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May 26, 2017

  • Photo by Zach D Roberts

    Send in the Clowns, the Circus is in Session

    Are you still following the news? It’s OK if you’ve glazed over. You’ve got a life and it’s pretty frustrating if you’re trying to live it at the same time you’re following the latest national crisis. Every few hours feels like opening one of those Russian nesting dolls and a new “are you kidding me?” pops out. Special counsel convening, subpoenas turned down, leaked secrets, you’re fired, who knew and when did they know it, and then you realize it’s almost lunchtime. When you try to catch up on local news you get the dreary prospect of the state going into…

  • I have packed my swanky Hartmann valise; Tinsel Town here I come! And by “swanky Hartman valise” I mean that vinyl duffel bag I got at Costco in South Anchorage seven years ago.

    What AKM has Been Doing Lately – from the Mudflats to Tinseltown (I’m not kidding)

    Hello Mudflatters, it’s me! Those who have been here from the beginning know me as “AKMuckraker,” or AKM. Back when I started tapping out anonymous blog posts about Alaska politics from my living room overlooking the mudflats I didn’t put my name on anything because I didn’t figure anyone would be reading it, and wasn’t convinced anyone would care what I had to say anyway. Then insanity struck, and Alaska’s governor got tapped by John McCain to be his VP nominee. The proverbial moose nuggets hit the fan and my readership kept climbing until The Mudflats reached its peak of…

  • Oil First, Kids Second

    I suppose the saying “dance with the one who brought you” should be changed. “Dance with the one who bought you” is more apropos when watching the Republican Senate majority in Juneau. This week 13 lawmakers voted to drain every single dime out of the statutory budget reserve — also known as our savings account — to pay oil companies more money than the suggested maximum amount. Why? Well, it’s not really a very well-kept secret that come election time their coffers are stuffed from oily folks to make sure our rainy day funds will make the “transfer of wealth”…

  • Photo: David Eastman's Facebook page

    Good Grief, Wasilla – Stop Sending These People to Juneau

    The spanking brand new senator from Wasilla, Republican David Wilson, slapped a journalist from this paper, Nat Herz. He seems nice. Apparently Wilson isn’t familiar with the First Amendment he swore to uphold. Part of it is pretty well known to most, but since it comes right before the Second Amendment, it’s easy to see how it gets glossed over in the race to “Yeah, guns!” Along with freedom of religion, used too often to discriminate, there is prohibition on infringing the freedom of the press. Guess what? If lawmakers could hit journalists and columnists in the face for writing things they…

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    An Aurora Named Steve

    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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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…

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Around the Lens Episode 63 – Photojournalists Just Trying To Make It

Feb 22, 2017

Panelists: David H. Wells, Jamie Rose News: Nikon Stocks Dives Nikon’s stock dropped 15% in one day, is this a sign of the end times for the camera and lens manufacturer, or just a momentary lapse? Topic: The Uber of Photography Services that can bring you photographer on demand are beginning to take off. More and more services are sprouting that will lower the barrier between you and a customer, but are these services the next generation of photography, or just destroying business opportunities. Gear: Another Year Another World Press Photo The World Press Photo contest was held and again, Canon…

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Missing Uncle Ted

Feb 20, 2017

I’ve been nostalgic for the great political patron saint of Alaska — Ted Stevens. Lord, how I miss that Incredible Hulk tie and his fearlessness. Oh, it’s not like I’ve forgotten the arguments he and I got into. But we didn’t question each other’s love of country or state. With Russia making bold motions toward the United States this week — planes buzzing our destroyer in the Black Sea, a spy ship patrolling within 30 miles of the coast of Connecticut — and the installation of illegal missiles around their country, I feel nervous. I haven’t dug a bunker yet,…

Terek's Sandpiper, Cook Inlet, Anchorage

Bird of the Week – Terek’s Sandpiper

Feb 18, 2017

WC’s Bird of the Week feature is reaching the end of WC’s photo list of Alaska birds. Three of the next four birds are Eurasian species that WC was lucky enough to photograph. The first is a Terek’s Sandpiper, which appeared in Anchorage a couple of years ago. Note the distinctive long, up-turned bill on this species. You can’t see if clearly in this photo but the legs are yellow-orange. Terek’s are a Eurasian species, “casual” in Alaska, a birding term that means you see them once in a blue moon. As you might imagine, there were hordes of birders of…

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The InsurgencyUSA Podcast – Interview with Sarah Kay on #NoMuslimBan

Feb 14, 2017

Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was…

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Calling the Mosquito Fleet

Feb 12, 2017

My darling Alaskans, I am starting to feel like these columns I write are more like letters to the people and place I love. It is blowing sideways on the bay today and the snow, defying gravity and all rules, seems to be traveling upward while accumulating on the ground at the same time. My ermine friend is shrew hunting — which is my favorite thing about him — and has learned to do a trick or two for cheese bits. I’m watching with one eye the mushers vie for position in the Yukon Quest and with the other, the…

Baird's Sandpiper, Tanana Lakes, Fairbanks

Bird of the Week – Baird’s Sandpiper

Feb 11, 2017

WC overlooked a sandpiper species when working through the long list of sandpipers that breed in Alaska: Baird’s Sandpiper. Baird’s move through the southern two-thirds of the state en route to their high arctic breeding range. Like the Pectoral Sandpiper, the darker feathers end half way down the chest, but tend to fade out, rather than a sharp transition. But you can tell them apart by the black legs, in contrast to the yellow legs of a Pectoral. One of the most remarkable characteristics of Baird’s is that it makes one of the largest metabolic investments in egg production known in…