Alaska Ear

NEXT: DRIVERS IN BLINDFOLDS . . . A Kenai judge's weird ruling that the state's no-electronic-screens-while-driving-law doesn't apply to texting won't save Anchorage offenders, according to Rep. Les Gara.

The law says no-no to using any gadget with a screen while at the wheel, according to Gara, who helped write the law. It absolutely applies to texting, he says in his current newsletter.

Meanwhile, the state of Alaska apparently agrees that the law says what it says. Gara told Ear that Rick Svobodny, the state's chief prosecutor, has assured him that district attorneys' offices around the state will continue prosecuting people who text while driving. (The judge's opinion is just that, an opinion, until an appeals court agrees.)

So, if you are so brain-dead you can't think of any other reason not to text while driving, be aware you can still be arrested.

What's that? You say we don't need a law? That most people are smart enough not to text while driving? Really? Sen. Hollis French reports a guy next to him in traffic this week was working on a laptop while driving. (And, no, it wasn't a police officer.)

Maybe we need an IQ test to get a driver's license.

A GOOD THING . . . The U.S. Senate has approved naming the federal courthouse in Anchorage after Judge James Fitzgerald, one of the great judges and the kind of guy buildings should be named after. (Not that Ear has an opinion, of course.) The House hasn't passed the resolution yet but Don Young's office reports he is "hopeful" it will pass soon after Congress returns from the holiday break.

There shouldn't be any problem getting the House to go along with the Senate, should there?

Oh, never mind.

ANOTHER GOOD THING . . . With Judge Fitz halfway home, how about getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Ray Mala, or, as Sen. Lisa called him in a supportive press release earlier this week, "Mala the Magnificent." Tuesday is Mala's birthday (b. 1906 in Candle). Lisa, Lael Morgan and Ray's son, Dr. Ted Mala, are pushing for him to be so honored, but so far whoever pours the concrete outside that theater hasn't signed off on it.

For those who don't know, Ray, an Alaska Native, was a big movie star back in the day. (Check out the photo.)

KLINGON NEXT? . . . ADN gardening columnist Jeff Lowenfels has gotten a request from a foreign publisher for permission to translate Jeff and Wayne Lewis' book, "Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web," into Slovenian.

We don't yet know what the title will be in Slovakia but earwigs with nothing worth remembering in their own lives will recall Ear's report last year on how the Korean version turned out: In Korea the title translated to "Thank you, Amoeba."

BLESSED TO GIVE? . . . Word is the Republicans raised $60,000 at that big capture-the-state-Senate fundraiser at the Aviation Heritage Museum last week. How much do you want to bet it was more?

FLYING FACTOID . . . Asked for evidence that womanizing rocker Steven Tyler, currently a judge on "American Idol," can be extremely romantic, girlfriend Erin Brady offered the fact that he took four days off during a tour to accompany her on a visit to (gasp!) Alaska to visit her grandmother. Check out if you care. (Though why would you?)

KUDOS . . . The unusual Hanukkah celebration offered at the Egan Center on Tuesday by the Alaska Jewish Museum attracted the attention of no less than The Wall Street Journal. And no wonder. Called "Cirque de Hanukkah," it featured African acrobats from "America's Got Talent" and Disneyland. It was apparently quite a show.

The Journal says it's part of a national trend to make Hanukkah more splashy and less religious. Oh, joy.

CONNECTIONS . . . Optima Public Relations has apparently signed a networking deal with a couple of Seattle firms, Gogerty Marriott (which represented the formerly imprisoned Amanda Knox) and Seattle Design Group (which designed Optima's website).

Earwigs will recall that Optima is owned by the Tom Andersons, senior and junior, and former CHARR president Frank Dahl.

AND . . . Enjoy your holiday. Ignore the weather. Don't read anything about politics ... you get the idea.

Compiled by Sheila Toomey. Message Ear at 257-4341 or Find Ear online at