Following Up and Following down: November 2018

Most readers here know WC makes fitful efforts at following up on issues raised here in earlier blog posts. It’s not journalism – WC doesn’t pretend to be a journalist – and as due diligence it’s kind of pitiful. But sometimes it’s interesting.

Back in January, WC wrote about a “swatting” incident gone horribly wrong, resulting in a homicide in Wichita, Kansas. Tyler Barriss, a/k/a “SWAuTistic,” from California, called in an entirely false hostage and arson report to the Wichita, Kansas Police Department. A trigger-happy Wichita cop murdered an entirely uninvolved, entirely innocent young man, Andrew Finch. Barriss swatted Finch as a favor to computer gamer Casey Viner. He meant to swat another person, a gamer, Shane Gaskill, but Gaskill gave a false address, sending the cops to Finch’s house. Bariss has pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter (as well as crimes arising out of other swatting episodes). He will be sentenced in the end of January. Viner, who asked Barriss to swat Gaskill, and Gaskill, who egged Viner on and gave him a false address, await trial. Justin Rapp, the Wichita Police Department officer who shot Finch, testified in May 2018 that he saw Finch make a motion with his hand and, based on the information from the 911 call, believed he had a gun. He has not been charged with a crime.

An Anchorage jury Thursday gave Tony Hopfinger $852,000 based on a napkin contract. Huh. Some years ago, WC had this cartoon hung in his office.

George Booth's Classic

George Booth’s Classic

Anything else WC could say would be piling on.

Anyone who thinks their votes don’t count or don’t matter needs to reflect on the Alaska District 1 House race, where Kathy Dodge and Bart LeBon gave in at a dead ties, 2,661 votes each. Anyone who thinks Fairbanks isn’t deeply divided politically needs to reflect on the result as well.There’s little chance the winner will be determined without litigation; in fact, both candidates are already lawyered up. If only a few more citizens had gotten off their lazy, unthinking butts. UPDATE: Apparently, on the second or third recount. LeBon prevailed by one vote. Which really just underscores WC’s point.

WC recently opined that there was another nail in coal’s coffin. That has since been underscored by a recent private-sector report. In 2018, 14.3 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired capacity was retired, up from 7GW retired in 2017. That constitutes the second-biggest year for coal-fired capacity retirement since 2015, according to new research from S&P Global Market Intelligence. In 2015, 14.7GW of coal-fired capacity was retired. S&P Global says that an additional 23.1GW of coal plant capacity has been announced to be retired between 2019 and 2024, for a total of 71.9GW of retirements or planned retirements between 2014 and 2024. Trump’s promise to “rescue” coal, if they were ever sincere, have run into the cold reality of economics. Coal can’t compete with natural gas, and that’s without even forcing coal to pay the true costs of its filthy energy.

Back in 2015, WC posted a very cool illustration of the subduction zone just west of Cook Inlet, showing earthquake epicenters against depth, brilliantly illustrating the subducting Pacific Plate. One of the implications of that illustration is that just north of, say, Eagle River, there has to be a strike-slip fault to accommodate the westward slippage of the easterly side of the Pacific Plate. Well, on Friday morning that strike-slip fault slipped. At a depth of about 27 miles, and about 8 miles northwest of Eagle River, the fault moved. The result was a ML 7.0 quake. Luckily, while there was substantial property damage there don’t seem to have been any serious injuries or fatalities. It was the most severe quake since the ML 7.9 under Susitna Glacier in 2002. Call it a (comparatively) gentle reminder that sometimes geologic time and human time intersect. WC suspects interest in geology among Alaskans will increase. Big earthquakes are no fun; WC speaks from personal knowledge. Be safe, Anchorage.

That’s enough. Any more and readers will accuse WC of credibility.