earth -- New Yorker music critic Alex Ross writes on composer John Luther Adams, who has created an installation work at the Museum of the North in Fairbanks, Alaska in which geologic, astronomical, and meteorologic data are converted, in real time, into "a shimmering synthesized carillon." For a tiny hint of the experience, you can watch this Youtube video Hear more about the work from Living on Earth.
Kennan Ward Nature-Wildlife Photography -- “Being a nature-wildlife photographer is a demanding job … but all the hardship is forgotten when I make eye-to-eye contact with a wild animal, or experience the moment when a window in the clouds opens up, highlighting a landscape … I feel honored to be able to bring the inspiring beauty of nature to others.” [more inside]
A few years ago when I was visiting Alaska, one of the more interesting portions of the trip was the 45-minute drive from Anchorage to Girdwood along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. This is one of the world's rare bodies of water that features bore tides, an amazing scene. The highway is one of only 15 roads in the United States that have been designated an "All-American Road." What about some of the world's greatest highways? [more inside]
The town of Valdez, Alaska is located in south central Alaska on the northeast tip of Prince William Sound. Incorporated since 1901, the community’s first century has been marked by a number of significant events the most notable of which are the 1964 Alaska Earthquake, being chosen as the terminus of the trans-Alaska Pipeline and the tragic 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. [more inside]
Imagine living in a town, total population 182, further imagine that you and just about all of your neighbors live in just one building. [more inside]
Gravelter Skelter [video, WTF content].
Chief Marie Smith Jones, 1919-2008. "Eyak language dies with its last speaker." Or download the story directly as an .mp3 from Alaska Public Radio Network . [more inside]
"23 days, 12 states, five Canadian provinces, and 10,923 miles. We came within a hundred miles of the Arctic Circle and 500 miles of Russia. And we saw the most beautiful place that can be imagined." In June of last year, Clint and Robin drove from Chicago to Alaska and back again. Last August they headed into the great American west. Along the way they took some beautiful photos and made some inspired observations. If you've got some time on your hands, and some wanderlust in your heart, read along.
A photographic catalog of a traditional whale hunt. (Flash, photos include whale hunting in all its bloody detail) In order to develop an experimental interface for storytelling, photographer Jonathan Harris accompanied a family of Inupiat Eskimos on a subsistence whale hunt. During his week long journey, he took 3,214 photographs, including pictures taken every 5 minutes while he was sleeping. The navigation allows for for very quick navigation through the series, using a heartbeat metaphor and a number of filtering constraints so that you can narrow your search to cast members, locations on the journey, and even something as loose as a photo's "concept". via
Soapy Smith was "the king of the frontier confidence men." Born Jefferson R. Smith, he gained the nickname "Soapy" after running a successful scam that the Denver newspapers dubbed "The Prize Package Soap Sell Swindle." He ran criminal enterprises in Colorado and Alaska until his death at the hands of vigilantes in 1898. Every year his descendants hold a wake in his honor. His story has inspired several books and movies. The Soapy Smith Preservation Trust maintains an extensive archive of his life and times.
Braving Alaska is a fantastic 1992 National Geographic special that may make you want to move to Alaska. Focusing on a handful of U.S. families who have moved from the cities in the lower 48 to handmade homes above the arctic circle and now receive their mail by bush pilot maybe 3 times a year, living hundreds of miles from their nearest neighbor, and exist entirely of their own capability, the documentary is a fascinating view of life WAY off the grid. Presented here in a YT playlist of six segments, there are more great moments (from sawing through the frozen fish to the enumeration of meals made from Moose) than I can list.
Abandoned plane wrecks of the north. The Arctic North is a cruel environment for men and machine; for planes it is no different. The weather creates all sorts of hazards, the terrain offers its own variety of opportunities for disaster. (Warning: extreme comic sans.)
Glacier surfing. Filming in Alaska in 1995, photographer and surfer Ryan Casey looked at the huge waves kicked up by calving glaciers – up to 30 feet high, breaking on an ice shelf 18 inches deep, surrounded by tumbling chunks of ice as big as buildings – and thought, I bet you could surf that. A month ago, Hawaiian big-wave surfers Garrett McNamara and Keali’i Mamala did it. (YT)
How to be an Alaskan fisherman is a fantastic photoessay by Corey Arnold targeted to any armchair crab hunters who've watched a few episodes of Deadliest Catch, about how to go from being a teenager in California to working one of America's most tortuous & lethal jobs.Via
Massive tunnels for peace. Russia is considering building a tunnel under the Bering Strait that would include pipelines, high-speed rails, and a highway, though earlier plans have not gotten far, at least for the last ten millennia. Another large tunnel project under consideration that hopes to encourage mutual understanding is the Red-Dead Canal, which would irrigate the deserts of Jordan and Israel, generate electricity, and refill the Dead Sea using water flowing from the Red Sea to the lowest point on Earth.
Alaska's calling Yoooooooooooou! Not interested in that Free Land in North Dakota or Kansas? Anderson, Alaska is giving away 26 lots on a first come, first serve basis. No gas station, no grocery store, no traffic lights, but grizzley bears abound!
The World Ice Art Championships are being held in Fairbanks, Alaska this week. If you can't be there to see this year's sculptures, you can view last year's winners in both the single block and the multi-block divisions. You can also see many stunning entries from previous years.
The Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center provides massive amounts of NWS remote weather station data on precipitation statewide. With avalanche season about to begin, these data are extremely useful to both amateur recreationists and snow professionals.