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Thursday, June 30, 2005

 

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words




The single best commentary of Bush's use of 9/11 I believe has ever been done by an editorial cartoonist.

The URL is here.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

 

The Endgame: Can Bushie Get Himself Out of This Mess?

Bush has blown his load. His approval ratings are in the toilet and going south, people are fed up with the war and increasingly seeing it as the utter fuckup we know it to be, his Bamboozapalooza tour promoting the handing over of Social Security to his Wall Street buddies went over like a lead balloon, and he's rapidly running out of options.

He's in a bind because his lies are catching up with him. Perhaps the whole house of cards is about to fall apart? Perhaps his immense sand castle is about to be hit by a rogue wave of seismic proportions?

Perhaps the American people are finally starting to wake up?

Time will tell. One thing is for sure, things are about to get "interesting" in the Chinese sense.

God willing, we'll survive what's about to happen here.

If we don't, then that is that and we can put the final nail in the coffin for the United States of America.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

 

Riding the Midnight Sun Run in the rain

The 2005 Midnight Sun Run was a wet one this year.

It rained steadily leading up to the race and all the way through the race. I was the organizer for the FCC riders again this year. We're tasked with the job of pacing the lead runner(s) and we had fun doing it, as always.

There were six of us all told, and something like 3,000 entrants in the race.

There was me, Tom Clark, Richard Stolzberg, Doug Burnside (in his recumbent bike with the mp3 player from his car down behind his windshield), and a couple other guys.

I got over there to the Patty Center parking lot at UAF a bit early, as I always do, just to see the costume entrants. People can enter the race in the costume division (essentially noncompetitive) and every year, people come up with weird costumes.

There was a lady dressed up as the "Runaway Bride" (with a guy next to her dressed up as a Greyhound bus), a kid dressed up as a shark, people pretending to be a school of salmon, and the like.

We lined up over on Fairbanks Street bridge, and as soon as the Army guys set up by West Valley High School set off the blanks in their howitzer, the race was on.

We cruised along across Fairbanks Street into the subdivision, then up along Geist and over to the other side of University Avenue. The cops had partially closed off University on one lane (the eastbound lane) but traffic was still open through the intersection. Tom had to wave one motorist off from driving right through the intersection just as we were about to go across. It was raining all the way. We sometimes couldn't keep up with the motorcycle cop on the Harley he was riding (which bikes are donated by Harley every year, and returned in September to be sold) and he had to stop several times, sometime to help us keep the course clear.

There were people having solstice/garage parties all along the route (more about that in a moment) and we were riding along, enjoying ourselves in the rain.

Finally, we got over to the Riverview subdivision, and more of the same. The race wound and wended its circuitous route through the Riverview Country Club (as I like to call that subdivision) on its way over to the crossing under the bridge at Peger Road. Just before we got to the bridge, my friend Mike called out to me from his front yard, where he always has a party every year.

It was on that part of the course that I realized that Mike Kramer was the lone runner at the front of the pack, with the second runner (Kevin Brinegar) some hundreds of feet behind him. This was unusual. Usually it's Kevin who is up at the front.

We got under the bridge and had to pick up the pace to stay ahead of Mike. Then we had to get down First Avenue, loop up Moore Street, thence back over on Crosson (I think) to get over to Pioneer Park Alaskaland, where the race ended.

It ends inside the park, and we had to stay with Mike right up to the end, when we pulled off to the side. He won hands down, almost 30 seconds ahead of Kevin.

I bid my buds a farewell and headed back over to Mike's for the party.

There was still plenty of food left over, and I got a cheeseburger, potato salad, and some excellent marianated chicken. I hung out there for a while, watching the parade of runners come down the street. The Army guys came through en masse as they pushed their howitzer cannon (used at the beginning) to the finish line. I missed the "Runaway Bride" entrant as she came by.

Finally, it was gettin along to late in the evening, and I had a long(ish), cold, wet bike ride back to my cabin, in the rain. I bid everyone adieu and rode on home, in the rain, wearing my FCC jacket, with an FCC t-shirt under it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

 

An NPR Icon Comes to Fairbanks: An Evening With Bob Edwards

I got to meet one of my heroes in person yesterday.

For many, many years, all the way up into the 1990s and beyond, my ritual every morning while either on the way to work or in to town or whatever I was doing was listening to Morning Edtion on NPR.

And the biggest reason I listened to that show on KUAC every morning came to Fairbanks for a sit-down interview in the Davis Concert Hall with Robert Hannon, a KUAC mainstay and reporter.

I am speaking of none other than the incomparable and illustrious Bob Edwards, of course.

I'd heard about this last week and was eagerly awaiting Wednesday, June 15th with great anticipation. The evening did not disappoint. The discussion was scheduled to begin at 7:30. I got there at about 7:15 or so and the concert hall (which seats 800 people, if memory serves correctly) was already starting to fill up.

I grabbed a program playbill and took a seat in the center of the concert hall.

People were coming in from both entrances and were walking down the aisles to take their seats. There was a hub-bub of conversation going on as the audience was waiting patiently. The set was a spare, simple one: two very comfortable-looking chairs with a little table between them, a pitcher of ice water and two glasses and a simple floral arrangement behind, framed by the flags of Alaska and the United States.

A few minutes after 7:30, Robert Hannon came out the the center of the stage. He introduced himself (to a round of applause, I might add) and then told us that when he was considering public radio as a career, he had always liked to listen to Bob Edwards because his interviews were always informative and entertaining, almost like conversations. He then played a brief sampler of Bob Edwards' 25-year career at NPR, a sort of "Bob Edwards Greatest Hits," as it were.

When the clip of Bob talking to Red Barber came on, the audience applauded loudly and long.

Then, without further ado, Robert introduced us to Bob Edwards, also to loud and long applause. He was dressed casually, in a black t-shirt and blue jeans and looked for all the world like somebody you'd see at the neighborhood bar or coffee shop and someone you would want to hang out with. Bob took a bow and sat down next to Robert and they started talking.

Robert asked him first about his departure from NPR, which wasn't on the greatest of terms. While still singing the praises of NPR, he had some (justifiable, in my view) animus toward his former employers, who basically forced him out of his job and position there.

Then they started talking about Red Barber and Bob commented on how he'd heard the audience applaud at the clip Robert had played of him interviewing Red. He talked about how he and Red had done their little four-minute chitchats every Friday for almost 12 years or so, until Red died in 1992. They then played a clip of Bob interviewing Red at the time of the first Gulf War, in 1991.

You could have heard a pin drop in that concert hall.

They then got into a discussion about Bob's book on Edward R. Murrow (copies of which were on sale in the Great Hall) and his new career on XM Satellite Radio.

Bob talked at some length about what he saw as the strengths of that new network and what he wanted to accomplish with it. He talked about why he wrote the book about Murrow and what Murrow's example meant to him. Essentially, he thought that Murrow showed by his career in journalism what a true, courageous journalist was supposed to be and lived that example by reporting to America from London during the Blitz and standing up to Joe McCarthy, among other things.

They covered a lot of ground, and finally, Robert opened the floor to questions from the audience. The first question was about Bob's trip up here in 1982, when the Alaska Public Radio Network first went up. A number of NPR personalities came up here for that. Bob went to Talkeetna and talked a social worker. He relayed the anecdote to us about how she'd used as an example of "cabin fever" a woman who "just last week" had killed her husband with a frozen beaver.

That got more than a few laughs.

Then there was a question about the meida coverage leading up to the Iraq war. Bob talked about how the commercialization of the media and the increasing pressure from sponsors as well as the business-driven model have turned the media into a shadow of its former self. He talked about how the disucssion of WMD's came down to swift boat veterans and he talked about how the serious, substantive issues about the war were brushed aside for "entertainment" stories like Michael Jackson or whoever else is the media focus of the moment.

Essentially, how the media has become trivializing and trivialized as a result.

He still said we should support NPR, which lead to the next question about what is the future of NPR and should we start supporting XM radio. His answer was essentially "yes," and "if you think it's a good idea." He thinks that XM will never supplant NPR nor should it anytime soon and they should be considered complimentary.

He reminded us that there was no way Ted Stevens would let the House of Representatives gut funding for public broadcasting. He talked a bit about Kevin Tomlinson and how he would be politicizing NPR coverage. He made the comment, to much laughter, about how Tomlinson wanted Brit Hume to come in and lecture NPR reporters on being "fair and balanced" and how he'd love to be a fly on the wall when Hume tried to tell Nina Totenberg how to "practice journalism" in a professional manner.

The last question was about why NPR now had a Los Angeles office. His answer was esentially that NPR had to branch out, because people ont the West Coast felt that it was too Washington-centric.

He told us to keep supporting our local station and write letters to Congress to demand support for public broadcasting because "you Alaskans do write letters and you know how to do it well and you write a lot of them."

Finally, it was time to adjourn to the Great Hall and eat some ice cream and get our books signed. I told Bob when I got to the signing table that he didn't look anything like I thought he would look.

I now have an autographed copy of his book (along with a CD of his XM radio broadcasts) and I'm a happy camper.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

 

98 Firings Under the Belt: Liz Berry's Kiln is Fired Up for the 98th Time

I've been busy these past few days, but some interesting things have been happening in my world of late.

My old friend Shawn is back in town. He and I biked with the Fairbanks Cycle Club for many years before he had to leave Fairbanks in 1999 to help his mother out. His dad was dying of lung cancer (he died in late 1999) and he went down to help her sort out his dad's estate and move her to Reno. He's been in Reno ever since, with an occasional trip up here since then. The last time I saw him was September, 2002. We rode part of the Equinox Marathon route and then rode over to Liz Berry's place for the kiln-firing party.

Anyway, I saw him over at my favorite coffee shop yesterday after work and we traded stories and talked for a bit. He's up here for our mutual friend Malcom McEwen's wedding on Sunday. Shawn also told me that there would be a kiln firing on Saturday morning. I told him I would be there.

I slept in this morning and spent some time on the computer, catching up on emails, TT subs, etc. I then rode my bike up Henderson Road to the top, then down Ester Dome Road. I stopped at the turnout by Ann's Greenhouses to talk to Rocky and Gail, who were participating in the Tour of Fairbanks stage race. Then, I rode up the bike path and took the trails up by Black Sheep Lane and the horse farm to come down Miller Hill and stop by Liz's place.

She's living at the Pioneer's Home now and her Parkinson's Disease has gotten much worse over the years. However, she fires her wood-fired pottery kiln up twice a year, once at the beginning of summer and once in the fall. Today was Firing Number Ninety-Eight for Liz Berry's kiln.

I got there a little after noon. There were crews of people splitting wood into kindling to be thrown into the fire. The potters were watching the fire carefully, checking the temperature and looking at the cones on the various levels. I parked my bike and basically watched as things went on. Wood was cut, stacked in boxes, and at either end of the kiln, bundles would be thrown in onto the grate. Ashes would be removed and put in buckets. There were other buckets full of mud for sealing up the kiln, which came in due time. Once Liz had decided that the kiln was hot enough, she signaled the potters and helpers that it was time to seal up both ends of the kiln. My friend Tom Clark was one of them. First, they took the grates out of each side, then grabbed boxes of kindling for each side. Then, they stacked up wood to be crammed in behind the boxes.

Once the boxes were secured in the kiln, they crammed wood in behind them, all the way up to the back. Then they put the sealing plates over the holes, carefully stacked bricks up around them, and piled mud around and on top of the bricks everywhere to seal up the kiln.

Then it was time to clean up around the kiln, sweep up the wood scraps, and put everything away until the next kiln firing.

They will open the kiln up tomorrow to see how things are doing in there. It should be a good group of pottery!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

 

Impeachment: The Logical Conclusion to the Ramifications of the Downing Street "Memo"

In case you've not heard, The Downing Street "Memo" (actually it's a set of minutes from a meeting) surfaced a little over a month ago. It is the minutes of a meeting between the British intelligence chief and his American counterparts and his report to Tony Blair about that meeting.

It is, in a word, damning. In essence, it says that Bush and his cabal had already decided to invade Iraq as early as midsummer, 2002 and were fixing (i.e., lying) the intelligence and evidence to point to the conclusion that Saddam had WMD's and was still a threat to his neighbors and we had to invade him to stop him.

For all intents and purposes, this document shows the naked truth for all the world to see: Bush and other high-ranking members of his "administration" lied from the get-go about the reasons for the Iraq war.

Bush Lied. People Died.

Bush lied through his teeth and he, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, and the rest must be held accountable for what they did.

Over 1600 American soldiers are dead, tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead or wounded, some permanently, and our standing in the international community has gone down the toilet.

All because Bush wanted to show his Poppy that he can "be a man" too and he's got a bigger schlong than Poppy.

Bush and Cheney must be impeached. Then they and the rest can be brought before the World Court to face justice for their crimes. These include war crimes and crimes against humanity, among many others.

They must be removed from the offices they have usurped.

Then and only then will we have any sense of closure on this horrible crime that has been perpetrated in our names.

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