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“I’ll comment more on this later.  For those who don’t follow this blog, it is one of the best in Alaska.”

OK, its later.

First, Alaska Mudflats, an anonymous blogger from here in Alaska that writes the wonderful progressive blog  The Mudflats, has been outed by a state legislator.  A Democratic legislator no less.  Mike Doogan.

Why?

Who knows.

Mudflats is one of the ways that I start my days.  I hit the Alaska Volcano Observatory, Daily-News Miner, Huffington Post, Anchorage Daily News, and the Mudflats.  Several times a day usually.  Often I hit Mudflats before any of the rest, except the Observatory (but only as of late), because it is more honest, better written, and often a day ahead of any news the paper prints.

Moving beyond my anger and disappointment at this event and recognizing that it quite possibly will silence an outstanding commentary on Alaska politics, an underlying philosophical question comes into play.

Are anonymous bloggers a threat to our society and to our form of government?

Apparently, Mr. Doogan thinks so.

Should people be allowed to speak out (or write in this case) for, or against things, without signing their name in big bold letters for everyone to see?

NO!!!  As Mr. Doogan sees it.

Mr. Doogan, who used to write commentary for the Anchorage Daily News, certainly has his right to that opinion.  On the other hand, does he have the right to enforce his opionion on someone who has chosen to be anonymous, using state resources to do so?  We’ll leave that question to be decided in the courts, at leas that is where I hope it gets decided.

Now, back to the subject, does anonymity have a role to place in a democratic society?

Our founding fathers Hamilton, Jay, and Madison felt it worthwhile to speak anonymously in favor of ratification of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers.  Benjamin Franklin published Poor Richard’s Almanac under the pseudonym Richard Saunders.

Apparently they thought expressing themselves politically while remaining anonymous was worthwhile.  So what does Mr. Doogan know that they don’t?

For one, they had not made a career out of working for a newspaper industry that may well be in it’ s death throws, and a paper specifically whose continued viability has been called into question.  Mr. Doogan’s media may be a thing of the past, in part to the immediacy and honesty of bloggers like Alaska Mudflats.  So, maybe he’s just a bitter, old man.

Another dig there.  Sorry Mr. Doogan, I know you are a great supporter of common courtesy.  Back to the topic.

In my opinion, anonymity can provide a forum for honest and intellectual essays devoid of fear of repercussion or judgement.  I value that discourse in society.  I think it leads to an improvement in the public discourse.  Hamilton, Madison, Franklin, and Jay apparently agreed; as they used the format to present arguments via essay and print on matters as important as our constitution.

If one thinks that political opinions don’t carry reward or risk in Alaska, they are sadly mistaken.  When citizens aren’t allowed to discuss concerns, worries and events in an environment safe from repercussion, what does the future hold?  Particularly in a what can certainly be considered hostile territory for progressives.

I’ve written this blog, intermittently of late, but always anonymously.  But many people know me as the author.  That has been my choice.  I have written about some personal things, including conflict in a group as small as our church.  It hasn’t gone without criticism from some friends and fellow church members who thought I was being unfairly critical and mean spirited.

Perhaps.

My response to them is, “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.”

Needless to say, that doesn’t always go over very well.  The message I’m trying to get across to the critic is that the blog is a personal essay, an exercise in writing about something that one feels strongly about.  When well written it brings about a strong reaction in a reader.  Sometimes it is a positive response, sometimes negative.  Sometimes people are so moved they feel the need to comment and hopefully will enter into a conversation with the author.  If so, job well done.

I like to think of blogs as the modern day equivalent of letter writing.  Before our country was formed, our founding fathers discussed politics and philosophy via  letters.  Jefferson and Adams, friends and sometimes political rivals, shared letters.  Imagine, a civil discourse founded on thoughtful, intelligent debate at the end of a quill, or today on a keyboard.

Compare it to the TV bloviators, where posturing, yelling, and personality take precedence over the rational discussion of ideas.  Can you imagine what Bill OReilly’s blog might look like?  How about Rush?  Beck?  Mr. Doogan?  “I CAN TYPE LOUDER THAN YOU!!!!!!  SHUT UP!!!!  #%$!@@#@#!!!!!

Alaska Mudflats has added to the political discourse here in Alaska; providing insightful, at times funny, at times biting (often to those that deserved bit), political and social commentary.

Our state is entering a crucial time.  Our governor and legislature can’t get along, our governor doesn’t know where the state capital is, our state budget is a shambles, Alaska Natives are making the choice between food and heat, and one of our so-called leaders is using our state resources to hunt down the nefarious threat to democracy otherwise known as Alaska Mudflats.

I hope Alaska Mudflats sticks around.  As I’ve said before, reading Mudflats is part of my daily routine.  If it goes away, I’ll miss it greatly.  I feel deeply for Alaska Mudflat’s family, and hope they remain safe.  I hope they feel safe.  The loss of ones comfort and security in their own home, their own community, can be one of the greatest losses one can have short of a loved one.

To anyone offended by Mr. Doogan’s actions, especially Alaskans, his contact info is below:

Mike Doogan
Ph: (907) 465-4998
Or (800) 689-4998
Fax: (907) 465-4419

doogan@akdemocrats.org

Representative_Mike_Doogan@legis.state.ak.us

doogans@gci.net

If you want to keep up with what other bloggers are saying about this event, check out Immoral Minoritys blog where there are links to what everyone is saying.
UPDATE: Another link to with updates and commentary at  the Mudflats Forum.

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Discontinuous permafrost is nearing 3 months of age. I thought it would be interesting to look back at my blog, to see if my posts met my expectations, if there is any trend in their content, what my best and worst comment was, and what surprises blogging held in store for me.

Let’s get started. Including my first post on November 17, 2007, “Book Wars“, I have made 33 posts. Of those, 16 had content categorized as society, 12 on fatherhood, 9 on religion, and the lowest category was architecture with 1 post. Most of my posts I place in multiple categories, so the totals won’t add up.

A surprise to me is that only one post regarded architecture, and that was a letter to the magazine Sunset to criticize an article on sustainable design. I expected to write more on architecture and sustainability (5 posts).

My category Society is kind of a catch all, almost everything in some way references society. As a result, I may drop that as one of my categories and try to be more specific.

I expected fatherhood to be one of my top categories, and it is. Children are all encompassing, and there is so much wisdom and humor in their everyday lives it makes for great content. And it is fun to write about. The grandparents and relatives like it too, much more I suspect than my religious or political ravings.

Speaking of the religious and political posts, I’m surprised my blog has taken on those topics. I expected to hit on them a bit, but mostly as a side to other subjects. My recent increased involvement in church (it waxes and wanes) has stirred my spiritual side, which I’ve been sharing here. Writing is cathartic, and it helps me to order my thoughts on this complex subject.

However, posting my thoughts and beliefs is questionable. I’m a pretty private and reserved person, in many regards, and sharing my personal beliefs is difficult. Furthermore, I don’t believe in intruding into the private choices of other people, which one can easily do when speaking about these sensitive topics.

Case in point, I added the emblem to the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) early on when I started the blog. The FSM is a protest against creationism, and an argument for true science. However, some take it as an assault on faith. I see it as exactly the opposite, and will write more on that subject someday. For here, when I hesitated to post it, afraid that I might offend someone, family included, Jane encouraged me to let the monster fly.

“Its your blog, if they don’t like it, they can turn it off.”

So I did. (Warning! Don’t click the monster if you have a delicate constitution when it comes to discussing, or mocking, the non-science of creationism.)

Afterwards, I became a bit more comfortable with expressing my own views after that. Lighting didn’t strike me down, I didn’t grow horns or a bifurcated tale. I resolved that if someone finds my blog offensive, they can choose not to read it or can enter into a “commentsation” with me about it. I do hope my writing engenders people to think, even if they don’t agree with me.

Last, posting my personal thoughts has incorporated a discipline to my writing that I would not otherwise have. I edit it (a little), but do spend more time envisioning how to compose a piece so that it develops a theme one can follow and enjoy from start to finish.

Speaking of other people, let’s look at comments. My post align the constitution with god, mine had the most comments at a total of 10. Some of the best and worst comments also come from that post.

In the runner-up to worst Neogotchi wrote “hello! i luv your site, and I’m glad to meet another Christian blogger! stop by mine @ http://scripture4u.wordpress.com Keep in the Faith!! –neogotchi“. Clearly, he/she didn’t read the post and was just trying to get more traffic to their own site.

The worst was from thenumbertoo, who very clearly took the piece too seriously, missing it entirely as it went sailing above his/her head. I won’t quote the comment here, it is way too long. Follow this link if you want to read it.

The runner-up for best came from sean, who said the following, “Let me start by saying I am a fundamentalist, evangelical wingnut, and I thought this post was hilarious. I like your sense of humor.” It is one thing to get compliments from like minded people, but to know my humor is enjoyed by folks from “the other side” is even better.

The best comment was from the post a fallen soldier, and is from Jean, “Forever grateful to call you my son!!! You are amazing.” What more can I say. Thanks Mom!!

My most popular post was also align the constitution with god, mine. Leave it too religion and politics to rile up the masses, all 116 of them.

Finally, Discontinuous Permafrost has had 2,211 hits since it was started, with a best day total of 145, and a best week of 534 views (last week).

In closing, Discontinuous Permafrost has been a great deal of fun for me. It has a encouraged me to begin writing more regularly, to experiment with styles and topics. It has kept distant friends and relatives in touch with what is going through my mind, though like me I doubt they understand it. (If you do, please give me a call, I could use a goodtranslator .) Best of all, this has been an opportunity to open up and pour out some of the stories and thoughts I’ve bottled up inside over the years.

So pull up your chair, get out your glass and fill it up, there’s plenty more to go around. And if you brought your own bottle, crack it open, let’s have a taste of what you brought!

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