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Us wacky Alaskans

I wound up calling nilo, because I was still very awake, despite being in that phase of Bitchy Witchy Week that generally involves antisocial tendencies and chocolate. She is an Outsider in Alaska, and she commented on one of those things that one takes for granted growing up in Alaska: one really does not tend to see too many gun-toting environmentalists in the Lower 48. I'd guess that the average Alaskan environmentalist type is the sort who loves Nature, and has come to the healthy realization that there are portions of Nature that would really love them in a purely gastronomical sense (or, alternatively, would be royally pissed that they'd had the temerity to get too close to one of Her Calves).

Alaska's really an odd political mix. Take approximately equal parts of environmentalism, hardcore outdoors-enthusiasm, individual rights enthusiasm (I hesitate to say "activism", because that implies paper-pushing as well as just standing up for it), religious conservatism and/or willingness to live and let live (I find it rather interesting that there were only two people who I had serious religious boundary problems with in Fairbanks, and those were Cookie Man on campus and BJ my ex-fiance... okay, BJ's entire family and church were pretty gnarly too, but the one wasn't so dreadful religiously, and the other I could avoid... ), and almost all the redneck stereotypes (except for incest) outfitted for severe cold weather. ...And when I say "individualism", I mean rampant individualism, of the sort that knows that one odd duck is just as odd as the next, of the sort that prefers near-complete isolation with a few trips into town here and there for supplies.

From what a few people have said, a big city like Fairbanks is more tolerant of out-of-the-norm (for Alaska) behaviours. It's perfectly normal to take yourself and your dogs and hide out in the wilderness and hunt and farm -- Heinleinian ultrasurvivalism is a way of life, not a mental illness. But try being gay, or worse, different, in a small town, and you've got trouble. And I've heard that the ordinary Life Happens kind of stuff can get purely lethal out in the villages -- you see the same couple hundred people every day, and there's no getting away, either for you or for them. So either you work it out and deal with it, when interpersonal relationships do their thing, or things go bad.

But in the end, it's just plain stupid to picnic in bear country while unarmed.
Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes roll unanswered.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?

Where have dragons gone together
Leaving weyrs to wind and weather,
Setting herdbeasts free of tether;
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?

Have they flown to some new weyr
Where cruel Threads some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh why the empty weyr?

-- "The Question Song", Anne McCaffrey
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