Overheard On A Trip To Talkeetna

Motel Roommate #1:  "The sign outside says "No Pets on Premise."
Motel Roommate #2:  "What does that mean?"
Motel Roommate #1:  "You can't tell any stories about your dog while in this room."

Young Professional Woman:  "Did you ever sleep with one of your interns?"
Young Professional Man:  "No, of course not!"
Young Professional Woman:  "If this was 20 years ago you totally could have."
Young Professional Man:  "Yeah, Linda Tripp really ruined everything."

Guy at Bar #1: "Is that Kid Rock?"
Guy at Bar #2: (without hesitation) "Yes."

Guy standing outside of that same bar after it closed: "I'm not big on technicalities, but everyone rocked tonight."

Guy at Brunch #1:  "I can't believe how much I drank last night. Thanks for filling in some of the blanks."
Guy at Brunch #2:  "No problem, Memento."

"After watching my wife go through labor, I finally understood why more women wouldn't have sex with me."

"You know how math equations sometimes use parentheses?  My friend invented that."

"My dad coined the phrase "Hostess with the mostess."


Pun Of The Year Nominee

Erik: How long until this giant sheet of ice crashes through the window?
Me: We've got plenty of time, it's moving at a glacial pace.

Wouldn't Be Chanukah Without It


Art Imitates Life

Recently saw this job posting at the local university:


The Department of Art, a program accredited by NASAD, is seeking applicants for art model positions. Life model from which art students will draw, paint, or sculpt the human form. Art models must have the ability to pose nude in inspiring, aesthetically pleasing and physically challenging ways for students enrolled in art studio classes. Ability to pose nude in inspiring, graceful or physically challenging positions and to be able to hold these positions for extended periods of time without moving.

Salary: Depends on experience.

To apply please attach the following:
1. Cover letter
2. Resume and include contact information for three references.

I didn't know these jobs existed in real life! I thought they were just made up for sitcoms and movies. Also: references? Really? A reference that can confirm that you can hold an an "inspiring" nude position for an extended period of time without moving? I love this country.


Carlton, where art thou?

Jimmy Fallon doing Neil Young doing the Fresh Prince theme song. Brilliant.


(Long Overdue) Overheard in Anchorage

  • Hipster Girl: “Can you Shazam it? Oh my god! I just used Shazam as a verb!”
  • Loud NASCAR-ish guy ordering a drink at a local bar: “Knob Creek, Diet Coke, tall glass, easy ice, turbo straw.” Turbo straw?
  • Email from a co-worker on holiday: “Spain is very cool except for the fact that they are not really into schedules or things like that. For example, the soccer game I bought (expensive) tickets for, they just decided to move it from Sunday to Saturday so when I went to pick up my tickets they told me the game was yesterday.”
  • Hipster Guy at coffee shop: “People wear Ed Hardy shirts when there is either no more room on their bodies for tattoos or they are too scared of needles to get a tattoo, so instead they wear shirts with tattoos on them. Classy.”
  • “SPF 70? That's like wearing a lotion shirt."
  • “They can't spell but they know how to insert cool symbols like hearts into their Facebook status updates. I love stupid teenagers.”
  • “Once you go born again, you never go back."
  • “I saw a guy on the Coastal Trail wearing short-short jean shorts, a red reflector safety vest, aviator shades and a cowboy hat. He was like all of the Village People at once.”
  • “The only things that lead to good music are pain, love, heartache...and the Vietnam War. Love always makes for good music--except for hip hop. There's lots of good hip hop that isn't about love--hip hop has songs about real stuff, like guns and basketball.”
  • 30-something woman looking at Facebook: “This girl was my biggest rival in high school. Her husband is hideous. That makes me so happy.”
  • Dude at a party after a big college football game: "My bloody mary bar this morning was a rousing success. How do I know? Simple: look at my pants." (Note: his pants were covered w/red stains.)


Worst. Event. Ever?

With apologies to any of my friends and colleagues who were involved in organizing this event or who are planning to attend, I'm sorry. I just can't get excited about this:

Seriously. Can you even imagine a more boring group of people to spend an evening with? Lawyers, bankers and CPAs? That sounds like torture. And what's up with that clip art? Who decided that a picture of gold alien robots sitting on a bench with giant laptops was appropriate on an invitation to a "social event." At least there is a discount if you buy your drinks in bulk. Have fun.


Adventures in Teachersitting

I apologize for the long hiatus and want to thank those of you who still check in every day and give me crap for not writing anything. I have a good excuse for my absence: I started teaching a class at the local university last month and that has sucked up just about all of my free time. Teaching is hard. Much more demanding and challenging than I expected. But I'm really enjoying it and would have some great stories to share if I could figure out what my ethical obligations to my students are.

But there are some things I can talk about. Remember these:

I totally gave a Scantron exam today. It saved me a ton of time and an hour after the exam, the Faculty Technology Center had sent me the grades as well as 7 different statistical breakdowns of the grade distributions--5 of which I do not understand at all. 

More soon.


2 Sunsets/One Night

With their 6-0 loss to the Braves tonight, the sun officially sets on the Mets season as they will now finish with a losing record for the first time since 2004. Oh well. At least there was this other sunset to make me feel a little better tonight:

I heart the AK right now. Much more than I heart the NY Mets. It pains me so to type that.


Guns and Butter

While garage sale shopping in the rain on Saturday, I happened by the park strip and noticed a rally. From a distance I could make out a sign that said “un-american.” I assumed it was some sort of a wacky right-wing kind of thing and I decided to stay far away. Turns out, it was. It was an anti-health insurance reform/pro-gun rally; a weird combination, right? What do guns have to do with healthcare? (Other than that gunshot wounds send people to hospitals all the time?)

The only reason these two issues have been wedded together is that it would be difficult to get a ton of people out on a cool, damp morning to yell about how health insurance companies should continue to screw people over. But if you add guns to the mix, the crazies come out in droves.
(This picture is actually from Gov. Palin's farewell BBQ in August, not this weekend's event. But you get the point)

I don't want to get into an argument about the Second Amendment (or Article I, Section 19 of the Alaska Constitution)--there is plenty of discourse out there about it already, but I do want to make two points:

(1) If you want to keep a gun in your home for self defense, fine. If you want to own a rifle because you like to hunt, fantastic. If you live in Alaska and you need to arm yourself because when you leave your home you may encounter all sorts of wildlife, that is reasonable. If want to prowl the streets at night in the name of vigilante justice, more power to you. But if you are the punk who earlier this summer fired six shots into my neighbor's house at 4 AM because you were fighting with your ex-girlfriend, or the dumbass who started shooting downtown last weekend and caused me and my friends to have to dive back into a bar for safety, then you should not be allowed to possess any firearms. You are stupid and you are an asshole. You are certainly not who the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment. But if you are, say, this guy, with your mini flag and your leather fanny pack, I fully support your right to own an antique rifle:

(2) I don't believe that guns = freedom. People argue that the Second Amendment must be protected at all costs because the citizenry needs to keep the ability to form armed militias to prevent tyranny and overthrow the government if necessary. But this logic is no longer relevant. Here's why: First, if a despotic leader takes over our country and we really need to take up arms against our oppressors, we won't stand a chance. This isn't like the Revolutionary War where both sides just had muskets. Now the government has way more advanced weapons (like robots, biological weapons, and genetically enhanced bionic soldiers) that would easily wipe out any revolutionaries armed only with guns and maybe some rocket launchers (are those covered by the 2nd A?). Second, collectively, we are way too lazy to even try to overthrow the government. There are all sorts of stories about brave farm boys leaving their homes to fight the British. Good luck getting any 18-24 year old to put down Rock Band and get off the couch to go and fight. Especially when fighting the government would likely result in an Internet service disruption.

Back to the rally. These people are so stupid. Many of the same people who decry any sort of reform of the health insurance industry (And this is really what it's about. It's not about changing they type of health care that is available. It's about making it more accessible to more people because access to healthcare should be a fundamental human right for anyone living in the 21st Century.) are the ones who really need it. Yet these people insanely continue to support Republican politicians despite the fact that their economic and social policies are ruining their lives. But right wing politicians are savvy and they tap into the masses' fears and use those fears to drive an agenda that harms the very people who support it. That it works so well is absolutely maddening.

This is why the debate focuses on socialism, "death panels," President Obama's ancestry, and anything else that does not involve the real issues, like how "relative value units" and price fixing serve to limit access to primary care physicians, the huge role the food industry plays in bringing health care costs under control, the benefits of preventive medicine, or that most doctors actually support a public option. Instead, you get morons like this, from yesterday's "event" in Anchorage:
"(Obama) is a fake, he is an illegal alien, he is a fraud. Barack Obama, where is the birth certificate!" event speaker Bob Bird, last year's Alaskan Independence Party candidate for U.S. Senate, said to scattered cheers from those gathered.

Richard Sloderbeck of Anchorage, standing watching the speakers, said he believes Obama was elected through voter fraud, and, "I know he is Islamic in my heart." He said Obama is trying to take people's guns away and destroy the Constitution.

It's also how you wind up with people gathering in publicly-owned parks to rail against big government and "socialism;" it cracks me up. It just goes to show that people love government spending when it suits them: medicare, paved roads, police and fire departments, traffic lights, snow removal. Want your point to have more resonance? Don't use any of that stuff. Good luck with that.


Things & Stuff

  • After all the hubub, the Anchorage Assembly passed the anti-discrimination ordinance. This was the first time in the history of this state that an elected body voted to provide equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. So, of course, Mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed it. Sullivan cited the fact that "the vast majority of those who communicated their position on the ordinance are in opposition" as his reason for overturning the Assembly's vote. Ironic that an ordinance intended to protect the minority from discrimination at the hands of the majority was shot down by the city's top executive only because the majority was opposed to it. That's exactly how it is not supposed to work. Thanks, Mayor Sullivan, for moving our great city backwards in the race for human rights and dignity.
  • A couple of days later this giant rainbow appeared above Anchorage. Wonder whose side Mother Nature is on?
  • On a lighter note, while discussing this issue with some friends at a bar, one guy who was all riled up started yelling about how "It doesn't matter if you are black, white, or PURPLE! You should all have the same rights! Purple people have rights too!" Then we looked over and there was a woman at the table next to us wearing a purple shirt, purple pants and she even had purple hair. She totally heard us yelling about purple people. Awk-ward.
  • What kind of a jerk steals cars from firefighters while they are out fighting wildfires? Two suspects were arrested, but cars and trucks are still missing. No matter what, this is going to cost some dedicated public servants lots of time, money, and frustration. Want to help out? Mail a check payable to "IAFF 1264" with "Pioneer Peak" in the memo line to: PO Box 242041, Anchorage, AK 99524.
  • I watched Project Runway for the first time this week. It's no Top Chef, but I can see why so many of my friends are obsessed with it. It had some funny moments, like all of the people who take themselves way too seriously because of really stupid status things, like the guy who brazenly informed us that "In New York, I'm known as the Prince of Feathers." That's awesome. Congratulations. I'm also fascinated by the personal style choices of the designers. Some of them just wear jeans and a t-shirt. Totally simple and normal. Others wear crazy stuff, like rainbow bodysuits with chainmail corsets or shirts with sleeves made out of cardboard boxes.
  • If prostitution were legalized and regulated, would hookers have prices listed on their clothes or bodies? Or a cigarette-like Surgeon General's health warning for STIs? What about nutritional information?
  • I tried to go to a party with some friends the other night. We got totally lost, mainly because the street we were supposed to turn onto, which was clearly present on the map, did not exist in reality. Then we wound up at the intersection of Winchester and Winchester. How does that happen? As Kim said, "I'm never going to South Anchorage again."


The Mishegoss Mets

The Mets terrible season continues. Following up on the insane rash of injuries, the soap opera front office drama, and the bad managerial decisions that have plagued the team all year, today the Mets discovered an entirely new way to lose. After Oliver Perez gave up two three-run home runs to the Phillies in the first inning, the Mets eventually rallied to pull within two runs. But down 9-7 in the bottom of the ninth, with the tying runs on base and the winning run at the plate, Mets right fielder Jeff Francouer hit into a game-ending unassisted triple play. Yes. A game-ending unassisted triple play. Unbelievable. The first time ever a game has ended like that. *sigh*

This has been a hard season. But rather than reflect on all of the reasons why, I'll turn it over to Bill Simmons to explain why we baseball fans (and perhaps Mets fans in particular) are so sensitive:
"The relationship between a fan and his baseball team is unlike anything else. If you love a team—if you truly love it—then that team infiltrates your daily life for six straight months (seven if you’re lucky). You wake up, you shower, you eat, you work, you eat, you watch your baseball team, you sleep. When the Mets collapsed for the third straight season last week, my devastated friends who follow them all said the same thing: it wasn’t losing again as much as reflecting on those 162 games and the hundreds of hours wasted along the way. They felt betrayed. Only baseball does that to you. It’s a game of routine, of watching one at-bat after another, hoping something different happens, of relishing the little thingsd that happen along the way. You don’t know your favorite players personally, but you feel like you do.”
Next year can't get here soon enough.



When I heard that the federal government was going to institute "death panels" as part of a health care reform plan, I got really excited. Not because I want sick people to be put to death rather than given health care, but because I thought it would be a great job for me. As the currently unemployed former Governor of Alaska (Sarah Palin, in case you forgot) explained:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
(And, in case you forgot, Sarah Palin has a baby with Down Syndrome, who, for the record, is really cute, though I'm not so sure about his choice in eyewear. Are those really cool or really ugly? I can't tell anymore.)

Why would I make a good Death Panel Bureaucrat? Simple: I have lots of recent experience in determining someone's "level of productivity in society." Also, I've been sick, I've had surgery that I'm still paying off, and I'm a good bullshitter so I can totally tell when someone is faking.

I immediately started putting together an application, but then I found out that, despite the stimulus plan, there would be no such jobs available: sadly, shockingly, the former Governor of Alaska was lying (again). Why would she just make such a thing up? Probably for the same reasons that Rush Limbaugh is comparing the Obama health care plan logo to "a Nazi swastika logo." Because Godwin's Law posits that the longer an argument or debate goes on, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler or the Nazis increases. It usually occurs when conservative arguments grow tired and less logical:
In discussions about guns and the Second Amendment, for example, gun-control advocates are periodically reminded that Hitler banned personal weapons. And birth-control debates are frequently marked by pro-lifers' insistence that abortionists are engaging in mass murder, worse than that of Nazi death camps.
Applying these principles, it has also been observed that "as the time a liberal candidate is believed to be winning an election or argument increases, the probability that they will be labeled communist or socialist approaches one." So there it is. Because there is no good reason to oppose health care reform, a faction of the far right resorts to outlandish tactics that are offensive, un-American, anti-intellectual, and ultimately, violent. As Rachel Maddow explains,Nazism is not a metaphor for a political policy you disagree with. It has a very specific resonance, and when it is used deliberately to characterize a political opponent it is nothing more than a means of justifying the use of violence against that opponent. It makes violence virtuous, because Nazism is inherently evil and should be stopped at all costs. That is a scary prospect, is completely unacceptable, and has absolutely no place in what should be a thoughtful, civilized debate about health care and basic human rights. Anyone who furthers this Nazi meme should ashamed of themselves, absolutely ashamed.


Meet The Mess

Last week, NY Daily News reporter Adam Rubin broke the story that Mets VP for Player Development Tony Bernazard recently "removed his shirt" and challenged one of the Mets minor league teams to a fight during a post-game tirade. That's right, he challenged the entire team. And, yes, it is also important that he took off his shirt, because that adds a whole nother level of crazy and makes it seem like he should have be on an episode of Cops, and not working in the Mets front office.

Mets GM Omar Minaya called a press conference today to announce that Bernazard had rightly been fired. But at the presser Minaya accused Rubin of writing the story about Bernazard only because Rubin wanted to get Bernazard fired so that Rubin could get his job. This is unprecedented. A GM accusing a reporter of orchestrating a firing of another team exec because he wanted the guy's job? Omar is seriously having a meltdown: First, he makes a trade that makes no sense, sending Ryan Church to the arch-rival Braves for Jeff Francoeur. Minaya justified the trade as follows: "One thing we like about Francoeur is the amount of games that he plays." Yes, but he doesn't play that well in any of them. Then, with the team a solid 10 game out of first place, and 7 games behind the wild card leader, Minaya talked about trading away the future to try to win during this season where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. This is delusional, but consistent with the Mets' history. Now he accuses a beat writer of plotting to take down a team executive because he wanted the job. He is really losing it. Makes me wonder if Sarah Palin (or Meg Stapleton) is advising him?

The Mets have always been a soap opera; nothing is ever easy with them. Joel Sherman speculates that the Mets fired Bernazard because he was becoming a distraction. But with the way this season has been going, a distraction from the on-the-field action wouldn't be so bad.

I can't wait till the day we Mets fans can be this happy again:

(Thanks to a special friend in NY for snapping this picture and sending it to me. And for staying on the subway for an extra shot to make sure she got it. Made my day.)


Overheard So Far This Summer

  • "I would never fight someone who is drunk. People who are drunk are stronger, because they have no fear. But their hand-eye coordination may not be as good."
  • "I just flirted with the girl who caught herself on fire at the Oceans Festival last year."
  • "You drunk-dialed me to talk about mootness. You, sir, are a giant nerd."
  • Girl at Concert: "I'm so sick of bluegrass."
    Boy at Concert: "We'll, he's not really playing bluegrass."
    Girl at Concert: "Acoustic, whatever. It's still just some guy whining on a stool."
  • "He's really into hunting. But the natural kind--like he strips naked, covers himself in deer urine to mask his scent, puts a knife between his teeth and then heads out into the woods to hunt moose. He's not going to shoot them with an M-16 from out of a helicopter."
  • "You're one of those creepy sauna guys."
  • "I'm not a hooker, I'm walking."
  • "Indian people can't swim. What? I was just over there. It's true."
  • "A bunch of people are still at Dave's house doing Jaeger Bombs and playing Rock Band."
  • "You stayed home all day? Good decision. Your pale-ass legs needed sun more than you needed to be at work today."
  • "He wants to gain weight? Here's a simple plan: first, he has to stop biking everywhere and start driving his car. Then he should spend at least 2 hours a day on the couch watching TV. If that doesn't work, he should chew bacon instead of gum."
  • "I just want to be smooth, like Barack."


She Likes Me Not

I have recently become the go-to source for relationship advice for two of my friends. I guess I'm qualified for this task, having had a lot of interesting dating-ish experiences over the years: I've had some relationships end in spectacularly bad fashion, and have had others that went remarkably well (that is, until I inevitably ended them for reasons as mature as "she talks with her hands too much," "her voice sounds funny on my answering machine," and "she has 80's hair"). I've been in relationships that I let go on for too long, relationships that ended too early, and relationships that even came with a predetermined expiration date. I've almost seen it all. Plus, I recently heard Adam Carolla's spot-on explanation of why dating is so hard:
We live in a society where women are conditioned to expect men to pursue them, but they are also infused with a gene that makes them immediately repulsed as soon as soon as we show any interest. If the animal kingdom worked that way, there would be no animals. A female peacock isn't repulsed by a male peacock that shows interest in her. Rather she's like, "Hey, nice plumage."
Friend A is in a tough spot. He's stuck in the Friend Zone with no way out. His situation is eerily similar to the one described in this letter:
I really like you. I do. You're so nice, and sweet, and you listen to all my problems and respond with the appropriate compliments. But, well, I don't really see a relationship in our future. It would be terrible if we let sex destroy this great friendship we have where I get everything I want and you get nothing you want. Don't you think?
. . .
It's just…you're like my best friend, and I would hate for something you desperately want to change that. I mean, sure, we could go on some dates, maybe mess around a little and finally validate the six years you've spent languishing in this platonic nightmare, but then what? How could we ever go back to the way we were, where I take advantage of your clear attraction to me so I can have someone at my beck and call? That part of our friendship means so much to me.
Armed with my generally keen insight into everything and this pie chart, I was able to properly advise Friend A on what he should do: ignore her.
Unfortunately, he can't. But even if he could, it would probably do him no good. Once she showed any interest in him, he would immediately be less attracted to her. Probably because all men think "There must be something really wrong with her if she can't do any better than me."

Then there's Friend B, who never likes anyone. I was really surprised when she started talking about a new crush. She really liked him, but was frustrated about some un-returned text messages. She insisted she didn't want to play any games, but when I suggested she just call him, she refused: "He has to call me. I'm not calling him." No games, huh? Good luck with that.

These situations are certainly not unique, and given these circumstances, I think it's a miracle that people ever get together. I'm really starting to believe that this fake time travel plan might actually be a good idea.



SP's spokeswoman Meg Stapleton had a rip-roaring fun interview with Anderson Cooper. Here she tries to explain to AC why quitting is leading and why good point guards (and therefore by extension governors) always keep their eye on the hoop (still not sure what the metaphorical hoop really is, and not to nitpick, but a point guard shouldn't be focused on the hoop. That's what a shooting guard does. Good point guards look to create openings for other players to score. Steve Nash for governor!).

Meg revealed that the Soon-To-Be-Former Gov. (STBFG) has already had lots and lots and lots of job opportunities--some even came on the day she resigned! But she wouldn't elaborate. Seems like the STBFG may be dabbling in the motivational speaking field a little. This morning, she had this to tweet:
Couple of thoughts for the day on beautiful bright AK morn:"You have to sacrifice to win. That's my philosophy in 6 words."- George Allen. &
Today,try this: "Act in accordance to your conscience -risk- by pursuing larger vision in opposition to popular, powerful pressure"-unknown
Isn't that second quote great? She floats some self-serving nonsense statement that isn't even a sentence and then attributes it to "unknown." I think it was "unknown" because it came from a fortune cookie. Or, more likely, one cookie that accidentally had two fortunes stuck together inside it--don't you love when that happens?


That's What She Said

It has always hurt my brain to try to make sense out of Sarah Palin's attempts at logical reasoning. But this weekend she outdid herself. As you may have heard, Sarah is not going to seek a second term as Alaska's governor (she's 2 1/2 years into her first term). Oh, and also, because she's not going to seek a second term, she's just going to resign right now (well, in three weeks), because if she's a "lame duck," that would be bad for Alaska:
And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn’t run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks… travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade – as so many politicians do. And then I thought – that’s what’s wrong – many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and “milk it”. I’m not putting Alaska through that – I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! That’s not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old “politics as usual.” I promised that four years ago – and I meant it.
I guess if you squint really hard and bang your head against the table a few times this sort of makes sense. Though, as Myster points out, maybe it isn't so crazy. After all, she quit a bunch of things and they all turned out pretty well.

There is lots of speculation as to why Palin is stepping down--speculation fueled by the fact that she didn't really say why in a rambling, somewhat incoherent speech at a hastily organized press conference on the banks of Lake Lucille (with lots of geese honking in the background). She did however cite everything from refrigerator magnets to tired sports analogies to support her decision.

And, as usual, in response to criticism of this shocking decision to abandon her constituents (Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's words, not mine), Sarah both goes on the offensive and plays the victim at the same time, blaming the media (via Twitter) for putting a false spin on her resignation--the resignation that she herself has tried to spin into nothing more than just her decision to abandon the "politics as usual." Indeed, both the title of her official press release, as well as all of her comments, boldly refer to her decision not to run again and treat her decision to quit as jut incidental. To wit:

The (still, for now) Governor also lashed out at a few local bloggers who discussed their thoughts on why she stepped down. Through her attorney, whose First Amendment credentials I question as he does not seem to have ever heard of NY Times v. Sullivan--just, you know, like the most important Supreme Court case ever when it comes to free speech, journalism, and criticism of public officials--Palin threatens to sue most the Internet. This is what her attorney had to say:
To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as "fact" that Governor Palin resigned because she is "under federal investigation" for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation. This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law. The Alaska Constitution protects the right of free speech, while simultaneously holding those "responsible for the abuse of that right."
Blah, blah, blah. Fortunately, Ms. Moore ain't falling for it.

No matter how you slice it, this situation is vintage Sarah: drama, speculation, family values, victimization, evil bloggers, head-scratching rhetoric, and a sharp red jacket.

But what to call this sordid affair? Every good "gate" needs a name. It's got to have quit in the title, though right? As Geoffrey Dunn points out, quitting is par for the course with Palin:
Sarah Palin quit five colleges in her otherwise unremarkable collegiate career, before finally graduating from the sixth. She quit her job in television. She and Todd quit their snow machine dealership in Big Lake. She quit as chair of the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. Now she has quit the governorship of the state she supposedly loves. Sarah Palin is a quitter. When the going gets tough,Sarah Palin quits. Sarah Palin has no game.
The name practically wrote itself, though he gives credit to his 14 year-old daughter: The Iquitarod.


This Week in Sarahdise

For some reason Sarah brought up how she thinks she could beat Barack Obama in a race marathon: "I betcha I'd have more endurance," she told Runner's World magazine. What's next? Arm wrestling Joe Biden? Paintball with Nancy Pelosi?

She does look pretty good in her yoga outfit though...

Then there was a great article in Vanity Fair. So much good stuff in there: behind-scenes-campaign stories, insight into how she interacted with her staff, a look at her relationship with John McCain, etc. A few things really stood out, like this totally apt description of life in Alaska:
The first thing McCain could have learned about Palin is what it means that she is from Alaska. More than 30 years ago, John McPhee wrote, “Alaska is a foreign country significantly populated with Americans. Its languages extend to English. Its nature is its own. Nothing seems so unexpected as the boxes marked ‘U.S. Mail.’” That description still fits. The state capital, Juneau, is 600 miles from the principal city, Anchorage, and is reachable only by air or sea. Alaskan politicians list the length of their residency in the state (if they were not born there) at the top of their biographies, and are careful to specify whether they like hunting, fishing, or both. There is little sense of government as an enduring institution: when the annual 90-day legislative session is over, the legislators pack up their offices, files, and computers, and take everything home. Alaska’s largest newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News, maintains no full-time bureau in Juneau to cover the statehouse. As in any resource-rich developing country with weak institutions and woeful oversight, corruption and official misconduct go easily unchecked. Scrutiny is not welcome, and Alaskans of every age and station, of every race and political stripe, unself-consciously refer to every other place on earth with a single word: Outside.

So, of all the puzzling things that Sarah Palin told the American public last fall, perhaps the most puzzling was this: “Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.”

Believe me, it is not.
Also, a great description of Palin's hometown of Wasilla (which makes great companion reading to Alex's slideshow):
But Sarah Palin herself is a microcosm of Alaska, or at least of the fastest-growing and politically crucial part of it, which stretches up the broad Matanuska-Susitna Valley, north of Anchorage, where she came of age and cut her political teeth in her now famous hometown, Wasilla. In the same way that Lyndon Johnson could only have come from Texas, or Bill Clinton from Arkansas, Palin and all that she is could only have come from Wasilla. It is a place of breathtaking scenery and virtually no zoning. The view along Wasilla’s main drag is of Chili’s, ihop, Home Depot, Target, and Arby’s, and yet the view from the Palins’ front yard, on Lake Lucille, recalls the Alpine splendor visible from Captain Von Trapp’s terrace in The Sound of Music. It is culturally conservative: the local newspaper recently published an article that asked, “Will the Antichrist be a Homosexual?” It is in this Alaska—where it is possible to be both a conservative Republican and a pothead, or a foursquare Democrat and a gun nut—that Sarah Palin learned everything she knows about politics, and about life. It was in this environment that her ambition first found an outlet in public office, and where she first tasted the 151-proof Everclear that is power.
Finally, a few days ago I started following Palin's Twitter feed. I had to stop because tweets like these were making my eyes bleed:
  • I dont support Waxman-Markey bill; I'll work w/AK Senators & others to address concerns, lacks flexibility needed to protect enviro & develp
  • Lots of happy construction workers just kicked off Goose Creek prison project - loved all the hard hats and steel toed boots on the ground.
  • Despicable act of hatred @ Natl Holocaust Museum today. Our hearts & prayers are w/victims of the shootings. God bless our Jewish community.
  • Thank you Wasilla for Trail of Healing! May God bless efforts of reconciliation; it shall be manifested in more respect for AKs First People
  • Today I meet w/Asst AGs seeing in past 2 weeks US Supreme Ct twice reversed the US Ct of Appeals for 9th Circuit in cases important to AK...
  • Our asst AGs had KEY role in protecting rights as a state vs 9th Circuit in cases re: DNA evidence & Kensington Mine development/new jobs
  • Is it ok to hack emails? Go thru someone's mail & broadcast what you stole? Nope, not ok to most Americans.TN proceedings tomorrow to decide
  • Suppressed EPA memos may help explain why r position on climate change & polar bear population became controversial/misunderstood. Read 'em
  • I may get nowhere w/DoD efforts to fully fund troops' rtn trips so pls join charity drive to raise $ for flights. Nonsense troops must pay!


This Week In Equality

Public hearing #4 on the Anchorage equal rights ordinance was last night. Meh. Just more of the same: anti-ordinance zealots blathering on the evils of gayness inside the assembly chambers and uninformed adults and brainwashed kids spewing vitriol on the lawn. Going to these hearings has started to feel like going to a bar or a party where you know all the people that are going to be there: "Ugh, it's going to be those same ABT kids hanging out, saying stupid shit, and wearing red again..."

The only difference this time was that this group of Redshirts seemed even trashier than before. They must have been the fourth string. It was as if instead of busing people over from the church, they just swung by Walmart and picked up a bunch of stragglers.

That sign says "98.5% of America is Straight." Not sure where they got their statistics from (there was no citation to authority on the sign). Based on their conclusion, someone did some further social science research and wanted to share his findings with them:

What could that sign possibly say?

As always, there were lots of kids there. This one was carrying a sign that was bigger than he was:

And this kid really needs to learn the definition of irony:

Um, 14-year-old child, how did you come to wind up at the protest tonight, wearing red, waving that ridiculous sign? Did someone ask you to come? Or encourage you somehow? You know those are synonyms for "recruit," right? Just checking.

Know what else is ironic? Being totally gay and not knowing it while protesting against gay rights:
Also ironic: dressing your totall gay little dog up in ant-gay rights gear.

But blowing up the irony meter is fan favorite Dog the Bounty Huner, who showed up in assless chaps. Yes, he wore assless chaps to protest against gay rights. I love this guy.

And, hey, Dog: for future reference, if people can smell your clothes from 20 feet away, you might be wearing too much leather.

And a message to the Redshirts: protest signs are more effective when they make sense. I don't have any idea what this is supposed to mean:

Jerry Prevo was there, flanked by his security guards all night:

The three guys in the foreground (who all had those Secret Service earpieces)--the dude in the red coat, the guy who didn't realize he was wearing a New York Liberty jacket, and the Walter Sobchak-looking fella in the black vest--comprised the least intimidating security force of all time:
The poor-man's Walter was my favorite. Mainly because he was dressed for some sort of battle in the library lobby: he had a lot of pockets and was wearing combat boots. I'm 98.5% certain that he got beat up all the time in high school and now thinks he's way more important than he actually is b/c he runs security for Jerry Prevo.

Finally, there's Geran, who couldn't decide what kind of sign she wanted to make. You aren't allowed to bring signs into the assembly chambers, and when she walked in with these, the security guards didn't know what to do:

Because of all the testimony, the Assembly still hasn't been able to debate the ordinance or vote. The next date that there could be another public hearing is July 7.


Witness The Awesomeness

I'm so glad I recorded Wednesday night's public hearing. The Pretards are like gifts that keep on giving.

This particular guy looked totally gay. I was shocked when he said he was opposed to the ordinance. But I should have known better: No self-respecting gay man would wear stonewashed jean shorts.

He was a little out of breath when he began his testimony, and he had a nervous lilt to his voice. But what came out of his mouth was pure gold. I'm tempted to comment on it and tear it apart, but I think it would be best for you all to just read it through and fully absorb its awesome ignorance. I transcribed it word-for-word:
Hi. My name is David [redacted].

I’m here today to say I’m um opposed this. I think it’s totally messed up.

Um, we’re talking about freedom here, right? Freedom? If I want to own a business I should have a right to desire to have a good employee or not or to have some land. If I’m going to rent my house out, I should be able to rent it out to someone who I know, or who I trust, or someone from my church. But if I don’t believe that the lifestyle that they live is wrong, then why should I have them live under my circumstances?

And what about freedom, right? Freedom of speech. When I was in high school I got hit on by a couple of gay guys, okay? What is that? That’s a freedom of speech. They had the freedom to come out and say, “Hey, I’m gay. Would you like to take me out? Or, "Would you like to go out with me?” Right? Is that freedom of speech?

Knowing that they have that freedom of speech they also took the right in their mind to say, "Hey if I say this I could get discriminated, right?" I could pointers—fingers pointed at me. I could get sued. Same with Christianity. If I claim that I’m a Christian and I go out and I try to witness, I can get my lights punched out. I can get discriminated. I know that, but I still stand up for what I believe in. If you don’t stand up for Christianity then what else do you have? And what about people that say they are discriminated? Is that really discrimination?

I don’t remember too much about history, about Martin Luther King, but I do remember the blacks and the whites—that was discrimination, okay? If you walked out there an hour ago you saw everybody on the grass having a good time, am I right? Now back in the day, if you saw a black man or a black woman walking down, what would they do? They would point, they would shun them and say hey go away, you’re black, you sit on back of the bus [points behind him], you get that water fountain [points to his right], you get that bathroom [points to his left]. That is discrimination, all right? That is discrimination.

All of us here get discriminated at one point or another, am I right? We all get discriminated?

And how about the way this is all planned? You know? I’m not too involved in politics and I never voted until after I got married because I didn’t give a flip, but now I do. And who is this acting mayor? Is he acting mayor? Then why is he in charge of all this? I mean, is he really in charge? Or are we just twiddling out thumbs here? And how about all these other issues that we’ve had in the past that has been on the ballot? I never knew what a ballot was until I got married. What does that say about my wife? She-she-she got me where I am today.

Is there any questions?
Maybe just a few, starting with, "Um, what?"



The equality quandary continues. Following last week’s public hearing on proposed Ordinance 64, which would amend Anchorage’s Municipal Code to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Assembly had to schedule two more hearings in an attempt to hear from all of the people who signed up to testify. This is highly unusual--generally, few people care about what the Assembly does. But, when an ordinance is proposed, a public hearing is required, and (literally) busloads of people have come to speak out against 64 because, apparently, if we protect the LGBT community from discrimination, something really really really bad is going to happen. Like really really bad. I can’t quite figure out what that bad thing is, but all of the people testifying against the ordinance, and all of those who have been shipped up to wave signs against it, are very afraid of something. They don’t come out and say exactly what it is (Death? Hell? The Apocalypse?), rather they just say something about how being gay is wrong and how Jesus is the Lord of Alaska. (Picture shamelessly stolen from The Mudflats).

Why are so many people testifying? It’s not because they are politically attuned, it’s because the Alaska Religious Right, led by Pastor Jerry Prevo, has employed an interesting political tactic while mobilizing his Pretarded followers into a committed mindless mob. Under the Anchorage Municipal Code, there doesn’t seem to be any limit to the number of people who can testify on an ordinance. Individuals are limited to three minutes each, but the Assembly allowed people to continue to sign up at each hearing. So, at the first hearing, 350 people signed up and they heard from about 90. At the second hearing, they plowed through another hundred, but two hundred more, mostly against the Ordinance, signed up. This meant that public testimony could continue indefinitely.

Such a “backdoor filibuster” looks like the Redshirts' strategy: with unlimited and constantly expanding public testimony, they could preclude the Assembly from voting on the ordinance for another couple of weeks until conservative Mayor-Elect Dan Sullivan takes over. Their hope is that if the ordinance passes when Sullivan is in the big chair he will veto it, which current Acting Mayor Matt Claman would not do. So they bus kids in from all over (even from a church in the lower 48, according to the Anchorage Daily News), pack people in to testify, and hope to put this off. Fortunately, at Wednesday's third day of testimony the Assembly Chair capped it and said all of the people who have signed up, all 550 of them, would be allowed to testify (the public hearing will continue next Tuesday), but no more people will be added to the list.

So, here’s a short summary of where things are at now: The third day of public testimony closed with testimony having been taken from 370 people. There are about 200 to go, and once the public hearing is gaveled closed, the Assembly will consider and debate three different versions of the proposed ordinance, including versions that gut many of its key provisions in an effort to appease Prevo and the Pretards. But those people don’t want to be appeased, they really just want it just torn up, or put off until Sullivan can veto it. The interesting thing is that this approach could totally backfire. Dan Sullivan does not want to deal with this. Why would he? Sullivan hopes to be a moderate leader and if he is faced with this issue, he is going to have to take a controversial stand immediately upon taking office: either strike down the ordinance (if it passes), thereby taking a firm anti-LGBT stance, or let it stand and draw the ire of the right. He can’t win.

I went to the Round 2 protest on Tuesday night, and I watched a lot of the Round 3 testimony on Wednesday. I was going to do a live blog thing about the testimony, but the moronic comments came 2 Fast and 2 Furious, and every few minutes I had to stop watching and bang my head against the wall for a while (more on that in a minute).

The scene at the protest on Tuesday was totally different than last week. A lot of people talked about organizing an event that was less adversarial and more community oriented--a picnic, a potluck, some drum circles, folk music, and what have you. Lame as that sounds, it all came together really well and was more of a Burning Man-esque party than anything else. There was a DJ spinning on the lawn outside the library, dancing, hula hoops, pizza, hipsters on ironic bikes, rainbow boas, some frisbees, and several aspiring fire jugglers. (Thanks to the ADN and tsdak for some of the pics.)

The kid who wanted his $2 from Lane Meyer was there too:

I was remiss that I didn’t bring glow sticks or a pacifier. Or my giant Flavor Flav clock. Despite the party atmosphere, there was still a touch of protest. Witness some sweet blue-side signage:

And of course the Redshirts still had their stupid signs:

Here is Kimberly Jong-il, one of last week’s favorites, holding one of the Redshirts’ new signs that also doesn't make any sense:

Now, I don’t have the bestest grasp of the English language, and I can’t diagram a sentence to save my life (I think I was out sick the day they taught us that in school), but I have decent grammar and I know there are some problems here. Like, why is "Civil Liberties" capitalized? And shouldn't there be a comma in there someplace? And what the hell does that mean anyway?

In this context, immorality is code for gay. So gayness is to blame for our economic problems? Please. Who spends more money than gay men? Without them our economy would have tanked 10 years ago.

The Dog The Bounty Hunter guy came back, flames and all:

And he brought a friend:

I stayed home on Wednesday night to watch the testimony on TV. I almost jumped out of my seat when Dog (real name Brian) stepped up the mic, still wearing his Oakley Thumps (leaving your shades on to testify: an undeniably classy move). I was so excited. And he did not disappoint:
"I spent 23 years of my life locked up in the prison system in the department of corrections. I watched young men from 17 to 20 to 30 years old with people doing 600, 700 years, get raped without their consent, being held down with individuals.

The Alaska Administration Code, in the Department of Correction policy and procedure, is there will not be any homosexual activity inside incarcerations. DOC rules prohibit homosexual activities. I don’t know how they can approve somethin’ out here in the community when it is illegal inside institutions."
Where to begin? Prison rape is certainly a problem, and if Dog wants to do some work on prison reform, we’d love his help. However, his argument that because homosexual activity is banned in prison it should be banned “in the community” is slightly off-the-mark. First, all sexual intercourse is banned in inside correctional facilities. Inmates aren't allowed to fuck each other, and guards aren't allowed to fuck inmates. Period. Doesn't matter if you are gay, straight, black or white. It's prison! No sex! (Except for conjugal visits). There are lots of other things that aren't allowed in prison, like guns (and shivs), should we ban all of those "out here in the community" as well? Second, his argument has absolutely nothing to do with the ordinance, basically, all he could say was "gay sex is bad."

His rant was pretty typical. The people that testified against the ordinance all exhibited the following characteristics: (1) self-proclaimed Christian; (2) fear of God/belief in the Word of God; and (3) failure to read and/or understand the ordinance they were testifying against. I swear, some of them really seem to believe that the Assembly is trying to make homosexuality mandatory or require people to have hot gay sex on the street in front of preschools.

Not surprisingly, many of them had the same talking points:
  • Christianity good, gay bad.
  • Gay marriage should be illegal. (It already is in Alaska).
  • The ordinance was rushed and pushed through too quickly. (Total bullshit. The Assembly hasn’t even discussed or debated it yet. This ordinance was put forward the same way any other ordinance comes before the Assembly. The only difference is that for this one they will allow over 500 people to publicly testify before debating it. And in response to all of that public testimony, several amended versions have already been proposed. So, they are taking their time and are responding to the public outcry. They are basically doing everything right.)
  • It should be discussed “furtherly” (see above).
  • It should be put to a vote of the people. (You can’t just set a proposed ordinance up for a popular vote. That's not how it works. There are ways to put such matters before the voters, but when an ordinance is proposed, the Assembly must consider it.)
  • Special interest groups are behind this ordinance. (Churches are special-interest groups too, you know.).
  • “I’ve never seen a gay person get discriminated against." (That doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I’ve never seen someone rob a bank, that doesn’t mean it shouldn't be illegal.)
Some of them didn't even talk about the ordinance. They just got up there and read scripture or started preaching at the Assembly members. It was crazy, and, really, I just can't take someone seriously who is wearing a giant red Coca-Cola shirt. Here are some direct quotes:
  • "They don’t need this ordinance because they already have rights: They have a parade; They have gay bars where they can hang out."
  • “Homosexuality is a choice; it’s un-Christian.”
  • “We are all protected by the constitution, but that doesn’t mean we are all entitled to the same thing.”
  • (read this with a thick Russian accent): “In supermodel business, these women are supposed to be of certain size, a certain height, and it is okay to discriminate against women who are overweight, and they are allowed to do that.”
  • “You don’t need a new policy. There is no discrimination. I could line everybody up in here tonight and they could all tell you how they’ve been discriminated against.”
  • “We have a God-given right to protect our children. Vote no to make Anchorage a safer place.”
  • “Discrimination is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact in many instances it’s a good thing.”
  • “These ordinances go beyond protecting a class of people from being discriminated against and protects a sinful behavior that should be discriminated against.”
  • (again, Russian accent): “If we allow this kind of behavior—men with men and women with women--there are gong to be no babies made. In Russia there is not enough babies. People have to pay other people to get the babies for them. If this kind of behavior happened in Russia, I don’t know, would be scary. . . If all of a sudden a rose wanted to become a tulip, there is a reason we have this many tulips and this many roses. There is a reason we have this many men and this many women.”
  • "This country was founded on rugged individualism, but we basically have a nanny state which is being approved here by a large part of our assembly."
  • “There is a lack of any credible problem and protection exists. If there was a problem, the ACL (sic) and the feds would have made the municipality fix it.”
Crazy arguments that don't make any sense are all the rage these days. Consider the lunatics calling for Lettermans's head:

Much like their cohorts in Anchorage, the Letterman protesters had their facts slightly askew:
Okay, in order: Letterman never joked about rape, the joke was aimed at 18-year-old Bristol, it was a baseball game [not basketball], the language is Yiddish not Jewish, Letterman has a son out of wedlock, I suppose it’s possible his wife is a slut although I don’t know for sure, America’s periods of isolationism have historically led to wars the country was ill-prepared for, and mouth-rape is somewhat less of a threat to your children than teaching them ironclad certitude at protests against late-night television shows.
See you next Tuesday for Round 4.