This edition of ALO news is written as the Iditarod comes to a close. Two Kuskokwim 300 race committee members finished in the top three teams, and unfortunately were beaten by a racer who overextended his dogs in an all-out effort to win. There already are negative reactions to the videos of that effort, and there will be many more. In a sport under constant scrutiny from critics, over-taxing a dog team to win is a bad idea. The two Kuskokwim racers meanwhile managed their teams well and finished strong. One of the highlights of following the race online is the work of Colin McDonald who pens a couple of commentaries each day on Facebook. He calls it the Iditarod Outsider and it is mostly irreverent. Here is a sample.
Colin is a man of many skills, some dubious. Here he takes on Pete Kaiser in the title round of the K300 leg wrestling contest, with a wise elder referee. The event took place in the DeHaan residence, formerly known as the Angstman residence in Bethel.
Andy Angstman has been an emcee for various events in recent years, including the start of the Iditarod in Willow. He got the job after his Dad and the Iditarod chairman were listening to the previous announcer call the start a few years ago. The announcer introduced Pete Kaiser as Pete Kayser as he pulled up to the starting line. It was mentioned to the chairman that the announcer wasn’t good with names. The announcer was from out of state but was a large donor to Iditarod, by way of explanation for the lousy job he was doing. The next racer to pull up was a former champion from Kotzebue, and the brother of the chairman, also from Kotzebue. He was introduced as John Baker from Coatsabue. With that, the chairman said who would you suggest we get for next year? Andy got the job, and here he is at the start.
Speaking of Andy, he recently announced his engagement to Elizabeth Aarons after a whirlwind 11-year courtship. Naturally no date has been set for a wedding, as they don’t want to rush it.
ALO resolved one interesting case in February. The manager of a rural electric co-op was caught stealing money from her employer. She was convicted in Federal court and sentenced to several years in jail, and ordered to pay about $500,000 in restitution, which she paid. The company did a complete audit and discovered a bunch more money was stolen and hired ALO to recover it. That suit finally settled with the Naknek Electric Association recovering an additional $350,000 from the former manager.
Mary is finishing up her four years at Mt. Edgecumbe High school where she has been a volunteer and intern at various locations, usually involving marine critters which she hopes to study in college. Here she is shown helping at the Sitka Sound Science Center as a "work experience student extraordinaire" feeding baby pink and chum salmon.
While at Mt. Edgecumbe, Mary was supervised by Janelle Vanasse, a former Bethel teacher and principal, who later took over as Superintendent at Mt. Edgecumbe. She has now joined the ranks of former Bethel folks who have made the big time as she was named President of Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. As President, she is required to live in the President’s house high on a secluded hill on campus. To prove that she hasn't turned her back on the common people from her past, she has hosted a couple gatherings of Bethel refugees in that wonderful house, to rave reviews.
Janelle’s success opens the door to a discussion about two important issues involving women. The long debated Equal Rights Amendment is once again in the news. First passed by Congress in 1973 but requiring ¾ of the states to ratify, the amendment has come close to passage but is still pending. The arguments raised against the amendment border on ridiculous. It’s not difficult to guess the areas of the country that are most opposed to the ERA because they have outmoded and backward views on the role of women. How can it be argued that a constitutional provision banning discrimination against women is a bad idea? Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski recently testified in favor of the amendment and was criticized by other Republicans - "Murkowski Testifies for Equal Rights Amendment Bill Against Criticism By Fellow GOP Senators" (ADN).
It's apparent that even without the ERA amendment passing, women are outperforming men in many areas. Women outnumber men in undergraduate college programs 1.4 to 1, and in graduate programs 1.5 to 1. This trend starts at the high school level with a significant gender gap in graduation rates favoring women. With numbers like that, it won’t be long before women will dominate society, holding a majority of key positions in business, education and government. Judging by the male dominated performance of those three sectors of American life in the past 50 years, perhaps it’s time women take over.
This month’s Mandatory Moose had lunch about 10 feet from the rear door, and surprised Sue when she opened that door. There was a big snowbank between them, affording some level of comfort as she took this video.
This Pileated woodpecker triggered a trail cam at the farm.
This photo represents a typical death bed revelation for folks from the Facebook era.
This tweet from Republican consultant George Conway should make a few folks think twice.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. After making very brief appearances in half a dozen books, mostly books about dog racing, someone was bound to be offended in some way. The fine folks in Florida decided that a New York Times bestselling book The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult was not suitable for school age kids and thus banned it from use in the schools. While they were at it, they banned a whole bunch of her books, 20 in all. Jodi traveled to Bethel a long time ago and had a look around, incorporating some of what she observed into the book. Here is a brief excerpt.
By 2023 standards the book is hardly controversial. But leave it to the religious right in Florida. The same kids who can no longer have this book in their libraries have access to the internet, movies and TV that feature unvarnished American life for all to see and can also obtain the banned books in a heartbeat at bookstores or online. What is especially ironic about the book banning going on around the country is that the book banners are the same folks who overwhelmingly supported Trump despite his decidedly unholy behavior. Many of those folks maintain that Trump was sent as a religious savior, despite his well-documented activities which included numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, serial infidelity, payment to more than one woman to prevent public disclosure of sexual dalliances, and a widely viewed tape wherein Trump bragged about his sexual misconduct. All that stuff and more can be viewed at leisure by any school kid in American who googles Donald Trump scandals, or simply watches the nightly news. But write a fictional account of some similar conduct and it will get banned in Florida. It is puzzling how the conservatives who rail against government control over their lives support this kind of government action.
On the subject of Trump, recent revelations involving Fox News are astounding. Fox is involved in a lawsuit about the network’s coverage of Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 elections results. The company had to turn over a trove of emails and text messages. Some of those have made it onto the record in that case. There are many but let’s just look at Tucker Carlson’s stuff, because in many ways he is the face of Fox News and is a serious Trump devotee on his show. But in private, his thoughts about Trump are something entirely different than his public position. For example, he has stated in private that “I hate him passionately.” He also said “we are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.” Another example when discussing Trump’s time in office “We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There really isn’t an upside to Trump.” Other Carlson messages discuss how some Fox reporters are hurting the Fox brand by challenging the election deniers who regularly appeared on Fox. The lawsuit involves defamation claims by the company who supplied ballot machines, which Trump and others argued were rigged to favor Biden. No evidence was ever been produced to back up that claim, yet Fox continued to push that argument even though in the background many commentators admitted it wasn’t true. While the suit has serious implications for Fox, it has even greater implications for hard core Fox viewers who must acknowledge that their favorite network was flat out lying to them. And it’s those Fox viewers who used the term Fake News to describe stuff they didn’t like on other networks. This story is just getting started so stay tuned.
Finally a gripe. Shouldn't there be a warning label on little oranges that are hard to peel? There are lots of modern variations of what used to be called tangerines, which were always easy to peel. Now there are many names, but the buyer has no idea in the store which ones will be easy to peel. "Warning, peel will not come off in one piece and may cause profanity."