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Drink Coffee or Die

In Drink on September 29, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Today was National Coffee Day. If you are like me, and you missed it, well sucks for us. If you didn’t miss it and did something special (coffee related) then bully for you as Theodore Roosevelt said.

Speaking of T.R. did you know that he is the person responsible for the Maxwell House motto: “Good to the last drop?” You can find the story here.

However, dear blog reader, if you are how I think you are (and remember, on this blog I am Prometheus – with his liver, mind you) then you need coffee to survive. National Coffee Day is just another normal day. So, to those of you I raise my wife’s raven-covered travel mug and say drink up, and remember, decaffeinated coffee is the devil’s blend!

Thanks a lot, Lisa

In Political on September 27, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I’m going to make a political prediction: Joe Miller is going to win the Alaskan senate race and the fault will be entirely Lisa Murkowski’s.

Why?

Because she will split Scott McAdams’ loose confederation of liberals, moderates, and Republicans who are against the Tea Party right down the middle. I am not making this up. Check out this Rasmussen poll and then get back to me.

According to the above poll, McAdams – an unknown before the primary – was only trailing Miller by 6 points on Aug, 31. Now, since Murkowski has entered the race, McAdams is trailing both Miller and Murkowski. And by a hefty margin.

Why should you care?

For several reasons:

  1. Murkowski had her chance to beat Miller during the primary. Even if we did not get the result we desired, the system still worked and we (and Murkowski) should respect it.
  2. Even if Murkowski does win, she will not be doing so as a Republican. This means that all of that “seniority” everyone is talking about will be stripped from her regardless.
  3. McAdams is a good candidate and not just because he isn’t Joe Miller. I am sure the not-Joe Miller fact attracted a lot of people to his cause (including me) but, now that we’ve actually had a chance to see him…he appears to be a good candidate.
  4. Murkowski is a die-hard conservative, and against many ideas and policies that I would consider progressive including gay marriage, pro-choice, and the recent health care reform bill. Why would liberals vote for someone like that if they had a viable option, which they do?
  5. The pro-Joe Miller constituent is far more united then those against it. As the above poll showed, Murkowski’s bid has divided those who remain against the Tea Party and taken only a small number of votes (6 points) away from Miller.
  6. A Miller victory means Alaska will have another ideological Sarah Palin in office; just this time at the national level.

What can we do about it?

Practically nothing besides voting for Scott McAdams. As my editor says half-seriously/half-jokingly, “Tell us how you really feel, Jeremia.” Well, this is how I really feel. Lisa Murkowski had her chance and missed it. Now, Alaska has to deal with the consequences.

Music Review: “How to Destroy Angels” by HDA

In Music Reviews on September 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm

This will be a quick review of “How to Destroy Angels” self-titled album which was released on July 6th. For those not in the know “self-titled album” means their album is named after the band. So, in this case, How to Destroy Angels. Maybe that explanation seems unnecessary, but I know I was in my teens before I figured that one out. Anways, on to the review:

HDA is not something I can listen to all the time. I actually began this post almost a month ago, and it’s taken me this long to get back to it. However, it is still a cool album. The album feels like a composite of both Industrial and Phillip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi as sung by a woman. For your ear’s, take a listen to these sounds for comparison: Michael Aranda’s Erosion and Phillip Glass’ classic Koyaanisqatsi. Toward the end of the album, however, HDA starts to sound like Metric or Silversun Pickups. Which, might I add, is really cool because I lurve luv love those guys.

In my opinion, the best songs on the album (which has only six songs and runs a total of 28:50 in length) are “BBB (Big Black Boots)” and “A Drowning.” But, to be fair, the last 4 songs are all top-notch killers and worth listening to.

According to my iTunes, the album is listed as “Electronica/Dance” which is sorta true. But if I had to label it, it would be “Industrial Punk”. So, if you enjoy half of the bands and video’s I recommended then THIS BAND may be for you.

Happy listening.

Marcy Playground @ The Blue Loon (9-25-10)

In Culture on September 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A concert review will follow shortly. Until then, please enjoy the slideshow!

Okay Tea Party, Let’s Talk

In Political on September 23, 2010 at 11:49 pm

The Tea Party is a convenient “party” primarily because, to be part of it, you don’t have to think. All you have to do is be angry at something and to do what you’re told. Why? Because it’s easier to carry out orders then to question them. Easier to be thought-for then to be thoughtful.

But, angry at what? Angry at the economy, the government, “big business”, Obama, health-care, abortion, feminism and anything that appears to jeopardize ones set of core (yet, unclear) beliefs. Go ahead and be angry, I say, but know why you’re angry. Know what orders you follow and why.

What are these core Tea Party beliefs? Abstract ideas like “values” and “family”. Single-voter issues like Second Amendment rights and abortion. The idea that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare” (which has negative connotations) is harmful to families. The idea that the supposed “all loving” Christian God of a handful of “Christian” extremists is the One True God…who apparently hates homosexuals and anyone who disagrees with Him. Are you finding your “god” in the Old Testament or the New? Wasn’t Jesus all about brotherly love and turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39)?  The idea that the followers of Islam, who are currently constructing the Park51 community center and mosque, are the same followers of “Islam” as those who attacked the World Trade Center almost a decade ago. Yes, a decade ago. And what do we have to show for it? Two wars, trillions in debt, and a “double-dip” recession. Iraq is now a sick man in the Middle East, and Afghanistan remains in tatters.

The individuals who believe in the above are the same people who will gladly take their Permanent Fund Dividends (PFD’s) while demanding the “guvment” kindly remove themselves from their lives.

But, Tea Party folk, I ask you this:

Who hands you your PFD? Who offers student loans for your children? Who maintains the road system? Who insures pharmaceutical companies adequately test their medication? Who insures organic food is, indeed, organic? Who maintains the local animal shelter? Who provides a police force that one can call upon at any hour of any day? Who maintains our judicial system? Who maintains the armed forces who, by the way, receive an enlistment bonus, health insurance, and housing at a reduced rate (on top of receiving a salary)? Who puts out forest fires? Who maintains Medicare (health insurance for those over 65)? Who maintains Medicaid (health insurance for low income households)? Who prints our money?

Who, you ask, does all of this?

The socialist government that has been a feature of this country since before socialism was even a word.

I would end this blog by inviting Tea Partiers to flip open a copy of Websters Dictionary or perhaps to serf Wikipedia (and not Conservapedia) for a spell. All in the name of better understand of their own beliefs, where they come from and why they have them. If you’re willing to hollar and shout, don’t you want to at least know why you end up with a sore throat?

I’m willing to hear you out, if you’re willing to hear me out. Can we make a deal?

UAF: Tuition hike or GTFO

In Alaskana, UAF on September 21, 2010 at 4:40 am

Most students, like myself, take tuition hikes as an inflationary fact of life. The university raises our student pay by $0.50, they raise our tuition by 10%-22%. Sounds fair, right?

No. No, that isn’t fair, and I have a serious problem with it.

Why?

“Because, Jeremia,” the imaginary Board of Regents-in-my-head say, “We have a $5.5 budget shortfall.

“But, why do we have a budget shortfall,” I ask? “What got us to this point?”

“That’s for us to know, and for you to pay for.” They say to me.

While this conversation is fictional, it isn’t far from something that could very easily take place. The university has been keen to hike student tuition rates without disclosing the reasons why beyond vague generalities. Here is the primary reason that  the university system has given: State lawmakers are making us do it.

Not a very satisying answer, is it?

Why does the state want the UA to be more self sufficient?

My answer: The state wants us to be more self-sufficient because we, an educational institution, are a drain on the states coffers, even though only 45% of the UA operating budget comes from the state. We are such a drain, in fact, that Governor Parnell signed legislation that “increases tax credits for contributions to Alaska’s higher education and job training institutions.”

But, wait, isn’t the UA a public institution?: Yes. Yes it is. (Scroll to the top of page 3.)

But, what is a public institution? A public institution is an entity or organization that is controlled by the state.

So, let me get this straight: The university is a state institution that the state doesn’t want to support (as much) anymore? That’s what it’s starting to sound like to me. Add all of this to the fact that the Board of Regents (BoR) is meeing in Juneau. While I have nothing against the University of Alaska – Southeast (UAS) at Juneau, I see the BoR decision to meet there suspicious as UAS only accounts for 2,208 students (2010 data) as compared to 10,446 at UAF (2009 data) and an estimated 20,000 at UAA (2010 data). While all I can do is infer, I am infering that the BoR is meeting in Juneau for less then noble reason (i.e. to give the UAS population a chance to protest).

In an April article by Jeff Richardson of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (FDNM), Kate Ripley, UA’s own public relations woman, said that (to quote the article) “increased day-to-day costs, reductions in private donations, increased student demand for costly new academic programs, and a leveling off of new research grants are among the factors that have dropped revenue or increased expenses at UA.”

Why are the day-t0-day costs going up? Why is there a reduction in private donations? What “costle new academic programs” are students asking for? Why are research grants leveling off? Specifics people, please.

Like I said before, tuition hikes are a necessity. Like death and taxes. However, adding a 10% hike with an additional 12% the next year is unreasonable. Will there be some sort of moratorium placed on tuition hikes afterward?

In the same FDNM article, Ripley continued by saying that UA hopes to cut costs by “capping pensions, cutting travel costs and shopping for less expensive health-care benefits.” While it’s nice to see that it isn’t only the students being hit, students still appear (to me) to be the ones shouldering most of the burden.

But, what do we do about it? We research and respond appropriately. Here are a few things I recommend the university implement instead of the proposed tuition hikes:

  • Students, staff, and faculty take a temporary 3 year halt in pay increases.
  • Offer staff and faculty a leave of absence with 50% pay.
  • Hire student workers for staff positions. This is already being considered.
  • Raise tuition by 10% with a guarantee that said tuition will not be increased for at least 5 years.
  • Continue implementing the Tier 1 downgrade. This is already being considered.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of contracting outside the university for basic services. This is already being considered.
  • Offer “non-represented” staff incentives to refrain from unionizing.
  • Organize and invest in university-lead and based businesses (like a recycling plant).
  • Discover what programs and departments are “money-sinks” and merge them with other existing programs.
  • Continue encouraging private donations.

Well, UAF, what do you think?

Increase public and private support
for UAF through sustained
advancement activities
• Strengthen UAF marketing and
communication efforts
• Increase alumni support and
involvement
• Seek private and corporate support of
student scholarships and fellowships
• Increase awareness of the university’s
contributions to the state
• Educate key stakeholders about our
critical need for new,
expanded and
well-maintained
facilities for
research
and teaching

Music Review: “Calling You Out” by Netherfriends

In Culture, Music Reviews, UAF on September 19, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Everybody thinks Netherfriends sounds like Animal Collective. Well, they do, but not as much as you think. I should know: I have their latest album and I saw them live. Last night.

By “them” I mean Shawn Rosenblatt (who, for all intents and purposes, is the band) and touring drummer Scott Westrick. That’s it. Two guys. Making music.

As I wrote in my UAF Sun Star article, which acted as a pre-concert teaser/interview, Netherfriends bears much more of a resemblance to the Australian pop group The Whitlams then they do to Animal Collective. By The Whitlams, I mean if they were to play a live show. In Colorado’s outdoor Red Rock Amphitheater. With a group of Zulu tribesmen.

Shawn Rosenblatt of Netherfriends performs at the Pub during his September 18th show.

In other words, Netherfriends is oddly primal and incredibly cool. Maybe not Thelonious Monk-cool, but Rosenblatt tries pretty damn hard. Which is incredible because Monk and Netherfriends are in two separate genres. The fact I am even comparing these two guys should tell you something.

What Calling You Out is, is driving music. That is no bad thing, however as, being in Alaska, a lot of what I do is drive.

The major drawback to the album is it’s length: it also only has six songs and clocks in at just over 21 minutes. Yeah, it’s that short.

Two of the albums best songs, in my opinion (this is my blog, you know), are “Nunya (beeswax)” and “Friends with Lofts”. When you hear “Nunya” you will immediately hear why I compared Netherfriends to an African tribal group, and “Friends with Lofts” is just plain…pretty. Pretty in a nostalgic way. The sort of nostalgia one has after only a few weeks or months have passed since the event causing the nostalgia.

Calling You Out also makes me think of Vancouver. Which is a good thing. If you get Vancouver, you’ll get this album.

As the band says in the song “Really?”: “How lonely does a man have to be…to say those things out loud?”

Not lonely at all. I just love music.

For further reading:

http://www.myspace.com/netherfriends

Why We Laugh at Hitler

In Culture on September 12, 2010 at 8:31 pm

For those of you out-of-the-loop (it’s okay, it’s a small loop right now), there is a new webcomic on the the march. And when I say “on the march” I mean that literally. The webcomic in question is one “Hipster Hitler.”

Yes, you read that correctly. A webcomic. About Hitler. As a Hipster. If you don’t believe me, then check it out: http://hipsterhitler.com/

The problem I have with the webcomic is that I *don’t* have a problem with it and that, in turn, makes me feel guilty.

Why?

Because it’s Hitler. And I’m laughing at him. I’m laughing at a man who tried to wipe an entire people of the face of the earth.

But, I have to confess, for a history buff (and closet hipster), the webcomic appeals on many levels: it’s historically smart, it’s creative, and it’s also visually appealing. To say nothing of it’s prefect characterization of all that is “hipster.” If you don’t know what I mean, watch this video and then get back to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5dIzY7yvRA

But, as I said, and as you might say, it’s a webcomic about Hitler.

Well, maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it shows we can laugh at the things that terrify us the most. To dork this post up even more, lets think about this in Harry Potter-terms:

Hitler, or anyone like him (i.e. Vlad the Impaler, Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Osama bin Laden), is a boggart and in order to destroy said boggart we have to laugh at it. Laughing at something shows that we either believe it to be amusing or absurd. Since we can’t laugh at Hitler as a genuine source of humor (because, you know, genocide is hi-larious) then the only alternative is to think of it as absurd.

I laugh at Hipster Hitler because it’s a joke: literally. Hitler was never a hipster. Hitler never wore a t-shirt that read “Eva 4 Eva”. Hitler never invaded a country on a bicycle (to save gas, of course) with a single grenade and a bag of cashews. All of these, however, occur in the webcomic.

So, perhaps it could be fair to say that laughing at a monster (or something we believe to be a monster) is how we can defeat it. Maybe one long laugh wouldn’t do the trick (this isn’t Monty Python), but hell, it’s a start. Maybe if a few more people had originally laughed at Hitler as absurd, and his belief’s as ridiculous, them maybe the Second World War would never have occurred. Maybe tens of millions of people wouldn’t have died. Maybe.

But hey, hindsight is 20/20…and when it comes to what you laugh at, John Lennon said it best: “Whatever gets you through the night it’s alright, alright.”

This comic was reposted with the permission of the Hipster Hitler crew.

Men’s Fall Fashion feat. Sam German

In Alaskana, Fashion, UAF on September 9, 2010 at 8:23 pm

It’s September again. That means (for many of you) it’s back to the academic grindstone. However, just because higher education can sometimes be a royal pain doesn’t mean you can’t at least look like (Alaskan) royalty. My good friend Sam was kind enough to sport some duds a few weeks back. Here are a few of the highlights.

Brown wool 'I.N.C.' sport coat // multi-colored handmade scarf // red cotton button-up shirt // silver class ring

'Silver Gulch Brewery' knit hat // black 'Eighty Eight' cotton button-up shirt // multi-colored scarf

Black 'Eighty Eight' button-up shirt w/stripes // wool Scottish checkered scarf // Irish tweed flat cap by 'Mavili's Hat' of North Vancouver

Gray wool Irish flat cap by 'Mavili's Hats' of North Vancouver // brown 'I.N.C.' wool coat // blue denim 'Levi' jeans // white 'Adidas' running shoes // multi-colored scarf

Whether you’re a new student or a returning one, there is absolutely no reason why a guy can’t look his best both in the classroom, at the office, or gallivanting around the quad. Say, does UAF even have a quad? Take a hint from me, when you look good you feel good. Simple as that.

Plus. it never hurts to break out a sport coat or a nice button-up from time to time. Besides, those t-shirts of yours could use a wash, no?

A (very curious) Cadywumpus Special

In UAF, Webcomics on September 5, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Earlier this week marked the 26th birthday of a man that many people on campus know well: Caleb Kuntz.

Caleb is a man of many hats: Concert Board President, lead guitarist of the band WORK, Phi Alpha Theta Vice President, librarian, scholar, poet, adventurer, friend.

Can you guess which one he is best at?

All of them.