December 07, 2008

A rainy rock-n-roll weekend

The weather in Homer has taken a turn for the nasty the last few days, with freezing rain replacing the snow we got last week and making the streets (especially the steep side street we live on) slick and dangerous.

So what to do when winter gets oppressive? Well, turn to music, of course. 

I didn't get any pics of Three Legged Mule at the Down East on Thanksgiving weekend, which is probably a good thing as I got a wee bit tipsy with Nova and Uncle Dave, but I did take the camera to the Dan Bern show at Alice's on Thursday. 

I had never seen Dan before. He was great.

My homegirl Shannyn Moore drove down from A-town just for the show. Here she is with Dan and Marhall Crenshaw afterwards.

Saturday night it was Nova and my turn. I fired up the vocal amp and we took turns entertaining Otto and Alice.


For those lucky few who have heard Nova sing, you know she's got wicked pipes and an innovative style. That, and her goulash, is why I married her.

And yes ... that IS duct tape holding the microphone together.

Otto (wearing one sock and no pants) was more interested in playing with Mommy's hair thingy, however. Heathen.

December 04, 2008

Homer News roundup, 12/4

 Hydro project to tap Homer's drinking water

A combination of high energy costs and Homer's unique geography have led city officials to believe the city's main water lines, which descend into town more than 1,000 feet from Bridge Creek Reservoir, should be used to generate hydroelectric power. Now, with $39,000 in local and state funding in hand, engineers can get started on the project, the only one of its kind in Alaska … (read more)

Council may dish up some food tax to balance budget

Faced with a sharp decline in projected revenues, an estimated 68 percent increase in fuel costs and a looming deadline to finalize the Fiscal Year 2009 budget, the Homer City Council held a special meeting Monday to hash out various proposals to mitigate the city's financial challenges.

One idea, supported by council members Dennis Novak, Bryan Zak and Francie Roberts, is to continue at least some taxation of non-prepared foods between Sept. 1 and May 31 … (read more)

Black gunk that fouled heaters, frustrated repairmen identified

Last winter, a mysterious black gunk that clogged up the fuel screens of oil heaters baffled repairmen and fuel companies. After Petro Marine started distributing ultra-low sulfur fuel in early 2008, repairmen saw service calls go from a half-dozen to hundreds.

"I've been basically on the front lines of this," said John Ferrell, "The Toyo Man," who repairs Toyo brand heaters, last winter … (read more)

Homer News, other papers like it, thrive as industry falters

You may have heard the APRN report a couple of weeks ago: "The owner of the Juneau Empire, the Homer News and the Peninsula Clarion is in financial trouble. The papers are all owned by Morris Publishing Group in Georgia. One analyst says there's a greater than a 50 percent chance Morris will have to default on its debts." Since then, concerned readers have called and e-mailed, asking: What does it mean? What's going on? Is everyone OK?

First, thanks for your concern. Life at the Homer News is good -- busy and good … (read more)

A blog by any other name ...

Anchorage radio mouth Dan Fagan has started an Alaska news/politics/opinion website/blog. It's called The Alaska Standard.

Here's what my buddy BJK over at the Press has to say about the new site:

 Alaska Standard’s slogan is “Raising the banner of journalism in Alaska,” of which Fagan says, “that’s in regard to shaking loose some of that bias and giving both sides of the story,” noting “I think we’ve got some great journalists in this state, but I do believe that bias is pretty obvious and injected into a lot of mainstream media outlets.”

In recent days The Alaska Standard’s stories have criticized the Anchorage Assembly’s approval of five-year contracts for labor unions, noted the Permanent Fund’s $10 billion drop in recent months, and taken the Daily News to task for perceived support of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s offer of heating oil to rural Alaskans.

While Flashlight doesn’t always agree with the opinions offered on The Alaska Standard, we have to applaud Fagan’s ambition, especially in the wake of the loss of the long-running conservative Voice of the Times website. And we enthusiastically agree with Fagan on one point: “I think the more, the better; everyone’s going to have their own little niche,” he says. “There’s a lot of opportunity out there.”

A cursory glance at The Alaska Standard reveals it to be ... well ... a blog.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It's filled with opinions, many of them unattributed, like the one in their article about the Anchorage Assembly that the  Assembly is an "arrogant, self-absorbed bunch of buffoons." 

Again ... not that there's anything wrong with that.

I agree with the Press's and Fagan's assessment that there's plenty of room in the marketplace of ideas for a site like this. It may fill the void left by the Voice of the Times (of which I was a big fan and daily reader) and it's always a good thing to have as many ideas and opinions out there as possible. That's the beauty of the "series of tubes" and blogs in particular. 

I love political blogs and read every one that's listed on the left side of this page.

I guess the problem I have is when ambitious sites like this declare their intention to "raise the banner of journalism" and pretend to be something they are not. 

Let me try to be clear on this, as I think I have a special perspective on this as both a journalist and as the former publisher of one of the first politically-oriented websites in Alaska. The argument that many bloggers, AM radio talk show hosts and "citizen journalists" seem to be making is that the mainstream media is so full of biased and political bent, it's up to them to put out information and reporting to counter it. 

And that's just fine. Put out your opinion. Get your thoughts into the marketplace of ideas. But remember one thing: there is, and always will be, a place for trained journalists, folks who spend all of their time chasing the stories that matter to their community and trying to present them in an unfiltered, unbiased way. Sure, journalists have political ideals of their own and sometimes it's difficult to keep those biases from creeping into stories. But every journo I know ALWAYS has that fact in mind and holds close to their heart the true purpose of their profession: to serve their community.

Journalists, unlike bloggers, always have their bylines attached to what they write and face consequences for getting facts wrong or for painting a story in a slanted way.

You are a blog, Alaska Standard, as are the rest of Alaska's political opinion blogs. Go with it. You are not trained journalists, you are sellers of a political idealogy. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that.