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Brutal Antipathy is a pseudonym for a blogger and forum debate enthusiast whose views often rest well outside of social baseline. A self confirmed atheist, misanthropist, and sadist, his commentary ranges from parched textbook facts to satire and sarcasm. He is a proponent of free speech and individual liberty even when these are taken to excess. His political views shift between lower case libertarian and enlightened despotism depending on the level of contempt he is feeling for his fellow humans at any given moment. His reading interests include history, general science, archaeology, comparative religion, psychology, & sociology. Other interests and hobbies include practicing various crafts, torturing his slave, blogging, playing with his dogs, collecting antiques, role playing & tactical simulation games, renaissance fairs, and cheerfully making other people miserable by holding up a mirror of their shortcomings and repeatedly bashing them in the face with it. L is the owned slave of BA. She basically has the same interests and views as her owner except in music.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Indecent Northern Exposure 1. Alaskan Apathy

My job is an administrative position, and usually involves a lot of what I call "Putting out brush fires.". Most people would call this troubleshooting and problem resolution. Due to my lack of diplomacy and overall dislike of people in general, I would never have expected to perform well in such a position. Naturally then, the malicious humor of fate would arrange it so that people assume that I can solve their problems. My undeserved reputation for this has managed to creep outside of my actual job and into the community at large, with people that I do not know and cannot possibly assist finding my work number and calling me.

 Such was the call I got a few mornings ago from a lady from the village. I have never met or even heard of her, yet she somehow decided to call me. Her problem was that her mother was having respiratory distress. She wanted to know what she should do. The answer was simple and to the point. Call 911. Yes, even in bush Alaska up above the Arctic circle, we still have emergency medical services. Problem solved, or so I thought.

 Perhaps 2 minutes later my phone is ringing again. Damn these people! I am here 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Do they expect me to work too? Annoyed that I must now postpone the browsing of my favorite archaeology news group, I grudgingly lift the receiver. The same lady is on the line. She informs me that "They aren't answering.". What? 911 is not answering? I tell her that I know someone that can perform basic first aid and CPR that I can have there in a couple of minutes, and promise to get her an ambulance somehow.  A quick phone call gets some barely skilled help on the way, and I try 911 myself. No answer. I try again with the same results. Flustered, I call the burough office and explain the problem. The secretary taking my call was as incredulous as I was, but promised to look into it immediately.  A few minutes later she called me back to inform me that she was unable to reach EMS through 911 as well. Another call to the state troopers was required in order to get them to establish radio contact with emergency medical services. My inquiries throughout the day eventually discovered the reason for 911 not responding. They were in a meeting to discuss the use of body bags, and didn't think that anything important might occur.

 While the EMS fiasco was under way, L called me, frantic. I had decided to send her out to the post office this morning, in part to test her response to being in public unescorted. The result was about what I had expected, anxiety. What I had not expected was for the post office to be closed. She learned that the post office was open from 9 am to 9:30 am this morning, and would re-open at 11:30 am. Doubtless it would close again at noon and re-open again at 1:00 or 2:00 pm. This is a government agency that has just decided to be open whenever it damn well feels like it.

 These scenarios are typical of my experiences in Alaska. I was once talking to a friend about acts of nature. I said to him "The universe kills not out of malice, but out of sheer indifference.". Nothing in life has driven that point home to me as has Alaska. The harsh reality of the Arctic tundras indifference to life  seems to bleed into the attitude of the residents, creating a state of caustic apathy. It is considered normal to turn a blind eye to abuse of children and the elderly. Animal cruelty is to be expected. Filth can litter the streets and nobody cares. Apathy is the rule, not the exception. This cold indifference is even found in the private sector. The stores leave spoiled milk, meat, and produce on the shelves. Businesses fail to answer their telephones. Service calls may be met with repairs days or even a week after the call. Suicide rates more than triple the national average, and nobody really seems to care. Children stagger down the street drunk at 3:00 am on a school night and the police look on as though nothing more significant than a plastic bag caught in the wind is happening.

 This transcends culture shock. This is not the end result of European influence causing trauma to an indigenous population. The minority that voice distress about it do so in hushed tones, as if they are ashamed of upsetting the status quo. This is the largest welfare state in the Union, and yet a capitalistic "Whats in it for me?" attitude prevails. An example of this is with household trash. An annual event to clean up the village spends a large portion of the village income by paying people to bring collected trash to a pickup site. Before this drive began, people just tossed their trash under their houses, into the streets, or into the ocean. Now they save most of it in order to get paid to hand it over to the village garbage collectors one weekend a year. The village is still filthy because the purpose of the drive is to pick up loose trash from gutters and abandoned lots. That trash remains untouched because everyone figured out that they can just save their personal trash throughout the year and bring it in to the collection site without having to be bothered picking anything up.
Just Another Face in Alaska

The overall impression here is one of frigid dispassion tempered with avarice. Ebenezer Scrooge would have gone unnoticed in the common crowd in Alaska where good deeds are met with a look of suspicion or simply ignored ninety nine times for every one smile and word of thanks. It is for me a daily reminder of what is wrong with the world and why I hate the overwhelming majority of earthly inhabitants.

Merry Christmas, village. Happy Hanukkah, America. Have a great Kwanzaa, Yule, and winter solstice, Earth. May you get this season exactly what you deserve, like an asteroid with your name on it.
Seasons Greetings!

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