Death by Halibut


Cecil Adams says yes, yes you can be killed by a halibut…

You should fear the halibut just the same, as one would rightly fear anything that’s huge, powerfully muscled, and prone to thrashing when pulled into your boat. Some halibut weigh more than 400 pounds and have to be killed by beating them over the head with a club. This is best done surreptitiously. If instead you do it on your reality TV show like Sarah Palin before the shocked eyes of animal rights activists, you’re going to take some heat.

Native Americans, now, they understood halibut. The Tsimshian tribe of the Pacific Northwest has a tale of a monster halibut that ate an entire canoe, along with the prince and two princesses who were aboard. Bent on revenge, a two-man suicide team paddled out to face it and also got eaten. However, they succeeded in gutting the fish from the inside before expiring, ultimately resulting in the giant halibut dying too. So, just like the ending of Hamlet, only with a fish.

As for the tragic tale recounted above, it’s no fish story. In August 1973 the Juneau Empire reported that a solitary Alaska fisherman had indeed been killed by a halibut. Joseph T. Cash, 67, caught a 150-pound specimen near Kupreanof Island and succeeded in hauling it aboard. In the process, though, the flailing fish evidently broke his leg, severing an artery and sending Cash crashing to the deck, cracking three ribs. Though mortally injured, the stubborn fisherman managed to lash himself to the boat’s winch to avoid falling overboard. He was later found there when the boat washed ashore — and by God, he still had his fish.

This incident illustrates a stark fact: halibut fishing is dangerous. Commercial fishing in general is one of the riskiest occupations in the country, with a death rate 32 times the average for U.S. workers. Crab and other shellfish are the most dangerous critters to go after, as fans of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch may know — Alaska shell fishermen perish at more than 90 times the U.S. rate.

(click here to continue reading The Straight Dope: Is there such a thing as death by halibut?.)


Tracy Arm Alaska

Tracy Arm Alaska

Tracy Arm Alaska, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

If I’m not mistaken. Somewhere close in any case.

17% better if viewed in Lightbox:…

Went back and processed a lot of photos from summer of 2007, including dozens from our Alaskan sojourn. You can see them all here, or if you are patient, click here to start the slideshow (Flash)

Sarah Palin Wasilla Diva

Testimonial Sepia

The Diva of Wasilla, Sarah Palin, can’t stand if she isn’t in the media spotlight, so has found another faux controversy to blather about.

Sarah Palin has been whining all over the place about author Joe McGinniss, calling him a stalker for renting the house next door while he’s writing a book about her. And of course Fox hacks like Steve Doocy have been whipping themselves into a self-righteous frenzy, while ABCNews breathlessly regurgitates Palin’s “stalker” narrative.

Turns out there’s a little more to the story. From Gawker:

Earlier this year, Palin used her clout with Alaska State Police to get 16-year-old Willow Palin off the hook after she and some high school buddies trashed a vacant home during a bender. The other kids were hung out to dry, and Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley boiled at the injustice of Willow’s preferential treatment. We warned that Palin should watch her back lest small-town high school drama explode in national scandal.

So, another instance of the Lamestream Media trying to ruin Sarah Palin’s life, right? Actually, it appears this whole situation was orchestrated by a vengeful neighbor. McGinniss’ son said in an email reprinted by Politico that his dad was offered the spot by Palin’s neighbor because the Palins owed her money:

“A woman was renting her house and sought out the author because the Palins had crossed her (owed her money for renovations she had done at their request and never paid her for). So she knew McGinniss was writing the book and found him and offered him the house.”

“The Selling of the President” (Joe McGinniss)

The Palins apparently tried renting the place all winter to head off any Liberals. Not only did her neighbor refuse, she called up McGinniss and was like, “Hey, got this awesome house right across from Sarah Palin. Want?” There’s no purer form of small-town drama than the stiffed contractor out for non-monetary revenge. Unlike those in New York or LA, where the elitists settle their labor disputes with fancy lawyers, small-town builders have the means to hit back in way more satisfying ways. (Momof3wildkids points out that the email may actually be saying that Palin asked her neighbor to fix up her own house, promised to pay for it, then stiffed her in the end. Nervy!)

Palin’s rise was based on a creation myth that had her springing from a fantasy Real America that loves guns and embryos and hates immigrants and socialists. But the Real America Palin really inhabits just wants her to stop acting like a diva and to cough up the 1500 bucks or whatever she owes them for building her deck.

(click to continue reading Ha! Sarah Palin’s Neighbors Sought Out McGinniss, Rented Him House Because Palin Stiffed Them. | Crooks and Liars.)

Poor, poor Sarah, even her neighbors are against her.

Sarah Palin and TLC

The rumors are Discovery Communications1 is paying Ms. Palin $1,000,000 an episode for some Alaskan reality-esque show. Nice work if you can get it, no? But will it be worth it to the network? Will the controversy keep blue chip advertisers from sponsoring the show, ala the highly successful boycott of Glenn Beck’s show?

Wrong Bus
[Wrong bus, Juneau, Alaska]

Sarah Palin used to say the only difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom was lipstick, but now she might hope that advertisers didn’t take that line too seriously.

It’s the hockey mom, after all, that would attract more marketers to “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” the eight-part documentary series that Discovery Communications has acquired for its TLC channel.

The show will be supervised by Mark Burnett, the force behind such TV hits as CBS’s “Survivor” and NBC’s “The Apprentice,” and will strive to “reveal Alaska’s powerful beauty as it has never been filmed,” as Discovery’s chief operating officer, Peter Liguori, said in a statement today. “The deal was just concluded this week and now we begin the development and production,” a Discovery spokesperson added. “TLC is about strong characters and compelling narratives, and there is absolutely no intention of making a political program whatsoever.”

But Ms. Palin, a figure as polarizing as she is charming, will be the star attraction. Even though the show won’t be political, her central role will have an effect on its audience and ad support.

Ad buyers are already suggesting that the show may not attract advertising from big marketers that need to appeal to the broadest possible audience. Smaller players, on the other hand, may see opportunity.

[Click to continue reading Will Marketers Buy Into ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’? – Advertising Age – MediaWorks]

Testimonial Kodachrome

And as many others have pointed out, Sarah Palin on a science channel? Sarah Palin who doesn’t believe in evolution, as if evolution is just an opinion to agree or disagree with; Sarah Palin who thinks man and dinosaurs walked the earth together, slightly over 6,000 years ago? Sarah Palin the avowed hater of secular liberalism, and presumedly anti-science? She’s the one getting multiple millions of dollars to appear on TLC? Why not just piss your corporate dollars in the ear of a dead moose and film that?

In tough economic times, “a lot of cable networks are walking away from their brands and trying to get ratings,” said Mr. Berger2. “They’ll do anything they can do to get ratings and it’s a short-term fix, but I think it’s really hurting many networks in the long term,” because such stunts often draw broader audiences that don’t stick with the channel.

Critics have already pointed out that Ms. Palin’s track record on the environment doesn’t necessarily pair up with that of Discovery Communications, TLC’s parent. In 2008, the company launched Planet Green, a cable channel devoted to sustainability, and a companion website, Ms. Palin, on the other hand, has come to be associated with the chant “Drill, baby, drill,” for advocating the drilling of natural gas and oil in her home state.

  1. corporate parent of TLC []
  2. Ira Berger, director-national broadcast, at Dallas independent Richards Group []

Clear-cutting Tongass National Forest is a crime

Quite disappointed that the Obama administration gave the green-light to Orion North. If Bush was president, I’d understand, but expected better from Obama. When a forest is gone, it doesn’t come back.

Tongass National Forest Alaska
[Tongass National Forest Alaska]

The U.S. Forest Service agreed Monday to sell timber to a Ketchikan mill in a roadless area of the Tongass National Forest after the Obama administration’s approved the sale.

Orion North timber sale is the first such awarded since Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in May he would personally review all timber sales in roadless areas of national forests in the next year.

He’s doing that while the Obama administration takes some time to review the Clinton-era Roadless Area Conservation Rule, which banned road-building on about 58 million acres of national forest land nationwide but has been challenged since it was issued.

Pacific Log and Lumber, the Ketchikan mill, won the contract to clear-cut 4.4 million board-feet of timber – a relatively small sale – with the option of cutting another 2.4 million board-feet if it’s economical. The Ketchikan-area sale is on Revillagigedo Island in an area that borders Misty Fjords National Monument.

“Just building the road will cost four times as much revenue as the Forest Service is going to get from the timber sale,” said [Tom] Waldo of Earthjustice.

[Click to continue reading Ketchikan mill is awarded Orion North timber – Juneau Empire]

Rain Forest Path - Alaska
[Rain Forest Path, Tongass National Forest]

I’ve briefly been inside the Tongass National Forest, and it is a beautiful, almost magical place. The logging industry should grow their own damn trees on land they own, and stop mooching off of National Forests.

Federal Building 1936
[Federal Building, Ketchikan]

Tongass National Forest Alaska
[Tongass National Forest]

The logging industry depends upon corporate welfare for their profits, and it isn’t viable anymore. Either they need to change their business model, or go bankrupt, and let more forward-thinking companies take their place.

American taxpayers have not only watched as the Tongass has been picked apart by road building and logging, they’ve paid for the privilege. The tab extends beyond $750 million over 20 years. In a single year alone, the Forest Service spent $36 million on the Tongass timber program and got back in revenues only $1 million. Subsidies for logging roads account for nearly half of timber program costs annually.

[Click to continue reading The Wilderness Society]

$36,000,000 on hand-outs, receiving $1,000,000 back. Not good, not good at all.

Possible Palin problem – the iceberg scandal?

It would be unsporting not to speculate what caused Sarah Barracuda Palin to become a quitter.

Where Did I put that damn rock?
[People, maybe journalists, looking for stuff, Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska, 2007]

The Village Voice’s Wayne Barrett wrote about a very questionable construction project back in October of 2008:

THE $12.5 MILLION sports complex and hockey rink that is the lasting monument to Palin’s two terms as Wasilla mayor is also a monument to the kind of insider politics that dismays Americans of both parties. Six months before Palin stepped down as mayor in October 2002, the city awarded nearly a half-million-dollar contract to design the biggest project in Wasilla history to Kumin Associates. Blase Burkhart was the Kumin architect on the job—the son of Roy Burkhart, who is frequently described as a “mentor” of Palin and was head of the local Republican Party (his wife, June, who also advised Palin, is the national committeewoman). Asked if the contract was a favor, Roy Burkhart, who contributed to her campaign in the same time frame that his son got the contract, said: “I really don’t know.” Palin then named Blase Burkhart to a seven-member builder-selection committee that picked Howdie Inc., a mostly residential contractor owned at the time by Howard Nugent. Formally awarded the contract a couple of weeks after Palin left office, Nugent has donated $4,000 to Palin campaigns. Two competitors protested the process that led to Nugent’s contract. Burkhart and Nugent had done at least one project together before the complex—and have done several since.

A list of subcontractors on the job, obtained by the Voice, includes many with Palin ties. One was Spenard Builders Supply, the state’s leading supplier of wood, floor, roof, and other “pre-engineered components.” In addition to being a sponsor of Todd Palin’s snow-machine team that has earned tens of thousands for the Palin family, Spenard hired Sarah Palin to do a statewide television commercial in 2004. When the Palins began building a new family home off Lake Lucille in 2002—at the same time that Palin was running for lieutenant governor and in her final months as mayor—Spenard supplied the materials, according to Antoine Bricks, who works in its Wasilla office. Spenard actually filed a notice “of its right to assert a lien” on the deed for the Palin property after contracting for labor and materials for the site. Spenard’s name has popped up in the trial of Senator Stevens—it worked on the house that is at the center of the VECO scandal as well.

Todd Palin told Fox News that he built the two-story, 3,450-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath, wood house himself, with the help of contractors he described as “buddies.” As mayor, Sarah Palin blocked an effort to require the filing of building permits in the wide-open city, and there is no public record of who the “buddies” were. The house was built very near the complex, on a site whose city purchase led to years of unsuccessful litigation and, now, $1.3 million in additional costs, with a law firm that’s also donated to Palin collecting costly fees from the city.

[Click to continue reading New York News – The Book of Sarah (Palin) – page 5]

Perhaps some very damning evidence has recently emerged to bolster the ethics imbroglio Mr. Barrett describes? Whatever will we do without Ms. Palin to ridicule? Her understudy / loonie-in-waiting Michele Bachmann is nowhere near ready to assume the mantle, yet, until she either gets carted away to an interment camp, or gets selected by Mitt Romney in 2012. Maybe Palin’s scandal is even worse than this one, I suspect we’ll know pretty soon.

Straight Talk From Sarah

Gail Collins laughs, as so many of us are this weekend, at Sarah Barracuda Palin and her quitter’s mentality.1

Truly, Sarah Palin has come a long way. When she ran for vice president, she frequently became disjointed and garbled when she departed from her prepared remarks. Now the prepared remarks are incoherent, too.

“And a problem in our country today is apathy,” she said on Friday as she announced that she would resign as governor of Alaska at the end of the month. “It would be apathetic to just hunker down and ‘go with the flow.’ Nah, only dead fish ‘go with the flow.’ No. Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time … to BUILD UP.”

Basically, the point was that Palin is quitting as governor because she’s not a quitter. Or a deceased salmon.

Sarah Barracuda made her big announcement Friday afternoon on the lawn of her home to an audience that appeared to include only Todd, the kids and the next-door neighbors. Smiling manically, she looked like a parody of the woman who knocked the Republicans dead at their convention. She babbled about her parents’ refrigerator magnet, which apparently had a lot of wise advice. And she recalled her visit with the troops in Kosovo, whose dedication and determination inspired her to … resign.

“Life is about choices!” declared the nation’s most anti-choice politician.

[Click to read more of Gail Collins – Sarah’s Straight Talk –]

house, Ketchikan Alaska
[House and Car, Ketchikan, Alaska]

So far my favorite Palin resignation piece is the Daily Kos diarist who turned portions of Palin’s speech into free verse:

and im not gonna put alaskans through that

i promised efficiency

and effectiveness

thats not how im wired

im not wired to operate

under the same old politics as usual

i promised that four years ago

and i meant it

it thats not what is best for alaska at this time

im determined to take the right path for alaska

even though it is unconventional

and its not so comfortable

with this announcement

that im not seeking reelection

ive determined its best to

transfer the authority of governor

to lieutenant governor parnell

and i am willing to do this

so that this administration

with its positive agenda

and its accomplishments

and its successful road to

an incredible future for alaska

so that it can continue without interruption

and with great administrative and legislative success

There’s more if you’re interested. It almost makes Palin’s babbling readable, actually. Continue reading “Straight Talk From Sarah”

  1. sorry for the poor grammar, but I need more coffee still. First draft is the version that makes it onto this blog anyway. []

Reading Around on July 2nd

Some additional reading July 2nd from 13:49 to 19:05:

  • Travel With Your Mind: Sky Saxon Remembered – Sky Saxon, lead singer with 60s garage punk legends the Seeds, died on the morning of June 25, 2009 (or as his official web site put it, he “passed over to be with YaHoWha”); as it happened, he died the same day as both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, ensuring that the entertainment press, who might have been expected to treat his passing like a one-line filler item, didn’t even give it that much attention. But Saxon hadn’t been a celebrity in the traditional sense for a very long time. Sky may have been a rock star for about two years on the strength of the singles “Pushin’ Too Hard” and “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine,” but after those twenty-four months as a bargain-basement Mick Jagger, he evolved into Flower Power’s Last Man Standing, a guy who let his freak flag fly with a wild-eyed sincerity that made most of his peers from the Sunset Strip scene look like weekenders, and transformed his story into something far more interesting than the typical two-hit wonder and cult hero.
  • The Perfect Burger and All Its Parts – – While some chefs have groused quietly about the insatiable demand for burgers, most are philosophical. “All chefs can be frustrated by the buying public sometimes,” said Clark Frasier, a chef with restaurants in Massachusetts and Maine. “In this economy I’m happy to sell anything they want to eat.”

    All this high-powered attention has produced some new ways of thinking about and cooking burgers. Interviews with 30 chefs provided dozens of lessons for the home cook that aren’t terribly difficult and don’t cost much money. And it all yielded the ideal burger.

  • Daily Kos: How a Kos diarist helped spark McCain-Palin infighting – Schmidt put the matter to rest with an breathtaking reply to Palin:

    "Secession," he wrote. "It is their entire reason for existence. A cursory examination of the website shows that the party exists for the purpose of seceding from the union. That is the stated goal on the front page of the web site. Our records indicate that todd was a member for seven years. If this is incorrect then we need to understand the discrepancy. The statement you are suggesting be released would be innaccurate. The innaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speeks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country

How John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin

Jane Mayer has an interesting piece of reporting, covering how two boatloads of conservative pundits made the trek up to visit with Sarah Palin in 2007. John McCain shouldn’t have listened to them, especially since so many conservatives now have second thoughts about Palin’s competence.

Amsterdam in Sitka

The selection of Palin thrilled the Republican base, and the pundits who met with her in Juneau have remained unflagging in their support. But a surprising number of conservative thinkers have declared her unfit for the Vice-Presidency. Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist, recently wrote, “The Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It’s no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain.” David Brooks, the Times columnist, has called Palin “a fatal cancer to the Republican Party.” Christopher Buckley, the son of National Review’s late founder, defected to the Obama camp two weeks ago, in part because of his dismay over Palin. Matthew Dowd, the former Bush campaign strategist turned critic of the President, said recently that McCain “knows in his gut” that Palin isn’t qualified for the job, “and when this race is over, that is something he will have to live with. . . . He put the country at risk.”

Palin initially provided the McCain campaign with a boost, but polls now suggest that she has become a liability. A top Republican close to the campaign said that McCain’s aides have largely kept faith with Palin. They have been impressed by her work ethic, and by what a quick study she is. According to the Republican close to the campaign, she has sometimes discomfited advisers by travelling with a big family entourage. “It kind of changes the dynamic of a meeting to have them all in the room,” he told me. John McCain’s comfort level with Palin is harder to gauge. In the view of the longtime McCain friend, “John’s personal comfort level is low with everyone right now. He’s angry. But it was his choice.”

[From How John McCain came to pick Sarah Palin.: The Insiders: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker]

Well worth reading the entire article

Sarah Palin – Black Helicopter Mama

David Neiwert and Max Blumenthal went to Wasilla, Alaska to get more details about Sarah Palin’s secessionist pals. They interviewed several Wasilla residents, spent time researching primary documents at the local library1 and so on.

Helicopter with Camera

Essentially here’s what we found:

  • That Gov. Palin, when a Wasilla city council member, formed an alliance with some of the more radical far-right citizens in Wasilla and vicinity, particularly members of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party who were allied with local John Birch Society activists. These activists played an important role in her election as Wasilla mayor in 1996.
  • Once mayor, one of Mrs. Palin’s first acts was to attempt to appoint one of these extremists (a man named Steve Stoll) to her own seat on the city council. This was a man with a history of disrupting city council meetings with intimidating behavior. She was blocked by a single city council member.
  • Afterward, Mrs. Palin fired the city’s museum director at the behest of this faction.
  • She fomented an ultimately successful effort to derail a piece of local gun-control legislation which would simply have prohibited the open carry of firearms into schools, liquor stores, libraries, courthouses and the like. The people recruited to shout this ordinance down included these same figures, notably the local AIP representative (who became the AIP’s chairman that same year).
  • She remained associated politically with the local AIP/Birch faction throughout her tenure as mayor on other issues, particularly a successful effort to amend the Alaska Constitution to prohibit local governments from issuing any local gun-control ordinances.

[From Orcinus]

The full report is hosted at, take a gander at the New World Order foks, with their preoccupation with Black Helicopters, weaponry, and the like. Sarah Palin is most certainly not someone who should be anywhere near the levers of power in Washington, D.C. John McCain did a heck of a job vetting her, didn’t he?

and YouTube video from Max Blumenthal’s interview with Mark Chryson:

Max Blumenthal interviews former Alaskan Independence Party chair and longtime Palin pal Mark Chryson about his role in Palin’s political ascendancy. Chryson discusses his cooperation with Palin on legislation and campaign tactics, then offers his views on everything from the New World Order to Abraham Lincoln.


  1. presumedly, or wherever such government documents are maintained in Wasilla. []

The Palins un-American activities

David Talbot writes:

Imagine the uproar if Michelle Obama was revealed to have joined a black nationalist party whose founder preached armed secession from the United States and who enlisted the government of Iran in his cause? The Obama campaign would probably not have survived such an explosive revelation. Particularly if Barack Obama himself was videotaped giving the anti-American secessionists his wholehearted support just months ago.

[From The Palins’ un-American activities | Salon ]

On September 2nd, I wrote about the same incident1

Simply imagine the uproar if an associate of Barack Obama voiced such an opinion of the United States – the gnashing of teeth could be heard as far away as the moon.

and concluded:

Simply imagine if somebody, like a preacher at the church Obama attended, for instance2, claimed to hate America and despise the American flag. You wouldn’t even hear of any more hurricane news, the coverage would be so vigorous. However, since Sarah Palin is a Republican, such connections are not worthy of much discussion.

Somebody's Girlfriend in front of the fire

At least Talbot linked to me. Err, well, no, he just had the same thought as me, several weeks later. Such confluences happen, occasionally.

  1. Joe Vogler and his incendiary quotes regarding his white hot hatred of the United States []
  2. Reverend Jeremiah Wright, remember him? []

Palin Lie about Climate Change

More discussion of last nights debate later (still half-formed in my mind, and you probably aren’t losing any sleep waiting for my opinion on it anyway), but this Palin lie jumped out:

99 in the Shade

PALIN TONIGHT: “We have got to encourage other nations to come along with us with the impacts of climate change, what we can do about that. As governor I was the first governor to form a climate change subcabinet to start dealing with the impacts.”


In JANUARY 2007, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick Began Sweeping Cabinet Reorganization to Integrate Energy and Environment to Deal With Climate Change. “The challenge of climate change illustrates vividly the need to integrate energy and environmental policy,” added Governor Patrick, who has begun a sweeping Cabinet reorganization that combines energy and environmental affairs agencies into a single secretariat.” [Gov. Patrick Press Release, 1/8/07 ]

· Nevada Created Climate Committee in April, 2007. On April 10, 2007, “Governor Jim Gibbons today signed an executive order creating the Nevada Climate Change Advisory Committee and named its 13 members. The Committee is tasked with making recommendations to the Governor on reducing Nevada’s greenhouse gas emissions.” [State of Nevada Press Release , 4/10/07]

· By May of 2007, 29 States had Taken Action On Climate Change. “Among the 29 states that have taken steps to curb their contributions to global warming, some have been more active than others. Massachusetts sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and won a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court last month. California, at the urging of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, passed the nation’s most stringent emissions control legislation. California also worked with several New England states to set up the carbon registry.” [St. Petersburg Times, 5/10/97 ]

Palin Created Subcabinet on Climate Change In SEPTEMBER 2007. According to a press release, “Governor Sarah Palin today signed Administrative Order 238 establishing a sub-cabinet to prepare a climate change strategy. ‘Many scientists note that Alaska’s climate is changing,’ Governor Palin said. ‘We are already seeing the effects. Coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, retreating sea ice and record forest fires affect our communities and our infrastructure. Some scientists tell us to expect more changes in the future. We must begin to prepare for those changes now.’” She also said that the sub-cabinet would look at ways to develop the state’s renewable energy sources. [Palin press release, 9/14/07]

[From Barack Obama and Joe Biden: The Change We Need]

So in her mind, being 30th is the same as being first. Interesting math.

The full transcript of this portion of the debate, and a bonus wordie map, here