A massive rare 'superstorm' is currently bearing down on Alaska, with hurricane force winds (100+mph gusts), blizzard, sea-surge flooding. "This is going to be one of the worst storms on record over the Bering Sea". The storm passed through an area of unusually high sea surface temperatures. "This may help explain why the storm is turning from an ordinary Bering Sea disturbance into a ‘superstorm’." [more inside]
Maryann Sundown, a master of Yu'pik dance, passed away this week at her home in Scammon Bay, Alaska. (second article) Sundown was a crowd favorite at the Cama-i Dance Festival, often making jabs at popular culture to great comedic effect. Even though her dancing slowed over the years, she still lit up the stage, even at her last performance at 92.(Maryann Sundown with the Hooper Bay Dancers) [more inside]
This site parses the emails sent and received by Sarah Palin while she was governor of Alaska and presents them in a more familiar interface. sarahsinbox.com
"Mother Jones [and, later, other media outlets] requested [Sarah] Palin's gubernatorial emails during the 2008 election. Almost three years later, the wait is over. ... Today, at [1:00 pm ET] in Juneau, the state of Alaska is scheduled to release 24,199 pages of emails Sarah Palin sent and received during her half-term as governor of the Last Frontier. State workers will distribute six-box sets and hand trucks (which must be returned) to representatives of a dozen or so media outfits" "Volunteers from the League of Women Voters and the Retired Public Employees of Alaska will be at Juneau's Centennial Hall convention center ... look[ing] for any significant or interesting emails, stick a post-it note on the page, and pass them to journalists, who also will be reading through the 24,000 pages. Exact copies of the best of those emails will be posted online immediately. ... In the same room ... a second set of the documents will be scanned for msnbc.com by Crivella West, an analytics and investigative-research company from Pittsburgh, returning the records to their original electronic form, allowing anyone anywhere to join in the crowdsourcing. That free, public, searchable archive will go online, sometime later on Friday, at http://palinemail.msnbc.msn.com." "The Washington Post is looking for '100 organized and diligent readers' to work with reporters to 'analyze, contextualize, and research the emails.' The New York Times is employing a similar system.'"* [more inside]
As governor, Palin demonstrated many of the qualities we expect in our best leaders. She set aside private concerns for the greater good, forgoing a focus on social issues to confront the great problem plaguing Alaska, its corrupt oil-and-gas politics. She did this in a way that seems wildly out of character today—by cooperating with Democrats and moderate Republicans to raise taxes on Big Business. And she succeeded to a remarkable extent in settling, at least for a time, what had seemed insoluble problems, in the process putting Alaska on a trajectory to financial well-being. Since 2008, Sarah Palin has influenced her party, and the tenor of its politics, perhaps more than any other Republican, but in a way that is almost the antithesis of what she did in Alaska. Had she stayed true to her record, she might have pointed her party in a very different direction.
Alone In The Wilderness "Documentary tells the story of Dick Proenneke who, in the late 1960s, built his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, in what is now Lake Clark National Park. Using color footage he shot himself, Proenneke traces how he came to this remote area, selected a homestead site and built his log cabin completely by himself. The documentary covers his first year in-country, showing his day-to-day activities and the passing of the seasons as he sought to scratch out a living alone in the wilderness." (Color, 57mins)
Five Alaskans have been arrested and charged with plotting to kill judges and State Troopers. At the time of their arrests, they had obtained illegal guns, grenades, and silencers. Schaefer Cox, the leader of the group, identifies himself with the Sovereign Citizen Movement and is a member of the Alaska Citizens Militia. The militia—one of hundreds of active “Patriot” Groups in the United States—maintains a website with pictures of bears, videos, and a list of Acts of War, which include “mandatory medical anything” and “involuntary involvement in anything.” [more inside]
"I figured I'd explore for a bit and before I knew it I was 50 yards within a huge cave gazing at the most beautiful, otherworldly sight I had ever laid eyes on," he tells us. "It was like stepping into Superman's lair and every changing shade of blue lured me deeper and deeper." Inside Glacier Caves. [more inside]
In 1968, Richard Proenneke retired to the desolate Twin Lakes region of Alaska. Alone, he built himself a log cabin, filming the endeavor with a 16mm camera. He lived there for 30 years. Dick passed away in 1999, at age 82, but the cabin is still there, and you can visit it.
Is Jennifer Goodwin White really dead? The Alaska State Troopers say she is. Facebook says different. [more inside]
"For the last 18 years I have photographed Julie Baird’s complex story of multiple homes, AIDS, drug abuse, abusive relationships, poverty, births, deaths, loss and reunion. Following Julie from the backstreets of San Francisco to the backwoods of Alaska."
Lisa Murkowski has become the first successful write-in candidate for the US Senate in more than fifty years. Lisa mounted a write-in campaign after she narrowly lost Republican nomination to Joe Miller, a candidate supported by the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party. Her campaign team ran this adorable spelling bee advertisement (also these) after Joe Miller demanded the exclusion of any ballots in which Ms Murkowski's name was misspelt.
"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]