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Elise Patkotak

The murder in Barrow last week is one of those horrible, horrible moments in time. Most of us can’t imagine walking into someone’s house and blasting a shotgun at another person’s face. So while psychologists may be able to help us understand the mind of someone who does, comprehension will never translate into any empathy. That action will always remain over a line the majority of us will never cross...

Elise Patkotak

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott has ensured himself a unique place in Alaska history as the first Alaska Native to win a statewide office. As such, he holds a very singular position from which to do good for all Alaskans. Given the limited duties of the Lite Gov, I’d like to make a suggestion on a really great use of both his time and his influence...

Elise Patkotak

So Alaska, with the possible help of the feds, is going to once again attempt to banish honey buckets to a museum. Right. And as soon as that’s done, we’ll open ANWR.

My first encounter with a honey bucket occurred soon after arriving in Barrow in 1972. As a nurse, I lived in hospital housing and had a flush toilet. But the town wasn’t that lucky. I was invited to a party in the village. Halfway through the evening, two gentlemen crossed the living room carrying a bucket full of liquid. I wondered what it could be. Then the pungent smell hit and I knew. I couldn’t figure out why anyone would use a bucket instead of a flush toilet like God intended. I got the answer when nature called a little later and I found out what that bucket actually was...

Elise Patkotak

Writing a column about Bill Cosby as a probable serial rapist is not something I ever thought I’d be doing. I mean, we’re talking about Dr. Cliff Huxtable, the man who probably made President Barack Obama possible by making African-American men less scary and threatening to the nation at large. He was the first black man to star in a network TV drama ("I Spy") and the first one to show an educated black family with a professional mom and dad and a home life to which we could all relate. In fact, he showed it in such a normal light that most of us wished our family was like his. We wished our dad would talk to us like he talked to his kids. We wished our spouses would embrace us the way he embraced Clair. Now we’re finding out that behind that goofy grin of Dr....

Elise Patkotak

Let’s call this a view from the sidelines. I’m not a talking news-head, not someone who lives and breathes politics as an occupation. But I am someone who, like you, gets to live with the results of elections. So let’s take a look at our recent elections and ruminate on what these results portend to those of us who live in the real world where people don’t shower us with gifts and money in return for our votes...

Elise Patkotak

Here’s the sentence that blew my mind last week, and it had nothing to do with Don Young being re-elected. An article about marijuana legalization stated that support for legalization was dropping and had reached a low of 51 percent. Who ever thought I’d live long enough to find the bottom line of approval on pot legalization being above half?

How did we get from a time when pot was the devil’s weed to a time when common sense prevailed? Society finally seems ready to put old prejudices away and deal with pot in a realistic and functional manner...

Elise Patkotak

The holiday season is here. It used to be three separate occasions -- Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Now it’s one long sprint to the finish. Those campaign ads will rapidly be replaced with ads suggesting your family cannot possibly have a good holiday unless you spend yourself into near bankruptcy.

I liked it better when these holidays were each their distinct own moment. But now Thanksgiving seems to be but a way station on the road to the exorbitant spending that occurs in an orgy of frantic shopping and leaves most people hungover with a regretful surfeit of physical possessions. Holiday decorations now appear in stores the day after Labor Day. Thanksgiving is a feast squeezed into a short hour or so before the mad rush for pre-Christmas sales...

Elise Patkotak

This is my last column before the general election. Can I get a “Hallelujah”? In just one week the positively depressing, ugly, noisy campaigns of truthiness will be over. I already voted. Whereas just a short week ago I felt at least a slight twinge of guilt when I walked from my mailbox straight to my recycle bin with all the political mailers, now I do so with a completely clear conscience...

Elise Patkotak

They sat across from me at dinner. It was my treat to celebrate their wedding. Their smiling picture, in which they held out their hands with the wedding bands showing, had appeared on the front page of Alaska Dispatch News the day after the ban on gay marriage was overturned in Alaska. They hadn’t planned on becoming the face of gay marriage here but the quirks of fate had made it so. They were the first to apply for a license in Barrow and, when the three-day wait period was waived, the first to marry ...

Elise Patkotak

Last week, a young man named Peter John Henry was charged as an adult after admitting to the murder of his foster father Marvell Johnson. Henry is 16 years old. Marvell was 64. Two lives ended prematurely, one in death and the other in what almost surely will be a very long prison sentence if he is convicted. What makes this sad situation even more tragic is that Henry was a foster child. Johnson was one of those silent heroes in our community, a foster parent trying to give children with less than a good start in life a chance to heal and achieve some measure of peace for him or herself...

Elise Patkotak

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