Comfortable winter weather in Anchorage and elsewhere in Alaska is a reminder to revisit the climate issue as the calendar turns to 2023. Weather extremes around the globe get much attention but the steady warming trend continues unabated, as witnessed by such figures as the ocean temperature, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and average global temperature. Those numbers, compiled by scientists around the world, detail a steady trend that can’t be disputed. Here is an article from the Anchorage paper that examines ocean temps - "Ocean heat surged to another record-high temperature in 2022. Here's why that's so worrisome" (ADN). Many species are suffering from that increase and large die offs are recorded each year. When you add increased river and lake temperatures, it is not surprising that salmon in some areas are becoming hard to find. Seabird and marine mammal die-offs are becoming more common and powerful ocean spawned storms have brought high winds and drenching precipitation to many areas. Fox News and others like to focus on the occasional cold snap to disprove global warming but the trend continues, just like scientists predicted a long time ago, including those working for ExxonMobil - "Exxon Knew about Climate Change almost 40 years ago" (Scientific American). That company is not happy their secret information has become public, because in the years following that report, the company continued to deny that global warming was an issue.
The biggest issue surrounding global warming is the cost of dealing with it. Conservatives claim America can’t afford to combat the rising temperatures. At the same time, those same conservatives voted to remove an appropriation from a recently passed bill that increased funding for the IRS to gain compliance with existing tax laws that are routinely flaunted by the richest taxpayers in the US. That takes us back to the basic problem with the US government right now. The richest citizens and companies have the largest political clout because of the money they donate, and thus they have the votes to protect their billions. It’s not a promising picture.
An old story from Minnesota illustrates how a clever IRS auditor can generate extra tax dollars at times. A friend named Bob owned a couple of rental houses in Minneapolis and generated some legal tax deductions for upkeep and repair. Apparently, his deductions were significant enough to earn him an audit, and he was concerned about that process. He maintained a simple bookkeeping system, and his primary receipts were the cancelled checks he kept in a box with appropriate memos on each check. He had a large stack of such checks when he appeared for the audit. After exchanging pleasantries, the auditor asked about Bob’s bookkeeping system and learned about the canceled checks. He asked Bob for his checks, which were stacked about 50 high and bound with a rubber band. Bob slid the stack across the desk, and the auditor removed the rubber band. The audit suddenly took a turn for the worse when the auditor started the process by turning the stack of checks upside down. The first check peeled from the bottom was written to Surdyk’s and the memo stated hardware supplies. Minnesota residents of that long ago era will recognize that Surdyk’s was a chain of liquor stores in the Twin Cities that sold no hardware, except perhaps an occasional beer opener. The auditor asked Bob what sort of hardware supplies he had purchased at Surdyk’s and Bob knew he was busted. “How did that get in there?” he responded. Of course, there were other problematic checks "hidden" on the bottom of the stack that Bob had carefully arranged to shield the bad ones from review. Needless to say, Bob owed more taxes and likely deducted fewer items from his taxes the following year.
Off to the Races!
The dog race season is well underway in Alaska, and three such events have been staged in Bethel. A 19-year-old named Ray Alexie has won all three, beating world class racer Pete Kaiser all three times, and winning well over $10,000 in the process. The dog race scene in the Bethel area is at a historic high point with lots of races, good purses and well-organized events. It is not surprising that young racers are showing up in good numbers. Here are a couple of shots from the races. The first is a photo at the start of the Holiday Classic, snapped by extraordinary race volunteer Valerie Bue,
and the other is a drone video of the Bogus Creek 150 captured by Skyler Kingrey.
This month’s Mandatory Moose is actually 14 of them lined up in front of the Alaska Railroad recently, from the Fairbanks Daily Miner newspaper (Photo courtesy of Charles and Rachel Fezatte).
This moose was encountered about 10 feet from the sidewalk during a recent walk in the neighborhood. She barely noticed Jack the dog who has learned to avoid moose quite well.
And here is a gray owl hunting in Alaska from the site Wild on Alaska.
Here is a brief story that could be the outline of a cheap paperback novel.
And here is a cultural video of the Anchorage ballet, complete with stage dogs. Watch closely…
Voter fraud is much in the news lately, and some would argue that it cost Trump four more years as President, and some think it prevented Kari Lake from being Arizona governor. Until now it seemed there was a shortage of evidence to support voter fraud claims, but here’s proof - "Republican candidate's wife arrested and charged with casting 23 fraudulent votes for her husband in the 2020 election" (Insider). Speaking of evidence, there is a common refrain in Congress that Republicans need to get Democratic spending under control to reduce the deficit. The numbers don’t reflect that common belief. If you check this graph closely you will see an unmistakable pattern that the deficit goes down under Democratic presidents and up under Republicans.
Bev Hoffman had the crazy idea to enlist a dog musher with a team of dogs to arrive at the Bethel Day Care Center many years ago dressed as Santa. It didn’t work out that well. The event started with Santa getting something in his eye at home and then having a challenging ride through icy roads in town to get to the day care. Then there were hordes of kids clamoring for treats. Bev claimed it was the worst Santa ever, perhaps after Santa told a kid “No candy for you. Candy is bad for you.” This is Santa with a young Colin McDonald, and he looks scared.
ALO & Grandkids Update
ALO just completed its best year ever since opening in 1978 in Bethel. One of the reasons for that is the courtesy of other lawyers who call upon ALO to provide help in cases around the state. Modern technology plays a big role in that, allowing a statewide practice from a little corner office at the Angstman, home dressed like a hobo and talking on a Zoom connection with the video off. Old age so far has been fairly kind, and it still seems to possible to take part in court discussions without the aid of a teleprompter. The presence of grandkids nearby also keeps things lively. Here is Jack watching snow removal on the street. He has a passion for trucks, which is not something he inherited from his Bubba.
and also displaying his dancing skills, which may have been inherited.
And finally Ada with Mary.