Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Anchorage Flirts With Snow




Tuesday was a bit hectic as I tried to finish My Name Is Red before my book club meeting (didn't make it), deal with insurance companies, and pack and clean the house for the house sitter before I trip south.

It rained most of the day and in the afternoon the rain alternated with snow flakes, but not enough to stick.  But our book club meeting was on the Hillside about 1000 feet above sea level.  And there, by the time I left (early to finish packing at get to the airport), there was snow sticking.









Back closer to sea level at the airport, the spotlight outside just after security highlighted the falling flakes.  I used a neon filter in Photoshop for this one.










We left late due to computer problems at the Anchorage Airport, which included reading each boarding pass to someone over the phone.  In Seattle?  She was too busy to ask.

But once again I was pleased with how Alaska Airlines has mastered the logistics problem of getting people's luggage into the terminal quickly.  And I wonder why other airlines can't match them.  Here's the carousel 15 minutes after the door opened on the plane.  The luggage is there, but not many of the passengers had made it yet.    Maybe because it was it was 6:30 am.  But it happens on almost all the flights we've been on and we've been on a lot lately.





 And Alaska Airlines gives out $25 vouchers for future flights for people whose baggage isn't there in 20 minutes from getting into the terminal.




We walked the mile from the bus stop to my mom's house (it will always be 'my mom's house' I think) then I got on the bike before it got too warm and rode out to the beach.  I felt like a puppy who'd been locked up inside all day.  It felt great.

I looked at this Quixote sign and wondered why it seemed familiar.  Then I remembered I'd just read an LA Times article online the other day about the CEO.

"Mikel Elliott is co-founder and chief executive of Quixote Studios, the entertainment industry's premier studio and equipment rental company, presiding over a fleet of Hollywood's most elegant talent trailers and motor homes as well as more than 1 million square feet of movie, TV and music soundstages, production offices and parking lots."
 This was in the parking lot just north of the Santa Monica pier.

In another Santa Monica parking lot there were cops on motorcycles driving through an orange cone obstacle course.  It looked like they were training - going through narrow curves.






There was a group waiting their turn.






Been cleaning out the room where my mom had her computer - hoping, but not really expecting, to find the keys to the safe deposit box. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It's Confusing But It's Not That Hard

It seems churlish to leave comments about grammar on someone's blog.  I know how easy it is to write 'their" instead of 'there'   or even 'won' instead of 'one.'  It's not that I don't (do not) know, but my fingers hear what they want and I have to track down their mischief.  And spell check doesn't (does not) help.  So I'm doing it here. 

It would be nice if there was a homonym checker.  Every time you wrote a word with a common homonym - say, 'red' and 'read' - it would mark the term and give you options with definitions and even an example sentence.

But my focus today is on IT'S and ITS.   The blog post I read had the word spelled consistently incorrectly, so it wasn't (was not) simply a typo.


Ways to remember:

1.   The apostrophe (') takes the place of a missing letter.  OK, the first exception is when it's signifying a possessive, which happens here, BUT  in  IT'S it does signify a missing letter.

IT'S  =  IT IS   The missing letter is the I in I
(or IT HAS in which case the ' has to replace two letters)

2.  The three singular pronouns - he, she, and it -  when possessive, all end in S WITHOUT an apostrophe:

HIS
HERS
ITS

There are further complications, but you know you wouldn't write hi's, so you also shouldn't write it's for the possessive its. 

EXAMPLES:    The dog put the bone in its doghouse.

                           It's (It has) been chilly lately.  


If you think you've got it, here's (here is) a self correcting test of it's and its.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Keeping My Head Low





Like these two swans at Potter Marsh yesterday, I'm keeping my head low, getting ready to head south.  With a long to do list here, don't have time to blog on things important (it takes too long).  Yesterday, I escaped to Potter Marsh to sit and read My Name Is Red for my book club that meets tomorrow night.  REALLY good book and I'm sure I'll do some posts on it later, but now I just have to finish it and other loose ends before we go back to take another stab at cleaning out my mom's house and then getting some grandpa time in Seattle on the way home.

All this post death stuff has been affecting my stress level.  I'd decided to check on my blood pressure again and my home monitor was giving high readings.  Went to the doctor today and was reassured on two levels:  1.  my home monitor gave higher readings than their office monitor  and 2.  blood pressure levels for over 65 tend to be higher.  (Looking this up just now - something I was hoping to avoid in this post) showed less about the target blood pressure range and more about lack of good data and a range of opinions from the doctors.  I'm just not going to worry.  They said I was healthy otherwise.  But not so healthy that I got away without a flu shot and a pneumonia shot. 

So yesterday I sat in the car at a Potter Marsh pullout, watched swans and read my book as the wind now and then buffeted the van.   The swans were clearly loading up for their flight south - with their head below water much more than not.







And I walked the empty boardwalk.


Hanging out in the van with the book and the swans and a little walk on the boardwalk as it started to rain was what I needed.  Got well into this incredible tale that takes place in late 16th Century Istanbul and is loosely based on real a real workshop of court miniaturists.  Lots to think about that's relevant to the theme of this blog - how do you know what you know - as they examine the difference between reality and how that reality is represented on the page, and as they tread a fine line between honoring Allah with their work and slipping into creating forbidden idols.  And there's a murder to be solved and a love story as well.  And the author Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Suppose . . .

that you were riding your bike enjoying the weather and saw a young man laying down his bike at the entrance to the tunnel ahead of you.  Suppose he pulled a can a spray paint out of his back pack just as you rode up.  Suppose he looked at you at that moment.

What would you do?  What would you say?

Would you treat this like seeing some rarely seen critter and stop and watch?

Would you not even notice and zip on by?

Would you pull out your cell phone and call 911?

Such were my thoughts as I went through a tunnel and noticed all the graffiti that normally I didn't see because coming from the light into the dark with sunglasses on makes it hard to see.




I'm partial to graffiti, though I can see multiple sides to the issue. 

Movies like" Exit Through The Gift Shop" give one the sense of why people tag walls. 













And of course Banksy takes graffiti up to the top ranks of political art.  His work is artistically first rate, his content is trenchant, and the placement of his work meaningful.  This Anchorage tunnel graffiti is, well, not great art.



If this were showing up on your house or your fence, you'd be unhappy.  At least this is on public walls and in a tunnel where only people going through the tunnel see it.  And if you're speeding by on a bike on a sunny day, the sudden change in light would make it likely your pupils wouldn't adjust in time to even see it.










What is the lure for these budding artists?  The term 'tags' suggests the messages dogs leave on fire hydrants and trees.  How many REFs are scattered around Anchorage?











I did get to talk to several graffiti artists - and these guys had serious artistic skill - at the library's innovation lab graffiti exhibit.  Here you can see  their work and pictures of the artists MENO, ewok, Bisco, and Will.




Some property owners have come to appreciate graffiti and given permission for artists to paint on their walls - as in this example of a Banksy in LA which the gas station owner took with him after he sold the gas station.    But that post also highlights a very young man who was killed by police for painting walls.







This one shows a bit more promise.  There isn't a lot of time to get your work up, unless you come late at night.








So, supposing you came across the creator of one of these Zero Percent for the Arts additions to public works with spray can in hand?


Friday, September 25, 2015

Obsession Records - Lake Otis and Tudor

Verna at Obsession Records
[Note:  my previous post ""Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider"  never connected with feedburner, but you might want to check it out. ]





I had some errands yesterday and took the long way back along the Campbell Creek trail to Lake Otis and passed the mall at the corner.  I'd heard that the Russian grocery there had real rye bread, so I cruised the parking lot.

I found Obsession Records - a place I'd heard about, but had never been open when I looked.  Now it was open (it's open 5-8pm for now while the people there work elsewhere during the day.)  I poked my head in and looked around.

 I like the idea that the turntable is back.  There's a different sound quality - not necessarily better - to the records.

Part of what's called the jazz section.  Artists are arranged in alphabetical order by first name.  I found Nancy Wilson under N.   Records seemed to range between $10 and $24 per album. 

Click to read better


As an old fogie I'm not too current on new stuff and was only fuzzily aware that new music is being released on vinyl, but here's a list of coming attractions.














Here it is from the outside.  It's the mall with Golden Donuts at the corner.  This unit is way in the back.






















And when I got home I got out an old Kingston Trio album. "They're rioting in Africa" seemed very contemporary.   From Oldy Lyrics

"They're rioting in Africa. They're starving in Spain. There's hurricanes in Florida and Texas needs rain.
The whole world is festering with unhappy souls. The French hate the Germans. The Germans hate the Poles.
Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch and I don't like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud for man's been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lovely day someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.
They're rioting in Africa. There's strife in Iran. What nature doesn't do to us will be done by our fellow man."

Oh, and it turns out the Russian grocery is gone.  The sign's still up, but but the shop was bare rooms.  So when I got home I finished the bread I've been working on for days.  But that's another post. 



"Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider"

In case you think that conservative House Republicans have any shred of objectivity left, here's the title of the Judiciary Committee's investigation of Planned Parenthood:
 "Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider"

Note:  This post evolved over time and wanders wider than I expected, but it's all related.
I found this when I was looking to see what the investigation actually found.  It seems this isn't an investigation.  It's more like a Congressional lynching.

What can I say?  This appears to be part of an orchestrated plan to surreptitiously get into the Planned Parenthood offices and make video tapes that could then be edited into a shocking 'exposé' which could then be used to stir up so called 'pro-life' folks and be used at hearings like this.  I'd blogged a little about this recently already.

Though I imagine for true believers who never ask questions about things that support the predisposed beliefs, they are so outraged that they think this should be given as much publicity as possible to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood once and for all.

Defunding Planned Parenthood was also part of the revisions that Sen. Dunleavy tried to slip into his revised Erin's Law during the special legislative session this summer.  It  specifically prohibited school districts from contracting with PP (it didn't label them by name, but it was for 'abortion providers') and even from contracting with any organization that contracted with abortion providers.   It got cut out, but you can see this is a strategy the Republicans must be trying out all over.

Back to the US House Judiciary Committee.  There was one witness who defended Planned Parenthood -Ms. Priscilla Smith, Director and Senior Fellow, Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice, Information Society Project, Yale Law School.  You might want to read her testimony

The other witnesses included:

And two women who say they are survivors of botched abortions.  [Normally I would give them the benefit of the doubt, but since much of their testimony is either misleading or flat out false, I can't be sure they are who they say they are.]

You can read their testimony at the links as well.   But let me show you why I'm skeptical.  Here's a bit from Jessen's testimonry:
"Planned Parenthood receives $500 million dollars of taxpayer money a year, to primarily destroy and dismember babies. Do not tell me these are not children. A heartbeat proves that. So does 4-d ultrasound. So do I, and so does the fact that they are selling human organs for profit."
And here's from an aggressive interview on Here and Now with Dawn Laguens, executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/executive-team-and-national-spokespersons/dawn-laguens#sthash.XEC8zxgb.dpuf
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/executive-team-and-national-spokespersons/dawn-laguens#sthash.XEC8zxgb.dpuf
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/executive-team-and-national-spokespersons/dawn-laguens#sthash.XEC8zxgb.dpuf
executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund - See more at: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/newsroom/executive-team-and-national-spokespersons/dawn-laguens#sthash.XEC8zxgb.dpuf
The $500 million being raised here is money that goes directly to pay for preventive health care services that women choose to receive from Planned Parenthood, so those are reimbursements like any health care provider would get, or any hospital would get, for receiving a Pap test, a breast exam, STD testing and treatment, birth control – not for abortion services, because that is prohibited by law in this country.”
Did you catch that?    There's no appropriation to give Planned Parenthood $500 million.  It's a reimbursement for health services (not including abortions), just like the reimbursements that every health provider gets.  The fact that they get so much is a testament, I would think, to how many people (men as well as women) seek their help.   You can listen to the whole Here and Now interview:



Ms. Jessen also seemed particularly riled up about a quote from Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.  Or maybe she thought it would rile up the committee members.  Her testimony says,
"Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, said the following: 'The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
–Margaret Sanger, “Woman and the New Race'”
I found that pretty provocative myself, so I looked up the book.  Gutenberg.org has it available free in a bunch of different formats.

First, this was published in1920.  Eugenics Archive gives us the context of the American culture when Sanger wrote this:
Eugenic ideology was deeply embedded in American popular culture during the 1920s and 1930s. For example, on Saturday night, high school students might go to the cinema to see "The Black Stork" – a film that supported eugenic sterilization. In church on Sunday, they might listen to a sermon selected for an award by the American Eugenics Society – learning that human improvement required marriages of society's "best" with the "best."
Second, the quote is taken out of the context.  Sanger wrote that a very high percentage of children died within the first five years of life at that time.  She talks about the environment of crowded homes and large families of the poor.  How there was no privacy inside and out on the streets was full of dangers too.  She also discusses how large families make life hard for the women in more comfortable households. Her language varies from dry and academic in some sections to a bit melodramatic in others.  I've highlighted the original quote from Jessen's testimony: 
"The direct relationship between the size of the wage-earner's family and the death of children less than one year old has been revealed by a number of studies of the infant death rate. One of the clearest of these was that made by Arthur Geissler among miners and cited by Dr. Alfred Ploetz before the First International Eugenic Congress. [Footnote: Problems in Eugenics, London , 1913.] Taking 26,000 births from unselected marriages, and omitting families having one and two children, Geissler got this result:
Deaths During First Year.

1st born children 23%
2nd " " 20%
3rd " " 21%
4th " " 23%
]5th " " 26%
6th " " 29%
7th " " 31%
8th " " 33%
9th " " 36%
10th " " 41%
11th " " 51%
12th " " 60%
Thus we see that the second and third children have a very good chance to live through the first year. Children arriving later have less and less chance, until the twelfth has hardly any chance at all to live twelve months. This does not complete the case, however, for those who care to go farther into the subject will find that many of those who live for a year die before they reach the age of five. Many, perhaps, will think it idle to go farther in demonstrating the immorality of large families, but since there is still an abundance of proof at hand, it may be offered for the sake of those who find difficulty in adjusting old-fashioned ideas to the facts. The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it. The same factors which create the terrible infant mortality rate, and which swell the death rate of children between the ages of one and five, operate even more extensively to lower the health rate of the surviving members. Moreover, the overcrowded homes of large families reared in poverty further contribute to this condition. Lack of medical attention is still another factor, so that the child who must struggle for health in competition with other members of a closely packed family has still great difficulties to meet after its poor constitution and malnutrition have been accounted for.
 The book is about birth control and freeing women by giving them so control over their own bodies. 
The basic freedom of the world is woman's freedom. A free race cannot be born of slave mothers. A woman enchained cannot choose but give a measure of that bondage to her sons and daughters. No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.

Wikipedia describes her position on abortion this way:
"She also wanted to prevent unsafe abortions, so-called back-alley abortions,[3] which were common at the time because abortions were usually illegal.[citation needed] She believed that while abortion was sometimes justified it should generally be avoided, and she considered contraception the only practical way to avoid the use of abortions.[4]"

It seems to me that a large number of folks on the far right have worked themselves into a frenzy - with help from Fox News and various figures who have wrapped themselves in religious facades.  They live in a world of us and them.  Facts no longer matter.  People who support abortion rights are linked to Satan. [Note, the link from Militant Church is ambiguous.  It doesn't actually say the rituals described are sanctioned by Planned Parenthood, but it leaves the association very clear for its readers.]

NOTE:  I've been putting notes on this together for several days now and thought it was close to ready when I heard today that Speaker of the House Boehner will resign by the end of October.  While the reasons are still fairly speculative, the constant fighting with what the media call "the conservative wing" of the party (but I'd call the mob wing) plus the Pope's visit are being mentioned by many of the commentators.  Specifically, they say that this likely insures a budget without language that would mean Planned Parenthood could no longer be reimbursed for normal, non-abortion related health services.  In this New York Times article, Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, seems to agree with my 'mob wing' characterization, though a bit more politely when he says:
". . .  there had been “a lot of sadness in the room” when Mr. Boehner made his announcement to colleagues, and he blamed the House’s hard-right members, who he said were unwilling to govern. “It’s clear to me that the rejectionist members of our conference clearly had an influence on his decision,” Mr. Dent said. “That’s why I’m not happy about what happened today. We still have important issues to deal with, and this will not be easier for the next guy.”
“The dynamics are this,” he continued. “There are anywhere from two to four dozen members who don’t have an affirmative sense of governance. They can’t get to yes. They just can’t get to yes, and so they undermine the ability of the speaker to lead. And not only do they undermine the ability of the speaker to lead, but they undermine the entire Republican conference and also help to weaken the institution of Congress itself. That’s the reality.
I'd also note that the Senate rejected a budget bill with language to defund Planned Parenthood.  Kudos to Sen. Murkowski for voting against this bill.

But lest people on the left feel a bit smug as they watch Boehner's departure, let's consider our own mob wing who demonize opponents and don't hear their genuine complaints.  College Conservative cites James Madison's concerns about mob rule and says that concern is still relevant today.  But the writer thinks it applies to the Left.

Finally, let me note my sense of abortion.  I believe people on all sides of this debate would like to see as few abortions as possible.  No one thinks an abortion is, in itself, a good thing.    People who are pro-choice support sex education so that girls and women do not get pregnant by mistake.  My sense is that many in the anti-abortion crowd are also strongly moralistic about sex and feel that sex education programs encourage kids to have sex.  Personally, I don't think kids need encouragement - their bodies are wired for sex.  They need to know how to handle those instincts.  I also believe that in this zeal to prevent sex before marriage, this group inadvertently results in many girls and young women becoming pregnant.  The stigma of the pregnancy because of the moralistic approach to sex boosts the number of abortions.  That's pretty simplistic.  I also think that part of the anti-abortion crowd is simply about men wanting to control women, but that's for another post. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

At Least Ten Legislators attend Alaska Fiscal Forum


While some legislators and their staff are getting bad press for spending $400 and more per night in Seattle hotels and $90,000 altogether for the conference, other legislators are getting their education right here in Anchorage.  There's nothing wrong with going to conferences Outside.  That's how you connect with others and learn new ideas.  But it seems there should be a limit on hotel costs that the state pays and there are questions about why so many needed to go.

That said, I want to at least give credit to the legislators who took advantage of the Alaska Common Ground/ISER forum on Alaska's fiscal future last weekend.  I was able to count ten who were there - that's 1/6 of the whole legislature, about 17%.  (I didn't try tracking staff members so I don't know  how many of them were there.

Here are the legislators I saw:

Rep. David Guttenberg (Fairbanks area)
Sen. John Coghill (Fairbanks area)
Sen.  Berta Gardner (Anchorage)
Rep. Shelley Hughes (Palmer)
Rep. Matt Claman (Anchorage)
Rep. Bryce Edgmon (Dillingham)
Rep. Max Gruenberg (Anchorage)
Rep. Andy Josephson (Anchorage)
Rep. Harriet Drummond  (Anchorage)
Rep. Lynn Gattis (Wasilla)

There may have been more.  But those are the ones I was able to identify while I was there.  (If you were there and want to be listed here, just email me.)



[Note:  I saw Matt Claman early, before I thought about taking pictures of the legislators present.  Later, when I looked for him I couldn't find him.  So I used an old photo I had of him and photoshopped it so it didn't look like I was slipping it in as a current picture.  The original one of Berta Gardner was even more out of focus and so I played with it a bit in photoshop too.]

Shelley Hughes started talking about her reaction to what had happened already, so I asked if I could get it on video. 





You can see Sen. Wilkin's handout to get the precise point Rep. Hughes is referring to in the video about how a slight reduction in the Permanent Fund yields the biggest bang for our bucks.  In fact, you can find links to videos and  all the handouts at the Forum here at the Alaska Common Ground website.  [I'd note that link goes to their main page, so it might have other stuff up after a while, but probably you could poke around and find their links to the Forum materials.]

So I just want to thank these legislators for coming to the forum and showing their interest and being where constituents and non-constituents can talk to them easily.  And some came from outside of Anchorage.  And there were five from the Majority caucuses and five from the Minority caucuses.



And here's a picture of Cliff Groh who was a key player making the Forum happen, along with
Gunnar Knapp.





BTW, I'd note that there was another article in the ADN about the legislators' trip to Seattle.   This one features Sen. Lesil McGuire saying she didn't approve the trips her staff members made and put all the blame on the staff.  The staff members are reported as reimbursing the state.  While she may be technically correct, the article does say the staff member had signature authority.  Good bosses don't throw their staff under the bus like that.  She could have just said that there was a misunderstanding and the money had been repaid without  publicly reprimanding her staff.  She even could have taken some of the blame.  Since most people aren't bosses, they'll identify with the staff and think of bosses they've had who have dumped on them.  Either way, readers will wonder what really happened.  If she had taken the high road, she would have at least gotten credit for standing up for her staff.

 Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, in contrast, took the blame for a letter that most probably was written by her staff member.  I can't be sure what happened, but the link explains why I think the staff member wrote the original letter.  But Dalhstrom, as the boss, accepted responsibility for what her staff did.  Showed some class there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Watching The Pieces On The Chess Board: Climate Change, Ukraine, Oil Prices, Putin Support of Asad, Greek Debt, Refugee Crisis

Let's start with this LA Times headline Tuesday:
"A crisis of unity exposed in EU" 
In the last couple of weeks I've been thinking about how Europe's influx of refugees is causing great disruption in Europe not to mention the horrors that are causing the refugees to leave their homes.  But there's one clear winner - Russia, of course.  A united Europe is not good for Putin's ambitions.

As I see this, we get news about the world in fragments, and often that's how they stay in our brain - fragmented.  But everything is related to everything.  So this post is a way for me to try to connect in my own head a lot of these fragments.    And I'm sure I'm missing a lot, but let's look at some of the moves on the chess board.


1.  Russia's march into the Crimea made for daily headlines such as this back in spring 2014.

2.  Western reaction was strong and included sanctions.   

3.  Sanctions against Russia caused Putin to retaliate including threats to Europe's natural gas supply.

4.   EU stands firm on sanctions.

5.  And don't forget Russia's offer to help Greece with its debt to the rest of the EU.

6.  Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war expands as ISIS comes in.  And Russia continues its support of Syria's Asad.


7.  The Saudis, unhappy with Russia's support of Asad,  have increased oil production, which led to lower oil prices.  Since oil is critical to Russia's economy, the Saudis were hoping the economic impact would lead Russia to drop support of Asad, according to the New York Times.









 8. Back to the  Los Angeles Times headline  that I began with:
A crisis of unity exposed in EU
Some of the 28-nation bloc’s key initiatives are in jeopardy amid deep discord over the influx of refugees.
BY HENRY CHU
   LONDON — Just three years ago, the European Union basked in the glory of a Nobel Peace Prize and boasted of being a tight-knit community bound by “European values” of democracy, diversity and dignity.    By its own measure, the 28-nation club is now looking decidedly less European and even less a union these days as it grapples with the continent’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.. .

So, if millions of Syrian (and other) refugees flood into Europe, critical parts of the European unity get tested.  Schengen - the agreement that eliminated stops at border crossings between most European countries - has been one of the most important symbols of the EU's unity.  And now Hungary's building of a border wall to block the refugees, raises question about Schengen.  Croatia has only applied to be a Schengen member so it isn't a breach of Schengen yet. But now Austria is talking about closing its borders with Hungary, which would be a breach. 

Another symbol of that unity is the Euro which came into crisis with the Greek debt showdown.  And the Russians offered to support Greece against the rest of Europe.

If, in fact, the refugees help break down the European Union, then Russia's European opposition is much weaker economically and militarily and Putin would have much more freedom to treat his people and neighbors as he pleases.   


Abdul Jalil Al-Marhoun  argues that Russia's key goal in Syria is access to the Mediterranean Sea.  While a port in Syria would be a useful base, he argues, it's not essential.  A weaker Europe would make securing this route much easier.  Especially through the narrow strait by Istanbul.


Click to enlarge and focus - map from Wikipedia

The map shows the Black Sea geography.  Russia has a major naval base in Sevastopol which it leased from the Ukraine for, according to a state sponsored  Russia Today article: 
"$526.5 million for the base, as well as writing off $97.75 million of Kiev’s debt."  
After the takeover, that agreement was voided by the Duma.  That's over half a billion savings for Russia and loss for Ukraine.  A Center for Strategic and International Studies article describes the strategic benefits to Russia of this naval base.


Life is much simpler when the news anchors just say "the good guys" and "the bad guys" and that's all you have to know.   And when news is made up of discrete unrelated incidents of video violence.  News is merely entertainment - real life examples of action movies.  But it doesn't help us understand how and why things are happening.  For that you have to think like a chess player - each move is about the position of all the pieces and where they will be three or four or five moves hence.   Certainly Putin, head of a nation of chess players, has in mind strategy such as this offered by the United States Chess Federation:
"When you are considering a move, ask yourself these questions:
  • Will the piece I'm moving go to a better square than the one it's on now? 
  • Can I improve my position even more by increasing the effectiveness of a different piece? 
  • Will the piece I move be safe on its new square?  
      • If it's a pawn, consider: Can I keep it protected from attack? 
      • If it's another piece, consider: Can the enemy drive it away, thus making me lose valuable time?
Even if your intended move has good points, it may not be the best move at that moment. Emanuel Lasker, a former world champion, said: "When you see a good move, wait---look for a better one!" Following this advice is bound to improve your chess." 

Maybe American schools should start teaching chess so American students can learn to think about the long term implications of their actions.


Oh yes, climate change.  How does that fit in here?  From Scientific American:
"Drying and drought in Syria from 2006 to 2011—the worst on record there—destroyed agriculture, causing many farm families to migrate to cities. The influx added to social stresses already created by refugees pouring in from the war in Iraq, explains Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who co-authored the study. The drought also pushed up food prices, aggravating poverty. “We’re not saying the drought caused the war,” Seager said. 'We’re saying that added to all the other stressors, it helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict. And a drought of that severity was made much more likely by the ongoing human-driven drying of that region.'”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Alaska is like a billionaire facing a horrific future as a millionaire."


So said Liz Medicine Crow, the President/CEO of First Alaskans Institute at the Fiscal Forum last Saturday.   I was only able to catch a couple of hours in the morning.  And I only had the back of a Moose's Tooth receipt to take notes on.  I'd also note my quotes are rough paraphrases, not exact quotes.  (I think English needs a paraphrase mark in addition to quotation marks.)  This will just be notes on things that caught my attention.  For an overview of the forum, see Devin Kelly's ADN piece.  And I'll do one more on this covering the legislators I saw at the forum. 

John Havelock, Brad Keithly, Liz Medicine Crow, Gary Wilkin (l-r)



Medicine Crow also said a number of things that don't usually get said at forums on money and budgets.  Some examples:  

I assumed that she was referring to the Alaska constitution's directions in Article VII Section 4
"Fish, forests, wildlife, grasslands, and all other replenishable resources belonging to the State shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle, subject to preferences among beneficial uses" [emphasis added]
When she pointed out an oft overlooked resource:
"Preserve the resource of our humanity."   
Not a resource that's calculated too often in corporate annual reports or even most government reports, but certainly the most important factor of all.

She politely reminded us all that the terms sourdough* and cheechako* are relative as she gave a traditional Alaska Native introduction which places the speaker into context:
"My parents and grandparents are Tlingit-Haida from Kake.  . .  We've been here for hundreds of generations."
She also politely reminded us that cooperation offers more hope than conflict. 
 "In hard times we come together to make do, not for our own interests, but in the community interests."
And that rather than fight tribal power as the previous administration did, everyone would be better off working together. 
"Respectful government to government relations between tribes and state.  Tribes have access to resources, such as through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, which is internationally recognized for how efficiently it provides health care. 

Tribes have access to resources as tribes.  Some examples she gave were for justice and corrections.  Let's look at things differently.  We can find savings, not just cuts."

I found Keith Bradley's comment on multiplier effects interesting, but limited.
"Multiplier effect of spending means while PFD is mostly spent in Alaska, things like construction projects send money outside for things like cement and steel." 
The statement seemed to be an argument for why we should keep the Permanent Fund Dividend in spite of our budget problems.  I thought that pointing out how little money stays in the state when we do construction projects was interesting.  I hadn't thought about that.  But it seems that spending on education and health care and social services do keep money in the state.  Did he use construction as his example because he wants to cut the budget and education didn't support that point?  I don't know.


Gary Wilkin put our dire condition, as did Medicine Crow's billionaire statement, into context:

 "We're the only state with a portfolio of $73,000 per resident."

He got a few chuckles with this analogy: 
"PFD is like a self licking ice cream cone."  
I'm still trying to visualize a self licking cone so I can figure out what he meant. 

*For non-Alaskans, sourdoughs are folks who have lived in Alaska a long time. ("A long time" means generally as "as long as I've been here" and in my mind certainly over 20 years.)  Cheechako's are newcomers. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Alaska State Lottery - Governor [Shania Sommers] Announces Everyone Wins $2072

Screen shot of Shania Sommer announcing PFD amount 2015
Technically, it's not called a lottery.  It's called the Alaska State Permanent Fund Dividend.  PFD for short.  Individuals don't have to put any money down for a ticket.  No numbers are drawn from a hat.  But you can't be a winner unless you fill out an application to demonstrate that you've lived in Alaska the whole previous year, that you aren't a resident of any other state, and that you plan to stay.

The total amount each resident wins (the governor announced that total today)  is calculated by formula (from the PF website):

  1. Add Fund Statutory Net Income from the current plus the previous four fiscal years.
  2. Multiply by 21%
  3. Divide by 2
  4. Subtract prior year obligations, expenses and PFD program operations
  5. Divide by the number of eligible applicants

The fund comes from monies the state collects from mineral related income.  The state constitution says: 
"At least 25 percent of all mineral lease rentals, royalties, royalty sales proceeds, federal mineral revenue-sharing payments and bonuses received by the state be placed in a permanent fund, the principal of which may only be used for income-producing investments."
Originally, it was thought that since oil and other minerals extracted from the state were not renewable resources, the wealth generated should not be used up by just one or two generations.  Instead, it should be conserved for the benefit of all future Alaskans.  It was envisioned to eventually serve as a trust fund for Alaska when the oil revenues ran out.  A small percent would be used each year to help fund the state.

But over the years, Alaska residents have come to view it as an entitlement.  Just this weekend one of the speakers at the Fiscal Future Forum talked about using the earnings of the Permanent Fund as the "third rail of Alaska politics." 

The payoff to Alaskans was originally determined by a formula that gave those who'd been in the state the longest, the most money - the payout was to be $50 per year of residency since statehood. But that was found by the US Supreme Court  to violate the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  The law was changed to allow all Alaskans to receive the same amount.  

I did use the word 'win' in the title and many Alaskans view this as a 'win' though, as I said above, one they are entitled to.  

But I would argue that value of the PFD paid out to individuals may well be less than what we could do with all or even just some of the money were it used for needed services like schools or maintenance of state infrastructure.  

Undoubtedly, the PFD helps many Alaskans pay basic expenses.  And there are a number of Alaskans who economically do not need the dividend.  And there are others who spend their checks  on short term pleasures - drinking, an expensive vacation, etc.   Mine will go directly to the new water heater we had to install last week.  

Others have argued - though the exact proof is elusive - that the dividend attracts lower income migrants with large families from other states.  The $1884 per family member we got last year, sounds pretty good to a family of ten living on welfare.  And even with Alaska's higher cost of living it seems to be good enough to keep folks here.  

The lack of a state sales and income tax, plus the PFD means that most families come out ahead.  

It also makes people who demand that the legislature "spend my tax money wisely" sound pretty silly, because the only tax money they might possibly pay would go to local government for their sales or property taxes.

But then there are many ironies in "the last frontier" where people believe themselves to be ruggedly independent, yet we get the PFD and the state gets much more federal tax money than we contribute. It's easy to be indignant when you're ignorant.  

As I'm thinking about this, I bet Alaskans would be willing to add a lottery twist to the PFD.  I bet we'd be willing to lower the average payout if there was a chance to win some really big prize money for a few who are randomly selected.  I bet most Alaskans would give up 10% of their check for the chance to win $100,000.  

[Note:  I had this ready to post when the governor made the announcement, but was busy at the exact moment.  When I checked the video on the governor's  mulitmedia page, I was pleasantly surprised to see a girl talking about her college plans and how the dividend will help with that.  Announcing the PFD is one of the things that Alaska governors love to do because it's lots of free publicity on something everyone is happy to hear about.  Especially this year when the dividend is the highest on record (by $3). 

But this governor gave that moment of glory to  Shania Sommers.  Another sign that Walker is not only an adult, but also someone who is comfortable with who he is and happy to give away his  limelight to someone else.  Great move on his part. 

 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Brief Notes On: Unintended Consequences, Gay Doritos, Earthquake Prep, And Corporate Personhood

1.  Talking about changes in rules that were supposed to shorten the Republican presidential selection process as reported in the NY Times:
“You’ve got a set of unintended consequences that weren’t planned for,” said Richard F. Hohlt, a Republican donor and Washington lobbyist."
My problem with this is obvious, right?

2.  From SFGate about rainbow colored doritos:
"Doritos are a product marketed to children, so they make the perfect gateway snack to introduce children to the joys of homosexuality," writes Ed Straker of the ironically named American Thinker website. "What business does PepsiCo have pushing homosexuality on our kids?
 While Straker classifies the different colored Doritos – "green are homosexual, the pink are lesbian" – he fails to tell readers how many chips you have to eat in order to turn gay.  Or turn stupid.


3.  LA Times had what looks like a useful  Earthquake preparation quiz.  Other related articles looked more like a Sharper Image Earthquake special catalogue.



4.  Something for liberals to think about in a January/February 2015 Washington Monthly piece: Let Us Now Praise Corporate Persons.   I haven't totally figured out all the implications of what he's arguing or whether there are other fixes that would solve the problems he raises OR whether the Move To Amend people are, as he implies, using an axe to do brain surgery on the constitution. Here are some appetizers for the rest of the article. 
Citizens United was a bad decision; but the cry of “Corporations are not people!” isn’t helping fix the problem—in fact, it’s making it worse.
By Kent Greenfield

"The American left is notoriously fractious. But one belief that unites more than most is this: corporations are not people. .  .

But the attack on corporate personhood is a mistake. And it may, ironically, be playing into the hands of the financial and managerial elite."
He gives some examples of cases where he claims corporate personhood is important.
"In a legal system without corporate personhood, the channel for that outrage [after the Deepwater oil spill]  would be limited to lawsuits and criminal inquiries against individual human beings responsible—managers, workers, and contractors. That’s important, of course. In any legal jurisdiction worth its salt, the search for culpable individuals has to be part of the settling-up of any man-made disaster. But it should not be all. No human being—except, perhaps, Bill Gates—would have enough money to compensate those harmed by a massive disaster like Deepwater Horizon. Because a corporate entity is also on the hook, there’s a chance for something approaching real compensation or real responsibility. Corporate personhood is thus not only a mechanism for the creation of wealth (by encouraging investment), it is also a mechanism for enforcing accountability (by providing a deep pocket to sue)."

Another example he offers is the NY Times and Washington Post using their corporate first amendment rights to publish the Pentagon Papers (classified RAND studies that disputed what the public was being told about the Vietnam war.)
"In 1971, for example, the government sought to stop the New York Times, a for-profit, publicly traded media conglomerate, and the Washington Post, which had gone public as a corporation only a few weeks previously, from publishing the leaked Pentagon Papers. The Supreme Court correctly decided that the newspapers had a First Amendment right to publish. That was one of the most important free speech decisions of the twentieth century. At the time, no one seriously suggested that the correct answer to the constitutional question was that the Times and the Post, as corporations, had no standing to bring a constitutional claim at all. (And for those of you saying to yourselves, “Well, this isn’t a good example, since the newspapers are protected by the First Amendment’s press clause”: the Court has never given any greater substance to the press clause not already covered in the freedom of speech."
 My reaction is that corporations could have some other kind of identity - say as corporations - that has the kinds of protections he says they need, without giving them access to the rights of human beings.  He points out that corporations can't vote (at least not at the ballot box).  He knows a lot more about business law than I do, so I don't know.  Worth reading, if nothing else, to be aware of his arguments and then develop a credible response.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Busy Day - Alaska Budget Forum and Quaker Wedding

It's a little after 10pm and I'm only just getting to my computer for the first time today.  That's generally a good sign, and that's true today.  And I've got lots of pictures and thoughts, but I'm only going to do a preview of posts to come.

Alaska Common Ground's Fiscal Forum

Lots of people at Wendy Williamson auditorium at UAA - I'd guess around 300 or more for this interactive session on Alaska's fscal future. That's a lot of folks to show up for a day of budget talk inside on a sparkling fall day.   And a fair number of legislators in attendance, too.  I counted ten - almost 17% of the legislature.  And not just Anchorage legislators. 




Quaker Wedding


I realize that while I know people who are Friends and I've heard about the silence at their meetings,  this was the first time I've ever been at a Friends' meeting.  And the silences were meaningful. (Making me think of John Cage as I write this.)  In addiition, this was a pretty significant Alaskan wedding.  More at ten.  Oh yeah, it is ten.  Well more later.

[UPDATE Sept 21:  I've put from "this was the first time" to "Making me think of" back into the sentence where it belongs, not dangling  at the end down here as a floating fragment.]

Why I Live Here - Snow On The Mountains After The Rain In Town - Reposted


It's basically been raining for a week.  Sunday there was enough of a break to get in a decent bike ride.  But it's been cloudy and mostly rainy.  Yesterday I almost took my bike, but when I was ready to go to the meeting, it was raining enough that I thought better of it.

But today the sun was dazzling and the sky blue.  And I took my bike to my lunch appointment.  And when I got home I got out the better camera and went off closer to the mountains a couple of miles.





The clouds and mountains almost merge.



The sun was behind this cloud, painting the edges pastels.














Back home, I reshot the picture I took down the street and posted Monday and paired Monday's image with today's to show the additional snow on the mountains.  






And as I got back home, our neighbor was just about finished washing his truck. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
[Feedburner hasn't picked this up so I'm reposting it.  Sorry to subscribers who did get this already.]

Friday, September 18, 2015

Why I Live Here - Snow On The Mountains After The Rain In Town

It's basically been raining for a week.  Sunday there was enough of a break to get in a decent bike ride.  But it's been cloudy and mostly rainy.  Yesterday I almost took my bike, but when I was ready to go to the meeting, it was raining enough that I thought better of it.

But today the sun was dazzling and the sky blue.  And I took my bike to my lunch appointment.  And when I got home I got out the better camera and went off closer to the mountains a couple of miles.





The clouds and mountains almost merge.



The sun was behind this cloud, painting the edges pastels.














Back home, I reshot the picture I took down the street and posted Monday and paired Monday's image with today's to show the additional snow on the mountains.  






And as I got back home, our neighbor was just about finished washing his truck.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

American Rights AND Responsibilities

Democracy is a pain in the neck.  

For democracy  to work, we have to work.

I know, we tend to focus on our rights as Americans more than on our responsibilities.  But immigrants who apply for citizenship also learn the responsibilities.  Maybe that's why Republicans want to keep them out of the country. 


From the United States Citizenship and  Immigration Services:

Rights

Responsibilities

  • Freedom to express yourself.
  • Freedom to worship as you wish.
  • Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
  • Right to vote in elections for public officials.
  • Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
  • Right to run for elected office.
  • Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • Support and defend the Constitution.
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
  • Participate in the democratic process.
  • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
  • Participate in your local community.
  • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
  • Serve on a jury when called upon.
  • Defend the country if the need should arise.


A full one-third of the responsibilities they list involve active involvement and learning:
  • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
  • Participate in the democratic process.
  • Participate in your local community.
And I could argue that "Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others" is part of this, because when people don't respect others - as we see in Congress these days - they shut out any information that might raise doubts with what they want to believe. 

Voting isn't even listed as a duty, but as a right!  You can't exercise the right to vote if you don't understand the issues or know who the candidates are.  And the media aren't doing a great job at informing us.  The presidential debates this year haven't focused much on the details of the issues.  More on not "respecting the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others."

And some of the issues are simply made up.  From what I can tell, the Planned Parenthood video was a well planned hatchet job.  Something like the Swiftboat character-assassination of John Kerry when he was running for president.  First comes the video, then lickity-split, all the Republicans are using it to trash Planned Parenthood.  They even get a Congressional investigation.  Here's a link that reports investigators say the whole thing has been edited and subtitled to falsely make the message they wanted to make, not what the video actually shows.

So, serious engagement in the issues is necessary for a democracy to thrive.  Citizens have to put in the hard work of getting educated.  Not just to learn the sound bytes of the side they support, but to be able to see past the hype.  To be able to cause their uninformed friends and neighbors to reexamine their positions.

I give this long intro, because Alaska Common Ground and ISER are offering a day long workshop at UAA's Wendy Williamson auditorium this Saturday.  It's a chance to do some serious homework on Alaska's fiscal options for the future.

You don't have to pay (but I'm sure they'll take donations.)
You don't have to start from scratch - they've organized key speakers who know this stuff cold.

You just have to go and engage your brain.

Click to enlarge and focus




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ferries First, Then Come The Bridges

Yesterday I had a chance to meet John Duffy, the former manager and planning director of Mat-su.  I asked him about his thoughts on the Knik Arm bridge and the ferry that has been a white elephant for the borough since building a ferry dock on the Anchorage side never happened.

His response was that the ferry was a good idea and the Knik Arm bridge is a bad idea.  But the comment he made that most caught my attention was that "there has never been a bridge built that wasn't preceded by a ferry."   He even volunteered to give me $100 if I could find one.

Did he have any backup evidence on this?  Is there a book on this?  An article?  Is there a way to find this on google without checking bridge by bridge?  He didn't know of any, but he said he just knew this because he worked in this area.  He did add that all the contractors who looked at building the Knik Arm bridge said that they needed a ferry to get supplies, employees, and inspectors across the gap while building the bridge, that they weren't going to do the five hour round-trip drive.  That made sense.

OK, I realize that while Duffy didn't initiate this project, he did inherit it and promoted it for a while. I'd never heard before that bridges don't get built unless there are ferries first.  If this is true, what does it suggest about the future of the Knik Arm bridge?  Duffy's role might give him an incentive to make it look like a good deal, but it also gives him some inside knowledge.  And, as I said, the idea that bridges don't get built unless there are ferries first is new to me, and I suspect to others.   Of the many projects in Alaska that haven't worked out, this one had acquired a pretty pricey boat for nothing and merely needed a port on each end - a minor task compared to, say the Knik Arm bridge project.  If people had supported it strongly, it could have easily happened.  The question is why, really, did the support evaporate?  (I don't have the answer today, but it's something we should be asking.)

But I'm am going to offer what I've found about the idea that bridges are always preceded by ferries.


Googling The Link Between Bridges And Ferries

So I started googling.  Things like 'bridges preceded by ferries,"  which got a number of articles about specific bridges in the US.  But I wanted a larger selection.  So I looked up "10 biggest bridges in the world."  That got me lots of the ad-laden list sites.  So I opted for Wikipedia which gave a list of countries and lists of bridges in those countries.  But they tended to only talk about the bridge and not what preceded the bridge.

I changed my strategy a bit.  Once I got a bridge name, I googled for the river plus crossing with ferries.  This got ferries for every bridge I looked up.  I've got those below.  Of the 15 or so bridges I looked up, I didn't find one that wasn't preceded by ferries.  That's a small sample size, but I looked at bridges in different parts of the world, old ones, new ones, big ones and small ones.  I also have examples of bridges crossing different bodies of water - mostly rivers, but also bays, lakes, fjords, and canals. 

A ways into my search, I did find a general statement about bridges and ferries (and fords.)

From an 1898 book titled Science and Industry, Vol II
"Barring these disadvantages, fords and ferries are adequate for the needs of a thinly settled community;  but, as population and traffic increase, there arises a demand for a safe and certain crossing of streams, whatever the state of weather and water.
This demand always precedes the bridge-building period."


Why Does This Matter?

Why am I making such a big deal about this?  We've got a well paid commission that is working to set up the Knik Arm bridge.  Many people think there is no need for such a bridge.  The Mat-su Borough attempted to develop a ferry at the same location.  They got a great deal on an experimental ship built by the US military and they built a ferry terminal on the Mat-su side.  But they couldn't get Anchorage to build a site on the Anchorage side.

Mat-su finally gave up and put the ferry up for sale.

I had assumed the Anchorage side didn't want the ferry because they were pushing the bridge and didn't want the competition.  But the point Duffy was making was that you need a ferry service to demonstrate the need before you build a bridge.  His point was that every bridge over water was preceded by a ferry.  The Science and Industry text says that outright, but it's an old text.  Below is a list of 15 bridges around the world.  Every one I looked up was preceded by ferries.

Not only are ferries, apparently, important as a first sampling test of the need for a bridge, but Duffy points out that to build a bridge, you need ferries to cross the body of water to take materials, employees, and inspectors.


15 Bridges That Were Preceded By Ferries

1.  SFChronicle:
"Ferries on the San Francisco Bay predate cable cars in the city by nearly 50 years, starting with John Reed, who ran a sailboat from Sausalito to San Francisco in 1826. His business didn’t last long. The American Indians, who paddled across the bay, were faster and much more reliable.
Regular ferry service started in 1851, and the popularity exploded in 1907, when several ferry companies consolidated into Northwestern Pacific (taken over by Southern Pacific in 1928). Southern Pacific’s 43 boats in 1930 were reportedly the largest ferryboat fleet at the time in the world.
The local ferry companies aggressively fought the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge, and they were financially smart to do so. The popular bridges mortally wounded the ferry business, and the final transbay ferry journey of the era was completed in 1958."

Before the Bridges: When ferry boats plied the river - See more at: http://www.wnypapers.com/news/article/featured/2015/02/21/119687/before-the-bridges-when-ferry-boats-plied-the-river#sthash.64ZHPgcL.dpuf
Before the Bridges: When ferry boats plied the river - See more at: http://www.wnypapers.com/news/article/featured/2015/02/21/119687/before-the-bridges-when-ferry-boats-plied-the-river#sthash.64ZHPgcL.dpuf
2.   Niagra Wheatfield Tribune    Grand Island, Niagra Falls NY
The push for Island bridges
Grand Island was purchased from the Senecas in 1815. Forests of oak trees drew settlers for the Island's valuable lumber. Farms then flourished and the Island became a popular summer resort with sprawling, gracious estates, private clubs and summer homes. It officially became a town in 1852. Two ferries provided transportation to and from the Island before the bridges were built. One launched from the former Bedell House in Ferry Village and the other from the site of the current Byblos Niagara Resort & Spa.
Luther's grandfather, Henry Long, went to Washington, D.C., in 1898 to make a case for bridge construction, but he died in 1925 without seeing his dream come true. A decade later, Island schoolchildren were bused to the South Grand Island Bridge for its grand opening, where noted urban planner Robert Moses and other dignitaries joined in the celebration in 1935. Grand Island Boulevard, then called the Express Highway, had been built in 1933-34, Luther said, to connect the two bridges. The Congregational Church was torn down to make room for the highway to come through. "The second set of bridges didn't come 'til the 1960s," she explained. "But there certainly wasn't the flow of traffic that we have now."
- See more at: http://www.wnypapers.com/news/article/featured/2015/02/21/119687/before-the-bridges-when-ferry-boats-plied-the-river#sthash.64ZHPgcL.dpuf
"The push for Island bridges

Grand Island was purchased from the Senecas in 1815. Forests of oak trees drew settlers for the Island's valuable lumber. Farms then flourished and the Island became a popular summer resort with sprawling, gracious estates, private clubs and summer homes. It officially became a town in 1852. Two ferries provided transportation to and from the Island before the bridges were built. One launched from the former Bedell House in Ferry Village and the other from the site of the current Byblos Niagara Resort & Spa.

Luther's grandfather, Henry Long, went to Washington, D.C., in 1898 to make a case for bridge construction, but he died in 1925 without seeing his dream come true. A decade later, Island schoolchildren were bused to the South Grand Island Bridge for its grand opening, where noted urban planner Robert Moses and other dignitaries joined in the celebration in 1935. Grand Island Boulevard, then called the Express Highway, had been built in 1933-34, Luther said, to connect the two bridges. The Congregational Church was torn down to make room for the highway to come through. "The second set of bridges didn't come 'til the 1960s," she explained. 'But there certainly wasn't the flow of traffic that we have now.'"
3.  Duluth 
1906 – 1910: Working Out the Bugs
In March McGilvray reported that the bridge had run perfectly since February 6, handling two hundred to three hundred teams of horses and thirty thousand people a day. He estimated the cost of operating the bridge, including the $4,000 in interest on the bond, at $10,578.31. It may not have been as big a savings from the ferry operation as anticipated, but McGilvray’s spin on the numbers illustrates the bargain that was the bridge: it cost the city “one-fifth of one cent per passenger for operation, maintenance, interest, and power.” He closed his report with a request for the city to install a telephone in the ferry car so its operator could call for help should the car break down in the middle of the canal. It was not granted.
4.  Idaho government webstie talks about ferries in Idaho
In the late1800’s there were hundreds of ferries operating throughout the state, but by the early 1900’s the business began to disappear.  With the population growing, it made sense to build bridges across the most traveled routes.  Once a bridge spanned the river, there was no need to have a ferry.
5.  Columbia River Bridge at Astoria, Oregon:
“The Columbia River span ended the last operating ferry service along the Oregon Coast Highway. The use of ferries at the mouth of the Columbia River began in 1840 when Solomon Smith, Astoria’s first schoolteacher, lashed two canoes together and carried passengers and cargo across the river.3 Ferries intermittently served the area into the beginning of the twentieth century. When the Columbia River Highway (US 30) opened a direct overland link between Portland and Astoria in 1915, automobile traffic through Astoria rose, creating pressure for more dependable ferry service. Seeing opportunity, Captain Fritz Elfving established the first commercial auto ferry service in 1921, when the Tourist I made her maiden voyage. For forty years ferries kept the traffic moving, but there were some drawbacks. For one thing, they were slow. In good weather the 4.5-mile trip took half an hour. Since the boats could hold only a limited number of vehicles, motorists often endured long waits in heavy traffic.”
6.  Chesapeake Bay.
Were there any Chesapeake Bay car ferries?
Why yes, there were once a number of ferries that crossed the Chesapeake, and they transported automobiles and trucks from one side to the other. They were quite popular for a time, actually.
As an example, the Virginia Ferry Corporation operated ferries that crossed the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. They departed from Little Creek (on the border between Norfolk and Virginia Beach) on the western shore to Cape Charles and Kiptopeke Beach on the Virginia Eastern Shore. The heyday for this corporation wasn’t very long. It ran ferries in the years after World War II and into the 1960’s according to the Chesapeake Bay Ferries website.
A much longer ferry tradition existed further up the bay in Maryland. Ferries existed between Annapolis and Kent Island as early as the nineteenth century. They were probably carrying automobiles by the 1920’s or 1930’s according to the Roads to the Future’s Chesapeake Bay Bridge History. Several lines and operators existed between the Maryland Eastern Shore and the larger portion of the state. These included the Claiborne-Annapolis Ferry operated by a private company and the Sandy Point-Matapeake Ferry operated by the State of Maryland
Why aren’t there any Chesapeake Bay car ferries?
That’s another question I often see in my query logs. The answer is simple: Bridges. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel opened in 1964, connecting the two shores of Virginia with an innovative combination of bridge and tunnel segments. Maryland also connected its shores with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952. They weren’t too original with the names, though. This one is just a bridge, no tunnel, as the name clearly states.
The ferries disappeared soon thereafter at both locations. They simply couldn’t compete with the bridges. It might take an hour or two to cross the Chesapeake Bay using a ferry after figuring in waiting, loading, sailing and unloading. It took just a few minutes to drive across a bridge, and travelers didn’t have to worry about sailing times either. Ironically the traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge can get so bad on summer weekends that a ferry is starting to sound pretty attractive again.

7.   From Gulflive, the bridge at Fort Bayou, Mississippi:

Older generations know not to take for granted some of our modern bridges, especially the four-laned ones. In generations past folks often had to rely on ferries to cross bodies of water.
One of the earliest exits out of Ocean Springs was north on Washington Avenue across Fort Bayou. Franco's Ferry came to be operated there by 1875.

Quoting from a book by Chris Wiggins the article continues:
"Ferries came in all sizes and descriptions," wrote Wiggins. "For crossings on smaller bodies of water, a rope or cable ran from one bank to the other. "The ferry guided along this and was pulled by cranking on a winch. For larger crossings a ferry could be propelled by a boat and motor attached to the ferry and no permanently moored cable was required. This was the case across the Pascagoula River, from Gautier to Pascagoula.
"The ferry was operated under a license issued by the county, and public documents provide a record of the rates. In 1893 the fare was: one man on foot $.05, man and horse $.10, man and horse and cart $.15, each driven horse or cow $.02. Interestingly, when the first bridge was completed to replace the ferry in 1901 rates dropped for humans. A man on foot now cost only $.01, but herded animals didn't get a break."
Wiggins noted that the first Fort Bayou Bridge was worn out by 1929 and a new one was constructed. It, like the first one, opened and closed with a swinging span. In 1985, the third and now existing bridge was built. It opens with a draw-bridge (lifting) mechanism, a faster apparatus."

8.  Lake Washington (Seattle Times):
"IN 1939, THE COUNTRYSIDE EAST OF LAKE WASHINGTON WAS FOCUSED on the little market city of Kirkland. In town, chicken ranchers and dairy farmers could buy seed and feed, get a tooth pulled, and stock up on groceries. Every hour, the lake ferry's arrival pulsed trucks, cars and foot passengers through town. But five minutes outside of Kirkland, the Eastside grew sleepy, almost primitive, dotted with worn farmhouses along muddy lanes. The King County Housing Authority worried about rural poverty on the Eastside -- ramshackle houses and poor sanitation.
    To the south, Bellevue was not really a town at all in 1939. "There was no 'there,' there," joked locals, thinking of the handful of stores along Main Street and the endless fields of berries and vegetables. Bellevue was a sprawling, unincorporated district best known for its Strawberry Festival. Along the lakeshore, there were a few elegant homes amid the rustic summer cottages of Medina and the Points -- the Gold Coast of the future.
    But from Bothell to Renton, lake to mountains, the Eastside dozed on gentle country time.
   As the 1940s began, two events awakened east King County to different futures: construction of the first bridge to span Lake Washington and dramatic industrialization of the Houghton lakeshore, in what is now south Kirkland. The revitalized Lake Washington Shipyards would skyrocket on the wartime homefront, only to sputter and fade. But the bridge would turn the Eastside toward a suburban future, and pulled the momentum of growth south from Kirkland to Bellevue."

9.  Istanbul - crossing the Bosporous, from Wikipedia:
Boats have traversed the waters of the Bosphorus for millennia and until the opening of the first Bosphorus bridge in 1973, were the only mode of transport between the European and Asian halves of Istanbul. They continue to serve as a key public transport link for many thousands of commuters, tourists and vehicles per day.

10.  Khabarovsk, crossing Amur River, from Wikipedia
In 1916, Khabarovsk Bridge across the Amur was completed, allowing Trans-Siberian trains to cross the river without using ferries (or temporary rail tracks over the frozen river in winter).
11.  Panama Canal -  Bridge of the Americas, from Wikipedia
"From the beginning of the French project to construct a canal, it was recognised that the cities of Colón and Panamá would be split from the rest of the republic by the new canal. This was an issue even during construction, when barges were used to ferry construction workers across the canal.
After the canal opened, the increasing number of cars, and the construction of a new road leading to Chiriquí, in the west of Panama, increased the need for some kind of crossing. The Panama Canal Mechanical Division addressed this in August 1931, with the commissioning of two new ferries, the Presidente Amador and President Washington.[2] This service was expanded in August 1940, with additional barges mainly serving the military.
On June 3, 1942, a road/rail swing bridge was inaugurated at the Miraflores locks; although only usable when no ships were passing, this provided some relief for traffic wishing to cross the canal. Still, it was clear that a more substantial solution would be required. To meet the growing needs of vehicle traffic, another ferry, the Presidente Porras, was added in November 1942.  [emphasis added]

The Bridge Project

View on Bridge of the Americas
The idea of a permanent bridge over the canal had been proposed as a major priority as early as 1923. Subsequent administrations of Panama pressed this issue with the United States, which controlled the Canal Zone; and in 1955, the Remón-Eisenhower treaty committed the United States to building a bridge.
.  .  .
The inauguration of the bridge took place on October 12, 1962, with great ceremony.

12.  The London Bridge:
"Until Medieval times, the only way to cross the Thames from London on the north bank to the southern suburb of Southwark was by ferry or a rickety wooden bridge. In 1176 all that changed. After successive wooden bridges were destroyed by fire, Henry II commissioned the building of a permanent stone crossing. It took 33 years to complete and was to last – give or take repairs and remodelling – more than 600 years."
I kept looking for different bridges to see if I could find ones that didn't have ferry service first. I looked up bridges built after 2000 to see if new bridges were different.

13.  I found a bridge in Fort Lauderdale, Florida - the 17th Street Bridge - and the history didn't talk about a ferry, but when I looked up "Broward County ferries" I found this
"The fort was later moved to Tarpon Bend, and then to the barrier island near present-day Bahia Mar. A trading post established in the 1890s by Frank Stranahan (1864-1929) at a ferry crossing of the New River became the nucleus of the city of Fort Lauderdale.[3]"
 I don't know that that specific bridge in Fort Lauderdale had a ferry first, but crossing the New River was first done by ferry.   I don't think this bridge will get me Duffy's $100.

14.  I looked for African bridges and found the Mkapa Bridge between Tanzania and Mozambique.
After a lot of poking around I found this (not quite grammatical) evidence that it was preceded by ferries:
"El Nino resulted in a severe flood in 1998 causing considerable loss of life and property
and use of   government rescue helicopters. The Tanzania Essential Health Intervention
Project (TEHIP) as did construction of a tarmac road from Ikwiriri to Mkapa Bridge
which imporvied [sic] the economy of Ikwriri and saved lives and property, the bridge had severe consequences for businesses and livelihoods dependent on the old ferry service." [emphasis added]

15.  Here's a bridge I randomly picked from the Wikipedia list of bridges in Norway:
"Ship services in Nordhordland started in 1866, and in 1923 the first car was purchased.[5] A car ferry service between Isdalstø in Lindås and Steinestø in Åsane on the mainland was established on 7 July 1936.[6] A plan was launched whereby all traffic from Nordhordland would be collected in one place and transported across Salhusfjorden to Åsane. By moving the ferry quay from Isdalstø to Knarvik, the length of the ferry service could be reduced. However, the fares would be kept the same and the extra revenue used to finance a bridge from Flatøy to Lindås.[7] This allowed the Alversund Bridge to open in 1958, and the ferry service from Flatøy and Meland to move to Knarvik."

Some Possible Exceptions

Finding a bridge that wasn't preceded by a ferry is a little like looking for the black swan.  Not finding one doesn't prove they don't exist and there are too many bridges in the world for me to check them all.

There may, however, be some categories of bridges that were not preceded by ferries.  I was looking at a bridge over a man-made lake (caused by building a dam) in Malaysia.  While I can find evidence that there are ferries on the lake, they appear to be more for tourists than traffic.  But I haven't been able to find out how people crossed the river that got dammed before the dam. Probably by ferry in the beginning.  But so far haven't been able to document that.  The river that was damned was the second longest in Malaysia.  But there was a river there before the lake and there was a road. And the road had to cross the river.  Maybe an old bridge and before that a ferry?  Needs more research. 

I also checked on the bridge over the River Kwai in Thailand.  I can't find any real evidence that there was or wasn't a ferry over the river.  But it's possible this part of this river had no ferry.  Since it was used by the Japanese to make a shorter route from Thailand to Burma, they weren't serving local travelers, and weren't concerned about traffic over the bridge, or about the cost of the bridge.

The second case is not a model one would use to justify a bridge without having a ferry first.  The cost of the whole railroad (including this bridge)  in human lives and suffering  resulted in 
"111 Japanese and Koreans. . . tried for war crimes because of their brutalization of POWs during the construction of the railway. 32 were sentenced to death.[3]"[Wikipedia]

I imagine there might be some bridges built out there that didn't have ferries first.  But I'm guessing those bridges were built not to meet the needs of the local folks but of some others who would be advantaged by the bridge.  Like the Japanese railroad bridges in Thailand in WW II.   And I'm guessing like the Knik Arm bridge here in Anchorage.