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.


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.

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