Some Semi-Secrets Revealed


If there are any readers out there who (a) care who WC actually is, and (b) haven’t figured it out already, well, here’s another chance. WC will have a photo show at River City Cafe for First Friday, July 1, from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM. Stop by if you are in town. /WC

The GOP and Blazing Saddles


Is WC the only one who sees a striking similarity between a classic scene in Blazing Saddles and GOP tactics on the federal debt ceiling? You’ll recall the newly appointed black sheriff Bart is threatened by the town folk of Rock Ridge with lynching. He resorts to desperate (and politically incorrect) measures, points his own…

Book Review: Good Omens


Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (1996) Bad news. The Apocalypse is coming. Soon. Luckily, Heaven and Hell have left the business with the Anti-Christ in the hands of Crowley and Aziraphale, demon and angel respectively. They have accidentally misplaced the Anti-Christ and pretty much decided they really like humanity a lot more than…

Health Care Reform Affirmed


As most readers know, the Affordable Care Act is under sustained legal attack in at least four federal court districts. To this point, the decisions had all been by U.S . District Judges; interesting, but not authoritative. Today, the first court of appeals decision was announced. While everyone thinks that ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court…

Do Republican Tactics Come from a CIA Manual?


Robert Parry argues that since the early 1990s, the Republican strategy for dealing with Democratic presidents has come the CIA manual on destabilization of foreign regimes. His premise: Modern Republicans have a simple approach to politics when they are not in the White House: Make America as ungovernable as possible by using almost any means…

WC’s Recommended Summer Reading – 2011


WC has had a couple of requests for additional recommended reading. Rather than be topical, WC has some suggestions from the roots of science fiction and fantasy, works that were seminal, and hugely influential, but are now mostly forgotten. William Morris, The Well at the World’s End (1896) (Amazon link) (Gutenberg link). William Morris may have been…

For a Given Definition of “Undefeated”


Unless she quits changes her mind, the TTWNF will be attending a screening of her hagiographic propaganda biopic in mighty Pella, Iowa tonight. According to the Sarah Palin Dictionary and Salad Shooter: Undefeated — Not admitting to having been defeated. Joe McGinnis has a nice start on a list of what everyone else would described…

Always Consider the Source


WC notes that Jim Crawford has a “Compass” opinion piece in the Anchorage Daily News this morning. Crawford complains that AHFC and AIDEA – the state agencies charged with subsidizing and making residential and business loans, respectively – are charging fees interest rates that are too high. He complains that they are making too much…

Pop Quiz


Q: What’s the difference between a nature photographer and a large pizza? A: A large pizza can feed a family of four.

Getting Down to Business, Part 2


Many species of birds migrate extraordinary distances to Alaska to breed. It’s a complicated trade-off: the hazards of migration and the very short breeding season here, in exchange for abundant food and, perhaps, reduced competition. Birds aren’t the only animals to use the strategy, but they do it the most enthusiastically. The very short breeding…

Cameron Todd Willingham


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia opined in State v. Marsh that, “the dissent does not discuss a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it;…

Playing Chicken with the Economy


Andrew Sullivan has an excellent screed on current Republican tactics in the face of the looming debt crisis. Here, as Sullivan would say, is the money quote This is brinksmanship with all of our lives, our money, our core financial stability and future growth. It is an outrageously reckless way to run a government. And…

When the Going Gets Tough, Republicans … Quit


So what is it about Republicans in the 21st Century? Why do they quit? Alaska’s Shame, The Quitter, famously bailed on the Alaska governorship. Never mind that oath of office. Never mind the folks who voted for her. The going got tough. She quit. Now, far more seriously, U.S. House majority leader, Eric Cantor, Republican of…

Merlin


Alaska has four breeding species of falcons: Gyrfalcon, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin and American Kestrel. Merlins are next to smallest – although a male Merlin isn’t much bigger than a female Kestrel – and not commonly seen. This male was photographed along the Denali Highway; the white blur across the middle background is the Alaska Range.…

Getting Down to Business, Part I


WC had a chance to do some birding along the east end of the Denali Highway this past weekend. And got photos of two of his favorite birds. Arctic Warblers, really and truly, migrate to Alaska from southeast Asia. They are an Old Word warbler, one of the few that breed in the Western Hemisphere.…

The U.S.’s Secret Shame


Long time readers know WC is a fan of statistical graphics. Charles Minard’s portrayal of the losses suffered by Napoleon in his invasion of Russia in 1812-13 is possibly the best example of statistical graphics WC has ever seen: Popularized (and sold) by Edward Tufte, a framed copy hangs in WC’s house. Beginning at the Polish-Russian…

A Rose by Any Other Name


The full quote is, What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet. William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet,” Act II, Scene 2 And WC’s point is that US House Speaker Leader John Boehner’s proposal for means-testing for Medicare is the same tax on the wealthy that…