Free Anchorage show by Spin Doctors: The alternative rock band Spin Doctors will help Anchorage celebrate its centennial this summer by putting on a free show in the lot at the railroad depot Downtown. The Grammy award winning band will take the stage on June 21 after local bands. There will also be beer, wine and food trucks. Event organizers suggest you bring a blanket to sit on because the party will last from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. All ages are welcome. The Spin Doctors made waves in the early 1990s with two chart-topping hits, "Two Princes" and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong."
Northwest Alaska rocked by 5.5 magnitude earthquake: Red Dog Mine and Kotzebue were among a handful of places that felt a rumble this morning thanks to a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. The Alaska Earthquake Center reported a moderate earthquake in the Brooks Range Friday morning, the epicenter located about 13 miles northeast of Noatak and 57 miles north of Kotzebue in the Brooks Range, with a depth of 15 miles. There are no reports of damage at this time.
Lawmakers boost Alaska distilleries: The Alaska Legislature approved a bill on Thursday that would let distilleries promote their business in much the same way that Alaska microbreweries and wineries already do. The measure would allow distilleries to offer tours and free samples and to sell no more than one gallon of their product directly to consumers for consumption off the property. The bill, sponsored by House Democratic leader Chris Tuck, now goes to Gov. Sean Parnell.
Putin’s Alaska diss is undeserved: At least we’re better than Siberia. That’s according to Good Morning America’s Alyssa Newcomb, who wrote condemning the Russian president's remarks Thursday that Alaska was too cold to annex. “Anyone who has been to Alaska knows the state is so much more than just snow and grizzly bears,” the irked Newcomb writes. But her choice of points on which to defend the Alaska’s honor might strike residents of the 49th state as a little unusual (though in fairness to Newcomb, they seem more geared at needling Putin in the wake of the Crimea annexation than touting Alaska). First there’s our summers, with a special pitch to the sometimes-shirtless Putin: “Alaskans can take their shirts off all summer if they want to!,” she writes (not having experienced, apparently, Alaska’s mosquitoes). We also totally have not had McDonald’s suspend operations, as has happened in Crimea. Plus, Sarah Palin is way more famous than Natalia Poklonskaya.
Disney's documentary of Alaska bears gets mixed reviews: Reviews are out on the Disney documentary “Bears” -- filmed in Katmai National Park -- which opens this weekend. The Los Angeles Times notes (as Alaskans have long known) that “All is not warm and fuzzy” in the world of bears, and despite a penchant for anthropomorphizing animals, the studio doesn’t aim the camera away from the grittier realities of life in the wild: “‘Bears’ has warmth and fuzziness in spades, especially when the lot of them snoozes on logs. Amid its heaping serving of cuddliness, though, the film doesn't sugarcoat the harsh reality and unforgiving elements with which the bears have to contend. How bears ferociously tussle for the prime fishing spot might frighten some young viewers. And while searching for salmon to replenish her fat reserves, Sky must fend off cannibalistic alpha males Magnus and Chinook and the scavenging wolf, Tikaani, from preying on her cubs.” A New York Times review notes that too, while dinging the movie slightly for taking cues from the reality-show genre: “Frequent long-shot vistas of fields and waterways harbor a succession of threats, which are freely milked for suspense.” The Washington Post also spots a reality show element to the documentary, while noting the release date's tie to Earth Day.
Social isolation might contribute to addiction: Child neglect -- something not uncommon in Alaska -- could have far-reaching social implications, according to researchers studying rats at The University of Texas at Austin. Social isolation, they report, appears to rewire the brains of those animals to make them more susceptible to addictive behaviors. "Social isolation leads to addiction more quickly, and it’s harder to extinguish,” said Leslie Whitaker, a doctoral candidate involved in the research reported in the journal "Neuron." The researchers found social isolation actually altered the behavior of neurons in the rats' brains. In a press release from the university, Whitaker observed that the implications of the findings for humans are obvious. "There are socially impoverished human environments,'' she said. "There are children who are neglected, who have less social input. It’s reasonable to make guesses about what the impact of that is going to be." “We think that maybe what’s happening is that the brain reacts to the impoverished environment, to a lack of opportunities to be reinforced by rewarding stimuli, by increasing its sensitivity to reward-based conditioning,” added fellow researcher Hitoshi Morikawa. And many of the rewards the brain comes to covet are bad.