Alaska Robotics

AKRN – Episode 4

Sunday, March 23rd 2014 by Pat

Episode four is out the door!

Before I get into the show notes, I should address something. I know we’ve been weak on Republican participation. It has everything to do with a dazzling string of unfortunate scheduling conflicts and nothing to do with practiced exclusion. If you’re in the GOP, drop me a line, we have two episodes left and we want you involved.

Show Opening

Lou cut together these Gavel to Gavel clips for the Mega Monster Legislatapocalypse segment last episode and just by chance it ended up looking like a jolly ripper from Rep. Wes Keller and an incredulous reaction by Rep. Mike Hawker.

Please remember our show is semi-fictional, I’m sure legislators don’t fart in real life.

Banana Republic

The term Banana Republic comes from the book, Of Cabbages and Kings, a fictional story about the very real exploitation perpetrated by businesses like the United Fruit Company and suffered by nations like Guatemala.

I haven’t read that book but I’ve lived in Alaska long enough to understand the concept. I know we’re not being gunned down or anything quite so heavy handed but it’s hard to deny the influence of oil companies on our legislative process. There’s more than one greedy sausage finger on the scale. In fact, it could be an entire ham.

There’s of course the VECO scandal where the biggest surprise wasn’t that legislators were on the take but that they were willing to sell us out for so little… Or maybe the biggest surprise was that corrupt legislators were actually prosecuted?

The worst things aren’t envelopes full of cash or slick consulting contracts though, what makes it impossible to change our tune are the more gentle corruptions and small concessions that we’re all complicit in. For example, the lack of any modesty regarding conflicts of interest.

Our governor, the leader of our state, was partner at a law firm that represented Exxon in their Valdez oil spill litigation. He actively worked against the interests of Alaskans on one of the most pivotal issues in our history. We made him governor.

The latest, Parnell has chosen to disregard Alaska Statutes by appointing non-Alaskans to critical state boards. For as much hell as he gives the federal government about sovereignty, he sure doesn’t care if we’re run by oil companies.

Fortunately the legislature will probably clean up those pesky Alaska statutes and this unfortunate misunderstanding will be resolved. Once they knock down the wall to outside governance maybe we can finally get Kenny G. to serve on the state arts council.

Pick. Click. Give. Exxon.

It’s the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and all of the footage used in this segment was shot during the actual event. The footage is in the public domain, a nice way to preserve an important part of our history. It can be found through the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

I also realized that some of you may not be familiar with “Pick. Click. Give.” That program is a very successful gifting program allowing Alaskans to donate a portion of their Permanent Fund Dividend to Alaska non-profits. It’s doing a lot of good.

ExxWow!

It’s Lou in a headset, a parody of the ShamWow!

Exxon has done a remarkable job of wiping out their original damages, paying fractional amounts to those who lived long enough to collect. There’s an abundance of Valdez oil spill news today with the 25th anniversary rolling past, soak some of it in.

Senator Mark Begich on the NSA

I wrote quite a bit on this in a previous post if you care to read it.

Aside from that, I just hope you’re thinking about surveillance and what role we want it to play in our future. The tide of big, easy data is rising and it’s going to change us.

Rather than trying to get the genie back in the bottle, I think I’ve decided my hope is for data equality and clear rules of engagement.

I should also note that the Begich segment got some epic press, we were called “obscure” by Yahoo! and I love the animated gifs in that article!

We also received some more general coverage in an article by Mary Catharine Martin at Capital City Weekly. Reading it made me happy, I think she really captured our tone and intent.

Senator Begich on Alaska Robotics News

Monday, March 17th 2014 by Pat

In case you haven’t been keeping up on the news, the frog is boiling.

The NSA, CIA and even local police forces are engaging in massive warrantless surveillance efforts and hiding in the shadows of secret courts.

The concept of consumer rights is out the window and the government is not only gobbling up data on its own citizens but sharing that raw intelligence with foreign entities.

Back in 1972, when some people broke into an office building to read a few documents, the world erupted, a president resigned.

A couple generations past and the burglars are in the building again. Every building. Everywhere. All at once. But this time around, we’re too content to do anything. We’ve slipped into the role of sedentary extras from a dystopian novel about the surveillance state.

I don’t want to think it’s because we’re lazy, maybe it’s just too big to chew on. It’s hard to feel like you’re making progress with an issue this size. That’s why we need to remember the mosquito.

In Alaska, mosquitoes start out small, they buzz around taking little bites and they grow with every meal.  They clump and swarm and find strength in numbers and by the end of summer those things are bigger than helicopters, able to carry away a moose calf.

That is how to approach large issues, small bites.  Talk to your representative. Give something to the ACLU or the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Make a sign. Create a low-budget political satire show and get your state senator to make an appearance. Express your thoughts. Do a dance. Get down tonight.

Episode four is due out next weekend, we just wanted to share the Begich piece early. Thanks to the senator and his great staffers for making it such a fun shoot.

Boring Talk featuring Geran Tarr

Thursday, March 13th 2014 by Pat

Welcome to Boring Talk, the most exciting talk show in town! I recently chatted with Representative Geran Tarr about her work on child sexual abuse legislation, her state budget priorities and the phenomenon of naming bills after people.

Download the MP3

The show is available as audio or video, take your pick!

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Alaska Robotics News Screening

Wednesday, March 5th 2014 by Lou

screeningscreens

Friday, March 7, 9pm at Gold Town Nickelodeon

See Episodes 1, 2, and 3 of Alaska Robotics News. Admission is $5.

AKRN – Episode 3

Tuesday, March 4th 2014 by Pat

Alaska Strong!

Thursday, February 27th 2014 by Pat

alaska strong
We got our Alaska Strong bracelets today, also a nice long letter from Rep. Johnson’s office about our work isn’t a legitimate press activity.

If you’d like an Alaska Strong bracelet of your own, please send us a proposal for a great big, Alaska-sized boondoggle of a mega-project.

You can email hotnewztips4u@alaskarobotics.com. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter or you can always just drop a comment below!

The Goot

Friday, February 14th 2014 by Pat

PUBLIC APOLOGY TIME: We’ve been mispronouncing Representative David Guttenberg’s name these past couple episodes! So embarrassing!

It’s GUT-en-berg, not GOOT-en-berg.

Of course, to us, he’ll always just be… The Goot.

the goot

AKRN – Episode 2

Tuesday, February 11th 2014 by Pat

Let me just say right up front that the coolest thing we discovered in making this episode was the Alaska Constitutional Convention Recordings made available by state archivists. It’s a magical bridge to the past, you can sit in and listen to the framers of our state constitution.

Fog Introduction

Fog wafted through the capitol during the first week of the legislative session and pinned down travelers. Maybe you’re not a fan of fart joke but flatulence humor has a rich, billowing history and we’re proud to contribute to such a time-honored art.

Education Interviews

This has been labeled the “Education Session” but many Alaskans are critical of the proposed SJR9 which would allow a vote to change the constitution and put public funding directly towards private and religious schools.

Pick. Click. Give. – The Pebble Mine

Photos for this segment were provided by several people, we need to thank Eric McKittrick and Hig Higman from Ground Truth Trekking as well as Bob Waldrop.

If you aren’t familiar with Erin and Hig, they are the subject of “Journey on the Wild Coast,” a documentary produced by local filmmaker Greg Chaney. Erin has also written a couple books about their trekking adventures which include a 4000 mile walk from Seattle to the Aleutians.

DJ Kit provided the amazing voice over. You can hear her show on KXLL 100.7 on Mondays 6-8pm.

Beth Kerttula Resigns

Beth Kerttula, our representative here in District 32, resigned on the first day of the legislative session. In addition to the satire bit, I had the opportunity to sit down with Beth for a lengthy interview in our companion series, Boring Talk, which I don’t expect a lot of people to watch but was very pleasant and educational.

Parkin’ Wild Alaska

Jamie K. is eating Pel-Meni. Last episode he had a Triangle hot dog. Who knows what feat of digestion he will perform next!

The exploding igloo was made of sugar cubes and baking soda, but unfortunately the video did not capture the resulting and accidental 4′ vertical flame.

Andy K. provided the voice over and the 1992 Saturn S-Series.

The scream is the famous Wilhelm Scream used in hundreds of movies:

Dron-E

Dron-e, The Digital Robotic Omnipresent News Entity, the latest addition to our news team. He had a little accident this first time out but we’ll get him back in the air soon!

The HUD elements used in creating Dron-E came from an After Effects pack provided by Roland at Graphic in Motion.

If you’re interested in Drone policy in Alaska, you’ll want to track HB255, SB136, and possible HB159 which seems to have stalled in committee last session.

The basic issue at hand seems to be what can be done with all the information drones gather and if it will be admissible in court without a specific warrant. This ties into the broader question of personal privacy pushing up against always-on surveillance.

Rural Beat

Jack Dalton is a real-life Yup’ik story teller, writer and teacher who has performed all over the state. He’s currently the only member of the writing team outside Juneau and we’re quite honored to have him aboard for Rural Beat.

The Quinhagak dance group is a real story and you can learn more about them in this article, Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat students dance for their village since 100 + years.

Here’s a video of the actual Quinhagak dancers performing, quite moving when put in context. Even the coughs in the background contribute to the meaning.

Video clips in the opening title segment came from a trip to Kotzebue and the totem can be found on the UAS Campus. The font is of course the official font of Thai restaurants and indigenous peoples around the world, Papyrus.

Non-Alaska Native Flute Music and drums in the intro were smushed together from sound files available on freesound.org, an excellent source for low budget sound effects. Several of the sound effects are attribution and copyright free for use in your own projects.

Photos for the Rural Beat segment come from the Alaska State Library and the Library of Congress and all images are believed to be in the public domain.

Alaska Strong Supercut & Sean’s Awesome Journal

These segments both lean heavily on the 2014 State of the State address. We did order some rubber “Alaska Strong” bracelets. If you need one, let us know.

The Moderator M9000

We owe a big apology to Rep. Dave Guttenberg. We’ve been pronouncing his name wrong these past two episodes!!! It’s GUT-EN-BERG!! Although… I talked to one of his staffers and we agree that “The Goot” is a superior nickname to “The Gut”… so THE GOOT it is!

Sounds and Images

We’ve got a tiny budget, minuscule really, and we’ve spent a lot of time trying to find sounds and images to use in the show. What has really helped us are the public domain archives maintained by several government agencies. There are incredible photos, videos and audio files all produced by government employees and made available for public use.

Now Hiring!

Friday, February 7th 2014 by Pat

help wanted

We’re looking for hard-working, energetic and creative employees for full time or part time employment at both the Alaska Robotics Gallery and on the media production side of things at Lucid Reverie.

Lucid Reverie is a small media firm focused on website design and video production. Our website work is primarily PHP/MySql based and many of our sites rely on WordPress as a content management system. We use Adobe products and have a few Linux boxes and a web server to keep an eye on. We especially like to create mini-documentaries and other projects where our distinct voice can show through.

We also pick up media duplication, digitization, graphic design, animation and other miscellaneous projects.

Alaska Robotics is a label we’ve created for our personal projects, short films and comics. We opened the Alaska Robotics Gallery almost two years ago and we’re seeking flexible, part-time employees to work retail.

We are most interested in employees who demonstrate a wide range of skill, intelligence, creative aptitude, and vision.

To apply for a position, please drop off a current resume and a brief cover letter at the gallery. 220 Front St. Juneau, AK.

Boring Talk featuring Beth Kerttula

Wednesday, February 5th 2014 by Pat

Welcome to Boring Talk, our exciting new talk show! On this episode I sat down with former Representative, Beth Kerttula. We talked about oil taxes, the VECO scandal, coastal zone management and Beth’s recent resignation from the legislature.

The show is available as audio or video, take your pick!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.