Steve Haycox

There was a time when about all one heard of Alaska history was the “neglect” thesis, the notion that the federal government did nothing with, for or about Alaska after the purchase. Though there were earlier versions, Ernest Gruening elaborated this idea in his 1954 ​"The State of Alaska," a contribution to the statehood campaign. Alaskans needed control of their own affairs, Gruening averred, because the government’s failure to nurture Alaska had inhibited its development, especially exploitation of its natural resources...

Steve Haycox

Sipping morning caffeine in a favorite chair the other day, I became aware of something remarkable: On the other side of the window, not 10 feet away, a hummingbird was working methodically among the many nasturtium blossoms in one of the planters in my wife’s garden, gathering nectar...

Steve Haycox

As a contribution to Anchorage’s centennial summer, Cyrano’s Theater Co. is presenting 10 plays covering the 100 years of the centennial, 10 decades in 10 weeks. Last week was 1975 to 1985, a crucial period when city leaders, and ordinary folks, had to decide how to use the bonanza money generated by pipeline construction and the subsequent stream of oil tax dollars...

Steve Haycox

Historical fiction is a literary genre flourishing still in the digital age, historical tales that might be true enjoying wide readership. Hilary Mantel’s "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies" generated brisk sales and her fans eagerly await the next, promised book; Dan Brown’s inventions ("Da Vinci Code," "Inferno") are still selling; Umberto Eco’s "The Name of the Rose" is still in print. Mantel and Eco have been adapted for television or screen, along with a host of other well-read titles...

Steve Haycox

One of the more quiet and dignified memorials in Germany today is Adenauer House, the home of the political “father” of the modern German nation, Conrad Adenauer. Situated high on a hill looking over the Rhine Valley, it’s a modest home, surrounded by lush gardens, and is generally as Adenauer left it, with his furniture and books. At the base of the hill is a small museum.

Adenauer served as the first chancellor of the Federal German Republic, from 1949 to 1963. He helped forge agreement on the nature of the new German state -- a democratic republic committed to personal freedom, and stability and international cooperation -- and helped construct Germany’s recovery, the German economic miracle...

Steve Haycox

The “Imagining Anchorage” centennial celebration just completed at the Anchorage Museum should direct attention to the importance and the success of one of the city’s oldest and most significant civic organizations, the Cook Inlet Historical Society.

A volunteer, private, nonprofit agency, the Society was established in 1955, primarily by Evangeline Atwood, civic leader and wife of the publisher of the Anchorage Daily Times, then the largest circulation newspaper in the territory, and Elmer Rasmuson, owner and president of the National Bank of Alaska, who would later become the greatest philanthropist in the state...

Steve Haycox

The shenanigans of the current Alaska Legislature prompted a number of people this week to remember Governor Ernest Gruening’s account of the 1947 territorial Legislature, which, if his characterization can be fully credited, was one of the worst in the territory’s history. While its offenses were many, perhaps most egregious was passing a budget that was 40 percent out of balance, committing $11 million in expenditures against revenues of only $7 million...

Steve Haycox

The disgruntlement over the failure of Alaska legislators to produce a budget and to complete their work within the voter-mandated 90-day session seems widespread, judging from open blogs on the various news services around the state, talk radio and letters to editors in the printed editions. Despite the Republican majority leaders’ spin that the problem is a Democrat-led minority that won’t do what it’s told by the majority, and that the minority is only interested in raises for union members, most of the opprobrium seems to be falling on the majority....

Steve Haycox

An American traveler headed for any of China’s modern cities these days could be excused if, on arriving, he or she might imagine the plane made a couple of errant turns and landed right back in the United States. China’s major cities -- Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Tianjin – and some deemed lesser simply by comparison with the giants -- Chongqing, Wuhan, Xian -- are dynamic, highly energized metropolises characterized by scores of architecturally innovative skyscrapers, a thriving, driving middle class, major state and private investment in commerce and infrastructure, all teeming with people. There are miles and miles and miles of new 33-story apartment complexes....

Steve Haycox

Alaska has opted out of several national initiatives recently. Medicaid expansion has the limelight just now, but there’s also protection of same-sex marriage. And there are the Common Core education standards. Because so many students across the nation are leaving school without adequate training to perform well in the workforce, without much knowledge of how public policy is made and how it affects them, or without being college ready, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers seek to raise the level of preparedness-for-life of the nation’s youth by raising the level of knowledge students should master before graduating. They hope uniformity across states will facilitate employment opportunities...

Steve Haycox

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