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June 24, 2017

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    Alaska Needs a Hostage Negotiator

    Relationship counselors get a bad rap. Probably because it’s too late by the time one person insists it’s important to do. Oh, you go along, and at some point the therapist looks at you and rolls his eyes and tells you you’re nuts to stick around for more crazy town. OK, maybe that was just my experience, but it’s going to take more than a fancy talker with comfy sofas to help what’s going on in Juneau. They need a hostage negotiator. A terrorism expert. I’m talking Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” caliber. I’m sure some precious snowflake lawmaker is…

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    Tiny Alaskan Island Has Awesome Amount of Pride

    Yes, I apologize for the click-baity headline. But it’s rare these days that I can share good news from Alaska… or for that matter anywhere in the US. This news comes from the tiny Alaskan island of Wrangell. For those unfamiliar with the ridiculously huge geography of Alaska – Wrangell is 1,073 miles from the states largest city, Anchorage – that of course includes at least one ferry ride with your car. The population of Wrangell, according to the 2010 census was 2,369. That didn’t stop it’s residents from making a great showing for their Pride this year. Thankfully a Wrangell resident,…

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    Pink Slips for Alaskans, Green Ones for the Oil Companies

    “Stability. Under SB 21, there is certainty that tax rates won’t fluctuate wildly at higher prices like they did under the old tax law.” — Alaska Oil & Gas Association ” ‘A competitive, predictable and durable oil and gas fiscal environment will be required for a project of this unprecedented scale, complexity and cost to compete in global energy markets,’ Exxon said in a statement.” — Business Wire, 2013 “This activity is slowing the production decline with renewed ability to reverse the decline and increase production. This gives Alaska the opportunity for a sustainable, long-term economic future. It also keeps…

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    Mission Accomplished: War on Energy Over

    Not since Moses, Aaron and Miriam fought the Egyptians for freedom of the Israelites have we found such a beautiful redemption story. Yes, the emancipation of slaves after a bloody civil war came close, but this is so much more inspiring. Our prayers and vigils for the gravely oppressed oil companies in Alaska have at last been answered. I guess tying all those black ribbons in the old spruce trees really helped. Like Moses coming down from Mount Sinai, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke came to Alaska and is going to make this state great for oil companies again….

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    Losing Memorial Day

    This is the weekend that officially starts summer for most of us. Cussing out the back ends of RV’s that don’t understand what a pull-off is for or that it’s illegal to back up more than five cars’ worth of traffic. Ever see a giant motor home pulled over or ticketed for 27 cars behind it? Me neither. People are breaking the barnacles off their barbecue grills and trying to remember if it’s the recipe for St. Louis ribs or molasses and mustard rub that got their version of Uncle Leo so excited last year. From the fold-outs in the…

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An Aurora Named Steve

May 3, 2017

I first saw and photographed this phenomenon on August 21, 2014, while shooting the aurora borealis in Portage Valley of the Chugach National Forest with friend and fellow photographer CJ Kale of Lava Light Galleries in Hawaii. The nature of the phenomenon was notably different compared to the typical aurora borealis. It stood straight up from the horizon with a slight bend like a bow, and it pretty much did not move. It had a pale pink hue, and it arced from the west to the east, forming a curved line across the sky. The times I have seen and…

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Easter in Homer: “Isn’t that how we all should feel?”

Apr 18, 2017

This is a holy week for many. I like the years when Passover and Easter fall on the same week. For whatever reasons we gather together with family or our friends — who are the family we choose. I thought it was a good time to resurrect one of my favorite Easter stories. I grew up with Easters. The full-meal deals. Flowered hats and new dresses; I remember a particular gray gingham with lace. It was a bit “Little House On The Prairie” but I kind of liked that. The Little House On The Muskeg was where I lived. Easter…

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If McConnell wanted Dan Sullivan to have principles, he’d give him some.

Apr 5, 2017

It’s no secret that I hold Alaska’s junior senator, Dan Sullivan, in low esteem. It’s a low esteem he has earned. For one thing, he’s a carpetbagger. Alaska was just a convenient horse for his raging ambition. He’s a political mercenary. I cannot understand the “charm” some Alaskans seem to see in him. If Dan cares about anything, it’s the elevation of Dan. Suffice it to say, my opinion of the junior senator was so low he needed to dig a hole to go lower. But this week, Sullivan, Mitch McConnell’s Mini-Me, broke out his shovel. Turns out he’s a…

copyright Zach D Roberts

From ObamaCare to Trump Don’t Care

Mar 12, 2017

Well, it’s a brand new day for my white Alaska friends who have been under the oppressive regime of “Obamacare,” otherwise know as the Affordable Care Act. Finally, after promising for seven years to repeal and replace it, congressional Republicans have introduced Trumpcare as a solution. Included in the pushback is the 10 percent tax on tanning beds. As a person of such blinding whiteness this time of year, I feel liberated. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that just this change will cost $600 million over the next 10 years. For those of us who nerd out and actually read bills,…

Townsend's Warbler, University Arboretum, Fairbanks

The Last Bird of the Week – Townsend’s Warbler

Mar 11, 2017

This is the last of Wickersham’s Conscience’s Birds of the Week. We’ve run through the last species WC photographed in Alaska. The total is 187, if anyone is curious. And for this last species, WC has saved the beautiful Townsend’s Warbler, Alaska’s prettiest warbler. That colorful, strongly marked face makes it easy to identify in the field. While this is a female, and less strongly marked, you can still see what a handsome warbler this is. You can see how much vivid the male’s coloration is in this photo from Anchorage. A beautiful bird, and a good place to wrap…

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ATL Chats w/ Alaskan Photog Carl Johnson

Mar 9, 2017

This week we try something different. This week we’re going to spend out time interviewing just on panelists. This will be the beginning of a new interview series we’re trying out. For the first interview episode we talk to Alaskan nature photographer Carl Johnson. He’s been working on a long term book project Where Water Is Gold about the area would be effected by the creation of the Pebble Mine. A mine that would wipe out a shocking percentage of the worlds pacific salmon. That’s the kind of salmon that you actually want to eat. You can check out Carl’s stunning aurora photos and all his…

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EPA, Pebble and The West Wing

Mar 8, 2017

I’m sorry to report that watching box sets of “The West Wing” isn’t enough distraction from our real politics. I am tired. I can confirm a fresh batch of baby sea otters, riding on their mama’s bellies, blown in by the latest storm can provide some relief. Their cuteness is enough to make anyone ovulate – I don’t care who you are. Their squeaks and mewing are impossible to ignore. I learned about something called “embryonic diapause.” It’s really fascinating and a little science-y. See, lady sea otters can get pregnant and put a pause on implanting the embryos for…

Red-throated Pipit, Gambell, St. Lawrence Island, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Red-throated Pipit

Mar 4, 2017

A last Asian vagrant, a cousin to the American Pipit, this is a Red-throated Pipit. As you can see, it isn’t just the throat that is red but the whole head. This is another “Uncommon” Asian vagrant. Birders get slightly more excited about this one, possibly because it isn’t just another sandpiper. By the way, the bird was incredibly hard to see as it moved among the dead early spring grasses. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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Let It Be… Resolved.

Feb 26, 2017

The good news is baseball is back on the radio. Hearing the familiar voices calling plays of players I like so much I named a boat after one of them has been a healing balm after months of political coverage. The league has a new rule — it no longer requires four pitches to intentionally walk a player to first — you can just wave them there now. I don’t like it. Those pitches should count, but it’s all about making the game faster. The whole point of baseball is that it takes time. If this were the only major…

Wood Sandpiper, Gambell, St. Lawrence Island

Bird of the Week – Wood Sandpiper

Feb 25, 2017

Yes, yet another sandpiper, but this one is the last and, besides, it’s another Asian vagrant. We found this bird in the swamp near the Far Boneyard on Gambell, St. Lawrence Island. It’s found a bit more often than last week’s Terek Sandpiper, so its status is “Uncommon,” as opposed to “Casual,” meaning that it is seen pretty much every year, usually out in the Aleutian Islands. The greenish-yellow legs, whitish eyebrow and short, dark bill make this fairly easy to identify in the field. Among serious birders, seeing a Wood Sandpiper is no big deal; it was a lifer…