It’s Saint David’s Day, and, as he is their patron saint, it is a national holiday in Wales. The Welsh wear leeks or daffodils [called Peter's leek in Welsh] on this day.
March 1, 2014 No Comments
Today is Susan Butcher Day in Alaska, so there will be the official start of the Iditarod on the slushy, wet streets of Anchorage with no real racing:
1 Curt Perano (2)
2 Paige Drobny (3)
3 Gus Guenther (4)
4 Dan Kaduce (5)
5 Mitch Seavey (6)
6 Michael Williams, Jr. (7)
7 Yvonne Dabakk (8)R
8 Newton Marshall (9)
9 Aliy Zirkle (10)
10 Richie Diehl (11)
11 Tommy Jordbrudal (12)R
12 Kelly Maixner (13)
13 Dallas Seavey (14)
14 Michelle Phillips (15)
15 DeeDee Jonrowe (16)
16 Jeff King (17)
17 Monica Zappa (18)R
18 Allen Moore (19)
19 Scott Janssen (20)
20 Christian Turner (21)R [Read more →]
March 1, 2014 4 Comments
Under The House
[Editor: Living up to her name, Ms Underhouse is 'toasting her buns' on the heated cat pad under the house.]
February 28, 2014 2 Comments
At 10:30PM CST my local temperature is 38°F; Nome, Alaska is 36°F; and Anchorage is 45°F.
Since they decided not to switch to Fairbanks, the weather has been making the trail a little more friendly, but now things are back in the warming trend as the Arctic Vortex has dropped to the South again.
This is really bad news for the Siberian teams [Ellis, Ramstead, Norris, and Dabakk] and for John Baker’s team. These teams really need temperatures of near 0°F to be comfortable. They will be very slow for the first third of the race below the Alaskan Range.
Four-time winner Jeff King is taking a helmet with him, specifically for the descent into the Dalzell Gorge, and Jim Lanier, the oldest musher at 73, is training in hockey pads.
Ed Stielstra of Michigan has decided not to race. There was no reason given.
They should assign the bib numbers tonight, so I can post the list tomorrow.
February 27, 2014 6 Comments
Who exactly do the neo-cons think we should support in the Ukraine?
There are no Western European liberal/progressive groups of any note involved in the country. Even the Communist Party has a right wing tilt. After the Holodomor [the artificial famine] you will not find a significant number of Ukrainians backing anything that might have any association with socialism about it.
The young people want a better life, but they can’t find politicians willing to do what is necessary to make that happen for fear of being labeled ‘liberals’. The best they can hope for is a system with a ceremonial president, and a strong parliament, like Britain. When elections can be called after a no confidence vote, the government tends to be more responsive to the electorate. It’s their country, so they have to make the choice and live with it.
The calls by the Ukrainian nationalist parties for purity is in conflict with the history of the Slavic people. This is the homeland of the Slavs, and all Slavs started out at some point in history as Ukrainians.
February 26, 2014 10 Comments
Apparently Dick ‘Dick’ Cheney arose from his undisclosed location [crypt] to opine on the announced cuts at the Department of Defense at Faux News.
Most people don’t know, or have forgotten that ‘Dick’ was the Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush during the first Gulf War, and he cut the Department of Defense budget after the war ended.
If they had followed the Cheney model, they wouldn’t have announced the cuts, they would have waited until the last troops had left Afghanistan and then sent them their ‘Reduction-in-Force’ notices, telling the troops that they no longer had a military career, so they had better start looking for work. That’s how Cheney did it, and he made larger cuts in the DoD budget than are being forced on Chuck Hagel by the Sequester process of the House Republicans.
At the end of a war, troops are demobilized and the force shrinks, just as it always has during the country’s history. Most of the time people are told in advance so they can plan for the change. Cheney thought that was too soft an approach.
Cheney says Zero is more concerned with Food Stamps than national security. Actually a lot of the lower ranks in the military receive Food Stamps because their salaries are so low, and the Food Stamp program has been cut more than the DoD budget, so Cheney is wrong about that too.
February 25, 2014 19 Comments
I have been trying to learn more about the political parties in the country today, but have to admit defeat because they don’t seem to track with the Western model of what a political party is.
I’m led to believe that the parties coalesce around personalities rather than policies. The parties don’t really have platforms, and you are working with the statements of the leaders to figure out where they may go on an issue.
The Party of Regions is pro-Russian, and Fatherland is pro-European, but that is about as close as you get to a statement of their objectives.
The Freedom Party, Svoboda, is being portrayed as neo-Nazi in the Western media, and may well be, but you would need Ukrainian speaking reporters on the ground to actually know that, and I doubt many Western media outlets have those reporters.
The Party of Regions, to which Victor Yanukovich belonged, has the most seats in parliament, just over 130, but ‘None of the Above’ is the second largest group with almost 120 seats. With 447 seats in parliament, any government will have to be a coalition. [Note that the numbers in any party can change overnight, as deputies can change parties at will.]
This is definitely not politics as we know it.
February 24, 2014 No Comments
While the ‘parade’ takes place next Saturday on Susan Butcher Day, the actual race begins on Sunday in Willow, Alaska.
There are two mushers that won’t be in this race: Brent Sass and Lance Mackey. Brent withdrew because of the concussion he received on the Yukon Quest trail, and Lance is recovering from major oral surgery.
Among the 70 teams that will compete two jumped out at me: Robert Sørlie and Cindy Abbott.
Robert, a Norwegian, has only run the Iditarod four times before, but he won the race twice, the only non-North American to win. A total of five Norwegians have signed up for this year’s race.
Cindy is the toughest person I have ever heard of. Last year she raced 600 miles with a broken pelvis, and she came back this year to finish what she had started. She definitely does not give up easily.
February 23, 2014 No Comments
The trail and distances between checkpoints:
Willow – Start
Yentna Station – 52 miles [84 km]
Skwentna – 34 miles [55 km]
Finger Lake – 45 miles [72 km]
Rainy Pass – 30 miles [48 km]
Rohn – 48 miles [77 km]
Nikolai – 75 miles [121 km]
McGrath – 54 miles [87 km] [Spirit of Alaska]
Takotna – 18 miles [29 km]
Ophir – 25 miles [40 km]
Cripple – 59 miles [95 km] [Halfway]
Ruby – 112 miles [180 km] [First to the Yukon]
Galena – 52 miles [84 km]
Nulato – 52 miles [84 km]
Kaltag – 42 miles [68 km]
Unalakleet – 90 miles [145 km] [Gold Coast]
Shaktoolik – 42 miles [68 km]
Koyuk – 48 miles [77 km]
Elim – 48 miles [77 km]
Golovin – 28 miles [45 km]
White Mountain – 18 miles [29 km]
Safety – 55 miles [88 km]
Nome – 22 miles [35 km]
The items in italics after checkpoints are awards for being first to those points.
The distance is from the previous checkpoint. Some teams in the early going will travel at 12 mph [20kph] or better with all 16 dogs eager to go. There are reasons not to do this.
February 23, 2014 No Comments
A squad of Kazaki took on the Pussy Riot performance artists for annoying Prince Vladimir of Moscow at his Olympic Games. A Kazak second lieutenant managed to get his picture spread around the world using a horsewhip on members of the group which happens to be almost totally female.
This resulted in a public relations problem for the Prince, so one of his ministers stepped up to announce that the lieutenant has been punished [an administrative fine, probably for being out of uniform as he lost his hat] and to say that there were no charges filed against the members of Pussy Riot for being beaten by a horsewhip in public.
I’m sure that the Kazak Ataman will complain that the problem was that the Kazaki weren’t allowed to deal with this in their traditional fashion – a mounted charge with shashki [sabers] to wipe out the protestors and anyone taking pictures.
February 22, 2014 1 Comment
The Mighty Hunter
I’ll get it next time.
[Editor: Boehner again, resting after not catching squirrels all afternoon. I figured a face shot would make it easier to ID him in a line-up.]
February 21, 2014 10 Comments
To understand what is happening in Kiyv [Kiev] you need a little history. There are three major groups of Russians: the Great Russians, the White Russians, and the Little Russians that refer to themselves as Russians, Belorussians, and Ukrainians. They have their own countries now: Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine.
They started off in the Ukraine, traditionally near the river Ros from which they derived their name. The first capital of the Russians was Kiyv, and the prince of Kiyv was the first among equals.
Then the Mongols showed up and destroyed Kiyv and made all the Russians a vassal people. The Horde’s hold on the area was finally broken by Johann the Great, the prince of Moscow, and the process of creating the Russian Empire was began when Johann’s grandson, Johann the Awesome, recaptured most of the area formerly in Russian control from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Johann the Awesome took the title of Caesar of all the Russias or Tsar. [In the West he is generally known as Ivan the Terrible.]
February 20, 2014 12 Comments
A Federal court has told the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security to lighten up and upholds the right to make fun of them by rejecting their Nuisance Suits. NSA and DHS were suing over the ‘abuse’ of their emblems on T-shirts that ridicule them.
You must have heard the warning about ‘lasting more than four hours, seek medical assistance’. It would certainly be good advice for the antechinus, a small, and rare marsupial in Australia. The males of the species don’t live to see their first birthday because of their sex drive. Spending the two week mating season having sex 12+ hours a day causes them to die off, the ultimate fatal attraction. Don’t try this at home.
February 19, 2014 15 Comments
Push That Poll.
The Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy [CARE] is a front group for Big Oil.
Tonight they called for a three question survey:
1. Are you unhappy with gas prices above $3/gallon?
2. Are worried about the Iranian ship sailing towards the US, and the Iranian threat to cut off Mideast oil?
3. Will you allow us to use your answers to pressure President Obama to approved the Keystone XL pipeline which will provide 40,000 jobs, reduce the cost of gas, and make us independent of Mideast oil?
Those aren’t direct quotes, but pretty close, and I answered all three questions – No.
If you want to reduce the price of oil, convince the government to stop listening to the Likud and Neo-Cons, and lift the sanctions against Iran. The oil market will work a bit more competitively if a major producer isn’t under heavy restrictions. If you stop talking about attacking Iran, Iran will stop talking about what it will do to retaliate.
The KXL might produce a dozen new jobs in the US, but it will increase the price of gas in the US Midwestern states. The pipeline will be filled with Canadian, not US oil, and the refined products are already planned to be shipped to Asia, so it will do nothing for US energy independence, nor reduce the average price of gas in the US.
“Citizens Alliance” for almost anything will invariably turn out to be a corporate astroturf scam.
February 18, 2014 18 Comments