Tag Archives: Alaska

COVID-19 Safe Distance Measures by State

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health have recommended individuals remain at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) from one another to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  The minimum distance is based on the average trajectory of nasal droplets once expelled from the nose, mouth, or whatever infected orifice a person might have.  (If this person can expel nasal droplets from more openings than their mouth and nose, I suggest they be put to death.  They will be a danger to humanity, no matter what contagion is in the air.)

This “social distancing” has caused some consternation among many people.  For introverts, however, it’s called life as we know it.  But, in order to help people understand exactly what the 6-foot minimum is, each state has comprised analogies for their particular citizenry.

Alabama – 2 outhouses

Alaska – 12 salmon or 2 Alaskan King Crab

Arizona – 5 Native American bead necklaces or a blueprint for Donald Trump’s “Wall”

Arkansas – 5 lists of the state’s 3 family trees

California – 1 surfboard or a chest of old Kim Kardashian press-on fingernails

Colorado – 1 miniature horse

Connecticut – 25 recordings of Donald Trump trying to pronounce Connecticut

Delaware – 6 bags of used Joe Biden hair pieces

Florida – 1 adult alligator or 4 motorized wheelchairs

Georgia – 10 DVD sets of “Gone with the Wind”

Hawaii – 5 floral lei wreaths or 1 lost mainland tourist

Idaho – 1 “No Californians Allowed” sign

Illinois – 5 Chicago pizzas (or 10 boxes of .32 caliber bullets if you’re actually in Chicago)

Indiana – 10 lists of the top 10 names indigenous peoples had, before some drunk White people arrived and screwed up everything

Iowa – 10 late-model voting machines

Kansas – 3 sheaths of whole-grain wheat

Kentucky – 5 cases of moonshine

Louisiana – 10 Mardi Grass beads (preferably neon) or 5 indictments of state governors

Maine – 1 lobster (unboiled)

Maryland – 10-15 bricks from a now-dismantled wall built around Washington, D.C.

Massachusetts – 5 cases of Irish whiskey

Michigan – 10 cases of German beer or 1 illegal Canadian immigrant (in Detroit, use anything that’s bullet-proof)

Minnesota – 5 maps of the 10,000+ lakes in the state (complete with detailed explanations why no one has made a concerted attempt to count the exact number)

Mississippi – 50 audio recordings of school children trying spell Mississippi

Missouri – 50 video recordings of school children misspelling Mississippi as Missouri

Montana – 3 taxidermy moose heads

Nebraska – 1 bovine calf or a University of Nebraska cheerleader (whichever is closest and not sleeping at the moment)

Nevada – 500 poker chips or 1 topless showgirl

New Hampshire – 1 10’x 6’ slab of granite or 5 “We Are NOT Vermont!” signs

New México – 1 saguaro cactus frond (unshaven)

New York – 1 life-size inflatable Donald Trump doll, 5 yamakas, or 10 Brooklyn-made calzones

North Carolina – 5 vintage “Missing: Roanoke – Have You Seen Us?” flyers

North Dakota – 25 copies of “Why God Created North Dakota (Because Minnesota Was Too Cold)”

Ohio – 30 unpublished “Best Reasons to Visit Cleveland” pamphlets

Oklahoma – 15 editions of the latest Indian casino directory (also still accepting donations for the “Back to Europe” movement)

Oregon – Any still-living Grateful Dead fan

Pennsylvania – 25 king-size Hershey bars

Rhode Island – Rhode Island

South Carolina – 10 editions of “25 Reasons We Keep Fighting the Civil War and Still Haven’t Won”, © 1964

South Dakota – 3 cases of malt liquor beer or 1 “White People Don’t Let the Sun Set on You!” sign

Tennessee – 1 statue of Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, or Tammy Wynette

Texas – 1 rifle and a bottle of tequila (preferably José Cuervo)

Utah – 10 Mormon bibles or 25 unused “Romney 2012” posters

Vermont – 10 “Sanders 2020” banners (previously 5 cases of maple syrup) or 5 “We Are NOT New Hampshire!” signs

Virginia – 5 replicas of Cutty Sark clipper ships or 10 bottles of Cutty Sark whiskey

Washington – 5 buckets of rainwater or 200 bongs

West Virginia – 25 “There Is NO East Virginia” bumper stickers

Wisconsin – 5 crates of Gouda cheese

Wyoming – 1 life-size replica of a buffalo (NO live buffaloes permitted, as they’ll kick your ass)

“Don’t move any closer, bitch!”

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Exxon Valdez at 25

The usual victims: a worker tries to save a bird after the Exxon Valdez disaster.

The usual victims: a worker tries to save a bird after the Exxon Valdez disaster.

On this day in 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground at Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska and spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude oil.  The oil spread along 1,300 miles of otherwise pristine coastline.  It remains one of the worst peacetime oil spills in world history, second only to the 1979 Ixtoc I disaster, and its effects linger to this day.  One of those effects is that Exxon never fully accepted responsibility, and the people whose lives were impacted the most never received the financial compensation they were due. We can expect that from a multinational conglomerate with trillion-dollar reserves.

In an age before the Internet and Twitter, news of the calamity still spread fast.  At first, many thought it was just a technical issue.  The crew of a gigantic oil tanker, traveling at night, misjudged the topography of the area and slammed into some rocks.  It wasn’t that simple. Valdez captain Joseph Hazelwood had left the navigation bridge around 11 P.M. local time the night before the accident and returned to his stateroom.  He left two subordinates in charge of commandeering the vessel.  When the accident occurred, U.S. Coast Guard officials immediately took Hazelwood into custody and began questioning him.  They also detected the odor of alcohol on his breath and compelled him to undergo a Breathalyzer exam.  His blood alcohol level registered .061, and Hazelwood later admitted to consuming “two to three vodkas” in the hours before the ship slammed into the shoreline.  In 1990, however, a jury in Anchorage found Hazelwood not guilty of public intoxication and two other charges, but convicted him of “misdemeanor oil discharge;” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. Hazelwood did lose his job, and the Coast Guard stripped him of his maritime master’s license.

But, the reaction from Exxon’s then-CEO, Lawrence G. Rawls, only intensified the anger and showed the disconnect corporate executives often have from their own company’s daily operations. Rawls remained aloof for nearly a week after the disaster and then spoke publicly only out of seeming reluctance. He refused to visit the site of the accident and even meet with then-Alaska Governor Steve Cowper who had just taken office four months earlier.

In some ways, Exxon paid the price for its almost-flippant response. Cleanup efforts alone cost the company $2.5 billion, and it paid out an additional $1.1 billion in various settlements. But, when asked how Exxon intended to pay for the mess, one executive merely said it would raise gas prices.

Aside from the livelihoods of coastal residents who depended on fishing to survive, Alaskan wildlife suffered the greatest impact. Responders estimated that as many as 3,000 otters perished within the first year after the spill and have only now seen their numbers replenished to pre-Valdez times. The population of herring also suffered, but their numbers haven’t recovered. Another species that hasn’t recovered is the pigeon guillemot. Their numbers were already in decline before the spill, but the disaster pushed them even further to the brink of extinction. The sight of a large brown bear stumbling along the rocky shoreline, trying to lick its paws clean of the sticky oil, is one particular image that remains with me. Oil-saturated birds struggling for air is another.

Exxon’s reputation suffered as well, but not nearly as much. In 1999, the company merged with Mobil; an $81 billion deal that made it one of the large oil monopolies in the world. In 1994, complicated litigation to make Exxon pay financially for the spill was settled in four phases for a total of $2.5 billion. But, the company, of course, prolonged its appeals, and in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court reduced the punitive damage award to $500 million. In the interim, Exxon (now Exxon Mobil) has reaped extraordinary profits. It hasn’t really suffered. Big corporations never really do. The effects still linger.

10 Worst Oil Spills in World History

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