Last Thursday at his talk about William Seward and Tsar Alexander II, writer Michael Dunham tossed off a “what-if” that got the Betster thinking. In the Crimean War of 1853-56, the British war fleet attacked Petropavlosk and could have taken Russian Sitka, but didn’t. What if they had? Dunham asked.
To all the glorious women in the world, the Betster apologizes for not wearing red on International Women’s Day. In the 1910s and 1920s the Suffragettes wore white. Back in the 1960s people wore black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. Other than a splash of red, that’s the way social activists rolled in the grayscale era. Just like television, we now live in a glorious and colorful world. It can be hard sometimes to keep track of causes and dates to show your colors.
One of the odd effects of Real Winter have been sightings of things people have not seen in recorded history, or at least the past five years. Unless you’re a small child waiting for spring break, time passes by in such a blur that memory becomes fleeting. So let’s review:
Whew. Homer dodged that bullet. Just when we thought the town might get really stirred up over the annual February Controversy, pfft, the maelstrom died down after the Homer City Council spiked the inclusivity resolution.
Reading some of the comments lately about Homer on social media, the Betster wonders if maybe some of our fellow Alaskans have ever met any of us. Yeah, we have a reputation as a hotbed of social justice special snowflake warriors who haven’t worked since the Reagan administration. We’re a bunch of slacker stoner atheists quick to protest anything, some say.
Wise people who know more than the Betster have been talking about alternate facts. Apparently a spokesperson for the 45th President of the United States suggested a different group of inauguration attendance figures were “alternate facts.”
Some people seem surprised when a big southwest wind on a 20-foot plus tide turns the Spit Road into a big wall of surf splashing on the road. Here’s a life hack, Betseroids. If Kachemak Bay has so many whitecaps it looks like one ginormous washing machine, a high tide will bring all that energy up to the Spit. What do you get when those waves hit the rocks? Kablam! The plow people will be scraping rocks, driftwood and car parts off the road, that’s what.
Twelve days into the New Year and here in our peaceful corner of the universe, so far the world hasn’t collapsed. No well-loved musicians pivotal in the formation of your grandparents’ teen years have died. No big howling winter storms have blown in. Ice has yet to freeze the Homer Harbor solid, although Mud Bay might be there already. The new baby count stands at two. Welcome to the world, Everest and Hope. We hope you climb big mountains and bring light to the world. We’ll try not to mess things up for you.
So far, 2017 has started serenely — almost too serenely. The Betster did visit a bar over the weekend, but only on Friday and well before things got rowdy. Yours truly missed the drink-dance-puke pub crawl and so cannot report on how wild it got. However, the cops report showed one drunk driving arrest on New Year’s Eve that happened at 6:35 p.m. before the free cab rides started and a fight in progress early on New Year’s Day. Homer has mellowed, apparently.
In writing this column, the Betster tries to strike a balance between funny and insightful, with maybe the needle tipped toward insightful. Sitting down late Tuesday night, usually finishing six stories before deadline sparks the creative juices. You’d think this would be easy.
If you noticed a cosmic blip at 1:44 a.m. Wednesday, that wasn’t your imagination. Holy Azimuth, Betsteroids! Yes, that was the time we’ve all been waiting for, the exact moment of the Winter Solstice. The Betster won’t get all sciencey on you and trot out the astronomical explanation. In practical terms, it means this:
• Daylight hours will get longer,
• The night will fade away until by June it will be but a sliver of twilight still bright enough to fish by, and
• The sun will appear to rise higher and higher in the sky.
As the Betster writes this the Internet appears to be down at Chez Betster. No, it’s not the usual dust-in-the-machine issue common at a house with a large furry dog. I tried the canned air trick — the go-to fix-it gadget next to duct tape and WD40. Bupkis. Could this be the real thing, a Kenai Peninsula wide disruption of vital information technology?
It has been the Betster’s experience that some people go a little nuts over the holidays. You know who you are. Not that there’s anything wrong with embracing the joy of the season, but if you find yourself searching for frosted cookie patterns on Pinterest at two in the morning, perhaps you need to dial the ho-ho-ho back a notch.
While you were away dealing with important issues like the syntax of Donald Trump’s Tweets or the recount in Wisconsin, something amazing happened, Betsteroids.
It got cold.
We’re not talking “OMG I have to scrape ice off my windshield cold,” but serious cold, like one bitter December day 37 years ago when the B. first arrived in Alaska from Florida and experienced the joy and wonder of single digit temperatures. If your former concept of cold involves being forced to put on a sweater, single digits can be brutal.
Because we want you to have your paper before Thanksgiving, we’re coming out early this week. If you pick up the paper on Wednesday, Nov. 23, even though the paper says “Nov. 24,” you didn’t slip into the future a day early. We published sooner. Besides, the post office and stores are closed on the big holiday.
Ever since last week’s election, the Betster has been noticing people wearing safety pins. Holy Johnny Rotten! Is this a flashback to the 1970s punk era, when people wore mohawks, bright colored hair, ripped jeans and tattoos? Oh wait — that’s kind of like now, isn’t it? Why all the safety pins?
The safety pin thing came out of Brexit, when the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union. Intimidation of immigrants and religious minorities increased after the vote, so some Brits started wearing safety pins to let people know that they had their back.
Seventy-eight years ago yesterday and today, gangs of Nazi thugs raged through Germany. In two days of terror known as Kristallnacht, Nazis broke windows of Jewish stores, burned down synagogues and humiliated and killed Jews. They rounded up young Jewish men and sent them to concentration camps — the beginning of the Holocaust.
Type in “cute kitten videos” and Google shows 3 million hits. Type in “Trump Clinton” and 450 million hits pop up — more hits than the population of America. The Betster has a question: Why aren’t there more cute kitten videos?
We live in tough times, Betsteroids. Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians and Independents can agree on one thing. This has been the weirdest dang election ever. In times like this, we need moments of joy. We need something to distract us from politics that have gotten so low reading the news is like being in a limbo contest.
Who could have imagined it, Betsteroids? For the first time since women got the vote, something extraordinary could happen. That’s right: the Chicago Cubs could win the World Series. If you like underdogs, the Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians contest is a win-win. The last time the Cubs were at the World Series, Rosie the Riveter welcomed GI Joe back from the war. Cleveland hasn’t won a championship since 1948, and the Cubs haven’t won a series since 1908.
For the past few days a car has laid on its side by a hairpin curve on West Hill Road. The Betster sure hopes no one got injured in that crash. Tow truck drivers probably have been a bit busy this week. Maybe leaving a few VIDs — that’s cop talk for “vehicle in the ditch” — on the side of the road would be a good idea to help people slow down. Someone could spray paint on the car’s bottom “The laws of physics are strictly enforced.”