I have enjoyed reading the various comments posted about my state. Just so you know Spike...we Alaskans don't say "eh" like Canadians do!! Except when we are making fun of Canadians(which we should stop)!
The one major city newspaper we have here(the Anchorage Daily News/the Times after years of being around failed) has had a number of extensive articles about the rocket launching center here. I have heard the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and not where I attend, the University of Alaska, Anchorage will have much more involvement in what is going on there. They are somewhat bigger and much better funded then us. They have a superior sciences and engineering department especially. Anchorage started out as a small commuter college while most of the UAF students live in the dorms. Alaska has a number of far flung campuses and so state monies are not that concentrated.
I was very interested in the post by James Rogers. I thought he made some very thoughtful observations on the nature of state governments here. But I chuckled to myself when he wrote about people being "left to themselves with no outside law imposed on them." We Alaskans see ourselves as victims of a federal government that wants to control us!! All the public lands which at least some of us would like to see used by industry to raise state revenue are bottled up by the feds.
The Alaskan native peoples see themselves as being abused by a federal gov't that felt independant native "nations" were not necessary in Alaska because they had already been given various benefits such as their corporations.
Alaska has one of the highest state employee to common citizen ratios. We view ourselves as wrapped up in a tangle of state and federal regulation. It does not help that our state capital is Juneau which is not exactly near the population centers! Our politicians constantly fly back and forth from there. A movement failed to move the capital to a town between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
The Alaska State Troopers keep very busy flying and driving around the state trying to enforce the law. They are very looked up to here generally sort of in the way of Canadian mounties. Often what they wind up doing is simply picking up suspects who have been apprehended by the local village law enforcement who are usually called specifically public safety officers (not trooper, sheriff or police) and have general training in not just law enforcement but fire fighting and paramedicine. They must be a jack of all trades because help can be awhile in coming.
The F.B.I. a few years ago greatly increased their presence here with the building of an "architecturally friendly bunker" in the middle of downtown Anchorage. They are presently in the midst of a major expansion of the facility. I personally respect the F.B.I. and wish them well in keeping an eye on white collar crime and the local police department!
Alaskans love to complain how behind every bush in Alaska is a state or federal agent ready to arrest you for some violation!! To the Alaskan mindset we are anything but generally free of government interventions. Then again were I to visit California or New York I might think I was in something created by Kafka and Orwell.
There are certainly a variety of local ways of governing here. I can remember all the debate with several native villages deciding to either become "damp" or totally "dry". There were of course whites who were under the influence of these laws. They did not take kindly to not having a glass of wine with their evening meal! But native leaders had gotten sick of the damage alcohol abuse had done in their communities and education programs and stiff penalties for abuse had not had the hoped for effect. I have witnessed firsthand the damage alcohol and bad choices have done to some of the native alaskan people.
The Alaskan nickname for Alaska happens to be "Los Anchorage"!! Think of Anchorage as a small city(pop. 200,000) that has been transplanted from the lower 48 to Alaska. And yes...we even have Wal-Mart up here!
When I read "The First Immortal" I was blown away by the newsflash in the book that states Alaska has a population of over seventy million(or in the millions anyway)!! This was made possible it said because of weather control technology. I tend to think the Alaska you gentleman know and love in terms of governing uniqueness would be long gone should this vision ever become a reality.