3.30.2009

My Take on the Hubub

Quite a stir among Alaska politicos this weekend: On Friday, Alaska State Representative Mike Doogan revealed the identity of the blogger behind The Mudflats, a very popular local political blog that gained quite a following for its open and honest criticism of Gov. Palin. Doogan, himself a Democrat and a former newspaperman, outed the formerly anonymous author known only as AKMuckraker in his constituent e-mail newsletter:
"The identity of the person who writes the liberal Democratic Mudflats blog has been secret since the blog began, protected by the Anchorage Daily News, among others. My own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name. So I was interested to learn that the woman who writes the blog is Anchorage resident [redacted]"
I'm going to respect her privacy and desire for anonymity and will not reprint her name here. But Doogan put it out there for all to see (though at first he got her last name wrong). In an interview, he expanded on his reasoning:
"If this was a group of people sitting around the living room, relentlessly attacking public figures, that would be one thing. But she's been doing that on the Internet--which goes everywhere--for the better part of the year, and she's allowed to do that anonomously? Where's the benefit of that to our state or our country?"
The short answers to Doogan's two questions are: (1) Yes, she is allowed to do that anonymously. And (2), the benefit is that the lack of any mandatory identification law or rule allows for the marketplace of ideas to be filled with additional thoughts, discussion and debate. But more on that later.

Doogan's actions--which shape up as a personal vendetta to out this woman--have resulted in a pretty big backlash. AKMuckraker's initial reaction is here, and you can find a ton of links to other criticism and analysis here.

Anonymity can never be guaranteed in this forum. But a blogger can take steps to protect her privacy and AKMuckraker did so. Her choice to remain anonymous was respected by many, including the Anchorage Daily News. However, when you get into this game, you run the risk of being exposed, and should the preventative measures you put in place fail, you can't cry about it. That's the nature of the business.

That being said, it was inappropriate for a sitting legislator to make it his mission to our her. This whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It really bothers me, both as a blogger and as someone who spends a lot of time contemplating the balance that should be struck between freedom of speech, an individual's right to privacy, and the public's need to have open access to information. In fact, it has bothered me so much that my companion for dinner on saturday night and breakfast on sunday morning asked me to "please stop talking about it already." I'll stop, but in just a couple more minutes. Here are my reasons why Mike Doogan was wrong:
  1. Mike Doogan is not the Ethics Police and no law was broken. Doogan admits that he decided to reveal her identity because his "own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name." So he force-fed his own code of journalistic principles and his view of what participation in public debate should look like down AKMuckraker's throat. That's a code that isn't written down anywhere, by the way. There is no law requiring an individual to reveal their identity when making a statement (in most cases). That's the beauty of the First Amendment. You can say what you want, and if what you say may be unpopular you can hide behind a blog, a mask, or a white hood. In some cases (like those racist assholes with the hoods), anonymity is the direct result of the speaker's cowardice, but that is not the case here. AKMuckraker was criticizing Sarah Palin and promoting her own political point of view. If she wanted to do so without signing her name, that was her right and Mike Doogan had absolutely no moral authority to take that right away from her.
  2. There is good policy behind protecting anonymous Internet speech. AKMuckraker is not a professional journalist. Many brave journalists tackle issues that bring with them the specter of political retribution. Writing strongly about a controversial topic carries risk. But professionals are (usually) supported by their employers and colleagues and it is their job to take those risks and to write truthfully and honestly. A private blogger is not a member of the newspaper club and is not afforded those same protections. If such a person chooses to publicly express herself but remain anonymous because she does not want her writing to conflict with the rest of her life, that's her right. Remaining anonymous allows her to prodcue content that thousands and thousands of people read on a daily basis. If she loses the protection of anonymity, she can no longer write and the public forum and the marketplace of ideas loses a voice (just like in Pump Up The Volume).
  3. Doogan fails to grasp how blogs work as a news medium. AKMuckraker is not a reporter for a major paper. She's a mom with a blog. That's the beauty of the Internet: everyone can have a voice now (that's the benefit to our state and country, since you asked, Mike). Doogan isn't straight-up opposed to this, I'm sure he supports the First Amendment. Instead he takes issue with the amount of influence she has. He explained that if she were having these discussions with her friends in her living room that would be fine. But in his view, because she broadcasts her opinions to the world there is a concomittant obligaiton to identify herself. The problem with this is that there is no objective standard to measure when one must reveal their previously-anonymized identity. What if she had just 50 readers? Could she keep her privacy then? What if she only intended for her readership to be small, but thousands of people sought out and wanted to read her opinions? Should she be punished for that? At what point (under Doogan's theory) did she lose the right to remain anonymous? Doogan seems to fear that voters and politicians will bow to her influence without knowing who she is. Much like the public has a right to know what interest groups are funding certain legislative efforts, if you are seriously considering the arguments raised on The Mudflats, you should consider the source: politicians and the public shouldn't put too much faith in an anonymous private blog (see, e.g., the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz). But we can if we want to. Or if her ideas carry less weight becuase they are anonymous, so be it and let the marketplace of ideas dictates the value of her words.
  4. It was inappropriate for a sitting legislator to engage in this activity. It was no easy task for Doogan to track down her identity, and it is sounding more and more like he was on a little bit of a crusade. He specifically said he was upset that "she's allowed to do that anonymously." So, he was miffed that (1) she was "getting away" with something that he could not do when he was a paid professional journalist, and (2) no one was taking her to task over it. But, as explained above, Mike Doogan is not the Internet Police. Or even an Internet ethics specialist. When did this become his responsibility? And to throw his own question back to him, what value have his actions conferred upon our state? My opinion is that our elected representatives should not be spending gov't time on such personal pet projects, and that they probably have more important things to be working on right now like, oh, I don't know, the gas pipline, the debate over the death penalty, or a certain Governor's attempt to disregard the Alaska Supreme Court and whittle away reproductive rights.
In conclusion, Mike Doogan gets two thumbs down from Situational Ethics.

3.26.2009

WARtime Consigliere

Tom Hagen wasn't a wartime consigliere. Neither was Talis Colberg. Both were replaced. Hagen by the Don himself and Talis by Wayne Anthony Ross ("WAR").

Talis resigned as the Attorney General last month (and is now planning a mayoral run) and today Governor Palin announced WAR as his replacement. WAR is a seasoned litigator, an Alaska political veteran, and a staunch gun rights advocate--he has served in an official capacity for the NRA for some time (since back when muskets were all the rage, I think). And, this being Alaska politics, he is of course quite a character. The ADN pulled up some old stories from his previous runs for governor, and those stories combined with his law firm bio paint quite a picture.

Let's get to know the new AG:
  • Fact: He drives a Hummer.
  • Fact: His Hummer is famous (locally) for having "WAR" vanity plates. Here is the WAR Mobile decorated with camouflage and flags for a 4th of July parade. You have to look really close though--it's kind of hard to see the Hummer hidden behind the camo (kind of like trying to find the Fridge in this picture) and the license plate is slightly obscured by a totally hard-core winch.

3.23.2009

Redoubt Redux

Mt. Redoubt finally blew last night. The first eruption was at 10:38 and there have since been about five subsequent eruptions shooting ash and gas nearly 60,000 feet into the sky. I learned about the first eruption through a friend's status update on Facebook. I never thought about the value of social networking technology during a natural disaster, but it really came in handy last night. In addition to sharing information (like this NPR Car Talk segment on how to protect your engine from sucking in ash), I followed the volcano's activity through the Alaska Volcano Observatory's Twitter feed.

Remember when LA Gov. Bobby Jindal mocked volcano monitoring? Here it is in case you missed it:

I don't know, seems kind of important now.

So far Anchorage has escaped unscathed and undusted, but some small towns in the Susitna and Kuskowim valleys have been hit hard, and lots of flights have been cancelled. Good thing Bobby J. isn't running our state. Although, we have someone whose blind political ambition is causing her to try to turn down hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid for our schools, social services, and energy projects. I'm not sure who is more dangerous right now.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the volcano, but in the face of a natural disaster and the politicalization of state services funding, I think it is important that we not lose our sense of humor. With that, I pose this question: What's the deal with John Tesh? Here is a clip of him performing the NBA theme song he wrote. The unintentional comedy is off-the-charts. He tells a cute little story about how he came up with the tune, but then at the 1:15 mark he starts jumping around and is either pretending to dribble a basketball or is playing air piano. But it really gets weird at 2:20 when a guy who looks like he stepped off the cover of the Sgt. Pepper album shows up. We see him again at 2:45 alongside a guy who might be G.E. Smith.

Seriously, who goes to these shows? Enjoy.


3.17.2009

Overheard (or in a few cases just regular heard) in Anchorage

Recently overheard [1] at various locales around town:
  • "She's still in the bathroom. She says she's so drunk she can't feel it when she wipes."
  • "I liked him more when I really didn't know anything about him."
  • "I should call her. I haven't heard from her since I left her in the bathroom at a bar a year ago."
  • "Spending time with people you wouldn't normally hang out with, whom you don't necessarily like and who drive you crazy, and having to care about them, that's what family is all about."
  • "I'm not really all that into her. It's just that she's alive and she's here."
  • College Student #1: She’s crazy.
    College Student #2: What’s her major?
    College Student #1: Art.
    College Student #2: Yeah, art majors are nuts.
  • Woman on cell phone shopping for a gift at a bookstore: “Hello, Steve? I have a question for you: do you ever read books? No. Okay.” (Woman leaves store.)
  • Guy in Suit #1: “I've been taking Ambien a lot.”
    Guy in Suit #2: “Isn't that addictive?”
    Guy in Suit #1: “Probably, but whatever. Addiction is only a problem if you can't get whatever it is you're addicted to.”
  • "I'll have Sudanese security with me because I have connections with the rebel army."
  • Overheard in the steam room at the gym: "You know what this country's government was founded on? Christianity. You know what our schools were all founded on? Christianity. You know what the problem with this country is? There are too many religion and not enough Christianity in the schools. You got Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Jewish, (pause) You-dhism. I mean, how do you tell someone their religion is wrong if they were raised on it?"
  • "He's a professor now. It's perfect for him--he gets to listen to himself talk all day and sleep with his students."
  • Normal Looking Guy #1: "I’ve been hanging out with this girl that is really hot, like legitimately hot—I don’t even mean Anchorage hot. I mean, she is real-world hot. I shouldn’t even know a girl this hot, let alone be dating her."
    Normal Looking Guy #2: "That’s great. I'm only able to date women who are objectively on the level of what I should be able to attract."
  • “Canadians think they are so great. What did they ever do? They invented hockey? Big deal. Anybody could have done that. All they're doing is hitting a rock on the ice with a stick.”
  • Male: Wait, why would you be mad if he called you just for sex?
    Female: Because he doesn’t know me well enough to just ask for sex.
    Male: But your whole relationship is based on sex. You’ve only been out twice and you slept with him both times. You’ve spent a total of like ten hours with him and half of that time you were sleeping. The other half you were having sex!
    Female: I know. My life is full of irony.
[1] I cheated a little. A few of these weren't overheard but were just said to me.

3.16.2009

He Was The Bad Guy In Timecop

Actor and political activist Ron Silver died last night. I didn't agree with his politics--he switched from being a Dem to being a blind Bush supporter after 9/11--but I loved him as Bruno Gianelli on the West Wing and he was cast perfectly as himself in the 1999 Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson/Jack Black creation Heat Vision and Jack. Never heard of it? That's because they only made a pilot. All you need to know about the show can be gleaned from the character descriptions:
  • Jack Austin (played by Jack Black): Former employee of NASA, Jack Austin flew too close to the sun on one space expedition and was “exposed to inappropriate levels of solar energy” causing his brain to expand “like cookie dough”, making him “three times smarter than the smartest man in the world”. NASA wants to remove his brain to study it. He appears to lose this superintelligence at night, requiring only Earth-normal levels of daylight to reactivate it. His catchphrases are "I know EVERYTHING!" and "Knowledge is power... for real."
  • Heat Vision (voiced by Owen Wilson): With Jack trying to escape from NASA agents, he called his unemployed roommate Doug for help. However, when Doug arrived on his motorcycle, he was shot with an “experimental ray” by the NASA agents, merging him with his bike. He is capable of speech and can fight by ramming into opponents. He is unable to use doorknobs and is unable to right himself if pushed over. In sum, Heat Vision is a talking motorcycle and he and Jack are on the run from NASA and are "blocked at every turn...by adventure."
  • Ron Silver (played by himself): A “very dangerous man, a gifted actor, and a cold blooded killer”. Hired by NASA to stop Jack Austin at any cost. He appears to be invulnerable, shrugging off the threat of being shot and later displaying great annoyance but no injury or pain when he actually is shot.
  • The Sheriff (played by Christine Taylor): At first, The Sheriff wondered how "high" Jack Austin’s rocket ship went when he “got totally baked” by the sun, nevertheless she eventually trusts Jack after Ron Silver flips a table at her. They also have a brief romance.
It was hilarious. I can't believe it didn't get picked up. Actually, I can. If you haven't seen it, and if you like Ben Stiller (before he started playing the same character in every movie) and Jack Black (same), and if you have 30 minutes, you can watch it here. Go ahead. Do it for Ron Silver. (Note: the link is to part one. There are three 10 minute segments).

3.12.2009

Pledge Your Allegiance

Levi and Bristol broke up. Shocker. The end of this century's fourteenth-greatest romance is proving to be even more divisive than Bristol's mom's politics.
Where do you come down? Team Bristol or Team Levi? Go here and vote. FYI, I roll with Levi.

3.11.2009

Status Update

With the implementation of Facebook's new layout, I thought this would be a good time to follow up on my previous post about the Facebook. First, thanks for all of the positive feedback about that one; I'm glad you all liked it. Second, I know many of you are wondering if the surprise star of that post, KT, has added to her douchebag collection. The answer is yes. Oh my, yes. And she has even expanded to include a subset of the doucheoisie that I didn't even know existed. But I will save those pictures for the end. Feel free to scroll down now if you are dying to see them. If not, indulge me for a moment as I am feeling extra snarky today.

I recently read this article about why Facebook is dumb. It's not a terribly convincing or original piece, but as Steve Silver points out, this part nails it:
Then, of course, there is the crushing anticlimax of people re-entering your life who might've fallen away into your past, because in each other's past is where you mutually belong. Perhaps you haven't seen them in 20 years. Perhaps she was the cheerleader whose shapely legs fired your imagination in geometry class, whose smile could heat the gymnasium, whose jojoba-enriched hair you smelled when you broke into her locker and pulled some strands from her brush, dropping it in a Ziplock baggie, taking it home to fashion an effigy for your hair-doll shrine.
Now you're left on Facebook, desperately trying to recapture the magic by paging through photos of her freckly kids at Busch Gardens, stalking her like some kind of weirdo. She's 15 pounds heavier now. But that's okay, next to her husband, a red-faced orb who used to be a hale three-sport athlete, whose only physical exertion now appears to be curling gin-and-tonics and power carb-loading. But her words are still a caress, as even pixels carry the melodious lilt of a voice that perfumes the air like April birdsong, when she status-updates you and 738 of her closest friends, with: "Madison ate bad clams last night. Boy, does her tummy hurt!!! :-("
Yeah, we've all been there. Now, without further ado, more of B-Dice's thoughts on the wonder that is the Facebook:
  1. If you are over 30 years old and all of your pictures involve you or your friends drinking, you clearly have a problem. Go get help. Also, you are lame; go back to MySpace.
  2. You don't need to post every picture from your kid's birthday party at the gymnastics studio, your pre-packaged tour of the Outback, or your recent weekend trip to The Cape with Chet and Cecile. Just pick out a few good ones. You don't have any good ones? Make some. It's called Photoshop.
  3. Even though it's just a status update, it's still a sentence. Proper grammar and spelling are not optional.
  4. Facebook has great privacy settings. There are ways to prevent your co-workers, your mother, and the people you don't know very well from seeing all of those embarassing pictures of you. It does, however, take a little bit of intelligence and a dash of website navigation skill. I'm not going to tell you how to do it because I want to keep looking at your pictures.
  5. Speaking of pictures, what's with the itty-bitty-teeny-tiny ones? Don't you check them after you upload them? If you upload a picture and it requires an electron microscope to make out who is drinking that yard of beer with you, what's the point? Do it over, we'd all appreciate it.
  6. Those of you who are real photographers and have real cameras? I hate you. Stop showing off. You are going to make me go into further debt because now I need to buy a fancy camera with shutter speed controls and all of that shit. Just post some pictures of yourself drinking through a funnel already.
  7. Finally, Allison Saraco, the love of my life during the second and third grades, where are you? Why don't you have a Facebook profile? Please make one soon. Thanks.
Now for the good stuff. Here is the Spring 2009 update on KT's Douchebag Collection:

Is that a cell phone on his belt?

Why are these pictures all foggy? I bet there was a smoke machine involved.

Those guys are all wearing the same shorts!

You may recognize him from his previous appearance two pictures ago. He looks good all dressed up. And by "all dressed up" I mean "jacket over his t-shirt."


He looks too old for that haircut.

Good lord.

That is the ugliest tie I've seen since 1987. And I hate this guy's purple shirt with white collar.

What do you call a female douchebag?

Can girls even be considered douchebags, or is the term limited to guys?

I have no doubt that all of these ladies would be douchebags if they were dudes.

I have discovered something of a phenomena in perusing KT's photos. Apparently, douchebags like to give the finger to photographers. Witness:




Did you see how clever that last guy was? He's my favorite. That's how I would do it too, all sublte and punk-like with my ripped jeans and my checkerboard thigh patch.

I will so get my ass kicked if any of these people see this. Please don't tell them.

3.06.2009

Mixing Metaphors

I mashed up a few well-known sayings and accidentally came up with these gems during two separate conversations yesterday:
  • Don't count all of your eggs before they're in one basket.
  • You have to bottle the lightning while it's hot.

3.05.2009

Go Speed Dater Go!

There are a ton of people running for Mayor of Anchorage right now. What was this poor voter to do? I found myself confused; I didn't know how to sort through them all. I wanted to know if there was a really special one that I could connect with. One who shared my hopes and dreams. One I could just talk to and know that everything was going to be all right. So what did I do? I went on a Mayoral Speed Dating adventure: 10 mayoral candidates (some very legit, some less-than-serious) go to a bar and position themselves at individual small tables. Groups of 3-5 "young professionals" then spend 3 minutes asking questions and talking to each candidate before moving on to the next table. Then there was a break for food and drinks followed by a second longer round that allowed for slightly more in-depth conversation. Noted dating expert Myster explains it in more detail and interviewed the brains behind the event.

10 candidates showed up and were allowed to participate. One arrived unannounced and wasn't allowed in. I saw him yelling at some people and causing a scene on the street. He looked like he was going to rob a jewelry store (and then definitely get caught) and had some sort of weird tubing and foil prop with him. See for yourself. I hope that by not participating last night he didn't hurt his chances of winning too much. Anyway, this is what I learned about the candidates, in no particular order:
  1. Walt Monegan: Most famous for his role in the Troopergate scandal, Monegan has an extensive public safety background. I was curious about how he would handle the politics of the mayor's office w/r/t dealing with the Governor and what his views on some social issues were. People are speculating that if he was elected, Governor Palin would exact revenge by sticking it to Anchorage. Monegan had a thoughtful answer regarding his relationship with the Governor. He said he has no problem with her (though he didn't say whether she had a problem with him), mentioned that she sent him a Christmas card (but she sent me one too), and explained that the fears of any Anchorage retribution are unwarranted: "42% of the State lives in Anchorage. She can't, and won't, ignore or do anything to that many voters." Regarding the social issues, he explained that he is "98% pro-choice, 2% pro-life." Though he has issues with abortion, he supports choice and even recounted a very personal story about when he and his wife were faced with a difficult pregnancy decision. I like Walt. I just don't think he is the right choice for Mayor. But lets put him back in an important public safety position.
  2. Matt Claman: Great guy; he is also the acting Mayor of Anchorage (filling in for Sen. Begich who had to leave the post a little bit early for his new job in DC.). He seems really tired. I venture to guess that the job is taking a toll on him and he may not want to be the mayor anymore. As one of my table-mates said last night, "I wish he was my friend's dad so I could go to his house for dinner and hang out with him, but I don't want him to be mayor."
  3. Energy Guy: I don't remember his name, and he's not a serious candidate. All he talks about is "human energy," or something like that, and how we need to harness it. And he kept holding up a glass of water and saying "This isn't water--it's hydrogen." Not sure if that is his campaign slogan or not. He also had three pairs of glasses with him. I wish I had time to ask him about that. Next.
  4. Denim Man: I don't remember his name either, but I do remember that he was wearing a denim shirt and jeans. And as far as I'm concerned that automatically disqualifies you from being the chief executive of the largest city in the state. No double-deniming allowed.
  5. Paul Honeman: Another former cop. And he really looks like a cop. Like a movie cop. Seems like a nice guy who wants to take charge. He talked a lot, but didn't say much (odd how that happens sometimes). I learned this: he coached Anchorage's favorite son Scotty Gomez in high school and he "has no problem" with teaching Intelligent Design in the public schools. Though, in fairness, I don't think he was expecting the ID question and I don't think he really knew what it was. I also caught him sending a text message while another candidate was speaking during the end-of-the-evening wrap-up where each candidate got 90 seconds to share their thoughts on how the event went.
  6. Billy Ray Powers: I love this guy. He built a 25-foot snowman ("Snowzilla") in front of his house. The City told him to get rid of it. He didn't. And now he's running for mayor to "stand up for the little guy." He actually had two ideas that made me go "huh, that's a really interesting creative thought." Unfortunately I can't remember what they were. He also said that he makes $100,000/yr and can't afford his house. That makes me think he doesn't have the best fiscal management sense in the world.
  7. Sheila Selkregg: Currently an Assemblywoman in Anchorage, Sheila is very passionate, enthusiastic, and truly wants to make Anchorage a better place to live. The definition of liberal and progressive. I like Sheila; she's great.
  8. Dan Sullivan: Another current Anchorage Assembly member, Dan is the top Republican candidate in the field. He says that he is a fiscal conservative and is not necessarily conservative on social issues, but he failed my test. First, I asked him if he would support amending the Anchorage Equal Rights Ordinance to include sexual orientation as a class protected from discrimination. [Real quick law lesson: it is unlawful to discriminate in employment, public accommodations, sale or rental of property, or other state action based on someone's race, religion, sex, national origin, physical/mental disability, pregnancy, age, or marital status. However, it is not unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation. So, until the law is changed, or until the courts get with the program, someone can be fired from their job simply because they are gay.] He thought that sexual orientation was protected and he seemed really confused when I explained that it wasn't. That was disconcerting. You want your Assembly members and mayoral candidates to know the law, don't you? He wouldn't commit to supporting a change in the law to prevent this type of discrimination, but he said he wouldn't hire or fire someone because of sexual orientation. Total politician answer. He also said he wouldn't oppose the teaching of Intelligent Design in the City's schools. "Evolution is just a theory too," he said. Not. Getting. My. Vote. Not a chance. And he shouldn't get yours either.
  9. Eric Croft: Croft spent 10 years in the AK House of Representatives. His dad was a politician too--Chancy Croft was in the Alaska Legislature from 1969-1978. Eric is a true Alaska Democrat: practical approaches to financial matters and resource issues, pro-choice, pro-gun (he won the 2003 NRA Defender of Freedom and Gun Rights Legislator of the Year awards), pro-privacy, pro-open government. A solid candidate with a good plan for Anchorage. I like him a lot.
  10. Bandana/Ponytail/Pinky Ring(!)/Tie Dye Dude: Vehemently pro-gun, pro-military, and pro-life. Had lots of keys. Lots and lots of keys. Didn't get to ask him about that though. He also wants to institute a "drinking license" to deal with Anchorage's alcohol problem. Basically, you get the license like you would get a driver's license and you have to present it to purchase any type of alcoholic beverage. But you will lose the license if you commit an alcohol-related offense. Unfortunately, his plan did not take into account all of the racial and other civil-liberties implications inherent with such a requirement. And he obviously hadn't really thought about them much before because he didn't have any good answers. Also, he was wearing velcro sneakers. That's another one of my litmus tests: I will never vote for a candidate who wears velcro. How can you lead if you can't tie your shoes?
Acclaimed Shoe Enthusiast and Critic Myster has the KTUU Channel 2 news coverage of the event posted on her blog. I'm sending you to Myster to watch it because the KTUU website is terrible and buggy. And I'd much prefer that she gets the page views. Things to look for in the video: (1) There is a long close up of a woman I used to spend a lot of time with. You'll recognize her as the one with the really intense look on her face. What's great about this is that she is totally making the face she always made when she was pretending to listen vey intently but was actually thinking, "You are insane. Get me out of here." She even accents the look with a subtle little head nod. Nicely done. (2) My shoes make an appearance. There is a shot where they show everyone shuffling from table to table and they focus on the feet. Look for the dark New Balance kicks. That's me. Think Alaska also has some pictures so you can get more of a visual of the characters described above.

Sister Christen

Governor Sarah Palin has appointed Morgan Christen to replace retiring Justice Warren Matthews on the Alaska Supreme Court. This is a fantastic choice. Justice Christen is a very nice woman, a fair and intelligent jurist, and is on the correct side (in my opinion) of many social justice issues. This includes a woman's right to make decisions about her health without government interference. In fact, Justice Christen was on Planned Parenthood's Board of Directors in the 1990s.

This has led many people to wonder why Governor Palin, who has made no secret of her pro-life positions, would appoint a pro-choice justice, especially in the face of stingent opposition from conservative groups. For instance, the Alaska Family Council, a "Christian pro-family, anti-abortion group" sent an e-mail to thousands of people asking them to urge Palin to pick Eric Smith, the other nominee for the position, and not Christen. The group's president said Smith was "more conservative" and that Christen would be "another activist on the court." I'm not sure where AFC is getting its facts, because while Christen may be pro-choice, Smith is pro-environment--he worked for Trustees For Alaska, a public interest environmental law firm, before becoming a judge. And I think we can all agree that saving trees, protecting drinking water, and ensuring survival of endangered species does not quite = conservative.

So what drove Sarah's decision? Why would she buck the will of the far right? A few possibilities:
  1. She's a maverick. (Duh.)
  2. The only thing she hates more than abortion is the environment.
  3. She thought her last name was "Christian," not Christen.
Whatever her reasoning, I applaud the Governor for appointing Justice Christen.

3.03.2009

Things That Happened Since The Last Time I Wrote Anything Here

Apologies for the lack of writing during the past three weeks. Despite my best efforts to do nothing, things kept happening. Probably because my winter hiberntation is over. That's right, we've hit the good part of the winter where there is lots of snow and nearly 11 hours of daylight up here in the AK. So I've been leaving the house occasionally, which interferes with my ability to blog. But I've been taking notes. Here are some things that happened recently:
  • My friend got thrown out of his gym for working out in jeans.
  • I got into an argument with a friend over the definition of "diss". She said not returning someone's phone call was a diss. I said that was just a snub and that a diss is a snub+. A diss has to involve something mean. We consulted urban dictionary. This was my favorite definition: A form of disrespecting someone, their homies, or thier mama. I’ve had this diss argument before. Years ago I was confronted by a girl I had passive-aggressively broken up with. Basically I just “got too busy” to keep hanging out with her. She didn't take well to that excuse. She said, “You totally dissed me.” I replied, “I didn’t diss you. If I dissed you, I would have dropped you for someone else. I dropped you for nothing. [Because I really did get super-busy].” I wasn’t trying to be mean. I was trying to make her feel better. Didn’t work. She started crying and ran out of the bar. That was bad. I felt terrible. And I had to stop going to that bar.
  • My friend’s dog was diagnosed with reverse sneezing disorder. It’s real. Look it up.
  • These guys are assholes. If the charges are true, if they sentenced kids to terms in private juvenile detention center in exchange for kickbacks from those private detention centers, they should be locked up for life. As should the people who did the kickbacking. That is abhorrent.
  • Me: It’s a rough job market for lawyers right now.
    Her: But didn’t you go to Harvard?
    Me: Um, no.
    Her: Oh, I thought you did.
    Me: Nope.
    Her: …..
    Me: We can pretend I went to Harvard if that works better for you.
    Her: Okay.
  • I heart Shaq. This is how he was introduced at the NBA All-Star Game. Sometimes I just can't stand how smooth he is.
  • I found out that one of my friends is going to argue in front of the US Supreme Court next month.
  • Two people told me I look like Stanford Blatch.
  • I went to see Dan Savage speak @ UAA with Dr. Michelle and Chelsea, who turns out to be a sometimes lingerie model. I thought this would make me look pretty cool, rolling in with 2 hot chicks. Then I sat down next to a group of friends—all women. Suddenly I realized that I didn’t look like the envy of every guy’s eye, I looked totally gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Yup, one guy sitting amongst a group of women at a Dan Savage performance. I couldn’t have planned that any worse. Then I noticed an ex-girlfriend sitting a few rows back. I mentioned to Dr. Michelle that if she should happen to lovingly stroke my hair or the back of my neck in full view of said ex, that would be great. Two minutes later one of the other members of my harem, an acquaintance sitting a few seats over who did not hear the prior conversation b/w me and Dr. M, leaned over and told me that she might need me to flirt with her a little because her ex-husband was sitting in our row. Great minds think alike. Also: Anchorage is really small and totally incestuous.
  • I scheduled a meeting with a colleague to take place in Girdwood on a chairlift. I thought this was acceptable considering many professionals conduct business on golf courses.
  • Boxy: The marriage paperwork is ½ page long and costs $20. The divorce paperwork is 40 pages long and costs $200.
    Me: Well, the State has an interest in discouraging divorce.
    Boxy: No, the only reason the marriage paperwork is so short is that you can’t possibly love someone enough to fill out 40 pages, but you certainly can hate them enough to do it.
  • This may make me start drinking Pepsi. I love Mexican Coke, but it's hard to find.
  • Crazy Korean Tailor Rose: Are you married?
    Me: No.
    Rose’s Friend: Oh, I’m sorry.
  • I wondered: would being married to a woman while in a civil union with a man be considered polygamy?
  • A Jamaican musher?! Is it Doug E. Doug?
  • I cited Cobra Commander as proof that people can be intrinsically evil.
  • Em: It’s so warm—look I’m wearing almost nothing! [NB: it was 25 degrees outside].
    Me: What are you talking about? You’re covered from head to toe! You're wearing Uggs, leggings, a fleece jacket, a down vest and a hat!
    Em: Well, the leggings are light and this is so much less than I usually wear this time of year.