Alaska Robotics

Archive for the ‘Political Satire’ Category

Grand Ol’ Paranoia

Thursday, July 23rd 2015 by Pat

Alaska GOP Communications Director, Suzanne Downing, called me out in her latest newsletter as some kind of shady political activist. I find this hilarious.

The newsletter is brilliantly titled, MUST READ ALASKA, so I’ll assume it’s not just languishing in your inbox. You’ve probably already been through the section on the closely guarded secret revenue meetings that are taking place across the state. I’m listed among the worst offenders:

“Also among Juneau’s closed planning group are environmental activists like SEACC’s development director Emily Ferry, Oceana attorney Michael LeVine (formerly with Earthjustice), and Alaska Robotics owner and political activist Pat Race.”

I know Republicans are supposed to spit on the ground after they say SEACC or Earth Justice so the implication is that Alaska Robotics (ptoooie) is just as villainous. Probably we’ve destroyed, like, a thousand jobs.

I was a little surprised to make the hit list but not as surprised as I was to hear the Alaska GOP crying about closed door meetings. That’s some sweet irony coming from the most powerful and privileged group of back room dealers in the state.

So. Let’s talk about these secret meetings of secret evil secrets held in the moonlight by secret liberal schemers.

The meeting I attended was the first of two where local attendees shared our impressions of the governor’s “Sustainable Future” meeting in Fairbanks. The goal was to figure out ways to broaden that discussion on a local level.

This wasn’t some kind of locked door cabal, this was a group of people trying to figure out how to expand a conversation about Alaska’s fiscal crisis.

Of the five people who came to this follow-up meeting, one was a commissioner for Murkowski and another was a director under the Palin administration. Yes, Bruce Botelho was there too and he rode in on a kayak made of organic kale but I think he was on track to answer the same fundamental questions we’re all working on:

How do we save Alaska from fiscal obliteration?

There are a lot of different answers to this question and they all need to be weighed. Some people want to make more cuts, others want to impose taxes or close weird loopholes and I suspect some folks would be happy to just see it all come down.

Whatever the answer, you can’t solve a problem of this scale with just a few people, you need to stitch together a multitude of perspectives to see the solution.

The Alaska GOP is the most powerful political party in Alaska and has been for quite some time. They hold the purse strings, they make the laws and they decide who wears pants. If the Alaska GOP feels like they’re not a part of this conversation, it just means they aren’t interested in listening.

P.S. Please enjoy trying to decipher this completely awful chart with way too many pie pieces.

2015 Alaska Press Club Awards

Friday, May 1st 2015 by Pat

Our totally legitimate news program received two Alaska Press Club Awards for our coverage of the 2014 legislative session and elections!!!

Thank you to Lou, Aaron, Jamie, Andy, Richard, Phoebe, Jack, Jen, Will, Tara and all of our dodgy, uncredited supporters who kept the wheels greased and ideas flowing.

press club2

Additionally, I scooped up a first place in Arts Reporting for my coverage of the Latitude Arts Convergence. That was a fun event where I just ran around for a few days with my camera and then stayed up all night trying to hack together a video.

Dying on the Kickstarter Vine

Friday, December 12th 2014 by Pat

Here’s a piece on Alaska Robotics News that ran on KTOO this morning. The interview and article was conducted by Kayla Desroches.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the project lately.

It’s hard to ask for money and it’s harder to ask for money unsuccessfully… And it’s even harder to do an interview about your Kickstarter project while it’s failing.

I’ve been sorting through all these weird and complex feelings as I’ve watched our news project languish and die on the Kickstarter vine. Sure, little sparks of hope here and there but not nearly enough fire to keep the cold out.

I should be clear, I don’t feel that we’re owed anything. I recognize our, my, incredible privilege. We have technology, community and our speech is protected by the crumbling framework of democracy. I’m a white male in a nice town surrounded by nice people. I don’t have to put up with much and I get my way a lot of the time.

I firmly believe it would be better for people to give their money to the Glory Hole (Yes, that’s really the name of our local shelter, don’t ask or look it up on Google Image Search). But I did hope there might be a little left over to keep this project moving forward.

It’s just nice to feel that a project you’ve put your heart into has value and it’s hard to not equate that feeling of value with a number on a third-party website writ in a supreme font size.

I think about what went wrong. Timing? Didn’t get the word out? Too niche? Maybe people know we’ll just keep making things without any money or support? Maybe it’s just politics?

People hate politics. I hate politics. It’s why there’s a secret sense of relief building in my stomach. It’s hard to be so close to that dark miasma of power and deeply weird shit but I think it’s important to keep pulling at it and just hope it comes apart or forms a crack or something.

It’s too early to give a concession speech. There are people who love what we do and for them I’ll hang on tighter than Mark Begich. This project could still fund. But if we do fail to meet our goal on Monday, I promise not to concede until at least Wednesday.

So yeah, I’m a little bummed but if we don’t hit our goal, I have about a hundred other projects I’m excited about. I’m an artist. I’m smart. And I’m just crazy enough that I might happen.

Big love to Aaron, Lou, Jamie, Marian, Mom, Dad and everyone else who so easily find it in themselves to support me, work with me and love me.

Geez. Mushy. I told you, weird and complex feelings.


Thank You!

Saturday, November 23rd 2013 by Pat

Thank you to everyone who supported our project, we’re excited for the opportunnity to make Alaska Robotics News an ongoing web-series during the legislative session!

To celebrate, I drew you a picture of John Alexander Strong, 2nd governor of the Territory of Alaska. Strong served from 1913-1918 and was forced to resign when they found out he was a Canadian.


I imagine it was like an episode of Battlestar Galactica.

Last Day to Kickstart Alaska Robotics News

Thursday, November 21st 2013 by Pat

Here we go, into the final hours of the fundraiser and we’re closing in on our next goal of $8000!

We spent the last week looking back at our favorite political satire films, let’s cap it off with this one.

Scott McAdams Porno Moustache

Party Time

Wednesday, November 20th 2013 by Pat

The Kickstarter countdown clock has flipped from days to hours. We’ve raised almost enough to produce six episodes of Alaska Robotics News during the 2014 legislative session.

Tea Party Animal

Don’t bring up seagulls around Aaron’s dad. That’s my advice.

You see, there’s no such thing as a seagull, it’s a term only used by the layperson. In fact, it’s very similar to a layperson in that it has no true taxonomic distinction.

A layperson is a Homo sapien, not different from other Homo sapiens, just lacking some fundamental bit of knowledge. The seagull is a gull, same as any other gull, except it happens to live close to the sea.

Most gulls belong to the Larus genus but to further complicate the matter they’re polyphyletic.

And now you’re prepared to enjoy the following short film which we created during the 2010 elections.

The big, white bird line came from a friend who heard it at a laundromat. If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

Living the Dream

Wednesday, November 20th 2013 by Pat

The Kickstarter countdown clock has flipped from days to hours. Help us reach our next goal of $8000 so we can create a series of six Alaska Robotics News segments during the 2014 legislative session.

Buy Back America

One of our on-the-roof films, Buy Back America, was an effort to grapple with a subject no individual can quite seem to get an arm around, the national debt.

We created the film during the financial collapse of 2009, back when the national debt was a mere 11 trillion dollars. Today the United States owes over 17 trillion, which hardly matters as it’s equally difficult to fathom. We may as well have a national debt of scevfen thousha glorpanorple.

It’s ok, we’re the United States of America, we’re too big to fail.

Dance along if you like.

Slick Willy

Monday, November 18th 2013 by Pat

We’re counting down the final few days of our fundraising efforts and revisiting some of our favorite satire films from the archives. Please help us by supporting Alaska Robotics News, our upcoming political satire series.

Oil Spill News

Our first attempt at a satire news series was shortly after the Deep Water Horizon exploded and started spewing oil into the gulf. We quickly knocked together some graphics and started reporting the news as it developed.

We learned a lot from the doing these news shorts and I’m excited to apply that to our work covering the legislative session this year.

My favorite of the four episodes was the one with the robots.

The Cost of Public Service

Sunday, November 17th 2013 by Pat

It’s the final week on our Kickstarter Campaign for Alaska Robotics News and I’ll be counting down here by revisiting some of our favorite political satire projects from over the years. I hope you’ll donate to the project so we can make more and better episodes of our upcoming series.

Buy Back Alaska

Buy Back Alaska was our response to the VECO scandal, the FBI had just raided the state capitol building and each day revealed more damning evidence of corrupt Alaskan politicians acting as industry stooges.

The biggest surprise was that no one was surprised.

I’ve never been happy with the resolution of the VECO scandal, the feds botched their case and the state didn’t lift a finger. The whole affair points to incredibly poor ethical standards and a lack of accountability that likely persists today.

I guess that’s good if you’re in the satire business.

Frank the Tank

Saturday, November 16th 2013 by Pat

It’s the final week on our Kickstarter Campaign for Alaska Robotics News and I’ll be counting down here by revisiting some of our favorite political satire projects from over the years. I hope you’ll donate to the project so we can make more and better episodes of our upcoming series.

Frank Murkowski – A Tribute

We made this video back in 2007 as a send off when Frank Murkowski left office.

Murkowski was the gubernatorial incumbent but he lost in the Republican primary to a mavericky lady from Wasilla.

Murkowski’s approval rating before the election was down around 14%. I think a lot of that had to do with appointing his daughter to the senate, screwing over senior citizens, and buying a private governor jet so he wouldn’t have to fly with people critical of his decision to use state money to buy a private governor jet.

This parody version of Leaving on a Jet Plane was performed by Collete Costa who is a completely incomparable human being. She’s like… Incomparable.

I maybe don’t agree with all his moves as governor, but after spending dozens of hours cutting through footage of the guy I have a lot more appreciation for him. He’s not a monster, he’s just misunderstood.